-thank you for being on theshow. -It is great to see you.
Yeah, I'd like to apologize,first of all. I-I know you've
waited a long time for this andyou wanted to make this happen.
I just... I'm sorry. I...
You guys wouldn't,uh, wouldn't book us.
I kept on...I kept on calling.
I was focused on the election,and I apologize.
Uh, but let-let's get into it.No, thank you
for being on the show.
We are living throughone of the craziest times ever.
I mean, just beforewe came to the interview,
more news broke. Uh, we heardthat the CIA assessed,
with high confidence, that, uh,the Russians were involved
in the hackingof the DNC and RNC, uh,
with the specific intentof swaying the election
in favor of Donald Trump.
And we heard that, uh, you know,the president ordered a review
of... of this from allintelligence agencies.
-Right.-And you wanted the news...
or you wanted the briefingsto be concluded
before the inaugurationof Donald Trump,
-when he takes power.-Right.
Uh... why-why the rush?
Well, it's not a rush.Keep in mind that
when the DNC got hacked,
uh, we immediately assigned
our intelligence community,
our law enforcement toinvestigate what had happened.
And we determinedand announced in October
that it was the consensusof all the intelligence agencies
in law enforcement that, uh,
that organizations affiliated
with Russian intelligence
were responsible for the hacking
of the DNC.
Uh, materialsthat were being leaked.
So that was a monthbefore the election.
This was not a secret.
And the reason that I'm...
have called for a review
is really to just gatherall the threads
of the investigations,
the intelligence workthat has been done
over many months,
so that the publicand our elected representatives,
going forward,can find ways to prevent
this kind of interference
from having an impacton the elections in the future.
Uh, I will say this,though, Trevor.
None of thisshould be a big surprise.
-This was reported onbefore the election. -Yeah.
I don't thinkthere was any doubt
among anybody in the media
or among, uh,members of Congress
as to who was beingadvantaged or disadvantaged
by the political gossipthat was
being, uh, put out in drip,drip, drip fashion
-leading up to the election.-I-I think, now...
I think now the difference is
there isa President-elect Donald Trump.
-Yeah.-And now the big question is
what would bea suitable response?
People say,"Well, this is-this is an act
"towards the United Statesor this is Russia
undermining the very democracythat we stand on.
Well... But-butI think what's...
I think it's really important
for everybody to understand
what our challenge is.
Russia trying to influenceour elections
dates back to...the Soviet Union.
What they did here, hackingsome e-mails and releasing them,
uh, is not...
s... uh,a particularly fancy brand
of espionage or propaganda.
we were, frankly, more concerned
in the run-upto the election, uh,
to the possibilitiesof vote tampering,
which, uh,we did not see evidence of
and were confidentthat we could guard against.
But, Trevor, I thinkwhat everybody has to reflect on
is what is it about our...
what is it about the stateof our democracy,
where the leaks of...
what were, frankly,
not very interesting e-mails
that didn't have any...
explosive information in them...
The risotto was interesting.
...ended up being...
and the fact that the Russianswere doing this
was not an obsession.
I-I... This was not a secretrunning up to the election.
in some of his political events,
specifically saidto the Russians,
"Hack Hillary's e-mails,
"so that we can finally find outwhat's going on
and, you know, confirmour conspiracy theories."
You had, uh,what was very clear,
membersof the president-elect's, uh,
campaign team and, uh, Russians
and, uh, a professed...
uh, shared viewon a bunch of issues.
The real question that I thinkwe all have to reflect on is
what's happenedto our political system,
where... some e-mailsthat were hacked and released
ended up beingthe overwhelming story
and the constant sourceof coverage,
breathless coverage,that was depicted
as somehow, uh,damning in all sorts of ways,
when the truth of the matterwas it was, um,
fairly routine stuff.
