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Trump: Obama ‘must have known’ about ‘coup’ to take him down
In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that Barack Obama “must have known” about the “coup” to take him down. While falling short of naming the former president as a conspirator, Trump suggested that the plot against him went “very high up.”
“I would say that [Obama] certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain,” Trump said. “But you’re going to find that out. I’m not going to make that statement quite yet, but I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”
Trump has accused top Obama administration officials of “treason” for allegedly attempting to thwart his candidacy — and later, his presidency — by leveraging the powers of the U.S. intelligence apparatus against his campaign and administration.
Trump: Obama knew
When Robert Mueller’s investigation wrapped up in March with no finding of collusion, Trump declared that an “illegal take-over” against him had failed and signaled that he would seek accountability for the conspirators behind the alleged plot against him. In the weeks since, Trump has directed Attorney General William Barr to “investigate the investigators” behind the Russia probe.
Speaking with ABC Sunday, Trump reiterated that Mueller’s investigation vindicated him before turning to the “set-up” against him by Obama administration officials.
“There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion,” Trump said. “That means they set — it was a set-up, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”
Trump referred to “low-life” top FBI agents like Peter Strzok, who exchanged anti-Trump texts with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, as evidence of a conspiracy against him. One of those messages referred to an “insurance policy” against Trump getting elected.
“You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you. Do you think President Obama was behind it?” Stephanopoulos asked. Trump replied that Obama “certainly must have known.”
.@GStephanopoulos: “You clearly believe that there was a group of people working against you. Do you think Pres. Obama was behind it?”
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 16, 2019
“Coup” falls under increasing scrutiny
Since Mueller’s no-collusion finding went public, Trump and his Republican allies have sought to bring more attention to alleged collusion between the Democratic Party and top intelligence officials in the Obama administration. Republicans have accused the Democrats of acting in tandem with the so-called “Deep State” to thwart Trump with a salacious, unverified political dossier paid for in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Trump’s comments come amid two investigations into the origins of the Russia probe. One of those probes, by the Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, is expected to wrap up soon. Meanwhile, Barr has appointed U.S. attorney John Durham to conduct a “multi-facted” and “broad” review of the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign.
Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed it was also investigating several “non-governmental organizations and individuals” as well as “foreign intelligence services,” Fox reported. The DOJ has also said that it is looking into the involvement of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, through which Clinton’s campaign hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele to put together the Russia dossier.
The actions of former FBI Director James Comey and other top officials have also come under scrutiny over signs of impropriety, including Comey’s decision to leak memos of private conversations with Trump to the press in hopes of sparking a special counsel investigation.
Finding the facts
As Trump himself faces scrutiny for comments last week that he would accept foreign election help, he has said that there ought to be more outrage over the fact that his campaign was spied on, possibly for political reasons. “They spied on the opposing party’s campaign using the intelligence apparatus of the United States,” the president told Fox last week.
Trump has been on a tear in recent weeks accusing top officials like Strzok and Comey of treason. Comey has insisted that the FBI’s conduct was above-board and totally normal. Meanwhile, Trump has largely alluded to Obama’s alleged involvement with a wink and a nod, rather than blaming him outright.
“Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked Trump at the end of their Sunday interview.
“I don’t know,” Trump replied. “But, hopefully, we’re gonna find out.”
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