Washington, May 9 (efe-epa).- US former President Barack Obama called incumbent Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “an absolute chaotic disaster,” in a conference call with veterans of his 2008-2016 administration, Yahoo News reported.
Yahoo claimed to have obtained a recording of the call and a spokeswoman for Obama, Katie Hill, confirmed that the call took place.
“Nothing in the (Yahoo) story is inaccurate,” she said Saturday, adding that the former president was speaking to some 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association.
In the United States, ex-presidents generally refrain from public criticism of their successors.
While George W. Bush’s recent comments about the need for unity and to avoid partisan conflict over the handling of Covid-19 were seen as a veiled rebuke of Trump, Obama’s latest remarks constitute his harshest attack to date on the real estate mogul who now occupies the White House.
“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 told his former staffers in the context of discussing the November presidential election.
“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,” Obama said.
He then pivoted to trying to rally supporters behind presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president.
“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 said.
Trump’s spokeswoman, Kayleigh McEnany, sought to dismiss Obama’s comments as unimportant.
“President Trump’s coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives,” the White House press secretary said in a statement.
At the end of a week that saw one of Trump’s military valets and Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman test positive for the coronavirus, the administration disclosed that two high-ranking officials involved in the effort against the pandemic were going into self-quarantine after coming into contact with infected people.
Robert Redfield, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had a “low-risk exposure” on Wednesday to “a person at the White House who has Covid-19,” the CDC said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that Commissioner Stephen Hahn would isolate himself for two weeks after exposure to an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The US remains the center of the global epidemic, with 1.3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 78,000 fatalities, according to the independent tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. EFE