Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday that former President Barack Obama will likely enter the political conversation on a “selective” basis, despite calls for Mr. Obama to play a more active political role.
“I think consistent with history, consistent with past practice, presidents are entitled to recede from the stage and give their successor some space, and that certainly was the approach of George W. Bush before President Obama. And I’m sure President Obama feels very strongly about the issues. He’s chosen to lend his voice from time to time since January 20th, and I believe he will continue to do so,” Mr. Johnson said on MSNBC.
“I’m sure there are things President Obama will want to pursue on the national stage, on the world stage, that are important to him and he should therefore be careful and be selective about when he chooses to inject himself into our politics and into our national conversation. I totally respect that and agree with it,” he added.
Mr. Johnson also said that government officials, such as himself, are obligated to speak out when they feel the country is going in the wrong direction.
“I think people should make their views known, both Republicans and Democrats. And those of us who’ve been in national security, those of us who’ve been in the situation room, those who are familiar with governing with the presidency, I do believe, have an obligation, if we see something going in the wrong direction, to inform Americans about what we know, what we see, about what our own experience tells us are the warning spots and the trouble signs, absolutely,” he said.
Mr. Johnson also voiced his support for former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who came under fire earlier this week for suggesting President Trump was unfit for office.
“I thought Jim was a great DNI. He made that bureaucracy work effectively, and Jim is about as apolitical as they come,” he said.
But Mr. Johnson held off on agreeing with Mr. Clapper’s assessment, instead saying he was “concerned” about Mr. Trump’s decisions. He did say that Gen. John Kelly’s role as chief of staff was encouraging.
“I’m not prepared to make judgments like that. I’m obviously concerned about a number of things this president has said and done, as are a number of people, both Republicans and Democrats. And I hope that with a new chief of staff, you might see some order in the White House. John is a good fiend of mine from the Pentagon, and you know we have a lot of issues that we need to deal with,” he said.