OPINION: Obamagate… What’s going on?

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Obamagate… What is it? Where did it come from? Has it really been going on a long time?

Obamagate is a difficult nut to crack, to put it simply, it is the term being used to describe the alleged crimes committed by 44th U.S. President Barack Obama, and it has blown up all over the internet over the past two weeks, with a simple search of the term on Twitter offering up hundreds of results all in support of sitting President Donald Trump’s claim that it was happening before he became president and that it has been going on for a very long time.

Okay then, that explains that. One more question though: What exactly has been going on a long time?

Well, this is where it gets tricky. When asked what the crimes Obama is being accused of were, President Trump’s response was that “the crime is very obvious to everybody” which, as an answer, doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Obamagate seemingly refers to the fact that, while in power, President Obama (or at the very least some of his senior officials) used his position in an unconstitutional manner to conduct investigations into Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, who was talking to foreign parties that were under scrutiny by the United States intelligence surveillance community.

Flynn, who was fired by Trump for lying about conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and yet has recently seen a move by the Attorney General, William Barr, drop the case against him. The move is currently being contested by a federal judge.

Papers released by the Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, appear to show senior Obama administration officials making unmasking requests, of which the Flynn investigation appears to be one, there are questions however over whether or not Grenell declassified these papers selectively in order to aid President Trump in the upcoming election.

Barr has said that ongoing investigations into the origins of the investigation into the 2016 election interference by Russia would likely not lead to a criminal investigation into Obama or his Vice-President Joe Biden, adding that “Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime”.

So here are the facts put into context:

1 – Trump is under fire from the media for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and is attempting to push a major scandal involving his predecessor, possibly with the intention of drawing the focus away from the current crisis.

2 – Trump’s opposition in the upcoming general election is Obama’s VP, Joe Biden. A major investigation into the previous administration could damage Biden’s reputation and hinder his performance against President Trump.

– U.S. Attorney General William Barr has moved to drop the case against President Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was under investigation for holding talks with Russia.

4 – Papers were released that appear to show senior Obama officials, including Biden, making unmasking requests that may or may not be unconstitutional, are, according to Barr abuses of power, but are not necessarily Federal offences.

So the honest truth is, Trump may not necessarily be in the wrong for pushing Obamagate, if future evidence comes to light in his favour. But his doing so without clear, genuine evidence to back his claims makes it seem as though this is simply a distraction tool to draw the public’s focus away from his poor handling of the Covid-19 crisis and an attempt at weakening his presidential rival.

It is difficult to empathise with either side regarding this Obamagate scandal, particularly if the accusations that Obama’s administration made unconstitutional investigation requests turn out to be true. However, it is not difficult to say that a sitting U.S. President, during a global viral pandemic and economic crisis, should be capable of focussing on the task at hand and weighing his words wisely with regard to his predecessor.

As of yet, we cannot pass judgement on Obamagate with regard to either side, no matter how much we may wish to do so. All we can do is wait patiently and observe from the outside as the drama unfolds, refraining from jumping to conclusions and only making decisions on a highly informed basis.

It is a simple request, that we only make informed decisions, but it is one that oft-times proves difficult for all of us.

– Daniel Potter