Obama: Trump lacks 'patience' and 'focus' needed to implement foreign policy

Former President Obama knocked President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE on Wednesday, saying his successor lacks the “patience” and “focus” needed to make substantial changes to the U.S. foreign policy.

While speaking with two of his former aides, Jon Favreau and Tommy Vietor, on a 45-minute episode of “Pod Save America,” Obama unleashed some of his most pointed comments at Trump.

"It's not as if Trump has been all that active internationally. I mean, the truth is he doesn't have the patience and the focus to really substantially change a lot of U.S. foreign policy," Obama said on the podcast, adding that Trump has "systematically tried to decimate our entire foreign policy infrastructure."


Obama argued that Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenObama, Clinton reflect on Mondale's legacy Biden, Harris commend Mondale in paving the way for female VP Mondale in last message to staff: 'Joe in the White House certainly helps' MORE, his former vice president, “respects people who know history and have expertise.”

The former president appeared to allude to reports from 2018 of Trump referring to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries.”

In a hypothetical crisis, Obama argued that Biden would “pay attention” to experts who have knowledge on Africa “as opposed to calling it a bunch of — I won’t say the word — countries.”

“He has a respect and understanding of what American leadership can do,” Obama said of his former running mate.

Obama also noted that Biden’s stance on foreign policy issues has grown throughout his decades in public service. He said that while the then-Delaware senator voted in 2002 to authorize military force in Iraq, Biden “learned a lesson from that.”

“Among my senior advisers during the course of my presidency, he consistently believed that we should show restraint and humility and think through the use of military power and had huge confidence and faith in the use of diplomacy as a strategy for, you know, showing American leadership,” Obama said. “And that instinct, I think, is going to trickle down, partly because he's going to have to rebuild a State Department that where some of the best people have been driven out systematically because they weren't willing to toe Trump's ideological agenda.”


Obama said he is confident that if Biden is elected to the White House in November, he will “surround himself with people who are smart and believe in science and believe in expertise.”

“His North Star will be good,” Obama said. “But at the same time, he'll have a lot of people around him who are able to translate his good instincts into actual policy that works.”

Trump has repeatedly lobbed insults at his predecessor while in office and last week called for Obama and Biden to be indicted for “spying” on his campaign.

However, the federal prosecutor Attorney General William BarrBill BarrAmy Coney Barrett receives million advance for book deal: report Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers MORE tapped to investigate whether Obama administration officials improperly requested the unmasking of individuals during the 2016 election has reportedly concluded his probe this week without “finding any substantive wrongdoing.” 

Obama said on the podcast that Trump’s allegations are “so absurd” that Republican committees have dismissed them.

The former president said Trump’s outbursts bring to light larger problems that don’t get much attention due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic crisis.

“But one of the central foundation stones of a democracy is the idea that you do not allowed the politicization of the criminal justice system, the intelligence system, the military, right? That that is stuff that you keep out of politics because it’s too dangerous.”

“You can’t have a democracy in which political opponents are subject to this kind of inflammatory language,” Obama continued, noting Trump’s repeated “lock her up” attacks on his 2016 presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' MORE.

Obama said he is disappointed that Republicans “who know better” have allowed Trump to continue his rhetoric.

“I think a very important question after the election, even if it goes well with Joe Biden, is whether you start seeing the Republican Party restore some sense of ‘Here are norms that we can’t breach,’ because he’s breached all of them and they have not said to him ‘This is too far,’” Obama said.

He added that misinformation on social media and the "conservative media infrastructure" is a problem that “is going to outlast Trump," arguing the QAnon conspiracy theory is "seeping into the mainstream of the Republican Party." 

“Trump is a symptom of it and an accelerant to it,” Obama said. “But he did not create it.”

Obama will likely continue his attacks on Trump in the closing two weeks of the presidential race, as he is expected to visit key battleground states to stump for Biden.