NPR logo NPR News' Exit Interview with President Obama

NPR News' Exit Interview with President Obama

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Thursday. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

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Ariel Zambelich/NPR

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviews President Obama in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Thursday.

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Full Video Interview with Obama and Transcript Available on

December 19, 2016; Washington, D.C. — In a year-end conversation with NPR News, and the last of his presidency, President Obama told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that executive power around foreign policy is an area of concern.

On the power of the presidency as it impacts foreign policy, he said: "We're still operating in our fight against ISIL without a new congressional authorization. It's the authorization that dates back to 9-11. And I think that is - is an area that we have to worry about. The president and the executive branch are always going to have greater latitude and greater authority when it comes to protecting America. Because sometimes you just have to respond quickly and not everything that is a danger can be publicized, and be subject to open debate."

Inskeep spoke with the President at the White House on Thursday. During the conversation, the President also discussed the future of the Democratic Party, emerging cyber espionage concerns and Americans' reactions to the fractious election season.

Portions of the interview, NPR's seventh on-camera conversation with President Obama, aired on Friday, December 16th and will be available across NPR's digital and broadcast platforms starting today. Morning Edition will broadcast the interview in installments, airing 12/19-12/21, with video segments and additional reporting available at through the week. The video and full transcript is available now.

Excerpts from the interview below:

When asked about the future of the Democratic Party, he said: "I am a proud Democrat, but I do think that ...we've ceded too much territory. And I take some responsibility for that. You know when I came into office, were just putting out fires. We were in a huge crisis situation. And so a lot of the organizing work that we did during the campaign, we started to see right away wasn't immediately transferrable to Congressional candidates. And more work would have needed to be done to just build up that structure and one of the big suggestions that I have for Democrats as I leave, and something that I have some ideas about is, how do we do more of that ground up building?"

On the balance of government powers and civil liberties: "There are some critics on the left who would argue we haven't gone far enough on that [civil liberties]. I would argue that we've gotten it about right, although I'm the first one to admit that we didn't get it all right on day one. There were times where, for example with respect to drones, that I had kind of stop the system for a second and say you know what we're getting too comfortable with our ability to take kinetic strikes around the world without having enough process to avoid consistently the kinds of civilian casualties that can end up actually hurting us in the war against radicalization."


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On entering a new era of cyber espionage, he said: "One of the things that we're going to have to do over the next decade is to ultimately arrive at some rules of what is a new game. And that is the way in which traditional propaganda and traditional covert influence efforts are being turbocharged by the Internet."

When asked if President-Elect Trump is right that political correctness in the US has gone too far, he said: "If you're narrowly defining political correctness as a hypersensitivity that ends up resulting in people not being able to express their opinions at all without somebody suggesting they're a victim. You know if our social discourse and our political discourse becomes like walking on eggshells. So that if somebody says 'you know what, I'm not sure affirmative action is the right way to solve racial problems in this country.' And they're immediately accused of being racist."

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