Trump hits Obama’s ‘road­blocks’

Treat­ment of Is­rael, other in­cen­di­ary moves stir up storm of Twit­ter rage

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER

The pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion hit a new low Wed­nes­day, with Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump openly crit­i­ciz­ing Pres­i­dent Obama for bungling U.S. re­la­tions with Is­rael and erect­ing other “road­blocks” to a smooth trans­fer of power in Wash­ing­ton.

With 24 days to go be­fore Mr. Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, the pres­i­den­t­elect’s frus­tra­tion with Mr. Obama’s per­ceived un­der­min­ing of his vic­tory, and wide-rang­ing ef­forts to tie the hands of the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, boiled over in a se­ries of com­ments by Mr. Trump on Twit­ter.

“Do­ing my best to dis­re­gard the many in­flam­ma­tory Pres­i­dent O state­ments and road­blocks,” Mr. Trump said. “Thought it was go­ing to be a smooth tran­si­tion — NOT!”

The pres­i­dent has been rush­ing with ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions to lock in poli­cies that Mr. Trump isn’t likely to sup­port, such as bans on off­shore drilling and a fresh round of pend­ing sanc­tions against Rus­sia for cy­ber­at­tacks that the ad­min­is­tra­tion says were aimed at help­ing Mr. Trump win the elec­tion.

The ex­panded sanc­tions against Rus­sia are ex­pected to be an­nounced Thurs­day, and Mr. Obama is promis­ing to launch covert cy­ber­op­er­a­tions in re­tal­i­a­tion.

Last week, the ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cially dis­man­tled a dor­mant le­gal frame­work that Mr. Trump could have used for vet­ting Mus­lim visi­tors in the U.S.

Mr. Obama also riled Mr. Trump this week by claim­ing in an in­ter­view that he would have de­feated the Re­pub­li­can in the Novem­ber elec­tion, if only the pesky

Con­sti­tu­tion had let him run for a third term. Mr. Trump re­sponded, “NO WAY!”

But the move that most alarmed Mr. Trump, judg­ing from his tweet storm, was the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion not to veto a U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that con­demned Is­rael for set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity in the West Bank.

“We can­not con­tinue to let Is­rael be treated with such to­tal dis­dain and dis­re­spect,” Mr. Trump said on Twit­ter. “They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but not any­more.”

The move at the United Na­tions an­gered the Is­raeli govern­ment, which ac­cused the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of or­ches­trat­ing the vote.

The pres­i­dent-elect told Is­rael on Wed­nes­day, as Ge­orge W. Bush said in a dif­fer­ent con­text, that help is on the way. “The be­gin­ning of the end was the hor­ri­ble Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Is­rael, Jan­uary 20th is fast ap­proach­ing!” Mr. Trump said.

Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry de­fended the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions at the U.N. in a lengthy speech Wed­nes­day, say­ing “no Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion has done more for Is­rael’s se­cu­rity than Barack Obama’s.”

It was an as­ton­ish­ing public air­ing of the dis­agree­ments be­tween Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama, who has pledged to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to cre­ate a “smooth and ef­fi­cient” trans­fer of power. Although the two men have spo­ken by phone many times since the elec­tion, their mu­tual praise and hand­shake dur­ing a cor­dial Oval Of­fice meet­ing on Nov. 10 now seem dis­tant.

White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest dis­missed Mr. Trump’s com­ments, telling CNBC, “We’ve been ig­nor­ing these tweets for a year — why would we start re­spond­ing now?”

Asked by re­porters if his tran­si­tion was pro­ceed­ing smoothly, Mr. Trump said, “I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don’t think so?”

Speak­ing to re­porters later in Florida about U.S. jobs, the pres­i­dent-elect said he spoke with Mr. Obama ear­lier Wed­nes­day and had “a very nice con­ver­sa­tion.”

Later still, Mr. Trump said, “Our staffs have been get­ting along very well and I’m get­ting along very well with him, other than a cou­ple of state­ments that I re­sponded to.

“We talked about it and smiled about it, and no­body is ever go­ing to know be­cause we are never go­ing to be go­ing against each other,” he said.

Mr. Trump has been ir­ri­tat­ing the White House in ways that go be­yond his vic­tory over the pres­i­dent’s cho­sen suc­ces­sor, Hil­lary Clin­ton. He has ex­pressed ea­ger­ness to un­ravel some of Mr. Obama’s most cher­ished ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, a global cli­mate change agree­ment and a mas­sive free trade deal in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

The pres­i­dent-elect also dis­turbed the White House with his call last week for the U.S. to “greatly strengthen and ex­pand its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity un­til such time as the world comes to its senses re­gard­ing nukes.” In re­sponse, Mr. Obama on Tues­day hailed the ef­forts of the U.S. and Ja­pan at “slow­ing the spread of nu­clear weapons” to keep the peace in Asia.

Dur­ing the me­mo­rial event at Pearl Har­bor, Hawaii, Mr. Obama also seemed to take aim again at Mr. Trump’s for­eign pol­icy plans with one of those “in­flam­ma­tory” state­ments.

“Even when ha­tred burns hottest, the tug of trib­al­ism is at its most pri­mal, we must re­sist the urge to turn in­ward,” Mr. Obama said. “We must re­sist the urge to de­mo­nize those who are dif­fer­ent.”

Trump tran­si­tion spokesman Sean Spicer said Wed­nes­day that the pres­i­dent-elect’s tweet about the lessthan-smooth tran­si­tion “speaks for it­self.” But Mr. Spicer, the in­com­ing White House press sec­re­tary, said Mr. Obama and his staff have been “help­ful and gen­er­ous” to the Trump team.

As if the tran­si­tion has be­come a pop­u­lar­ity con­test, Obama sup­port­ers were gloat­ing on so­cial me­dia Wed­nes­day that the pres­i­dent beat Mr. Trump in a Gallup poll as the “most ad­mired” man of 2016. Of those sur­veyed, 22 per­cent chose Mr. Obama, while Mr. Trump came in sec­ond with 15 per­cent. Pope Fran­cis was third.

Gallup said it was Mr. Obama’s ninth con­sec­u­tive win, but the 7 per­cent­age point mar­gin was his nar­row­est vic­tory yet.

In the 70 years that Gallup has asked the ques­tion, the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent has won 58 times.

Mrs. Clin­ton was rated as the most ad­mired woman, edg­ing out first lady Michelle Obama.

Tran­si­tion ten­sions also flared this week when La­bor Sec­re­tary Thomas E. Perez, who is run­ning for the chair­man­ship of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, ac­cused the Trump team of break­ing the law by send­ing ques­tion­naires to govern­ment agen­cies such as the En­ergy Depart­ment seek­ing to iden­tify em­ploy­ees who had worked on cli­mate change.

“Those ques­tions have no place in a tran­si­tion,” Mr. Perez said. “That is il­le­gal.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Pres­i­dent Obama and Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump had a cor­dial meet­ing at the White House on Nov. 10, and the two men have spo­ken by phone reg­u­larly in an at­tempt to cre­ate a smooth tran­si­tion. Com­pet­i­tive­ness and a clash of ide­ol­ogy, how­ever, have re­sulted in Mr. Obama’s rush to lock in poli­cies that Mr. Trump prom­ises to re­verse.

“We’ve been ig­nor­ing these tweets for a year — why would we start re­spond­ing now?” White House press sec­re­tary Josh Earnest said about Mr. Trump’s re­marks.

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