Barack Obama; Donald Trump (AP/Reuters/Salon)

Donald Trump is "haunted" by the ghost of Barack Obama's first term

Trump's inauguration crowd size comparisons and "wiretapp" claims reportedly stem from an obsession with Obama

Sophia Tesfaye
March 9, 2017 2:00AM (UTC)

Even though top Republicans on Capitol Hill have provided little support for President Donald Trump's unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack Obama broke the law to spy on his campaign, Trump reportedly remains committed to attacking his political arch nemesis because he is "somewhat haunted" by "President Obama's first term."

Sources close to the president reportedly chalk up his latest set of wild allegations as part of a larger obsession with his predecessor. After all, Trump finally committed to his decades-long flirtation to run for the White House only after his multi-year birther campaign against Obama failed to provide any proof the 44th president was born anywhere other than Hawaii.


An aide to Obama told The Wall Street Journal that the former president was "livid" after Trump made baseless accusations about wiretapping this weekend. Other unnamed sources who spoke to CNN said that Obama has been "exasperated" by Trump's behavior since taking office.

Trump and Obama have not spoken since Inauguration Day, when the 45th commander-in-chief kicked off his presidency with a dispute over relative crowd sizes. Since then, Trump has seemingly been obsessed with competing against the ghost of the Obama presidency.

Trump signed a flurry of executive orders in his first few hours in office despite slamming Obama as a lawless president for doing the same. Still, Obama signed more executive orders in his first dozen days than Trump.


Trump was eventually able to notch one feat sooner than Obama, heading to the golf course only two weeks into his presidency.

But as his administration quickly became bogged down in scandal and petty infighting, President Trump has become more entrenched in his conviction that Obama holdovers are trying to sabotage his presidency.

“I think that President Obama is behind it, because his people are certainly behind it,” Trump said of damaging leaks in a recent interview on Fox News. “And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know, some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they’re very bad in terms of national security.”


The New York Times reported that during conversations at his Mar-a-Lago resort after his latest round of golf Saturday, Trump expressed an unfounded anxiety about his predecessor. Much earlier that day, the president sent off a shocking round of tweets accusing Obama of illegally ordering a wiretap on him during the presidential election.

"[T]he president sounded uncertain of the procedure for obtaining a warrant for secret wiretaps on an American citizen," according to the Times, yet he remained passionately animated by his rage at the thought.


Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media and a friend of the president who spoke with him on Saturday, told the Wall Street Journal that “Trump’s people think Obama is at war with them.” Ruddy said Trump believes he “has been under siege since Day One from both the press and Obama loyalists and he’s reacting to it.”

Robert Costa, who along with two other Washington Post reporters, spoke to 17 top White House officials and friends of the president over the weekend who said Trump is "feeling besieged, believing that his presidency is being tormented in ways known and unknown by a group of Obama-aligned critics, federal bureaucrats and intelligence figures."

According to one adviser, also "gnawing at Trump ... is the comparison between his early track record and that of Obama in 2009, when amid the Great Recession he enacted an economic stimulus bill and other big-ticket items."


Costa followed up his reporting on Trump's apparent jealousy of his predecessor's accomplishments during an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball" Tuesday.

"He truly thinks day-to-day about President Obama and he compares himself to how much President Obama was able to accomplish in his first few months in office," Costa told host Chris Matthews. "He does often talk about what President Obama was able to do with a democratic Congress back in 2009."

Costa reported that Trump is "somewhat haunted" by "President Obama's first term."


Such reporting makes clear that Trump's wiretapping allegations are part of a longer battle Trump has waged against the nation's first black president.

Asked Monday whether Trump's claims would damage the relationship between the 44th and 45th presidents, White House press secretary Sean Spicer downplayed any tensions.
"I think that they'll be just fine," Spicer said.

Perhaps the best sign of that is that Trump has yet to tweet any complaints about the record-breaking $65 million book deal the Obama's recently inked.

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia TesfayeFOLLOW @SophiaTesfaye

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Obama's First Year President Donald Trump

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •