President Obama: ‘I Believe Sochi Is Safe’

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Michelle and Sasha and Malia Obama are not going, but president tells CNN not to worry

President Obama said in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that he believes the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics is safe.

Many have expressed concerns about terrorist attacks in Sochi, Russia, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin has introduced rigorous security and surveillance around the resort town. But Tapper noted in his interview with the president that his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sasha and Malia, are not going.

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“If close friends of yours, or close friends of the girls’, said, hey, we’re thinking about going, what would you tell them?” Tapper asked.

“I’d tell them that I believe that Sochi is safe and that there are always some risks in these large international gatherings.  Uh, I — I’m always going to feel even better if the — inside the United States, because then we have full control over what happens,” the president said.

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“But the — the Russian authorities understand the stakes here. They understand that there are potential threats that are out there.  And we are coordinating with them.  We’ve looked at their plans,” he added. “I think we have a good sense of the — uh, the security that they’re putting in place to protect not only the athletes themselves, but also visitors there. So what I would say is is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics.  And, uh, you know, we’re not discouraging, in any way, Americans from participating in what is just always a — an amazing, wonderful event.”

Obama also said there is always “some risks if you have lone wolves or small cells of folks who are trying to do some damage,” citing the Boston Marathon bombings. He also advised Americans attending the games to contact the State Department about what precautions they should take.

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CNN released the full interview on Friday, a day after releasing excerpts in which Obama said 300 corporations including WalMart and Apple are trying to hire more of America’s long-term unemployed.

Also in the interview, Obama dismissed the notion that his is turning into an “imperial presidency” as he increasingly turns to executive orders to work around an inactive Congress.

“Well, I don’t think that’s very serious,” he said. “I mean, the truth of the matter is, is that every president engages in executive actions.  In fact, we’ve been very disciplined and sparing in terms of the executive actions that we have taken.”