Former President Obama was livid over accusations President Trump made about him on Twitter last weekend. The Wall Street Journal reports the relationship between the former and current presidents, which never seemed especially strong, has been deteriorating since the inauguration:
Christopher Ruddy, a friend of Mr. Trump who sees him on weekends at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., 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.”…
Keeping a low profile in post-presidency, Mr. Obama 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.
There’s no doubt that a chorus of former Obama aides, including Ben Rhodes, Samantha Power, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Favreau and others have been taking aim at Trump online for weeks. That doesn’t necessarily mean Obama is behind it but his former top aides wouldn’t be piling on Trump against his wishes. In other words, Obama may not have started it but he certainly could yank their chains if he felt the constant attacks on the new president were crossing a line.
As for Trump’s claim about Obama ordering wiretapping of Trump Tower, there is no evidence that is true at this point. Was there some surveillance at Trump Tower involving the FISA court? Maybe so, though it’s not clear wiretapping was involved. As Jonah Goldberg argued at National Review, if there is something to this story then it becomes all the more important Trump handle it the right way:
Even if Trump is absolutely positively 100 percent right about this; even if Barack Obama sent an elite squad of high tech ninjas into Trump tower to bug everything they could: His tweets would still be a very bad way to go. If this allegation were true, it would rock the country, according to virtually every conservative supporter of the president. True enough. So, all the more reason to call in your attorney general and the congressional leadership and figure out the most mature and reasonable way to proceed. That’s not what he did. He did the very opposite of that.
The relationship between Trump and Obama has soured and with good reason. President Trump ought to clarify his tweets based on evidence, evidence which he as president has access to. This is much too big a claim to toss out and not back up with something. And if President Trump can’t back up what he claimed Saturday, he owes the former president an apology.
For his part, Obama wants to have it both ways. He wants to pretend he’s above the fray and showing great restraint, but he also seems content to have his closest former aides constantly tearing into the new administration. The current White House is not wrong that this seems a bit like a campaign by the previous administration to damage the new one. Obama could personally do a lot to lower the temperature in Washington, D.C. by putting his attack dogs back on a leash.