Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker asked Trump about the term at a press briefing.
“Mr. President, in one of your Mother’s Day tweets, you appeared to accuse President Obama of the biggest political crime in American history,” he noted. “What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing, and do you believe the Department of Justice should prosecute him?”
Trump responded: “Obamagate. It’s been going for on a long time ... from before I even got elected. It’s a disgrace that it happened ... Some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.”
Rucker: “What is the crime exactly?“
Trump: “You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers — except yours.”
Trump’s Twitter attack included a retweet of a fringe, right-wing podcast claiming that Obama somehow tried to “sabotage” the new administration — a theme many of his rightwing allies have been parroting, especially in the wake of Attorney General William Barr’s controversial ― and widely criticized ― move to drop charges against ousted Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Trump’s targeting of Obama on Sunday came after the former president, in leaked comments to former aides, characterized his successor’s handling of the nation’s coronavirus crisis as an “absolute chaotic disaster.”
Obama also ripped Barr’s actions in the Flynn case an “assault on the rule of law.”
Flynn had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about secret talks with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. and reputed spymaster Sergey Kislyak during the interim between Trump’s election and his inauguration. The talks occurred after the Kremlin had interfered in the 2016 presidential election, U.S. intelligence determined, and the Obama administration was imposing sanctions on Russia.
Someone pleading guilty to perjury and then getting off “scot-frees [is] the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that ... our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” Obama said in a tape of his phone call. “And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly.”