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tv   MSNBC Live  MSNBC  May 13, 2013 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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and prime minister david cameron. the president and prime minister sat down for talks the last hour that likely included anything from the civil war in syria to the upcoming g-8 summit in ireland. it's syria that's expected to dominate the discussion, after the twin bombs that killed more it and 46 people this weekend at the turkish border. the situation amping up as republicans hammer the obama administration hard on two fronts, one of this many here at home. front one, accusations of a coverup after the deaths of four american diplomats in benghazi and the fact that the administration edited those talking points 12 times. >> i'd call it a coverup. i would call it a coverup in the extent that there was willful removal of information which was obvious. >> some on capitol hill are calling for a select committee now to investigate who did what and when. >> i am willing, as i have said
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continually, to go to that committee. i had regrets about going there first when it looked like this was an entire political circus, but i have now made it clear that i am prepared, as all the other witnesses have, to appear before that committee. >> that's thomas pickering of course. front two, the growing scandal, i think a very big one over the irs and its targeting of tea party groups, targeting that may have dated back to 2011. >> do these people not remember the nixon administration? >> it's unspeakable and the president of the united states, the head of the administration, the head of this government needs to come out today and condemn this. >> joining me this hour a number of people. nbc news white house correspondent peter alexander, white house reporter for politico and richard wolf, executive editor of msnb
8:02 am we're going to get to everything. i think the irs is the big story. peter, i'm dismayed by the white house continuing to say a few bad apples out there in cincinnati when we're learning that it was washington, the irs itself, that ordered this review of these right-wing organizations. my question is can they isolate this to a few civil servants in cincinnati? or is this an irs-wide issue o an administration-wise issue? >> it appears the president's position is they want this inspector general's report, the watch dog group, to complete its report due out this week. the challenge for them is to try to isolate it as best they can. we heard from you a second ago saying we had heard this targeting began as early as 2011. nbc news has obtained a draft copy with redactions of that report and it indicates that the targeting of those tea party and
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patriot-type groups goes back as far as march of 2010, that is now three years ago. it was 2012 when douglas schulman, then the irs commissioner, spoke out about this, denying any targeting had taken place. at that time we knew that senior officials knew of it going back to 2011. i reached out to the white house on this very topic today. jay carney, the press secretary, telling me he does not expect -- he put out this statement where he said the following: he said the president believes that the american people expect and deserve to have the very best public servants with the highest levels of integrity working in government agencies on their behalf. based on recent media reports he is concerned that the conduct of a small number of internal revenue service employees may have fallen short of that standard. i also reached out to some other senior administration officials who say they do not expect the president will address the irs issue in his opening remarks.
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recognize this is what's referred to as a one-one, one question from an american reporter, one from a british reporter. >> there's a lot of baroque activity to slow this down. >> we know who was in charge of this, or some unknown character in cincinnati? it could be the head of the irs or head of review coming out of washington or somebody in cincinnati didn't get the word. who are these few employees? >> i think you're right. that's the information they're trying to gather right now, recognize even today people are points out -- >> can't they make a phone call and say who came up with the idea of targeting the the right-wing groups? >> some would say that he's a government bush appointees. >> who are the bad apples?
