Former President Barack Obama said his administration was successful because he surrounded himself with people who didn’t always agree with him and because he believes “in things like facts and logic.”
“Things like rule of law, democracy and you know, competence and facts; those things are not partisan, but they also don’t happen automatically,” Obama, appearing at a conference in Salt Lake City, said Wednesday. “There has to be citizens who insist on it and participate to make sure it happens. Democracy is a garden that has to be tended.”
Obama’s successor, President Donald Trump, is mired in a spate of ongoing scandals. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, is about to wrap up.
Trump’s former attorney and longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, has spent the past week speaking with Congressional lawmakers and has directly accused the president of a pattern of lies and criminal activity. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be sentenced on Thursday for tax and bank fraud. Trump ally Roger Stone was recently indicted by Mueller’s office on one count of obstruction, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering.
The White House is also struggling with its efforts to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and with reports that the federal trade and budget deficits have skyrocketed under Trump’s leadership.
While Obama didn’t directly mention Trump on Wednesday, he told a crowd of more than 9,000 people at the Qualtrics X4 Summit that he was able to avoid “big scandals and indictments” by hiring good teams.
″(Don’t be) afraid to resort to gathering people that have greater experience than you do,” Obama said, per The Deseret News. “I was good at making sure that the people who are working for me, with me, were there for the right reasons and there was a core integrity to what they were doing.”
The former president also took a swipe at the prevalence of polarized news, saying the internet helps society craft their own personal echo chambers.
“People want their own facts that are suited to their opinions rather than shaping their opinions around facts,” Obama said, according to The Associated Press.