Donald Trump on Monday stepped up his attacks on Barack Obama after his predecessor slammed his ‘chaotic’ coronavirus response in a leaked conference call.
Replying to one tweet claiming that Obama ‘is the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor,’ Trump wrote: ‘He got caught, OBAMAGATE!’ – a reference to Trump’s claim that Obama conspired with senior officials to try to force him out of power after his election victory.
The Monday tweets were a continuation of a stream of more than 120 tweets on Sunday, many of them accusing Obama of being part of a conspiracy to bring Trump down.
The president had nothing on his public schedule Sunday and had canceled a trip to Camp David to meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff after two of them went into self-quarantine. Three of his key coronavirus advisers, including Dr. Tony Fauci, also went into self-quarantine, in their case because of contact with Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller, who was diagnosed with it on Friday.
Several of Trump’s tweets claimed that Obama knew the details of a call between former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak in 2016 – at the center of what Trump calls the ‘Impeachment Scam.’
Monday morning salvo: Donald Trump launched a fresh tweet storm about his predecessor after tweeting repeatedly on Sunday
Flynn’s prosecution for lying to the FBI about that call was effectively dropped last week, spurring Obama to tell his alums on Friday that the U.S. ‘rule of law’ is at risk.
Trump appears to have been spurred into attacking Obama by a recording of the former president’s half-hour web call with the Obama Alumni Association leaking on Friday, during which he called Trump’s response to the COVID-19 crisis an ‘absolute chaotic disaster’ – and more pointedly slammed the decision to withdraw support for prosecuting Flynn as a threat to the rule of law.
In response, Trump re-tweeted Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) who said: ‘Obama’s FBI targeted President Trump and his allies before the 2016 election. Scary!’ Trump added: ‘…And we caught them and their illegal activities!’
Trump followed that on Sunday and Monday morning with a string of tweets and retweets about ‘Obamagate.’
The contours of the ‘Obamagate’ claim are not entirely clear, but appear linked to Trump’s decision of those who prosecuted Flynn as ‘human scum’ last week as AG Bill Barr’s Justice Department withdrew support for his prosecution.
A federal judge will have to decide whether to clear Flynn, who has pleaded guilty under oath to lying to the FBI.
Trump appears to be suggesting that Obama in some way instructed the FBI to conceal its investigation of Flynn from the incoming administration as part of an attempt to have Trump removed from office once he was inaugurated.
He also tweeted a link to an article in The Federalist – the conservative website founded by Meghan McCain’s husband Ben Domenech – which claimed that Obama had told James Comey not to brief Trump on fears Flynn was a Russian asset even after Obama had left office.
Trump retweeted this image Sunday night, writing: ‘OBAMAGATE’
And he is continuing his claim that intelligence agencies illegally surveilled him and his campaign in the run-up to the election.
That claim centers on the eavesdropping warrant the FBI obtained to monitor Carter Page, using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FSA), which allows a special court to permit spying on a U.S. citizen.
Page had been under surveillance before
By the time it was issued Page was a former campaign aide but a subsequent review found major shortcomings in the applications for renewal of the warrant, including that it used the Christopher Steele dossier, including the notorious ‘pee tape’ allegation, without telling the court that it had not been substantiated and parts of it had been discredited by the FBI itself.
Trump also appears to link ‘Obamagate’ to the establishment of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, which was put in place by his own, politically-appointed, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein after Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself.
Trump was also keen in the two-day tweet storm to highlight how his administration had dealt with Beijing compared to Obama’s relationship with President Xi Jinping which had ‘allowed China ‘to grow to the dominant dictatorship superpower that it is.’
Trump has called Xi his friend and made him a guest at Mar-a-Lago but now claims he is tough on China.
‘We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic, especially the very early BAN of people from China, the infectious source, entering the USA,’ Trump tweeted.
‘Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks, bad polls – didn’t have a clue!’
About one year after Obama took office, the H1N1 pandemic hit the U.S. – and in October 2009 he declared the outbreak a national emergency.
