What Obama Is Forgetting in His Comparison of Trump to a Dictator

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Posted: Nov 16, 2020 7:30 AM
What Obama Is Forgetting in His Comparison of Trump to a Dictator

Source: AP Photo/Morry Gash

During an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday, former President Barack Obama compared President Trump and his refusal to concede the election as lawsuits mount and recounts are conducted, to a dictator who do anything to stay in power.

His response came after Scott Pelley asked what “these false claims of widespread election fraud” are doing to the U.S.

Noting that Trump “doesn’t like to lose,” Obama said he’s more concerned that other Republicans are “humoring him.”

“It is one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path,” he said. “I think that there has been this sense over the last several years that literally anything goes and is justified in order to get power. And that's not unique to the United States. 

“There are strong men and dictators around the world who think that, ‘I can do anything to stay in power. I can kill people. I can throw them in jail. I can run phony elections. I can suppress journalists.’ But that's not who we're supposed to be,” he continued. “And one of the signals I think that Joe Biden needs to send to the world is that, ‘No, those values that we preached, and we believed in, and subscribed in-- we still believe.’”

The comment is rich coming from Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama, who reportedly bragged about how he’s “really good at killing people” with drones. By the end of his second term, he had authorized 542 drone strikes in the Middle East, Africa, and South Central Asia that "killed an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians," according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Beyond that, the Obama administration’s record on 'suppressing journalists' is abysmal.

Trump may use extraordinary rhetoric to undermine trust in the press, but Obama arguably went farther — using extraordinary actions to block the flow of information to the public.

The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort.

In 2013 the Obama administration obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones, seizing them without notice, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot.

AP was not the target of the investigation. But it called the seizure a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news-gathering activities, betraying information about its operations “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”

Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak.

“The Obama administration,” The New York Times editorial board wrote at the time, “has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.” (Associated Press)

"With the decision to label a Fox News television reporter a possible 'co-conspirator' in a criminal investigation of a news leak, the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news," The New York Times editorial board wrote in a 2013 editorial.