During an interview with CNN which aired on Sunday, President Obama’s top aide and close confidante, Valerie Jarrett, claimed that as Obama leaves his presidency, he is proud of himself — because his administration has been scandal-free.
After we regained our breath, we decided to put Valerie’s claim to the test. The folks at “Fox & Friends” did, as well, having a little fun with this graphic:Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube/”Fox & Friends”
Let’s take a trip down “scandal-free” memory lane:
1. Operation “Fast and Furious” gunwalking program
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — in cooperation with legal gun dealers — traced weapons of low-level buyers, who they believed were acquiring them illegally for Mexican drug cartels.
Nearly 2,000 firearms from the program went missing, some turning up at killing scenes in Mexico — and at the site of a December 2010 gun battle in Arizona that left U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry dead.
A report by the Justice Department’s inspector general focused blame on ATF headquarters, the agency’s Phoenix, Arizona, field office, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona.
The report cited “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, and management failures that permeated ATF headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.”
2. Benghazi terrorist attack and cover-up
On September 11, 2012, Islamist militants attacked a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, leaving U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.
White House officials initially, and inaccurately, described the assault not as a coordinated terrorist attack, but as a spontaneous act of violence born out of a protest over an anti-Islamic video.
It later emerged that the State Department, led at the time by Hillary Clinton, had rejected appeals for additional security at the consulate where the attack took place.
In May 2013, it was learned that from April 2010 to April 2012, the Internal Revenue Service had placed on hold the processing of applications for tax-exempt status that it had received from hundreds of organizations with such presumably conservative indicators as “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” or “9/12” in their names.
During that period, the IRS approved only four applications from conservative groups while green-lighting applications from several dozen organizations whose names included the likely left-leaning terms “Progressive,” “Progress,” “Liberal,” or “Equality.”
In February 2014, it was further learned that of the already-existing nonprofits that were flagged for IRS surveillance (including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites, and any other publicly available information), 83% were conservative.
Of the groups that the IRS selected for audit, 100% were conservative.
4. Department of Justice seizing records of journalists
In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department in 2013 secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.
Justice Department guidelines require that subpoenas of records from news organizations must be approved personally by the Attorney General.
5. NSA surveillance of ordinary Americans
According to U.S. National Security Agency (NSA documents), the NSA collected every form of electronic communication conceivable directly from Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), PalTalk (2009), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), YouTube (2010), Skype (2011), AOL (2011), and Apple (2012).
The documents indicate that the data is collected in a bulk manner, and it includes the content of Internet phone calls, chat, photos, emails, stored data, video conferencing, and text messages of everyday Americans.
The NSA ended the program in November, 2015.
6. Ransom payments to Iran for release of hostages
Obama arranged to ship the to Iran piles of cash, worth $400 million and converted into foreign denominations, reportedly in an unmarked cargo plane.
The hotly debated question was whether the payment, which the administration attributes to a 37-year-old arms deal, was actually a ransom paid for the release of American hostages Tehran had abducted.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department strongly objected to the cash payment to Iran.
7. Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange
Five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were transferred to Qatar in 2015 in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was being held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. A House Armed Services Committee report accused the Obama administration of misleading Congress and violating federal law during a controversial prisoner exchange.
The report compiled by the GOP majority charges that the administration did so when it bypassed Congress in negotiating the exchange, suggesting that the White House had put political expediency ahead of proper procedure in making the deal.
8. Secret Service prostitution scandal
Eleven Secret Service agents in Colombia for President Barack Obama’s 2012 trip there were relieved of their duties amid allegations of misconduct. Twelve agents [were allegedly] involved — some for allegedly soliciting prostitutes, others for attempting to cover it up.
One of the prostitutes complained to police that she was not paid, setting off the investigation.
9. Hillary Clinton’s email scandal
Obama claimed that he learned about Hillary Clinton’s use of a a private email account while Secretary of State on the news–“just like everyone else.” But FBI documents later revealed that he used a pseudonym in emails to Clinton’s private server.
Dr. Ben Carson wrote in an op-ed for Independent Journal Review that Hillary’s “blatant disregard for the national security rules, regulations, and laws governing the secure use and handling of classified information” was the core issue of the scandal.
10. The “Affordable” Healthcare Act
“If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” “You can keep your hospital.” “We will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family.” None of it proved to be true.
During a May, 2016 interview with Charlie Rose, Obama speechwriters burst into laughter recalling Obama’s “you can keep your insurance” claim.
11. The VA death-list scandal
The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been troubled, but the big scandals broke on Obama’s watch, most infamously the secret death lists veterans were put on while executives handed in phony status reports and signed themselves up for big bonuses.
The Washington Times reported in April — two years after the scandal first broke in Phoenix — that the VA was still plagued by problems, “ranging from fresh accusations of falsified waiting lists to a system-wide failure to discipline wrongdoing.”
12. Solyndra green energy scandal
Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer who took more than $500 million from President Obama’s stimulus then went bust, sticking taxpayers for the loss, lied to federal officials to secure the loan, the Energy Department’s inspector general said in a report released Wednesday.
But the Obama administration goofed too, and may have cut corners in fully vetting the project because of “political pressure” from top Democrats and Solyndra itself, the investigators said in their report, which took four years to complete.
Incidentally, former top Obama aide, David Axelrod, made the same astonishing “scandal-free” claim about Obama in 2014, citing “the ethical strictures of this administration.”