Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania asserted on March 4, and later denied, a conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama staying in Washington, D.C., to run a "shadow government" as a private citizen (video below).
Kelly told Republicans at Grove City College in Pennsylvania during a private dinner that Obama was not staying in Washington because his daughter Sasha is finishing high school, but for a far more sinister reason, notes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
President Obama himself said he was going to stay in Washington until his daughter graduated. I think we ought to pitch in to let him go someplace else, because he is 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. It just doesn’t make sense.
And people sit back and they say to me, "My gosh, why can’t you guys get this done?" I say, "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 that the new owners or the new managers should be running the ship."
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After video of Kelly's extraordinary statement went viral, Kelly's spokesman Tom Qualtere denied on March 10 that Kelly believes Obama is running a shadow government, but did call on the former president to stop the leaks from the Trump White House:
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.
The spokesman told The Associated Press that Kelly's debunked conspiracy theory -- debunked by Kelly himself -- was stated to fellow Republicans who believe there are "certain Obama administration holdovers within the federal government are attempting to upset President Trump’s agenda."
Qualtere gave no names or evidence for this new assertion, but he noted that Kelly "fully supports" the former president's choice to stay in the city until his daughter graduates.
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In response to Kelly's remarks, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party scolded Kelly for "peddling conspiracies and alternative realities."
The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Kelly's particular conspiracy theory has also been pushed by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the New York Post and the Fox Business channel, where Kelly often appears as a guest.