Updated as of 5:29 p.m. | The United States might not have such a civil transition of power after all.
Donald Trump, set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, used his preferred form of communication — Twitter — to slam outgoing President Barack Obama on Wednesday for what he sees as overly critical statements.
Trump wrote that he is “doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.” The businessman and former reality show host then proclaimed an end to what had been a transition process with few public jabs with Obama. But later in the day, he seemed to contradict himself.
Obama, before it was known which party won the White House, set in motion orderly changes necessary for a new administration, a top priority for his staff during his final year. While there were some public disagreements on policy matters, as well as differing assessments on whether Russia meddled in the election, Obama used part of his year-end press conference earlier this month to promise a drama-free transition.
“I think they would be the first to acknowledge that we have done everything we can to make sure that they are successful as I promised. And that will continue,” Obama said. “And it’s just been a few days since I last talked to the President-elect about a whole range of transition issues. That cooperation is going to continue.”
Obama continued: “There hasn’t been a lot of squabbling.”
That, however, changed Wednesday morning when Trump clicked the tweet button.
“Thought it was going to be a smooth transition — NOT!” the president-elect wrote at the end of his first post.
But he wasn’t finished, taking Obama and his foreign policy team to task for what the incoming commander in chief says is an anti-Israel policy that culminated with a recent United Nations condemnation of the Jewish state’s settlements in Palestinian territory.
Trump hammered the Obama administration as not being a friend to Israel, tweeting that it has shown “total disdain and disrespect” to the longtime U.S. ally.
He also said that the pact the U.S. and other world powers struck with Iran to halt its nuclear arms program marked “the beginning of the end” of the U.S.-Israel alliance — but quickly added that will change come Inauguration Day.
Trump's incoming communications director and press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters Wednesday that Obama administration officials have been "generous with their time" during the transition. He added that he expects Trump and Obama will continue to speak "fairly regularly."
Trump told reporters in Florida late Wednesday that he appreciated a telephone call from Obama, describing the talk as a "general conversation" and "very, very nice," and contradicting his tweets from earlier in the day.
"I think it's going very, very smoothly," Trump said when he briefly emerged from meetings at his Florida golf resort when asked about his morning tweets.
The Trump social media posts came less than 24 hours after Obama, as he has done numerous times since Election Day, appeared to deliver a thinly veiled message to his successor about what many viewed as Trump’s nationalistic and isolationist statements during the campaign.
“It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward,” Obama said Tuesday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, flanked by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.
“We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different,” Obama said. “The sacrifice made here, the anguish of war, reminds us to seek the divine spark that is common to all humanity. It insists that we strive to be what our Japanese friends call otagai no tame ni — with and for each other.”
Obama and his top aides often describe the administration’s stance on Israeli settlements as tough love for one of America’s closest partners. They also frequently note that U.S. military aid to the Jewish state has hit record levels during Obama’s tenure in the White House.
Earlier this year, for instance, the Obama administration and Israeli government inked a $38 billion military assistance package. The deal, which spans over a decade, is believed to be the largest such pact ever between two countries. It includes additional F-35 fighter jets, more missile defense equipment and additional aid for Israeli ground troops.
In a statement, Obama said that military package “is just the most recent reflection of my steadfast commitment to the security of the state of Israel.” The military hardware will make “a significant contribution to Israel’s security in what remains a dangerous neighborhood,” he said. “The continued supply of the world’s most advanced weapons technology will ensure that Israel has the ability to defend itself from all manner of threats.”