President Obama welcomes Chicago Cubs to White House

Obama is likely to weigh in on his controversial decision to slash the sentence of transgender army private Chelsea Manning, who was jailed for 35 years for handing classified United States documents to WikiLeaks.

Wednesday's news conference is the final time Obama is expected to speak in public before he departs the US Capitol on Friday as an ex-president.

"The notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing valuable classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I don't think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served", he said.

Obama opened the news conference rebuffing Trump, issuing a vocal defense of the White House press corps, insisting the reporters who covered his administration were an essential facet of a functioning democracy.

"And, for me at least, I'd put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up hear and for all practical purposes are American kids and sent them someplace else", Obama said. "My suggestion to the president elect is, you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it's harder to undo".

"This is a job of such magnitude that you can't do it by yourself", Obama said.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer sought to play down any troubles, praising Obama and his staff and saying this transition may come to be seen as a "gold standard".

"This is not just a matter of "no-drama-Obama", he said, joking about his reputation for a cerebral, even detached approach. "We just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted". His choice of venue is telling - Trump's team has floated the possibility of scrapping the White House briefing room for a larger venue.

Addressing Russia, which his intelligence agencies said sought to interfere in U.S. elections, Obama urged the United States to continue to stand up for human rights and the principle that large countries do not bully smaller ones, pointing to worldwide sanctions on Moscow over its incursion in Ukraine.

"I have been concerned about the degree to which, in some circles, you've seen people suggest that Vladimir Putin has more credibility than the USA government", he said. The comment recalled the infamous outfit that the outgoing President wore in August 2014 that captured far more attention than his words that day. The Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, is itself a political melting pot, with Todd Ricketts, Trump's choice for deputy commerce secretary, flanking Obama on one side, and sister Laura Ricketts, a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton this election cycle, on the other side.



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