President Obama's Reaction to Anti-Trump Protests

November 17th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

On Thursday, President Barack Obama declined to condemn protests that have broken out across the U.S. in response to Donald Trump's election. During a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president emphasized that protestors were exercising their constitutional rights.


Obama has encouraged Democrats to move forward and respect the election outcome, but he refused to speak out against the protestors Thursday, noting the importance of free speech

"I’ve been the subject of protests during the course of my eight years," Obama said. "And I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests. So, I would not advise people who feel strongly or who are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign — I wouldn’t advise them to be silent."

In the week since President-elect Donald Trump was selected by voters, protestors have gathered in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. — voicing opposition to Trump and his policy proposals, CNN reported. In general, the protests have been carried out peacefully (with a few exceptions); but some of Trump's supporters and members of his transition team have called on the president to denounce the protesters nonetheless.

Obama also spoke about civil liberties and freedom of speech in relation to foreign policy.

"I can say across Europe that many principles that have been taken for granted here around free speech and around civil liberties and an independent judiciary and fighting corruption — those are principles that, you know, not perfectly but generally we have tried to apply not just in our own country but also with respect to our foreign policy," Obama said.

For Trump's part, he initially suggested that the protestors were being paid and called the activist efforts "[v]ery unfair" in a tweet last week. He changed his tune the following morning, applauding the "passion" of the protestors, Politico reported.