Obama last week blamed Trump for exacerbating ‘tribal’ tensions around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, which he says has hampered the effort to reduce the total number of cases nationwide.
Replying to one tweet claiming that Obama ‘is the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor,’ Trump wrote: ‘He got caught, OBAMAGATE!’
Audio of the web call where Obama made the comments was obtained by Yahoo News, who then released a report of the details of the call Friday.
‘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,’ the former president said.
‘And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well,’ Obama continued. ‘It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty.’
‘It would have been bad even with the best of governments,’ he claimed. ‘It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset – of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ – when that mindset is operationalized in our government.’
Donald Trump bashed former President Barack Obama for his response to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 after his predecessor criticized the current response to the coronavirus crisis
The president launched a more than 120-tweet rant Sunday covering a wide variety of topics then continued it into Monday
Trump also targeted Obama in a few other tweets and reposts for issues unrelated to pandemic responses
He touted the country beginning to end lockdowns and stay-at-home orders at the state and local levels by tweeting an image of his Los Angeles golf course, which is now reopened and accepting bookings
He ended the rant just after 8:00 a.m. Sunday wishing everyone a ‘HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!’
WHO ARE THE ‘HUMAN SCUM’? THE TARGETS IN TRUMP’S SIGHTS
Donald Trump did not say exactly who the ‘human scum’ were but here are those he likely meant
FORMER FBI DIRECTOR
Why he’s ‘scum’: Trump claims Comey was part of a plot to invalidate his presidency and have him removed from office with ‘bogus’ claims of Russian collusion. Comey briefed Trump on the ‘golden showers’ dossier and Trump accuses him of being involved in leaking it
What Trump’s done: Fired him then rage tweeted for almost three years demanding Comey is prosecuted for ‘treason’; called him ‘sick’ and ‘twisted’
What has happened: Nothing. Comey made millions from tell-all memoir and speaking fees. Now actively speaks out against Trump
ANDREW McCABE FORMER DEPUTY AND ACTING FBI DIRECTOR
Why he’s ‘scum’: Oversaw probe into Mike Flynn and arranged FBI interview with him. Continued Russia probe after Comey was fired
What Trump’s done: Demanded ‘treason’ charge and insinuated McCabe should get death penalty
What has happened: McCabe was internally investigated for unauthorized media disclosures about the Clinton probe, subject to a recommendation he be fired which was rejected; he chose to retire and Jeff Sessions found a way to fire him the day before his resignation to remove some pension rights. DOJ then tried to convince two grand juries to bring lying to federal agent charges and failed. He is now cleared and suing the DOJ for firing him. IG report cleared him of political bias
EX-FBI COUNTER-TERRORISM AGENT
Why he’s ‘scum’: Ran Crossfire Hurricane probe into Trump-Russia while exchanging anti-Trump messages with married FBI lawyer lover Lisa Page, then moved on to Mueller probe. Texts included notorious ‘we’ll stop it’ message about Trump becoming president. Revealed to have ordered Flynn probe kept open when case agent wanted to close it. Interviewed Flynn and according to Trump and supporters ‘tricked’ Mike Flynn into lying to the FBI
What Trump’s done: Rage tweeted about Strzok and Page, demanded treason charges, impersonated them having sex at a a rally
What has happened: Texts were part of Inspector General probe into FBI and DOJ and Trump-Russia. Strzok was escorted from FBI HQ when it was published in June 2018, stripped of his security clearance, questioned by Congress and fired in August over the recommendation of the internal discipline branch. Remains married despite affair and is suing for wrongful termination
FORMER FBI LAWYER
Why she’s ‘scum’: Exchanged anti-Trump texts with lover Peter Strzok while she offered legal advice to the Russia probe and then the first stages of the Mueller probe. Wrote ‘she just has to win now’ of Hillary Clinton and ‘this man cannot be president.’
