Obama warns against impatience with ‘slowness of democracy’

President Barack Obama says he’s wary of Americans turning away from the "core values and basic institutions" of democracy out of impatience.

During a wide-ranging interview with VICE airing on HBO Friday that ran the gamut from the political gridlock in Congress to the explosive and polarizing 2016 presidential campaign, the outgoing president acknowledged that he had failed to deliver on his calls to reduce D.C. partisanship, pointing to recent political results as cause for concern.

"I have not changed Washington the way I wanted to change it," Obama said. "And what I worry about in our politics is people getting impatient with the slowness of democracy, and the less effective Congress works, the more likely people are to start giving up on the core values and basic institutions that have helped us to weather a lot of storms."

The president added that while he believed in political reform, institutional stability was key to maintaining a functioning democracy.

"The one thing I’ve learned in this job is that I have really progressive policy beliefs but I’m more conservative when it comes to our institutions," he said. "I’ve seen enough around the world when it comes to the result of complete revolution or upheaval that it doesn’t always play out well."

Confronted with his own 2007 campaign calls for reform in Washington, when upon announcing his presidential bid he asserted that "the ways of Washington must change," a humbled Obama conceded defeat.

"Well, that didn’t work out did it?" he quipped.

The president added that while he stood by the work of his administration, many of the practices in Washington he condemned in 2007 remained unchanged in 2016.

"You know, I could not the prouder of the work that my administration’s done, but there’s no doubt that one of the central goals that I had had, which was to make the politics in Washington work better, to reduce the knee-jerk partisanship, to elevate the debate, I haven’t accomplished that."

Trump piles up manufacturing wins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donald Trump took his pre-inauguration manufacturing job bonanza into this former manufacturing hub on Friday and stood proudly by as the CEO of Dow Chemical announced a new, state-of-the-art innovation center in the state.

It’s at least the third announcement about creating or saving jobs that Trump has presided over since defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton. Last month, Trump during a trip to Indiana announced that he had reached a deal with Carrier to save 1,100 jobs at an Indianapolis manufacturing plant, and he took to Twitter to take credit for keeping a Ford plant in Kentucky.

In the cases of Carrier and Ford, it wasn’t clear precisely how much credit Trump deserves for the announcements — or how many jobs will be saved or created. But the president-elect has used the announcements to create the impression that he is single-handedly turning around American manufacturing even before taking office.

“It used to be that the cars were made in Flint and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico. Now the cars are made in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint. We’re going to change that,” Trump told a crowd of thousands gathered at a minor league sports arena here on Friday evening for a campaign-style rally billed as part of a “Thank You” tour.

The president-elect recounted his election night victory in state-by-state detail, and boasted that he beat Clinton despite her outspending him $2.2 billion to $300 million, though the actual tallies are closer to $1.2 billion to $600 million, according to a POLITICO analysis of finance filings by the campaigns and their supportive super PACs and party committees.

And Trump praised his nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and his likely choice to head the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel — both of whom hail from Michigan.

Trump clearly relished the adoration of the crowd, though a handful of protestors were removed by Trump’s private security. Trump mostly shrugged off the interruptions, but when one of the final protestors caused a commotion, he barked at his security “get ‘em out.”

But Trump returned again and again to his effort to save manufacturing jobs.

Citing a 40-percent decline in automobile jobs in Michigan since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said: “If I wasn’t elected… it would have gotten much worse. Plenty of deals are going on.”

And, as if to drive home the point, Trump introduced a surprise speaker: Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, as “someone committed to returning jobs to the United States of America.” While Liveris is an Aussie who months earlier suggested Trump might usher in “the Kardashian presidency,” Trump on Friday announced Liveris would be leading the American Manufacturing Council, a part of the U.S. Commerce Department that acts as liaison between the manufacturing sector and the federal government.

“He will be tasked with finding ways to bring industry back to America,” Trump said.

And when Liveris took the stage, he returned the favor, directly crediting Trump with his company’s decision to announce at the rally that it would be building an “innovation center” in Midland, Michigan that would employ approximately 200 people in research and development jobs.

“We could have waited. We could have put it anywhere in the world,” Liveris said. “This decision is because of this man and these policies,” he said, telling Trump “I tingle with pride listening to you.”

Asked after the rally how Trump and his policy proposals spurred the decision, Dow spokesman Jarrod Erpelding told POLITICO that “a number of factors have come together to make this announcement possible.” Those include “our confidence in the U.S. economy and manufacturing sector given the President-elect’s strong predisposition to create a manufacturing and innovation-friendly jobs and economic agenda.”

It seems a much more complete win than the Carrier deal, where the number of jobs saved appears to be far fewer than Trump advertised, or the deal with Ford, which reportedly was never planning to move the plant in question to Mexico, as Trump claimed.

Nonetheless, with more than a month until he takes office, Trump has demonstrated a willingness to use public plaudits and attacks on specific companies, their executives and union leaders in a manner that seems without precedent in modern American history.

The approach, often powered by Trump’s Twitter feed, has sparked widespread concern among corporate America, which is accustomed to far more gentle treatment from U.S. presidents, especially Republicans.

But Trump, with his promises to renegotiate trade deals favored by Republicans and his willingness to call out specific companies, has rewritten the playbook.

On Friday night, he returned to the subject of another American corporate giant with which he had picked a fight this week: Boeing. He had called out the company over what he described as the bloated cost of its contracts to build Air Force 1.