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that's important. >> to me the interesting thing is this is a national task and that is a routine task, looking at tax-exempt applications and making sure groups are going to do what they're going to do to get this tax benefit. the irs years ago gave the cincinnati field office the entire responsibility for what most of us would think would go on in washington at a national level. they gave it to them. as far as we know so far, those are the people using these crazy nixonian standards. >> no, what's the problem here? targeting the groups or the wave you identify the code, the way they had the word "patriot" in the organization? >> picking out certain groups based on ideology of politics for extra scrutiny. everybody should get scrutiny. the question is what people in washington knew about it or what they did about it when they found out about it. >> we'll show you a moderate senator who got a lot of noise
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this weekend. >> it is absolutely chilling that the irs was singling out conservative groups for extra review. and i think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out. >> you see, the cleverness here that i don't like it called -- whatever you call it, it's not as clever as spin. spin can be pretty clever. a few employees, it can be anybody. and cincinnati. they keep saying it's not washington, it cincinnati. what difference is it where they're doing the operation? zit not goi >> it's not going to make any difference. the irs, government targeting of conservative groups by the barack obama administration. it creates a narrative, an impression of people -- >> it's not an impression, it information. >> i know, but the irs, if there's any agency that is fueling, you know, public cynicism and skepticism, doing certainly like this -- >> richard, you're excellent at
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imagery and you understand this thing. we're talking about the federal government, we're talking about the irs, we're talking about taxes, which every republican, most americans don't like to begin with, the irs, which is the bugaboo of all right-wing conversations and then you have somebody targeting them. if we get information that they're targeting the brookings institution or americans for democratic action, they'd be clean. but so far no information it going across the center, it's only the right that's been targeted. >> it's only going to get worse the president has to come out and address it. he has to take responsibility. the buck does stop with him, even as there is much work to do in terms of the investigation, that we're getting so many new details coming out just in the last couple of days. i think there's obviously a lot to fear inside the white house about how far this could go. i'm not saying there's white house involvement, there's no sign that much right now at all, no one's even suggesting that in terms of the conservative
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talking points, but this is a serious scandal and they're going to have to address it honestly and openly. >> here's newt gingrich. i do this objectively. i watch him to give me a sense of how much fire power an issue has because he is brilliant at exploiting, i use that neutrally, taking an issue and showing its full political and ideological dimension. doing this morning what i thought he could do well and he did it. >> the parallel between benghazi and the irs story is amazing. lying, lying about lying, hiding about lying and seeking to apologizing for the lying they didn't tell. this pattern is a culture of big government that believes it more important than the american people. >> so now of course if somebody and some company had a bad product on the shelf and took it off the shelf, we wouldn't blow free enterprise off the shelf. but there he goes for
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government. in terms of benghazi, the question seems to be focused on is that somebody went through many iterations of what should be said on that sunday show where susan rice represented the administration and somebody decided there should be no clear reference to any al qaeda-related group. that person was described in this coverage as the leadership. now that get very interesting. who is the leadership that decided don't mention any al qaeda reference. who did that? >> at the time it looks likes an interagency fight that the cia wanted certain language in, the state wanted certain language out. >> who was hiding the terrorist aspect, if they were? >> clearly they didn't want to have certain language in the public domain to compromise the investigation. the state department at the same time was putting susan right out on tv that morning. she was looking at the notes. >> you cannot say you lie to the american people, you give them a
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false story about a tragedy, even though it's four people, it's not a million people, but it four good people, can't give them a false story and say we give the public a false story because we had this operational thing we were running and we needed it lie. >> i think that's been pored over time and again, even the accountability review board, when it did its review, it went into the issues that were involved and in play in that discussion. the lying aspect of it, it goes a little further than what actually happened. >> bobby, in journalism, we're always trying to tell the straight story simply as you can. that's what you do, get it straight and keep it clean and clear so anybody can get it. we have not gotten that transmission from this administration on benghazi. we just haven't. >> no, we have not. and i think the point that this is no longer about the events that transpired in benghazi but it's all about what's happened in d.c. so it a little hard to argue that this was in the heat of battle.
