TIME White House

Watch Obama Perfectly Nail a Key and Peele Skit at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

He got some help from Luther, his anger translator

The highlight of President Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday was when Keegan-Michael Key of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele made a surprise appearance as Luther, the President’s anger translator.

Playing a character he originated on the sketch comedy show, Key “translated” Obama’s mild-mannered speech into an angry rant, warning the audience to “hold on to your lily-white butts.”

At one point, when Obama was discussing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy, Key interjected, “Khaleesi is coming to Westeros.”

But by the time he started talking about climate change, Obama let himself get riled up. That was Luther’s cue: “With all due respect sir, you don’t need an anger translator, you need counseling.”

On his way out, he shared a moment with Michelle Obama, during which they seemed to agree the President was “crazy.”

TIME White House

Watch the Funniest Jokes From the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

President Obama and Cecily Strong crack wise in Washington

For 364 days of the year, Washington, D.C. is about as funny as daytime C-SPAN.

But for just one night, the White House and the journalists who cover it put aside their differences, put on their tuxes and gowns, and come together for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

Celebrities, journalists, and politicians gathered Saturday night for the annual dinner sometimes known as “nerd prom”—an event so popular there’s even a documentary on Washington’s biggest night.

It’s a chance for the President to relax and crack a few jokes of his own. And in case they fall flat, he is followed by a bit from an actual comedian (this year it was Saturday Night Live cast member Cecily Strong, in the past it’s been other big names like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers.) And Keegan-Michael Key made a surprise appearance as Luther, Obama’s anger translator, a character from his Comedy Central show Key & Peele.

Here are the funniest moments from the night.

Obama’s best jokes:

1) On Joe Biden: “The fact is, I feel more loose and relaxed than ever. Those Joe Biden shoulder massages are like magic. You should try one. … Oh, you have?”

2) “Advisers asked me, ‘do you have a bucket list?’ And I said, well, I have something that rhymes with ‘bucket list.’ … Take executive action on immigration? Bucket. New Climate regulations? Bucket.”

3) On how tough it is to be president: “It’s no wonder people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me… John Boehner’s already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral.”

4) On Obamacare: “Today, thanks to Obamacare, you no longer have to worry about losing your insurance if you lose your job. You’re welcome, Senate Democrats.”

5) On the Republicans: “Dick Cheney says I’m the worst president of his life time. Which is interesting, because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime. What a coincidence.”

6) On Hillary Clinton: “I have one friend—just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year, and now she’s living out of a van in Iowa.”

7) On his bro-mance with Biden: “We’ve gotten so close that in some places in Indiana they won’t serve us pizza anymore”

8) On the weather and the media: “The polar vortex caused so many record lows they named it MSNBC.”

9) On the possibility of a Bernie Sanders campaign: “Apparently some people want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all.”

10) Luther, Obama’s anger translator (played by Keegan-Michael Key) on Hillary Clinton’s campaign: “Khaleesi is coming to Westeros”

Cecily Strong’s best jokes:

1) On the mood in the room: This is “a chance for all of you to unwind, relax, and laugh as soon as you notice someone slightly more powerful than you is laughing.”

2) On C-SPAN: “To some viewers watching at home on C-SPAN, hello! To most viewers watching at home on c-span: meow!”

3) On the location: “‘It is great to be here at the Washington Hilton’—is something a prostitute might say to a congressman.”

4) On the media guest list: “BuzzFeed is here, but I can give you a listicle of 17 reasons why they shouldn’t be.”

5) On Brian Williams: “What can I say about Brian Williams? Nothing, because I work for NBC.”

6) On Serial and The Jinx: “Sarah Koenig must be so pissed about the Jinx—its like Serial, but with an ending.”

7) On the President’s absence from Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack: “Paris is so beautiful—Mr. President, you should really think about going there sometime.”

8) On Sen. Tom Cotton: “Tom Cotton is a Senator, and not a rabbit from an old racist Disney cartoon.”

