Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday slammed former President Barack Obama for criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a private call last week, asserting that he “should have kept his mouth shut.”
“I think it’s a little bit classless, frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you,” McConnell told President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, during a Trump campaign live stream. “You had your shot, you were there for eight years. I think the tradition that the Bush’s set up – of not critiquing the president who comes after you – is a good tradition.”
His comments come after Obama described the Trump administration’s coronavirus response “an absolute chaotic disaster” during a private call on Friday with people who worked for him in the White House. The critique marked a rare break in custom for Obama who has occasionally criticized Trump – such as when he ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program and in the wake of the President’s first travel ban executive order.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has had a years-long fixation with Obama that predates his presidential campaign and has repeatedly disparaged his predecessor with unfounded conspiracy theories.
More on the White House response
Earlier Monday, the President was asked about one of his Mother’s Day tweets where he seemingly accused Obama of some kind of conspiracy against his administration.
“Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time,” he claimed at the White House, without offering specifics or evidence. “It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened.”
Speaking specifically about US response to the coronavirus outbreak, Obama said in his call with members of the Obama Alumni Association that the current administration’s actions serve as a critical reminder for why strong government leadership is needed during a global crisis.
The call was intended to encourage former Obama staffers to become more engaged in Biden’s presidential campaign.
“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’ – when that mindset is operationalized in our government.”
After formally endorsing his former vice president, Joe Biden, last month, Obama said he would be deeply involved in the campaign to help Biden win the White House.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.