Barack Obama Rebukes Donald Trump Publicly For First Time

Pauline Gross
September 7, 2018

Obama, who has chimed in from time-to-time to remark on President Trump's words and actions, is expected to address threats to the United States' democracy and the consequences of apathy, and urge fellow Americans to vote this November. Obama said in a speech at the University of IL in Urbana, where he accepted an award for ethics in public service.

But he dropped that political tradition in IL, the state where he launched his own political career, saying a vote against Republicans could restore "honesty and decency and lawfulness" to government.

The speech marked Obama's strongest rebuke of Trump since he left office in January 2017.

The former president explained he planned on following the precedent set by George Washington "to gracefully exit" the political stage, but speaks now as a citizen.

But in comments which are likely to enrage his successor, he launched into a searing attack on the current Republican administration.

The speech comes ahead of Obama's first campaign events of the midterms: a rally for a handful of Democratic congressional candidates in California on Saturday and an event for Richard Cordray, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in OH, next Thursday.

"Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you this moment really is different", Obama said.

As Obama spoke, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he believed Sessions should investigate the identity of the author of an anonymous New York Times opinion piece that was sharply critical of his leadership, saying the essay a "national security issue".

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Obama told students "you can not sit back and wait for a saviour", adding the biggest threat to democracy isn't Mr Trump but "indifference". "They are not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the insane stuff that is coming out of the White House and then saying don't worry we are preventing the other 10 percent".

Mr Trump, the former president said, is "just capitalising on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years".

But on Friday, Obama offered his most pointed indictment of the political climate that has formed under the watch of Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.

"We're supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we're sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers", Obama said. "We're supposed to stand up to bullies".

"How hard can that be?"

After spending much of his post-presidency on the political sidelines, Obama has several events scheduled in coming days where he'll campaign for Democrats. "The politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party".

Obama had already waded into the midterms before Friday's speech, endorsing a slate of 81 federal and state office-seekers last month.

He will appear at a September 13 rally in OH with Richard Cordray, a former Obama appointee, who is running for governor in a state that is also one of the top targets for the Holder effort.

Other reports by GizPress

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