During President Donald Trump’s White House press conference on Monday, a reporter asked the president what specific crime he was accusing former President Barack Obama of committing. Trump had tweeted accusations against Obama regarding the unfolding scandal of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation dubbed “Obamagate.” When Trump did not name a specific crime, many left-leaning politicos and journalists thought they had their story.
“The headline is that trump can’t name the crime he is accusing President Obama of committing,” Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko tweeted.
The headline is that trump can’t name the crime he is accusing President Obama of committing.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) May 11, 2020
It is true that Trump did not name a specific crime when pressed. “Obamagate, it’s been going on for a long time,” he replied. He went on to reference “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,” the president explained.
The reporter again pressed him on the specific crime, to which Trump said, “You know what the crime is, the crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”
Reporter: "What is the crime exactly that you're accusing [President Obama] of?"
President Trump: "You know what the crime. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours." pic.twitter.com/vpvy2VlKqc
— The Hill (@thehill) May 11, 2020
So why didn’t Trump name the specific crime? Why didn’t he just summarize the accusations against Obama and his administration? Why didn’t he say something like “the collusion caper” or “the spying on my campaign”?
The president didn’t dodge the question. He merely acted as though the crime was so obvious that reporters were shirking their responsibility to report the news if they were not aware of it.
On this, Trump has a very good point.
While many conservatives have long warned that the Obama investigation was flawed and dangerous, new revelations have confirmed their worst fears. The apparent perjury trap set for Michael Flynn revealed the ugly depths to which the Intelligence Community would sink to maintain the collusion narrative. The transcripts of House Intelligence Committee testimony revealed that most of the intelligence actors in the investigation did not have any evidence to suspect collusion. The mostly-unredacted scope memo laying out the reasoning behind appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller has laid bare the utter baselessness of the case against Trump.
Worse, the entire scandal appears to trace right back to the top: to both Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway reported that a meeting involving both Obama and Biden at the White House on January 5, 2017, was essential to the investigation that continued into Trump’s presidency.
The documents released in the Michael Flynn case, the transcripts from the House Intelligence Committee, and the scope memo paint a damning portrait of the Obama administration’s effort to tar candidate and then President-Elect and President Trump of an entirely baseless “collusion” with Russia.
In case there was any doubt about Trump’s meaning when it comes to the term “Obamagate,” the president tweeted out the opening segment from Tucker Carlson Tonight, which details Obama’s connection to the intelligence effort against Trump. Among other things, Carlson explains how Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice decided that Michael Flynn was untrustworthy — Flynn was more suspicious of China than he was of Russia.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
The full scope of the Obama administration’s effort against Trump has yet to be revealed, but recently uncovered evidence suggests a whole host of crimes have been committed. The bald weaponization of U.S. intelligence agencies against a presidential candidate of the opposition party never looked good, but the revelations that intelligence officials had no concrete evidence to support claims of Trump-Russia collusion is damning, considering they opened a years-long investigation, anyway.
Left-leaning journalists have hesitated to cover the story because it is so damning to the former president. In fact, Democrats and former DOJ and FBI officials have suggested that Attorney General William Barr was somehow perverting justice by dropping the case against Michael Flynn, even after it was revealed that the FBI had set a perjury trap for Flynn in an interview that was not material to a properly-predicated investigation. President Obama has suggested that Flynn’s exoneration somehow perverts the “rule of law.”
Obama and the Democrats are fighting against a rising tide of revelations that threaten to expose a scandal far worse than Watergate. Trump did not name a specific crime against Obama because the scope of the malfeasance is so vast that any one named crime seems insufficient to capture the horrifying nature of the story.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.