Barack Obama warned that Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election is making the US look weak to adversaries as he urged his successor to accept defeat.
In his first TV interview since the election, Obama spoke to Scott Pelley on a CBS 60 Minutes episode aired Sunday night and said it is ‘absolutely’ time for Trump to give up his fight for a second term.
Asked what advice he would give to Trump, Obama said: ‘If you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing.’
‘A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design,’ he continued.
‘When your time is up then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments.’
Obama said he thinks Trump should have conceded within two days after the election, when it became clear that ‘Biden will have won handily’.
‘There is no scenario in which any of those states would turn the other way, and certainly not enough to reverse the outcome of the election,’ he said, referring to states like Pennsylvania and Georgia where full counts were slow to come in.
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Barack Obama warned that Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election is making the US look weak to adversaries as he urged his successor to accept defeat during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes aired on Sunday
Asked what advice he would give to Trump, Obama said: ‘If you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing.’ Trump is pictured at his golf club in Virginia on Sunday
Obama said he fears that the chaotic White House transition will have implications far beyond the US, affecting relations with Russia and China.
‘I think our adversaries have seen us weakened, not just as a consequence of this election, but over the last several years,’ he said.
‘We have these cleavages in the body politic that they’re convinced they can exploit.’
Pelley then brought up Obama’s new book, The Promised Land, in which he wrote: ‘Our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of a crisis.’
Explaining what he meant by that line, Obama criticized Trump further, saying: ‘We have gone through a presidency that disregarded a whole host of basic institutional norms, expectations we had for a president that had been observed by Republicans and Democrats previously.
‘Maybe most importantly, and most disconcertingly, what we’ve seen is what some people call truth decay, something that’s been accelerated by outgoing President Trump, the sense that not only do we not have to tell the truth, but the truth doesn’t even matter.’
Pelley used that as a segue to ask for Obama’s take on Trump’s unfounded allegations about voter fraud and Democrats ‘stealing’ the election.
‘They appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn’t like to lose and never admits loss,’ Obama said.
Obama said Trump’s unfounded allegations about voter fraud ‘appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn’t like to lose and never admits loss’
Obama said his former VP Biden will be tasked with rebuilding America’s trust in the truth
He then hit out at members of the Republican Party who have stood by Trump and helped advance his conspiracy theories instead of facilitating a productive transition.
‘I’m more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion,’ he said.
‘It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that’s a dangerous path.’
He continued: ‘We would never accept that out of our own kids behaving that way if they lost, right? I mean, if my daughters, in any kinda competition, pouted and then accused the other side of cheating when they lost, when there was no evidence of it, we’d scold ’em.
‘I think that there has been this sense over the last several years that literally anything goes and is justified in order to get power.’
He then appeared to compare Trump to a dictator, saying: ‘There are strong men and dictators around the world who think that: “I can do anything to stay in power. I can kill people. I can throw them in jail. I can run phony elections. I can suppress journalists.”
‘But that’s not who we’re supposed to be. And one of the signals I think that Joe Biden needs to send to the world is that: “No, those values that we preached, and we believed in, and subscribed in – we still believe.”‘
Obama said he isn’t sure what will happen when inauguration day arrives in January but said he is hopeful that Trump will follow tradition and welcome Biden just as he was welcomed by Obama in 2017.
Obama said he isn’t sure what will happen when inauguration day arrives in January but said he is hopeful that Trump will follow tradition and welcome Biden just as he was welcomed by Obama in 2017 (pictured)
In the past several months Trump has publicly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Prior to the election, he merely said it wasn’t an issue because he was sure he would win. And in the days since Biden was declared the winner by the media on November 7, Trump has continued to insist that the election is not over.
Trump admitted for the first time that Biden won the election in a tweet on Sunday morning – but quickly clarified that he still believes he is the rightful winner and the election was ‘stolen’ by Democrats.
‘He won because the Election was Rigged,’ Trump tweeted.
‘NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!’
His lawyer Rudy Giuliani explained the tweet on the Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures. When asked by host Maria Bartiromo asked if the tweet was a concession, Giuliani said: ‘No, far from it.’
‘What he’s saying is more, I guess, you would call it sarcastic, or a comment on the terrible times in which we live, in which the media has said he won, but by going on to point out that it was illegal,’ Giuliani continued. ‘Obviously, he’s contesting it vigorously in the courts.’
Trump also assured that he is not conceding in a second tweet.
‘He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!’ he wrote.
‘We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!’
Giuliani likewise said that the election will be overturned, as he asserted to Bartiromo that there is vast evidence that the machines used for counting ballots were rigged for Biden and deleted Trump’s votes.
‘Beyond this election, which I believe will get overturned – but, beyond this election, this whole thing has to be investigated as a national security matter,’ he said.
President Trump tweeted for the first time Sunday that Biden won the election more than week after it was called for the Democrat by most major media outlets
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, said Sunday on Fox News that Trump was being ‘sarcastic’ when he said via Twitter that Biden had won the election
During his 60 Minutes interview Obama addressed several of the contentious issues faced by the Trump administration, including fevered protests against racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obama said he watched the ‘heartbreaking’ video of George Floyd’s death that sparked nationwide unrest over the summer, calling it ‘a moment in which America came face to face with a reality that African Americans in this country I think had understood for quite some time’.
‘I was heartened and inspired by the galvanizing effect that it had on the country as a whole,’ he said. ‘It was a small first step in the kind of reckoning with our past and our present that so often we avoid.’
On the pandemic, Obama recalled how his administration was faced with a similar threat back in 2009 when H1N1, dubbed the Swine Flu, reached the US, rather than directly criticizing Trump’s handling of COVID-19.
‘I was terrified of [H1N1] and very quickly mobilized a team to figure out: “How are we gonna take the best possible approach?”‘ Obama said.
‘A Promised Land’ is out on November 17
‘From the start, I had some very clear criteria which it was, number one, we’re gonna follow the science. And the second thing was: “Let’s make sure we’re providing good information to the American people.”‘
Trump has faced staunch criticism over his perceived dismissal of experts and refusal to acknowledge the dire threat posed by the virus, which has infected more than 11 million Americans and killed more than 246,000 to date.
On a more personal note, Pelley brought up the portion of Obama’s book where he opened up about his wife Michelle’s adverse reaction to his presidential aspirations.
‘The answer is no. I do not want you running for president. God, Barack, when is it going to be enough?’ Obama quoted his wife as saying before she stormed out of the room.
Asked why he didn’t give up his bid for the White House, Obama explained how he looked inward and asked himself if he was running for the right reasons or if it was just ‘vanity’.
He said Michelle ultimately decided that she shouldn’t stand in the way of her husband’s goal – and that he is still grateful for that to this day.
‘The fact that she put up with it and forgave me is—was an act of grace that I am grateful for and I’m not sure I deserved it,’ he said.
Obama also gave Pelley a sneak peak at the presidential center he’s building on Chicago’s South Side – where he and Michelle met.
‘It’s gonna be a place where, you know, we have the standard model Oval Office, and Michelle’s dresses, which will be very popular no doubt,’ Obama said.
‘But also, you know, a whole host of facilities that allow us to provide classroom training to young people who are interested in public service, and to beautify a park that can serve a whole bunch of young people who’ve been underserved in the past.’
Obama also gave Pelley a sneak peak at the presidential center he’s building on Chicago’s South Side – where he and Michelle met