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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.

Go deeper: Trump allies sound 2020 election alarm over coronavirus slump

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Michelle Obama: "Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country ... it is what it is"

Michelle Obama said Monday night that from coronavirus deaths to the economy to foreign alliances and racial justice, President Trump has sewn "chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy."

The big picture: The former first lady is one of the most popular and motivating figures across the ideological range of the Democratic Party, and is one of the most powerful voices for turning out women and voters of color. Her speech was recorded. While she reprised her 2016 mantra — "When they go low, we go high" — Obama was direct in her criticism of Trump.

Democrats prioritize racial justice at convention

Eva Longoria introduces a tape of Michelle Obama. Photo: Democratic National Convention via Getty Images

On opening night of their awkward but stirring virtual convention, Democrats prioritized racial justice along with the pandemic and the recession.

Why it matters: On issues, Joe Biden's widest margin over President Trump in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is race relations — a 24 point spread.

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last week that he cannot support President Trump's re-election.

Why it matters: Hogan, a moderate governor in a blue state, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.