Former President Barack Obama appears to have gotten under the skin of Donald Trump and his Republican allies after he criticized the Trump administration’s coronavirus response and Attorney General William Barr’s move to clear Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
During a private call with approximately 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association late last week., Obama characterized the Trump administration’s efforts as an “absolute chaotic disaster” and warned that the rule of law “is at risk” after Barr ordered all charges against Flynn to be dropped.
Trump responded by lashing out at his predecessor, tweeting an all-caps word: “OBAMAGATE.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Obama’s comments on the coronavirus outbreak “classless.”
“I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut. You know, we know he doesn’t like much this administration is doing. That’s understandable. But I think it’s a little bit classless frankly to critique an administration that comes after you,” McConnell said.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) added that “I don’t think he [Obama] has much to say because there wasn’t much put in place.”
Republicans have argued that the Obama administration didn’t do enough to prepare for a pandemic, even though the Trump administration disbanded the National Security Council’s Global Health Security and Biodefense unit.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 2 Senate Republican in the Senate also weighed, arguing that “it is in the best interest of the country” if you don’t have critiques from a previous administration.
“I would rather that they keep their comments to themselves,” he said, according to The Hill.
Obama’s remarks on the Justice Department’s decision to drop the charges against Flynn have some Republicans trying to manufacture a fake scandal by questioning the former president’s level of involvement in the FBI investigation.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that while Obama thought the rule of law was at risk, “contrary to what President Obama believes or the media might say, I believe the opposite is true.”
The Justice Department announced last week that it was dropping its case against Flynn, saying it believed the FBI investigation had been conducted improperly.
Grassley also said that questions about the Flynn prosecution should be put directly to Obama, adding that “it’s time we asked: What did Obama and Biden know? And when did they know it?”
“It’s pretty clear that Obama had his fingers in this. … And the Flynn problems were part of an effort that — the Democrats actually thought that they could cut short this presidency by probably three and a half years,” he said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) added during a conference call with reporters that he believed there was “great deal of evidence” that Obama was “intimately” involved.
“I think the evidence that we have now does point to the president being directly involved in the Flynn case,” he asserted, according to The Hill.
Senate Democrats have defended Obama’s remarks, noting that he has been sparse about when he weighs in on Trump’s actions.
“I think former President Obama has been carefully guarded in his remarks, but I couldn’t agree with him more. We have a chaotic situation in the White House,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), considered a potential vice presidential pick, told MSNBC that she was “glad” Obama weighed in.
“You always imagine the different world it would have been if Barack Obama was president right now, because he is someone that understood that service is about sacrifice and looking out for the people of this country instead of yourself,” she said, The Hill reports.