May 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell calls Obama's criticism of Trump "classless"

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wears a mask as he walks through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said during an online Trump campaign event Monday former President Obama should have "kept his mouth shut" on President Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Obama has rarely commented on Trump since leaving office, but he has begun to speak out on the president and his administration's policies. McConnell noted former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush "kept their mouths shut" on successors because they deemed it inappropriate to comment on other presidents.

What he's saying: "I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut. You know, we know he doesn't like much this administration is doing, that's understandable," McConnell said to Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, who is the president's daughter-in-law.

  • "But I think it's a little bit classless frankly to critique an administration that comes after you. You had your shot. You were there for eight years."
"I think the tradition that the Bushes set up of not critiquing the president who comes after you is a good tradition."
— McConnell's remarks to Lara Trump

The big picture: Obama began speaking out on Trump administration policies in April, when he tweeted the U.S. is still waiting for a "coherent national plan" to manage the pandemic.

  • In comments leaked to Yahoo News Friday he called Trump's handling of the pandemic a "chaotic disaster" and said the "rule of law is at risk" over the Justice Department's dropping of charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  • Trump addressed the leaked comments during a tweetstorm on matters including Russia and his predecessor's administration Sunday evening, retweeting a conservative criticizing Obama for his leaked remarks. "He got caught, OBAMAGATE!" Trump said in his retweet. He's repeatedly accused Obama of committing a crime, though he didn't elaborate on his claim during a news briefing Monday.
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