Although President Barack Obama acted friendly toward Donald Trump, aiding him in the transition and meeting with him, behind the scenes he left Trump with a number of policy landmines that our new President must confront as he pursues his agenda.
“We didn’t discuss the negative, we only discussed the future and the positive. And we really get along well. Now again, he may say differently, but I don’t think he would,” said Trump, according to The Hill. He told the press that he received a “beautiful letter” from Obama upon taking office.
No matter how friendly he may have appeared in person, President Obama signaled that he would stand up to Trump if the latter engaged in certain policies. “There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” said Obama. Those core values included “systematic discrimination,” rounding up DREAMers, and silencing “dissent or the press.” All of that sounds quite reasonable.
Yet Obama had already done much behind the scenes to embarrass Trump and put up obstacles in his way. In a last-ditch effort to derail the agenda of incoming President-elect Trump, President Obama issued an edict preventing future gas drilling in our oceans and dismantled a registry designed to stop potential terrorists from entering the United States. His actions were calculated to raise the potential for future protest against Trump’s policies. Otherwise, why didn’t President Obama act on these policies sooner?
These policies were deliberately designed to cause trouble for the incoming president.
“In his enviro-extremism, President Obama is attempting to tie President-elect Trump’s hands by blocking vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean and stretches of the Atlantic from oil and natural-gas drilling,” noted Andy McCarthy for PJ Media in December. “The gambit…is part of an eleventh-hour wave by which Obama is flooding the regulatory zone: Promulgating so many rules—of the unpopular, hard-left variety that Democrats dare not unveil before Election Days—that he hopes the Trump administration will find it too cumbersome to undo all of them.”
Obama likely didn’t try to prevent this type of drilling earlier because he knew that Democrats would have faced a referendum on his controversial policies when they ran for re-election. But when Obama became a lame duck, and the Democrats had already lost the House and Senate, there was little left to prevent him from taking extreme action.
“See, the anti-drilling edict was not issued as a rule,” wrote McCarthy. “Obama’s lawyers combed the statute books and found a stray sentence in the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act…” By basing this new policy on a statute, Obama hoped that it will be more difficult for Trump to overturn.
After all, it could also become a public relations nightmare for Trump to be cast early in his first term as anti-wilderness and anti-environmentalist, promoting drilling in the pristine Arctic and Atlantic.
One of Trump’s campaign promises was to stop immigration from dangerous parts of the world. In advance of Trump’s reexamination of our immigration system, The New York Times reported that President Obama was “dismantling” a “dormant national registry program” which gave additional scrutiny to persons from countries with high levels of terror.
The Times admitted in December that this was an attempt by Obama and his cohorts to “prevent, or at least slow, what Democrats fear may be a swift rollback of President Obama’s efforts on immigration and climate change.”
A draft of an executive order by Trump indicates that he will temporarily stop immigration from “seven Muslim majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran,” reported Politico on January 25.
“Some people could get in, Trump suggested, but only after what he called ‘extreme vetting,’” reports USA Today.
Does this count as the “systematic discrimination” that Obama warned would prompt him to action? To many people this is basic, common sense.
The dismantling of this registry system was another blatant effort to stop Trump even before he took office. “Since the most controversial part of the Bush administration’s registration effort was abandoned in December 2003, the Obama team’s move to dismantle the regulations [of the Nseers program] is largely symbolic,” reported Politico.
But what these news outlets failed to mention is that the so-called Nseers program was very successful. The program “stopped at least 330 known foreign criminals and three known terrorists who had attempted to come into the country at certain official ports of entry,” wrote Michelle Malkin in 2013. “But grievance-mongering identity groups and the American Civil Liberties Union could not stand the idea of an effective national security profiling database.”
Also, just “hours” before he left office, President Obama “released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority,” reported the Associated Press. As of January 25, this action was frozen and under review by the Trump administration.
Obama had released the money over the objections, and Congressional hold, of Republicans. “Republicans have increasingly called for blocking or canceling funding to the Palestinian Authority, not only because of unilateral diplomatic moves toward statehood, but also because of increasing evidence that funds are used to incite violence and provide financial rewards to terrorists,” reported Breitbart.
In December, the Obama administration chose to abstain from a UN Resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, allowing it to pass. Alan Dershowitz, who had voted for and supported Obama throughout his presidency, said that Obama was “stabbing Israel in the back,” and would go down in history “as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever.”
Obama’s ongoing antipathy toward Israel, and his attempts to bind the hands of Trump, create a stark contrast between the current and former presidents. In essence, Obama is forcing Trump to break continuity with the former administration in order to fulfill his campaign promises. Only time will tell whether Trump will look better or worse because of Obama’s many landmines.
Little could accentuate the difference between Obama and Trump than one of the former’s commutations. Trump has signaled his desire to build a border wall and decrease crime from illegal immigrants. Obama, instead, commuted the life sentences of four Mexican cartel leaders. “Four family members who ran one of the largest cartel smuggling operations in south Texas had their life in prison sentences commuted and will likely be returning to this border city from where they ran their criminal empire,” writes Breitbart. “They ran a criminal organization made up of close to 80 men and women who worked with Mexico’s Gulf Cartel to move between 100,000 to almost 750,000 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. during a 10-year period.”
One more thing: Does anyone believe that if Hillary Clinton had won the election in November, Obama would have expelled 35 Russian diplomats, opened an investigation into FBI Director James Comey, and opened another investigation into Russia’s hacking?
All of these actions have one thing in common. President Obama waited until the elections were over and he was walking out the door. No profile in courage here.
The media continue to give Obama a pass, highlighting and even manufacturing his policy successes while ignoring his many scandals. While the outgoing president encouraged the press to hold Trump “accountable,” they failed, utterly, to hold Obama accountable. They were much more concerned with protecting his legacy. In contrast, the media’s long knives are out for Trump, and they have been since Election Day.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.