May 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama rips Trump's coronavirus response as "absolute chaotic disaster"

Former President Obama.
Photo: Zahim Mohd/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama called President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic an "absolute chaotic disaster," according to a leaked web call with former members of his administration first obtained by Yahoo News.

Why it matters: Obama has rarely criticized his successor since leaving office in 2017, though he has been ramping up his virus-related social media as the death toll in the U.S. continues to increase. Last month, Obama tweeted that the country is still waiting for a "coherent national plan" to manage the virus.

What they're saying: During the web call, Obama urged former staffers to rally behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee who is expected to take on Trump in the November election.

  • "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," Obama said. "It's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty."
  • Obama acknowledged that the pandemic "would have been bad even with the best of governments," but added that it "has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of 'what's in it for me' and 'to heck with everybody else' — when that mindset is operationalized in our government."

The other side: Trump on Sunday defended his response to the pandemic, tweeting: "We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic, especially the very early BAN of people from China, the infectious source, entering the USA. Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks, bad polls - didn’t have a clue!"

By the numbers: So far, at least 1,309,541 people in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus and 78,794 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

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