Barack Obama Opens Up About Roasting Donald Trump at 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner in New Book

by Chris Haney

During a segment towards the end of his new book, former President Barack Obama speaks out about roasting Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

On Nov. 17, former President Barack Obama released his new memoir A Promised Land. It took until page 672 for Obama to mention Trump out of the 706-page book. The former president opened up about Trump’s “birther” claims that say his birthplace was in Kenya, not the United States.

Obama wrote that during the first couple years of his presidency, Trump complimented his time in office. Trump told Bloomberg “overall I believe he’s done a very good job.” Yet, even when the real-estate developer accused Obama of not being born in America, the former president “found it hard to take him too seriously.”

However, Obama said he couldn’t predict the way the media took the claim and ran with it. He said “that outlets eagerly lined up to offer a platform for a baseless claim.”

Within Obama’s cabinet, staff members treated the birther accusations like a bad joke, something to be taken with a grain of salt. But, then polls reported that 40% of Republicans agreed with Trump that he was born outside of the U.S. Furthermore, Trump led all GOP presidential candidates without even declaring any intentions to run for office.

“I chose not to share that particular piece of news with Michelle,” Obama said of his wife. “Just thinking about Trump and the symbiotic relationship he’d developed with the media made her mad.”

Not long after, the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner offered the president an opportunity for a bit of revenge. The week previous to the dinner, Obama released his long-form birth certificate. Additionally, during his speech, he threw a few jabs at Trump who sat in the crowd.

Obama Facetiously Notes Trump’s ‘Credentials’ and ‘Experience’

“When it was my turn to speak, I stood up and started my routine. About halfway through, I turned my attention directly to Trump,” he wrote in A Promised Land.

“‘Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately,’ I said, ‘but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter — like, Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?’ As the audience broke into laughter, I continued in this vein, noting his ‘credentials and breadth of experience’ as host of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ and congratulating him for how he’d handled the fact that ‘at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.’ … These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.’

According to Obama, the businessman sat quietly with a “tepid smile” as the crowd cracked up at the jokes.

“I couldn’t begin to guess what went through his mind during the few minutes I spent ribbing him,” Obama wrote. “What I knew was that he was a spectacle, and in the United States of America in 2011, that was a form of power. Trump trafficked in a currency that, however shallow, seemed to gain purchase with each passing day. The same reporters who laughed at my jokes would continue to give him airtime. Their publishers would vie to have him sit at their tables.”

“Far from being ostracized for the conspiracies he’d peddled, he in fact had never been bigger,” Obama concluded.

Trump’s popularity grew even more in the coming years. Fast forward five years past the dinner, and Trump improbably won the 2016 presidential election.

A Promised Land covers the first two and a half years of Obama’s presidency, and has already broken multiple publisher sales records. The book is the first volume of two, but there is no public timetable for the second book.

[H/T L.A. Times]