Former President Barack Obama all but called out President Donald Trump in a speech Friday, criticizing Trump ― without using his name ― for how he’s responded to the likely bombs sent to his political enemies this week.
Obama’s comments, made while stumping for Wisconsin Democrats ahead of next month’s election, came amid broad criticism that Trump should be held accountable for his violent rhetoric. Trump has frequently targeted CNN, Hillary Clinton, Obama and others who were mailed at least a dozen packages containing what authorities say were pipe bombs.
“Whatever your political background, I am hoping you think it is wrong to hear people spend years, months vilifying people, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people,” Obama said. “And then suddenly, you are concerned about civility. Please.”
His remarks play off comments Trump made at a rally Wednesday, the day most of the bomb attempts were discovered. The president said the media “has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories.” The “mainstream media” is what’s causing the “anger we see today in our society,” Trump tweeted the next day.
Obama again appeared to take aim at Trump by calling out politicians who are all words and no action.
“We do not need more mealy-mouthed elected officials who claim they are disappointed by this bad behavior and then don’t do anything about it and just go along with it,” he said. “We need leaders who actually stand up for what is right, regardless of party.”
Obama also used the speech to point out the hypocrisy of Republicans overlooking Trump’s reported use of an insecure cellphone, which White House sources told The New York Times earlier this week is being hacked into by Chinese and Russian spies. The GOP and Trump relentlessly went after Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server.
“They didn’t care about her emails … because if they did, they’d be up in arms right now, as the Chinese are listening to the president’s iPhone that he leaves in his golf cart,” Obama quipped.