9) On the 2016 Republican race: “Marco Rubio makes Mitt Romney seem relaxed on the air. I just hope he gets comfortable in front of a camera before he has to go on to endorse Jeb Bush.”

10) On Rand Paul: “Rand Paul announced he’s taking over the family’s not-being-president business.”

11) On Obama’s graying hair: “Your hair is so white now, it can talk back to the police.”

12) On what Obama and Madonna have in common: “You’ve both given this country so much, but in a year-and-a-half you gotta stop.”

TIME White House

President Obama Attends the Annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Cecily Strong from Saturday Night Live hosts this year

President Obama was joined on Saturday night by a cadre of celebrities and journalists for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s the 101st year of the dinner, and the President was sure to crack some wise ones. Cecily Strong of Saturday Night Live was hosting the evening.

It’s a night for the President to make fun of his staunchest rivals, and take some heat himself from the host. Last year, he made fun of House Speaker John Boehner’s tan, the gridlock in Congress and Fox News.

“The Koch brothers bought a table here this evening but they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Good evening, Fox News,” Obama joked last year.

Read more: Comedian-in-Chief Barack Obama Hosts White House Dinner

This year, expect anything from the Republican presidential candidates to the media to be fair game for friendly mockery.

TIME celebrities

See the Stars at the TIME-People White House Correspondents Party

Laverne Cox, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and others came to the TIME-People party Friday the night before the White House Correspondents' Dinner

TIME White House

Obama Defends U.S. Intelligence After Hostage Deaths

US President Barack Obama speaks at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the formation for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, at it's headquarters in McClean, Va., on Apr. 24, 2015.
Kevin Dietsch—Pool/Getty Images Obama speaks at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the formation for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, at its headquarters in McClean, Va., on Apr. 24, 2015.

"We don't take this work lightly"

(MCLEAN, Va.)—A day after revealing an intelligence failure that cost the lives of two al-Qaeda hostages, President Obama on Friday praised the nation’s spying operations as the most capable in the world while promising a review aimed at preventing future mistakes.

“We all bleed when we lose an American life,” Obama said in a speech at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to mark its 10th anniversary. “We all grieve when any innocent life is taken. We don’t take this work lightly. And I know that each and every one of you understand the magnitude of what we do and the stakes involved and these aren’t abstractions and we’re not cavalier about what we do.”

Obama said he knows the U.S. intelligence community has faced criticism but they can take great pride that their work has made America more secure. “You do an outstanding job,” he said.

“The world doesn’t always see your successes, the threats that you prevent or the terrorist attacks you thwart, or the lives that you save,” Obama told a couple hundred intelligence officials gathered in an auditorium at the sprawling gray building outside Washington. He said their intelligence helped take out Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, showed that Syria had chemical weapons, revealed Russian aggression in Ukraine and supported nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“It’s been 10 long and challenging years, but when we look back on those 10 years, the American people have been a whole lot safer,” Obama said.

Obama’s praise came one day after the announcement that a counterterrorism operation in January against an al-Qaeda compound accidentally killed two aid workers being held hostage — American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. Obama said the U.S. was unaware the hostages were in the targeted position, despite hundreds of hours of surveillance of the compound.

The White House said the attack also killed two American al-Qaeda leaders, Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn, without the U.S. knowing in advance they were there. Targeting an American with a drone strike would have triggered a more intense review in consideration of constitutional due process protections.

“We’re going to review what happened,” Obama said Friday. “We’re going to identify the lessons that can be learned and any improvements and changes that can be made. And I know those of you who are here share our determination to continue doing everything we can to prevent the loss of innocent lives.

“This self-reflection, this willingness to examine ourselves, to make corrections, to do better, that’s part of what makes us Americans. It’s part of what sets us apart from other nations,” Obama said.

“The United States is the most professional, most capable, most cutting-edge intelligence community in the world,” he said, adding that they are sharing more intelligence than ever with partners around the world while tapping new technologies and satellites.

