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Unlikely apprentice: Obama coaches Trump to be world leader

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    U.S. president Barack Obama waves as he departs from Tegel airport in Berlin today.

BERLIN >> It’s the last thing President Barack Obama ever expected he’d be doing in his final months in office: Coaching Donald Trump on how to be a world leader.

As the president-elect holes up in his skyscraper, Obama is giving Trump policy advice, style tips and gentle nudges to let the fervor of the campaign give way to the sobriety of the Oval Office. And as Obama completes his last world tour, he’s been thrust into the unexpected role of Trump translator to anxious U.S. allies.

Standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Obama said Trump would quickly see that a president’s responsibilities can’t be treated casually and that diverse countries can only be governed by “listening and reaching out.”

“It is my hope that that is what will happen,” Obama said. “And I’m going to do everything I can over the next two months to help assure that that happens.”

Though the outgoing president made clear his profound disdain for Trump throughout the campaign, perhaps no one is better positioned than Obama to get him up to speed in a matter of weeks.

It’s unclear, though, how much help Trump wants or will accept from Obama. And no one expects that the executive tutoring will substantially change Trump’s vast differences with Obama, who he called the worst president in U.S. history.

After meeting with Trump following the election, Obama resolved to spend more time helping prepare Trump than he might under different circumstances — say, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, aides said.

Trump, to the surprise of many, seemed game. He said he wanted Obama’s “counsel” and looked forward to “many, many” more meetings.

In the run-up to the election, the White House had planned only perfunctory, refresher-style briefings for Clinton, who is no stranger to the White House and whose transition team had prepared extensively for an expected takeover.

Soon after Trump’s victory, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough directed that his preparatory materials be thickened and his intelligence briefings expanded to include more basic information, according to U.S. officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and requested anonymity.

Obama and his closest advisers were irritated when it leaked out that Trump, during his White House visit, had displayed a lack of thorough knowledge about key issues while Trump’s aides appeared unfamiliar with the process of staffing up a White House, officials said.

They were concerned if Trump felt insulted or aggrieved, he might pull the plug on accepting Obama’s advice and help. After all, Obama’s aides had been pleasantly surprised when Trump, after their Oval Office chat, had agreed to preserve key elements of the “Obamacare” health law, which he’d pledged during the campaign to repeal.

If Trump has felt patronized by Obama, so far he hasn’t shown it. Asked why Trump’s meeting this week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was closed to the press, senior transition adviser Kellyanne Conway pointed out that Obama was traveling overseas.

“We are very deferential and respectful of the fact that we already have a president of the United States, Barack Obama,” Conway told reporters. “President Obama is still in office for the next two months, and we won’t be making diplomatic agreements today.”

Though Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have spoken by phone to more than 30 heads of state since the election, Trump hasn’t been heard from publically, save for one television interview and occasional tweets. From his suite in Trump Tower, he and top aides have been interviewing candidates for the 4,000-odd roles they must fill.

Unsure how Trump as president may shake up foreign relations, world leaders have turned to Obama for information about what to expect. Traveling this week to Greece, Germany and Peru, Obama has tried to reassure U.S. partners that Trump, in their Oval Office meeting, expressed a “full commitment” to NATO.

“I am encouraged by the president-elect’s insistence that NATO is a commitment that does not change,” Obama said in Germany.

During the campaign, Trump said the U.S. didn’t “really need NATO in its current form,” calling it obsolete and threatening not to defend NATO allies unless they pay more into the alliance. Though Trump has since softened those comments, he hasn’t offered the explicit reassurances in public that Obama said he offered in private.

But Obama said he was “cautiously optimistic” that transitioning from candidate to president-in-waiting would force Trump to focus and get serious about “gaining the trust even of those who didn’t support him.”

“That has to reflect itself not only in the things he says, but also how he fills out his administration,” Obama said. “And my hope is that that’s something he is thinking about.”


Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at

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  • You got to be kidding–maybe Obama should call in Carter to show Trump how to be the best of the best!! Trump is his own man and he will show it. Obama is on a European tour, just like Clinton did to line up his $800,000 speaking engagements!!! Now, let’s see the pardon list!!!!

    • You can’t. They didn’t learn their lesson from the election. There is no more “news”. It’s all propaganda tv. All progressive, all the time. Total bs.

    • It’s hard to believe what the ape man says. He’s been wrong all along. Still has the unmitigated gall to make comments.
      He should make like a flatulent and fade away with Klastri, Ike, keaukaka and the rest of the swamp creatures.

  • Trump will be fine and learning, Obama has stand by/To Trump America and the American people comes first! No bad tradings, corruptions and over paid Administrator’s in all 50 State; includes Hawaii’s Government who misuse of their position, plus all the steeling and wild spending; and not be held accountable……Get Ige out!

  • Yes, Donald! You just have to go around and apologize to all the other countries for the United States being a successful nation. then write a whole bunch of Executive Orders to bring us down to a lower level and take pride in it.

  • Deceptive headline. Obama’s “coaching” appears to be unsolicited. Little Barry and the MSM are getting the sinking feeling that Trump will reveal him for the incompetent leader that he was. So expect more spin like this from the media. Barry had no record of accomplishment coming into the job unless you consider Marxist street agitator with a Harvard degree to be an accomplishment.

  • Obama is showing a lot of class by trying to help Trump be a good president. He is setting the example of giving support to the new leader of our country…hopefully, other democrats will do the same. Most of us are Americans and need to support our elected leaders for the benefit of our country. We look silly by conducting violent protests of the leaders we just elected by the supposedly best political system in the world.

  • ….well I do agree with the Heading. “Unlikely Apprentice”… as in Obama? Nice one AP! Got that Right! You mean to say, after running the Country into the ground,he’s just an “Apprentice”?

    That’s what I’ve been saying for months. The Most inexperienced President in US History! Heck even Jimmy Carter was waaaaaaaayy Better than Barry….You know what’s funny, I heard Obama say this yesterday. “That the Country and the World is in better shape today” Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Don’t you just Love this guy. I needed that!

  • So… little people will stand on the sidelines with open mouths and say “what happened?”.

    let’s make America better by rolling up our sleeves and have the “can do” attitude.

  • Excuse me, Obama had zero experience in world leadership prior to entering the Oval Office and now he wants to coach Trump? We don’t need 4-8 more years of Obama diplomacy. LOL LOL LOL

    • Which begs the question, does anyone know what our foreign policy has been for the past 8 years? If you do, please let us know. Hillary was going to build on what “we’ve” accomplished. And that is…?

  • go trump get us out of NATO like I have been saying for over thirty years, we don’t need to be in NATO that’s is a European problem we don’t need, and also kick out the United Nations out of the U.S. we don’t need them here, they can move there U.N. headquarters to another country then we will be better off.

  • I can’t beleive what I am reading. The worst President in U.S. History is coaching a Conservative President-elect how to be a world leader???? Are you kidding me!!!.
    Our Liberal Muslim President has lost credibility with most countries and he is coaching President-elect Donald Trump???
    My advise for our liberal muslim President Obama, retire now instead of next month. When you leave the White house (can’t wait for that day), don’t let the door hit you from behind. Good riddence!!

  • So, when Putin decides it is the right time to release Trump and surrogates emails, what happens then? If anyone wondered why only the Dem’s emails were released.. or maybe you didn’t give it too much thought since it was written off as causing “mischief”. We think this possible scenario threatens our entire American democracy.

    Just speculating and nothing else.

  • obama was advising trump to give out baba streisand cds when visiting of receiving world leaders. or maybe serving some of that bitter democrat whine at state dinners.

    the female felon must be sweating it out waiting for obama to issue preemptive pardons for her and her family. her spaghetti les team members are on their own.

  • Did you know that president-elect went on Infowars and acknowledge their work in getting out information to the public that the mainstream media does not report.

    Hey AP & SP why not cover that story.

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