Donald Trump should concede and put country above his ego, says Barack Obama

44th president scathing about man who followed him into White House

Andrew Buncombe
Monday 16 November 2020 02:11 GMT
Trump should concede and 'put country above his ego', Obama says
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Barack Obama has called on Donald Trump to concede the US election, urging him to put the good of the country above his own ego and self-interest.

On the day that Mr Trump tweeted from the White House that he had no plans to do any such thing, and claimed without evidence the vote was “rigged”, his predecessor delivered a scathing attack on him, saying his actions were damaging the country.

“A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design. And when your time is up then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments,” he said, speaking on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

“My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it's time for you to do the same thing.” 

Asked by interviewer Scott Pelley if he believed the president needed to concede, he said: “Absolutely. Well, I mean, I think it was time for him to concede probably – the day after the election – or at the latest, two days after the election.

“When you look at the numbers objectively, Joe Biden will have won handily. There is no scenario in which any of those states would turn the other way, and certainly not enough to reverse the outcome of the election.”

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Mr Obama, who is promoting a third memoir,  A Promised Land, is known to have been horrified by much of what Mr Trump has done since coming to office, after a surprise 2016 win over Hillary Clinton.

He has largely kept quiet, but he spared few punches when he hit the campaign trail with the 77-year-old Mr Biden. “I understand why there were times where my supporters wanted me to be more pugilistic, to duke it out a little bit more,” he said.

He said he felt the need to speak out now because the way the president had behaved was “not normal”.

He told a second CBS interviewer, Gayle King: "It is not my preference to be out there. I think we were in a circumstance in this election in which certain norms, certain institutional values that are so extraordinarily important, had been breached – that it was important for me, as somebody who had served in that office, to simply let people know, 'This is not normal’.”

In eight days since Joe Biden secured sufficient electoral college votes to cross the threshold of 270 to win the White House, many have pointed to the tradition of an outgoing president acting graciously, whether it was George W Bush inviting Mr Obama to the White House after he won in 2008, or else Mr Obama inviting Mr Trump and Melania Trump in 2016.

Currently there is concern that because Mr Trump is delaying the transition, Mr Biden and his team are not receiving the benefits of a full briefing from the intelligence services.

“I think our adversaries have seen us weakened, not just as a consequence of this election, but over the last several years. We have these cleavages in the body politic that they're convinced they can exploit,” said Mr Obama.

“There's an old adage that partisan politics should stop at the water's edge, right? That, when it comes to our foreign policy, that it is the United States of America, not the divided states of America.”

Mr Obama was asked about a line in his book, in which he writes that “our democracy seems to be teetering on the brink of a crisis”.

“We have gone through a presidency that disregarded a whole host of basic institutional norms, expectations we had for a president that had been observed by Republicans and Democrats previously,” he said in the interview broadcast on Sunday night, when asked to explain what he meant.

“And maybe most importantly, and most disconcertingly, what we've seen is what some people call truth decay, something that's been accelerated by outgoing President Trump, the sense that not only do we not have to tell the truth, but the truth doesn't even matter.”

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