Five years ago last week, Barack Obama attended a press briefing in a tan suit, and the media wouldn’t shut up about it. Since then, the tan suit incident evolved into a myth that conservatives had freaked out about the suit. So, of course, the media has chosen to turn the tan suit into the symbol of Obama’s “scandal-free” presidency. Chris Hayes of MSNBC marked the occasion with a segment called “Remembering Obama's biggest scandal: the tan suit.” CNN, (which once reported on Trump getting two scoops of ice cream while everyone else gets one) remembered the incident as causing “a divisive disturbance in America's normal sartorial acceptance of the President's choices” or something. The Washington Post also reflected on the “huge controversy” it caused and called the tan suit a symbol of “the relative dearth of scandals during the Obama administration.”
Once again, it seems necessary to remind the public that the Obama administration was not scandal-free. In fact, Obama was so dogged by scandals there's a whole book detailing them. But, to prove my point, here's are just a few of them that have nothing to do with Obama wearing a tan suit:
14. The Senate seat for sale scandal
Before Obama even took office he was implicated in a scandal involving his soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had hoped to get a cabinet position or ambassadorship in exchange for appointing an Obama-backed individual to replace him in the Senate. Obama’s top choice had been Valerie Jarrett, and he offered to appoint Jarrett “in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect’s cabinet,” but she eventually opted to follow Obama to the White House as his top advisor.
To sweep it under the rug, the Obama transition conducted an internal investigation to determine whether the president-elect had done anything illegal. Naturally, they claimed everything was above board. Their investigation allegedly “affirmed the public statements of the president-elect that he had no contact with the governor or his staff, and that the president-elect’s staff was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as U.S. senator.” But, this claim contradicts both the criminal complaint against Blagojevich and numerous documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
13. The New Black Panther Party Voter-Intimidation Scandal
In May 2009, the government was on the verge of victory by default in 2008 voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP), Attorney General Eric Holder inexplicably dropped the case in May 2009. When the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigated, the Obama-Biden administration refused to respond to requests from the commission and Congress and fought subpoenas. Federal attorneys were instructed not to cooperate with the investigation and then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez (the current chairman of the Democratic National Committee) lied under oath about who was involved in the decision to drop the case. If this wasn’t a scandal, why did the Obama-Biden administration obstruct the investigation?
12. Obama’s Illegal Firing of an Inspector General
Also in 2009, Barack Obama illegally fired Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service. Walpin’s only crime was that he was investigating Obama’s friend and donor, Kevin Johnson. Johnson had misused federal grant money for AmeriCorps by funneling it to his personal nonprofit group, paying for political activity, and using it to pay hush money to underage girls he’d sexually abused. Walpin recommended charges against Johnson, Obama, in violation of federal law, fired him. An investigation by Congress into the illegal firing was met with stonewalling by the Obama White House, and the withholding of documents. The Obama White House also deliberately misled Congress about the reasons for the firing.
11. The Secret Service Prostitution scandal
In 2012, members of the Secret Service were caught up in a prostitution scandal during Obama’s visit to Columbia. A member of the White House advance team was reportedly also caught up in the scandal. In an attempt to cover up the scandal, the White House launched with a bogus internal investigation that predictably found that no White House staffers were involved in the scandal. As the saying goes, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up that gets you in trouble, well, when evidence emerged that a White House staff member may have been involved, the White House tried to cover that up, too.
10. The Green Energy loans scandal
Does Joe Biden really think that when more than fifty clean energy companies backed by the Obama-Biden administration went bankrupt or found themselves in major financial trouble that isn’t a scandal? Tell that to the taxpayers who footed the $80 billion for their “green economy” initiatives that went to companies that supported their campaign. The most well-known example of one of these companies that went belly-up was Solyndra. Solyndra received more than a half-billion-dollar loan despite the fact the Department of Energy (DOE) knew they were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Obama can't claim ignorance on this one because he and Joe Biden were both personally involved in the decision-making process to determine who got loans. Also, only companies that donated to their campaign (or other Democrats) got these green energy loans. Worse yet, proprietary technology from companies that didn’t get the loans were given to the Obama-Biden donors that did.
If this wasn’t a scandal, why did the Obama administration stonewall Congress investigation of the matter? When House Republicans subpoenaed documents for their investigation, the Obama White House fired back claiming their request would put an "unreasonable burden on the president's ability to meet his constitutional duties." Sure.
9. The Fast & Furious scandal
The Obama administration sent two thousand firearms across the border in order to trace them to drug cartels, and lost hundreds of them. That's pretty darn bad. But it got a whole lot worse when a border agent was killed with one of those guns. In response to this revelation, the Obama administration stonewalled and obstructed the investigation into what happened. Attorney General Eric Holder falsely claimed to have no knowledge of the operation, and Obama personally obstructed the investigation by claiming executive privilege over documents requested by Congress. Not a scandal? Really? Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress in a bipartisan vote, for obstructing the investigation. What more do you need to admit this was a scandal?
8. Obstruction of justice, lots of it
Obstruction of justice was standard operating procedure in the Obama administration from day one. In August 2014, 47 of 73 inspectors general wrote an open letter to Congress informing them that the Obama administration of obstructing investigations by not giving them full access to the information they need to investigate properly. Such a letter was unprecedented, and the systemic corruption and obstruction of the inspectors general would have been considered an impeachable defense for almost any other president. That letter should have resulted in the appointment of a special counsel… but Attorney General Eric Holder, who famously called himself Obama’s wingman, wasn’t going to let that happen. In fact, neither Holder or Loretta Lynch, Obama’s second attorney general, ever appointed a special counsel, despite ample times where one should have been appointed. Obama didn’t just appoint attorneys general to lead the Justice Department, he appointed protectors to keep himself from being held accountable for corruption. The lack of outrage (thanks to lack of media attention to the scandal) emboldened the Obama administration to impose new restrictions on the investigative powers of inspectors general. Can you imagine President Trump trying to get away with that today?
