Posts tagged with "Former President Barack Obama"

Trump tells associate he’s trying to ‘get back at Dems’ for questioning legitimacy of his own election

November 23, 2020

President Donald Trump has admitted to a confidant that he knows he lost the election, but that he delaying the transition process—and is aggressively trying to sow doubt about the election results— in order to get back at Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of his own election in 2016, CNN reported on November 19..

The President’s refusal to concede, as CNN has previously said, stems in part from his perceived grievance that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his own presidency by saying Russia interfered in the 2016 election and could have impacted the outcome, people around him have said.

Trump continues to hold a grudge against those who he claims undercut his election by pointing to Russian interference efforts, and he has suggested it is fair game not to recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect, even though Clinton conceded on election night in 2016 and the Trump transition was able to begin immediately.

Trump is also continuing to process the emotional scars of losing to a candidate he repeatedly said during the campaign was an unworthy opponent. He again made no public appearances on Thursday, skipping the first coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in more than six months.

Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn’t want to concede, another source who is also familiar with the President’s thinking told CNN. His answer: No. You’re wrong. “Absolutely wrong,” according to one source.

“The most important thing we need to keep in mind is that Donald is in a unique position for him,” said Mary Trump, the President’s niece who wrote a damning account of his family life. “He’s never in his life been in a situation that he can’t get out of either through using somebody else’s money, using connections, using power. And not only is he in a unique position, he’s in a position of being a loser, which in my family, certainly, as far as my grandfather was concerned, was the worst possible thing you could be.”

The President, this source said, “doesn’t see” how bad the aftermath of all of this could be for the country, and for democracy itself. As usual, he’s focused on himself—not COVID-19,  or the transition.

Research contact: @CNN

Barr: U.S. Attorney’s probe not likely to focus on Obama, Biden—or ‘Obamagate’

May 20, 2020

How low will he go? Even at the behest of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr said on Monday that he “doesn’t  expect” either to investigate—or to subpoena for testimony— former President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Barr, who to date has been all too willing to do the president’s bidding, said the former heads of state would not be scrutinized as part of an examination into the origins of a federal probe looking at whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia. In doing so, he crushed Trump’s Obamagate hopes—making it clear that there would be no criminal prosecution.

Last year the AG appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to review the origins of the 2016 probe into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference. The investigation, according to people familiar with it, the Journal says, is proceeding on multiple fronts—examining how the initial allegations surfaced in 2016, as well as a separate 2017 U.S. intelligence report that concluded Moscow had interfered in the presidential election in part to help then-candidate Trump.

“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said in response to a reporter’s question during a news conference called to discuss updates to the probe of a shooting at a military base last year in Pensacola, Florida. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

A spokesman for Obama declined to comment to the Journal. Biden didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Barr didn’t provide details on exactly what or whom Durham was investigating, but he expressed concern generally about a trend to “gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories.”

He didn’t directly address remarks made in recent weeks by President Trump and some of his conservative allies that have suggested without evidence that. Obama and Biden—who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Trump’s expected 2020 opponent—had engaged in criminal acts to spy on his 2016 election campaign.

Speaking at the White House Monday afternoon, the president said he was a “little surprised” by  Barr’s announcement about the former president and vice president, adding that “if it was me, I guarantee they’d be going after me.” He said he had “no doubt” that. Biden and Obama were involved in what he called the “takedown of a president.”

Still, the president called Barr an “honorable man” and said he would rely on him to “make all of those decisions.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Obama endorses Biden

April 15, 2020

It’s like part two of a buddy movie: Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden for president on April 14—giving his friend and erstwhile partner the imprimatur he needs leading up to the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee.

In a video from his home, Obama portrayed Biden as the best leader for the country during a health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill reported.

“Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times, and heal us through a long recovery,” Obama said.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it’s that the spirit of looking out for one another can’t be restricted to our homes or our work places or our neighborhoods or houses of worship, it also has to be reflected in our national government,” Obama said.

“The kind of leadership that’s guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace. That kind of leadership doesn’t just belong in our state capitols and legislatures, it belongs in the White House, and that’s why I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.”

Obama’s endorsement is not a surprise: He and Biden have a close friendship that has endured beyond their time in the White House together.

The former president had decided to stay on the sidelines during the competitive Democratic primary—which at one point comprised 24 White House hopefuls—in an effort to not give the appearance that he was putting his thumb on the scale for any one candidate, The Hill said.

However, Biden seized control of the primary with a string of thunderous victories over Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Super Tuesday.

