It’s become his annual tradition to take reporters’ questions a few hours before departing on his holiday vacation in Hawaii.
This year, his White House is engaged in an escalating rift with Donald Trump’s transition team over Moscow’s intrusion into the US vote. At the same time, Obama is working to foster a productive relationship with his successor in a bid to influence his presidential decision-making.
Obama also finds himself reckoning with a worsening humanitarian emergency in Syria, where Russian and Iranian-backed government forces recently retook the city of Aleppo. Obama has called Syria a deeply frustrating crisis that haunts him daily.
Promises response to Moscow
Some Democrats have argued the White House was slow in naming Russia as the hacking culprit, though Obama and his aides argue that pushing the intelligence community to make that assessment earlier would have appeared like political interference.
In an interview with NPR that aired Friday, Obama attempted a balance, saying it was clear Trump and his team knew what Russia’s intentions were, but arguing the issue shouldn’t become mired in partisan politics.
“It requires us not to re-litigate the election, it requires us not to point fingers, it requires us to just say, here’s what happened, let’s be honest about it, and let’s not use it as a political football but let’s figure out how to prevent it from happening in the future,” Obama said.
At the same time, he vowed a retaliatory response to Moscow’s cyber intrusions and said Trump would be wise to uphold a US commitment to international norms.
“I had a conversation with the President-elect about our foreign policy generally, and the importance of us making sure that in how we approach intelligence gathering and how we think about fighting terrorism and keeping the country secure … that we recognize America’s exceptionalism, our indispensability in the world in part draws from our values and our ideals,” Obama said.