WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly is walking back a claim he made last week that former President Barack Obama is running a shadow government to undermine the Trump administration.
“Rep. Kelly does not believe that President Obama is personally operating a shadow government. He does believe it would be helpful to the new administration if the former president would personally call for an end to all leaks and obstruction by personnel from his administration who currently serve in the executive branch,” Kelly spokesman Tom Qualtere said in a written statement Friday evening.
That’s not what Mr. Kelly, R-Butler, told fellow Republicans at a private Lincoln Day dinner at Grove City College last Saturday. A video of his remarks posted on YouTube quickly spread through political circles in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
In the short video clip, Mr. Kelly dismissed the explanation that the former president remains in Washington so his daughter Sasha can finish high school there.
“He’s only there for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to run a shadow government that is going to totally upset the new agenda,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’ve got a new CEO. We’ve got some new heads in the different departments, but the same people are there, and they don’t believe the new owners and the new managers should be running the shop.”
Mr. Qualtere told the Associated Press the remarks were offered to an audience of fellow Republicans who shared Mr. Kelly’s frustration that “certain Obama administration holdovers within the federal government are attempting to upset President Trump’s agenda.”
Mr. Qualtere said the congressman supports the Obamas’ decision to stay in Washington while Sasha finishes school.
Mr. Kelly is one of Mr. Obama’s most consistent critics. He was early supporter for Mr. Trump, and the conservative Washington Examiner recently labeled him as one of eight "favorite House members" of the president.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Friday blasted Mr. Kelly for “peddling conspiracies and alternative realities” instead of addressing real problems.
The clip of the Mercer County event was posted from a YouTube account that has also uploaded several other videos that cast the Trump administration and congressional Republicans in a poor light.
Staff writer Chris Potter contributed. Tracie Mauriello: email@example.com, 703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.
First Published March 10, 2017 1:08 PM