Sanders dropped out following the Wisconsin primary last week and endorsed Biden for president on April 13, a sign that the party’s progressive wing will rally around the presumptive Democratic nominee in an effort to defeat Trump.

With support from Obama and Sanders, Biden now has the biggest names from the party’s establishment and progressive wings to advocate on his behalf.

“Elections matter,” the former president said. “Right now, we need Americans of goodwill to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance, and just plain meanness. And to change that, we need Americans of all political stripes to get involved in our politics and our public life like never before.”

Research contact: @thehill

Behind closed doors, Obama talks up Warren to wealthy donors

December 24, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has friends in high places. In fact, The Hill reports, recently former President Barack Obama has gone to bat for Warren on the down-low when speaking to donors reluctant to support her given her knocks on Wall Street and the wealthy.

And if Warren becomes the nominee, Obama has said they must throw the entirety of their support behind her. The former president has stopped short of an endorsement of Warren in these conversations and has emphasized that he is not endorsing in the Democratic primary race.

But he also has vouched for her credentials, making it clear in these private sessions that he deems her a capable candidate and potential president, sources tell The Hill.

“He’s asked all of the candidates who have sought his advice three questions: Is your family behind you? Why you? And why now? She checked the box for all,” one longtime Obama ally told the political news outlet.

“I think he feels licensed to give an opinion on her because he’s ‘hired’ her,” the longtime Obama ally said.

Indeed, The Hill makes the point, while Biden is the best-known Obama figure running for president, he’s not the only one in the race to have worked for the administration. Julián Castro was the secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Obama, and Warren in 2010 became an assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury, where she helped set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“He obviously thinks she’s very smart,” one Democratic donor added. “He thinks her policy ideas matter. And I think he sees her running the campaign with the most depth.”

A source close to Obama said the former president would go to bat in the same way for any of the Democratic candidates running for president, pointing to comments Obama made last month.

“Look, we have a field that is very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service, and whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president,” the former president said in a question-and-answer session at a Democracy Alliance event in Washington.

Obama’s praise of Warren is a contrast of sorts from his days at the White House, The Hill says, when the two were said to have disagreements on economic issues—including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The tension between the president and Massachusetts senator frequently became fodder around the administration.

Since then, the friction has continued to make headlines, including the time in 2015 when Obama was dismissive of Warren’s opposition to the TPP.

Now, as she runs for president herself, Warren has distanced herself from some Obama’s policies but has also spoken glowingly about the time in 2002 when she met Obama — who remains enormously popular among Democratic voters.

Last week, more than 200 lower- and mid-level Obama staffers who worked on his presidential campaigns and in his administration threw their support behind Warren.

To date, Warren has been unable to secure more senior-level Obama veterans. That support from the highest levels — including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — has gone to Biden.

According to The Hill, Obama remains “incredibly fond” of Biden and is watching his campaign with interest, said one Obama ally who has spoken to the former president. But Obama — who is currently in Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation — has intentionally sought to remove himself from the 2020 race. He has said he would not endorse anyone during the primary, including Biden, and is not expected to be out on the campaign trail until there is a nominee.

Obama hasn’t publicly singled out any of the candidates but occasionally, behind closed doors, he’ll offer assessments when he is asked. Those who know him well say that while he is stylistically and temperamentally different from Warren, “he appreciates her intellect and is impressed by the campaign she’s run.”

“If anything, she has the most substantive achievements from his time in the White House,” one former Obama aide told The Hill. “And he’s someone who can talk at length about her accolades.”

Research contact: @thehill

Poll: Obama’s endorsement would substantially sway 2020 Democratic voters

November 4, 2019

Does the endorsement of a candidate by a former U.S. president matter to Americans who are likely to vote in the 2020 election? Not unless the backing comes from Barack Obama, based on the results of a national poll conducted last week by USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll.

Obama, who left the White House nearly three years ago after completing two terms in office, polled as the top former president whose opinion mattered—with an overwhelming 67%.

The only other past presidential nominee who polled in double-digits was former President Jimmy Carter, the oldest living POTUS at age 95. In fact, 11% of respondents cited Carter—who is still actively building houses and doing other good works—as someone they admired who is still influential.

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were next in line, at 6% each. Al Gore, the 2000 nominee, was named by 3%; and Michael Dukakis (1988), John Kerry (2004), and Walter Mondale (1984), by 1% each.

Obama has yet to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary field, which includes his former vice president, Joe Biden.

However, Kate Pritchard, 63, a retired teacher from Durango, Colorado, told USA Today that should plans on supporting New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at the moment, but she’s not sure he can go the distance.

