Obama brands Trump's coronavirus response an 'absolute chaotic disaster'

10 May 2020, 10:28

The former President made the remarks while speaking to supporters
The former President made the remarks while speaking to supporters. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Barack Obama has branded President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis as an "absolute chaotic disaster" according to reports.

The former President made the comments during a call with members of the Obama Alumni Association or people who served in his White House administration.

His remarks were made while encouraging former staff to work for Joe Biden's presidential election team, CNN reported.

The White House has said President Trump's "unprecedented" action during the coronavirus crisis had "saved Americans' lives".

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"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. 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 anaemic and spotty," Mr Obama said, according to Yahoo News.

"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 operationalised in our government," he said.

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President Trump has consistently defended and boasted of his response to the virus, saying that travel restrictions from China and Europe as well as social distancing guidelines have prevented far greater damage.

"I think we saved millions of lives," he said earlier this week.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not mention Mr Obama directly in her response to his remarks.

"President Trump's coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives," she 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," she said.

The former president also reacted to the Justice Department dropping its criminal case against President Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, saying he worried that the "basic understanding of rule of law is at risk".

More than 77,000 people with Covid-19 have died in the United States and more than 1.27 million people have tested positive.

Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, making her the second person who works at the White House known to test positive for the virus this week.

White House officials had confirmed on Thursday that a member of the military serving as one of President Donald Trump's valets had tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.

Mr Trump, who publicly identified the affected aide as spokeswoman Katie Miller, said he was "not worried" about the virus spreading in the White House.

Nonetheless, officials said they were stepping up safety protocols for the complex.

Mrs Miller had been in recent contact with Mr Pence but not with the president and had tested negative a day earlier.

Mr Pence, who is tested on a regular basis, was tested on Friday, while Mrs Miller tweeted she was "doing well" and looked forward to getting back to work.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said the administration was stepping up mitigation efforts already recommended by public health experts and taking other unspecified precautions to ensure the safety of the president.

He said the White House was "probably the safest place that you can come", but that he was reviewing further steps to keep Mr Trump and Mr Pence safe.

The White House requires daily temperature checks of anyone who enters the complex and has encouraged social distancing among those working in the building.

The administration has also directed regular deep cleaning of all work spaces. Anyone who comes in close proximity to the president and vice president is also tested daily.

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