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Obama on ‘60 Minutes’: Trump should keep some ‘traditions’

"60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft and President Barack Obama chat in the Oval Office during an interview that aired Sunday night, Jan. 15, 2017, on CBS. Credit: Twitter / @60Minutes

President Barack Obama, in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday night, urged his successor, Donald Trump, to not erode “certain institutional traditions,” as the real estate mogul looks to leave his own mark on the Oval Office.

“The one thing I’ve said to him directly is . . . just make sure that as we go forward, certain norms, certain institutional traditions, don’t get eroded, because they’re in place for a reason,” Obama told “60 Minutes” Correspondent Steve Kroft in an hourlong interview.

Trump has bucked several long-standing diplomatic conventions since winning the election, including using Twitter to take aim at foreign powers, and publicly voicing skepticism of the intelligence agencies he will oversee upon his swearing-in to office Friday.

Obama called the Republican a “change candidate” who “has a talent for making a connection with his supporters.”

Obama expressed concern about the president-elect’s supportive comments toward Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who U.S. intelligence officials have said signed-off on a series of cyberattacks aimed at influencing the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

“The thing that has disturbed me most about the Russian hacking episode . . . has not been the fact of Russian hacking . . . I have been concerned about the degree to which, in some circles, you’ve seen people suggest that Vladimir Putin had more credibility than the U.S. government,” Obama said. “That is something new, 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 while Trump “ran sort of an improvisational campaign,” without the support of “many of the establishment in his own party,” he does not believe improvisation will work in the White House.

“He’s in the process of building up an organization and we will have to see how that works,” Obama said. “It’ll be a test for him and the people that he’s designated to be able to execute his vision.”

Reflecting on his own presidency, Obama said while he was effective “in shaping public opinion” around his two successful presidential bids, he “lost the PR battle” in building support around some of his administration’s policy initiatives.

“There were big stretches, while governing, where even though we were doing the right thing, we weren’t able to mobilize public opinion firmly enough behind us to weaken the resolve of the Republicans to stop opposing us or to cooperate with us,” Obama said.

Asked about his post-White House plans, Obama said: “I do not expect to be behind a desk . . . the amount of time I’ll be investing in issues is going to be high.”


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