Barack Obama Reacts to His New Memoir Topping Michelle Obama's Book Sales

Jimmy Kimmel Live! - Kimmel and Obama
ABC/Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Former President Barack Obama joined Jimmy Kimmel Live! Thursday to discuss his new memoir, A Promised Land, but Kimmel had another important question on his mind when kicking off their interview.

"Why did you leave us with him?" Kimmel said of President Donald Trump with Obama quickly responding, "I've got to follow the Constitution and Michelle's mandate."

The first volume of Obama's 768-page memoir, released Tuesday by Crown, features an honest account of his presidential campaign and time in office, as well as the personal journey he and former first lady Michelle Obama went through during both terms.

The length of the memoir didn't go unnoticed for Kimmel. "Did you make it that long to make sure Trump never reads it?" the late night host was quick to jokingly ask.

"I don't think it would have had to be 700 pages," Obama quipped in response.

The former president continued to explain that he didn't originally intend for his book to be so long, but he realized he wanted to write about numerous things from his presidency. "I want people to understand how I was making decisions, what we were dealing with … I didn't want to put everything in footnotes and endnotes," he said, admitting that whenever he reads books with footnotes, he tends to skip them.

Obama's book may have been an anticipated title this year, but Michelle Obama's Becoming was recognized as 2018's fastest-selling book after selling 725,000 copies sold on the first day of publication. However, Obama assures his book, which was reported to have sold over 800,000 copies in its first day, sold "a tad more" than the former first lady's. "But I'm not rubbing it in over dinner," he said, adding that Michelle joked all his book sales could help pay for her shoe purchases.

Despite his book being a success, Obama laughed when he revealed that his daughters Sasha and Malia have no interest in reading A Promised Land. "You are never a profit in your own land. Their attitude is, 'We've got better things to do than read your boring rants and raves,'" he said. After they failed to read his first book after 10 years, Obama said he didn't expect his daughters to read his new book until they're 30 years old.

As his book released shortly after former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, Kimmel asked whether Obama felt congratulating Biden for his win was "premature" given Trump continues to claim the election was rigged.

"I thought I was right on time," Obama said, noting that when he was president, the communication system appeared to be better.

Continuing to poke fun at Trump's claims, Kimmel also asked whether Obama knew of any places in the White House where ballots could be hiding, given he resided there for eight years. "I think we could always send the Navy Seals in there to dig them out," Obama said.

Speaking more on Biden, Obama said he's already begun calling him "Mr. President-Elect" and praised Biden for being prepared to take on the presidency. "I think that his experience over eight years, he knows the job. He understands the gravity of it. He will hit the ground running," he said.

As Biden enters office as the country continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic, Obama explained that their original pandemic task force, which he says was disbanded by Trump, will be resurrected. "That will be really important," he said.

Obama also expressed his wish that the transition between Biden and Trump was going better and he recalled how "gracious" former President George W. Bush was to him when he became president.

"He's a good man. He's a patriot and he ordered everybody on his team to work seamlessly with us on the transition," he said of Bush. He said that because of Bush's willingness to help, it helped his team get a "head start" on tackling the financial crisis.

Obama ends his first volume with the Osama bin Laden raid, which he recalls at the same time having to endure conspiracy theories being made by Trump questioning whether Obama was born in the United States.

"We are planning this huge, risky, difficult operation that involves all the power and technology and skill and courage of the U.S. military and, at the same time, I'm dealing with a guy who's saying I wasn't born where I was born," Obama said. "It gives you an example of the weirdness of modern politics." He added that while a president aims to be "focused on the job," it can be difficult when "the circus" is what dominates the press and "ends up distracting the White House."

"I had to screen that stuff out to make sure I'm keeping my eye on the ball," he said.

Later, Kimmel and Obama surprised a fan with a virtual meet-and-greet.