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Jan 17, 12:34 PM EST

Obama praises outgoing press secretary for 'integrity'

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AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has made a surprise visit to the final daily press briefing with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Obama praised Earnest Tuesday for "his smarts and his maturity," but added that one of his best qualities has been his integrity.

Obama says Earnest is "tough and didn't always give you guys what you wanted," but that he tried to make sure to share as much of the administration's vision and policy as possible.

Earnest praised the journalists attending the briefing, saying that they serve a role that is a "uniquely American feature of our government.

He said, "it's made President Obama a better president and a better civil servant."

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