Obama describes Trump's handling of coronavirus as 'absolute chaotic disaster'
In a private conference call with people who worked for him in the White House, Obama called the US handling of the pandemic "an absolute chaotic disaster". He said he wants to play a larger role supporting Joe Biden in the presidential election in November.
Former US President Barack Obama has strongly criticised his successor Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus crisis. He described the current administration's response to the virus outbreak as "an absolute chaotic disaster" in a conference call with people who worked for him in the White House and across his administration.
According to CNN, the comments by three former Obama administration officials on the call offered "the starkest assessment yet" from the former President about how Trump and his team have handled the deadly pandemic and why he believes Democrats must rally behind former Vice President Joe Biden to defeat Trump in November.
Obama has largely kept out of the fray even as Trump has blamed him and his Democratic administration for a variety of problems related to having sufficient supplies to battle the pandemic that has killed more than 78,000 Americans and infected 1,309,541, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.
In a 30-minute conversation with members of the Obama Alumni Association, the former President said that Trump's approach to government was partly to blame for the US response to coronavirus.
"It would have been bad even with the best of government," he was quoted as saying in the call. "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 operationalised in our government."
He said that the response to the coronavirus outbreak served as a critical reminder for why strong government leadership is needed during a global crisis. The election "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," he said. He said this is one reason why "the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty."
"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 said.
Obama also strongly criticised the decision to drop criminal charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during the Trump-Russia investigation.
In defence, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Trump's response to the coronavirus "has been unprecedented" and has saved American lives.
She harked back to the Ukraine inquiry launched by Democrats in the US House of Representatives last year that led to House passage of articles of impeachment against Trump. The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump early this year.
"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," she said.
National polls show a tight race between Trump and Biden with six months to go until the election. Biden leads in several battleground states.