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this was no. this was after the battle, after the tragedy. this was people in a room in washington making a decision. and i think you put your finger on the big question -- who was representing the administration? >> let go to "morning joe" this morning, because i got up at 5 minutes to 6 because i want to catch joe and mika as they began this discussion. ambassador thomas pickering defended his accountability review boards. i don't know how he defends it but he did. i think the next story will be underwrote that hillary clinton, secretary of state, transcripts kept. let's watch. >> it would not be right for me to say that nothing will ever turn up that in fact would produce something different. i see nothing at this stage that would in any material way change the conclusions that i reached
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in that report. >> peter alexander, give us a sense on benghazi today, if you can, a taste of what's coming with the president. is he going to refine what they've been seeing so far? is this going to be the status quo? >> another thing that's important, you just played a clip from ambassador pickering a moment ago. he also made it very clear that their charge when they went about this accountability review board report was not to focus on the talking points. he said we didn't even look into those. we focused exclusively on what happened beforehand regarding security failure. initially here at the white house, the white house said the a.r.b. looked at this and said these are our conclusions, you need to implement those. but that isn't going to help them at this point. the gist is very clearly according to republicans the talking points were revised, as they describe it, with political motivation behind them. the white house said it was con strictly to protect the investigation at this point.
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it clear the president is going to be asked about benghazi today. i was speaking to other reporters. they say that's the one they want to hear the way they view that issue. >> i'd like to put the people in different rooms, put them under oath and get the transcript. we'll be right back. we're waiting for the president and prime minister cameron to join us for a news conference. we expect it will be all about the irs and the benghazi questions that still linger. right. but the most important feature of all is... the capital one purchase eraser. i can redeem the double miles i earned with my venture card to erase recent travel purchases. and with a few clicks, this mission never happened. uh, what's this button do? [ electricity zaps ] ♪ you requested backup? yes. yes i did. what's in your wallet? plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day men's 50+ is a complete multivitamin
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welcome back to our special coverage on msnbc. we're waiting for the joint news conference involving the president and prime minister david cameron that's expected to begin any moment when the president comes out. i'm back with our panel.
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i guess i should start with everybody. you're on camera right now, bobby. what are your questions as a journalist right now about the way in which the attack on our facility at benghazi could be clarified to the satisfaction of most reasonable people? >> well, i think the attack itself is quite well understood now and most of the sort of salient information that we need about the attack is out there. but as i was saying before, it's what happened after the attack and the sort of communicating off that attack that is now questionable. it seems clear that there was a group in benghazi that was looking for an opportunity to attack the u.s. sort of complex there and did so and that there wasn't enough security and the various committees that have
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looked into this have pointed out really quite clearly that there were failures in providing enough security for the complex. but i don't think there's a lot more clarification that needs to come on that. >> okay. let go to mike rogers and chairman of the house intelligence committee and what he wants to know. he says we haven't seen the last of benghazi. no surprise there. let's take a listen. >> i will tell you we have had people come forward because of the testimony and say we would also like to talk, we feel a little bit intimidated by this but we have information we think is valuable. >> new whistle blowers? >> i do think we're going to see more whistle blowers. >> i'm not sure how strong that response was to chris wallace, richard. it sounded a little weak but he did say they had more people coming forward, which always whets the appetites of reporters and everyone else. >> i'm sure there are others who
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would like to come out. there are only two real issues. this was an attack on a cia operation house and the cia was heavily involved with the state department. could you really have defended this more rigorously without -- they were involved with intelligence gathering. could this have been any different? tom pickering and his team said not really. and this back and forth between the cia and state department. how much is the cia working its usual game or also protecting the operational security of going after the people who had killed its own people. that's where i think the investigation still has some room for maneuver. what was that post-attack discussion going on, what was at the heart between the state department and cia?
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>> you've been shaking your head here, joe. let's stick to this question of how it was portrayed. i watched susan rice on television and i thought she was great but i was looking at it from a total political voupoint view. i said that's a soldier perhaps audition for a big job of secretary of state and she just won it. i didn't know the details. i saw her putting the best light on a situation that was strong and really compelling. and we found out the situation later. >> a dozen protests in the region. >> but the reason for the cairo attack was different from the benghazi facility. what the hell is the facility, if you have to keep calling it a facility? what does it even look like?
