Barack Obama Says His Administration Showed It's 'Possible to Achieve Great Power Without Corruption'

Barack Obama corruption Donald Trump
Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to young leaders from across Europe in a Town Hall-styled session on April 6, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Former U.S. President Barack Obama told an audience in Brazil that his two-term White House administration showed power does not necessarily have to corrupt those who wield it, alluding to Lord Acton's famous quote: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Obama, whose presidency lasted from 2009 to 2017, was a keynote speaker at the VTEX DAY 2019 conference in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

His comments appear to be a rebuke of the incumbent President Donald Trump, whose controversial administration has been rocked by multiple scandals and controversies, such as the ongoing drama around special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation.

President Trump came to power off the back of a campaign that promised it would "drain the swamp," portraying himself as the man to clean up Washington of the corruption that tarnished it. He has since been dogged by accusations of corruption himself.

"Nobody was jailed. We made mistakes. We were not perfect. But we maintained integrity and we were able to show that it is possible to achieve great power without corruption," Obama said of his own administration, reported the Brazilian edition of El Pais.

Trump is currently under multiple investigations spanning federal, state and congressional authorities probing everything from his 2016 campaign, inauguration committee and White House administration to his finances, family business and more.

The Mueller report also laid out evidence that the president attempted multiple times to obstruct justice, fuelling the demands among many of his opponents and even some within the Republican Party that Congress move soon to impeach Trump.

Several people linked to President Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and ex-personal attorney Micahel Cohen, are in jail because of actions uncovered by Mueller's investigators.

Also, the Trump family is accused by Washington ethics watchdogs of trying to cash in on the White House, leveraging the presidency to advance their business interests all over the world.

One example is the president's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump's pursuit of patents in China while her father engages in a trade war with Beijing, which the campaign group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington suggested was a conflict of interest.

Obama also spoke of his presidency's hardest moments: Having to tell the parents of school shooting victims that he could not promise them America's gun laws would change to prevent the massacre of more children in the future. "U.S. gun laws do not make much sense," he said.

Recently, Trump has accused the Obama administration of authorizing the FBI to spy on his campaign, a claim that is so far without merit. President Trump accused the British intelligence agency GCHQ of assisting the Obama administration in "wire-tapping" his campaign.

"As we have previously stated, the allegations that GCHQ was asked to conduct 'wire-tapping' against the then-president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored," a GCHQ spokesperson told Newsweek in a statement at the time.