At the final news conference of his presidency, Barack Obama made it clear that though he wants some quiet and peace, he will come out of the fray if principles are compromised by his successor. These he said include issues “where I think our core values may be at stake,” like new obstacles to voting, “institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press” and “any push to deport undocumented people who were brought to America as children”.

“I want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much,” said Obama, 55, who wants to write a book during his first year out of office and spend time with his family.

He said that he plans to do some writing and intends to give his successor space to govern. Obama has on several occasions said that he appreciated the example set by his predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, who steadfastly refrained from weighing in publicly with his views after leaving the Oval Office.

Obama had created history in 2008 when he was elected America’s first black president. He and his family will leave for Palm Springs, California, on Friday after the inauguration of Republican Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The Obamas will live in Washington, where Sasha, 15, is finishing high school. Malia, 18, has been accepted to Harvard University but is taking a “gap year” break before starting this autumn.

“The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves, I think would be something that would merit me speaking out,” Obama said.

Defending his government’s decision to reduce former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning sentence, Obama said she had served a tough prison term and the decision to commute her 35-year sentence to about seven years served would not signal leniency toward leakers of US government secrets.

Obama said the decision made sense because she went to trial, took responsibility for her crime and her sentence was disproportionate to those received by other leakers.

“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence. I feel very comfortable that justice has been served,” he said. Manning gave classified information of more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks in 2010, the biggest such breach in US history.