Obamagate, the opaque conspiracy theory that accuses President Obama of trying to sabotage his successor, is the “greatest political scandal in the history of the United States,” President Trump tweeted Friday. It’s at least the third time he’s claimed to be the victim of such a historic transgression.
The first “biggest political scandal in U.S. history” took place all the way back in 2018. Like Obamagate, it pins blame on the previous administration for attacks on Trump’s campaign. Spygate, as Trump called it, centered on the idea that a secret FBI informant was “implanted, for political purposes,” into Trump’s orbit.
Reality was much less exciting than Trump’s version of events. In 2016, foreign-policy scholar Stefan Halper, a former member of several Republican administrations, was asked to talk to George Papadopoulos and Carter Page about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Halper also met with Sam Clovis, a Trump campaign foreign-policy adviser who would go on to work in the White House.
But Halper wasn’t implanted into the Trump campaign, and he didn’t spy. That didn’t stop Trump from making his outlandish claims.
In 2019, Trump applied the phrase to what may actually be the biggest political scandal in U.S. history: the Russia probe. But in Trump’s view, the scandal is Robert Mueller’s investigation itself, not his campaign’s connections to the Kremlin or his own efforts to thwart the probe. Last February, Trump tweeted a quote from a Fox News talking head referring to “the Witch Hunt” as “the greatest scandal in American political history.” In March, he said Mueller’s investigation was an attempt by Democrats to steal the 2016 election and “the biggest Scandal in the history of our Country!” Then, in November, he said the Justice Department’s probe of the investigation would reveal “perhaps the biggest scandal in the history of our country.”
As recently as two weeks ago, as the Obamagate conspiracy was taking shape, Trump slapped his favorite label on “The Russia Hoax.”
It’s unclear what the next “greatest political scandal in U.S. history” will be. One thing we can be sure of though is that Trump will be the victim.