Barack Obama has broken his silence on his successor’s presidency just 10 days after he handed power over to Donald Trump.
In a statement issued by the former president, Obama has said he supports the mass protests over the ‘extreme vetting’ process issued by Trump.
“The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Obama’s spokesman said in the former president’s first statement since leaving office. “Citizens exercising their Constitutional rights to assemble, organise and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
While Obama highlighted the weekend of protests against Trump’s Muslim refugee ban, he stopped short of mentioning his successor by name.
The timing of the statement, just ten days after Obama left the Oval Office, is also a break with tradition for former presidents.
Ex commanders-in-chief rarely comment or criticise publicly on their successors’ policies.
But during his final press conference as president earlier this month, Obama listed a number of issues that might prompt him to make a statement.
He said at the time:
There’s a difference between [the] normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake. I put in that category if I saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. I put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise their franchise.
I put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. And for me at least, I would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids and send them somewhere else, when they love this country.
So while his break in silence may be a break in tradition, he did give us fair warning that this may happen.