Obama: Trump broke ‘core tenet’ of democracy with ‘bunch of hooey’ over election
Barack Obama said on Monday that his successor in office, Donald Trump, violated a “core tenet” of democracy when he made up a “bunch of hooey” about last year’s election and refused to concede he lost.
Speaking at his first virtual fundraiser since the 2020 election, the former Democratic president said former Republican president’s claims undermined the legitimacy of US elections and helped lead to other anti-democratic measures such as efforts to suppress the vote.
“What we saw was my successor, the former president, violate that core tenet that you count the votes and then declare a winner – and fabricate and make up a whole bunch of hooey,” Obama said.
Trump has continued to falsely claim that his defeat was the result of widespread fraud, which has been rejected by multiple courts, state election officials and members of his own administration.
In a rare bipartisan chime, Obama’s assertion followed an article in the Atlantic on Sunday noting that Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr – expressing himself less politely – said his Republican former boss’s claims were always “bullshit”.
The Republican senator Mitt Romney on Sunday likened Trump’s claims of a stolen election to television wrestling – entertaining but “not real”.
Meanwhile, Obama added: “What’s been called ‘the big lie’ suddenly gains momentum,” which in turn has fueled moves by Republican-controlled legislatures to reduce access to voting and gain more control over voting operations.
“Here’s the bottom line. If we don’t stop these kinds of efforts now, what we are going to see is more and more contested elections … We are going to see a further de-legitimizing of our democracy,” he said, as well as “a breakdown of the basic agreement that has held this magnificent democratic experiment together all these years”.
Republican governors of Georgia, Arizona, Florida and Iowa have signed new voting restrictions into law this year, and state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Texas are trying to advance similar measures.
These states will be battlegrounds in the 2022 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
The US justice department on Friday sued to block the Georgia law, which tightened absentee ballot identification requirements, restricted the use of ballot drop-boxes, and allowed a Republican-controlled state agency to run local voting operations.
Obama said he believed the US Senate would hold a new vote on a Democratic voting rights bill that Republicans blocked last week.
Just before the bill before the Senate collapsed, Obama backed a compromise proposal from the conservative West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin.
The former first lady Michelle Obama, weighed in, too, decrying Republican efforts in many statehouses across the country to bring in new laws that restrict voting, and urging Congress to pass federal legislation “before it’s too late”.
The fundraising call was for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee as the United States heads into the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts that will play a critical role in determining whether Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives next year. History and redistricting suggests they are likely to fail.