Watch the full press conference here.
Obama thanks the press
President Obama began his final press conference on Wednesday by thanking the news media for covering his presidency, drawing a stark contrast from the rhetoric of the incoming president, Donald Trump.
Obama said that while he did not always agree with the coverage of his administration, the coverage itself was important to democracy. "That's the point of this relationship," he said. "You're not supposed to be sycophants. You're supposed to be skeptics."
Obama defends ManningTo kick off the presser, Obama was first asked to defend his decision to commute the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army intelligence analyst convicted of stealing and disseminating classified material.
Specifically, Obama was asked if his decision would send message of leniency to other leakers of classified information, like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.
Obama said Manning "took responsibility for her crime."
Obama has said there's a clear difference between Manning and Snowden.
Conversations with Trump?
Asked about his conversations with president-elect Donald Trump leading up to Trump's inauguration on Friday, Obama was vague.
"At times they're been fairly lengthy, and at times they've been substantive," he said. "I can't tell you how convincing I've been, but you'd have to ask him whether i've been convincing or not. I have offered by best advice and counsel."
Obama declines to weigh in on Dems boycotting Trump's inauguration. "All I know is I'm gonna be there."— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) January 18, 2017
Obama also wouldn't comment on the 50+ Democrats boycotting Trump's inauguration.
Obama: I'll speak out after my presidency
The outgoing president said he was looking forward to a little break, saying he wants "to do some writing, I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much."
But he did say he'd jump back into public discourse if he sees things happening he considers injustices. Among them, he said: Institutional efforts to silence the free press, "systematic discrimination," voter suppression efforts, or efforts to deport kids who spent their whole lives in America.
Israel/Palestine an ongoing concern
Obama also expressed concern about the ongoing conflict over control of Israel and Palestine, saying he still believes the only solution is a two-state solution.
"I don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy," he said.
"What has always been clear is that we can't force the parties in the Middle East to arrive at peace."
Obama said he is "significantly worried about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
Obama reflects on LGBT legacy
Asked to reflect on his legacy with LGBT Americans, Obama cited significant progress under his administration, including the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and an executive order to protect LGBT workers.
“I could not be prouder of the transformation that’s taken place in our society," he said.
LGBT battles ahead
But Obama also said there are "still going to be some battles that need to take place," specifically mentioning equal rights for transgender Americans.
Obama was not always the progressive he currently is on LGBT issues. As the Atlantic put it, "The politician who opposed gay marriage, was cautious on allowing gays to serve openly in the military, and resisted calls to ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation has come a long way in six years."
An 'ugly history' of voter suppression
Obama expressed further concern over Americans' ability to vote under multiple voter ID laws, saying America has an "ugly history" of voter suppression.
"It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery," he said. "It became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise, and that's not who we are."
Voting fraud is 'fake news'
Obama added that he hopes "people pay a lot of attention" to Republican-led efforts to place restrictions on voting, saying the main reasons those restrictions are justified -- voter fraud -- does not exist in any meaningful way.
"This is something that has constantly been disproved," he said. "This is fake news."
"No drama Obama"
To close his final press conference -- his 39th solo appearance -- Obama insisted that he is not as worried as many Democrats are about America's future under president-elect Donald Trump.
"I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe there is more good than bad," he said.
"This is not just a matter of, No Drama Obama," he added. "This is what I really believe."
"Good luck," Obama tells reporters on his way out of his last news conference.— Michael Kruse (@michaelkruse) January 18, 2017
As he left, Obama gave one final message to the press.