In his first press conference since the 2016 election, President Barack Obama declined to comment on Donald Trump’s controversial appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist.
“I think it’s fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making if I want to be consistent with the notion that we’re going to try to facilitate a smooth transition,” Obama said during a wide-ranging dialogue that struck notes of both optimism and concern.
Civil rights groups, Democrats, and some Republicans have criticized Trump’s selection of Bannon, who has served as the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a site closely associated with the alt-right movement, which has been accused of racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and white nationalist ideologies. (Both the KKK and American Nazi Party have praised Bannon’s place in Trump’s White House.)
Elsewhere in his press conference, Obama expressed reservations about Trump’s temperament. “There are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them,” he said.
One of Obama’s presidential strategies has been to surround himself with “people who can help,” he said, and he hopes Trump will do the same.
“The people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president,” Obama said. “It will be up to him to set up a team that will serve his policies.”
He added, “My hope is he makes things better. And if he does, we’ll all benefit from it.”
Watch Obama’s full press conference below.