WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - United States President Barack Obama phoned his successor, Donald Trump, after the Republican accused Obama of hobbling the transition to his administration in a tweet that alleged unspecified “inflammatory” statements and “roadblocks.”
The tweet on Wednesday (Dec 28) morning brought tensions between the two men into the open less than a month before Inauguration Day, though the president’s phone call later may have smoothed over relations.
“We had a very nice conversation,” Trump told reporters gathered at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “We had a general conversation.”
Earlier, Trump erupted on Twitter with attacks on actions and statements by the president, chiefly Obama’s direction that the US abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote declaring Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.
By declining to veto the resolution, the US allowed it to pass unanimously, enraging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!”
As president-elect, Trump has taken an unusually activist role with a series of interventions into business decisions, federal contracting and foreign policy despite Obama’s insistence that only one person can govern the US at a time.
The Republican has promised that his administration will be friendlier to Israel, a theme he emphasised on Twitter Wednesday.
“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” Trump tweeted. “The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this! (UN) Stay strong, Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”
His tweets came hours before Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, described in a speech his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu has said the UN resolution reduced the prospects for an agreement, while Trump announced earlier this month he would nominate his friend and bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman – an ardent supporter of Israeli settlements – as his ambassador to the country.
Other recent moves by Obama are also emerging as challenges to the incoming administration. Last week, the president announced that more than 100 million acres of the US Arctic and undersea canyons in the Atlantic Ocean would be protected from new offshore oil and gas drilling.
He has encouraged Americans to enroll in Obamacare before the Jan 31 deadline for 2017 sign-ups despite Trump’s vow to repeal the law, and the Environmental Protection Agency is moving rapidly to finalise mileage requirements for automakers months earlier than expected.
Obama has also needled Trump in recent public statements. In an interview published by CNN on Monday, the president said that he would have beaten Trump had he run for a third term. In a speech in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Tuesday commemorating the 1941 Japanese surprise attack that ushered the US into World War II, Obama cautioned against “tribalism” and “the urge to demonise those who are different,” without mentioning the president-elect.
During the past 24 hours, Trump has been busy on Twitter, a medium that has become his favourite channel to communicate with the America public. He tweeted on Tuesday about his election win, after Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the memorial to the USS Arizona, a battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor, and just before their speeches.
“President Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost,” Trump wrote. “The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Later, he appeared to try to create his own version of the “Thanks, Obama” meme that the president’s supporters and opponents have used in commentary on his record.
“The US Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!” Trump tweeted.
Years of insults between the two men predated Trump’s run for the White House. Yet the real estate developer met with Obama shortly after the election and praised his character while promising to retain some initiatives, including parts of Obama’s signature health-care law.
Both men have said they’ve spoken by phone more than once after that meeting. But their relations, at least in public, have recently been rocky.
In response to Obama’s claim that he would have won a race between the two, Trump tweeted on Monday: “I say NO WAY! – jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.”