The White House said Obama’s speech was planned long before the drone revelation to mark the office’s anniversary. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to coordinate the vast amounts of intelligence produced by 17 different government organizations, including the CIA, Pentagon, Cabinet departments and law enforcement agencies.

Obama said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is one of the people he wakes up to every morning, as Clapper delivers the intelligence report known as the President’s Daily Brief. “He gives me his honest assessment, free of politics, free of spin. I trust his integrity and I can’t tell you how invaluable that is in the job that he has,” Obama said.

Obama said his only complaint is Clapper’s habit of leaving paper clips all over the Oval Office when he shuffles through papers. The president then held up a see-through jar of paper clips and said he was returning them. “This will be available to you. DNI’s budget’s always a little tight,” Obama said.

TIME National Security

Widow of American Captive Killed in Strike Criticizes U.S. Hostage Support

The wife of Warren Weinstein joins a number of families calling for more centralized support and communication

The wife of an American captive of al-Qaeda who after more than three years was killed during a counterterrorism operation in January, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday, called on the government to improve the “inconsistent and disappointing” help it offers the families of hostages.

“We hope that my husband’s death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families,” Elaine Weinstein, now the widow of Warren Weinstein, said in a statement, according to McClatchyDC. Her husband, who was held alongside Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto, also killed in the operation, was working as a development adviser in Pakistan when he was captured in 2011.

Weinstein’s comments echo calls from a number of families of U.S. captives for more frequent communication from the government, more centralized negotiation efforts—no single person is in charge of trying to free hostages—as well as a more case-by-case approach to freeing captives. Some families, including those of journalist James Foley and aid worker Kayla Mueller, have also criticized the U.S. ban on paying ransoms, which State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said would remain in place.

The Obama administration began an internal review of its hostage policies last summer, she told reporters, and has reached out to 82 families involved in hostage situations as far back as 2001.

“These families have gone through the worst thing they will ever have to go through, and I think you hear a lot of different statements from them. We’ve heard people talk about how supportive the U.S. government has been,” Harf said. “But we know this is an incredibly challenging issue. That’s why we’re doing a review of how we deal with all of these issues.”

[McClatchyDC]

TIME White House

Obama Apologizes to Families of al-Qaeda Hostages Killed in U.S. Drone Strike

'No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.'

President Barack Obama took “full responsibility” for the death of two hostages held by al-Qaeda in a drone strike in January.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Obama said that Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American held since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national held since 2012, were killed in a counter-terrorism operation on an al-Qaeda compound in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It’s a cruel and bitter truth that in times of war mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur,” he said. “I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”

Weinstein’s family issued a statement on a website called Bring Warren Home, noting their disappointment

“We do not yet fully understand all of the facts surrounding Warren’s death but we do understand that the U.S. government will be conducting an independent investigation of the circumstances,” they wrote. “We look forward to the results of that investigation. But those who took Warren captive over three years ago bear ultimate responsibility.”

The White House said the same strike is believed to have killed Ahmed Farouq, an al-Qaeda who held American citizenship. Another U.S. strike in January killed American al-Qaeda member Adam Gadahn, Earnest revealed.

“While both Farouq and Gadahn were al-Qaeda members, neither was specifically targeted, and we did not have information indicating their presence at the sites of these operations,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

As of Thursday morning, Gadahn was still listed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list.

In 2011, a U.S. drone strike targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a case that stirred vigorous debate in the U.S. over the killings of Americans fighting alongside terrorist groups without trial.

In his brief statement to reporters, Obama said that after reviewing “hundreds of hours of surveillance, we believed that this was an al-Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present and capturing these terrorists was not possible.”

He added that he has ordered the operations to be declassified so that they could be publicly reviewed.

He also praised the two men, noting they had traveled to Pakistan as aid workers to help those facing poverty.

“There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and their al Qaeda captors,” he said.

TIME Marijuana

Marijuana Reform Activists Push for Change with DEA Head

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.
James Lawler Duggan—Reuters DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.

And the resignation of Chief of Administration Michele Leonhart offers the chance for change

Marijuana legalization advocates are excited about the departure of Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, whom they long considered an obstruction in their goal of reforming the nation’s drug laws.