And-and the reason I say thatis because,
going forward, uh,
I worry that we don't spendenough time
on self-reflectionabout how our, uh...
how our democracy's workingand our campaign's working, um,
and how all of us have to,I think, do a better job,
uh, making sure that we talkabout what's at stake.
Uh, we... For example,
these e-mails got a lot moreattention than any policy...
(chuckles) that was beingdebated during the campaign.
Let me ask youabout what's at stake.
The president-electhas very clearly said
he refusesintelligence briefings.
Um, and so he's come outand said,
"I don't need them,because I'm a smart man."
You're a president.
You knowwhat a briefing entails.
Can you make effectiveand informed decisions
without intelligence briefings
and without the support of theagencies around the presidency?
I think the president-elect
may, uh, say one thingand do another once he's here,
because the truthof the matter is
is that it'sa big, complicated world.
It doesn't matterhow smart you are.
Y-You have to havethe best information possible
to makethe best decisions possible.
And, uh, my experience
with our intelligence agenciesis that they are not perfect--
they'd be the firstto acknowledge that--
but they are fullof extraordinarily hard-working,
patriotic,and knowledgeable experts.
And i-if you're not gettingtheir... perspective,
uh, their detailed perspective,
then you are flying blind.
Y-You know,part of what we have done
is to, uh,
just hammer away
at the basic principle that...
intelligence shall not besubject to political spin.
And I'm very proudof the fact that,
over the courseof the eight years,
the message I've sentto every intelligence agency
is I want it straight,without spin.
Uh, and I think we've developeda culture that does that.
My hope is is that, uh,
that s... uh, remains.
Because we've seen, in the past,
-where there was political spinon intelligence, -Yeah.
or at least the-the intelligenceagencies felt obliged
to, uh,cater to the predispositions
of the president or his team
that, uh, you end up makingbad mistakes.
Let's move on and chatabout Obamacare.
-It's one of my favorite topics.-(Noah laughs)
I love... I love Obamacare.
-One of the major deadlinesis coming up. -Yeah.
I want everybody to sign upif you're not signed up.
-Where's the camera? -Here's...We've got many cameras.
Sign up. HealthCare.gov.
Here's one of the thingspeople ask is, some people go,
"President Obama,you asking me sign up
is like the CEO of Vinetelling me to join now."
What's the point ifthe incoming administration says
they're getting rid of it?
Well, first of all, uh,if you sign up now,
you will have insurancefor a year,
and it's betterthan not having insurance
for a year, at minimum.
Uh, and as I've said before,
for the majority of people,when they include
tax creditsthat they may be eligible for,
they can get health insurancefor 75 bucks a month,
which is cheaperthan their cell phone,
or their cable coveragein some cases.
Um, and that'll protect youagainst an accident,
a major illness,could end up saving your home,
or your bank accountor your pension,
um... and it'll give youpeace of mind.
But what you've also been seeingin the debate around Obamacare--
and this has been truefor six years--
this has become sort ofa holy grail for Republicans,
based on ideology and not facts.
The fact is
is that we have the lowestuninsured rate in history.
The fact is, despite all thepredictions to the contrary,
healthcare costs have gone upmore slowly
since I signed that law thanany time in the last 50 years.
The fact is that the law itselfprovides protections
that are really popular.
-It's just people don't knowit's Obamacare. -(laughs)
So the fact that you can't berefused health insurance
because of a pre-existingcondition,
the fact that your kid can stayon your health insurance plan
until they're 26 years old.
The fact women can't bediscriminated against
and charged more
simply for being a womanby an insurance company.
The fact that you don't havea lifetime limit.
Those are all protectionsthat are being provided
to people right nowwho get their health insurance
through their job.
Um, and they'd miss itif they didn't have it.
So, what happens is
that the Republicansnow are saying,
"Well, maybewe'll technically repeal it,
"but it won't go into effectfor another three years
while we come upwith a replacement."
