trump harley exec meeting feb 2
Trump considering all options with Iran
01:42 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Trump's White House has pointed fingers at the Obama administration planning for the Yemen raid

But takes credit for jobs figures achieved under Obama's watch

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump spent months running against Barack Obama’s leadership style, faulting him for being “weak and ineffective” on Iran, lacking of focus the “real” job numbers and inability to combat ISIS because he was the group’s “founder.”

What a difference a few months makes.

Trump and his White House advisers are now using Obama as a security blanket, making almost identical moves he made during his tenure and defending possible mistakes by arguing that they were initially made by Barack Obama.

The tactic is familiar: Obama, eight years after he succeeded President George W. Bush, was still blaming the 43rd president for some of the pockmarks on his legacy.

But what is remarkable about Trump is how vehemently he ran against Obama. Not only did Trump describe the Obama presidency in near apocalyptic terms during the campaign, he was the leader of the “Birther” movement, an attempt to delegitimize the president he is now using as a shield.

In the aftermath this week of the botched raid in Yemen that left one US Navy SEAL dead and three more wounded, as well as another three hurt in an Osprey crash, the Trump White House pointed the finger at the previous administration.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, laying out how the raid came together, was clear to note that it was approved by the Obama administration before it was passed off and approved by Trump.

“Clearly, that was under the last administration,” Spicer said while going through the key dates in the raid. And White House officials, speaking with the benefit of not identifying themselves, were quick to note that Pentagon officials had discussed and even signed off on the plan.

This has Obama allies accusing the new commander in chief of passing the buck.

Ned Price, former special assistant to Obama and the National Security Council, tweeted Thursday that the operation was “never presented to or considered by the Obama Admin for approval.”

Another former senior government official involved in Obama’s National Security Council told CNN: “In a nutshell, Trump and his team owns the process and the ultimate decision – and the consequences.”

Viewing jobs numbers in new light

Obama’s team is also wondering why Trump, who repeatedly criticized the unemployment figures issued under the Democratic president, is suddenly taking credit for new job growth at the end of Obama’s term.

The unemployment rate hovered between 4.7% and 5% for all of last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but Trump told voters they weren’t real.

“Don’t believe these phony numbers,” Trump said in February 2016. “The number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35 [percent]. In fact, I even heard recently 42%.”

Friday, when the latest numbers were released, Spicer touted the figures from the White House podium.

“Speaking of good numbers,” Spicer said before reading out the January jobs report that found America added 227,000 jobs in January, well ahead of December’s gain of 157,000 jobs.

“Today’s report reflects the consumer confidence that the Trump presidency has inspired,” Spicer said. Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top aides, tweeted that “jobs numbers already like POTUS.”

Trump, during a meeting with business leaders on Friday, said he was “very happy” with the jobs report.

“I think that’ it’s going to continue big league. We’re bringing back jobs,” he added.

While this is the first jobs report released under Trump, the Labor Department conducted the survey in the second week of January, while Obama was still in office.

And Obama officials – many of whom left their offices weeks ago – were left to laugh at how Trump is taking credit for the jobs numbers.

“It was, indeed, remarkable that the unemployment rate fell from 42% to 4.8% on January 20th,” said Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Same Iran sanctions policy as Obama’s?

And on Iran, Trump is responding to the nation’s ballistic missile test in nearly the same way Obama’s administration responded.

After Trump’s national security adviser puts Iran “on notice,” the Trump administration announced it was applying sanctions on 25 individuals and companies connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

“Iran is playing with fire - they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Not me!”

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said in a statement that the sanctions show “the days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.”

Responding to the Iranian’s testing ballistic missiles by implanting sanctions, however, is exactly what the Obama administration did in January 2016.

“We will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously,” Obama said when his Treasury Department sanctioned 11 people with ties to the missile program. “We are going to remain vigilant about it.”

Jake Sullivan, the top policy adviser on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a former Obama administration official, said Thursday that Trump took a page out of Obama’s playbook.

“When the Iranians tested Ballistic Missiles in the Obama administration, the Obama administration imposed sanctions,” Sullivan said. “So, this is consistent with steps that have been taken in the past.”