In early 2017, then-President Barack Obama privately told reporters that he believed the United States could survive one term of Donald Trump as commander in chief but that he feared two Trump terms “would be a problem.”
“I think that four years is okay,” Obama said in a lengthy, off-the-record conversation just three days before Trump’s inauguration, according to previously unreleased Justice Department documents that Bloomberg obtained and published Friday.
The U.S. could, with one Trump term, “take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay,” said Obama, who didn’t envision that so much of his legacy would eventually be rolled back.
But “eight years would be a problem,” he continued, adding that “I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some ... norms have broken down and started to corrode.”
In the same discussion, Obama encouraged reporters to scrutinize any attempt from Trump to politicize law enforcement (which Trump later did repeatedly), and he slammed the GOP for being “ideologically completely incoherent.”
“You don’t know what they stand for,” Obama said.
Trump was eventually voted out of office following just one term — but he has continued to deny his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden and has repeatedly teased another presidential run in 2024.