President Donald Trump insisted that his immediate predecessor committed a crime of great national significance but refused to elaborate on the meaning of the term “Obamagate” when pressed by a reporter during a White House press briefing on Monday.
“Mr. President, in one of your Mother’s Day tweets, you appeared to accuse President Obama of ‘[t]he biggest political crime in American historybiggest political crime in American history, by far.’ Those were your words,” the Washington Post‘s Philip Rucker noted from behind a mask and a microphone. “What crime, exactly, are you accusing President Obama of committing and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?”
The biggest political crime in American history, by far! https://t.co/m5nPdUHt4u
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2020
To which the nation’s 45th president replied:
Obamagate. It’s 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. And if you look at what’s gone on; and if you look at now all of this information that’s being released–and from what I understand that’s only the beginning–some terrible things happened. And it should never be allowed to happen in our country again. And you’ll be seeing what’s going on over the next–over the coming weeks.
“And I wish you’d write honestly about it, but unfortunately, you choose not to do so,” Trump added.
“What is the crime exactly?” Rucker quickly followed up. “That you’re accusing him of?”
“You know what the crime is,” Trump accusingly intoned. “The crime is very obvious to everybody.”
“All you have to do is read the newspapers–except yours,” the president said–with a typical public dagger thrown in the general direction of the oft-derided Post.
That last line–and honestly the entire back-and-forth exchange–was widely viewed as objectively funny:
“you know what the crime is, it’s very obvious to everybody. all you have to do is read the newspapers. except yours.” lmao https://t.co/9Edao1hMP7
— beth (@bethbourdon) May 11, 2020
Here’s a pretty good Obamagate explainer for anyone who wants to catch up https://t.co/BZxdRKJS5Y
— Will🐫Menaker (@willmenaker) May 11, 2020
“The crime IS very obvious, and that’s what’s terrifying,” warned Trump critic and former White House ethics attorney Walter Shaub. “The crime is being a subject of Trump’s ire. The lesser included offense is being affiliated with Trump’s political rival. His reference to a ‘few weeks’ from now should be taken seriously.”
“The Attorney General is corrupt,” Shaub added–referring to the widespread perception Bill Barr, the chief law enforcement officer in the nation, is merely doing the president’s bidding during his second stint as Attorney General of the United States.
The term “Obamagate” began trending on Sunday afternoon after a lengthy series of tweets from Trump responding to former President Barack Obama‘s disagreement with Barr over recently dropping charges against onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn.
On Monday, the president was presumably fuming about that unwelcome commentary as well as the long-since-shuttered investigation into election interference and obstruction of justice conducted by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Somewhat controversially, the genesis of Mueller’s inquiry began as a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after several warnings from the nation’s intelligence agencies suggested that the Russian Federation was determined to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Ire, acrimony and recriminations have unraveled apace ever since.
The majority of Trump’s time in office has been consumed and hampered by never-proven suggestions from many of his Democratic Party opponents and outright allegations from his media detractors that the White House is somehow directly operating under the thumb of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump has consistently denied ever working with Russia in such a fashion. Conversely, his own brand of foreign policy has, in many ways, become far more bellicose than the détente promised while on the campaign travel.
Just recently, it was reported that Obama was aware of intimate details of the FBI’s investigation into Trumpworld–setting the stage for a battle of bickering between the two camps about the proper role of shadowy government agencies.
[image via screengrab/C-SPAN]
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