Former US president Barack Obama has called his successor Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic an “absolute chaotic disaster”.
During a conversation with former members of his administration, Mr Obama also reacted to the Justice Department dropping its criminal case against Mr Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
He said he worried that the “basic understanding of rule of law is at risk”, according to a recording of the conversation obtained by Yahoo News.
More than 80,000 people with Covid-19 have died in the US and more than 1.35 million people have tested positive.
Mr Obama’s comments came in a Friday call with 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association, people who served in his administration.
He urged his supporters to back his former vice president, Joe Biden, who is trying to unseat Mr Trump in the November 3 election.
“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," Mr 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 anaemic 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’, is operationalised in our government."
Mr Trump has defended and boasted of his response to the virus, saying travel restrictions from China and Europe and social-distancing guidelines have prevented far greater damage.
“I think we saved millions of lives,” he said last week.
Mr Trump has criticised the Obama government over his own administration’s response to the outbreak, despite the fact that the coronavirus problem did not exist until late last year.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention struggled to develop its own test in January and then found problems with its screening kits in February.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not mention Mr Obama directly in her response to his remarks.
“President Trump’s coronavirus response has been unprecedented and saved American lives," she said.
“While Democrats were pursuing a sham witch hunt against President Trump, President Trump was shutting down travel from China."
“While Democrats encouraged mass gatherings, President Trump was deploying PPE, ventilators and testing across the country."