Former President Barack Obama has criticized Trump’s administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, describing it as “an absolute chaotic disaster” during a private call Friday night with people who worked for him in the White House and across his administration.
The comments offered the starkest assessment yet from the former president about how President Donald Trump and his team have handled the deadly pandemic and why he believes Democrats must rally behind former Vice President Joe Biden to defeat Trump in November.
In a 30-minute conversation with members of the Obama Alumni Association, the former president said the response to the coronavirus outbreak served as a critical reminder for why strong government leadership is needed during a global crisis.
The call was intended to encourage former Obama staffers to become more engaged in Biden’s presidential campaign.
“This election that’s coming up — on every level — is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party,” Obama said. “What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”
The comments were first reported by Yahoo News, which obtained an audio recording of the call. A spokesman for Obama declined to comment or elaborate on the former president’s remarks.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday dismissed the criticism from Obama, saying in a statement to CNN: “President Trump’s coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives.”
The White House did not respond to Obama’s comments on the Department of Justice’s decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn.