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Obama warns Trump must improve relations with intel community

Barack Obama acknowledged that Donald Trump may not be inclined to follow traditional procedures, given his success with his “improvisational candidacy.” | AP Photo

President-elect Donald Trump will have to make at least two big changes to his modus operandi once he’s in office, President Barack Obama warned in an interview broadcast Sunday night.

Trump will need to alter his improvisational style and develop a better relationship with the intelligence community, Obama told CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

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“You’re not going to be able to make good decisions without building some relationship of trust between yourself and that community,” Obama said. That’s “not yet” happening, he said while noting that Trump “hasn’t gotten sworn into office yet.”

Conducted early last week, the “60 Minutes” interview aired as Trump took to Twitter and appeared to accuse outgoing CIA chief John Brennan of being behind the leak of a salacious and unverified Russian dossier on the president-elect.

Obama acknowledged that Trump may not be inclined to follow traditional procedures, given his success with his “improvisational candidacy.” But Obama said he didn’t think one could run an improvisational presidency.

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“Now he’s in the process of building up an organization. And well, we’ll have to see how that works. And it’ll be a test, I think, for him and the people that he’s designated to be able to execute on his vision.”

Then again, Obama said running his own 2008 campaign helped give him the executive experience he needed to run the administration, calling it “more significant training ground than I think people give it credit for.”

While Obama and his staff have generally refused to disclose many details of Obama’s private discussions with Trump during the transition, Obama did make one piece of advice public.

“The one thing 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.”

Despite the obvious differences Obama has with his successor, who has threatened to dismantle much of his agenda, Obama presented himself as largely at peace at the end of his tenure. He’s grateful, he said, that he’s young enough to have “a second maybe even a third act” after the White House.

But Obama did have some political bones to pick.

“One thing that did kind of get under my craw sometimes was people talkin’ as if when we went on vacation or, you know, that people would be like, ‘Oh, spending taxpayer money.’

“It’s like, ‘No, no, I actually– I’m payin’ for all of this,’” Obama said, adding that only the Secret Service, plane and communications came out of federal coffers.

“You know, we buy our own toilet paper even here in the White House,” Obama added. “I’ve got a grocery bill at the end of every month.”

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Obama is also clearly still frustrated with how Republicans handled his Supreme Court nominee.

“The fact that Mitch McConnell–the leader of the Republicans–was able to just stop a nomination almost a year before the next election and really not pay a political price for it,” Obama said. “That’s a sign that the incentives for politicians in this town to be so sharply partisan have gotten so out of hand that we’re weakening ourselves.”

Obama also came close to acknowledging that critics were right to call him naïve when he claimed, as he did in his star-making speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, that there aren’t really red states and blue states.

“I will confess that I didn’t fully appreciate the ways in which individual senators or members of Congress now are pushed to the extremes by their voter bases,” Obama said.

He pointed to the Tea Party at having been effective politically, essentially using the grassroots organizing techniques he’s long championed.

“The Tea Party I have huge disagreements with, obviously,” he said. “But I give them credit for having activated themselves. And they made a difference in terms of moving the Republican Party, in terms of moving the country in a particular direction. It’s a direction I disagreed with. But it showed that, in fact, you get involved, if your voice is heard, it has an impact.”

What “disturbed me the most,” Obama said, about the intelligence finding that Russia tried to undermine the U.S. election was the response by some Republicans and, implicitly, Trump.

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“In some circles, you’ve seen people suggest that Vladimir Putin has more credibility than the U.S. government. I think that’s something new,” Obama said. “And I think it’s a measure of how the partisan divide has gotten so severe that people forget we’re on the same team.”

Obama said he’ll be watching how Trump maintains his connection with his base, forged through wildly unconventional methods of communication and behavior on the campaign trail.

“We are moving into an era where a lot of people get their information through tweets and sound bites and some headline that comes over their phone. And I think that there’s a power in that,” Obama said. “There’s also a danger, what generates a headline or stirs up a controversy and gets attention isn’t the same as the process required to actually solve the problem.”

Then again, Trump has ignored advice from the establishment before, and it’s served him just fine, Obama acknowledged.

“Don’t underestimate the guy,” Obama said. “Because he’s going to be 45th president of the United States.”

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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