“I don’t want to buy an aeroplane for $4 billion,” he said. “Even if I don’t get to use it. Who the hell cares? I’m not paying $4 billion for an aeroplane.”

Trump team rejects intel agencies’ claims of Russian meddling

Donald Trump is rejecting official assessments that Russia interfered with the U.S. election — reportedly to help him win the presidency — by comparing intelligence agencies’ latest analyses to the past flawed claims that led to the Iraq war.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the Trump transition team said in a statement late Friday. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and "Make America Great Again.’"

The Trump team’s statement was issued shortly after The Washington Post reported that the CIA had determined in a secret assessment that the Russian government had interfered in this year’s election not just to rattle confidence in the system but specifically to help Trump. The Post cited officials briefed on the matter.

The report came after the Obama administration announced it had requested that intelligence agencies produce a "deep dive" report on cyberattacks on the U.S. election system this year. Some 17 intelligence agencies had already determined that Russia played a role in the attacks — an assessment that Trump had already dismissed.

Trump’s refusal to accept the assessments has already cause waves in the intelligence community, where many were already worried about the level of trust the president will have in them.

His team’s late Friday statement is unlikely to help. Supporters of the CIA in particular contend that the George W. Bush administration misrepresented the intelligence given to it about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Trump’s Electoral College margin of victory was not by an unusually large margin. He also lost the popular vote.

Isaac Arnsdorf contributed to this report.

DeVos says media is spreading ‘false news’ about her

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, pushed back against criticism of her selection today — accusing the media of spreading false stories about her.

“There’s a lot of false news out there,” DeVos said on stage with Trump at a rally in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. “All I ask for is an open mind and the opportunity to share my heart.”

DeVos doesn’t have a conventional background in education, such as working as a teacher or schools superintendent. But the billionaire philanthropist has long donated to "school choice" advocacy groups and politicians who are supportive of school vouchers and charter schools.

DeVos told the Michigan crowd she has “the experience, the passion and the know-how to make change happen” in the nation’s education system.

“I’ve been involved in education issues for 28 years, as an activist, a citizen-volunteer and an advocate for children,” she said.

DeVos called for a decrease in the federal government’s role in education. “The answer is local control,” she said, and “giving more choices” to parents. DeVos proposed “letting states set their own high standards and finally putting an end to the federalized Common Core.”

DeVos spoke after being introduced on stage by Trump, who said that the U.S. spends more on education than other nations “and yet our results are terrible.”

“Our reform plan includes eliminating Common Core, bringing education local, and providing school choice,” Trump said, calling for “every child to be able to attend the public, private, charter, magnet or religious school that is right for them.”

Trump praises RNC short-lister Ronna Romney McDaniel

President-elect Donald Trump praised Michigan GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel for her efforts during the presidential election at a Grand Rapids rally Friday.

“What a great job. You and your people have done an incredible job,” Trump said, referring to her as simply "McDaniels." The state GOP chair is considered a front-runner to head the Republican Party as chair of the Republican National Committee.

Filling the soon-to-be vacated position at the helm of the RNC has evolved into a proxy battle between the establishment and populist wings of the GOP. Reince Priebus has lobbied hard on behalf of McDaniel, the niece of the 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and one of the men on the short list for Trump’s State Department.

Trump recounted a last-minute rally he held before Election Day in Michigan where McDaniel spoke on his behalf, praising her work effort.

“You spoke very well. I was very impressed with you,” said Trump. “She didn’t sleep for about six months. I will tell you that.”

Trump names Dow Chemical CEO to advisory council

Donald Trump on Friday said Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris would lead the American Manufacturing Council, a part of the U.S. Commerce Department that acts as liaison between the manufacturing sector and the federal government.

The president-elect described Liveris as “one of the most respected businessmen in the world” at a rally in Grand Rapids on Friday evening.

“I’m asking him to come up and head up our American Manufacturing Council, and he has agreed to do it,” said Trump. “They will be tasked with finding ways to bring industry back to America.”

Trump also said Dow would set up a new research and development center in Michigan.

Liveris, joining Trump on stage, said he expected the incoming president to ease regulations facing companies doing business in America.

“You are paving the way with your administration, with your policies to make it easier to do business in this country. Not a red tape country but a red carpet country for American businesses.”

ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson emerging as frontrunner for secretary of state

ExxonMobil president and CEO Rex Tillerson has emerged as the leading contender for secretary of state, according to two Trump transition aides.

Tillerson, an oil executive with extensive experience in international negotiations, rocketed to the top of Trump’s short list for Foggy Bottom after former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani withdrew from the process late Friday afternoon.

A transition source says Tillerson "fits the prototype" and that Trump "likes his style and background."

Tillerson had a meeting with the president-elect in New York on Tuesday. Trump and his aides have said recently that he is close to making a decision on the top diplomatic post.

Other contenders said to still be in the mix include Adm. James Stavridis, Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, one aide said. Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally also met with Trump recently to discuss the position.

At Exxon, Tillerson has been known for his ability to reach complex international agreements. Tillerson also brings deep ties to Russia: As an Exxon executive he managed ties between the company and the Kremlin and in 2011 struck a deal that allowed the company to access Arctic resources in Russia.

But that deal was blocked by subsequent U.S. sanctions against Russia — sanctions that Tillerson sharply criticized for failing to consider the "broad collateral damage" they caused.

Tillerson joined the oil giant as an engineer in 1975, working his way up to run the massive oil firm. If he is nominated, his extensive holdings in a company with massive international assets, as well as his personal ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, could complicate his confirmation process.

Alex Isenstadt contributed reporting.