The Fake ‘Obamagate’ Is Trump’s New Birther Con | Dick Polman

The Fake ‘Obamagate’ Is Trump’s New Birther Con | Dick Polman

Trump’s pathetic competitive obsession with his predecessor knows no bounds, and now that his deadly failures are being fully exposed, he actually thinks he can distract the public with yet another lie about the guy who easily tops him as a president and as a man.

With 80,000 Americans dead and no plan to staunch the pandemic, America’s Mortician went wild on Mother’s Day with a fake charge that President Obama committed “the biggest political crime in American history by far” when he (supposedly) conspired to rig the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton by ginning up a Trump-Russia investigation.

Trump had previewed his new con two days earlier, on Fox & Friends: “If anyone thinks that (Obama) and Sleepy Joe didn’t know what was going on, they have another thing coming.”

It’s a waste of time to fact-check that rubbish, because that would be playing Trump’s game. We all know what Russia did in 2016 and which candidate it boosted — as a Republican-led Senate report recently confirmed yet again. And we all know that Obama’s FBI director publicly intervened in the 11th hour of the campaign against Hillary, without telling voters that the bureau was also probing Trump-Russia. And Trump’s lies about Obama have been repeatedly shredded, from the birthplace lie that Trump finally admitted to the scurrilous lie about an Obama wiretap at Trump Tower.

Sorry for all that foreplay. But I needed to set the stage for what happened Monday at Trump’s latest propaganda briefing. After he finished boasting about all the great virus testing that America is doing (another lie), he took a question from Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, who asked what crime exactly he was accusing Obama of committing.

Accusing one’s predecessor of a crime is a fairly serious matter. And since Trump touted himself last Friday as our “chief law enforcement officer,” it’s reasonable to ask what crime he thinks Obama committed. What’s your answer, Officer Trump?

“Uh, Obamagate! It’s been going on for a long time, it’s been going on from before I even got elected, it’s a disgrace that it happened and if you look at what’s been gone on and if you look at now all of this information that’s being released and from what I understand that’s only the beginning. Some terrible things happened and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again and you’ll be seeing what’s going on over the coming weeks and I wish you’d write honestly about it but unfortunately you choose not to.”

That word salad had less nutrition than a bag of potato chips. Rucker waited patiently until the agitprop was over. Then he repeated his question:

“What is the crime, exactly? That you’re accusing him of?”

Trump, apparently drawing on his degree from the Trump University School of Law, responded with this scholarly reading of the U.S. criminal code:

“You know what the crime is, the crime is very obvious to everybody.”

And that was it. Trump’s latest con probably clicks with his cultists, who still believe whatever he says (“Obamagate makes Watergate look small time”), but this is not 2016 anymore. Now he has a track record, and it’s strewed with the bodies of tens of thousands of people who’d still be alive if he hadn’t ignored his winter intelligence briefings; if he hadn’t spent two crucial months lying and living in denial — and many more will die as he pushes to reopen a nation before mass testing is ready. No wonder Obama is calling Trump’s pandemic response “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

But if Trump can’t successfully use Obama to distract us from his failures, perhaps he can try someone else. Maybe Joe Scarborough would work! The host of “Morning Joe” has been holding Trump accountable, so why not baselessly accuse Joe of something serious? Nineteen years ago, a Scarborough staffer died from a heart ailment. Hence, this new Trump tweet:

“When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”

Obama got off easy. At least this time, Trump specified a crime.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at

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