by Kiran Subramanian ’21
Published Mar. 2020
Ever since Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States, he has been attempting to reverse many Obama-era policies. From trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to attacking the DREAM Act, it is clear that this president has been trying to erase the legacy of Obama’s presidency. However, President Trump’s attack on Obamagate seems to be even more unusual than his previous attacks on the 44th president.
On May 10th, Senate Republicans gave the names of Obama officials who were asking for the names of Americans listed in intelligence reports. Senate Republicans then announced that Michael Flynn, the Former NSA Advisor, was one of the people unmasked by the Obama Administration. The crux of the Republican argument is that Michael Flynn was improperly unmasked by the Obama officials.
However, the holes in the Republican argument became more clear as the press started to do some digging. First off, according to the Washington Post, “Flynn’s name was not even redacted in FBI intelligence reports, so there would have been no need to request to unmask him. In addition, the list the NSA provided to Republican senators did not include this FBI summary about the Flynn-Russia ambassador call.” This means that the big idea of the Obama Administration acting unfairly was disproven right off the bat.
Furthermore, these unmaskings are not illegal. According to that same Washington Post article, these unmaskings are often executed, and it is not unreasonable for a presidential administration to request a declassification, especially when it comes to national security issues.
Even with these holes, Republicans in the Senate are still pushing this “Obamagate” out to the public.
However, there does seem to be a clear reason as to why the Republicans are pushing this faulty story out. One of the Obama officials that requested the declassification was former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. What the Republicans are effectively trying to do is run another smear campaign against Joe Biden.
The Republicans’ fear is justified. According to a CBS News poll, 47% of voters support Joe Biden compared to Trump’s 43%.
In summary, the Senate Republicans are trying to smear Joe Biden to lower his favorability, allowing for President Trump to win re-election and enabling Republicans to have a better chance at pushing their agenda.