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Obama: I don't think Trump is ideological

Obama's advice to Trump
Obama's advice to Trump 02:01

4:40 p.m. ET Is there anything you can do to reassure the undocumented immigrants who have received deferred deportations under DACA about living under a Trump administration and shield their information from the next administration? Is now the time to test the theory that you can move the rest of the detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay?

I will urge the president-elect and the upcoming admin to think long and hard before they are endangering the status for all practical purposes are american kids. These are kids who were brought here by their presidents. They did nothing wrong. They’ve pledged allegiance to the flag,” Obama said. 

“It is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see those kids to start hiding again,” he added.

On Gitmo, Obama said, “It’s true that i have not been able to close the darn thing because of the congressional restrictions placed on us.” 

He said his administration has been able to reduce the population to less than 100 detainees. He said the U.S. would be much better off closing the facility and moving them to a different facility governed by a U.S. jurisdiction, which he said would be cheaper. The president said he’ll continue to explore other options.

4:26 p.m. ET Do you have concerns about a Trump administration altering the Iran nuclear deal? Are you willing to let Aleppo fall under your watch? What do you think of Trump saying he won’t support the Syrian opposition?

Obama said that after a robust debate over the Iran deal, there is now “over a year of evidence that they have abided by the agreement...that’s the opinion of Israeli military intelligence officers.” 

If the U.S. pulls out of the deal, which was negotiated with five other countries, the U.S. would then have to start sanctioning other countries.

“It becomes more difficult to undo something that’s working than undo something that isn’t working,” he said. “When you’re not responsible for it, I think you can call it a terrible deal. When you are responsible for it, you’re more likely to look at the facts.”

In Benghazi, there was a U.N. security resolution, Obama said, to prevent people in the city from being slaughtered. He added that Syria is more complicated and Secretary of State John Kerry has tried to work with allies to stop the killings there. 

“The situation is obviously different,” he said, adding that they’ll try to continue pursuing a political solution and humanitarian safe spaces.

4:21 p.m. ET Do you have any concern about Trump’s temperament?

“Whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of magnifying and pointing out and hopefully then you correct for it,” Obama said. 

He said a silly example for him is he hasn’t been able to keep track of paper. 

“I’m not well-organized in that way,” he said, adding that he realized he has “bad filing, sorting and organizing habits” and had to find people who could help keep track of his papers.

4:12 p.m. ET Did anything surprise you about your meeting with Trump and do you have any concerns about a Trump presidency?

“We have a very cordial conversation,” Obama said about his meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday. “That didn’t surprise me to some degree...he is obviously a gregarious person...he likes to mix it up and to have a vigorous debate.” 

The president added that he doesn’t think Trump is “ideological” but is “ultimately pragmatic and that can serve him well.”

“Do I have concerns? Absolutely,” Obama said. “Of course I’ve got concerns. He and I differ on a while bunch of different issues.” 

Obama said one of their biggest differences is where they stand on Obamacare, which he said has been “the holy grail for Republicans over the last six to seven years.” 

The president argued that people who have health insurance are benefitting from the law and asked what would happen if Republicans successfully repeal the program.

“What happens to those 20 million people who have health insurance?” Obama said. 

Obama said that if the GOP comes up with something better that works in which 25 million people receive health insurance and it’s cheaper and runs more smoothly, he said, “I’ll be the first one to say, that’s great, congratulations.” 

He said if their response results in millions of people losing their healthcare coverage, he said there will be major problems.

4:07 p.m. ET What choice do you think the American people made last week and will there be a “course correction” before Europeans make their choices in their elections?

“I think the American people recognize that the world has shrunk -- that it’s interconnected, that you’re not going to put that genie back in the bottle,” Obama said. 

The president said that the election reflected, “People wanting that course correction that you described and the message around stopping surges of immigration, not creating new trade deals that may be unfair -- those were themes that played a prominent role in the campaign.”

Obama said that the most important strategy for progressives is to argue that people’s concerns are real and that the solutions are a higher minimum wage, strong worker protections, stronger financial regulations and trade that ensures that countries that trade with the U.S. don’t engage in child labor and attentiveness to inequality.

