US president Barack Obama has said he may speak out after leaving office if he feels his successor
Donald Trump is threatening core American values.
By convention, former presidents tend to leave the political fray and avoid commenting on their successors.
Speaking at a news conference at the Apec summit in Lima, Peru, Mr Obama said he intended to assist
Mr Trump and give him time to outline his vision.
But he said that, as a private citizen, he might speak out on certain issues.
“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his
platform and his arguments without somebody popping off,” Mr Obama said.
But, he added, if an issue “goes to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that
it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes”.
The president described himself as an “American citizen who cares deeply about our country”.
Speaking at a news conference to mark the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit,
Mr Obama reiterated that he would extend to Mr Trump’s incoming administration the same professional
courtesy shown to his team by his predecessor George W Bush.
Mr Bush has refrained since leaving office from commenting on Mr Obama’s presidency. “I don’t think it
does any good,” he told CNN in 2013, after Mr Obama was elected for a second time.
“It’s a hard job. He’s got plenty on his agenda. It’s difficult. A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that’s mine.”
Mr Bush’s stance falls in line with tradition. US presidents tend to avoid criticising predecessors or successors.
Mr Obama was clear that he would not weigh in on Mr Trump’s decisions while he is still in office.
But his suggestion that, as a private citizen, he would seek to defend “core values” comes amid mounting concern among civil rights groups and others about Mr Trump’s political appointments.
The president-elect’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was previously the head of Breitbart, a website which has
been accused of promoting racism and anti-Semitism. And Mr Trump’s national security adviser, General
Michael Flynn, has previously likened Islam to a “cancer” spreading through the US.