Remember back when Donald Trump got caught trying to use his leverage as a sitting U.S. president to pressure Ukraine into manufacturing a Joe Biden scandal? Remember how Trump got impeached for that (and then Senate Republicans came to his rescue so they could ensure the least competent man on the planet would preside over a shambolic response to a global pandemic that is ravaging the country)?
Well, who even needs a foreign government? Trump has moved on to just manufacturing the scandal himself, out in the open, with a little help from his Republican friends. It's got a name—"Obamagate!"—and it was bad, folks.
Here's Trump explaining it on Fox News Thursday morning.
"It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” Trump said. “If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would've been in jail a long time ago, & I'm talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what's happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax, in the history of our country. And people should be going to jail for this stuff, and hopefully a lot of people are going to have to pay. No other president should have to go through... (something something, Flynn, heroes, something something). ... This was all Obama. This was all Biden. These people were corrupt. The whole thing was corrupt. And we caught them."
Wow, whole lotta projection there, methinks.
*Quick reality check on what's happening in the rest of America outside of Trump's brain—a global pandemic rocking the U.S. has now claimed upward of 85,000 American lives. Okay, back to Trump's victimhood.
The good news is, more than likely, no other president will ever have to go through this again, because it's impossible to imagine any other president packing an entire administration with criminals, grifters, and traitors in the fashion that Trump has. It's singular. Full stop.
Second, what the hell was Trump even talking about with that fusillade of innuendo? He can't even explain it. Something vague about "unmaskers." Fortunately for Trump, he's now enlisted the U.S. government to try to pound this slap-dash fabrication into something digestible for voters.
It's effectively a two-prong effort mounted by Trump's top lawyer, Attorney General William Barr, and Senate Republicans to find anything at all they can use to smear former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden, therefore invalidating the original sin in Trump's view—the Russia investigation.
As we know, Barr has been abusing his power as the nation's top law enforcement official to try to unravel the underpinnings of the entire Russia probe. Barr’s latest move to drop the government's case against former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn (which has run into a delightful roadblock) is really the opening salvo in an ongoing effort.
But now Senate Republicans have picked up on this whole notion that Obama officials working on intelligence issues somehow did something sinister when they asked for the identities of U.S. citizens who had been under government surveillance to be "unmasked" to them. In fact, what they were doing is a totally routine part of doing one's job when you're working with sensitive intelligence. As the AP's Julie Pace points out, there were 9,529 unmasking requests in 2017; 16,721 in 2018; and 10,012 last year. Scandalous! Anyway, what these Obama officials wanted to know as they embarked on a transition in which people in the incoming administration had literally hundreds of contacts with Russians was to ascertain whether it was safe to reveal certain information and to whom. Ya know, an effort to protect the country from having sensitive information revealed to a foreign adversary that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded had interfered in the election.
In any case, several of the usual GOP suspects are taking up Trump's cause: Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Separately, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is launching yet another investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. That makes four—three originating at DOJ, and now another in Congress!
Trump already tweeted out some prescient advice for Graham this morning.
That pulled Graham back into relative sanity for a nanosecond. “I don’t think now’s the time for me to do that. I don’t know if that’s even possible,” Graham told a Politico reporter. Then Graham added, “I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for.”
No doubt. Please proceed, Trump (he really isn't smart enough to understand how badly Obama could shred him given everything he knows).
In case you want to listen to Trump’s drivel (the second clip below).