On Friday, President Obama held the highly anticipated final White House press conference of the year. The conference was held just hours before the Obamas were set to depart on their holiday vacation. During the address, the president answered a myriad of questions, including whether or not this was a fair election. His answer? Yes, it was.
This year's final press conference was more publicized than those of the past due to the recent statements made by the president regarding the Russian hacks during the 2016 presidential election. Many people assumed that the press conference would provide additional insight into the U.S.'s plans for Russia.
In an interview with NPR, President Obama told Steven Inskeep, "I think there is no doubt that, when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections, ... we need to take action. And we will — at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be."
The press conference started later than it's planned 2:15 p.m. start; however, the president's willingness to delve into some of the most talked about topics of the last few weeks made it worth the wait.
After making a smooth entrance and taking the podium, the president wasted no time and started with a discussion about the various accomplishments his administration has made over the last eight years.
He then went into serious details about the issues facing Syria and the crisis in Aleppo.
After taking a question from the Associated Press, President Obama talked about the Russian interference that more or less caused Hillary Clinton's loss.
"She wasn't treated fair," Obama said on media coverage of Clinton, specifically her emails.
He also spoke of how the overwhelming amount of coverage of Hillary Clinton’s emails disturbed him.
“You guys wrote about it every day,” the president said of the media’s imbalanced coverage of Clinton.
“Including John Podesta’s risotto recipe,” the president joked, to which people laughed, yet a serious resolve remained on the president’s face. From there he spoke of the dangers that can happen when the media devotes too much time to one topic or untrue topics, speaking specifically to the influx of fake news.
Then when it came to the specifics plans of dealing with Russia and their hacking, the president made a few things very clear. This will not be a situation where we can puff out our chests and make threats because that is not how you deal with Russia.
When they make a move, they never announce it before or after. The United States is vulnerable because much of our livelihood, including our economy, is safeguarded electronically. This will require more investigation and advancement.
The president continued to talk about the severity of the conflicts with Russia until someone passed out, literally.
While reporters in the crowd tended to the woman, it provided a breath for President Obama to recollect himself before diving back into the heavy topic.
Eventually one reporter asked some golden questions:
“Was this a free and fair election?” and “Are you concerned with [Donald Trump's] relationship with Vladimir Putin?”
“I can assure the public, there was not the kind of tampering with the voting process that was a concern,” Obama started. “Votes that were cast were counted, they were counted appropriately.”
He then went on to denounce the idea that our intelligence, many of whom are Republicans, are less trustworthy than Russians (which is a concept that has been floated around by Trump).
"The same people that have been very critical of me for engaging with Russia endorsed the president-elect, who was very complimentary of Putin," the president said, pointing out the biases and hypocrisies within our own government.
Questions ranging from Trump's engagement with Taiwan to the possible changes regarding the Electoral College came to the president.
As the time came for him to wrap up the conference, Obama offered some healthy advice to Democrats and the country as a whole.
“Reflect a little bit more on how can we get to a place where people are focused on working together based on some common set of facts,” the president said. “How can we have a conversation about policy that doesn’t demonize each other? How can we channel the decency of the American people so it reflects itself in our politics.”
To close the afternoon address, the president thoughtfully looked back on his time as president and admitted that he gets a little choked up thinking about the end.
“I’m responsible for where we screwed up,” President Obama said about his two terms. However, when it comes to the successes of the country, he gave credit to his entire administration, like the true gentleman he has always been.
(Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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