3:59 p.m. ET Obama, you didn’t think Trump would ever be elected president. Is he qualified to be president and what do you think of his staffing and the tone of it like his appointment of alt-right leader Steve Bannon as Trump’s chief strategist in the White House?

“I think it’s fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect keeps making,” Obama said. 

“The people have spoken,” he added. “It will be up to him to set up a team to serve him well and reflect his policies...Those who didn’t vote for him have to realize that’s how democracy works.”

The president said that Trump needs to take time to think through what his practical out of his campaign promises and what he can actually achieve.

“I did say to him as I said publicly that because of the nature of the campaigns and the bitterness and ferocity of the campaign that it’s really important for us to send some signals of unity,” Obama said.

Asked again if he thinks Trump is qualified, Obama said, “This office has a way of waking you up.”

3:50 p.m. ET Is there a learning curve to be president and how long did it take you? Did you discuss this matter with the president-elect?

Obama joked, “About a week ago, I started feeling pretty good.”

Then he got serious.

“I think the learning curve always continues,” he said. “This is a remarkable job. It’s like no other job on earth. It’s like a constant flow of issues.”

The president said he emphasized to Trump it’s important how he staffs his White House, especially the chief of staff, White House counsel and national security adviser. 

Trump has announced that Reince Priebus will be his chief of staff and Steve Bannon will be his chief strategist.

Obama said he’s been “encouraged” by Trump’s remarks after the the election.

He added that he didn’t really “feel at ease” ever because he started as president when the economy tanked between 2008 and 2009.

3:43 p.m. ET What will you say to other world leaders about your successor? And as Democrats scramble to regroup, what is your advice about where the party should go and who should lead it?

Obama said that the influence of the U.S. in the world is not just the result of the president, but also the result of the relationships between the U.S. military and others abroad as well as diplomats, intelligence officers and development workers.

“There’s enormous continuity beneath the day-to-day news,” he said. 

The president said that during his meeting with Trump last week, the president-elect, “expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships,” Obama said. 

“One of my messages that I’ll be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Trans-Atlantic Alliance,” he said. 

Obama said it’s “healthy” for Democrats to reflect on their loss in the 2016 election.

3:40 p.m. ET Obama said that he and first lady Michelle Obama want to offer their “deepest condolences” to the family of journalist Gwen Ifill and her colleagues in the media. Ifill died Monday at the age of 61.

3:37 p.m. ET Obama said that he’ll take a few questions on domestic issues before he goes on his final trip abroad as president. 

“My team stands ready to accerelate in the next steps that are required to ensure a snooth transition” to a Donald Trump administration, Obama said. 

The president said he’ll stay in touch with Trump while he travels overseas. He emphasized all of the progress that has been achieved under the Obama administration over the last eight years.

3:03 p.m. ET President-elect Trump met with President Obama last Thursday at the White House for a 90-minute meeting. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Obama plans to spend more time with his successor than presidents normally do.

3:00 p.m. ET AP: WASHINGTON -- It was supposed to be his grand valedictory tour. Now President Barack Obama must use his last major trip abroad to try to calm shocked world leaders about the outcome of the U.S. election, and what comes next when Donald Trump is president.

Trump’s unforeseen victory has triggered pangs of uncertainty at home and grave concerns around the world. Though Obama has urged unity and said the U.S. must root for Trump’s success, the president’s trip to Greece, Germany and Peru forces him to confront global concerns about the future of America’s leadership. Obama departs Monday on the six-day trip.

Before leaving the U.S., Obama faces reporters at an afternoon White House news conference, with questions about the presidential election and its consequences for U.S. policy and Obama’s own legacy certain to be a focus.

On his trip, Obama is stopping first in Athens, where he’ll tour the Parthenon, meet with the prime minister, and give a speech about democracy and globalization that will take on new relevance in light of Trump’s election. He’ll use his visit to Berlin to show gratitude to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his closest foreign partner, and to meet with key European leaders.

In Peru, he’ll attend a major Asian economic summit in Lima, and also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull.

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