In what is certain to be seen as an ironic comment in the eyes of many of his detractors, outgoing President Barack Obama warned his successor, Donald Trump, against wielding his executive authority too much.
In an interview with NPR, Obama — who said in 2014 he doesn't need the legislative process because "I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone" and whose press secretary said in 2015 that the White House doesn't "need Congress to approve" the Iran deal — said his "strong preference" has always been to work with Congress.
According to the commander in chief, he frequently "bent over backwards" to try to find compromise so he wouldn't need to resort to executive orders:
In my first two years I wasn't relying on executive powers because I had big majorities in the Congress and we were able to get bills done, get bills passed. And even after we lost the majorities in Congress, I bent over backwards consistently to try to find compromise and a — a legislative solution to some of the big problems that we've got.
Obama has signed 260 executive orders so far in his eight years in the White House, according to a report from the University of California, Santa Barbara. But he wants Trump to take it easy when it comes to exercising the same power.
"My suggestion to the president-elect is, you know, going through the legislative process is always better, in part because it's harder to undo," Obama told NPR.
The warning is probably heavily influenced by Obama's desire to keep his legacy — namely, the Affordable Care Act — intact as he closes out his second and final term as president.
Trump has vowed to dismantle much of Obama's signature work.
"If he wants to reverse some of those rules, that's part of the democratic process," Obama admitted. "That's, you know, why I tell people to vote — because it turns out elections mean something."
As for how many executive orders have been signed by the most recent two-term presidents, George W. Bush signed a total of 291, while Bill Clinton signed 364.