With latest jabs, Trump-Obama relationship reaches historic nastiness

With latest jabs, Trump-Obama relationship reaches historic nastiness

Overview

By Kevin Liptak and Athena Jones, CNN

Washington (CNN)It’s a long-distance feud, transmitted over the airwaves and on social media, that’s now devolved well beyond a small political spat.
For President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, the animosity that started years ago has never waned, except for a month-long period during the presidential transition.

Now, the current and former president are carrying out the nastiest public dispute in modern presidential history, one that began on deeply personal terms and which now plays out nearly every time Trump finds a policy he dislikes or a perceived double standard.

The acrimony is largely one-sided; while Obama has not made a direct assault on Trump’s character since last year’s presidential campaign concluded, Trump has steadily increased his stinging criticism of Obama.
This week, it was the previous administration’s response to Russian election hacking that drew Trump’s ire. Last week, it was his signature health care law. Since the final time they spoke on Inauguration Day, Trump has lit into Obama over his handling of North Korean hostages, his decision to join the Paris climate accord and his policy toward Cuba.

And then there’s his baseless accusation that Obama ordered wiretapping at Trump Tower, a charge he never fully explained and which he’s not yet retracted.
“He was very nice to me but after that we’ve had some difficulties,” Trump said nonchalantly to a CBS interviewer last month. “So it doesn’t matter. Words are less important to me than deeds. You saw what happened with surveillance, and everybody saw what happened with surveillance.”
In fact, few people saw what happened, at least in the way Trump described it. The accusation, which sources said annoyed the former president, was the moment it became clear to those in both Trump and Obama’s spheres that a functional relationship — which past presidents have long cherished with one another — was not in the offing.
“He hasn’t let up the entire time,” bemoaned one former Obama White House official, who said Trump was merely attempting to distract from is own woes by directing attention at his predecessor.
“He operates by making people his enemy,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to describe the relationship between the two presidents. “If it deflects the focus from being on him, that’s a win for him.”