For only the third time in his presidency, President Obama will address the nation from the Oval Office, focusing on the ongoing terrorism investigation into Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people and wounded 21 others. Carol Lee, a White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.
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President Obama will address the nation tonight from the Oval Office for only the third time in his presidency.
He is expected to focus on the ongoing terrorism investigation into the mass shooting at a San Bernardino, California, conference center that killed 14 people and wounded 21 on Wednesday. The White House says the president will talk about the broader threat of militant groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS, which may have inspired the attack.
Previewing the speech, Attorney General Loretta Lynch told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" today the president may ask Congress to take action on gun control.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. Attorney General:
We — when we have the incidents that we have seen, we're talking about this terrible San Bernardino shooting now. A week ago, we were talking about Planned Parenthood in Colorado. And there are dozens and dozens of families.
CHUCK TODD, Moderator, "Meet the Press": Is this a gun problem or a violence problem in this country?
I think we have a number of issues here, and I think that dealing with guns is one way to handle the violent crime issues that we have in this country.
The FBI says it wants to question the man who purchased two semiautomatic assault rifles three years ago that were used in San Bernardino.
Though he is not suspected in the shootings, law enforcement officers yesterday raided his Riverside, California, home, where gunman Syed Farook was a frequent visitor and once lived in the house next door. According to neighbors, officers had guns drawn and used a blowtorch to get in through the garage. No one was home.
Investigators want to know how Farook, an American born in Illinois, raised in California, and his wife, 29-year-old Pakistan-born Tashfeen Malik, became radicalized and equipped to carry out their attack and whether they planned to carry out other attacks.
In a Facebook posting, Malik had declared her allegiance to ISIS. She emigrated to the U.S. last year on a visa granted to fiancees of U.S. citizens.
Joining me now from Washington to discuss the president's address is Wall Street Journal White House reporter Carol Lee.
So, has the White House given any ideas of what they're planning to talk about tonight?
CAROL LEE, The Wall Street Journal:
Essentially, the president is going to try to do three things. The first and what his top priority is, is to reassure the nation that he is taking steps to address terrorism threats here at home.
He will outline what the administration sees as sort of the evolution of terrorism threats here in the U.S., and — and try the accentuate different areas of where he is ramping up national security measures in the homeland, and call on Congress in particular to take additional steps to — what he would — what he believes is — would further secure the U.S., in terms of passing legislation, for instance, that would block anyone who's on a no-fly list from being able to purchase a gun.
The second thing he's going to do is talk about his strategy, the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and what he is doing to intensify the different elements of that, whether it's sending special operations forces into Syria, increasing cooperation with members of the coalition, including France, and the U.K. and Germany.
And then, also, he will accentuate this diplomatic track, which is an ongoing effort to try to come to some sort of political resolution to the conflict in Syria.
And, third, I think you will hear him talk about how the country can also assist in this effort to combat terrorism here in the U.S. And that means by being vigilant and reporting things when people see situations that maybe seem suspicious, and also by not taking steps that he believes would alienate Muslim Americans.
So, is this a shift in strategy in some ways? I mean, we can check shoes as much as we want at airports, and that wouldn't have helped find these two individuals in San Bernardino.
You're not going to hear the president outline some big dramatic shift in his strategy, either at home or in the Islamic State fight overseas. There are — there are ongoing discussions in the administration about how they actually go about tackling this new threat.
When you have a situation where the president of the United States said a couple of weeks ago that there was no credible threat against the United States, and then you see what happens in San Bernardino, and so that is all signals that this is a new era, this is a different phase, this is a different kind of threat that they're dealing with.
And so there are discussions about how to deal with that and whether the approach that they have right now is comprehensive enough to taking — to be able to address those types of threats. And so that's an ongoing discussion.
You may see some different steps taken by the administration here and there going forward, but, tonight, he's not going to outline some big change in his strategy, either in the overseas — campaign overseas against the Islamic State or here at home, but more to just reassure the Americans that he's on top of this, that he's being vigilant, and he's taking every step that he can to try to prevent something like what happened in California from happening again.
All right, Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal joining us in Washington, thanks so much.