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>> i heard chairman issa's committee get into the same problem, showing where a safe house was where it shouldn't have. >> you've been in the state department. i'd like to look at the case this way, the preliminaries. he was a gutsy, courageous, foreign dip platt. he thought he knew it, it was a call laculated risk, it broke b. these things happen. it wasn't somebody's fault. if there's any evidence somebody said we're not going to risk blowing our cover by helping that guy, i want that person in big trouble. there's no evidence anybody did that. no, that's right, chris. and chris stevens was a friend of mine. he was a peace corps volunteer. you and i were peace corps volunteers. it's rough out there. he was living the dream, he took
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risks, he talked about that in his public statements. it was a horrible situation that developed. >> that's the heart of it and the reason people care about it is somebody got killed, a good guy and other people. i think the president is doing some homework right now getting ready for this baby. this is going to be one heck of a challenge for the president getting through these two thickets. it going to be in the east room, they've upgraded it from the rose garden. it's very dignified. we'll see how the questions go with the president. we'll be right back. a confident retirement. those dreams have taken a beating lately. but no way we're going to let them die. ♪ ameriprise advisors can help keep your dreams alive like they helped millions of others. by listening. planning. working one on one. that's what ameriprise financial does. and that's what they can do with you. that's how ameriprise puts more within reach.
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try dr. scholl's active series. i'm a believer. are you still sleeping? just wanted to check and make sure that we were on schedule. the first technology of its kind... mom and dad, i have great news. is now providing answers families need. siemens. answers. we're back. it looks like about three, four minutes now we'll see the president and the prime minister of great britain, the united kingdom, for a press conference. i want to go to my friend now. sheer politics. the president of the united states is under the heat for two of these but particularly
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benghazi. he's sharing the heat with somebody who might be the next nominee for president, hillary rodham clinton. i'm thinking one reason they're having trouble getting a straight story out is one side of the other will take more heat than the other person. so they're each being careful not to go on to the other person's turf. >> they indicated there was a dog fight between the state department and the cia and the white house want that crucially involved. but the cia -- the state department ends up looking the worst for it because they didn't want information to go out there -- >> who selected susan rice to go on "meet the press" that weekend? >> that was probably an administration/white house decision. >> who -- >> the white house is involved. but the interesting this evening here is the theory of the case the republicans had was that the white house changed these talking points to get rid of terrorism. >> isn't it true that this administration like previous
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administrations and frankly more so the white house press office, the communications department of the president has a strong leash on every department when it comes to statements made on sunday television, in fact, who gets to go on a largely decided by the white house. >> to send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms watch is actually going on on the ground i think would have been very dangerous and personally i would not have approved that because we just don't -- it's sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces. the one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm's way and there just want time to do that. >> peter, that's a good point there. my question is who makes the call about it? i'm asking the question i think you know the answer to. who makes the question of who
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goes on the sunday shows and who knows the message they're going to put out that sunday? >> chris, that question is to me? >> yeah. >> i think it's obvious when you go on the sunday shows you watch, even when it's not all five shows at once, you hear repeated talking points. it plays a role in some form on this benghazi issue, as jay carney said consistently, the revisions from the white house were exclusively as he described it saying it was stylistic, the change from consulate to diplomatic facility to try to be a little more accurate. but it's the revisions in general and the input in general where the real issue exists on this topic. in terms of who is the one who ultimately makes the call on that day, a lot of people thought it might be secretary hillary clinton who might be answering all those questions before susan rice was ultimately
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selected. >> it's interesting on who made that call. it's a small point but i learned in political debate you find the other side's weakness a question they're not willing to come straight with. it's like in boxing, you keep going to that bad eye, the one that's closing. we got this many on benghazi because for some reason they can't give it to us straight for some reason. >> the white house got itself in this mess on the talking points because they left the impression with reporters that they only made one change. the white house and the state department. jay carney said that back in november he left the impression there was one change. the issue is they were moved involved, the state department clearly more so than the white house. there was a development, an evolution of these talking points that contradicts what the white house had said and so that's the issue right now. and the administration and white house officials are in particular annoyed at the fact that this is being portrayed as a coverup because they say
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republicans in congress have known about these e-mails and the 12 iterations for months and they have because they sent up -- >> but who is responsible for disclosing that information? people don't like rolling disclosure because rolling disclosure suggests the principal, in this case the president, is letting out information at his convenience and foreign his political purposes rather than giving it all out. >> that's why i think the response of the irs should be viewed through the lens of benghazi. >> rolling disclosure is the worst possible way to disclose information. we have live pictures now. we can see them from the white house east room where the president is going to have an upgraded press conference. i think this is upgraded with the prime minister of the united kingdom, david cameron, joining him. i think the questions are going to be about benghazi and probably more so about the irs scandal.
