Former President Barack Obama spoke out Monday for the first time since leaving office 10 days earlier in the wake of protests at airports across the country over the executive order issued by President Trump that temporarily bans entry into the U.S. for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, suspends the entire refugee program for 120 days, and indefinitely bans refugees from Syria.
In a statement released through a spokesman, Obama said that he's, quote, "heartened" by the civic engagement he's seeing around the country. The statement said, "Citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake." The statement didn't specifically address Trump's executive order, but said Obama, quote, "fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion." Trump has denied that his executive order is a "Muslim ban."
Before his term ended, Obama said he planned to follow the example of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, and give his successor space to govern without being publicly second-guessed by the man who held the office before him. But Obama also reserved the right to speak out if Trump violated what he called "basic American values." Obama's definition of "space" apparently differs from Bush's.