Remember when the news broke over the summer about the death of Tafari Campbell, former President Barack Obama’s personal chef? You could be forgiven for forgetting because the media went silent soon thereafter.
Now, there has been a surprising turn of events after Judicial Watch filed a brand-new report shedding more light on the incident.
We’re learning much more about the tragic death at Obama’s home.
We received 40 pages of records from the Massachusetts State Police that indicate the presence of Barack Obama for a witness interview in the death investigation of the Obamas’ personal chef Tafari Campbell.
The records, which are heavily redacted, indicate Barack Obama arrived at the emergency response scene via motorcade. A short time later, a cold, wet woman, who was a witness, arrived. The next morning, the eyewitness was interviewed in the Obama residence, again with Barack Obama present.
The report sparks a multitude of questions. It’s as if the more one digs into it, the murkier it gets. The primary issues at play are related to transparency, witness interviews, footage from the Secret Service, and other details.
For starters, there is the absence of information gleaned from interviews with potential witnesses. The documents that Judicial Watch obtained mention these interviews but do not give much in the way of detail. Surely, the authorities were able to get some valuable information from those who were nearby when the drowning occurred – why wouldn’t the details be in the documentation?
Next, the documents mention footage in the possession of the Secret Service. It showed “two individuals identified as CAMPBELL” and another unidentified person “walking on the boardwalk from the area of the residence, toward the shoreline of Edgartown Great Pond.” It also shows the two individuals “obtain paddleboards and paddles from a small alcove near the shoreline, and subsequently enter the water.”
The footage then shows a rescue swimmer “running from his assigned post towards the shoreline of Edgartown Great Pond” almost one hour after Campbell and the other person entered the water. So far, the footage has not been released to the public even though the investigators decided that Campbell’s death “is a result of an accidental drowning” and “is not criminal in nature, and foul play is not suspected.” The investigator also requested that the case be classified as closed.
Witnesses recounted the incident when speaking with the authorities:
[Redacted] explained that when she and CAMPBELL began paddleboarding, they both remained on their knees while they paddled in Edgartown Great Pond. [Redacted] continued to say that at one point, she stood up on the paddleboard, and then saw CAMPBELL attempting to stand up on his board shortly thereafter. [Redacted] stated that after approximately 30 seconds of standing, she observed CAMPBELL lose his balance on the board and saw him fall into the water. [Redacted] stated that she yelled to CAMPBELL to grab onto the board in front of him, however, she observed he quickly begin to panic while yelling for help. [Redacted] stated that she left her board and attempted to swim to CAMPBELL to help him, however, she said by the time she reached CAMPBELLS board it was ‘too late’, and he went under the water…. [Redacted] stated that neither she, nor CAMPBELL consumed any alcohol or drugs prior to paddleboarding.
One of the biggest sticking points with this case is the fact that Campbell was not able to swim. The document notes the chef’s lack of swimming skills in the investigation’s report.
The documents show Campbell’s family told police that he had taken swimming lessons in 2019 but described his ability as “not a great swimmer.” The drowning occurred in Edgartown Great Pond, which Massachusetts Environmental Police estimated “to be approximately seven to eight feet deep.”
The records also show a female eyewitness, an Obama employee whose name is redacted, told state police that she saw Campbell “fall off his paddleboard, began splashing and became extremely panicked, yelling for help and subsequently went underwater very quickly.” By the time she reached his paddleboard, the witness said Campbell had “disappeared into the extremely murky” water.
So, why would someone who does not know how to swim get on a paddleboard in water that is seven to eight feet deep?
Lastly, we have the problem of transparency —or lack thereof. Much of the documentation was redacted, meaning that Judicial Watch was not able to publish details that might be pertinent to understanding this case. This would make one wonder what the authorities are hiding. Are national security concerns at play, or is there something else lurking under the surface?
Of course, it is also possible that some of the redacted information concealed the identity of witnesses in order to protect their privacy. But it also left out information that was not related to the people on the scene.
There is also the question of why it took so long for the authorities to release this information. Judicial Watch submitted the request in late July, and it was just released.
In the end, this could be a simple tragic case of drowning. Unfortunately, it happens quite often. But the secrecy surrounding this incident leaves questions that may never be answered.