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the president and david cameron of the united kingdom are about to come out at any moment now. we're hearing that the ground rules are just one questions to each of the principals. of course you can do multiple facetted questions. i was thinking a maximum of six questions, if two reporters each ask three. i don't know how far the president is willing to go. i would expect in his interest he'll try to be prettyilio illustrutive. so the president is going to have to deal with that question. i hope he does in the interest of clarity get the story out clearly right now on the irs.
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on benghazi, if possible i think he'll try to deal with it. the question is will there be a select committee where hillary rodham clinton would have to speak under oath with a transcript, much like a courtroom environment. so we're going to get a lot of tough questioning. my own hopes, it doesn't die in atrophy over several month, they actually get the thing done quickly. i think faster commissions do better work, as do faster trials. i think we're going to hear the president i think address both those questions. also of course the united kingdom -- the prime minister of the united kingdom, mr. cameron, will get questions from his bitti british correspondents. this is an interesting situation, so few questions?
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>> it is an interesting situation, when we traveled with the president, for example, when he was overseas in the middle ea east, they did a two and two, one reporter from the local country, one from the u.s. they would ask multiple-part questions. today there is a potential if the question isn't specific, that president obama isn't asked specifically about one of those two topics, because syria will be a topic here as well, i reached out to a senior administration official -- as we hear protesters right outside the white house -- when i spoke to a senior administration official, they said they do not expect those opening remarks made by the president to address benghazi or more specifically to address the irs issue. but one of the obviously most critical parts of the conversation the two men just had behind closed doors would have been the issue of syria.
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last week president cameron met with president putin behind closed doors and they left the conversation saying we must drive the process. the question is how big of a role russia will play in driving that process, to pursue a transitional government in that country. >> what's the guy with the loudspeaker saying right now? should we hear that? is that not relevant? >> it is free somebody. i can't tell who they're asking to be freed. it directed to david cameron. it doesn't appear to be a guantanamo statement. wheel husba we'll hustle over and find out. >> what's the biggest story coming out today, irs or benghazi? >> i think it's irs. we traveled so much new ground over the course of the last 48 hours over the weekend. while so much of the issue has been litigated before, we know darrell issa, the house oversight chairman, saying he's going to put requests in for sworn depositions for the two
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men who oversaw that accountability review board, even though the benghazi issue, there are being calls for more hearings, the irs hasn't had any hearings on it. now we're getting calls for all issues. the white house saying they expect swift action to be taken after the release of the treasury report. i think the irs makes the most news today and is the most politically damaging to this administration. it really unifies the republican base on this one issue, when there has been so many challenges within the republican party right now as they grapple with issues like immigration. >> thank you so much, peter. let me go to carrie again. by the way, congratulations on politico. they're dynamite these days. i read it first every morning. my question just to jump you a little bit, was it the head of
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the irs, was it the head of the review operation for nonprofits, lois lerner or some liberal-minded person in cincinnati? when the president says a few personnel of the irs, i want to know who and how high up -- >> and he's going to be answering though questions. you watch what the president says. if it's not sufficient in the eyes of the public, congress, reporters, his response is very important. the president is not going to get any cover from democrats in congress on this one. they're going to be out there saying much of the same things. >> remember nothing he says will be sufficient for republicans who smell blood. but i do think he should come out there and say this is what joe mancion says, anybody who
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had anything to do with this will have nothing to do with the u.s. government. he can say if it's as bad as has been reported, i will take not swift steps, i will take swift action. make it harder for republicans to say he's not answering, he's dodg dodging, he's using weasel words. no weasel words today at the white house. >> i think it has legs but if the president does what david says, if he's quick and action oriented and not b.s.-strewn. >> he has to be open. weep saw in the clinton years how these things can spin out of control very quickly. he has to show he's in command. this is his administration so ultimately he has to hold people responsible himself.
