For the first time tonight, president obama responds to questions about the recent spy scandal that has made many of this country's closest allies feel like enemies. It is confirmed that the nsa had... See More
For the first time tonight, president obama responds to questions about the recent spy scandal that has made many of this country's closest allies feel like enemies. It is confirmed that the nsa had been monitoring leaders from 35 nations and the president was not aware of it until this summer. Fusion's white house correspondent and tim abala caught up with the president to ask some questions on a tough day. You have to suspect that president obama would have preferred to cancel his interview today. In any presidency there are days of hope and promise. So help me god. Congratulations, mr. President. And days of triumph. The united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden, the leader of al qaeda. And then there areays like today. Headlines about out of control spying. The white house under fire right now given all of these revelations. And now sources confirm it was happening apparently without the president's knowledge. And then there is obama care, the website in disarray and the other legacy program, immigration reform, now stalled in partisan politics. This was probably not the day president obama would have chosen to speak one-on-one with abc's new partner, fusion. Good to see ya. Good to see you, mr. President. Congratulations on the new venture. But speak he did, taking questions on this difficult day. People wonder how is it you didn't know about the cell phones being looked at or listened to and why you didn't know and who should have told you? I'm not confirming a bunch of assumptions that have been made in the press. But what I have said is that the national security operations general generally, I'm making good decisions and I'm the final user of all of the intelligence they gather. Such as monitoring the personal cell phone of the german chancellor. And the president of the united states of america. The one who invited him to speak at the berlin wall just four months ago where he promised american intelligence was not running amuck. Our current programs are bound by the rule of law and they are focused on threats to our security, not the communications of ordinary persons. What the president said in our interview that the leaks by edward snowden have done is make the united states rethink how we spy on our allies and how the nsa is controlled. Should we assume from that answer, sir, that you did or would know if actually that was happening? Jim, as I said, I'm not here to talk about classified information. What I am confirming is the fact that we're undergoing a complete review of how intelligence -- there are very strict laws governing what we do internally. Right. Internationally, there are less constraints on how our intelligence teams operates. What I have said is that it's important for us to insure as technology develops and expands, that are reflective of our values. Questions also emerge this past week about how much the president knew about the troubled website that was america's porthole to obama care. The website that came online and then offline. This is unacceptable. It needs to be fixed. Of course the administration keeps pointing out that the fate of obama care does not rest solely on its website. Today the president responded to the possibility that not enough healthy young people will sign up. What's in it for the young people? Are they just the people who will finance the older generation and their medical problems? This is pretty straightforward. Analysis has shown if you're between 18 and 34, about half of the people can get high quality health care for less than 50 bucks a month. Less than your cell phone or cable bill. And the president seemed to be trying to connect directly with the young people whose dollars would help bank role the system for the elderly. I kind of remember I thought I was invincible. I broke my nose playing basketball and I had unexpected illnesses or accidents. And making sure that you have got coverage insure ensus that you're not paying out of pocket with money you don't have. And then it's on to immigration reform. A subject many in washington used to consider the third rail of politics. It seemed tantalizing within reach to candidate obama. He made this promise in 2008. I cannot guarantee that it will be in the first 100 days. What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that i strongly support and that I'm promoting. Now in his second term, president obama has yet to fulfill that promise. Immigration reform has taken longer than anyone has expected. He used his political capital on other things. His ablility to convince congress to do this is vastly diminished. He did pass the dream act but did not promise to protect the parents. We have an immigration system that is broken. That's why my top priority has been let's reform the whole system. Let's fix the legal immigration system so that we're not pushing people into an illegal process and let's make sure we have secure borders. Some say his political clout to get the job done is waneing. I think the president today and over the last few weeks have come to the point where this could be the end of his relevancy and people have to wait for the next president in 2016 or he can restart this and get his mojo back. But today is another difficult day. One day on its own usually doesn't matter. I think the window is very small in getting this done. That window may be small but at least on immigration there is some hope of change, and change we should all remember, is something this president has always believed in. Thank you, mr. President. Thank you. As for tomorrow, he has another new day. All done? For "nightline," washington. Thanks, jim, what a tough
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.