Following the news feels more like a chore every single day. If you haven’t been paying attention this week, President Donald Trump is trying to frame former President Barack Obama for a scandal that doesn’t even exist. He’s not doing it behind the scenes, either—Trump is doing it as publicly as possible. Yes, it’s exactly as dumb as it sounds.
So what is Obamagate?
Obamagate is a scandal concocted by Trump (and conservative media) dating back to 2016. It basically states that Obama and U.S. intelligence agencies conspired to “plant a phony theory that Trump was colluding with Russia in order to win the 2016 election.” Basically everyone in the Trump orbit was framed, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Mueller investigation only to have current Attorney General William Barr drop those charges last week. The whole “conspiracy” relies heavily on the terms deep state and anti-Trump, often tied together.
Okay … so what is Obamagate really?
It’s a pretty naked attempt by Trump to distract from how badly he and his administration have handled the coronavirus pandemic. Anyone who isn’t a direct disciple of Trump’s cult knows it, too. Even some Congressional Republicans have broken with the president on peddling the conspiracy. Trump’s been blaming Obama for the coronavirus outbreak since it started, claiming that the “last administration” left him with “nothing” to fight it (another bald-faced lie). Obamagate is just a way to ramp up undue scrutiny on Obama as Trump fumbles his way through the worst public health crisis in modern memory. He’s manufactured this kind of distraction narrative before—think of the migrant caravan just before the 2018 midterm elections—but this one feels more blatant and obvious than those that came before it, in part because he’s so obviously full of shit.
What has Trump done to ignite the narrative?
This all started with a 126-long tweetstorm last Sunday during which the president generously used the hashtag #Obamagate. The news of Barr exonerating Flynn broke Friday and served as a jumping off point. Conservative media picked up on it, and Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have pushed it along its natural course. And when asked about it during a press briefing, Trump offered up an answer so brutally stupid it genuinely sounded like a parody of himself.
maybe the funniest video I’ve ever seen pic.twitter.com/x2oPAUyCpe
— Erik Strobl 🌹 🦝 (@erikstrobl) May 11, 2020
Damn, that’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard.
So what does this mean? Is Obama gonna be indicted or something?
Probably not, no matter how bad Trump wants it to happen. He’ll continue trying, though, at least through November’s general election. Don’t forget, this “scandal” also involves former Vice President Joe Biden, too, so Trump will use it to paint his opponent as corrupt. But its current purpose is to take media attention off his horror show of an administration. The bullshit isn’t going anywhere so long as Trump continues to bungle the coronavirus response—and there’s no reason to think he’ll stop doing that either.