No foe provokes Donald Trump like Barack Obama. Now, their animosity is taking center stage in the 2020 presidential race.

It’s raged for a decade, ever since Trump joined the racist chorus questioning Obama’s legitimacy.

Some think the former president’s derisive response at a 2011 Washington press dinner of Trump’s repeated but unproven claim that Obama was born in Kenya helped spur the real estate mogul to seek the presidency.

As president, Trump has sought to obliterate Obama’s legacy, from Obamacare to the Iran nuclear agreement.

Now, Obama has decided to go public with pointed criticism of Trump’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the president to launch an incendiary new line of attack suggesting his predecessor masterminded a criminal conspiracy to undermine him.

He calls it “Obamagate,” invoking other political scandals since “Watergate” sank Richard Nixon. Trump wants Senate Republicans to investigate the former president, a demand they have so far wisely resisted.

In a sense, it’s typical Trump, changing the subject when under fire. It’s also created the odd situation of a campaign debate between the president and his predecessor, rather than his likely Democratic rival.

That poses problems for both sides. Obama’s prominence makes presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden look disengaged from the debate. But Trump is showing his unpleasant side even some backers disdain.

Besides, of the three, Obama is the most popular, raising a question if it’s politically wise for Trump to elevate his role in this election.

When Trump joined the “birthers” questioning Obama’s legitimacy, many thought he was trying to establish Republican bona fides. At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — with Trump present — Obama retaliated.

As his legitimate Hawaii birth certificate flashed on screens, Obama said “no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” adding “that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

Mocking Trump’s “credentials and breadth of experience,” he compared his choices on “Celebrity Apprentice” with “the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.”

Though Trump denied that affected his decision to run, Obama became his frequent target, in the campaign and afterward.

He blamed Obama national security officials for what he calls the “Russia hoax,” the contention Russia helped him win the presidency that led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year probe, whose origins various Republicans are now investigating.

But his verbal animus soared after a leaked phone call in which Obama called the government’s handling of the pandemic an “absolute chaotic disaster.”

On Mother’s Day, Trump unleashed 126 tweets and retweets, many bearing the hashtag OBAMAGATE and attacking Obama’s criticism of the administration’s decision to drop the prosecution of ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn.

A typical rejoinder retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton’s claim “the outgoing president used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration.” Added Trump: “The biggest political crime in American history, by far!”

On May 11, The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker asked Trump at a White House press briefing what Obama’s alleged crime was.

“Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time,” Trump replied. “It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at now, all this information that’s being released — and from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.”

He told Fox Business network’s Maria Bartiromo that Obama “probably directed” security officials who “tried to take down the duly elected President of the United States.”

And he tweeted, “If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING.” He aimed the tweet at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is investigating the Russian probe’s origins.

Obama’s response: “Vote.” Then, in two virtual graduation speeches last Saturday, he questioned Trump’s handling of the pandemic — without mentioning his name.

He told graduates of historically black colleges and universities the pandemic “has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that some of the folks in charge know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” he added, a seeming reference to Trump’s assertion he bears no responsibility for COVID-19 testing failures.

Later, Obama told a nationally televised program honoring high school graduates the pandemic showed “A lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs” still favor “doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy.” That “is why things are so screwed up,” he said.

Trump’s twitter response: “OBAMAGATE.” On Sunday, he called Obama a “grossly incompetent” president.

With polls showing Trump lagging in key states, he is undoubtedly trying to fire up his conservative base. But he risks firing up Obama, who would like nothing better than to oust the man who would destroy his legacy.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. Readers may write to him via email at: carl.p.leubsdorf@gmail.com.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

(44) comments

morel hunter

I can only hope that Trump's predecessor follows in his footsteps and has investigations based on conspiracy theories. I'm sure there are a lot of unlawful actions under Trump. Let's start with the meeting at Trump Tower with his son and Russian's. It was admitted by his son that he lied that the meeting wasn't about Russian adoptions. Can't wait. Looking at Trump's conspiracy indictments, which is zero; he is in for a world of hurt once he is voted out. Just remember, Trump started the banana republic with his bogus Obamagate and Biden/Ukraine. I hope he reaps what he sows.

