President Barack Obama took a light swing at his successor during a tech conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. His eight years in office were scandal free, he told the audience.
"I didn't have scandals, which seems like it shouldn't be something you brag about," Obama joked.
President Donald Trump’s presidency has thus far been racked with scandalous allegations, but Obama later hedged his barb. "But actually,” he said, “if you look at the history of the modern presidency, coming out of the modern presidency without anybody going to jail is really good. It's a big deal."
The reason his presidency was relatively controversy free, he said, was because he was accepting of bad news. "No one in my White House ever got in trouble for screwing up as long there wasn't malicious intent behind it," he said.
This isn’t the first time Obama has bragged about being scandal free. Earlier this year he told an audience that his administration “didn't have a scandal that embarrassed us, I know that seems like a low bar."
The former president’s foes would disagree with that analysis, pointing to the 2012 Benghazi attack, his failure to close Guantanamo Bay, an IRS plan to scrutinize tax-exempt political groups based on the particulars of their politics and problems with the Affordable Care Act website.
President Trump has had a string of high-profile controversies during his first year and a half in office, including possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, a hush payment of $130,000 to adult film star Stephanie Clifford (known as Stormy Daniels), issuing a travel ban on people from certain countries, firing FBI director James Comey, saying there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville conflict, calling members of MS-13 "animals," and more.
Obama also discussed his process for making difficult decisions while in the White House. "I used to describe the nature of the presidency as having to make decisions about issues that nobody else could solve or are basically insolvable or at least not perfectly solvable," he said. "By definition, if a problem had an obvious solution to it, somebody else would have solved it before it got to me." He described his time in the situation room and the capture of Osama bin Laden as examples of those decisions. He "was usually working on probabilities,” he explained “whether it was the bin Laden raid, or do we bail out Chrysler when it's hugely unpopular and it's not sure the auto company will make it, or, how do we approach dealing with Ebola?"
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