Former President Obama during a private call on Friday night with his former aides tore into the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, calling it an “absolute chaotic disaster.”
The blistering assessment, confirmed to CNN by three former Obama administration officials, came on a call intended to encourage members of the Obama Alumni Association to engage with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE’s 2020 presidential campaign.
"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, according to CNN. "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 continued to tear into the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, partly blaming the White House’s "what’s in it for me" mindset.
"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' ... 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.
The comments were first reported by Yahoo News, which obtained an audio recording of the call. A spokesman for Obama declined to comment or elaborate on the former president's remarks when CNN reached out.
The condemnation on the call with former staffers is Obama’s sharpest rebuke of the Trump White House yet.
The former commander in chief previously called out a lack of "coherent national plan" as the Trump administration navigates the outbreak of COVID-19.
Obama is expected to become a more forceful Trump critic and a powerful surrogate for Biden after formally endorsing his running mate’s 2020 White House bid.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it’s that the spirit of looking out for one another can’t be restricted to our homes or our workplaces or our neighborhoods or houses of worship," Obama said in his endorsement video. "It also has to be reflected in our national government."