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Right before former President Obama left the White House he spoke, off the record, to some progressive reporters about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s defeat to former President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and his comments have just come to light.
A transcript of the comments was accidentally given to Bloomberg News as part of a Freedom of Information Act request from the Department of Justice.
“I think that four years is okay,” he said of the coming Trump presidency, Bloomberg News reported. “Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.”
He said that he did not think Trump wanted to start any wars other than “bombing the heck out of terrorists.”
“I think his basic view — his formative view of foreign policy is shaped by his interactions with Malaysian developers and Saudi princes, and I think his view is, ‘I’m going to go around the world making deals and maybe suing people,’” he said. “But it’s not, ‘let me launch big wars that tie me up.’ And that’s not what his base is looking from him anyway.”
He also took aim at the entire Republican Party. Declassified: The Scandal of The Century (video)
“So what’s bound them together is opposition to me, opposition to a fantastical creature called the liberal who looks down on them and just feeds all that regional resentment,” he said. “And there are a handful of issues, like guns, that trigger that sense of ‘these folks aren’t like us and they don’t like us and act like us.’ And there’s obviously some racial elements that get put out into that stew.”
And he gave reporters marching orders on what to watch for during the President Trump administration.
“I would be like white on rice on the Justice Department,” he said. “I’d be paying a lot of attention to that. And if there is even a hint of politically motivated investigations, prosecutions, et cetera, I think you guys have to really be on top of that.”
“He’s very polite to me and has not stopped being so,” he said. “I think where he sees a vulnerability he goes after it and takes advantage of it.”
But it was his comments about the election and who he blamed Clinton’s defeat on that caught attention.
“The fact of the matter is, setting aside that Hillary Clinton got the substantially bigger share of the vote, I think it’s fair to say that a whole series of different things happening — how the email thing unfolded, and sort of the chain from Bill Clinton getting on that plane, to Comey making an announcement,” he said.
“At a bunch of different junctures, people could have made different decisions that would have resulted in it playing differently.”
“I will say this about Comey. I think that — and I’ve been very careful about this — I think the way — as I said, if there’s Bill Clinton deciding he should get on Loretta Lynch’s plane, to the last announcement about Wiener emails, and it’s just like this train wreck and this cascade of decisions that I was powerless to intervene in, because I actually observe institutional norms and I’m not supposed to investigate — or meddle in investigations,” he said.
“But I think Comey is actually a person of high character and is not partisan when it comes to this stuff, and believes in playing it straight.
That doesn’t mean that every call he makes necessarily will be the right one, because this is a human enterprise and everybody is human. But I trust his basic integrity. I trust him to — I think he thinks of himself as serving the American people and as a guardian of certain values and norms that I share with him.”