October 21st, 2011
04:57 PM ET

Mr. Ferrell goes to Washington


Comedian Will Ferrell popped into the briefing room on Friday afternoon while on a tour of the White House with press secretary Jay Carney. Ferrell is in Washington D.C. to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday at the Kennedy Center. While in the briefing room, Ferrell stood behind the podium and took a picture with Carney while saying jokingly, “Jay, why are you forcing me to take a picture? This is all for your benefit.”

According to the Kennedy Center, Sunday’s awards ceremony will include “a lineup of the biggest names in entertainment, including Jack Black, Green Day, Larry King, Nathan Lane, Adam McKay, Lorne Michaels, Conan O'Brien, John C. Reilly, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, and Molly Shannon.”

Wait until 30 seconds into the video above for the funny picture moment.

Topics: Briefing Room • Jay Carney
Pres. Obama: "troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays"
"After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over, " President Barack Obama said Friday, October 21, 2011 in announcing the full withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year. He added, "Today I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays." (Brian Yaklyvich/CNN)
October 21st, 2011
02:48 PM ET

Pres. Obama: "troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays"

This afternoon President Obama stepped into the press briefing room at the White House to announce that he had just spoken via secure videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and reaffirmed his commitment to remove all U.S. troops from his country by the end of the year.

“After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over,” Obama said. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America's military efforts in Iraq will end.”

CNN’s national security unit reported on October 17 that the United States and Iraq have been unable to come to an agreement on key issue regarding legal immunity for U.S. troops who would remain in Iraq after the end of the year. A senior U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the discussions told CNN on Monday that this effectively ended discussion of maintaining a significant American force presence after the end of 2011.

There are approximately 39,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq and the U.S. had initially wanted to keep between 3,000 and 5,000 troops in Iraq beyond the end of 2011. Although a small number of U.S. troops will remain attached to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, today’s announcement shows that the Obama administration is going against the recommendations of many senior Republicans in Congress.

Already the president’s announcement has been received with trepidation by Republicans on Capitol Hill. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham – a senior member of the Senate Armed Services committee – released a statement expressing his skepticism that the president’s plan will succeed.

“I respectfully disagree with President Obama,” Graham’s statement read. “I feel all we have worked for, fought for, and sacrificed for is very much in jeopardy by today’s announcement. I hope I am wrong and the President is right, but I fear this decision has set in motion events that will come back to haunt our country.”

Rep. "Buck" McKeon – chairman of the House Armed Services Committee – released a similar statement. "I remain concerned that this full withdrawal of US forces will make that road tougher than it needs to be,” McKeon’s statement read. “Multiple experts have testified before my committee that the Iraqis still lack important capacities in their ability to maintain their internal stability and territorial integrity.  These shortcomings could reverse the decade of hard work and sacrifice both countries have endured to build a free Iraq.”

Senate Democrats have come out in support of the president’s decision, especially in light of the Iraqi government’s refusal to guarantee immunity for U.S. troops. FULL POST

Topics: Iraq • President Obama
Obama signs trade agreements
October 21st, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Obama signs trade agreements

President Obama officially signed free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, and Colombia Friday in the Oval Office. He was flanked by business leaders who have heavily pressed for the agreements.

Topics: The Visuals
Morning Briefing: A win and a loss for Obama
October 21st, 2011
08:37 AM ET

Morning Briefing: A win and a loss for Obama

The 1600 Report's daily roundup of what the White House is reading this morning online and in the papers:

Senate GOP blocks Obama plan – again [CNN.com]

But he gets his Commerce Secretary [CNN.com]

Obama praises “collective action” after Gadhafi death [WashPost]

Relationship between Obama and Wall Street: It’s complicated [POLITICO]

Obama’s coattails aren’t what they used to be [POLITICO]

Romney’s in or out of Iowa? [NYTimes]

Can Obama replicate Bush’s 2004 strategy? [NYTimes]

DNC spends big on Obama’s job plan [WashPost]

POTUS' Day Ahead: Trade and Science
October 21st, 2011
07:32 AM ET

POTUS' Day Ahead: Trade and Science

Good morning from the White House.  A relatively light day is ahead for president Obama.  In the morning, he will official sign the Korea, Panama, and Colombia free trade agreements that the Senate ratified earlier this week.  In the afternoon, he will honor recipients of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation.  That event is in the East Room.

Jay Carney will brief reporters at 12:30 p.m.

Full schedule after the jump:


Topics: Daily Schedule