With a few final moves and a round of goodbyes, President Barack Obama quietly closed out his presidency on Thursday and prepared for life as a private citizen, as the country readied itself for President-elect Donald Trump.
Eight years after he started his presidency with a burst of activity and executive orders, Obama wound it down in low-key fashion. He didn’t appear publicly during the day, and he didn’t leave the White House, though he was to accompany Trump at midday Friday to the Capitol for his successor’s swearing-in.
As the last remaining White House staffers packed up their belongings and cleared out, the president and first lady Michelle Obama placed a farewell call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel — his last presidential call to a foreign leader. Merkel, Obama’s closest international partner, is the only one of his key European allies still in power as he leaves office, though she faces a difficult re-election in September.
Hanging over Obama’s departure is the reality that he’s being replaced by a successor who has vowed to upend much of what he accomplished. Obama implored Americans not to vote for Trump, warning he was dangerous and unfit, but Americans elected him anyway.
In a letter to supporters, Obama said that “when the arc of progress seems slow,” Americans should remember that they are empowered as citizens to influence the nation’s future for the better. He added: “We shall overcome.
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