And what I've said before is,
listen,if they had a great idea,
they should have come up with itfive, six years ago
when we were passing this bill,'cause I would have loved
to have somethingthat worked even better
and was even cheaper and wasless controversial, and...
The truth is is that
what we came up with werethe best ideas at the time.
There are some tweaksthat can be made to the program.
For example, a public optionin those communities
where there's not enoughcompetition among insurers.
More subsidiesso that it's cheaper
for people who areright at that borderline, and...
where they're finding itstill expensive
to buy health insurance.
Um, but my...
It will be interestingto watch Republicans
who now actuallyhave to produce,
come up with a replacementthat works better.
I don't think they will,and as a consequence,
you should sign up nowand, uh, count on the fact
that you're goingto have insurance for a while.
Here's a quick questionI have for you off that.
You know, the incomingadministration seems
to be making, you know,a complete 180
on a lot of your majorinitiatives. -Right. Yeah.
-So, climate change.-Right.
Donald Trump and his teamare going the other way.
-Immigration-- they're goingthe other way. -Right. Right.
Um, do you think this changes
your post-presidentialpublic life?
Does this changewho Barack Obama is
once he leaves The White House?
Well, a couple of points.
They may change policy on climate change,
but climate changeis still climate change.
-(both laughing)-It's still happening.
So if the oceans are stillgoing up and, you know,
uh, some streetsin Miami a mile or two
from where the president-electhas a golf course
are seeing floodingin the middle of sunny days,
and it's saltwatercoming up through the ground,
that's still gonna have to bedealt with one way or another.
on all of these issues,
reality doesn't go away,
and, you know,I've had several conversations
with the president-electin which I've said to him,
"Look, if you can finddifferent approaches
"to deal with the problems,you...
"I don't pretend that I wasthe repository of all wisdom.
What you can't do is pretendthey're not problems."
And I think every presidentcomes in and discovers
that, A)Reality doesn't go away,
B) The federal governmentis a... is an aircraft carrier.
It's not a speedboat.
Turning it is hard.
Now, in terms of my rolein this whole process,
uh... I think it is important
for me to recharge.
I think it's important for meto reflect,
it's important for meto get back in my...
-wife's good graces...-(laughs)
and take a decent vacation
and spend some time with her.
and I'll do some writing,
uh, and speaking, uh...
But what I have said is that...
uh... I'll be paying attention,I'll be a citizen
of this countrythat I love deeply.
And, uh, I don't anticipatethat I suddenly just vanish.
Uh, but I think it's important
to-to givethe incoming administration
and to give the public clarity
about what it isthat they're trying to do,
so that, uh, thatplays itself out a little bit.
And, uh, you know,there may be occasions
where, even in the first year,if I think core values of ours
are being threatened, I mean,I will-- I've said this--
if I thought a Muslim registrywas being set up
that... violatesthe Constitution
and violates who we areand would make us less safe,
because it'd make it easierfor groups like ISIL to recruit
-and radicalizehomegrown terrorists, -Right.
I might have to say somethingabout that.
Uh, if I saw DREAM Act kids,
uh, young people whoare brought here as children,
who are, for all intentsand purposes, Americans,
suddenly being rounded up,
uh, contrary to... who we are,
uh, as a nation of lawsand a nation of immigrants,
I might have to say somethingabout that.
But it's not, uh...
it's not my intention to be--
I think I've said this before--the old guy at the bar,
you know,who's just kind of hanging on.
You know, I need to...I need to take some time.
I've gotone more question for you.
Um... this isa personal question.
-Yeah.-It's a little bit selfish.
Um... I look up to you, becausewe share a lot in common.
We both have parentswho are black and white.
Uh, both half African.
South Side of Chicago.South side of Africa.
-In and around race...-Yeah.
when you are a personwho has a platform,
-Right.-when you are in a space
where you are engagingwith people...
it is often difficult...
to navigate and skirt that line
-Yeah.-between speaking your mind
-Right. -and sharing your...your true opinions on race,
whilst at the same timenot being seen to alienate
some of the peopleyou are talking to.
