Former President Barack Obama unloaded on President Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, calling it “an absolute chaotic disaster.” Obama’s critique was captured in a recording of a private phone conversation with former members of his administration.
Obama could also be heard on the call, obtained by Yahoo News and released on Friday, discussing this week’s move by the Justice Department to drop charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, characterizing the decision as putting “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.”
While talking about the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic and the international response, the former president spoke to the importance of the coming presidential election and signaled an increased role for himself. Obama also talked about a battle against growing longterm trends of “being selfish” and tribal divides.
“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. What we’re fighting against is these longterm 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.
The former president continued, calling Trump’s pandemic response “an absolute chaotic disaster.”
“And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well. It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. 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.”
Obama also raised concerns about the importance of the DOJ’s decision on Flynn and how it might be getting lost in the coverage of the pandemic, saying, “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn.”
The former president continued, pointing out how Attorney General William Barr’s move was unprecedented and could spiral out of control.
“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places,” Obama said.
Thus far there’s been no response from Trump regarding Obama’s leaked remarks. But as predictable as the “there’s always a tweet” meme has become, so is the coming tweetstorm on this. It’s only a matter of when.