Fact Check: Obama Did NOT Say: 'Legally, An Impeached President Can't Appoint Judges'

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Obama Did NOT Say: 'Legally, An Impeached President Can't Appoint Judges' Totally Fake

Did Barack Obama say, "Legally, an impeached president can't appoint judges"? No, that's not true. The satire website Obamawatcher.com published the fake article claiming that the former president gave a legal argument for why President Donald Trump could not nominate someone for the United States Supreme Court. The website is part of America's Last Line of Defense, a network of satire websites that uses fake articles to trick conservatives and/or Republicans into outrage. Sometimes the stories are shared as real.

The story appeared as an article published by Obamawatcher.com on September 21, 2020, titled "Obama : 'Legally, An Impeached President Can't Appoint Judges'" (archived here) which opened:

Obama is the foremost Constitutional legal scholar in the country.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Obama : 'Legally, An Impeached President Can't Appoint Judges'

Obama is the foremost Constitutional legal scholar in the country.

The article gives many clues that it is satirical, including it is filed under the site's "Barack Obama Fan Fiction" category. It appeared after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died and Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat on the Supreme Court.

The article reads:

According to an interview with Joe Barron of the Washington periodical Impeached Embarrassments Monthly, Trump lost his constitutional permission to assign or appoint any person to any legislative body of any kind after he was permanently and forever impeached in the course of his first and soon to be only term in office. Obama made the statement clear by citing code within the Constitution referring to the penalties of being a failed and disgraced commander in chief.

"Ah, if you folks look up Article eleven, section five, you'll see very clearly where it denies any person elected to the Presidency and then consequently legally impeached by the Congress, all power of appointment that may 'take responsibility for decisions in a manner that reflect the shame and disgrace of a leader who was shamed with the criminal reflection of his station.' In other words, ah, it's similar to denying a convicted prisoner the right to vote. It's a legally-valid label of untrustworthiness. I mean, come on, you wouldn't let someone who caused a dozen traffic pileups to drive a car the next day, right?"

The publication "Impeached Embarrassments Monthly," does not exist and there are only seven articles in the United States Constitution, not 11.

The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run by self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. He runs several websites and Facebook pages with visible satire disclaimers everywhere. They mostly publish made-up stories with headlines specifically created to trigger Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians into angrily sharing or commenting on the story on Facebook without actually reading the full article, exposing them to mockery and ridicule by fans of the sites and pages.

Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):

About Satire
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":

The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who omit the satire disclaimer and other hints the stories are fake. One of the most persistent networks of such sites is run by a man from Pakistan named Kashif Shahzad Khokhar (aka "DashiKashi") who has spammed hundreds of such stolen stories into conservative and right-wing Facebook pages in order to profit from the ad revenue.

When fact checkers point this out to the people liking and sharing these copycat stories some of them get mad at the fact checkers instead of directing their anger at the foreign spammers or the liberal satire writers. Others send a polite "thank you" note, which is much appreciated.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes obamawatcher.com as:

A network of sites that publish false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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