Obama press conference: David Petraeus made the US 'safer'

President Barack Obama addresses his first press conference since winning re-election on November 6.

President Barack Obama today heaped praise on disgraced ex-CIA director David Petraeus, saying the United States was “safer because of the work" done by the retired general.

Speaking at his first press conference since winning a second term in the White House, Obama told reporters he hoped the scandal engulfing Petraeus would end up being a "side note in what has otherwise been an extraordinary career." 

But Obama would not comment on whether classified information had been compromised during the extramarital affair between Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.  

"We don't have all the information yet but I have a lot of confidence in the FBI," Obama told reporters.

"(Petraeus) served this country with great distinction… we are safer because of the work David Petraeus has done and my main hope now is that he and his family are able to move on and this ends up being a single side note in what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.”

Petraeus resigned from his post last Friday over his affair with Broadwell, whose harassing emails to a woman she saw as a potential rival for the ex-CIA director's affections sparked an FBI investigation. The scandal has since widened to ensnare the top military commander in Afghanistan.

According to the Associated Press, Obama wouldn't comment on whether he believed he was informed about the FBI investigation fast enough. 

"My expectation is that they follow the protocols that they've already established," Obama said. "One of the challenges here is that we're not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations and that's been our practice."

More from GlobalPost: Full coverage of the Petraeus affair

Questions from reporters during Obama's press conference touched on a wide range of topics including the Petraeus scandal, the US economy, immigration reform, Iran's nuclear program and the ongoing Syrian conflict.

On the economy, Obama said his priority was to create more jobs, rein in the deficit and prevent the country toppling over the so-called "fiscal cliff" — but to do so he would need bi-partisan support. 

"There is only one way to solve these challenges, and that is to do it together," Obama said.

On the looming “fiscal cliff,” which threatens to push the United States back into recession, Obama said he was not prepared to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of the population, which "we can't afford and according to economists will have the least positive impact on the economy."

More from GlobalPost: The fiscal cliff, explained

“What I’m not going to do is extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, that would cost close to a $1 trillion,” Obama told reporters.

“What I want to make sure is that taxes on the middle class don’t go up.”

Obama said he hoped Democrats and Republicans could "hold hands and do what's right for the American people" in order to prevent the country falling into another recession, which he said would be a "rude shock" for the middle class and was "not necessary.

"I'm confident that we can do it," Obama said. 

Obama also promised to work harder in the next four years.

“I hope and intend to be a better president in the second term than I was in the first," he said.

"When you travel around the country you are inspired by the grit, resilience, hard work and decency of the American people and it just makes you want to work harder."

On Iran, Obama said in the coming months he would push for a diplomatic solution to stop the country's nuclear program. 

"We're not going let Iran get a nuclear weapon, but I think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically," Obama said.

More from GlobalPost: Iran nukes: Has Obama let Tehran get closer to possessing a bomb?