— CNN (@CNN) January 18, 2017
On Wednesday, President Obama held his final press conference while noting that he’d already articulated most of his sentiments in last week’s farewell address (which, sadly, was eclipsed by the “Golden Showers” file). Still, the mini-speech and followup questions lasted over an hour and spanned a range of subjects, including the above clip, in which Obama defended his commutation of (most of) Chelsea Manning’s sentence.
Obama doesn’t see inconsistencies with Manning’s release of thousands of cables and the pardon, not even when it comes to WikiLeaks’ role in leaking Democratic National Committee emails during elections season: “Justice has been served.” Obama feels that Manning served “a tough sentence,” which he believes will act as a deterrent those who consider future leaks. He also hopes Manning’s sentence will sway any potential whistleblowers to air grievances through existing government channels.
Moving along, Obama dropped several hints in Donald Trump’s direction, including “free press is how this country works.” In the below clip, he stressed that teamwork is vital in any administration, and he said that Trump will soon find out how “this is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself.”
— CNN (@CNN) January 18, 2017
Obama also stated that his conversations with Trump continue to be cordial, and he insisted, “I have offered my best advice.” He reminded America that it’s appropriate for Trump to move forward with his administration’s vision while offering reassurances. “At my core, I think we’re going to be okay,” he said while insisting that America should retain hope: “The only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world.” Still, Obama noted the importance of paying attention to confirmation hearings and holding the government accountable.
The president swiftly moved onto the related and looming subject of Russia, and he wants to make sure that the future administration isn’t “confused about why the sanctions were imposed.” He wants Trump to build a constructive relationship with Russia, but Obama admitted that he wanted to go further in imposing sanctions. “Big countries shouldn’t go around bullying smaller countries,” he said while speaking about Russia’s tactics in the Ukraine, which Obama stressed is an independent country.
Ultimately, Obama expressed pride in the “transformation that’s taken place in our society.” In particular, he’s thrilled over advancements in LGBT rights (despite several states who are trying to turn back the clock with bathroom bills). “I don’t think this is something that will be reversible,” he said.
It must be noted that Obama began his final presser with a joke: “Let me start off by saying I was sorely tempted to wear a tan suit today.” Michelle shut down that desire. Boo!
Pres. Obama jokes at start of final press conference: “Let me start off by saying I was sorely tempted to wear a tan suit today.” pic.twitter.com/93XWsMHYGn
— ABC News (@ABC) January 18, 2017
You can watch the full press conference below.