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President Obama won’t try to call off protests against Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star defaced Report: Senate's Russia probe understaffed Trump won't comment on Le Pen's advancement in French election MORE, he said Thursday, ignoring pleas from the president-elect’s advisers to denounce the nationwide demonstrations.
“I would not advise people who feel strongly or are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised over the course of the campaign, I would not advise them to be silent,” Obama said during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Obama said protests are just something Trump would have to get used to as the leader of the free world.
“I’ve been the subject of protests during the course of my eight years,” he said. “And I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests.”
The comments were Obama's most extensive about the demonstrations against Trump that have sprouted up in numerous major cities.
The mostly peaceful demonstrations have featured people chanting and holding up signs that say "not my president." Marches in Indianapolis and Portland, Ore., however, have turned violent.
Trump has slammed protests against him, accusing demonstrators of being paid off and egged on by the media.
Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, said it’s the responsibility of Obama and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPoll: 85 percent of Clinton supporters would vote for her again OMB director: Government shutdown not a 'desired end' Poll: Almost half say Trump off to poor start MORE to quell the protests.
“It's time really for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to say to these protesters, 'This man is our president,’ ” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Obama responded that the right of free speech should be exercised and not be taken for granted.
“I can say across Europe that many principles that have been taken for granted here around free speech, and around civil liberties and an independent judiciary, and fighting corruption,” the president said.
“Those are principles that, you know, not perfectly but generally, we have tried to apply not just in our own country but also with respect to our foreign policy.”