Washington (CNN) - The White House rejected criticism Sunday that President Barack Obama has not delivered on his promise of "change" during his first year in office.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the president has brought about "enormous change."
"I think what we've seen is a dramatic difference in terms of how the United States is perceived around the world," Jarrett told NBC's "Meet the Press," on the final Sunday before the president's State of the Union address.
Obama's travels have established relationships with world leaders that "lay a foundation for keeping America safe and making us a partner around the world," she added.
Jarrett also credited the president with having "pulled back the economy from the brink of disaster."
"That's an enormous amount of change when you consider where we were a year ago right on the brink," she said. "And he's adding discipline in government to try to get control over our fiscal house. So I think that we've seen enormous change."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the same program, countered that "if you look at the first year of this administration, we haven't made much progress." He complained about the deficit in the president's budget and the health care reform package that Republicans oppose.
Washington (CNN) - A senior White House official downplayed a report Tuesday that recounted a testy telephone call between President Obama and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.
In an interview with CNN, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett said that Obama and Conyers have "the kind of relationship where they can call each other anytime" and "blow off a little steam."
Jarrett was responding to a question about a story published by The Hill that said Obama recently called Conyers to express frustration about the chairman's criticism of him.
"[Obama] called me and told me that he heard that I was demeaning him and I had to explain to him that it wasn't anything personal, it was an honest difference on the issues," the Michigan Democrat told The Hill. "And he said, 'Well, let's talk about it.'"
Conyers office would not comment on the exchange when contacted by CNN.
(CNN) – The White House carefully continued its assault on Fox News Tuesday, as a senior White House adviser told CNN's Campbell Brown that the network was "of course" biased against the Obama administration, but immediately backtracked slightly.
Speaking at the Women's Conference in California, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett said the Obama administration is "calling everybody out" when it comes to "patterns of distortion" - echoing the Democratic National Committee's "Call 'em Out" campaign that targets critics of the president's health care plan.
To the question of whether Fox News is biased, Jarrett replied: "Well, of course they're biased. Of course they are."
But when Brown followed up by asking Jarrett if she thinks MSNBC is biased, she quickly downplayed her original remark. "Actually, I don't want to generalize all of Fox is biased or that another station is biased. I think what we want to do is look at it on a case-by-case basis," she said. "When we see a pattern of distortion, we're going to be honest about that pattern of distortion....
"We're actually calling everybody out. So this isn't anything that's simply directed at Fox. We just want the American people to have a really clear understanding," said Jarrett.
Watch Campbell Brown's interview with Valerie Jarrett Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. ET on CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's decision to release four Bush-era memos regarding the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" was heavily criticized Sunday as a couple of prominent senators told CNN's John King that the decision was a potentially dangerous mistake.
"I think it was a mistake to release the techniques that we're talking about and inform our enemy as to what may come their way," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said on "State of the Union."
Graham, who opposed the use of techniques that many consider to be torture, added that he still believed "there's a way to get good information in an aggressive manner to protect this nation without having to go into the Inquisition era."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told CNN Sunday that President Obama still wants to work with Republicans in a bipartisan way on major policy initiatives like health care reform.
"He has reached out more aggressively I think to the Republican Party than I could ever imagine a president could possibly do," she told John King on State of the Union. "So I think the burden is on him to reach out his hand, and that's what he's done, and that's what he's going to continue to do throughout this administration."
After failing to secure Republican support for most of his economic plan, the president called on the Senate last week to use a parliamentary procedure that would allow legislation - including massive efforts like a health care overhaul - to pass without any GOP votes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - There’s nothing new in the interrogation memos whose release has stirred controversy, senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett told CNN Sunday.
The CIA memos described waterboarding and other tough interrogation methods on alleged al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.
Jarrett said the United States is “a nation of laws,” and the administration had a legal requirement to release the documents.
"The techniques that were being used by the prior administration were well known," she told John King on State of the Union. "When the president came in office, he said we're not going to use those techniques anymore. That's not who we are as a country."
“There’s nothing in these documents that Americans hadn't seen all over the news,” she said, adding that Obama said it was time to release them and “move forward.”
But the president is leaving any prosecution decisions up to the attorney general, she added.
(CNN) - President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday to establish the White House Council on Women and Girls.
The newly created panel, which aims to ensure that the government considers how its policies impact females, is asking each federal agency to analyze its policies to make certain the agencies are "focused internally and externally on women."
Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to the president, will head the committee by serving as council chairwoman. Deputy Assistant to the President, Tina Tchen, will join Jarrett in leading the panel as the council's executive director.
"The purpose of this Council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy," said President Obama in a statement released Wednesday. "My Administration has already made important progress toward that goal. I am proud that the first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. But I want to be clear that issues like equal pay, family leave, child care and others are not just women’s issues, they are family issues and economic issues. Our progress in these areas is an important measure of whether we are truly fulfilling the promise of our democracy for all our people."
During the first year, the council maintains that it will focus on improving the economic status of women, developing strategies to establish a balance between work and family, working with agencies to prevent violence against women, and improving women's health care.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama is planning to sign an executive order on Wednesday that will create a White House Women's Council overseen by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, according to two senior administration officials.
The officials said the president will make the official announcement at the White House and is likely to be joined by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama.
One of the officials said the president wants the office to "have a presence at the White House to address the issues facing women and girls," including pay equity and the balancing act working mothers face.
(CNN) – An internal report compiled by the Obama transition team states that President-elect Barack Obama was interviewed by the office of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as part of Fitzgerald's criminal probe into embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Obama was interviewed last Thursday. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was interviewed Friday, and incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was interviewed Saturday.
The report, drafted by Greg Craig, Obama's choice for White House counsel, concludes that neither Obama nor his aides - including Emanuel - had any "inappropriate" contact with Blagojevich or Blagojevich's staff.
The report states that there is "no indication of inappropriate discussions with the governor or anyone from his office about a 'deal' or a quid pro quo arrangement in which he would receive a personal benefit in return for any specific appointment to fill the vacancy."
(CNN) - Valerie Jarrett tells CNN contributor Roland Martin that President-elect Barack Obama offered and she accepted a position in the Obama administration – she will be the Senior Adviser to the President and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison.
The offer was made Friday but will be announced Saturday by the transition office, Jarrett told Martin. Jarrett is currently co-chair of Mr. Obama’s transition team and was senior adviser for his Presidential campaign.