On the eve of this great nation’s “peaceful transition of power” – there are challenges on a wide range of fronts. A flurry of last minute actions by the Obama administration is placing prickly issues on President-elect Trump’s plate. We’re looking into the Obama exit strategy.
Darryl Issa: President Obama is not going softly into the night. He very clearly wants to leave what some call scorched earth, or at least troubled waters.
Republican Congressman Darrell Issa questions the Obama administration’s 11th hour moves. Like the post-election retaliation against Russia for its alleged interference in our election, by hacking Democratic party emails.
Darrell Issa: I do believe that the retaliation if you will with Russia was appropriate for conduct, but it was appropriate for conduct going back weeks, months, or even years. And that's one of the challenges is, the Russians see this as the desperate act of a dying Administration, not as a measured response to their misconduct.
The Obama Administration is also holding open the gates of Gitmo, releasing enemy combatants with suspected ties to Islamic extremist terrorists. And it’s delivered a final slap in the face to our strongest Mideast ally, allowing a UN vote condemning Israel for its settlement activities.
Darrell Issa: I think that's, that's where President Obama is going to come up with shortages in his legacy because there's going to be an asterisk saying, basically President Obama had questionable actions during the transition.
Sharyl Attkisson: The current Administration can make it easier or can make it tougher on the incoming Administration?
Joshua Bolten: The outgoing President can do a lot to make it either easy or difficult for the incoming folks to operate, and most outgoing Presidents tend to do some of both.
Josh Bolten was Chief of Staff under George W. Bush -- and was there for the transition when some Clinton staffers left on a bitter note.
Sharyl Attkisson: Did they really take the Ws off the typewriters?
Joshua Bolten: You know a few of the younger folks did, um, did pranks like that but we tried to downplay it because we didn't want that to be the story in the first few days of the Administration.
George W. Bush: I’m here to listen.
He says as with most transitions, the Clinton White House pushed through a lot of last minute regulations but was, for the most part, gracious.
Sharyl Attkisson: What patterns do you see, if any, in this transition?
Joshua Bolten: For the most part my sense is the Obama administration has tried pretty hard to play things straight, to try to embed some important policies that they believe ought to be sustained, if possible, well into the Trump administration.
Bolten defends Obama’s recent actions on Russia. And he’s against the UN vote against Israel--but doesn’t think the President was trying to cause trouble for Trump.
Josh Bolten: I don't think it was intended as a discourtesy or a problem for the Trump Administration. If anything, it's an opportunity for the Trump Administration to, to show their support for Israel by trying to uh reverse what they can and what the Obama Administration did.
Since election day, the Obama Administration has also made numerous, last minute proclamations. He’s put parts of the Atlantic and Arctic off limits to oil and gas leasing. And designated over a million acres of Western land as national monuments, possibly limiting access by Native Americans and those who use it for grazing. And he’s churned out hundreds of federal rules, nicknamed midnight regulations.
Joshua Bolten: The Trump transition quite properly has a team of able lawyers and policy people monitoring what's going on, and making plans to try to reverse as much as possible immediately when the President takes office.
That’s not always easy—and often requires multiple votes in Congress.
Darrell Issa: If a President, as this one has done, has nine separate regulations, all in the area of Medicare of Medicaid that they put in, in the last few weeks by the stroke of a pen, it would seem absurd to spend a week or two in the Senate for each of these eight or nine pieces of law.
So Issa is pressing forward with a new bill to make it easier for Congress to roll back regulations by voting on them in groups.
President Obama: We want to make them feel welcome as they prepare to make this transition.
Meantime, a time-honored transition tradition continues rapid fire, last minute rollout of policies and federal rules with the knowledge that the incoming White House will work to change them right back.
Sharyl Attkisson: It almost seems like a big waste of time in a way for the sake of trying to make a point when an outgoing Administration gets these wheels going and the incoming has to then grind them to a stop.
Joshua Bolten: It’s our system. It's part of the price we pay for having a system in which there’s a peaceful but very abrupt transfer of power and a lot of power from one group to the next, um, that happens at noon on January 20th.