September 13th, 2013
09:58 AM ET

U.S. and Russia negotiate over Syrian chemical weapons

Russia and the United States will meet later this month to discuss a possible diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said from Switzerland on Friday, where the two nations are holding a second day of talks about Syria's chemical weapons.

Kerry said they would meet "around the United Nations General Assembly" on September 28. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, spoke to reporters after meeting with the joint U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Geneva.

They pledged to work toward setting a date for a long-delayed second round of peace talks involving all parties in Syria, known as Geneva II, at the meeting in New York.

June 19th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Obama calls for reducing U.S., Russian nukes

President Barack Obama followed in the footsteps of past U.S. leaders with a speech on Wednesday at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate, where he said he would ask Russia to join the United States in slashing its supply of strategic nuclear warheads.

"We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation, but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe," Obama said in the city that symbolized the East-West divide in the decades after World War II.

"After a comprehensive review, I've determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies - and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent - while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third," he said. "And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures."

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Snowden: No chance of fair trial
June 17th, 2013
01:39 PM ET

Snowden: No chance of fair trial

The man who admitted leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs purportedly went online live on Monday to declare the truth would come out even if he is jailed or killed, and said President Barack Obama did not fulfill his promises and expanded several "abusive" national security initiatives.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Edward Snowden (pictured) answered questions in an online chat about why he revealed details of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance of U.S. citizens.

Snowden said he did so because Obama campaigned for the presidency on a platform of ending abuses. But instead, he said Obama "closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge."

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IRS official takes the 5th at congressional hearing
Lois Lerner leaves the House Oversight Committee's hearing Wednesday after refusing to answer the panel's questions.
May 22nd, 2013
10:55 AM ET

IRS official takes the 5th at congressional hearing

An Internal Revenue Service official who headed the division involved in targeting conservative groups invoked her constitutional right against self-incrimination Wednesday and refused to answer questions from a congressional committee.

Lois Lerner read a statement at a House Oversight Committee hearing that declared she did nothing wrong and broke no laws before saying she would not answer any questions.

"I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules and regulations," Lerner said, adding that she never misled or lied to Congress, as contended by some legislators.

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May 17th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Ousted IRS chief: No intentional political targeting

A huge increase in workload, rather than deliberate targeting, led to "foolish mistakes" and the political discrimination in the Internal Revenue Service cited by an inspector general's report, the agency's outgoing commissioner said Friday.

The testimony by Steven Miller, who was forced to announce his resignation this week as acting IRS commissioner, came at the first congressional hearing on the matter that has put President Barack Obama's administration on the defensive.

Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the Republican-led panel, and other GOP members sought to depict the controversy as indicative of government gone wild, with the IRS abusing conservative groups and other political foes of the administration.

"This kind of reconfirms that, you know what, they can do anything they want to anybody they want any time they want," GOP Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said about the IRS.

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Senate nixes gun background checks expansion
The bipartisan proposal to expand background checks was backed by President Obama, but it failed to clear the Senate.
April 17th, 2013
04:32 PM ET

Senate nixes gun background checks expansion

In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales.

The bipartisan plan was brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. It was also backed by President Barack Obama in his push for a package of gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

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March 21st, 2013
09:28 AM ET

Obama: Palestinians deserve own state

U.S. President Barack Obama visited the West Bank on Thursday, stressing the need for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state solution.

"The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it," Obama said at a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Palestinians deserve a future of hope," he said. "Palestinians deserve a state of their own."

Obama signs order triggering sequester cuts
March 1st, 2013
08:55 PM ET

Obama signs order triggering sequester cuts

The president signed an order Friday required by law that set in motion $85 billion in automatic, government-wide cuts - cuts that both Democrats and Republicans said they didn't want, though they couldn't agree on how to prevent them.

The cuts amount to roughly 9% for a broad range of non-defense programs and 13% for the Pentagon over the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

They were included in a 2011 deal to raise the federal borrowing limit as an unacceptable outcome if Congress failed to agree on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. That plan did not happen.

Jackson Jr. pleads guilty to misusing funds
February 20th, 2013
12:29 PM ET

Jackson Jr. pleads guilty to misusing funds

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is owning up to allegations that he used campaign funds for personal expenses - and now he might get prison time.

Jackson, dabbing at this eyes with a handkerchief, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.

