President Barack Obama held his tongue about the incoming calamity of the Trump administration as he was exiting office. In his last speech, he even tried to offer soothing words, stating, “I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I think we’re going to be okay.”
Behind the scenes, though, Obama offered a more honest—and blistering—assessment of the incoming president. People magazine reports that sources close to Obama recalled his precise description of Donald Trump as follows:
“He’s nothing but a bullshitter,” Obama told two friends early last November, describing an election night phone call with Trump, in which the businessman suddenly professed his “respect” and “admiration” for Obama—after years of hectoring.
Trump launched his political career by pushing the racist birther lie, which served to undermine the first black president by implying he was ineligible for the role. “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s campaign motto, played directly to white American resentment about Obama’s presidency and imagined fears about the decline of white power. On Twitter, Trump frequently criticized Obama on decisions large and small, from his handling of Syria to his vacation schedule.
When Trump entered office as the only president without any previous military or political experience, he was reportedly so unprepared for the task that Obama extended the mentoring period before he handed off the role.
“Mr. Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “He plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do, people familiar with the matter said.”
Trump’s time in office has been marked by scandal and confusion, incompetence and corruption. As he is wont to do, the reality TV star has often fallen back on blaming his predecessor for his failures. He has also accused the Obama administration of spying on him, a charge he’s never been able to prove yet continues to repeat.
Obama tacitly acknowledged the Trump disaster in his first public appearance after leaving the presidency. Taking the stage at an event in Chicago in April, Obama opened by coyly asking, “So, uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?”
The former president’s critical take hasn’t improved based on Trump’s disastrous few months in office. Asked how Obama’s opinion has changed over the last 100-plus days, People’s source reportedly stated, “Well, it hasn’t gotten any better.”