Despite facts, McConnell slams Obama for Trump's unpreparedness

McConnell insisted that Obama didn't leave "any kind of game plan" for Trump, despite the fact that Obama left a literal playbook for his successor.
Image: Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office
President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on Nov. 10, 2016.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP file
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By Steve Benen

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) apparently thought it'd be a good idea to participate in something called "Team Trump Online!" yesterday, peddling partisan nonsense to the president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, who also serves as a Trump 2020 senior adviser.

But one line in particular stood out.

McConnell ... said during his interview Monday that the Obama administration "did not leave to this administration, any kind of game plan and for something like this," referring to the current coronavirus crisis.

Look, this is a difficult time. I imagine those in positions of authority are struggling with the pressures of crisis-era governing.

But that's no excuse for powerful officials struggling to keep up with current events.

At face value, the nature of McConnell's whining is difficult to take seriously. His complaint, in effect, is that Barack Obama should've done Donald Trump's homework for him, which in the Kentucky Republican's mind, means it's fair to blame the current president's failures on his immediate predecessor.

The trouble, of course, is that Obama did do Trump's homework for him. The Democrat and his team wrote the "Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents" -- unofficially known as "the pandemic playbook" -- and left it as a guide for Team Trump to follow.

Politico reported in March that the Trump administration was briefed on the playbook's existence in 2017, but it evidently wasn't taken too seriously. The article quoted one former U.S. official who said that under the Trump administration, "it just sat as a document that people worked on that was thrown onto a shelf."

Politico also reported in March on a presentation prepared for Team Trump during the presidential transition process, which warned the incoming Republican administration about how the federal government would have to respond in the event of a deadly viral outbreak.

It didn't appear to have much of an effect. When Politico talked to a former senior Trump administration official who attended the meeting, and asked whether the then-president-elect received information from the Jan. 13 session, the person said it wasn't "the kind of thing that really interested [Trump] very much."

It's hard to imagine what more Obama could've done to help prepare the nation's first amateur president. Regrettably for all of us, Trump and his team were indifferent to the Democratic efforts and couldn't be bothered to take the issue seriously.

And yet, Mitch McConnell seems oddly unaware of all of this, insisting that Obama didn't leave "any kind of game plan," despite the fact that Obama left a literal playbook for his successor to follow.