“We are happy to see her go,” says Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “She’s a career drug warrior at a time when we’ve decided the ‘War on Drugs’ is an abject failure.”

Leonhart has been at the DEA for 35 years and served as the top dog since 2007. Though the recent scandal involving agents soliciting sex from prostitutes is what will likely most clearly tarnish her reputation, her position on drug policy has led marijuana reform activists to call for her resignation, says says Neill Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Franklin, a veteran of the Maryland state police, calls her position on marijuana reform “archaic.”

Leonhart has been a major hurdle in the effort to reconsider marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance, which could pave the way for more research into the health benefits of the drug. In 2011, the agency again rejected a petition to reschedule marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the agency spent about $100 million in 2012 alone on enforcement regarding medical marijuana laws.

“Leonhart opposed medical marijuana, she opposed sentencing reform, she opposed pretty much everything that Obama was doing and for that matter everything Congress was doing,” says Bill Piper, the director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Drug Policy Alliance is one of several drug and marijuana policy organizations that have previously called for Leonhart’s removal. Following a speech in which Leonhart was critical of Obama’s assertion that smoking marijuana was no more harmful that drinking alcohol, the Marijuana Policy Project and over 47,000 citizens called for her to resign. A Drug Policy Alliance petition called for her removal following revelations that the DEA had been tracking citizens’ phone calls for decades. Organizations including Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws have also called for her resignation.

Though who will be filling in for Leonhart isn’t yet clear, activists say her replacement should be more supportive of ongoing reform initiatives, including reducing mass incarceration and taking the health impact of drugs into consideration when formulating policy. What’s more, Piper says, her removal could lead the Obama administration to reschedule marijuana before the President leaves office.

“This offers a good opportunity for marijuana reform to move forward quicker than it has been moving,” Piper says.

More than that, though, it could signal and even steeper change to policy regarding the enforcement of drug laws. As more states consider legalizing marijuana in some form—23 states have legalized medical use and four have given the green light to toking up recreationally. Six additional states could consider legalization during the 2016 election. As the nation’s stance on that shifts, so too should its approach to drug enforcement, advocates say.

“Within the next 10 years, I see massive drug policy reform and therefore really an end to the DEA,” Franklin says. The new leader, he says, should approach the role as if he or she is “dismantling a decommissioned battleship and selling the pieces for scrap metal.”

“For most part, the DEA exists because they’re enforcing prohibition,” he adds. “I believe we’re moving away from prohibition and more toward health.”

TIME Turkey

Obama Won’t Call Armenian Killings ‘Genocide’

President Barack Obama speaks during a reception for supporters of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 21, 2015 in Washington.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during a reception for supporters of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 21, 2015 in Washington.

The President has not used the term in reference to the killings while in office

President Barack Obama won’t use the term “genocide” in remarks Friday marking the 100th anniversary of the killing of more than a million Armenians, officials said Tuesday, igniting disappointment from critics who say the President is catering too much to Turkey.

Activists had hoped that the President would realize a 2008 campaign pledge and use the term for the first time in office, particularly as other governments and world leaders, including Pope Francis, have referred to the massacres as “genocide” in recent days.

But in a meeting with Armenian American leaders on Tuesday, administration officials said Obama would not use the term. “President Obama’s surrender to Turkey represents a national disgrace. It is, very simply, a betrayal of truth, a betrayal of trust,” ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian said in a statement Tuesday.

The Turkish government has consistently rejected the term—President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the Pope not to repeat the “mistake” of using it—and the White House has long been reluctant to risk relations with a key ally in a tumultuous region.

Taner Akcam, a history professor at Clark University who was one of the first Turkish academics to openly call the killings “genocide,” said it was “a shame” that Obama was set to again avoid the term.

“The United States is always emphasizing its exceptionalism in supporting liberal values and human rights at home and across the world,” Akcam said. “But Obama and the Americans should also recognize that one should uphold human rights not only when it’s convenient.”

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