If Obama were to endorse a candidate, she said, she would back that person.

“That would be very powerful,” she said in a follow-up interview after being called in the survey.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Democrats are feeling it for the ‘Big O,’ as he endorses 81 midterm candidates

August 3, 2018

He’s back—and Democrats couldn’t be any more blissful: Former President Barack Obama has returned to the political stage, endorsing 81 of his party’s candidates for the crucial midterm elections.

According to an August 1 report by CBS News, the list includes 20 individuals who served in the Obama administration and are heeding words of advice the former president shared in his 2016 farewell address to the nation, when he encouraged Americans to “grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.”

The list of alums includes Richard Cordray, the former head of the now all-but-defunct Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who is running for governor of Ohio; Colin Allred, a former Justice Department official now running for Congress in a Dallas-area swing seat; Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Labor Department official now running an upstart campaign to defeat Representative Duncan Hunter in California’s 50th District; and Buffy Wicks, a former 2008 and 2012 Obama campaign aide seeking a California Assembly seat.

Overall, Obama has endorsed candidates running for offices ranging from governor to secretary of state and state auditor, CBS says.. The list also includes Gavin Newsom, the Democratic candidate for California governor; Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, who is seeking to make history as the first black woman elected governor in any state; Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis; and J.B. Pritzker, a longtime donor and Obama family friend who is running for Illinois governor.

Obama called his choices “a wide and impressive array of Democratic candidates – leaders as diverse, patriotic, and big-hearted as the America they’re running to represent.”

“I’m confident that, together, they’ll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity that’s broadly shared, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law,” Obama added. “But first, they need our votes – and I’m eager to make the case for why Democratic candidates deserve our votes this fall.”

The former president’s office did not immediately announce plans to campaign with the candidates he endorsed, but he vowed to do so in his statement. He has previously endorsed Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California); and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), one of the earliest supporters of his 2008 presidential bid who faces a difficult reelection fight.

Of the 81 candidates, 48 are women, 22 are minorities, and three are openly gay or transgender. For a full list, see the CBS News site.

Research contact: @edokeefe

Obama urges Americans to vote Democratic, whether candidates are charismatic or not

July 2, 2018

Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on June 28 in Beverly Hills, California—the first of three at which he has committed to appear—former President Barack Obama said that, although the political situation is dire, the party should not resort to magical thinking about a hero such as himself coming back to save the day.

He warned of a country and a world on the brink — “you are right to be concerned,” he told the crowd — but said they’d flub their chance to change that if they kept pining for a savior, according to a report by Politico.

Instead, he focused on getting out the vote for the midterm elections in support of Democrat candidates—charismatic or not.

Do not wait for the perfect message, don’t wait to feel a tingle in your spine because you’re expecting politicians to be so inspiring and poetic and moving that somehow, ‘OK, I’ll get off my couch after all and go spend the 15-20 minutes it takes for me to vote,’” Obama said in his first public comments in months, Politico noted, adding, “because that’s part of what happened in the last election. I heard that too much.”

He pointed out that “[The Republicans] don’t worry about inspiration. They worry about winning the seat and they are very systematic about work—not just at the presidential level, but at the congressional and state legislative levels.”

As usual, Obama refrained from referring to President Donald Trump by name in public, but he spoke at length about the problems he perceives in the current administration — and why he thinks Democrats would be foolish to assume that they have mounted the opposition to beat him just because they’ve been doing well in winning recent elections.

“Fear is powerful,” Obama said, referring to the POTUS’s tactics to undermine the American ethos. “Telling people that somebody’s out to get you, or somebody took your job, or somebody has it out for you, or is going to change you, or your community, or your way of life — that’s an old story and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it.”

The former president did not get into specifics about immigration, the Supreme Court vacancy, world trade, or foreign affairs. His only direct comments on current events were about the newspaper office shooting in Maryland earlier Thursday; which he said left him heartbroken but hopeful that people would see this one as the turning point to take action on gun laws, Politico reported.

Instead, he talked mostly in general terms about how the Republicans and Democrats tell “different stories.”

“There’s a fundamental contrast of how we view the world,” Obama said. “We are seeing the consequences of when one vision is realized, or in charge.”

A new national message will come, Obama argued, as the 2020 field of presidential candidates emerges. The people who are looking for one now are being ridiculous, he said, but if they needed something to hold them over, he said his own old slogan still works.