TwoDawgs56

Since Grenell has been declassifying documents by the truckload, Obamagate is no longer a vast right-wing conspiracy. It’s clear that the Obama directed the deep state actors to sabotage the Trump Presidency. But what’s equally bad is that Democrat activists masquerading as journalists turned a blind eye. If Bush staged this coup against Obama, journalists would have lost their minds. Had today’s so-called journalists been covering Watergate, and Nixon was a Dem, they’d be covering for Nixon. Obamagate is going to make Watergate look like a sweet-sixteen party.

morel hunter

No, it is not clear that "Obama directed the deep state actors to sabotage the Trump Presidency". It is more than likely a lie. Should our intelligence agency's investigate when another country is interferring with our elections? According to you and your ilk, no.

morel hunter

Your statement has no facts, just right wing talking points. As usual with Trump, there will be no indictments let alone convictions because there was no wrong doing. The only wrong doing is the president spreading lies and conspiracy theories in order to keep us divided. He is doing a 10 out of 10 with that.

timothygaydos

Just look at Susan Rice's memo the day of inauguration and all that has come out from the Flynn court case and other documents... it is quite clear that Obama knew well ahead of January 4th/5th date when the famous meeting took place in the oval office and so much more... and you talk about Russian interference yes they have been interfering in all of our elections since WWII. It is the clear collusion of the DNC and the Clinton campaign working with Obama Administration folks and government agencies personnel to go after the opposition campaign... really sad and worse than Watergate. As more stones are turn over, we will see some awful displays of misconduct and most likely breaking Federal laws. It is really sad to see folks forget that Hillary got away with breaking federal law regarding the Emailing of classified data, having a non-classified personal server at home with classified data on it and lied to the FBI, congress, and to the American people all along smashing her devices and having a private company bleaching them so no data could be recovered. It is also sad that folks forget just how deliberate Comey and Lynch were during both investigations to cover for the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Hollowed Ground

No doubt Trump will soon be accusing Obama's father of killing Jimmy Hoffa.

Quisling

Trump is a reflection of all of us, all of America. We are a nation of spoiled, entitled & judgmental people. Trump is not the problem we are.

phydeaux994

Baloney. You need to change friends Quisling. Trump IS the PROBLEM.

Hollowed Ground

Don't include me in that we.

hayduke2

Trump is a sad, little, and insecure man. Counter-puncher my A#$%. He's terrified of everything.

Jeepers11md

You really think sleepy joe could do better lol that is if he can find his way out of his basement lol name one democrat that tried to help this country during this crisis not a one they sat eating ice cream and bad mouthed the only true one working day and night but yet judge him for golfing for an afternoon shame on democrats

hayduke2

Nope, judging him on his incompetence, lack of leadership, and petty behavior. If you admire that, that says a lot.

Jeepers11md

I do you don't know a great thing when you see it keep supporting democrats country go down the tube

Jeepers11md

I did not see one stupid democrat in the white house during this crisis they were home in their basement hiding and feeding themselves with ice cream in her mansion worrying about illegal immigrants and not America while the best president we ever had worked day and night so don't bash him bash the stupid democrats

gary4books

Jeep - Piffle.

timothygaydos

You will never convince hardcore democrat socialists to see the goodness of the current president and how the economy, military, etc... is so much better and will return to being good once we re-open from the virus. They love the $$$ they have now but are short on memory knowing that democrats like Biden would increase taxes right off the bat and keep funding illegal immigrants and having us pick up the tab. They continue to cry about 2016 - buy stock in Kleenex because they will be crying again in November the morning after the election is over trying to figure out how they lost again... and most likely the House too! Just think two more supreme court judges in the next four years at a minimum. Driving these liberals nuts!

CheetoBenito

#FrontotemporalDementia

threecents

Here is Trump's Memorial Day stupidity (from AOL news):

Donald Trump picked Memorial Day to attack Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), a Marine Corps veteran, as an “American fraud” and “puppet for Crazy Nancy Pelosi”...

Trump appeared to be unaware that Lamb, far from being Pelosi’s “puppet,” was one of only 15 Democrats in the House who did not vote for her to become speaker in 2017." Many Republicans warned before Trump was elected that the GOP had become the Party of Stupid, and it has kept on sinking.

