Former President Barack Obama compared President Donald Trump to a dictator in a new interview Sunday, bashing Trump’s presidential disposition and, in particular, his treatment of the press.
Obama has become increasingly outspoken against Trump in recent weeks, both while campaigning on behalf of Democrat Joe Biden and to promote his forthcoming post-presidential memoir — “A Promised Land” — the first volume of which is being released Tuesday.
What did Obama say?
Obama’s critique came during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” He was responding to a question from host Scott Pelley, who asked Obama to respond to Trump’s allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“I think that there has been this sense over the last several years that literally anything goes and is justified in order to get power,” Obama said.
“And that’s not unique to the United States,” Obama continued. “There are strong men and dictators around the world who think that ‘I can do anything to stay in power. I can kill people. I can throw them in jail. I can run phony elections. I can suppress journalists.’ But that’s not who we’re supposed to be.”
“And one of the signals I think that Joe Biden needs to send to the world is that ‘No, those values that we preached, and we believed in, and subscribed in — we still believe,'” the former president added.
UNHINGED: Barack Obama — who droned weddings & targeted journalists — compares @realDonaldTrump to a dictator who… https://t.co/QYEHrzyWmB
— Steve Guest (@Steve Guest)1605488389.0
What about Obama’s relationship with the media?
Although Democrats often pretend to have a fuzzy posture toward reporters, Obama’s record of press relations was less than stellar.
In fact, as many Americans may remember, Obama’s administration took significant steps to hide information from the press, going so far as to use controversial laws to spy on reporters.
The Associated Press even called Obama’s actions more detrimental than Trump’s rhetoric against the media.
The Obama administration used the 1917 Espionage Act with unprecedented vigor, prosecuting more people under that law for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined. Obama’s Justice Department dug into confidential communications between news organizations and their sources as part of that effort.
In 2013 the Obama administration obtained the records of 20 Associated Press office phone lines and reporters’ home and cell phones, seizing them without notice, as part of an investigation into the disclosure of information about a foiled al-Qaida terrorist plot. AP was not the target of the investigation. But it called the seizure a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news-gathering activities, betraying information about its operations “that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
Obama’s Justice Department also secretly dogged Fox News journalist James Rosen, getting his phone records, tracking his arrivals and departures at the State Department through his security-badge use, obtaining a search warrant to see his personal emails and naming him as a possible criminal conspirator in the investigation of a news leak.
Obama’s comments Sunday were the second time he’s compared Trump to a dictator just this month alone.
Just before Election Day, Obama blasted Trump over reports that Trump would pre-emptively declare victory on election night.
“He’s been coddling dictators for the last four years, and now apparently he says he might declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow,” Obama said. “That’s not something that a leader of a democracy does; that’s something a two-bit dictator does.”