President Barack Obama said he won’t hold back from criticizing Donald Trump if the soon-to-be-president does anything to threaten the “values or ideals” of America, saying he would step in if “necessary or helpful to defend those ideals.”
Speaking at his final foreign press conference in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, Obama said he would follow the tradition of ex-presidents allowing their successors to govern without meddling.
“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance,” he said.
Obama had kind words to say about his own predecessor George W. Bush, saying he “could not have been more gracious to me when I came in,” but did have some words of caution for his successor.
“As an American citizen who cares deeply about our country, if there are issues that have less to do with the specifics of some legislative proposal or battle or go to core questions about our values and ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, I’ll examine it when it comes,” he added.
Obama’s spoke out about Trump’s anti-Muslim and immigrant rhetoric during the election.
Hinting at what life might look like once he exits the White House, Obama outlined his plans for the short term.
“My intention is to, certainly for the next two months, just finish my job,” he said. “And then after that, to take Michelle on vacation, get some rest, spend time with my girls, and do some writing, do some thinking.”
When asked if Democrats should copy the Republicans in blocking any Supreme Court nominees, Obama said no, despite his own nominee Merrick Garland being stalled for more than six months by Republicans who refuse to consider an Obama appointee.
“That’s not why the American people send us to Washington, to play those games,” he said.
While Obama called on Democrats to “do some thinking” about their message in light of the election results, he said he didn’t believe there “has to be a complete overhaul.”
Obama answered questions about the future of trade deals and described his meeting with other Trans-Pacific-Partnership leaders as “a chance to reaffirm our commitment to the TPP with its high standards, strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property and human rights.”
He said the partners want to move forward with the TPP and “not moving forward would undermine our position across the region and our ability to shape the rules of global trade in a way that reflects our interests and our values.”
Trump on the other the hand has described the TPP as a “disaster.”