President Barack Obama is set to hold his first news conference since re-election at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday from the White House’s East Room. However, fiscal cliff negotiations may be overshadowed by the media's thirst for more details surrounding Gen. David Petraeus’ sex scandal
Petraeus suddenly resigned as head of he CIA on Friday because of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, that began last year when he took the helm of the spy agency. The affair ended months ago but has sparked a storm of controversy in Washington.
Here are some things to watch for at the news conference:
Petraeus Affair/Benghazi/ National Security
Obama will likely face questions about who knew what, when they knew it, and how. He has lost one of his top security officials and therefore will also need to provide details on what his new security team will look like.
ThepPresident will also probably be asked about any links between Petraeus’ resignation and the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. That attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Petraeus is expected to testify before Congress on the issue and there has been talk that because he has resigned he won’t need to. However, congressional leaders have indicated that if need be they will call Petraeus up. The former CIA head said he will be testifying before Congress on the matter.
Standing by Gen. John Allen?
Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has found himself in the middle of the Petraeus scandal because he allegedly sent “inappropriate” emails to a Florida woman, Jill Kelley, who reported to the FBI receiving threatening emails from Petraeus' mistress Broadwell. That investigation uncovered the Petraeus-Broadwell affair.
Allen is being investigated by the Department of Defense, and has said he has done nothing wrong. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned against jumping to conclusion in terms of Allen’s involvement. Whether or not the President gives his vote of confidence to Allen and why may be up for discussion at the press conference.
As he meets with several business and labor leaders on Wednesday before heading into fiscal cliff talks on Friday, Obama has maintained the stance that the wealthy need to pay a little more in taxes.
Wednesday’s press conference may be the time to pull more information from Obama regarding his plans to cut spending while bringing in new revenue. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, has said that Obama will bring to the table a plan to get $1.6 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. Republicans aren’t in favor of increasing taxes, so whether or not Obama will settle for keeping tax rates as they are while shutting some loopholes that benefit the wealthy is yet to be seen.
At least one economist, Paul Krugman, has said the President should go over the fiscal cliff if necessary. Is Obama prepared to do that? And what could prompt him to take that stance? Those are questions that might pop up at the press conference.