President Barack Obama called President-elect Donald Trump ‘engaging and gregarious’ though suggested to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the two leaders are ‘sort of opposites.’
In his final Sunday show sit-down, the outgoing Democratic president told the This Week host that he’s enjoyed his conversations with Trump, as the Republican prepares to take office on January 20.
‘He is somebody who I think is not lacking in confidence,’ Obama noted of Trump.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that may people would describe Obama that way as well.
‘It’s probably a prerequisite for the job, or at least you have to have enough craziness to think that you can do the job,’ Obama said.
He added though that Trump ‘has not spent a lot of time sweating the details,’ while ‘I’m on he policy wonk end of the spectrum.’
Trump’s inattention to detail, the Democrat suggested could ‘be both a strength and a weakness,’ depending on how he approaches the job of president.
‘If it gives him fresh eyes, then that can be valuable,’ Obama pointed out. ‘But it also requires you knowing what you don’t know and putting in place people who do have the kinds of experience and background and knowledge that can inform good decision making.’
While Trump was, for years, a political thorn in Obama’s side – as one of the peddlers of the ‘birther’ conspiracy theory that suggested the country’s first black president wasn’t born in the United States, the two men met just two days after the election and have been in conversation since.
Obama called the chats ‘cordial.’
‘The main thing that I’ve tried to transmit is that there’s a difference between governing and campaigning, so that what he has to appreciate is as soon as you walk into this office after you’ve been sworn in, you’re now in charge of the largest organization on Earth,’ Obama said.
The current occupant of the Oval Office noted that you can’t manage the presidency the way ‘you would manage a family business.’
‘You have to have a strong team around you,’ he said. ‘You have to respect institutions and the process to make good decisions because you are inherently reliant on other folks,’ Obama said.
Hitting on the news of the day, the Russian hacks, the Democrat also said he talked to Trump and urged him to have confidence in the country’s intelligence agencies.
‘What I’ve said to him is that there are going to be times when you’ve got raw intelligence that comes in and in my experience, over eight years, the intelligence community is pretty good about saying, “Look, we can’t say for certain what this means,”‘ Obama noted.
‘But there are going to be times where the only way you can make a good decision is if you have confidence that the process is working,’ Obama said. ‘And the people that you put in charge are giving you their very best assessments.’
Despite U.S. intelligence agencies telling Trump Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a cyberattack with the intention of helping Trump become president and thwarting Democrat Hillary Clinton, the president-elect remained defiant – saying in a tweet Saturday that the Democratic National Committee exhibited ‘gross negligence’ for allowing its email system to be hacked.
He praised the intelligence community, but still didn’t fully seem to embrace the assessment that Putin was backing an influence campaign. Instead, Trump pointed to the fact that Russia didn’t hack the actual voting machines.
‘Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!’ Trump tweeted on Saturday.
Obama’s sit-down with Stephanopoulos was conducted Friday, shortly after the release of the report on Russia’s involvement in the election year hacks, which Obama said he absolutely believed.
‘This time they’ve got high confidence, and having seen some of the underlying sources and information that they’re basing this on I stand fully behind the report,’ the president said.
Stephanopoulos pointed to comments made by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who said during his presidential run that Russia was the U.S.’s ‘No. 1 geopolitical foe.’
Many Democrats laughed off Romney’s suggestion at the time.
Stephanopoulos pointed out to Obama that he ‘kinda dismissed’ Romney’s statement, said during a presidential debate, at the time.
‘I did,’ Obama acknowledged.
The This Week host then asked the president if he underestimated Putin.
‘You know, I don’t I underestimated him, but I think that I underestimated the degree to which, in this new information age, it is possible for misinformation for cyber hacking and so forth to have an impact on our open societies, our open systems, to insinuate themselves into our democratic practices in ways that I think are accelerating,’ the president answered.
‘And so part of the reason that I ordered this report was not simply to re-litigate what happened over the last several months, but rather to make sure that we understand this is something that Putin has been doing for quite some time in Europe,’ Obama continued.
Obama couldn’t quantify how much sway Russia had on the election, suggesting there were ‘a lot of factors’ going into it.
‘I think the bottom line is that Donald Trump is gonna be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America,’ Obama said. ‘And it’s not necessarily profitable to sort of try to untangle all the different factors that went into it.’
However, he warned that if the country wasn’t vigilant ‘foreign countries can have an impact on the political debate in the United States in ways that might not have been true 10, 20, 30 years ago.’
And, as the issue continues to be politicized, he alerted Republicans that next time it could be their candidate who gets harmed.
‘I think that what is true is that the Russians intended to meddle, and they meddled,’ Obama said. ‘And it could be another country in the future. It could be another election where, you know, the alignment between Republicans and Democrats are different than they were this time and who a country prefers.’
‘And that’s why I hope that this does not continue to be viewed purely through a partisan lens,’ Obama said.
SOURCE: NIKKI SCHWAB