President Trump on Sunday intensified his criticism of former President Obama by tying him to the Michael Flynn investigation and blasting his predecessor's recent criticism aimed at his administration's coronavirus response.
Last week, Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department dismissed the case against Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, who was seen as the key prosecution witness from Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign.
Trump, along with other Republicans, seized on the decision and framed it as an example of a Democrat-manufactured plot to remove him from office.
Trump retweeted Eli Lake, a columnist at Bloomberg, who said he has been reviewing the interview transcripts that were recently released in the collusion investigation. Lake wrote, “It’s now clear why every Republican on [Rep. Adam Schiff’s] committee in 2019 called for his resignation. He knew the closed door witnesses didn’t support his innuendo and fakery on Russia collusion.”
Sidney Powell, one of Flynn’s lawyers, told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” that FBI agents did their best to hide their investigation and attempted to entrap Flynn. She mentioned a meeting on Jan. 5, 2017 at the White House that included Obama, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan.
Powell said the “whole thing was orchestrated and set up within the FBI, Clapper, Brennan and in the Oval Office meeting that day with President Obama,” she told Maria Bartiromo, the anchor.
Bartiromo asked Powell if she believed the scandal reached up to Obama, and Powell responded, “Absolutely.”
Trump later tweeted, “OBAMAGATE,” indicating that he believes that Obama worked to undermine his presidency.
Obama on Friday told supporters that with regards to Flynn's case, there “is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
Obama’s criticism of the DOJ has been echoed by fellow Democrats, who have called out what they see as Trump’s influence over Barr. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary chairman, called the decision to drop the charges against Flynn “outrageous.”
“The evidence against General Flynn is overwhelming. He pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. And now a politicized and thoroughly corrupt Department of Justice is going to let the president’s crony simply walk away,” he said in a statement.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about two separate contacts he had with a former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, told Fox News last week that Comey displayed “arrogance” and “ego” with the way he spoke about the Flynn case. The department said its continued prosecution of Flynn would “not serve the interests of justice.”
Trump said that Flynn was innocent and was targeted in an attempt to take down his presidency. He told reporters that he was unaware that the DOJ was going to drop its case.
“I felt it was going to happen just by watching and seeing, like everybody else does. He was an innocent man. He is a great gentleman. He was targeted by the Obama administration and he was targeted in order to try and take down a president,” he said.
Trump continued, “What they’ve done is a disgrace and I hope a big price is going to be paid. A big price should be paid. There’s never been anything like this in the history of our country. What they did, what the Obama administration did, is unprecedented. It’s never happened. Never happened. A thing like this has never happened.”
Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, told Fox News’ “The Next Revolution” Sunday that the FBI likely feared that Flynn would uncover illegitimacies surrounding the origin of the Russia probe.
"I think the best way to look at this is what the FBI and the Obama Administration wanted to do here was really audacious if you think about it in terms of the idea of trying to continue an investigation after a new president has come into power and is in a position to shut down the investigation -- when the president ultimately is the target of the investigation," McCarthy said.
Obama told 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association that the Trump administration was woefully inept in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government,” he said.
Trump has insisted that his administration was correct in banning flights from China early on in the outbreak, despite being condemned in some segments of the media.
Larry Kudlow, his national economic council director, told ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopolous” that he did not want to engage in a political back and forth with the former president, but said Trump has worked well in incorporating the private sector and parts of the government in the response.
“I don’t understand what President Obama is saying. It just sounds so darn political to me. Look, what we have done may not be 100 percent perfect. These things happen once every 100 years,” Kudlow said.
Fox News' Joshua Nelson and the Associated Press contributed to this report