Without mentioning President Trump, former President Barack Obama praised his indictment-free tenure Tuesday during an invitation-only gala in Houston.
Obama’s remarks came at the tail end of an hour-long interview with former Secretary of State James A. Baker III during the 25th anniversary celebration of the nonpartisan Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“Not only did I not get indicted, nobody in my administration got indicted,” Obama said to a crowd of more than 1,000. “By the way, it was the only administration in modern history that that can be said about. In fact, nobody came close to being indicted, probably because the people who joined us were there for the right reasons.”
Presidential historian Jon Meacham, who moderated the conversational interview between both men, asked Baker, 88, what he was most proud of in his time serving three presidents.
“I’m most proud that I had the privilege of serving two presidents as chief of staff, of being secretary of treasury, of being secretary of state, of running five presidential campaigns, and of leaving Washington without getting indicted,” Baker responded.
Since taking office almost two years ago, several Trump aides and associates have been indicted or pleaded guilty to various crimes. On Monday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller said former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying to the FBI and his office.
At one point Meacham compared Trump to the fictional Harry Potter villain Voldemort.
Obama and Baker covered a wide range of topics, including redistricting, with Obama calling Texas a “champion of gerrymandering” and the evolution of the media and its impact on partisanship.
Baker, who served under Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, said “the responsible center in American politics has disappeared.”
“Whether it was Cronkite, Brinkley, or what have you, there was a common set of facts, a baseline around which both parties had to respond to,” Obama added. “By the time I take office, what we see is if you are a Fox News viewer, your reality is dramatically different than a New York Times reader.”
On foreign policy, Baker raised concerns over America’s standing in the world under Trump’s watch.
“American leadership in the world is absolutely imperative,” he said. “No other country can do it,” adding that America won the Cold War “because we had alliances.”
The former president also called for a stop to what he said was the growing threat of bigotry, FOX 26 Houston reported.
“In those environments, you then start getting a different kind of politics. You start getting politics that’s based on ‘That person’s not like me and it must be their fault,” Obama said. “And you start getting politics based on a nationalism, that’s not pride and country, but hatred for somebody on the other side of the border.”
Prior to the gala, Obama met with former President George H.W. Bush, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted.
“The two had a very pleasant and private visit at the Bush residence, where they rekindled what was already a very warm friendship,” he wrote on Twitter.