US President Donald Trump has unleashed an angry Twitter tirade as former president Barack Obama slammed the country’s incumbent leader for his “failure” to serve the American people in damning speech.
During Mr Obama’s address at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Mr Trump appeared to be following along, firing off rounds of angry tweets, apparently not taking kindly to the criticism.
Tweeting in all caps, the 74-year-old president accused Mr Obama of “spying on his campaign” in 2016 and claimed his predecessor initially refused to endorse Joe Biden and “tried to stop him from running”.
The outburst from the President came as Mr Obama denounced him as deeply unfit for the office he occupies.
After avoiding direct criticism for most of Donald Trump's first term, the scathing broadsides from Mr Obama constituted an unusually harsh assessment of one president by another.
In a speech that generated a huge reaction on social media, Mr Obama said Donald Trump has shown “no interest in anything other than treating the presidency as another reality TV show for him to get the attention he craves.”
The previous president decried the state of the country’s reputation abroad and said Mr Trump had unleashed the “worst impulses” of the American people.
US correspondent for the ABC, David Lipson, was among those who claimed the speech would go down in history.
“The more I think about this, the more I think it was a truly historic speech. I know that word gets thrown around a lot but it was something for the ages,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Washington correspondent for The Australian newspaper, Cameron Stewart, agreed. “This is the most remarkable political speech of 2020,” he said.
HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2020
WHY DID HE REFUSE TO ENDORSE SLOW JOE UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER, AND EVEN THEN WAS VERY LATE? WHY DID HE TRY TO GET HIM NOT TO RUN?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2020
Commenting on the reaction from the president, the chief White House correspondent for CNN, Jim Acosta, suggested Mr Trump, who is quick to criticise opponents, was unable to handle some of his own medicine.
“After a lifetime of trolling others, Trump appears to be the one who is seriously triggered tonight, repeatedly tweeting in ALL CAPS in response to speeches from Obama and Kamala Harris at the DNC.”
‘It’s a death cult’: Donald Trump embraces QAnon
Earlier on Wednesday (local time), Mr Trump praised the supporters of QAnon, a convoluted, pro-Trump conspiracy theory, and suggested he appreciates their support of his candidacy.
Once considered too toxic for Trump campaigners, the moment represented an astonishing embrace of the cult-like believers by the president.
Speaking during a press conference at the White House, Mr Trump courted the support of those who put stock in the conspiracy theory, saying: “I heard that these are people that love our country”.
It was his first public comment on the subject and continued a pattern of the president appearing unwilling to resoundingly condemn extremists who support his candidacy.
QAnon has ricocheted around the darker corners of the internet since late 2017, but has been creeping into mainstream politics more and more. The baseless theory centres on an alleged anonymous, high-ranking government official known as “Q” who shares information about an anti-Trump “deep state” often tied to satanism and child sex trafficking.
Political commentator and former spokesperson for President Obama and the United States National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, was among the many to condemn the president’s tacit endorsement of the bizarre online group which the FBI has designated as a “domestic terror threat”.
“This QAnon answer is a f***king disgrace. It's a death cult,” he wrote on Twitter.
“The FBI identified QAnon as a violent domestic terrorism threat and Trump is pretending not to know what it is while absolutely encouraging them and incentivising more insane behaviour.”
Trump insisted he hadn’t heard much about the movement, “other than I understand they like me very much” and “it is gaining in popularity”.
Trump has retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts, and shirts and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans are not uncommon at his rallies after organisers and the Trump campaign initially tried to distance themselves from the group’s followers.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.