It has raged for a decade, ever since Trump joined the chorus questioning Obama’s legitimacy. Some think the former president’s derisive response at a 2011 Washington press dinner of Trump’s repeated but unproven claim Obama was born in Kenya helped spur the real estate mogul to seek the presidency.
Now, Obama has decided to go public with pointed criticism of Trump’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the president to launch an incendiary new line of attack suggesting his predecessor masterminded a criminal conspiracy to undermine him.
He calls it “Obamagate,” invoking other political scandals since “Watergate” sank Richard Nixon. Trump wants Senate Republicans to investigate the former president, a demand they have so far wisely resisted.
In a sense, it’s typical Trump, changing the subject when under fire. It’s also created the odd situation of a campaign debate between the president and his predecessor, rather than his likely Democratic rival.
When Trump joined the “birthers” questioning Obama’s legitimacy, many thought he was trying to establish Republican bona fides. At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — with Trump present — Obama retaliated.
As his legitimate Hawaii birth certificate flashed on screens, Obama said “no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” adding “that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
He blamed Obama national security officials for what he calls the “Russia hoax,” the contention Russia helped him win the presidency that led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe, whose origins various Republicans are now investigating.
On Mother’s Day, Trump unleashed 126 tweets and re-tweets, many bearing the hashtag OBAMAGATE and attacking Obama’s criticism of the administration’s decision dropping prosecution of ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
It’s been going on for a long time,” Trump replied. “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 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 he tweeted, “If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama.
He knew EVERYTHING.” He aimed the tweet at Sen.
Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
, who is investigating the Russian probe’s origins.
Later, Obama told a nationally televised program honoring high school graduates the pandemic showed “A lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs” still favor “doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy.
” That “is why things are so screwed up,” he said.
Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News and a frequent contributor. Email: carl.