Washington Post Called Criticism of Obama’s Whispered Promise to a Foreign Leader ‘Political Sniping’

By Craig Bannister | September 19, 2019 | 2:00pm EDT
President Donald Trump (L) and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 (Screenshot)

When President Barack Obama was caught on a live microphone making a promise to a foreign leader in 2012, The Washington Post called Republican criticism “political sniping” that threatened to hinder his ability to perform his presidential duties.

When President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul on March, 26, 2012 a live microphone picked up a whispered conversation in which Obama told Medvedev to tell Putin that Obama would "have more flexibility" after his re-election.

Obama told Medvedev it was important for incoming President Vladimir Putin to "give me space" on missile defense and other difficult issues and that after the 2012 presidential election he would have "more flexibility." Medvedev said he would "transmit" the message to Putin.

“This is my last election," Obama said. "After my election I have more flexibility.” “I understand," Medvedev said. "I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

The day after Obama’s comments went viral, The Post ran an article titled, "President Obama defends ‘flexibility’ remarks to Medvedev,” noting Obama’s success at “eliciting laughs” about the incident:

“President Obama on Tuesday poked fun at himself — and offered an explanation — a day after he was caught on a live television feed making candid remarks that he did not realize were being recorded.”

“[T]he president defended his comments after being asked about them by a reporter. Obama called missile defense “extraordinarily complex, very technical” and said it would be virtually impossible to win broad consensus in Congress for any new major security agreements with Russia in an election year.

“’First of all, are the mikes on?’ Obama began, eliciting laughs.”

The Post then declared scrutiny of Pres. Obama’s promise to Putin and Medvedev “political sniping” – which the paper warned could hinder the president’s ability to strike a deal limiting nuclear weapons:

“The political sniping over the president’s remarks has threatened to overshadow, at least back in the United States, his participation in the nuclear summit and even his administration’s admonishment of North Korea over its plan to launch a long-range rocket next month.”

Earlier this week, The Post published a story claiming that an unnamed person said that President Donald Trump made an (unreported) “promise” to a foreign leader, reports:

A Washington Post report provides new fodder for determined anti-Trump investigators.

The newspaper reported Tuesday that a "whistleblower complaint" so far withheld from Congress involves President Trump’s communications, reportedly a phone call, with a foreign leader.

"Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a 'promise' that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community," the Washington Post said, quoting "two former U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly."


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