President Donald Trump has gone AWOL on the global coronavirus pandemic, according to former President Barack Obama's Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
"This president has essentially gone AWOL from the job of leadership that he should be providing a country in trouble," Panetta, also former President Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff, told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
"This is a major crisis, but the president, rather than bringing together some kind of national strategy to confront this crisis, simply resorts to tweeting about vandalism and other things to kind of divert attention from the crisis that's there."
Panetta echoed the talking points of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who told reporters in his first news conference in about three months: "It seems like our wartime president has surrendered and waved the white flag, and left the battlefield."
Panetta has served at many levels in the Washington, D.C., bureaucracy, as both CIA Director and Defense Secretary in the Obama administration in addition to the White House chief of staff under Clinton.
Panetta claimed Trump "is not good at crisis," suggesting the president is shirking responsibility of the increased cases after states elected to reopen. Panetta levied no such criticisms on the coronavirus task force assigned to handle the outbreak or the individual state and local leaders dealing with the infection rates and deaths in their locales.
"We have a president that is not willing to stand up and do what is necessary in order to lead this country during time of major crisis," said Panetta, who as a career bureaucrat, might have a place in a potential Biden administration. "I have never experienced a president who has avoided that responsibility."
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