Barack Obama on divisiveness: ‘It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.’

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President Barack Obama took a direct shot at his successor in a speech Friday, calling President Donald Trump a ‘symptom’ of a societal problem where powerful forces manufacture and capitalize on ‘resentments.’

Speaking to a crowd in Illinois but also to a national audience, Obama directed remarks even to those who might part with Democrats on immigration or other policy issues.

‘You should still be concerned with our current course. You should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government,’ the former president said.

‘It should not be a Democratic or Republican, it should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents,’ Obama said.

‘Or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up.’

‘I’m not making that up,’ Obama said, chuckling as he referenced a recent tweet by Trump faulting Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the indictments of two sitting Republican House members – who are also two of his foremost House supporters.

‘That’s not hypothetical. It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News. But you never heard me threaten to shut ’em down or call them “Enemies of the People,” Obama said.

The former rival who saw Trump try to rip up his political legacy then blasted Trump’s own pet project – a border wall – and reigniting the issue of Trump’s failure to release his tax returns.

‘It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,’ Obama said in a speech that saw his return to the political stage two months before the Mid-term elections.

‘He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes,’ Obama said.

Obama cast Trump, who blasted him during his own campaign and repeatedly questioned his U.S. citizenship, only to seek to dismantle much of his agenda once taking office, as part of a system where the status quo seeks to maintain control.

It was a stark contrast to the narrative put forward by Trump, who casts himself as the leader of ‘forgotten’ Americans battling elites.

Obama took on Trump’s signature issues, hours after Trump once again assured his own supporters he would force Congress to fund construction of a border wall.

‘We can’t put up walls around America,’ said Obama.

Then he brought up an issue with personal sting for Trump – his finances.

‘Democrats aren’t just running on good old ideas like requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns …’ Obama quipped at one point, bringing up a campaign issue that 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton hammered during her failed campaign against Trump.

Prior candidates released their returns for decades. Trump didn’t do so, saying he would await an audit that was underway. The White House has now cast it as an old issue and hasn’t said they will ever get released. At the same time, special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe has touched on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was then owned by Trump and efforts by the Trump Organization in 2015 and 2016 to pursue a Trump Tower Moscow.

‘We can’t just put walls up all around America. Walls don’t keep out threats like terrorism or disease. And that’s why we propose leading our alliances and helping other countries develop and pushing back against tyrants, Obama said.

Obama cast Trump as part of a backward system he called ‘cynical.’

‘Each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back,’ Obama said.

‘The status quo pushes back,’ said Obama, who took office in 2008 campaigning on ‘change.’

Source: Daily Mail

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