Obama Knew Clooney Was Going to Call for Biden to Drop Out. He Didn’t Try to Stop Him

Before publishing his bombshell op-ed in The New York Times, George Clooney reportedly sought counsel from a friend: former President Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, the Academy Award-winning actor — and longtime Democrat — published an opinion piece in the Times calling for President Joe Biden to end his reelection campaign, and allow the party to select a replacement for November’s presidential ticket.

The frank assessment of Biden’s mental and physical decline sent shockwaves through Democratic circles. Less than a month ago, Clooney had hosted a $30 million, star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles on Biden’s behalf. Obama and Biden had shared the stage for an interview conducted by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel.

In the aftermath of Biden’s disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump, the fundraiser would become relevant not because of its monetary haul, but as a pre-debate sign of Biden’s decline in mental acuity.  “The Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago […] was not the Joe “big F-ing deal” Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” Clooney wrote.

According to a Thursday report from Politico, before hitting publish, Clooney reached out to Obama to give him notice about the article, and the former president did not raise a hand to stop him.

Two sources told Politico that Obama neither encouraged nor attempted to dissuade Clooney from moving forward with his plans.Obama was one of the first prominent Democrats to defend his former vice president in the aftermath of the debate. “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know,” the former president wrote in June. “But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

But as more Democrats call for Biden to exit the race, Obama’s absence from the public conversation surrounding his former running mate is becoming a sore spot for Biden’s allies.

On Thursday MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough — a longtime favorite of Biden’s — claimed that “the Biden campaign and many Democratic officials do believe that Barack Obama is quietly working behind the scenes to orchestrate” the public pressure against Biden.

Rolling Stone reported in the immediate aftermath of the debate that some liberal lawmakers and their advisers had floated reaching out to Obama and pleading for his help in convincing Biden to step aside.

“Maybe Obama will save us,” one Democratic member of Congress wrote, in late-night written communications reviewed by Rolling Stone.

It remains unclear if Obama has spoken directly to Biden, but it’s obvious at this point that he’s not going out of his way to publicly push the party into the president’s corner.

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