A top adviser to former President Barack Obama says in a new book that Mr. Obama didn’t know there was an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible contacts with Russia in 2016.
While President Trump is asserting the FBI placed an informant in his campaign, former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes writes that “neither he nor Mr. Obama knew at that time that there was an F.B.I. investigation,” according to the New York Times, which obtained an advance copy of the book.
Mr. Rhodes, brother of CBS News president David Rhodes, says in the book that he did not learn about the FBI investigation until after leaving office, and then only from the news media.
The book, “The World As It Is,” is set to be published next week by Random House.
The insider account of the Obama White House states that before the election, aides pressed Mr. Obama to respond to criticism that he should speak out more about Russian meddling in the campaign.
“I talk about it every time I’m asked,” Mr. Obama replied. “What else are we going to do? We’ve warned folks. If I speak out more, [Trump will] just say it’s rigged.”
According to the Times, the book portrays Mr. Obama as stunned that Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the presidency. She was Mr. Obama’s former secretary of state, and he campaigned vigorously for her.
After Mr. Trump’s victory, Mr. Obama commented to aides, “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”
His aides reassured Mr. Obama that he still would have won a third term, if the law had allowed him to run, Mr. Rhodes writes. “Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” Mr. Obama said.
The Times, citing another passage in the book, said Mr. Obama had read a column after Mr. Trump’s victory asserting that liberals “had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind.”
“What if we were wrong?” Mr. Obama asked aides. “Maybe we pushed too far.”
The book says Mr. Obama went through multiple emotions after Mr. Trump’s win, sometimes flashing anger and calling Mr. Trump a “cartoon” figure. Faced with a successor who wanted to unravel his agenda, Mr. Obama alluded to “The Godfather” movie: “I feel like Michael Corleone. I almost got out.”
Mr. Rhodes, too, appeared stunned on election night by Mr. Trump’s win. In a new HBO documentary about the election, Mr. Rhodes was at a loss for words on Election Night when he first learned that Mr. Trump won.
“It’s a lot to process,” he said at the time. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t put it into words.”
When Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Trump at the White House after the election, Mr. Trump “kept steering the conversation back to the size of his rallies,” the Times reported, noting that he and Mr. Obama could draw big crowds, but Mrs. Clinton could not.