The coddling of the American presidency during President Barack Obama’s administration preempted the outright assault against President Donald Trump.
Now, after a supposedly unexpected return from the Justice Department following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a previously unreported off-the-record interview between Obama and the sycophantic press has proved prescient, but likely not in the intended way as the outgoing commander-in-chief had warned: “eight years would be a problem.”
On Friday, Bloomberg’s Jason Leopold reported that his five-year-old request for documents related to now-former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had come back with the unexpected inclusion of an interview Obama did with members of the press on Jan. 17, 2017, three days before Trump’s inauguration.
#FOIAFriday SCOOP: DOJ released a doc to me in response to a 5 year old #FOIA request. It's a doc I didn't specifically ask for. It's a transcript of an off the record discussion Obama had with reporters about Trump, et al, 3 days before he left office
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) September 30, 2022
During the conversation that covered a range of topics, the president cautioned the reporters on how best to go after Trump because his being reelected would hamper the “norms” of Washington, D.C.
“I think four years is OK. Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be OK. Eight years would be a problem,” he asserted. “I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.”
“I think if you’re jumping after every insult or terrible thing or a bit of rudeness that he’s doing and just chasing that,” Obama advised. “I think there’s a little bit of a three-card Monte there that you have to be careful about. I think you have to focus on a couple of things that are really important and just stay on them and drive them home.”
Lacking self-awareness as progressives often do, the president also offered some telling remarks that apple to President Joe Biden’s administration as corporate media has joyfully returned to covering for every misstep and apparent wrongdoing stemming from the White House now that it is occupied by a Democrat again.
After his administration had been accused of using the IRS to target conservative organizations, (looking at you Lois Lerner), Obama was reportedly worried about the potential politicization of agencies like the FBI saying their real power is scary if “it wants your stuff, and the Justice Department starts investigating you for long periods of time, even if you have nothing to hide.”
“I would be like white on rice on the Justice Department. I’d be paying a lot of attention to that. And if there is even a hint of politically motivated investigations, prosecutions, et cetera, I think you [reporters] have to be really on top of that.”
Obama said his No. 1 concern about the then incoming Trump administration was the potential politicization of law enforcement pic.twitter.com/QUcMYMqxH8
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) September 30, 2022
As it happened, the Justice Department was the ones who authorized the release of these documents to Leopold at the same time the Republican members of Congress are cracking down on the FBI for violating whistleblower protections as agents have come forward to expose improprieties within the organization, including allegedly violating procedure to make “domestic violent extremism” appear to be a large, nationwide problem.
Meanwhile, Obama’s take on foreign policy was also a foreshadowed shot against Biden as, lacking Trump’s strong presence on the world stage, Biden’s feeble response to threats has allowed Russia and China to thrive.
“[Russia and China] sit back and wait to see what kind of consensus we’re building globally, they see if sometimes they can make sure their equities are protected, but they don’t initiate. If we’re not there initiating ourselves, then everybody goes into their own sort of nationalist, mercantilist corners, and it will be a meaner, tougher world,” Obama said, “and the prospects that arise will be greater.”
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