Sentencing is set for June 28. That charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but though the judge noted that prosecutors and defense attorneys appeared to recommend a lighter sentence.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Illinois • Justice • Politics
Pentagon chief warns of 'readiness crisis' over spending cuts
February 6th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Pentagon chief warns of 'readiness crisis' over spending cuts

Furloughed workers, reduced combat readiness, shrunken naval operations and cuts to Air Force flying hours and weapons maintenance.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listed those consequences as he provided a stark warning Wednesday about the effects of impending budget cuts on the military. The result, he said, would be "the most serious readiness crisis" faced by the military in over a decade.

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February 5th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Obama calls for short-term fix to imminent spending cuts

[Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama says that if Congress can't come up with a long-term deficit reduction package by March 1, Congress should pass a smaller, short-term package to avoid the deep automatic spending cuts that otherwise would take effect that day.

The imminent spending cuts - known as sequestration - were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal.

In his comments moments ago at the White House, Obama said his past proposal - a mix of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and increased revenue - remain on table. He says this mix, rather than spending cuts alone, is the most sensible option.

Choosing only to cut spending, Obama said, would "cost us jobs and slow down our recovery."

[Initial post, 12:03 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama today will call for a short-term agreement to put off deep cuts to government spending set to take effect next month, a senior administration official has confirmed to CNN.

The president will make a statement to reporters at 1:15 p.m. ET that urges Congress to pass a measure that would put off the imminent spending cuts - known as sequestration - that were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal, the official said.

A White House official, also on condition of not being identified, issued a statement that said Obama will call for a balanced approach - which is code for including additional revenue with spending cuts - to "avoid the deep, indiscriminate cuts to domestic and defense programs slated to take effect in just over three weeks."

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January 24th, 2013
11:15 AM ET

Watch live: Feinstein proposes banning 100+ firearms

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is offering details on her proposal to federally ban some assault weapons, as well as ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

You can watch the announcement in Washington live on

Her measure is designed “to help end the mass shootings that have devastated families” and communities, she said. The proposal comes about a month after a shooting that killed 20 children and six women at a Connecticut elementary school.

Feinstein, while making the announcement, also is displaying examples of weapons that would be banned. Her measure would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of more than 100 specialty firearms and certain semi-automatic rifles, as well as limiting magazines to 10 rounds or less. Not all of the weapons in the bill meet the technical definition of assault weapons.

The measure would not cover weapons already owned before it passed, as well as other hunting, sporting, antique, manually operated and disabled weapons.

Obama to announce gun plans tomorrow
January 15th, 2013
01:15 PM ET

Obama to announce gun plans tomorrow

It didn't take long for U.S. President Barack Obama to decide how he wants to try to reduce gun violence.

Obama (pictured) and Vice President Joe Biden will announce Obama's plan for reducing gun violence on Wednesday, the White House said Tuesday afternoon. Biden had given recommendations to Obama after leading a task force on the issue last week.

Obama's proposal will be comprehensive, and will include legislative options for banning assault weapons as well as steps to address high-capacity magazines and federal background checks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Obama and Biden will be joined by children from around the country who wrote letters to the president, Carney said.

What proposals do you want to see to reduce gun violence? Share them at CNN iReport, Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Obama: Gun lobby 'ginning up' fear

December 27th, 2012
12:19 PM ET

Obama, Senate back in Washington as fiscal cliff deadline looms

Let the endgames begin.

After a Christmas holiday, President Barack Obama returned to Washington from Hawaii and the U.S. Senate reconvened Thursday as the deadline approached for going over the fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.

However, the House remained on Christmas break, with members warned they could be called back on 48 hours' notice if needed.

Hopes for a so-called grand bargain that would address the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt appeared dashed for now, with four days remaining to reach agreement on a smaller plan that would avoid the harshest effects of the fiscal cliff's tax increases and slashed spending.

With House Republicans unable to resolve the impasse, the focus shifted to the Democratic majority in the Senate to come up with a way forward that could pass the House and get signed into law by Obama.

Geithner: U.S. to hit debt ceiling Dec. 31

Consumer confidence dips on cliff fears

Will fiscal cliff hurt economy?

Boehner willing to talk tax rates for wealthy, source says
President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at a November meeting.
December 15th, 2012
09:23 PM ET

Boehner willing to talk tax rates for wealthy, source says

House Speaker John Boehner has offered to include higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as part of a deficit-reduction deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, a source close to the talks confirmed to CNN on Saturday.

