Obama sends thoughts and prayers to Bushes

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is opening his final news conference by sending his thoughts and prayers to former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.

Both Bushes are hospitalized in Houston. The 92-year-old former president was admitted for a pneumonia-related respiratory problem. His wife was hospitalized as a precaution.

Obama says the White House reached out to the Bush family after learning of the hospitalizations.

He says the Bushes have not only dedicated their lives to country, but have been a constant source of friendship, support and good counsel for him and first lady Michelle Obama.

Obama adds that "they are as fine a couple as we know."

President Barack Obama is expected to defend his decision to shorten the sentence of convicted leaker Chelsea Manning when he holds his final news conference on Wednesday.

Obama plans to answer reporters' questions at the White House, two days before he leaves office.

Manning asked Obama last November to commute her 35-year sentence for giving classified government and military documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest, is more than six years into the sentence. She will be released from prison in May.

Republicans have blasted the decision, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling it "outrageous."

Ryan says Obama has set a "dangerous precedent" that anyone guilty of who compromises U.S. national security won't have to pay for their crimes.