Palm Beach - US President-elect Donald Trump
stirred a simmering dispute with Barack Obama on Wednesday, accusing him of
derailing a smooth transition with "inflammatory" remarks, before
appearing to row back.
Ever since the November 8 election, Trump and Obama
have tried to bury political differences in favour of a united public front
that would smooth the transfer of power on January 20.
But the Republican president-in-waiting
unceremoniously cast any cordiality aside in a morning Twitter tirade from his
Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
In a declaration that is unprecedented in its
personal condemnation of a soon-to-be predecessor, the 70-year-old tweeted:
"Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements
"Thought it was going to be a smooth
transition - NOT!"
But Trump later appeared to shift focus from his
previous comments, stating the process was going "very, very
Trump said he had spoken to Obama in what he
described as "a very nice conversation... appreciated that he
"I actually thought we covered a lot of territory," Trump said.
"Our staffs have been getting along very well
and I'm getting along very well with him other than a couple of statements that
I responded to.
"We talked about it and smiled about it and
nobody is ever going to know because we are never going to be going against
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the call
"was positive and focused on continuing a smooth and effective
transition," adding the pair planned to keep in touch over the coming
Tensions between Trump and the current White House
have been growing for weeks as Obama has become more outspoken about a
vitriol-filled election that saw Democrat Hillary Clinton suffer a shock
Obama - who is still the most popular politician in
the country - recently suggested that he may have won a third term were he not
constitutionally barred from doing so.
That seems to have irked the notoriously
At the same time, the pair has competed to take credit for solid economic indicators.
After months of talking down the world's largest
economy, Trump has tried to take credit for a number of economic developments
that are roughly on trend.
Trump claimed Sprint was creating 5 000 US jobs
"because of me".
"The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for
December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15
YEARS! Thanks Donald," he tweeted
late on Tuesday, referring to himself in the third person.
And Trump announced he would hold in early January
a press conference previously set to take place earlier this month to discuss
his vast business holdings.
The 70-year-old, who is the wealthiest man to
become US president, has been beset by accusations of conflict of interest ever
since beating Clinton to the presidency.
White House response
While the White House has seethed behind the
scenes, there has been little public
response to Trump's forays into US foreign and domestic policy before he takes
office in less than a month.
But tensions reached something of a breaking point
after the United States tacitly backed condemnation of Israeli settlement
activity at the United Nations.
With Washington withholding its veto, the UN
Security Council passed a resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement
building in the Palestinian territories.
Trump followed up Wednesday's early tweet with
another two taking aim at Obama's policy toward Israel.
"We cannot continue to let Israel be treated
with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the
US, but......." he wrote.
"Not anymore. The beginning of the end was the
horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast
Throughout the long election campaign, Obama made
no secret of his disdain for Trump, describing him as ill-informed and unfit
But since a landmark meeting in the Oval Office a
few days after the election, Obama has tried flattery in a bid to bind Trump to
the norms of office.
He has praised Trump on a historic victory and made
plain that millions of Republican voters would also be hurt if Trump overturns
his landmark health care law.
Obama has repeatedly vowed to make the transition
as smooth as possible.
At lower levels, the transition has spluttered
along after a slow start that saw many key departments wait for substantive
meetings with Trump staff.
That is said to have improved in recent weeks, as
"landing teams" have begun to work with government agencies and
briefing materials have been distributed.
The real estate mogul-turned-commander-in-chief is
gradually putting together a team that is made up of Republican establishment
figures, billionaires, generals and far-right activists.
At Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday, he met potential
secretaries of agriculture and discussed measures to repeal so-called Obamacare
and reform veterans' health care with notable doctors.