Barack Obama admitted ‘this stings’ after the 2016 election result and spent the night watching the movie Dr Strange to try and distract himself, a new book claims.
The former president went from being confident that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump to seeing it as a ‘personal insult’ that she lost.
Obama could not believe the American people had ‘turned on him’ for a man he had written off as a ‘cartoon’.
As the dust settled Obama told his family that ‘this hurts’ and blamed Clinton who ‘brought many of her troubles on herself’ and ran a ‘scripted, soulless campaign’.
The eye-popping details are in the new edition of ‘Obama: The Call Of History’ by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker.
The book was originally released in July 2017 but has been updated with extensive new reporting throughout Obama’s time in office – and the run through of election day is electrifying.
Obama was cordial to the president elect in their face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office, but in private Obama called Trump a conman straight out of Huckleberry Finn.
Obama even likened himself to Michael Corleone in the Godfather movies and said he was handing power over to somebody who would destroy his legacy.
As Obama saw it he ‘almost got out’ of the White House unscathed just like the mob boss nearly survived without being whacked.
Baker writes that Obama woke up on the morning of November 8 2016 convinced he would ‘not be handing the nuclear football over to Donald Trump – the reality television star, he thought, was a joke’.
Obama arrogantly thought there was ‘no way Americans would turn on him’ even though Clinton was far from perfect.
Baker writes: ‘She was a serious and seasoned professional who had served at the highest levels of government and provided mature leadership. Just as important, she would continue his policies and cement his biggest achievements.
‘His legacy, he felt, was in safe hands’.
Given that Obama had no formal role in the election he went to the White House movie theater with his wife Michelle and adviser Valerie Jarrett where they watched Dr Strange, the superhero movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Baker writes that Obama’s phone buzzed with an update and he said: ‘Huh. Results in Florida are looking kind of strange’.
Michelle went to bed early but as Obama watched TV he looked on in horror as Trump won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan which had been Democratic for years.
Baker writes: ‘By the end of the evening, the unthinkable had happened’.
Obama struggled with what the American people had done and thought to himself that they ‘simply could not have decided to replace him with a buffoonish showman whose calling cards had been repeated bankruptcies, serial marriages and racist dog whistles’.
At 1am Obama sent a message to Clinton saying she should concede quickly which she did.
In a phone call to Obama Clinton said: ‘I’m sorry for letting you down’.
Baker writes: ‘While Clinton had lost, so had he. The country that had twice elected Barack Hussein Obama as its president had now chosen as his successor a man who had questioned the very circumstances of his birth.
‘Obama may not have been on the ballot, but it was hard not to see the vote as a ‘personal insult,’ as he had called it on the campaign trail. ‘This stings,’ he said. ‘This hurts’.
Obama tried to keep his cool in the weeks afterwards and texted his speechwriter Ben Rhodes: ‘There are more stars in the sky than sand on the earth’.
But soon he was unable to contain his rage which escalated after he met Trump in the Oval Office.
Baker writes that despite being cordial in public he afterwards summoned Rhodes who told him that Trump ‘peddles in b*******’
Rhodes said: ‘That character has always been part of the American story. You can see it right back to some of the characters in Huckleberry Finn’.
Obama replied: ‘Maybe that’s the best we can hope for’.
As the weeks went by Obama went through ‘multiple emotional stages’, at times being philosophical and other times he ‘flashed anger’.
He also showed a rare self-doubt and wondered if ‘maybe this is what people want’, Baker writes.
Obama told one aide: ‘I’ve got the economy set up well for him. No facts. No consequences. They can just have a cartoon’.
In a stinging passage Baker writes: ‘To Obama and his team, however, the real blame lay squarely with Clinton.
‘She was the one who could not translate his strong record and healthy economy into a winning message.
‘Never mind that Trump essentially ran the same playbook against Clinton that Obama did eight years earlier, portraying her as a corrupt exemplar of the status quo.
‘She brought many of her troubles on herself. No one forced her to underestimate the danger in the Midwest states of Wisconsin and Michigan.
‘No one forced her to set up a private email server that would come back to haunt her.
‘No one forced her to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from Goldman Sachs and other pillars of Wall Street for speeches.
‘No one forced her to run a scripted, soulless campaign that tested eighty-five slogans before coming up with ‘Stronger Together’.
Baker’s book also gives new insight into why Obama was so hesitant about criticizing Russia for meddling in the 2016 election before vote took place.
Obama was led by his ‘cautious don’t-do-stupid-s**t instincts’ and feared that a forceful response would make Russia ‘escalate’ its operation.
Then there was the question of how Trump would react and Obama admitted that ‘if I speak out more, he’ll just say it’s rigged’.
Obama wrongly assumed that Clinton would win the election and Obama said in one meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘backed the wrong horse’.
In the end Obama would wait until after the election result before expelling Russian diplomats and it was only weeks before he left office that he released the intelligence assessment confirming that the hacking was done the Kremlin.
Recent reports have said that Trump’s aides will not bring up election security with him because he sees it as de-legitimizing his election victory.
That has not stopped Trump from blaming Obama for the Russian hacking and he Tweeted last week: ‘Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President’.
Trump added: ‘He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected’.
Story cited here.