WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump accused President Obama on Wednesday of preventing a “smooth transition” with “inflammatory” statements and “roadblocks.”
But not long after he tweeted the jab, Trump’s incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Obama’s team has been ”very helpful and generous.” Speaking on his daily conference call with reporters, Spicer also said Obama and Trump “continue to talk” and will remain in contact through the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.
Spicer initially said the tweets clearly “speak for themselves” when he was asked if Trump believes that Obama was trying to “sabotage” the transition.
Trump’s tweet did not specify which Obama statements he was referring to, and Spicer did not respond to a text message from Yahoo News asking what Trump sees as “roadblocks” by Obama. However, the tweet came as Trump has clashed with the White House over its decision to abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements. The U.S. abstention allowed the resolution to pass last Friday.
Trump also spoke out after Obama claimed in a recent interview that he could have won a third term. “I say NO WAY,” the president-elect countered on Monday.
Since the U.N. vote, Trump has sent a series of tweets criticizing the Obama administration’s Israel policy and promising a different approach when he takes office. The tweets were a break with longstanding precedent in which presidents-elect do not comment on foreign policy before taking office. The remarks prompted top White House adviser Ben Rhodes to stress on Dec. 23 that there is only one president at a time.
Ben Rhodes on Trump tweet on UN vote: There is only one president for the US till January 20. This is a long bipartisan US policy.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) December 23, 2016
Spicer addressed Rhodes’ criticism in his call on Wednesday.
“With respect to the White House, the comments on Friday, I think the president-elect is very clear that Israel … should be treated better by the United States. It’s our closest friend in the Middle East, the only democracy there,” he said.
Spicer went on to say that Trump “intends to have a much stronger relationship with Israel” going forward.
Obama and Trump have spoken regularly since the election. Following their first meeting on Nov. 10, the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama planned to “spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do.” And in spite of the recent clashes, Spicer said, Obama and Trump will keep speaking with each other in the coming weeks.
“They continue to talk. I don’t know when the last time they did [was.] … As the inauguration comes closer, both the current president and his administration have been very helpful and generous with their time as far as the actual transition, the mechanics of the transition,” Spicer said.
Spicer added that he expects Trump and Obama to “continue to speak regularly.” At the end of the conference call, Spicer was asked if he expects the Obama administration to make more moves like the U.N. abstention that might contradict Trump’s plans.
“The president-elect understands and respects that there’s one president at a time, and for the next 23 days, President Obama is still president and he can do what he wants,” he responded.
Nevertheless, Spicer said, Trump has been “very clear” that he will do many things differently “both domestically and internationally.”
“He’s going to bring real change to this country starting on day one,” Spicer said.