 “All these people [who] are out here kvetching and wringing their hands and stressed and anxious and constantly watching cable TV and howling at the moon, ‘What are we going to do?,’ their hair’s falling out, they can’t sleep,” Obama said. “The majority of the American people prefer a story of hope. A majority of the American people prefer a country that comes together rather than being divided. The majority of the country doesn’t want to see a dog-eat-dog world where everybody is angry all the time.”

The former president characterized the Republican effort to torpedo Obamacare as an opportunity for Democrats.

“Reality has an interesting way of coming up and biting you, and the other side has been peddling a lot of stuff that is so patently untrue that you can get away with it for a while, but at a certain point, you confront reality,” he said. “The Democrats’ job is not to exaggerate; the Democrats’ job is not to simply mimic the tactics of the other side. All we have to do is work hard on behalf of that truth. And if we do, we’ll get better outcomes.”

Research contact: @IsaacDovere

Trump blows off Iran nuclear deal

May 10, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that he intends to withdraw from the Iran deal—pitting him against the nation’s closest allies and leaving the future of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in question, according to a report by CNN.

Signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015, the deal represented a preliminary framework agreement between Iran and six world powers—Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States—to lift United Nations sanctions on the Islamic Republic once Iran conformed to a set of nuclear-related commitments.

President Trump’s announcement of U. S. withdrawal from the multi-nation Iran agreement is an action that divides the country politically and ideologically, and a decision on which more than one-third of the country takes no position, based on findings of an Economist/YouGov poll of 1,492 U.S. adults fielded during recent. But more respondents say that America should not withdraw than think it should.

Indeed, 19% of registered Republicans say that the United States should have remained a party to the agreement. However, twice as many (51%) disagree and support the President’s decision, and 31% say they just don’t know. Republicans say they have heard more about the agreement than have Democrats and Independents.

Among registered Democrats, 60% say the deal was vital to national security, 11% approve of Trump’s action, and 29% don’t know.

And among registered Independents, 32% support withdrawal, 39% support the deal, and 29% don’t know.

Overall, 26%of respondents say the U.S.A. should withdraw; 36% say it shouldn’t, and 37% just don’t know.

The poll suggests a certain amount of hope for the future with Iran: Fully 35% believe the United States can negotiate a better agreement with the country many regard as an enemy, but more than one-quarter disagree.

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com

Angelina Jolie, Bill Gates top global most-admired list

April 12, 2018

The number-one most-admired woman in the world does not even make the top ten on America’s list.

Based on findings of YouGov’s annual research on the most-revered public figures on the planet, released on April 11, Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie are the favorites among the 37,000 people in 35 countries who responded to the poll.

In the United States, the two top picks are a husband-and-wife team—former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama—both of whom took second place on the global list.

Tech pioneer and philanthropist Gates has topped the list every time YouGov has conducted the survey, while Jolie has also come first in each of the three surveys since 2015 when separate male and female categories were introduced.

Worldwide, the top ten men (in order of popularity) include: Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Jackie Chan, Xi Jinping, Jack Ma, Vladimir Putin, Dalai Lama, Narendra Modi, Amitabh Bachchan, and Cristiano Rinaldo.

Top women globally are Angelina Jolie, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II, Hilary Clinton, Emma Watson, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, and Taylor Swift.

Entertainers dominate the female top twenty, with 14 of the most admired women being actresses, singers or TV presenters (although some, like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, are also notable for their humanitarian work). By contrast, the list of most admired men contains more people from political, business and sporting backgrounds.

Former U.S. presidential couple Barack and Michelle Obama occupy the two second place spots, representing a three-position rise for Michelle and no change for Barack. The 44th American president is 15 places higher than the man that replaced him – with Donald Trump going up one place since the last study. In fact, the last U.S. president ranks higher than the incumbent in all countries surveyed bar one: Russia.

In the United States, the top-ten list of men includes: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Billy Graham, Pope Francis, Bill Gates, Dwayne Johnson, Clint Eastwood, Bernie Sanders, Dalai Lama and Elon Musk.

The list of most-admired women comprises Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Condoleeza Rice, Malala Yousafzai, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Melania Trump.

Thirteen Americans – six men and seven women – made the global list. While Gates and Obama held on to their spots from last year, Donald Trump and Warren Buffett—two figures lauded for their business acumen—improved their rankings from the last poll. The list also welcomes two male newcomers: Elon Musk and Michael Jordan.

Many of the women, save Hillary Clinton, also see improvements in their ranks. Elizabeth Warren makes her first appearance this year on YouGov’s Most Admired list—at number 13 in the United States and number 20 globally.

Research contact: matthew.smith@yougov.com