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do i think the irs story is much more important than benghazi and i think they're going to talk about it now. >> here comes the president and the prime minister of the united kingdom. >> good morning, everybody. please have a seat. and to all our moms out there, i hope you had a wonderful mother's day. it's always a great pleasure to welcome my friend and partner, prime minister david cameron. michelle and i have wonderful memories from when david and samantha visited us last year. there was a lot of attention about how i took david to march madness. we went to ohio and a year later we have to confess that david still does not understand basketball. i still do not understand cricket. as we said before, the great alliance between the united states and united kingdom is rooted in shared interests and shared values and it's indispensable to global security and prosperity. but as we've seen again recently, it's also a partnership of the heart. here in the united states we
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joined our british friends in mourning the passing of barones margaret thatcher, a great champion of freedom and liberty and of the alliance that we carry on today. and after the bombings in boston we americans were grateful for the support of friends from around the world, particularly those across the atlantic. at the london marathon runners paused in a moment of silence and dedicated their race to boston and david will be visiting boston to pay tribute to the victims and first responders. david, i want to thank you and the american people for remi reminding news good times and in bad our two people stand in one. david's here first and foremost as he prepares to host the g-8 next month. i appreciate him updating me on the agenda as it takes shape and we discussed how the summit will be an opportunity sustain the global economic recovery and creating jobs for our people.
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michelle and i are looking forward to visiting northern ireland. i know the summit will be a great success under david's leadership. we discussed moving forward on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership. our extensive trade is central to our broader transatlantic programs and i look forward to launching negotiations with the e.u. in the coming months. i believe have wee have an opportunity to cut tariffs, open markets, create jobs and make all of our economies even more competitive. with regard to global security, we reviewed progress in afghanistan where our troops continue to serve with extraordinary courage alongside each other. as planned, afghan forces will
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take the lead for security across the country soon this spring. u.s., british and coalition forces will move into a support role. our troops will continue to come home and the war will end by the end of next year, even as we work with our afghan partners to make sure afghanistan is never again a haven for terrorists who would attack our nationsgiven our shared interest in middle east peace, i updated david the negotiations with palestinians and reaffirmed reforms in the middle east and north africa, including economic reforms that go along with political reforms. of course we discussed syria and the appalling violence being inflicted on the syrian people. together we're going to continue our efforts to increase pressure on the assad regime, to provide humanitarian aid to the long-suffering syrian people, to
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strengthen the moderate opposition and to prepare for a democratic syria without bashar al assad and that includes bringing together representatives of the regime and the opposition in geneva in the coming weeks to agree on a transitional body which would allow a transfer of power from assad to the governing body. we'll continue to work on chemical weapons in syria. we discussed tehran and its continued failure to abide by its nuclear obligations. the burden is on iran to engage with us and our partners in order to resolve the world's concerns about its nuclear program. and finally today we reaffirming our commitment to global development. we encouraged with the fund to
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fight aids and t.b. malaria where both of our nations are stepping up efforts. the g-8 summit will be another opportunity to make progress on nutrition and food security. david, thank you as always for your support and our partnership and leadership. if the history of our people show anything it, is that we percent ve persever persevere, as within of the london runs are said, we're going to keep running and continue to. thank you very much and welcome. >> thank you very much. thank you for the warm welcome. thank you for what you said about margaret thatcher. it was a pleasure to welcome so many americans to her remarkable funeral in the u.k.
