- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In November, after Donald Trump won the election, President Barack Obama met the president-elect in the Oval Office and told him: “If you succeed, then the country succeeds.”

What a bunch of hooey.

Since the Nov. 8 results, Mr. Obama has taken a blow torch to the Oval Office, ensuring through his last minute executive actions and agency rulings, that Mr. Trump will have anything but a smooth transition into office.

Mr. Obama — looking to protect his legacy — has unilaterally made several moves to undermine and undercut Mr. Trump’s ability to deliver on his campaign promises. Succeed, is something Mr. Obama definitely doesn’t want Mr. Trump to do.

Last week, Mr. Obama decided to wave his middle finger at Israel — our closest ally in the Middle East — by having the U.S. abstain from a United Nations vote which said Israel was in violation of international law by allowing Jewish settlements anywhere in the West Bank, including Jerusalem. Mr. Trump has vowed to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

In regards to Russia, Mr. Obama sanctioned it for its meddling in the U.S. election, with the mind-set to make the sanctions as difficult as possible for Mr. Trump to roll back. It’s unlikely any punishment will be delivered in Mr. Obama’s term — it’s something Mr. Trump will inherit.

“Part of the goal here is to make sure that we have as much of the record public or communicated to Congress in a form that would be difficult to simply walk back,” an unnamed administration official told The Washington Post of their goal in crafting Russia’s reprisal.

Domestically, Mr. Obama is also burying land mines for Mr. Trump to face.

On Wednesday, the president grabbed 1.6 million acres of Western land in Utah and Nevada, declaring it national monuments. It’s really just a move to cordon off the massive area from energy development.

A similar stroke was made last week, when the Interior Department adopted a controversial last-minute rule aimed at making the coal industry cleaner. The regulations overhauled rules that have been in place for more than three decades, and even the agency admitted more coal jobs would be lost because of it.

A day later, Mr. Obama invoked what even The New York Times called an “obscure provision” in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to unilaterally ban offshore oil and gas drilling along large swaths of the Artic and Atlantic sea borders.

Mr. Trump has aptly described Mr. Obama’s environmental regulations as “job killers” and has mocked the left’s unassailable belief in man-made climate change — to the detriment of the American economy and energy independence.

Mr. Trump pledged to coal country he’d help turn around their industry, which has been decimated by Mr. Obama’s environmental policies. Mr. Obama’s desperate 11th-hour rule making will make that pledge more difficult to deliver.

In an effort to help protect Planned Parenthood, last week the Obama administration issued a final rule that bars states from withholding federal money from the abortion-providers affiliates, which will take effect two days before Mr. Trump takes office.

The rule hinders the GOP’s ability to defund Planned Parenthood, requiring a time-consuming process to undo, according to the Times.

Mr. Obama’s team also canceled a Muslim registry run out of the Department of Homeland Security aimed at foiling Mr. Trump’s plans to impose “extreme vetting” on Muslim visitors.

The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System had been dormant for years, but activists demanded that the Obama administration take it off the books entirely. They feared Mr. Trump could have used the program as a shortcut to starting his own vetting.

Rescinding the NSEERS doesn’t stop Mr. Trump, but it does mean he would have to set up a new program rather than renew an existing one — a higher hurdle and a longer process.

What else does Mr. Obama have up his sleeve to try to deride a Trump presidency? Who knows — but we’re likely to see more executive action and agency rulings in the coming weeks aimed directly at Mr. Trump’s agenda.

Jan. 20 can’t come soon enough.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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