Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the Michael Flynn case as well as the federal government’s coronavirus response in a leaked phone call obtained and published by Yahoo News on Friday.
Obama was chatting privately with the Obama Alumni Association, a group of ex-administration members, according to Yahoo News, which also published the audio recording. He seemed particularly bothered by the Justice Department’s decision to drop charges against the former national security advisor.
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” the former president said. “And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
Yahoo reported that Obama had “misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty,” which was “false statements to the FBI, not perjury.”
The former president, who officially announced his endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden in a video last month, used the Flynn decision as one example of why he considers a Democratic Party win in November “important.”
“So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” Obama said on the call. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.” (RELATED: ‘Asleep At The Switch’ — CNN’s Tapper Lights Up Obama Administration On Russian Hacking)
Continuing the theme, Obama also slammed what he considered President Donald Trump’s “chaotic” coronavirus response:
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. 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 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.