Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ate some crow on Thursday night, admitting that he was “wrong” when he claimed earlier this week that President Barack Obama didn’t leave his successor with “any kind of game plan” for a pandemic.
During a Trump campaign chat with presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump on Monday night, the Kentucky lawmaker blasted Obama for calling President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response an “absolute chaotic disaster,” saying the “classless” former president “should have kept his mouth shut.”
McConnell went on to then falsely claim that the Obama administration left the incoming staff in the lurch when it came to dealing with a deadly outbreak.
“They claim pandemics only happen once every hundred years but what if that's no longer true? 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,” he asserted, promoting Lara Trump to respond: “That’s exactly right.”
Fact-checkers and former Obama staffers immediately pounced, noting that Obama’s National Security Council had indeed left the Trump administration a 69-page playbook on how to deal with a pandemic, a document that Politico reported on this past March.
Appearing on Fox News’ Special Report on Thursday, McConnell was confronted about his remarks by anchor Bret Baier. Noting that ousted vaccine chief Dr. Rick Bright accused Trump of being “woefully unprepared” for the pandemic during his House testimony on Thursday, Baier played a clip of Bright saying plans were in place for the administration to use but weren’t followed.
“You said that the previous administration didn’t leave a plan. They pushed back against that,” the Fox anchor stated.
“I was wrong,” McConnell conceded. “They did leave behind a plan. So I clearly made a mistake in that regard. As to whether or not the plan was followed and who is the critic and all the rest, I don’t have any observation about that because I don’t know enough about the details of that, Bret, to comment on it in any detail.”
The Senate majority leader’s initial false claim echoed the president’s rhetoric about Obama leaving him empty-handed on a pandemic response, with Trump going so far as to blame the former president for giving him “broken tests” for the novel coronavirus—a disease that didn’t exist before 2019.
Trump, meanwhile, also acknowledged on Thursday that the former administration had indeed left him with a plan. At the same time, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the “Obama-Biden plan” was “insufficient” and “wasn’t going to work,” without elaborating.