In what has been a shocker to President Donald Trump’s plea to have former President Barak Hussein Obama testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee over in the ever growing “Obamagate” scandal, was the Judiciary chairman Senator Lindsey Graham’s refusal to do so.
Trump wrote on Twitter: “If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC , just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!”
To those who are just beginning to tune into the latest election year theatrics, and are unclear as to what is Obamagate, welcome to the club. Obamagate refers to several scandals during the Obama administration, notably the misuse of government agencies, media manipulation, illegal wiretaping, in addition to domestic spying on U.S. citizens in order to intimidate political opponents and critics. By the election year of 2016, Obama officials vastly expanded the use of the foreign intelligence gathering apparatus as a weapon against domestic political opponents.
Trump’s ire surged after the Department of Justice Department’s (DOJ) motion to drop its criminal charges against his former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Simultaneously, the DOJ exhibited notes that further raised questions about the extent to which President Obama was privy to the actions taken by the FBI in its investigation of Flynn.
Obamagate: The Flynn Controversy
Incoming National Security Advisor Mike Flynn was accused of speaking with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. Flynn’s accusers said this was in violation of the Logan Act of 1799, which calls for the fine or imprisonment of private citizens who attempt to intervene without authorization in disputes or controversies between the United States and foreign governments.
Flynn initially lied to the FBI that he discussed lifting U.S. sanctions by the Obama administration against Russian for its cyberattacks aimed at interfering with the 2016 the presidential campaign with the Russian ambassador. He also lied about them to Vice President Mike Pence, which was the reason given for his dismissal—Flynn was not forced out when the president learned of the deception, but only when it was reported in The Washington Post; he eventually pleaded guilty to the charges.
There were other violations raised against Flynn, for which he was not held accountable as a result of his plea bargain:
- he had lied repeatedly about taking money from the Turkish government for lobbying Turkish government for lobbying, failing to file required documents.
- he appeared to have lied about who paid for a 2015 trip to Russia, where he sat with President Vladimir Putin.
- he was also involved in an arcane for-profit nuclear-reactor scheme in the Middle East.
As explained by political editor at The Federalist John Daniel Davidson, Trump’s grip is that the Obama administration already knew about the conversations with Kislyak because it had recordings of them thanks to a series of investigations it spun out of the Crossfire Hurricane—the code name for the counterintelligence investigation undertaken by the FBI in 2016 and 2017 into links between Trump associates and Russian officials were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections.
Obamagate: Crossfire Hurricane
- always intended to spy on the Trump Campaign
- failed to brief Trump about its Carter Page suspicions—Page is a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who had been under scrutiny by the FBI and by lawmakers probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
- spied on the Trump Administration
As it turns out, the FBI interviewed Flynn ahead of Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 to entrap him. The bureau’s former head of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, recorded in his notes, “What is our goal? Truth/Admission, or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” It was this discovery that vitiated the sincerity of the FBI to carry out and determine Mike Flynn had violated federal regulations.
Obamagate: The Argument and the Rebuff
Trump is arguing that, according to recently released documents dating back to February 8, 2018, the entire Russian investigation, amounted to organized effort organized effort by the Obama administration to nullify his 2016 presidential election victory, which eventually entrapped the former National Security Adviser and forced then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself.
While the Trump administration has yet to provide evidence to prove President Obama masterminded what Trump calls “the biggest political crime in American history, by far,” there is definitely enough to initiate hearing of corruption within the DOJ.
Despite Graham’s investigating the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation, which intends to bring in former senior Obama administration officials as witnesses, such as former FBI Director James Comey and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Graham brushed back Trump’s requests subpoena Obama warning of the precedent such an action would set.
“I don’t think now’s the time for me to do that. I don’t know if that’s even possible. I have grave concerns about the role of executive privilege and all kinds of issues,” Graham said in a brief interview. “I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you wish for.”
Obamagate: A Taste of His Own Medicine
It seems, unfortunate for President Trump, that he is getting a taste of his own medicine. Just last year blocked Congress’ request to interview his former White House counsel, Don McGahn—McGahn, who left his post in October 2018, was being sought by the Judiciary Committee about Trump’s efforts to impede former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit endorsed the Trump administration’s argument that the court had no place in settling the closely watched dispute between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. In doing so, it appeared to endorse an expansive view of presidential powers and prerogatives.
Graham’s reticence to call Obama and his decision to wait on calling other officials while other legal matters, including the Flynn case, play out have not sat well with some who believe the senator has not fulfilled his promise to investigate the officials involved with the Russia inquiry.
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs declared on his show in early March. “[Graham] hasn’t done a damn thing as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promising all the while that he will be investigating the investigators—he will be pursuing truth, justice, and the American way. He is an absolute nonentity!”
If a precedent on dealing with corrupt politicians was to be set, then Trump should have followed up on his campaign promise to investigate Hillary Clinton for using a private server and financial irregularities when she was Secretary of State. If he did not or could not go after Clinton, he will have a lot less luck going after Obama.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is author of Islam: Religion of Peace – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.