Obama on Trump: “Don’t Underestimate the Guy”

With less than a week to go in his Presidency, Barack Obama sat down with CBS’ Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes for the last major network interview of his tenure. The conversation was obviously far-ranging, but the men spent quite some time on the subject of Donald Trump and the coming Trumpian era. Obama tried to maintain an air of dignity but he couldn’t avoid a few swipes at the incoming administration (though to be fair, he did his best to hold his tongue).

Watch and enjoy the very LAST major broadcast interview of the Obama years.

Steve Kroft, 60 Minutes: You would have to admit that this was one of the strangest transitions in history. 

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President Obama: It’s unusual. I’ll agree with that… And I suspect that the President-elect would agree with that. Look, he’s an unconventional candidate. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s run a campaign like his successfully in modern history – not that I can think of. And as a consequence, because he didn’t have the supports of many of the establishment in his own party, because he ran sort of an improvisational campaign. 

Kroft: Can you run an improvisational presidency?

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Obama: I don’t think so. And so, now he’s in the process of building up an organization. And we’ll have to see how that works and it’ll be a test for him and the people that he’s designated to be able to execute on his vision.

Kroft: Look, I think the country deeply appreciates the fact that you have not spoken clearly I think probably what’s on your mind in relation to the President-elect. 

Obama: Well, the people have spoken.

Kroft: I don’t want to try – I don’t want people to think we’re condemning Donald Trump. But as you said earlier, it’s unusual. He’s seems to have spent a good deal of his time sending out tweets that the United States must strengthen and expand its nuclear ability, that Meryl Streep is an overrated Hillary flunky – you’re watching this like everybody else. I mean, what’s going on?

Obama: You know, you’re going to have to talk to him. But here’s what I think. First of all, I think everybody has to acknowledge, don’t underestimate the guy, because he’s going to be 45th president of the United States. The one thing that I’ve said to him directly – and I would advise my Republican friends in Congress and supporters around the country – is just make sure that as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions don’t get eroded, because there’s a reason they’re in place.

 

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