Former US president, Barack Obama has taken a swipe at his successor’s legal troubles, one day after the special counsel, Robert Mueller, ended a plea deal with Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chair.
“Not only did I not get indicted, nobody in my administration got indicted,” the former president said at an event in Houston on Tuesday, “which by the way was the only administration in modern history that that can be said about. In fact, nobody came close to being indicted, partly because the people who joined us were there for the right reasons. We were there to serve.”
Manafort breached a plea agreement he signed in September by “lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the special counsel’s office on a variety of subject matters”, Mueller said in a court filing on Monday night. Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, which US intelligence agencies concluded was aimed at boosting Trump’s bid for the White House, and any collusion between Russian operatives and Trump campaign team.
Mueller’s inquiry has so far led to indictments against 32 individuals and three Russian entities on charges ranging from computer hacking to obstruction of justice.
Obama also lamented the rise of insular nationalism in US politics, describing it as a threat to international stability and domestic prosperity.
He did not mention his successor by name but Trump and his “America first” strategy cast a long shadow as the former Democratic president discussed the decline of bipartisanship in American politics and the undermining of democracy and decorum by populism and extremism.
“People ask me what surprised me most about the presidency. It is the degree to which the United States underwrites the international order,” Obama said. “If there is a problem around the world, people do not call Moscow, they do not call Beijing. They call Washington. Even our adversaries expect us to solve problems and expect us to keep things running.
“When you start getting dysfunction in Washington which [makes it] difficult for decisions to get made and policymaking to run in an orderly process, what is one of our greatest assets – which is an extraordinary civil service, career staff, let’s say at the state department – when that begins to get undermined, that doesn’t just weaken our influence, it provides opportunities for disorder to start ramping up all around the world and ultimately makes us less safe and less prosperous.”