- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Former President Barack Obama and President Trump have not spoken once since the inauguration in January, Mr. Trump confirmed to The Washington Times, adding it’s “too bad” they haven’t been in communication, but he is not surprised given their history.

Mr. Trump also brushed aside Mr. Obama’s recent public attacks on him, acknowledging his own barbs aimed at the man whose legacy he upended with his stunning election victory in November.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve been exactly great to him, either,” Mr. Trump said by way of explanation.

In an interview from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump described how he has distanced himself from his Democratic predecessor’s approach to dealing with foreign leaders, ditching the occasionally chiding tone Mr. Obama took in favor of a more pragmatic dealmaker’s stance.

He said rebuilt relationships have already paid off in Asia, where China is bringing pressure on North Korea, and in the release of Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker who had been detained in Egypt for nearly three years.

Mr. Trump said he earned Ms. Hijazi’s release because he took time to build an understanding with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, repairing a relationship that had been strained by Mr. Obama’s criticism of Cairo’s record on human rights and civil liberties under Mr. el-Sissi.

Mr. el-Sissi “didn’t like President Obama, not even a little bit. Didn’t like him,” Mr. Trump said.

“One of the things I’ve done in the first 100 days, I’ve established great foundations for relationships. One of them is with Egypt,” the president said. “There’s a great case. I said to him, ‘Mr. President, do me a favor. Release her. She’s innocent. Let her go.’ Is that better than Obama?”

The two most dominant politicians of the past decade have never been on good terms, but Mr. Obama had, until recently, allowed Mr. Trump the stage for the beginning of his time in the White House.

That honeymoon appears to have ended when Mr. Obama forged a higher profile once again by holding a public event at the University of Chicago early last week and then accepting a reported $400,000 to appear at an A&E Networks advertising event, where he mocked Mr. Trump.

Mr. Obama said his signature health care law, Obamacare, is rating higher in polls than Mr. Trump, according to CNN.

When presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin asked Mr. Obama at the event how he had handled frustrating moments during his time in the White House, Mr. Obama replied, according to the New York Post, “For starters, by not having a Twitter account.”

Mr. Trump told The Washington Times that he wasn’t fazed by the former president’s Twitter remark because he had been pointed in his own words against Mr. Obama.

“Look, that’s politics,” he said.

Mr. Trump said he hasn’t spoken to Mr. Obama in months.

“Since I took office, no,” the president said. “It’s too bad, but I’m not totally surprised. I’m disappointed when I look at the surveillance, I’m very disappointed when I saw that.”

Mr. Trump has accused the former administration of monitoring his and his team’s actions in the waning days of the campaign over suspected ties to Russia — an accusation that members of Congress are investigating as part of a broader look at meddling in the electoral process.

Mr. Trump, in the interview with The Times, defended his use of Twitter and other online platforms by saying it’s possible his mastery of the field is why he is sitting in the Oval Office today.

“I think I’ve used social media better than anybody in history,” the businessman turned president said.

“It’s not Twitter, it’s really social media. Twitter — bing, bing, I put it out and then everybody picks it up,” he said, comparing it with the more traditional presidential outreach. “If I send out a press release, I’ll walk in, I’ll dictate a press release, they’ll put it out, you guys won’t even see it.”

Mr. Trump has upended the Washington establishment, and particularly the press corps assigned to cover him. The White House has democratized the briefing room, calling on outlets that were relegated to afterthoughts during much of the Obama administration.

And Mr. Trump’s penchant for using Twitter and for keeping a frenetic schedule has left media outlets struggling to keep up.


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