Obama says Trump indictment shows US can ‘fight’ to hold onto ‘creaky’ democracy

‘You need a president who believes not just in the letter but in the spirit of democracy,’ 44th president Barack Obama said of Trump

Gustaf Kilander
Friday 23 June 2023 18:06 BST
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Former President Barack Obama has said that the indictment of his successor Donald Trump shows that “nobody is above the law”.

The 44th president urged people to fight for the institution of democracy.

Speaking in an hour-long interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN entitled Obama & Amanpour: Will Democracy Win?, the ex-commander-in-chief was asked about Mr Trump’s legal woes.

“It’s less than ideal,” Mr Obama, 61, said. “But the fact that we have a former president who is having to answer to charges brought by prosecutors does uphold the basic notion that nobody’s above the law, and the allegations will now be sorted out through a court process.”

“Having been president of the United States, you need a president who takes the oath of office seriously,” he added. “You need a president who believes not just in the letter but in the spirit of democracy.”

Mr Trump has been indicted on 37 counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents, including those pertaining to national security. At least one document concerns US nuclear weaponry, while another involves the nuclear capabilities of a foreign government.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and insists he is “an innocent man”. He has also claimed that he had “every right to have these documents”.

Mr Obama also discussed the extent to which democracy is working in the US, suggesting that the existing institutions needed to be reformed.

“I do believe that democracy will win if we fight for it,” Mr Obama told Ms Amanpour. “Our existing democratic institutions are creaky, and we’re going to have to reform them.”

The former president said that the attempts to “silence critics through changes in the legislative process” or “intimidate the press” were more concerning than the individual actions of Mr Trump.

He added that those efforts are “right now most prominent in the Republican Party, but I don’t think it’s something that is unique to one party”.

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