Former President Barack Obama claimed his White House had avoided scandal “without exception” in the first installment of his two-part memoir, A Promised Land, released this week.
“Without exception, we avoided scandal,” Obama wrote. “I’d made clear at the start of my administration that I’d have zero-tolerance for ethical lapses, and people who had a problem with that didn’t join us in the first place.”
In the book, Obama claims he was able to prevent tensions from turning into bigger conflicts.
He noted that staffers often became upset at then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s “occasional outbursts during early-morning staff meetings,” at National Economic Council Director Larry Summers for “cutting people out of certain economic policy discussions,” and at Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Valerie Jarrett for taking advantage of “her personal relationship” with former First Lady Michelle Obama.
“The cumulative effects of exhaustion—along with an increasingly angry public, an unsympathetic press, disenchanted allies, and an opposition party with both the means and the intent to turn everything we did into an interminable slog—had a way of fraying nerves and shortening tempers,” he said.
But overall, “we avoided the open hostilities and constant leaks that had characterized some previous administrations,” he claimed.
Obama’s White House, however, was not scandal free.
His administration was known for being antagonistic toward the press, even spying on several reporters.
It was under Obama’s White House that the Internal Revenue Service was caught targeting conservative organizations.
And his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice were heavily criticized for their disastrous handling of the 2012 assault on the U.S.’s outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
Other scandals that occurred during the Obama administration have only come to light afterward, such as the conflicts of interest that Vice President Joe Biden had involving his family business arrangements while serving as the foreign-policy point-man in places like China and Ukraine.
The corruption of Obama’s intelligence community—with the president’s tacit, if not explicit, approval—also resulted in scandalous abuses of the domestic-surveillance processes outlined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
That included orchestrating the false Russia collusion smear against then-candidate Donald Trump, which it later used to undermine his presidency.
However, the fact that the FBI and other intelligence operations needed to go through the FISA process was only because a prior domestic surveillance program—in which the National Security Agency systematically scooped up metadata from countless Americans without their knowledge or permission—was exposed by whistleblower James Snowden.