For the first time since leaving office in January 2009, former President George W. Bush spoke out in an in-depth interview on Today, and expressed some critical views about Donald Trump along with some of his more controversial policies and claims.
Addressing Trump’s recent statement that the press was the “enemy of the American people,” Bush firmly advocated for a free and unfettered press, calling it “indispensable to democracy.” Interestingly, Bush noted how positions of power could corrupt, and the important role news organizations counter that corruption.
Speaking with host Matt Lauer, Bush said:
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”
When asked about suspicions that Trump’s campaign had ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush again reaffirmed his support of a free press, saying he had tried to encourage the leader to embrace an independent press.
“It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”
Bush also thinks that the possibilities that the new White House Resident has questionable ties to Russia should be fully investigated.
“I think we all need answers.”
Bush didn’t go so far as to say he endorsed the idea of an independent prosecutor but thinks that Sen. Richard Burr, head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is an “independent thinker.”
“If he were to recommend a special prosecutor, then it’d have a lot more credibility with me. I’m not sure the right avenue to take, I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.”
Although most Americans agree that he completely botched his “War on Terror,” George W. Bush’s one outstanding moment as president after the attacks of 9/11 was his call to Americans to embrace Muslim-Americans and not let terrorists convince them otherwise:
“These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that.”
Bush gave an ambiguous answer when Lauer questions him about whether he supports Trump’s travel ban or his anti-immigration policies.
“I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or to not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely. I understood right off the bat that this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people — they want to advance an ideology and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past. I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law.”
The former president is promoting a book that features portraits and stories from our Armed Forces. Named Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, proceeds go to the non-profit George W. Bush Presidential Center to help post 9/11 veterans and their families. The book features Bush’s portraits — he’s taken up painting since re-entering private life — of American veterans.
“I want to sell a lot of books to raise money for helping our vets.”
And really, it’s the least he can do
It’s hard to believe that Americans find themselves in a time and place where they might actually feel some nostalgia and even some fondness for George W. Bush, but that’s really where we are.
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