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Trump-Obama Relationship Hits Rough Patch After UN Vote, Obama Comments

After a promising start, the public relationship between the president and president-elect seemed to stutter just ahead of the inauguration.
Image: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File PhotoKEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

Just three weeks from Inauguration Day, the once-cordial public relationship between the incoming and outgoing presidents is showing signs of strains.

It may seem like a lifetime ago that President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump, architect of the years-long "birther" movement aimed at delegitimizing the country's first black president, sat side-by-side in the Oval Office and shook hands after an hour-and-a-half long meeting. It was a show of unity after a bitter, divisive contest and a demonstration of one of the most important hallmarks of American democracy — the peaceful, and graceful, transition of power.

Seven weeks later, the relationship between the two leaders doesn't seem so rosy.

Trump, who famously said he wouldn't accept the results of the election unless he won, bristled at assessments from the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Soon after, Trump openly clashed with the White House over Israel, and he did not take kindly to Obama’s contention he would have bested him in November's election.

Here’s a timeline of how their relationship has developed in the early weeks:

Nov. 9 - The day after Trump’s stunning victory, Obama pledges to aid Trump’s transition into the White House and announces he will be meeting with Trump the next day.

“I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect — because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama says in remarks from the Rose Garden.

Nov. 10 - Obama and Trump meet at the White House two days after the election. It is the first meeting between the two men. Trump calls it “a great honor” being with Obama, and says he looks forward to meeting with the president “many, many more times.”

Nov. 20 - During his final foreign trip, Obama says he will not criticize the president-elect in order to give Trump “an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance.”

Nov. 22 - White House press secretary Josh Earnest tells reporters that Obama and Trump have spoken “at least once” since the Oval Office meeting.

Nov. 23 - In an interview with the New York Times, Trump says he and Obama had “great chemistry” when the two met.

“I didn’t know if I’d like him. I probably thought that maybe I wouldn’t, but I did, I did like him. I really enjoyed him a lot,” Trump says. “I’ve spoken to him since the meeting.”

Dec. 9 - A crowd in Louisiana jeer Trump for mentioning Obama during a rally for Republican Congressional candidates. “We’ve gotten along so well,” Trump says as some members of the crowd boo. “He’s really doing great, he’s been so nice.”

Dec. 11 – In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Trump says he does not intend to take a “wrecking ball” to Obama’s legacy. “No. I don't want to do that at all. I just want what's right.” It is one of the rare interviews Trump has done since his election victory.

Dec. 15 - The Obama and Trump relationship begins to take a turn after U.S. intelligence agencies conclude that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump. The president-elect denies the assessments, and on December 15, questions why the White House waited until after his election victory to make the announcements. “Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?” Trump tweets.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest insists it is a “basic fact” that during the campaign, Trump urged Russia to find information that would hurt Clinton. Trump’s transition contended that Trump’s pleas to Russia during a July press conference to find Clinton’s missing emails were sarcastic.

Dec. 22 - The president-elect calls on the White House to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Israel for the construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. “This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” Trump says in a statement. The move to take such a public position on a foreign policy issue as president-elect was striking.

Dec. 23 - The U.S. abstains from the UN vote on Israeli settlements.

Dec. 26 - Obama says in a podcast he is “confident” he could have won a third term in office. In an interview with former adviser David Axelrod, Obama insists he did not view the 2016 results as a rebuke of his policies or his presidency. "I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could've mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it," Obama said.

Shortly after, Trump responds “no way” on Twitter, and takes a swipe at Obama’s signature campaign theme of hope.

Dec. 27 - Trump returns to Twitter, criticizing the president for campaigning against him in swing states that Clinton lost.

Dec. 28 - Trump tweets that he is “Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements.” Rep. Chris Collins, a member of Trump’s transition team, then says on Fox News that the Obama administration is “doing everything they can to make this a bumpy road.”

Trump also takes a dig at the administration’s relationship with Israel shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a speech defending the U.S. decision to abstain from the vote.

"We reject the criticism that this vote abandons Israel," Kerry says in his address.

Later in the day, Trump is asked by reporters gathered outside his Mar-a-Lago resort whether the transition is going smoothly. The president-elect responds, "I think very, very smoothly," adding, "good, very good. You don't think so?" He also tells reporters that he spoke with the president Wednesday and "we had a very nice conversation."

The White House released a statement regarding the call, saying it was "focused on continuing a smooth and effective transition."