In public, President Obama has been careful not to undermine his successor. The peaceful transition of power, as he said over and over again, is a long standing tradition of our democracy. However, in private, the former president has been quite candid about his feelings on President Trump.
"He’s nothing but a bullshitter," Obama told two friends last November, according to a new report by People, describing his phone call with then President-elect Trump on the night of the election. During their conversation, Trump said he had "respect" and "admiration" for Obama. That probably would have come across as sincere if Trump hadn't championed the birther theory for years and openly talked about his despise for the former president — especially his alleged golfing and vacationing habits. (Which looking back, seems quite rich.)
Of course, the identity of Obama's "friends" aren't known, so you can take all of this with a grain of salt. But it is entertaining to imagine Obama bad-mouthing the current president.
The two sources also talked to People about how the Obamas are adjusting to their post-presidency life. When asked if Obama's opinion of Trump has changed since he assumed office, one said, "Well, it hasn’t gotten any better."
That's not too surprising. In just 118 days in office, Trump has done all of the following: accused Obama of leaking information and wiretapping, championed the dismantling of Obamacare and many other Obama-era policies, fired the FBI director, asked said FBI director to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn, shared classified information with top Russian officials, and the list goes on.
But if there's one thing Obama has continued to do, it's keep quiet about the decisions President Trump makes. Whether or not he agrees with some of the Trump administration's policies, that's something he will discuss in private. Or at least until he feels compelled to share his thoughts.
"He’s very respectful of the appropriate role of a former president and that ex-presidents should not be looking over the shoulder of their successors and commenting on every decision,” David Axelrod, the director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics who has been a friend of Obama for a long time, told People. "President Obama’s predecessor didn’t do that. Obviously, this now is a unique set of circumstances, but my sense is that he’s going to try and respect that tradition while reserving the right to speak out in given moments when things rise to that level."
Former First Lady Michelle Obama has done the same as her husband. She openly campaigned against President Trump during the election, but once he assumed office, she kept quiet. But that doesn't mean she hasn't discussed him in private.
According to People, she joked last December with some visitors that she would wear mourning attire called the "black series."
She said, "I’m going all black for the next couple of years."