Former first lady Michelle Obama expressed dismay at a recent move by the Trump administration.
Her remarks came on May 12 at the Partnership for a Healthier American 2017 Healthier Future Summit, an annual conference in Washington, DC.
The former first lady did not mention Donald Trump by name, but in an interview with former White House chef Sam Kass, she criticized the actions of Trump appointee Sonny Perdue. Perdue, the current Secretary of Agriculture, delayed a rule that would limit the amount of sodium in school meals.
As first lady, Michelle Obama focused on promoting healthy nutrition for American youth.
“We gotta make sure we don’t let anybody take us back,” she told Kass.
“This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think, why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on?”
Michelle Obama insisted that she didn’t think of the issue as partisan, then expressed some choice words for the Trump administration.
“Take me out of the equation—like me or don’t like me,” she added. “But think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be okay with that? Because here’s the secret: If someone is doing that, they don’t care about your kid.”
The former first lady also addressed one of Perdue’s defenses for his rollback of sodium rules in school lunches.
The Secretary of Agriculture said that many kids didn’t like the new, low-sodium foods.
“That to me is one of the most ridiculous things that we talk about in this movement—’the kids aren’t happy,'” Obama said. “Well, you know what? Kids don’t like math either. What are we gonna do, stop teaching math?”
Secretary Perdue did not respond to the remarks directly, but a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture said that Perdue “has nothing but the utmost respect for Michelle Obama.”
Traditionally, ex-presidents and their families rarely directly criticize successive administrations.
However, in late 2016, President Obama implied to Vanity Fair that he might become politically active after leaving office.
“Having had this office has given me this incredible perch from which to see how the world works. The power of the office is unique and it is a humbling privilege,” Barack Obama said. “With that power, however, also comes a whole host of institutional constraints. There are things I cannot say…”
“Not out of any political concerns,” he continued, “but out of prudential concerns of the office. There are institutional obligations I have to carry out that are important for a president of the United States to carry out, but may not always align with what I think would move the ball down the field on the issues that I care most deeply about.”
However, in former President Obama’s first remarks since leaving office, he did not mention Trump or directly criticize the new administration, keeping with longstanding White House tradition.