In leaked audio obtained Friday by Yahoo News, former President Barack Obama told ex-members of his administration that President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been an “absolute chaotic disaster.” Obama also claimed the “rule of law is at risk” after the Department of Justice dropped charges against former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“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,” Obama said.

“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.”

Obama also touched helping out his former running mate. 

“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 said.

Trump has often been criticized for his response to the coronavirus, downplaying the disease in the early stages of the outbreak and feuding with state governors over vital medical supplies. Trump claims his response was effective due to his move in January to bar travel from China to the U.S.

In regards to the Flynn case, Obama said, “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.”

In December 2017, Flynn made a deal with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Flynn admitted to lying about conversations he had with Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States. The plea deal allowed Flynn to avoid other possible charges on issues such as undisclosed foreign lobbying. 

On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice would drop its charges against Flynn. Trump has defended Flynn as an “innocent man” who was targeted by the Obama administration. 

Former Obama administration officials said in May 2017 that when Obama and Trump met in the Oval Office days after the election that Obama had warned Trump against hiring Flynn as national security adviser. Roughly two weeks later, Trump named Flynn as his national security adviser but in February 2017, Flynn would resign after intelligence leaks about his secret discussions about sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington and efforts by Flynn to cover them up. 

Obama has rarely criticized his successor, and said in 2018 that he was “intent on following a wise American tradition of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage and making room for new voices and new ideas.”

At the end of March, Trump eased fuel economy rules set by the previous administration, with Obama tweeting, "We can't afford any more consequences of climate denial,” in response. Obama has also sometimes used Twitter to tout his administration’s policies, such as the 2009 stimulus package, which has irked Trump.