While US president Barack Obama has said he doesn’t intend to become his successor’s constant critic, he reserves the right to speak out if Donald Trump or his policies breach certain “values or ideals”.
Obama suggested that once he is out of office he would uphold the tradition of ex-presidents stepping aside quietly to allow their successors space to govern.
He praised former president George W Bush, saying he “could not have been more gracious to me when I came in” and said he wanted to give Trump the same chance to pursue his agenda “without somebody popping off” at every turn.
But Obama did suggest that there may be limits to his silence.
He said: “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.”
Obama spoke out throughout the election campaign against Trump’s calls for banning Muslim immigrants, deporting millions of people living in the US illegally, reinstituting waterboarding, repealing “Obamacare” and cancelling the Paris climate deal.
Many Americans who oppose Trump are hoping that challenges from Obama and other Democrats might prevent the president-elect from implementing these policies.
However, this is not to say that Obama is going to spend all his time slamming the next president.
“My intention is to, certainly for the next two months, just finish my job,” Obama 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.”
Obama’s remarks came at a news conference in Lima as he concluded his final world tour as president.
On his final day in Peru, Obama chatted briefly with Russian president Vladimir Putin about Ukraine and the Syria crisis. The four-minute chat is likely to be their last face-to-face conversation, and comes amid speculation about whether Trump’s election will herald a more conciliatory US approach to Russia.
Putin, speaking later in Lima, said he and Obama had noted that while their working relationship had been difficult, they’d “always respected each other’s positions – and each other”.