An explosive new book by Edward Klein is making stunning accusations of former president Barack Obama, claiming that Obama and one of his top aides had formed a plot around Christmas to “destroy” the then president-elect.
The Washington Times reports on an excerpt of the book, entitled All Out War, which claims that former national security adviser Susan Rice hatched plans to “unmask, or disclose, the names of several Trump campaign associates who were mentioned or whose conversations were captured in intelligence intercepts of Russian officials.”According to Klein, Obama was in on it the whole time:
“He knew Rice wanted to encourage leaks to the Washington Post and the New York Times accusing Trump and his campaign of colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the American presidential election.”
“If Rice’s plot succeeded — that is, if it could be proved that Trump had colluded with Putin during the campaign or, later, if it could be proved that he had tried to prevent an investigation into such collusion — Trump would likely face charges of impeachment.”
Klein added that during the dinner that Rice explained her idea, Michelle Obama had expressed her own reservations, saying that the plot could “bite us in the ass.”
This plan might have been at work in January, when, according to the New York Times, Barack Obama expanded the National Security Agency’s ability to share globally intercepted personal communications with 16 other intelligence agencies before privacy protections were applied- significantly increasing the likelihood of leaks.
Edward Klein is a former editor of the New York Times who has written critically of Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past.
This book sounds like a fantastic read, and if the claims turn out being true, Michelle Obama might just be right about things coming back to “bite them in the ass.”President Barack Obama will deliver his last State of the Union (SOTU) address today in a very mixed political, economic and social climate. The ongoing presidential campaign has highlighted stark political divides within and between the two major political parties, and there is no rapprochement in sight between the White House and the Republican-dominated Congress.
The terrorist attack in San Bernardino has elevated national security issues and diverted the public attention away from seemingly positive improvements in the economy. The US economy continues to display solid growth and unemployment has been halved since Obama first came into office. Yet, some question the substance behind these numbers. There are also looming concerns over the global impact of China’s slowing economy and falling oil prices.
Furthermore, social issues such as the chronic problem of blocked gun reform, painfully slow progress in addressing structural racism and persistently high levels of income inequality demand swifter and more effective remedies. And these are just some of the select few domestic issues.
Add to the mix the growing complexity that the US faces in the foreign policy realm – from the protracted military campaign against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, escalating Saudi-Iranian rivalry, dilapidating security in Afghanistan, to the recent disturbances on the Korean peninsula and around South China Sea. Moreover, the relationship with some of those it considers allies have proven increasingly hard to navigate (such as with Israel and Turkey), while its competitors and rivals continue to pursue agendas that visibly counter American interests (such as China and Russia).
This is clearly not a comprehensive account of the state of affairs. Nonetheless, it is clear that president Obama will have a challenging task to improve the perception of his tenure in the White House and shaping his legacy in the last twelve months on the job. The latest opinion polls show that the majority of Americans disapprove of his performance, particularly on the foreign policy front.However, a lot can change over the course of a year. While SOTU addresses are far from being the magnets for attracting TV audience, Obama can use his last speech as an instrument to set the tone for his legacy and sum up the accomplishments. More pressingly, the president will almost certainly take the opportunity to offer broader vision that counters the prevalent pessimism and offer last remedies as the clock counts down to January 20, 2017.
The past few years have seen the emergence of a cottage industry of scholars, commentators and pundits who have been offering assessments of Obama’s presidency (this text inevitably adds to it). Many had ruled out major reforms after Democrats lost control of the Senate in the 2014-midterm elections and proclaimed that the president effectively became a lame duck.
Obama has been defiant in fighting off such image and has since taken significant executive action on a whole range of issues. Since late 2014, this has included carbon emissions deal with China, temporary amnesty for illegal immigrants, normalization of relations with Cuba, Iran nuclear deal, Paris climate deal and the latest executive action for tighter gun control.
Politics is the art of possible – president Obama has been exercising his power as the chief of executive branch faced with structural and contingent constraints. Through its checks and balances, the institutional design of the US political system invites a struggle between the executive and the legislature. Indeed, over the past years we have seen a fiery struggle around almost every piece of major reform that emanated from the White House.
Perhaps there is no imagery more apt to describe president’s frustration with political deadlock than last week’s press conference on gun control during which he was reduced to tears. Battles around healthcare legislation, financial system reform and debt ceiling will be remembered as other notable episodes.
The contingent factors influencing a presidency are the events and circumstances that have the ability to shape and sometimes define the presidency. Obama inherited Bush Jr’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the aftermath of the global financial crisis. His first years were marked by commitment to reverse and rectify many of his predecessor’s domestic and foreign policies. The Arab Spring revolutions and their consequences, racial tensions at home and recent terrorist attacks in the US and France have also tested president’s leadership.For those who had high hopes, Obama still has some unfinished business, given that some of the 2008 and 2012 campaign promises remain unfulfilled. In that vein, the administration has already signalled that we should soon expect the pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay detention camp become a reality.
Those who never liked him think that he either did too much and overstepped his powers (the so-called imperial presidency thesis), or that his efforts have been fruitless and weak on both domestic and foreign fronts.
Those who are satisfied with president’s efforts are currently in the minority. However, the passage of time tends to be favourable to opinion ratings of former presidents, so there is little doubt that in retrospect Obama will be judged less harshly.
What it boils down to is whether a presidency has been an exercise in transactional or transformational leadership. Great presidents are all said to have displayed the characteristics of the latter, as they inspire the nation, redefine some of the long-held beliefs and leave a lasting imprint on the way the country operates.
It is still too early to draw definitive conclusions about Obama’s presidency. Yet, there is no doubt that the symbolism of his election and re-election, as well as some of the most notable initiatives that brought back American liberalism to the forefront contribute to deeming his leadership style transformational.
Dr Gorana Grgic is a Lecturer in US Politics and Foreign Policy at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.
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