Podcast | Race to the White House: What is Obamagate?

V Nivedita | Updated on May 22, 2020 Published on May 22, 2020

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Race to the White House.

Over the last couple of weeks, US President Donald Trump has found a new topic to attack former president Obama and the democratic party.
On the 11th of May,  he tweeted -- in all caps, too -- OBAMAGATE. On the 18th, he tweeted, "The Obama Administration is turning out to be
one of the most corrupt and incompetent in U.S. history. Remember, he and Sleepy Joe are the reasons I am in the White House!!!"

So what's the fuss about? Here's all you need to know about Obamagate.

This controversy flared up when the US Justice department dropped charges against former National security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in 2017, after reports that he misled the FBI and VP Mike Pence about his communications with then Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.

Flynn had pleaded guilty of willfully making false statements to the FBI about calls to Kislyak, while asking the Russians not to retaliate when Obama sanctioned them for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections. Flynn's lawyers say that the FBI set him up. But legal experts say that the investigative agency followed the rules. Some of Flynn's supporters say that the Justice department withheld evidence, while some experts contradict this claim.

So this week, the Trump administration revealed the names of members of the Obama administration who knew of this Flynn matter. This list included the names of Obama and his vice president Joe Biden. By this, Trump is implying that Obama was actively trying to destabilize his incoming administration back in 2016.

As conservative Hugh Hewitt puts it in an article in the Washington Post, "Senior members of the administration of President Barack Obama
made efforts to cripple President Trump’s ability to govern via unconstitutional methods throughout the transition and even into the first three years of his term."

He asks, "Did Obama or any of his senior team — in the White House, the FBI or Justice Department or any of the intelligence agencies, with or without his knowledge — act to sabotage Trump’s assumption of power and effective administration of the executive branch?" He adds, "Obamagate is here to stay because the abuse of power is already obvious and cannot be erased. Only it’s scale and scope need
to be determined."

Trump has had an uneasy relationship with Obama for years now. He was an early leader of the 'birther' movement that questioned if Obama was
actually born in the US, and if his presidency was legitimate. He had famously accused his predecessor of wiretapping his campaign in 2016. Recently, he blamed Obama for not having enough tests and equipment to fight the coronavirus.

So, why is Trump so obsessed with Obama? The answer is pretty clear: he is targeting Joe Biden, whose entire campaign rests on his close ties to Obama, who is actively promoting Joe. In fact, White House adviser Peter Navarro went so far as to say that Obama "has a new job as Biden's Press Secretary. "

By bringing up this issue, Trump is trying to achieve two things:

1. Discredit Biden and show that the Obama administration was corrupt. This looks to strike at the heart of Biden's campaign-- that is the
return to decency.

2. Distract the public from the coronavirus crisis. Over 2.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, despite easing the
lockdown. With this, nearly 39 million Americans are unemployed.
This is important since Biden is leading in key states according to a recent poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies Polls. Trump is currently  trailing Biden in Wisconsin (48% to 38%), Pennsylvania (48%-38%), Michigan (47%-39%), Arizona (45%-41%), Florida (45-43%) and North Carolina (45%-43%).

Attacking Obama is guaranteed to rally his base of supporters as he can't actively campaign now. Remember that under Obama's watch,
Democrats lost 1042 state and federal posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships and ultimately, the

Perhaps Republicans will fall behind Trump once more, if only to help Obama lose once more.

Until the next time, good bye.

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Published on May 22, 2020