-Right. -You know, becauseif you are a white person
who's speaking about race,then you are just a person
-who is interested in race.-Right.
If you are a person of colorwho's speaking about it,
it's, like, "Oh,the black thing started again."
the question I'vealways wanted to know is,
-Yeah.-how did you navigate that?
'Cause we watched you do it,but I always wanted to know
how you navigated thatthrough your two terms.
my general theory
uh, is that...
if I was clear in my own mind
about who I was,comfortable in my own skin,
and... had clarity
about the way in which race
continues to be...
this powerful factor inso many elements of our lives,
but that itis not the only factor
in so many aspects of our lives,
we... have by no means
overcome the legacies
of slavery and Jim Crow
and colonialism and racism,
but that the progress we've madehas been real
Uh, if I'm communicatingmy genuine belief
those who are not...
uh, subject to racism
uh, can sometimeshave blind spots,
or, uh, lack appreciationof what it feels
to be on the receiving endof that,
but that doesn't mean thatthey're not open to learning
caring aboutequality and justice,
and that I can...
uh... win them over,
because there's goodnessin the majority of people.
If I... I always feltthat if I really knew that
and I just communicated itas clearly as I could,
that I'd be okay.
Um, another wayof saying this is
there's not been a timein my public life
or my presidency,where I feel as if
I have had to bite my tongue.
There have been times in mypublic life where I've said,
how do I say thisdiplomatically?
How do I say this,as you indicated,
in a way that it's received.
So there, there...
have been very few instanceswhere I've said,
well, that was racist,you are racist.
There have been timeswhere I've said,
you know, you might nothave taken into account...
uh, the, uh...
the ongoing legacy of,of, uh, of racism
in why we have so many
black men incarcerated.
And since I know
that you believein the constitution,
and believe in justiceand believe in liberty,
um, how about if we try this?
Now, some might say
well, you're not speaking fullytruth to power
-because of that diplomacy.-Yes.
But, you know,
I don't think that, um,
trying to appeal to the betterangels of our nature,
as Lincoln put it,
uh, is somehow compromise.
There may be times where...
uh, you just have tocall things out
and name names.
But the challenge we face today,
when it comes to race,
rarely the overt,
uh, uh, racism,
and typically has more to do
with the fact that,
you know, people got other stuffthey want to talk about,
and it's sort of uncomfortable.
somebody not getting called backfor an interview,
-although it's never explicit.-Mm-hmm.
Or it's, you know,
who gets the TV acting job?
The actress who doesn't quitelook the part,
and what does that mean.
In-in that environment,
where you'renot talking necessarily
about cut-and dried,
uh, racist behavior,
but ratherabout the complex ways
in which society is workingthese issues through,
uh, you know,trying to reach folks
in ways that they can hear,
I think, is, uh, is important.
And, I would add,
everybody's got a different roleto play.
Um, you know, if Chris Rock'sdoing standup,
then there is a benefit to him
doing somethingthat is different
from the president of the UnitedStates doing something.
For one thing, you know,
he doesn't have to, uh,edit his language
(laughing):quite as carefully,
because I am still subject to,
you know, some restraints...
You still got yourlast few days.
...on-on those seven words
-George Carlin talked about.-Yes.
See, I-I can't use those,
uh, as a general proposition,
because a lot of childrenare watching.
I try to comport myself in a way
my mother would approve of.
Well, I just want to saythank you so much
for being on the show.
Thank you for beingan inspiration,
and, most importantly,thank you
for giving me an opportunity tosee what I would look like
after eight years of thetoughest job in the world.
You know,I-I will say that I resent
how youngand good looking you are,
'cause, uh, I used to thinkof myself in those terms,
and, uh, it's been downhillfor quite some time.
-Thank you, sir.-Thank you, man.
-Thank you very much.-Appreciate it.