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i echo what you said about the appalling events in boston. we will always stand with you in the fight against terrorism. thank you for the remarks about the cricket and basketball. i haven't made much progress. i made a bit of progress about baseball. i actually read a book about it this year. maybe next year we'll go to work on that one. it's good to be back for the first time since the american people returned you to office and, as you said, the relationship between britain and the united states is a partnership without parallel. day in and day out across the world our diplomats and intelligence agencies work to the, our soldiers serve together and our businesses trade with each other. in afghanistan our armed forces are together defending the stability that will make us all safer and in the global economic race our businesses are doing more than $17 billion of trade across the atlantic every month of every year. and in a changing world, our
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nations share a resolve to stand up for democracy, for enterprise and for freedom. we've discussed many issues today, as the president has said. let me highlight three, the economy, the g-8 and syria. our greatest challenge is to create a sustainable economic recovery. each of us has to find the right solutions at home. for all of us it means dealing with debt, restoring stability, getting our economy growing and together seizing new opportunities to grow our economies. president obama and i have both championed a free trade deal between the european union and the united states and there's a real chance faux to get the process launched in time for the g-8. the next five weeks are crucial. to realize the real benefits will take ambition and political will. that means everything on the table, even the political issues and no exception. for britain alone, an ambitious deal would be worth up to 10
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billion pounds a year boosting car manufacturing to financial services. weep discussed the g-8 summit in some detail. when we meet on the shores of northern ireland five weeks from today, i want us to agree ambitious action for economic growth. open trade is at the heart of this but we have a broader agenda, too, to make sure. >> shares in the benefits of this greater openness, not just in our advanced economies but in the developing world, too. i'm unashamedly pro-business politician, but as we open our economies to get business growi growing, we need to make sure all businesses pay their taxes properly and make sure citizens hold their business to accounts. today we tackle the scourge of tax evision, who owns a company, who profits and where the taxes are paid. and we can stop those who are manipulating the system i
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unfairly. finally we discussed the brutal conflict in syria, 80,000 dead, 5 million people forced from their homes. syria's history is being written in the blood of her people and it is happening on our an end. none of us have any interest in seeing more lives lost, in seeing chemical weapons used or extremist violence spreading even further. so we welcome president putin's agreement to join an effort to achieve a political solution. the chael ellenge remain formid. there is no more urgent international task than this. we need to get syrians to the table to agree to a transitional government that can win the consent of all of the syrian people. but there will be no political progress unless the opposition is able to withstand the onslaught and put pressure on assad so he knows there is no military victory, we'll increase
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our efforts to support and shape the modern opposition. we will double nonlethal support to the syrian opposition in the coming year. armored vehicles, body armor and power generators are about to be shipped. we're helping local councils govern the areas they liberate. we'll also do more for those in desperate need. care for trauma injuries, helping torture victims to recover. getting syrian families drinking clean water, having access to food and shelter. there is now i believe common ground between the u.s., uk, russia and many others that whatever our differences, we have the same aim, a stable, inclusive and peaceful syria. free from the scourge of extremism. there's real political will behind this. we need to get on and do everything we can do make it happen. barack, thanks for your warm
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welcome. >> we have time for a couple of questions, we'll start with julie pace. >> i want to ask about the irs and benghazi. when did you first learn that the irs was targeting conservative political groups? do you feel that the irs has betrayed the public's trust and what do you think the repercussions for these auctions should be. and new emails show that the white house and the state department appear to have been more closely involved with the crafting of the talking points on the attack than first acknowledged. do you think the whis misled the public in its role in shaping the talking points and do you stand by your administration's assertions that the talking points were not purposy changed to downflay the prospects of terrorism and prime minister cameron on syria, if the eu arms embargo you mentioned, lapses, is it your intention and are you encouraging president obama to take the same step? thank you. >> let me take the irs situation first. i first learned about it from
