Barack Obama
**FILE** Former President Barack Obama speaks to students at the University of Illinois where he accepted the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government in Urbana, Illinois, on September 7, 2018. The award is an annual honor given by the university's Institute of Government and Public Affairs to recognize public officials who have made significant contributions in public service. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama pointedly rebuked his successor Donald Trump’s first years in office during a speech in Illinois on Friday, slamming the current state of affairs in the nation’s capital.

“It did not start with Donald Trump — he is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said during his speech Friday at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”

Obama said Trump is such a threat to America that he felt compelled to call out the sitting commander in chief in a manner almost unheard of for a former president.

“I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who we are, what it is that we stand for,” Obama said. “As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I’m here to deliver a simple message, which is that you need to vote, because our democracy depends on it.”

Obama lamented the “crazy stuff” coming out of the White House and blasted the president for his handling of the Justice Department, particularly Trump tweets that repeatedly take Attorney General Jeff Sessions to task.

“It should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents,” he said.

Trump fired back shortly after the Obama speech during a rally in North Dakota, telling the audience that he “fell asleep” while watching it.

Obama plans to rally Saturday in California for a handful of Democratic congressional candidates and an event Sept. 13 in Ohio for Richard Cordray, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In addition, he is planning campaign trips to Illinois and Pennsylvania this month, as well as a New York fundraiser for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an organization led by Eric Holder, a longtime Obama friend and former Attorney General.

The former president, who announced his first round of endorsements earlier this year, said he will announce his second round of endorsements in the coming weeks.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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