Barack Obama criticized Donald Trump during a private phone call

By Ally Mauch
Updated May 10, 2020 09:18 AM
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

In a rare moment, former President Barack Obama has harshly criticized President Donald Trump for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to an audio recording of a private call obtained by Yahoo News, Obama called the Trump administration's response "an absolute chaotic disaster." The former president's call was with members of the Obama Alumni Administration.

"It's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty," Obama said. "It would have been bad even with the best of governments. 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."

"That's why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden," he added during the call, which was meant to encourage former Obama staffers to support former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

"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."

Obama also discussed the Department of Justice's decision to drop charges against former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. He said "the rule of law was at risk" in the United States following the move by Attorney General William Barr's to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn.

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In a statement obtained by PEOPLE from Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, defended the president's handling of the coronavirus pandemic but did not touch on Obama's comments regarding Flynn.

"President Trump’s coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives," the statement said. "While Democrats were pursuing a sham witch hunt against President Trump, President Trump was shutting down travel from China. While Democrats encouraged mass gatherings, President Trump was deploying PPE, ventilators, and testing across the country. As Governor Cuomo said, President Trump’s response has been 'phenomenal.' There has been bipartisan recognition of President Trump’s leadership, and the American people have taken notice."

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