The latest twist in the negotiations, first reported by Politico, indicates a possible breakthrough in the protracted efforts to forge a deal to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of not being identified further, Boehner proposed allowing tax rates on income over $1 million to return to higher rates of the 1990s while extending current reduced rates for all income up to that threshold.

However, Boehner's spokesman said no deal had been reached, though communication continues with the White House.

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December 10th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

Obama, Boehner try to talk their way down from fiscal cliff

It's crunch time for avoiding the fiscal cliff as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner and their aides hold private talks on issues that will impact every American.

Three weeks remain to cut a deal before the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts of the fiscal cliff go into effect on January 1.

Obama and Boehner met face-to-face on Sunday for the first time since November 16. It also was their first one-on-one meeting in more than a year, when talks broke down on a comprehensive agreement to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.

In a rare display of bipartisan concurrence, both sides issued identical statements after the meeting that said no details would be forthcoming. Staff on both sides also have been talking, but few details were available.

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December 4th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Same players, same disputes in fiscal cliff debate

If insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, then continuing negotiations on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff might amount to little more than crazy talk.

The same players are arguing about the same issue - taxes - in a repeat of budget showdowns of the past two years that failed to reach a comprehensive agreement.

President Barack Obama's re-election in November, coupled with a perceived desire by congressional leaders to shed their reputation of dysfunction, raised expectations for a possible deal.

However, with four weeks to go until the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts of the fiscal cliff get triggered, the two sides remain unable to resolve a central issue - whether wealthy Americans should pay more taxes than they do now.

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December 3rd, 2012
03:39 PM ET

House GOP proposal on fiscal cliff rejects Obama's tax plan

Negotiations on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff got a jump-start on Monday with House Republicans offering a counter-proposal to President Barack Obama, but continuing to reject his call for higher tax rates on the wealthy.

The GOP proposal would result in $2.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, including $800 billion from tax reform, $600 billion from Medicare reforms and other health savings, and $600 billion in other spending cuts, House GOP leadership aides told reporters.

House Speaker John Boehner called it a "credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House."

The move followed a weekend of accusations by both sides that the other was not serious about reaching a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect January 1 - what is known as the fiscal cliff that economists say will damage U.S. growth.

There was no immediate response to the Republican plan, which congressional aides said would be sent in a letter to the White House.

Head of Hamas military wing killed
Hamas military wing leader Ahmed Ja'abari is seen on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza on October 18, 2011.
November 14th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

Head of Hamas military wing killed

Ahmed al-Ja'abari, head of Hamas' military wing, was killed Wednesday in Gaza by an Israeli "surgical" strike, the Israeli military announced.

A spokesman for the Hamas-run government in Gaza confirmed that al-Ja'abari was killed in an Israeli strike.  "Israel is announcing the war in Gaza and Israel will carry the responsibility for killing Ahmed Jabri," Tahar Eanono said in a written message.

Militants in Gaza have been firing dozens of rockets into southern Israel, and Israel has struck back.

The Israeli military tweeted earlier today:


See our full coverage of today's events here.

September 4th, 2012
01:35 PM ET

Democratic convention will highlight differing visions between the parties

Facing a close election and Republican attacks that they have made things worse while in power, President Barack Obama and Democrats seek to emphasize what has been achieved and additional steps to bolster the middle class at their three-day national convention that begins Tuesday.

The political conclave that will formally nominate Obama for a second term serves as a response to last week's Republican convention that nominated Mitt Romney as the GOP challenger in November.

Democrats offered a glimpse of issues expected to play a prominent role in this week's events, releasing their party platform late Monday. It focuses on improving the economic situation for middle-class Americans, a central theme of Obama's campaign and an issue the party hopes will win votes come November. It also contains language endorsing same-sex marriage for the first time, a move that brings the party's official stance in line with that of the president, who said for the first time in May that he supports marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

"Over the course of the week, you'll hear a very different tone than the one that you heard last week in Tampa, which was really essentially one nonstop series of attacks on President Obama," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN on Tuesday.

"We're going to lay out the case for moving the economy forward. President Obama and speakers throughout the week will talk about and have an honest conversation about where we were when he first took office and where we are now after four years of his policies and 29 straight months of job growth in the private sector. And that we need to continue to move forward and we've got a ways to go."

First lady Michelle Obama will address the convention Tuesday night, and former President Bill Clinton headlines the second night before Obama concludes it with his nationally televised address Thursday night.

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