Donald Trump’s latest phony Obama scandal, “Obamagate,” appears to be losing steam, and he’s not getting any more traction with it outside of his cult-like base than he did any of the first half dozen times he tried it. The assertion that somehow, some nebulous combination of the FBI, the NSA, Barack Obama, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, Jim Clapper, and/or John Brennan conspired to “spy” on the Trump campaign and transition team is not new. They’ve tried it a number of times, and not only has it sputtered and flamed out every time, but they’ve also managed to make Obama look better in the process by revealing evidence that exonerates him of wrongdoing.
Right out of the gate, there was “Obama had my wires tapped,” but nobody took it seriously because it definitively did not happen. Next, after the New York Times reported that the FBI had planted an informant in the Trump campaign, Trump went off the rails about “Spygate!” This was immediately debunked by senior Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy after a classified briefing, and it turns out there never even was an informant. Then there was the claim that FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were somehow “caught” in a conspiracy to frame Trump and his cohorts, but once again, that went down in flames when the Inspector General found that all decision related to the investigation were handled properly and in accordance with FBI policy. Then Attorney General Bill Barr poured gasoline on it when he told Congress last year that, “I think spying did occur,” but once again, the Inspector General said no.
You would think that after being publicly made to look foolish so many times, they would give up this fatally flawed narrative. But no. As Donald Trump desperately tries to deflect attention away from his abysmal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worsening Saudi arms sale scandal that is growing new legs by the day, he has decided to sing some of his greatest hits to his shrinking base and trotted out “Obamagate” as the latest iteration of this thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory. Nobody outside of Fox News seems to care much, though, and looking at the Google trend report, it looks like it’s already on life support after just a week.
In a last ditch effort to breathe some life back into this non-scandal, the Trump administration on Tuesday declassified a January 20, 2017 email from Susan Rice that was supposedly the smoking gun for all this conspiracy mongering. It described a January 5, 2017 meeting between President Obama, Joe Biden, James Comey, Sally Yates, and Susan Rice, in which they discussed the national security situation as it relates to Michael Flynn, the incoming National Security Adviser. And of course, it says absolutely nothing of the sort that the Trumpkins are claiming. In fact, it says the complete opposite.
Obama opened the meeting by stressing that he wanted everything done strictly “by the book” and instructed the law enforcement personnel in the room to proceed as they normally would and avoid any political influence, and Comey assured him that was happening. The discussion then turned to matters of national security, which is entirely proper for a president to be involved in, and Comey raised counterintelligence concerns about Flynn because of the frequency with which he was speaking to Sergei Kislyak, a known senior Russian spy. Obama asked if that meant there were certain sensitive things in regard to Russia that shouldn’t be shared with Flynn, and Comey replied, “Potentially.” Absolutely scandalous stuff, right?
Only in the upside-down Bizarroland world of Donald Trump and his deranged minions is a meeting where the President says he wants things done “by the book” anything other than a complete and total exoneration of Barack Obama. How they thought that would help their case at all is a complete mystery to me, because what they’ve actually done is blow a massive hole in their own conspiracy theory by showing the President’s commitment to the rule of law. The more they try to push this “scandal,” the more they end up exonerating the Obama administration and making themselves look stupid.
The gross incompetence of the Trump administration would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. There’s an old saying: When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Somebody needs to tell these clowns.