President Donald Trump has spent a portion of his presidency seemingly intent on discrediting the legacy of President Barack Obama while adopting debunked theories crafted to tear down his predecessor. This past weekend, the former business mogul and reality television star took aim at Obama during an especially intense tweetstorm accusing his predecessor over a so-called criminal act framed as “Obamagate.”
To bring things into focus as best we can, Last Friday (May 9) Yahoo! News exclusively obtained a leaked private web call Obama held with members of the Obama Alumni Association. In the call, Obama said, “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn.”
He added, “And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.”
The call was largely a rallying cry for Obama supporters and allies to get a push behind his former vice president Joe Biden as he prepares to lock horns with Trump for the White House this coming fall. However, Obama also made mention of the administration’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic that, quite frankly, has ravaged America far more than anyone might have expected.
“It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government,” Obama said.
These words enraged Trump and instead of celebrating the mothers in his life and across the nation this past Sunday, he instead aimed tweet after to tweet echoing the bombast and sentiment of right-wing pundits and conspiracy theorists as many on that side allege that Obama committed a most egregious crime.
The act in question is Obama reportedly probing Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in 2017 for lying under oath regarding conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Last week, the charges against Flynn were dropped by the Justice Department, a move celebrated by Trump, and became a launching pad of accusations against Obama’s supposed criminal act.
When asked what Obamagate was in a Monday (May 11) presser at the White House, Trump gave a gruff and vague answer.
“It’s [Obamagate] been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected. And it’s a disgrace that it happened,” Trump said.
A Washington Post reporter asked a followup question regarding the mysterious scandal to which Trump replied, “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”
This brings us again to the Sunday’s missive of 126 tweets, 104 of them being retweets according to @FactbaseFeed and largely sharing the #Obamagate hashtag among them.
One of the more prominent instances of Trump’s display came with a retweet of right-wing pundit Bruce Sexton who wrote, “the outgoing president used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration” and Trump writing in the caption of the retweet, “The biggest political crime in American history, by far!”
With Trump’s base, the claims of Obamagate have been galvanizing and it has continued to swell as the country struggles with the COVID-19 crisis and the economic shift suffered by all regardless of class. But even those within the Republican Party who would definitely hitch a ride on Trump’s momentum, politically speaking, are breaking with the claim of criminality enacted by the Obama administration, but only somewhat.
Senate Republicans said on Monday that they aren’t in lockstep with Trump asking that Obama be investigated of allegations that he used the power of his office to launch the probe on Flynn back in 2016. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently investigating the origins of the Russia investigation but has apparently decided they will not look deeper into Obama’s alleged criminal involvement.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican senator representing South Carolina and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is hoping to uncover which Obama officials may have had a hand in the Flynn probe but any hopes that the Justice Department will pursue charges against them might be largely dashed. Senate Republicans, however, are unified in believing that their various investigations and examining the facts will uncover connections.
While America burns under the weight of a public health disaster and scrambling to return to a semblance of normalcy, it would be interesting to know what conservative and Republican Party voters believe should be President’s Trump true focus. Should he be chasing ghosts of administration’s past or are their more pertinent matters that should have the president’s attention?
Given Trump’s off-script press conferences and tweet-through-it approach in addressing his adoring public and critics alike, perhaps Obamagate is the perfect distraction for these trying times despite it having little weight thus far.