Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday he was mistaken in claiming that the Obama administration had failed to leave a pandemic playbook for the Trump White House.
“I was wrong,” McConnell said in an evening interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier. “They did leave behind a plan. So, I clearly made a mistake in that regard.”
McConnell had claimed during a Monday campaign event for President Donald Trump that the current White House had not been briefed by the previous administration on preparing for a pandemic at the scale of the novel coronavirus. He also slammed former President Barack Obama for criticizing Trump’s coronavirus response (Obama had privately told former aides that it was an “absolute chaotic disaster”), saying Obama “should have kept his mouth shut.”
“We want to be early, ready for the next one, because clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this,” McConnell said on Monday during a virtual interview with Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and campaign adviser.
But POLITICO had reported in March the existence of a document, written by Obama officials that laid out how the incoming Trump administration should respond if faced with a pandemic. The 69-page document contained hundreds of recommendations for dealing with many of the problems plaguing the nation’s coronavirus response — from shortages of personal protective equipment to the need for unified public guidance on the crisis.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the “Obama-Biden plan that has been referenced was insufficient,“ and said the Trump administration had prepared its own pandemic report and exercises last year.
“In other words, the Obama-Biden paper packet was superseded by a President Trump-style pandemic preparedness response plan,“ McEnany said.
“Which was much better,“ Trump followed up. “We were given very little when we came into this administration.“