What Trump’s done: Rage-tweeted about ‘lovely Lisa Page,’ accused her of being part of ‘witch hunt’ and demanded treason charges. Mimicked her having an orgasm to a rally in Minneapolis
What has happened: Resigned from the FBI and is now suing over the release of her texts, prompting disclosure that they were ordered to be published by then deputy AG Rod Rosenstien by having journalists invited to see them at night. Remains married
OBAMA’S DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Why he’s ‘scum’: Has repeatedly voiced view on TV that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Trump appears to accuse him and Comey of being part of pre-emptive ‘plot’ to have Trump removed from office if he won the election, and claims he ‘withheld evidence’ on Flynn
What Trump’s done: Rage-tweeted repeatedly demanding treason charges or other unspecified prosecution
What has happened: Nothing. Clapper’s evidence to House inquiry into Trump-Russia revealed that he told them under oath that he ‘never saw direct empirical evidence’ of collusion
He also re-asserted his endorsement for his former vice president, and the presumed Democratic nominee: ‘That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden.’
There’s currently more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus and 78,000 deaths in the U.S. – and several state and local governments have begun reopening and ending lockdown and stay-at-home orders after months of economic downturn.
Trump boasted Sunday in one of his tweets, ‘So great to see our Country starting to open up again!,’ including an image of his Los Angeles club reopening for golfers.
Excluding campaign speeches during the 2018 midterm elections, Obama has largely been quiet since Trump took office and replaced him after defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 – he has especially steered clear of directly criticizing the current president by name.
Obama’s comments on the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic were a much sharper attack on his successor than he has issued in the past.
Last month, Obama offered veiled criticism of Trump over the COVID-19 crisis, claiming that there was no ‘coherent national plan’ to address the outbreak.
‘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,’ the former president tweeted.
Obama used the tweet to issue an attack on the president, but also praised Massachusetts for its response to the pandemic with a New Yorker article titled: It’s Not Too Late to Go on Offense Against the Coronavirus.
As several states continue to lament that they do not have the supplies to administer enough testing, some have taken matters into their own hands.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker launched a plan for full-scale, statewide testing, which will be used to implement effective quarantine and treatment systems.
The state was able to increase the number of tests administered from just 41 on March 9 to more than eight thousand by April 17.
Obama also attacked his successor at the end of March as Trump signed the CARES Act to provide $2.2 trillion in economic stimulus and relief for Americans and small businesses.
‘We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic,’ the two-term Democrat tweeted last month.
‘We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall,’ he continued at the time.
This election year has been upended by the pandemic. With no vaccine in sight and the number of cases climbing, some states have started to gradually reopen their economies while others have maintained a lockdown.
The Trump administration has been scrutinized for its response to the pandemic.
Reports in several media outlets indicated that Trump played down the severity of the coronavirus even while his own experts were urging him to take it seriously.
Top Trump administration officials like Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and trade adviser Peter Navarro reportedly sounded the alarm about a pandemic reaching American shores as early as late January, but the president failed to heed the warnings.
Critics said the valuable time that was lost could have been used to ramp up testing as well as provide medical professionals adequate supplies of personal protective equipment in order to better deal with the pandemic.
Trump has also been criticized for mixed messaging – touting social distancing and preventative measures on the one hand but then urging his supporters to ‘liberate’ states through mass demonstrations on the other.
The president has also made comments that have prompted mockery and scorn from the public, including his suggestion that cleaning disinfectants could be ingested into the body in order to treat COVID-19.
Trump, for his part, has claimed that his decision to shut down travel from China saved lives, though the administration has allowed flights from China carrying American citizens and legal residents to continue landing in the country.
The record unemployment rate reported on Friday captured the pain of a nation where tens of millions of jobs suddenly vanished, devastating the economy and forcing Trump to overcome historic headwinds to win a second term.
Just a few short months ago, Trump planned to campaign for re-election on the back of a robust economy – but with an unemployment rate of 14.7 per cent, the highest since the Great Depression, some states crucial to Trump’s victory are suffering financially.
The president is now tasked with convincing voters that the catastrophic jobs losses were the result of the pandemic – not his management of the public health crisis.
Meanwhile, 11 members of the United States Secret Service have recently tested positive for COVID-19 while 23 others have recovered from the illness..
