Just over a month ago, it was widely commented upon when President Obama and Donald Trump managed to sit through a brief White House pool spray without coming to blows. Given the bitterness of the campaign, and Trump’s years-long racist anti-Obama advocacy, the fact that the transition between their administrations might not be as acrimonious as everyone assumed was considered big news.
A few weeks later—after Trump disparaged the U.S. intelligence community, and his surrogates began spreading the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration conducted a false flag operation to exaggerate ties between Trump and the Russian government—the politeness is draining rapidly out of the process.
Speaking to The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, President Obama sounded more like he did when he was campaigning for Clinton than in the days after the election. “The president-elect in some of his political events specifically said to the Russians, ‘Hack Hillary’s emails so that we can finally find out what’s going on, and confirm our conspiracy theories.’ You had what was very clear relationships between members of the president-elect’s campaign team and Russians, and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made similar observations from his podium on Monday, before taking things further. “It was the president-elect who, over the course of the campaign, indicated that he thought that President Putin was a strong leader,” he reminded the press corps. “It was the president-elect who indicated the potential that he would withdraw from some of our critically important NATO commitments. It was the president-elect who refused to disclose his financial connections to Russia. It was the president-elect who hired a campaign chairman with extensive, lucrative, personal financial ties to Russia. It was the president-elect who had a national security adviser on the campaign that had been a paid contributor to RT, the Russian propaganda outlet. The president-elect’s team, his campaign, didn’t make any effort to obscure this.”
Trump has gushed about Obama, prompted and unprompted, throughout the transition. Let’s see if that continues.