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No ‘Treason’ or ‘Bust’ for Obama

Q: Have the “feds bust[ed] Barack Obama” on felony charges?

A: No. That claim is based on the false assertion that the former president committed treason in his last few months in office.


A story making the rounds online has distorted an account of former President Barack Obama’s last few months in office. The story claims that he committed treason and that there has been a “bust” by the “feds.”

Neither is true.

The claims were concocted from a story published in the New York Times on May 30 that included anecdotes from a book by one of Obama’s longtime advisers, Ben Rhodes.

Among those anecdotes are Rhodes’ recollection of responses from world leaders after the Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election — but before President Donald Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017 — when Obama was still president.

New York Times, May 30: Mr. Rhodes describes the reaction of foreign leaders. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan apologized for breaching protocol by meeting with Mr. Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan after the election. Mr. Obama urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to take on a more vocal role defending the values they shared.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama that she felt more obliged to run for another term because of Mr. Trump’s election to defend the liberal international order. When they parted for the final time, Ms. Merkel had a single tear in her eye. “She’s all alone,” Mr. Obama noted.

The bogus story quotes from the Times story, but casts it this way: “Barack Hussein Obama was just caught redhanded trying to cоnvince Canаdian President Justin Trudeau to help him take down President Donald Trump.”

It concludes: “Obama blatantly committed treason here.”

The U.S. Constitution defines treason this way: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

But the story offers no evidence to support the claim that Obama committed treason.

Similarly, it offers no evidence to support the claim it makes in the headline: “The Feds Bust Barack Obama FELONY — This Is It.”

The former president was photographed in May meeting with fellows at the Obama Foundation and is scheduled to headline a political fundraiser in Los Angeles on June 28. There is no evidence of a “bust” by federal officials — which, obviously, would be major news.

At least three different websites posted the story and two YouTube channels posted videos with a robotic voice reading versions of the story.

Facebook users flagged the written stories as potentially false. They are.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.


Baker, Peter. “How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’” The New York Times. 30 May 2018.

Rhodes, Ben. “The World as It Is: A Memoir of The Obama White House.” Penguin Random House. 2018.

National Archives. “The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” Accessed 5 Jun 2018.

The Feds Bust Barack Obama FELONY — This Is It.” FreedomPoliticsToday.org. 3 Jun 2018.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018