The brief era of good feelings between President-elect Donald Trump and his soon-to-be predecessor may be over, with President Obama sounding off Monday night on Trump’s reluctance to receive regular intelligence briefings and further questioning the “relationships” between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign team.
Trump told “Fox News Sunday” he receives intelligence briefings “when I need them” and criticized many of the reports as repetitive.
On “The Daily Show” Monday night, Obama said shunning a daily intel briefing is like “flying blind.”
“I think the president-elect may say one thing and do another once he’s here, because the truth of the matter is it’s a big complicated world,” said Obama, who himself has been criticized for not attending many of his Presidential Daily Briefs while in office. “It doesn’t matter how smart you are. You have to have the best information possible to make the best decisions possible.”
Obama also followed up on criticism leveled earlier in the day by Press Secretary Josh Earnest regarding the Trump team's Russia connections, amid reports that Moscow meddled in the race to boost Trump.
“You had what was very clear relationships between members of the President-elect’s campaign team and the Russians and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues,” Obama said.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has been tied to Russian interests, in particular. Manafort resigned in August amid increasing questions over his lobbying role for a group of pro-Russian elements in Ukraine. Trump also expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin’s leadership on numerous occasions.
Though Trump throughout the campaign was a fierce critic of Obama -- and vice-versa -- it appeared the two men had reached some sort of détente following Trump’s visit to the White House on Nov. 10, two days after Trump won the presidential election.
Trump has remained remarkably complimentary of the man whose eligibility for office he once questioned, as recently as Sunday saying that Obama “has been terrific” and “very respectful of the process and everything else.”
“He has treated me really well,” Trump told Fox News' Chris Wallace. “He’s made us feel very welcome.”
Trump added that he was “surprised at how well we get along, and I think he might say the same thing.”
Obama, for his part, mostly has steered clear of taking shots at his successor. But an avalanche of criticism on Monday about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, mostly from Democratic leaders, gave way to an extended critique from Earnest during the White House press briefing.
Speaking later with Trevor Noah, Obama echoed Earnest in noting that Trump had joked the Russians should hack Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s secret email server to recover tens of thousands of emails she had deleted prior to an FBI investigation.
"The President-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, hack Hillary's emails so we can finally find out what's going on and confirm our conspiracy theories,” Obama said.
Obama said a U.S. intelligence review of any Russian misdeeds was in the works and being produced “to prevent this kind of interference from having an effect on the elections in the future.”