Former President Barack Obama went after Republicans in a CNN interview on Monday for accepting “unrecognizable and unacceptable” positions in their party.
Obama told CNN host Anderson Cooper he thought there were “enough guardrails institutionally” that would allow the Republican establishment to hold back former President Donald Trump. He added that the “dark spirits” that began to rise among Republicans during his presidency have now become the base of the party.
Instead of calling out questionable behavior, Obama said Republicans have been “cowed into accepting” views that “would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.”
Former President Barack Obama says, “We have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.” pic.twitter.com/uKtzcHbozW
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 8, 2021
In particular, the former president blamed Republicans for their willingness “to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy” he said would have been out-of-line in previous years. His remarks were largely a reference to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when a pro-Trump mob breached the building during the legislature’s certification of the 2020 election results. (RELATED: New Book Alleges Obama Smeared ‘Madman’ Trump As ‘Racist, Sexist Pig’)
Almost all Republican lawmakers at the time, including then-Vice President Mike Pence and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned the riot. A handful of Republican lawmakers later voted to impeach Trump in the riot’s aftermath.
But Obama attacked Republicans for walking back their criticism of Trump, who remains influential within the party and continues to echo his allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“And then poof, suddenly everybody was back in line,” Obama said.
“I didn’t expect that there would be so few people who would say, ‘Well I don’t mind losing my office because this is too important, America’s too important, our democracy is too important,'” he added. “We didn’t see that.”
The former president said he hopes “the tides will turn” but added that “it doesn’t happen just automatically.”