Former Obama Photographer Says He Trolls Trump Because He Does ‘Too Many Things That Aren’t Normal’

Photographer Pete Souza attends the German release of his book 'Obama: An Intimate Portrait' at the Bertelsmann represention on April 16, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The book documents with intimate access the eight years of the presidency of Barack Obama through over 300 photographs.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Since Donald Trump took office in 2017, former White House photographer Pete Souza has been subtly “trolling” the president, taking to Instagram to share images he took when he was covering Barack Obama’s administration. As he explained in a recent interview, these photos weren’t just shared in an effort to mock Trump, but rather to show how he does a lot of things as president that are, in his words, “not normal.”

Speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN’s The Lead, Pete Souza promoted his new photo book, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, while explaining his motivation behind the photos he posts on Instagram. According to Bustle, Souza told Tapper that it’s important that people remember the first 500 days of Trump’s presidency and the “craziness” that happened during that time.

“I’m also trying to correct some of his lies and falsehoods with photographic proof — whether it be the inauguration day crowd, whether it be him saying that Obama did nothing about Russian meddling and here’s the meeting where Obama confronted [Vladimir] Putin,” Souza continued.

Answering Tapper’s question about whether he expected to be doing what he regularly does — posting photos of Barack Obama and describing in his captions what he feels Trump did incorrectly in a similar situation — Souza said that he didn’t, adding that he wouldn’t be sharing such images if Mitt Romney or the late John McCain had become president instead.

Given how Souza had once identified as apolitical, as noted by Bustle, the former White House photographer explained to Tapper that his views were changed after he saw how Donald Trump “disrespects” the presidency, as well as other people.

“He bullies people, he lies, he calls [the media] ‘the enemy of the people,’ he doesn’t believe our own intelligence agencies, he trashes his own attorney general, and what he calls ‘his Justice Department.’ There’s just too many things that [are] not normal for a president to be doing.”

Prior to covering the Obama administration, Pete Souza had also served as White House photographer for Republican president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Regarding the commentary that comes with his photos, Souza stressed in his interview with Tapper that he is “having some fun” while criticizing Trump, even as he tries his best to be respectful when making observations about his presidency and how it compares to Obama’s. He concluded that he “certainly” thinks his commentary is more respectful than how Trump has been in his frequent Twitter rants.

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents, which was released last month, was described earlier in November by ABC 7 Chicago as a “portrait in presidential contrasts,” with Souza using “visual juxtapositions” to illustrate the difference between Obama and Trump’s presidencies through photographs.