Some 60 employees of the agency charged with protecting President Trump and other senior government officials are currently in quarantine due to the outbreak, according to Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by Yahoo News.
Meanwhile, Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the virus on Friday. She had been in recent contact with the vice president. Miller is married Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser.
The positive test for Katie Miller came one day after White House officials confirmed that a member of the military serving as one of Trump´s valets had tested positive for COVID-19.
Trump’s valet’s case marked the first known instance where a person who has come in close proximity to the president has tested positive since several people present at his private Florida club were diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March.
The valet tested positive Wednesday.
The White House was moving to shore up its protection protocols to protect the nation’s political leaders.
Trump said some staffers who interact with him closely would now be tested daily.
Pence told reporters Thursday that both he and Trump would now be tested daily as well.
THE MIKE FLYNN SAGA: HOW TRUMP APPOINTEE BECAME INCENDIARY STORY
Mike Pence was a career Army intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was still in uniform as a three-star general when he became Barack Obama’s head of Defense Intelligence in July 2012.
But he fell out badly with the Obama administration, was forced out in July 2014 and moved into private intelligence consulting.
December 10: Flynn is paid to travel to Moscow and sits beside Vladimir Putin at dinner celebrating propaganda outlet RT (right). His consulting business has Russian clients
February: Flynn signs up to provide national security advice to the Trump campaign; in the next few months he is floated as a possible running mate
July20 : Flynn leads ‘lock her up’ chants at the Republican National Convention and claims Obama concealed the actions of Osama bin Laden
July 31: FBI open counter-intelligence investigation Crossfire Hurricane into group of Trump aides, including Flynn, for possible Russian influence. In 2014 an FBI informer had told agents he saw Flynn spending time at a dinner in the UK with a Russian woman with ties to Kremlin intelligence; the information is included in their investigation. Flynn is code-named Crossfire Razor
November 4: Trump wins the election, and meets Obama who advises him not to hire Flynn. Trump ignores the advice and makes him national security adviser designate
Flynn meets Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (right) at Trump Tower and exchanges calls and messages throughout the month.
December 29: Hours after Obama announces sanctions on Russia for election interference, they speak and Flynn says it will be ‘reviewed’ when Trump takes power. The call is heard by intelligence agents who monitor Kisylak’s calls and details are included in intelligence reports. The next day Putin says Russia won’t retaliate for the sanctions
January 4: FBI drafts report saying there is ‘no derogatory information on RAZOR [Flynn].’ But 20 minutes later FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok tells case agent ‘don’t close RAZOR,’ and ‘7th floor involved’ meaning FBI leadership. He also emails lover Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer, about the Logan Act – a never-enforced 1799 law banning private people from interfering in foreign relations. ‘Razor still open,’ he writes and calls news ‘serendipitously good’. ‘Phew, but yeah, that’s amazing that he is still open. Good I guess,’ Page replies. Strzok respond: ‘Yeah, our utter incompetence actually helps us. 20% of the time I’m guessing :)’
January 5: Obama holds Oval Office briefing on Russian election interference with Joe Biden, CIA director John Brennan, FBI director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and deputy attorney general Sally Yates. He asks Comey and Yates to stay behind and says he has ‘learned of the information’ about Flynn’s call to Kislyak. Comey mentions the Logan Act
January 6: Obama’s top intel figures – Brennan, Clapper and Comey – give the Trump team including Trump a briefing on Russia at Trump Tower
January 12: Bombshell Washington Post report reveals Flynn’s call to Kislyak on December 29, ‘according to a senior U.S. government official’ saying: ‘What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?’ It mentions the Logan Act
January 14: Flynn tells Pence he did not discuss sanctions; in coming days Trump officials repeat this on television – including Mike Pence the following day
January 20: Trump is inaugurated; Flynn becomes national security advisor
January 22: The Wall Street Journal reveals Flynn is subject to a counter-intelligence investigation over links to Russia
January 23: Strzok and Andrew McCabe the FBI Deputy director exchange messages planning to interview Flynn
January 24: Two FBI agents – Peter Strzok and one whose name remains secret – go to the White House and interview Flynn in his West Wing office. Their notes say he denies talking about sanctions with Kislyak and said ‘if I did I don’t remember’
January 26 and 27: Yates tells White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn has lied to Mike Pence and other officials, is therefore compromised, could be blackmailed by Russia, and other aspects of his conduct are worrying which she can’t tell McGahn because they are classified
January 28: Flynn sits in the Oval Office to take part in Trump’s first call with Putin
February 9: Washington Post reveals Flynn did discuss sanctions and publishes interview in which he repeats denial ‘categorically.’ After the story is published, he tells the newspaper a different version – that he may have discussed sanctions
February 10 and 11: Trump says he will ‘look into’ Flynn but the aide is at Mar-a-Lago dinner with Shinzo Abe. Pence
February 13: Washington Post reveals that McGahn was warned about Flynn by Yates. Flynn resigns admitting he ‘inadvertently’ misled Pence, prompting Pence to mislead on Face the Nation in January
February 14: Trump meets Comey and says Flynn is ‘a good guy’ and ‘I hope you can see your way to letting this go.’