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the same news reports that i think most people learned about this. i think it was on friday. and this is pretty straightforward. if in fact irs personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on, and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. and there's no place for it. and they have to be held fully accountable. because the irs as an independent agency, requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they're applying it in a nonpartisan way. applying the laws in a nonpartisan way. and you should feel that way regardless of party. i don't care whether you're a democrat, independent or a republican. at some point there are going to
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be republican administrations, at some point there are going to be democratic ones. either way, you don't want the irs ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate. so this is something that i think people are properly concerned about. the i.g. is conducting its investigation and i am not going to comment on their specific findings prematurely. but i can tell you that if you've got the irs operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous, it is contrary trt our traditions and people have to be held accountable and it needs to be fixed. we'll wait and see what all the details and facts are. i've got no patience with it, i will not tolerant it and we'll
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make sure we find out what happens on this. with respect to benghazi, we've now seen this argument that's been made by some folks primarily up on capitol hill for months now. and i've just got to say, here's what we know -- americans died. in benghazi. what we also know is clearly they were not in a position where they were adequately protected. the day after it happened, i acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism. and what i pledged to the american people was, we would find out what happened, we would make sure that it did not happen again and we would make sure that we held accountable those who had perpetrated this
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terrible crime. and that's exactly what we've been trying to do. and over the last several months, there was a review board headed by two distinguished americans, mike mullen and tom pickering. who investigated every element of this and what they discovered was some pretty harsh judgments in terms of how we had worked to protect consulates and embassies around the world. they gave us a whole series of recommendations, those recommendations are being implemented as we speak. the whole issue of this, of talking points frankly throughout this process, has been a sideshow. we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened, we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it had
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occurred. what the motivations were. it happened at the same time, as we had seen attacks on u.s. embassies in cairo as a consequence of this film. and nobody understood exactly what was taking place. during the course of those first few days. and the emails that you allude to were provided by us to congressional committees, they reviewed them several months ago. concluded that in fact, there was nothing afoul in terms of the process that we had used. and suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there's something new to the story. there's no "there" there. keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for susan rice
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five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that i was receiving at that time. in my presidential daily briefing. and keep in mind, that two to three days after susan rice appeared on the sunday shows, using these talking points, which have been the source of all this controversy, i sent up the head of our national counterterrorism center, matt olsen, up to capitol hill, and specifically said -- it was an act of terrorism, and that extremist elements inside of libya had been involved in it. so -- if this was some effort on our part to try to downplay what had happened or tamp it down -- that would be a pretty odd thing that three days later, we end up
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putting out all the information that in fact has now served as the basis for everybody recognizing that this was a terrorist attack and that it may have included elements that were planned by extremists inside of libya. who executes some sort of cover-up or effort to tamp things down, for three days? so the whole thing defies logic. and the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly has a lot to do with political motivations. we've had folks who have challenged hillary clinton's integrity. susan rice's integrity. mike mullen and tom pickering's integrity. it's a challenge that mine gets challenged by these same folks. they've used it for fundraising. and frankly, you know, if anybody out there wants to
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actually focus on how we make sure something like this does not happen again? i am happy to get their advice and information and council. but the fact of the matter is these four americans, as i said right when it happened, were people i sent into the field. and i've been very clear about taking responsibility for the fact that we were not able to prevent their deaths. and we are doing everything we can to make sure we prevent it, in part because there are still diplomats around the world, who are in very dangerous, difficult situations. and we don't have time to be playing these kinds of political games here in washington. we should be focused on, what are we doing to protect them. that's not easy, by the way. it's going to require resources and tough judgments and tough calls and there are a whole bunch of diplomats out there who know they're in


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