'They Can Just Have a Cartoon': New Book Reveals Obama's Real Reaction to Trump Election
President Barack Obama felt self-doubt and disappointment after Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election, Ben Rhodes reveals in a new book previewed in the New York Times on Wednesday. The passages paint the picture of a devastated White House in shock over the election result and reveal the range of emotions Obama endured through the transition period.
It notes, for instance, that Obama did his best to cheer up his aides in the days following the election. But he soured in the days that followed.
“Maybe this is what people want," Obama reportedly said about Trump's win. "I’ve got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon.”
Rhodes also writes about Obama's farewells to world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly told Obama that Trump's victory made her feel a greater obligation to run for a fourth term which she ended up winning. When she left Obama for the last time, she "had a single tear in her eye."
Obama also apparently felt that, despite the criticism he has since received, there was little more he could have done to counter Russian interference in the 2016 election. Calling out the meddling efforts even more than he did would have resulted in Trump saying Obama was rigging the election and Putin working harder to undermine the vote, the president feared.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointedly refused to issue a bipartisan statement condemning Russia' actions when Obama wanted to take action, limiting his options. Rhodes called this refusal "staggeringly partisan and unpatriotic," but he says Obama was unsurprised.