Jeepers11md

Anyone with sense knows Biden can't handle the job he will just be a puppet for the worst president ever Obama and sore loser Hillary Trump 2020

Dwasserba

People lacking wit and class are the last to recognize when they are bested no matter how they "retaliate."

DickD

I will take almost anyone for POTUS over Trump, the worse ever POTUS..Even a dog catcher would be better - even lap dog Pence.

Jeepers11md

Don't disrespect the best president we ever had look at the mess he had to clean up after the worse president ever Obama if you can't respect the president move to another country take stupid Nancy Pelosi chuckie the Obamas and sleepy joe with you Trump 2020 make the democrats cry AGAIN

hayduke2

Dude be tripping!!!

timothygaydos

See they will come at you with negative comments because they have no substance of facts to fight your point of view...

bosco

Page one of their one page playbook. Deny and cry racist. [ninja]

Hollowed Ground

Republicans had the opportunity to remove Trump and put Pence in his place, but they declined.

DeplorableLocalVeteran

Obama tried to give Americans affordable healthcare and reasonable gun laws they rejected it for a disproportionate tax cuts, mismanaged pandemic and a deep recession.

bosco

But instead he gave us a deep state that weaponized the law enforcement and intelligence communities to spy on Americans and attempt a coup with their phoney dossier paid for by Hillary to mislead/lie to the FISA court. No wonder Schiff tried to suppress his star chamber basement hearing room testimonies where the key players all admitted under oath that there was no evidence.

Obama also gave billions to the terrorists in Iran. How'd that one go?

threecents

OK Bosco.

User1

Truth hurts don’t it?

threecents

Absolutely, the truth hurts.

hayduke2

Trolling once again

awteam2000

Bosco , Your ‘deep state‘ scenario is getting tired but let’s look at your conspiracy theory.

Bear with me... If the ‘dossier’ was created before Trump was elected to office based on his past transgressions, and before he was elected to office, he never held any government office, wasn’t in office, right, EVER! The ‘dossier was concluded before Trump had any governmental authority. Where’s the coup?

You can’t overturn a government that doesn’t exist. Can you?

A “coup”is the illegal seizure of power from an existing government?

Using your logic, Trump tried to cohorts Ukraine into investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings with Burisma, wouldn’t that be an attempted coup of Joe Biden‘s government before winning the next election and the next government.

Finally, how does signing an an agreement to release frozen Iranian monies held since 1979 have anything to do with the “Steele Dossier”?

bosco

We'll see what Trump's wingman comes up with. [ninja]

User1

What do you mean “if”?

jsklinelga

Bosco

Many replies and comments are similar to the polls. Meaningless. I voted for Obama twice but I bet history will judged him as one of the worst President's ever. The ACA was horribly mishandles from the beginning and key provisions were overridden by Executive order. Foreign policy was a disaster. His words were eloquent but his actions anemic. His executive orders that overrode the will of the people and legislated law on numerous fronts, tore this country apart. His race baiting was despicable. And we have now, finally, started to uncover how corrupt the Democrat machine became under his leadership.

Hollowed Ground

So how does the ACA compare to Die Quickly?

morel hunter

Right, so no real investigations. No indictments. Yet you and your ilk are still falling for it hook line and sinker. Glued to your one source of so-called news but you watch the Opinion section. How many of Trump's associate's were convicted durning his presidential term?

gary4books

"Just give us one more investigation. Just one. And we will know the truth." We do know the truth. Even a "BIG LIE" will not save this lame duck.

Jeepers11md

How true Obama worse president ever i hope they find dirt on him and procescute some of those democrats

jsklinelga

Jeepers

Every now and then it is fun to give the other side a taste of their own medicine.

TwoDawgs56

Affordable healthcare? YGBSM. Like your doctor, keep your doctor...average rates drop by $2500? Most people who liked their doctors and plans lost’em both but worse, their rates went up by $2000. Mismanaged pandemic....what would Clueless Joe have done other than cower?

Hollowed Ground

Actually they didn't, but a different doctor sure beats no doctor and expensive insurance sure beats junk insurance. Unless you never get sick.

morel hunter

What is the "replace"ment plan again? Still waiting over 3 years now.

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