President Barack Obama told Rolling Stone, in an interview that took place the day after the election, what advice he would give President-elect Donald Trump in their meeting following his win.
Obama said the biggest piece of advice was “No. 1, however you campaigned, once you’re in this office, you are part of a legacy dating back to those first Revolutionaries. And this amazing experiment in democracy has to be tended.”
“So aside from any particular issue, the president needs to recognise that this is not about you,” he continued. “This is not about your power, your position or the perks, the Marine band. This is about this precious thing that we’ve inherited and that we want to pass on.”
He said “that means” a president must surround themselves with “really good people” and spend time “learning and understanding what the issues are.”
“They’re not games that we’re playing,” he said. “And that to the best of your ability, you’re making the decisions that you think are right for the American people — even when they’re not popular, even when they’re not expedient. And the satisfaction you get from that is that when you leave this place, you can feel like you’ve been true to this immense privilege and responsibility that’s been given to you.”
Asked if the weight of history will provide a constraint on Trump, Obama said he believes sitting behind the Oval Office desk is “sobering” and that it will have an effect on Trump “as it has on every president.”
“But I think the most important constraint on any president is the American people themselves, of an informed citizenry that is active and participating and engaged,” he said. “And that is going to be something that I will, in my own modest ways, continue to try to encourage for the rest of my life.”
Following his Rolling Stone interview, Obama met with Trump at the White House the next day. Trump praised Obama after that meeting and in subsequent interviews, and the two have communicated multiple times via phone since.
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