In this case, the former president would be Barack Obama.
Colluding with the FBI
Obama plays only a supporting actor role in both instances but is an unnecessarily passive one.
The corrupt drama in the FBI, detailed in the 316-page report from the office of Special Counsel John Durham, began under the Obama administration.
We know now that the highest levels of Obama’s law enforcement and national security apparatus were aware Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was pushing for a baseless investigation.
“This criminal abuse of power went all the way up to the Oval Office where President Obama and then Vice-President Joe Biden were in on it from the very beginning,” said House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y. “This was an unlawful attempt by the politicized FBI and DOJ to meddle in our elections.”
The government received intelligence in July 2016 alleging that the Clinton campaign approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisors to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services,” the Durham report explains.
Then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed this intelligence to then-President Obama, then-Vice President Biden, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and then-FBI Director James Comey. However, all engaged in what The Wall Street Journal called “willful ignorance.”
No, that doesn’t mean Obama should have stepped in to halt the probe. But it does demonstrate that the president was aware the federal law enforcement working for him was carrying out a bogus investigation against the political opposition–prompted by the campaign of his former secretary of state.
Allowing Frivolous and Bogus Investigations
An honorable leader and a patriot would have spoken up regardless of party. In a non-banana republic, both political parties would agree that the power of the federal law enforcement complex should not be the tool of the party in power to attack the opposition party.
So many people–not entirely without merit–have accused Trump of violating norms. As president, Trump would pout childishly, tweet dumb things, and call people ridiculous names. Trump is of course his own worst enemy on some fronts. This wasn’t one of those fronts.
If a president is to blame, it’s Obama, even if he didn’t initiate this. The executive branch – under Obama’s watch – weaponized the federal government for election meddling.
That’s one of the worst norm violations imaginable in a democracy.
Investigating President Trump
But Trump won the 2016 election despite that. The investigation that had commenced when he was a candidate was cranked up throughout most of his presidency.
Earlier this month, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee released a 36-page memo highlighting bank records that showed while Joe Biden was vice president his family members netted $10 million from Chinese and Romanian sources that were funneled through 20 LLCs.
This came shortly after the same committee subpoenaed the FBI for information about an alleged bribery scheme with Biden while he served as vice president. A whistleblower brought the information to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Grassley and Oversight Chairman James Comer wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray that said the document “describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.”
The FBI is so far stonewalling, having missed the committee’s deadline. We don’t know whether the documents will be a bombshell or a nothing burger.
Still, it’s completely consistent with what is known based on the bank records about a family that uses the “big guy’s” political office to cash in through a web of LLCs.
Are we to believe Obama never suspected something was happening with his vice president, as he assigned him with significant tasks such as traveling to China and Ukraine?
It is plausible, even if we know that Obama was aware of the flaws behind Crossfire Hurricane.
Obama is significantly more likable and popular than his two successors. Maybe it’s unlikely he actively assisted in either of these scandals. But passively turning his head to wrongdoing is not a positive legacy.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is an opinion writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.