Obama, Trump NatSec officials make nice ahead of inauguration

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at Trump Tower, November 17, 2016 in New York City.

Story highlights

  • In his speech, Flynn focused on the broad theme of American exceptionalism
  • "This is the essence of American leadership," he said

Washington (CNN)Top national security officials from the current and incoming administrations mostly put aside partisan differences in favor of friendly overtures and symbolic handshakes at a think tank event Tuesday.

The event brought the current National Security Adviser Susan Rice and her replacement, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, together on the same stage, where they each gave a short speech on the critical importance of the orderly transition process and avoided the thorny issues that separate the two administrations' foreign policy outlooks.
Flynn, who served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama before he was fired and became one of President-elect Donald Trump's most vocal supporters, complimented Rice on her speech and offered effusive praise for Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton.
    "What I would like to do is just take a brief pause because I am in awe of Secretary Albright, who's sitting here in front today," said Flynn, "and I'd like everybody to just give her a big round of applause for her dignity."
    In his speech, Flynn focused on the broad theme of American exceptionalism and the notion that the United States is the "indispensable nation" -- a phrase widely attributed to Albright.
    "This is the essence of American leadership," he said. "Whether we like it or not, the world needs us."
    Other speakers at Tuesday's conference included Secretary of State John Kerry, who offered a warning of sorts to the incoming administration, making a veiled reference to the President-elect's prolific use of Twitter.
    "If policy is going to be made in 140 characters on Twitter," said Kerry, "and every reasonable measurement of accountability is being bypassed, and people don't care about it, we have a problem."