Obama tweets ‘vote’ after Trump promotes ‘Obamagate’
Former President Obama had a simple message for the public on Thursday after his successor went after him on social media: Vote.
Obama’s one-word tweet came after President Trump blasted him in a series of messages on Twitter, promoting the term “Obamagate” and demanding that Senate Republicans call on the former president to testify on Capitol Hill.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 14, 2020
Obama’s tweet comes amid escalating tensions between the former president and GOP leaders. Trump has accused Obama administration officials of unspecified malfeasance in recent days while Senate Republicans are ramping up their investigations into the Obama era.
Trump earlier Thursday retweeted his message referring to “Obamagate” and also demanded that Senate Republicans call on Obama to testify, blasting what he called “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA” and claiming that Obama “knew EVERYTHING.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
Republicans have focused on watchdog reports surrounding a shadowy surveillance court and have targeted Obama-era officials for scrutiny as the Justice Department has moved recently to drop its case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The Trump administration on Wednesday sent lawmakers a declassified list of Obama-era officials who they claim requested documents that led to Flynn’s identity being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.
Trump repeatedly lashed out at Obama on Sunday after the former president criticized the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against Flynn. In a call that was subsequently leaked, Obama warned that the move to drop the Flynn case threatened the “rule of law.”
In several tweets since the weekend, Trump also promoted what he termed “Obamagate” and retweeted a supporter’s declaration that Obama was “the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2020
He got caught, OBAMAGATE! https://t.co/oV6fum0zIS
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2020
Fact checkers have noted, however, that former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower all criticized administrations that followed their own.
Trump declined to name a specific allegation when pressed by reporters on Monday about what crime he was accusing Obama of committing following his tweets over the weekend.
Some GOP lawmakers have said that they do not care if Obama weighs in from the sidelines, after he criticized the move to drop the Flynn case and critiqued the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
“I think you can expect people like President Obama to weigh in. … I have a sneaking suspicion that after Donald Trump is president he won’t be that shy about weighing in on the next president,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said earlier this week.
Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sharply criticized Obama’s remarks about the coronavirus response on Monday during an online Trump campaign event.
“I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut. You know, we know he doesn’t like much this administration is doing. That’s understandable. But I think it’s a little bit classless frankly to critique an administration that comes after you,” McConnell said.
Obama last Friday reportedly called the Trump administration’s coronavirus response an “absolute chaotic disaster” during a call with approximately 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, details of which later leaked to news outlets.
“This election that’s coming up — on every level — is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party,” Obama said, according to CNN. “What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”
“It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty,” Obama reportedly added on the call. “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’ … is operationalized in our government.”
McConnell called for Obama to follow former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, who largely stayed on the political sidelines after leaving office. He said he didn’t think it was “appropriate” for a past president to criticize a subsequent administration.
“You had your shot. You were there for eight years. I think the tradition that the Bushes set up of not critiquing the president who comes after you is a good tradition,” McConnell said.
Obama has rarely weighed in on politics since leaving office in 2017. However, last month he appeared to take a veiled shot at the Trump administration’s coronavirus response on Twitter, sharing “While we continue to wait for a coherent national plan to navigate this pandemic, states like Massachusetts are beginning to adopt their own public health plans to combat this virus—before it’s too late.”