In his recently updated and expanded book on former President Obama, "Obama: The Call Of History," The New York Times' Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker addresses several hot-button topics, including why Obama failed to adequately address Russian meddling ahead of the 2016 election and his response to "buffoonish showman" Donald Trump shocking the world by defeating Hillary Clinton, a response that involved "multiple emotional stages."
In one of the sections of the book highlighted by The Daily Mail Friday, Baker peels back the curtain on why Obama was so weak in his response to Russian meddling ahead of the election in 2016 — something for which Trump has hammered Obama amid all the Robert Mueller-debunked "collusion" allegations.
"Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President. He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected," Trump tweeted last month.
The reason Obama didn't act more decisively and rebuke Russia more directly, says Baker, is that he feared that it might "escalate" the Russian interference campaign. This cautious approach, Baker suggests, flows out of Obama's "don't do stupid sh**" foreign policy philosophy, an approach for which Obama has been criticized in the past.
But fearing the escalation of the campaign wasn't the only reason Obama didn't act more forcefully, says Baker: Obama reportedly once admitted that "if I speak out more, he'll just say it's rigged."
According to Baker, in one meeting, Obama — who was convinced like most of the political establishment that Clinton was going to win — said confidently that Russian President Vladimir Putin had "backed the wrong horse" by supposedly helping Trump's campaign.
As the Daily Mail notes, it was only after the election, which Trump won in stunning fashion, that Obama finally took action against the Russians as punishment for the meddling his administration had known about for months. Obama's decision to expel a bunch of Russian diplomats conveniently fed into the "collusion" narrative that had already gotten rolling and which the election's loser, Clinton, helped promote.
The Daily Mail also draws attention to another juicy passage in the book which reveals new details about Obama's response to Trump's upset victory over the woman who was supposed to protect Obama's legacy.
Accoring to Baker, Obama watched the Marvel film "Dr. Strange" on election night with Michelle and Valerie Jarrett. At one point, Baker writes, Obama received an update on his phone and said, "Huh. Results in Florida are looking kind of strange."
While Michelle went to sleep early, Obama stayed up and witnessed Trump's devastating defeat of Clinton, which Baker suggests Obama found unthinkable because he thought there was "no way Americans would turn on him."
According to Baker, Obama phoned Clinton at 1 a.m. and advised her to concede quickly, advice she didn't take. In response, she supposedly said, "I'm sorry for letting you down."
Obama and his team, Baker says, did in fact feel that Clinton had let them down. "To Obama and his team ... the real blame lay squarely with Clinton. She was the one who could not translate his strong record and healthy economy into a winning message."