In a report demonstrating the collapse in diplomatic relations between the current and previous president, the WSJ wrote overnight that rapport between Barack Obama and Donald Trump has “unraveled” with Trump “convinced that Mr. Obama is undermining his nascent administration” while Obama is “furious” over Trump tweets accusing him of illegal wiretapping. The WSJ notes that after shaking hands on Jan. 20, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the two presidents haven’t spoken since, “although Trump tried to call Obama to thank him for the traditional letter that one president leaves for his successor in the Oval Office.” The reason: Obama was traveling at the time and the two never connected.
As an amusing aside, the WSJ adds that the rift is distancing Mr. Trump from a former two-term president “who had offered to give private advice and counsel as the onetime businessman settles into his first job in public office.” Of course, if Trump is correct and Obama did in fact order a wiretap of the Trump Tower, Obama was actively seeking to impair the Trump campaign and chances for presidency, so that statement may seem a little suspect in retrospect.
Accuracy of the report notwithstanding, it is obvious that the bad blood between the two people has grown to unprecedented levels: Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the open friction has upended tradition, an “almost unwritten rule that you treat your predecessor with a degree of grace and decorum.”
“There are these kinds of things that have happened in the past, but nothing to the degree where a sitting president would charge his predecessor with a felony,” Mr. Brinkley said. “It creates a feeling of instability in the United States.”
Whether real or imagine, Trump and other White House officials believe that Obama loyalists sprinkled throughout the federal bureaucracy are behind leaks that are damaging his personnel, White House officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Obama wouldn’t comment to the WSJ on the claim. In fact, as NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a friend of Mr. Trump who sees him on weekends at the president’s Mar-a-Lago, said in an interview: “From what I’m hearing, Trump’s people think Obama is at war with them.”
“This president has been under siege since Day One from both the press and Obama loyalists and he’s reacting to it,” Mr. Ruddy said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that Obama loyalists inside the administration and outside are giving Donald Trump a lot of grief and a lot of problems.”
As is well-known by now, the animosity between Trump and Obama hit a climax last weekend, when Trump responded to recent allegations of ties to Russia by tweeting “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
Keeping a low profile in post-presidency, Obama – who is currently writing a book for which he will receive tens of millions in proceeds – had decided he wouldn’t respond to every intemperate Trump tweet, an aide said. “But he was livid over the accusation that he bugged the Republican campaign offices, believing that Mr. Trump was questioning both the integrity of the office of the president and Mr. Obama himself, people familiar with his thinking said.”
Ironically, as the WSJ adds, Obama had been critical of leaks when he was president, specifically those related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into the email use of Mrs. Clinton, his former secretary of state. “He was very quick to condemn it then and obviously his silence now is notable,” one White House official said Tuesday. Obama, in an interview with the mobile news outlet NowThis News just days before the November election, said that when it comes to investigations “we don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks—we operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
For now, Trump’s attacks on Obama continue, first responding to a Fox News report yesterday when he claimed incorrectly that a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees who returned to the battlefield were released under Mr. Obama’s watch (most were released under President Bush), followed by calling Obamacare “a total disaster” and said Mr. Obama had allowed Russia to grow “stronger and stronger” over eight years in office.
So far, Obama and his spokesman have not responded to those tweets; it is unclear how long the former president can hold his silence.