President Barack Obama told a Greek audience Wednesday that, although he and President-elect Donald Trump “could not be more different,” he is dedicated to ensuring a smooth transition for the United States’ next commander in chief.
During a speech in Athens, Obama said that democratic nations must be committed to “free and fair elections, because citizens must be able to choose their own leaders.”
“Even if your candidate doesn’t always win,” he added, noting that “democracy depends on a peaceful transition of power, especially when you don’t get the results you want.”
“And as you may have noticed, the next American president and I could not be more different,” he continued. “We have very different points of view, but American democracy is bigger than any one person. And that’s why we have a tradition of the outgoing president welcoming the new one in as I did last week. And why, in the coming weeks my administration will do everything we can to support the smoothest transition possible, because that’s how democracy has to work.”
Although Obama campaigned for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to be his successor, after Trump’s victory, he instructed his staff to ensure a “smooth transition” for the president-elect.
Obama told reporters Monday that aiding a new president’s transition team is “not something that the Constitution explicitly requires, but it is one of those norms that are vital to a functioning democracy — similar to norms of civility and tolerance, and a commitment to reason and to facts and analysis.”
“It's part of what makes this country work,” he said. “And as long as I’m president, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals.”