7. The VA Backlog scandal
The Veterans Health Administration is notorious for large backlogs of benefits claims. While running for president, Obama promised to do better than his predecessor and reduce the backlog. When he took office, the backlog had been in decline, falling by nearly 100,00 during George W. Bush’s second term. Sadly, under Obama, the backlog started going back up. It didn’t just go up marginally… it more than doubled during their first term, from approximately 390,000 outstanding claims to roughly 884,000 outstanding claims. The backlog increase resulted in the number of veterans dying while waiting to receive care skyrocketing.
Attorney General Eric Holder refused to investigate the problem. Want to know why? Because the Obama-Biden transition team had been warned about the VA using secret lists to hide the true state of the backlog, and warned twice more in 2010 and again in 2012, but they did nothing about it, letting the problem spiral out of control. Does the media believe that 307,000 veterans dying while waiting for medical treatment from the Obama-Biden administration isn’t a scandal?
6. The Sestak job offer scandal
Barack Obama violated at least four federal laws back in 2010, for offering then-congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) a job in his administration in exchange for not challenging Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Specter had recently switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party, and that switch was contingent on support from Obama. Obama’s then-spokesman Robert Gibbs wouldn’t confirm or deny that any offer was made, but was never asked if Obama would resign after Sestak made his bombshell allegation, even after months of the Obama White House stonewalling a congressional investigation. Nor did they ask after the Obama White House finally admitted that Sestak was indeed offered a federal job to stay out of the election, but only after Sestak defeated Specter in the primary. The media was quick to accept the White House version of events, including the “everybody does it” excuse, and they accepted the White House claim that nothing improper happened. Even Republicans lost interest in pursuing the story after Sestak was defeated in the general election by Republican Pat Toomey.
5. The Benghazi attack cover-up
The terror attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, not only threatened the Obama-Biden administration narrative that they’d been crippling al Qaeda and making progress in the War on Terror, but it also threatened their reelection. So, they lied about it. They called it a spontaneous demonstration in order to hide the fact it was a pre-planned terror attack and that they were grossly incapable of defending themselves from such an attack. So, when Congress investigated, the Obama-Biden administration obstructed their investigation with vigor. They attempt to excuse their obstruction by saying they were launching their own internal investigation, which was a complete joke because we know how their internal investigations go. State Department employees weren't allowed to testify, and Hillary Clinton deleted thousands of subpoenaed emails. That’s called obstruction of justice.
4. Media spying scandals
The media loved Obama, but Obama didn’t love them back. In fact, Obama abused the Espionage Act to target reporters and their sources. Less than six months into Obama’s second term we learned that his Justice Department secretly obtained two months of phone records of AP reporters and editors. One consequence of this Obama administration spying was that longtime sources stopped talking to the Associated Press and other news organizations.
Obama’s Justice Department also secretly obtained then-Fox News reporter James Rosen’s phone records, tracked his movements, and read his emails while investigating possible leaks of classified information to Rosen for an article on North Korea’s nuclear program. Rosen was also threatened with jail time when the Obama Justice Department labeled him a “co-conspirator” with one of his sources who was charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for leaking the information to Rosen. Another journalist, James Risen of the New York Times, was similarly treated as a co-conspirator with a government source indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act. Risen was subpoenaed, and originally compelled to testify against one of his sources.
3. The Iran Ransom scandal
A few short months after Obama had completed negotiations for the Iran Nuclear Deal, resulting in the lifting of sanctions and the unfreezing of billions in Iranian assets, the Obama administration made a shady payment to Iran in the amount of $400 million. The payment was made with foreign currency and done under the cover of night. The payment also coincided with the release of four hostages and was done completely in secret. Not even Congress knew about the payments or the hostage exchange. An investigation began, and, of course, it was met with obstruction by the Obama-Biden administration. Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to answer questions from Congress about the payments. Details of the deal weren’t classified, but the Obama-Biden administration hid key documents at a secure site to make access difficult. If this wasn’t a scandal, why did they feel they had to hide information from Congress?
2. The IRS scandal
It's amazing that anyone can still pretend the IRS to improperly targeting conservative and Tea Party groups wasn't a scandal. Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division at the time, admitted it happened! Not only were tea party groups improperly targeted, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, but the whole scheme was orchestrated out of Washington, D.C. There was also evidence of White House involvement. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman was at the White House at least 157 times while the IRS was targeting tea party groups. Obama’s cabinet members didn’t even visit the White House that often. Some IRS employees even claimed that Obama himself requested the crackdown of tea party groups. There was certainly ample reason to suspect coordination with the White House. The IRS was also exchanging confidential taxpayer information with the White House the year Obama and Biden were reelected.
1. The Trump spying /FISA abuse scandal
If spying on Donald Trump’s campaign wasn’t a scandal, what is? We know it happened. We know that this spying was justified using a bogus dossier funded by the Hillary campaign. What began as a means to undermine Trump before the 2016 election ultimately became a means to undermine his presidency. The Mueller investigation, a 22-month effort to uncover alleged Russian collusion, predictably turned up nothing. There’s also an ongoing Inspector General’s investigation of the alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the DOJ and FBI. The final report should be released later this year. Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) predicted on Sunday that this report will be devastating and lead to indictments.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis