Obama Tells the World Not to Prejudge Trump’s Policies Before He Takes Office
Bringing his final international trip to a close in Lima, Peru, President Obama encouraged reporters and all Americans to withhold judgment on President-Elect Donald Trump’s policies until he starts implementing them.
“People should take a wait-and-see approach in how much his policy proposals, once he’s in the White House, once he’s sworn in, match up with the rhetoric of his campaign,” Obama, who spent the weekend in meetings at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) said.
The statement was an indication of Obama’s role as so-called “Calmer-in-Chief” at this international summit, seeking to reassure leaders from around the globe about the transition to his successor, Donald Trump.
“Once you’re in the Oval Office, once you begin interacting with world leaders, once you see the complexities of the issues,” he said, “that has a way of shaping your thinking and in some case modifying.”
While Trump was a frequent subject in his meetings, he said he and Russian president Vladimir Putin did not talk much about the election when they met briefly on the sidelines of the gathering. He said their conversation focused on Syria and Ukraine –- two extremely volatile parts of the world that will likely remain so as Trump assumes control of the White House.
The Obama-Putin meeting was short and unplanned. After the two spoke for a few minutes, reporters heard Obama say, “OK” and the two men shook hands before the U.S. president walked to his seat.
Obama was also asked if he was considering firing National Security Agency (NSA) head Michael Rogers, as first reported by the Washington Post, two days after Rogers met with president-elect Donald Trump in New York.
The president would not confirm that Rogers would be let go, but did suggest he may restructure how the United States deals with cyber threats. Currently, the head of the NSA also oversees U.S. Cyber Command, which is in charge of defending military computer networks.
ABC has confirmed that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Security James Clapper have recommended that Obama separate the leadership of the NSA and Cyber Command.
“It is true that we are exploring a range of options in terms of how we organize the mission that currently exists,” Obama told reporters.
Earlier Sunday, Obama met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, their apparent friendship on display. Trudeau praised Obama, saying he would still represent an important voice as a private citizen. “He is going to continue to fight for his values and his belief in how we can work together for a better world.”
Many leaders refused to call Trump by name, but described their anxiety about the next stage of the U.S. and its role on the world stage. Both Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping expressed desire that strong relations between the two countries would continue. Obama described the U.S.-China relationship as the most important in the world. Xi said Trump’s election was a “hinge moment” and he hoped for a smooth transition.
The leader of the host nation, Peru, made clear he was worried about Trump too. In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Linsey Davis, President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said he warned Obama about the “thump of Trump.”
“I had the feeling that Trump was doing fantastically well, considering his remarks and offensive comments,” Kuczynski said. “In a normal situation, he should have collapsed in the polls, but that was telling me and others he was doing well.”
Kuczynski, whose wife Nancy is from Wisconsin, said another sign to him was how close the polls were in her home state and Pennsylvania, where they lived before he won the presidency of Peru. “I know those places and it tugs a little bit to your heart. It’s very interesting and it’s emotional.”
Peru is the last stop on the President’s whirlwind world tour which started in Greece, stopped in Germany, and concluded in Peru.