President Barack Obama opened up about what he will miss most as his second term in the White House comes to an end.
Obama recounted some celebrated moments, like the killing of Osama bin Laden and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, as well as some moving memories of his interactions with ordinary Americans.
But the president didn’t drone on with big or small achievements. Instead, he spontaneously turned to his feelings deep down and gave a tribute to the White House team.
“I think the thing that I will miss the most about this place, the thing that can get me sentimental – and I try not to get too nostalgic, because I still got a bunch of work to do – it’s the team we built here,” Obama said, praising the young people working alongside him.
“What I will take away from this experience is them: seeing how they work together, seeing the commitments they have made toward the issues that we care about,” Obama said.
The president specifically pointed out Brian Deese, the 38-year-old senior advisor to the president, as an example of the talented staff working in his administration.
“Nobody outside of the White House necessarily knows Brian,” Obama said. “He engineered the Paris Agreement, the [Hydrofluorocarbons] Agreement, the Aviation Agreement, may have helped save the planet, and he’s just doing it while he’s got two babies at home, and could not be a better person.”
Obama mentioned his connection with the staff, especially those who are younger, in other interviews, saying he has been encouraging those who were disappointed by the election of Trump.
In a New Yorker profile published earlier this month, Obama and his chief of staff, Denis McDonough were described as “almost like grief counsellors,” during post-election conversations with White House staffers.
“And one of the things that I have been telling my younger staff, who in some cases have only known politics through my presidency, is history doesn’t travel in a straight line. And it zigs and it zags and sometimes you take two steps forward and then you take a step back,” Obama told Rolling Stone.