March 30: Flynn offers to testify to Congress – at the time both House and Senate are Republican-controlled – or the FBI on Trump-Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution; nobody takes up the deal offer
May 9: Trump fires Comey, and on May 17 Robert Mueller is appointed special counsel
May 10: Senate Intel Committee subpoena Flynn for his contacts with Russia; he cites Fifth Amendment; they later subpoena in more detail, and by early June he turns over documents voluntarily
November 5: Mueller’s investigators revealed to be ready to indict Flynn and his son Michael Jr. on multiple charges. They are looking at his foreign lobbying and even whether he plotted to kidnap a Turkish cleric from the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey – but are also wiling to strike a deal to let his son off if he flips
November 16: Mueller team interview Flynn for first time
November 22: Flynn withdraws from ‘joint defense deal’ with Trump, suggesting a deal is in the works
December 1: Flynn signs a plea deal with Mueller; he will plead guilty to lying to the FBI at the White House interview. In exchange his son gets out of charges, and Flynn himself escapes charges of failing to register his lobbying for foreign entities. He appears in court and admits under oath lying to the FBI and affirms that he understands the deal. ‘I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,’ he says. The White House says: ‘The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.’
December 2: Trump tweets: ‘I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI’
January: Flynn is repeatedly interviewed as he cooperates with Mueller and sentencing is repeatedly deferred
June 7: Obama deputy national security advisor reveals in book that Obama administration first learned of Flynn’s December 2016 communications with Kislyak from Trump transition team members and not from ‘unmasking’ his name in intelligence reports
December 18: Flynn appears in court for sentencing hearing; Mueller’s recommendation is little or no jail time. But Judge Emmet Sullivan says ‘arguably you sold your country out’ and asks why he was not charged with ‘treason.’ Sentencing is deferred
June 12: Flynn fires Covington & Burling, his white shoe law firm, and hires new lawyer Sidney Powell, who had told him on Fox News to ditch his plea deal
August 30: Flynn files motion accusing prosecutors of conning him into a guilty plea by withholding exculpatory material while other parts of the government trying to ‘smear’ him as a Russian agent
December 16: Judge rejects Flynn’s motion after reviewing Intel Inspector General report into the FBI and DOJ actions before the 2016 election and sets sentencing date for January 28
January 7: Prosecutors say they want up to six months for Flynn; a week later he files to ask to withdraw his guilty plea ‘because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement.’ A week later he asks for probation if he can’t get out of his deal. Sentencing is deferred until February 20
Attorney General Bill Barr appoints political appointee Jeffrey Jensen, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, to examine Flynn’s prosecution
New notes released by Jensen show Strzok discussing keeping Flynn as a target on January 4 2017. They also show an unnamed FBI official’s notes from around the interview with Flynn on January 24 2017, saying: ‘What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?’ Trump starts a tweet storm which lasts into the next day, saying: ‘What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!’
Department of Justice says it is withdrawing support for prosecuting Flynn saying the interview in the West Wing was ‘untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn’ and that it was ‘conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.’