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tv   Campaign 2020 Susan Rice Interviewed by Washington Post Columnist Jonathan...  CSPAN  July 17, 2020 5:06pm-5:46pm EDT

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>> we are at the moment when our
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democracy is at stake where leadership role in the world is at stake were the lives of tens of thousands of americans are on the line. incompetent and callous leadership could care less. we have got to change that. >> i'm jonathan capehart a senior writer for the "washington post" and welcome to "washington post" life. this is a special live recording of my post opinion podcast. in former president barack obama's first term susan rice with united states ambassador to the united nations. in her second term she was obama's national security adviser are you today rice as a private citizen. she is the author of tough love, my story of the things worth fighting for and under serious consideration to be joe biden's vice presidential running mate.
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welcome back for the third time susan rice. welcome. >> thank you it's great to be with you. >> about one minute before we came on air there was breaking news that the trump administration dropped a plan to deport international students in on line classes and your reaction was to applaud. >> well it was such a misguided, stupid decision that they took. international students are a critical part of our university structure on our college campuses. they bring talent. they bring diversity. they bring resources antilock down simply because there campuses have decided by virtue of the pandemic they need to conduct classes on line in the
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fall was callous and extraordinarily counterproductive. i haven't had a chance to read the details and the reporting on it but it looks like the trump administration saw it is their effort to defend this policy in court that was unlikely to succeed in the back down and it continues to be a victory for our colleges and universities, our students across this country and across the world. so much of our peel and our competitiveness and our soft power depends on people around the world wanted to come here to learn and study and bring their skills and talents. so this is a good day. >> talking about foreign policy originally was going to start this interview talking about the election and the news of the re-election of president duda. he's an ally of prison ally of president and a supporter of the
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the right-wing justice party. he's been condemned by the eu and democratic watchdogs. i'm wondering how you think president trump's behavior in the foreign-policy space and his support for leaders like duda have contributed to the rise of illiberal nationalism of the credit regimes around the world. >> it certainly legitimized the rise of elected autocrats and we have seen that increasingly in different parts of the world. poland is the most recent example. unfortunate because poland is an important part of nato and an important part of the eu but it's moving in that direction where it's its values and its approach are completely out of step with the other members of the alliance. it suggests when it comes the eu their position could be in jeopardy down the road if there is a further move towards the
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ending of democratic policies and structures. >> ambassadors it's possible for the alliance to even survive if the superpower and the alliance, the united states, doesn't even bother to champion those small d democratic ideals that have been the cement for the alliance for more than seven decades? >> the nato alliance is under duress almost entirely because of president trump callous disregard for the purposes and the interest of this alliance. our alliance with nato is built on common values but it's also built on interest as we stand together as north american allies and north atlantic allies and europe broadly to counter threats to our sovereignty and
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territorial integrity as an alliance which comes chiefly from russia and when the united states questions the value and turns it into a transactional arrangement when president trump decides to unilaterally withdraw a third of our forces from germany without even consulting with the german government and calls our adversary from russia to china to north korea while putting our allies in a very difficult position it does great damage to the alliance and that's one of the many reasons we need change. i don't think nato and our leadership role in the world can withstand four more years of donald trump and that's why we need change and we need leadership in the form of joe biden who comes out of the bipartisan american tradition by supporting our alliances and understanding who our friends are and who our adversaries are in their leadership and their strength in the world when we
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can bring partners and allies with us. >> we will talk more about joe biden in a minute but let's keep talking about russia because you mentioned russia. we were talking for a little bit about the news that broke that the u.s. had intelligence suggesting that russia. taliban affiliated fighters to kill american jobs in afghanistan. this is what you wrote an op-ed for "the news york times" quote our commander-in-chief is derelict in his duties over national security process with us putting our country and those who wear the uniform a great risk. at worst the united states is being run by liars catered to a present whose -- arch. is it incompetence or trees and? >> they are not necessarily mutually excuse -- exclusive.
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i do not use the word treason but my point is one of two things and maybe both are happening at once. we have a president who could care less about the extraordinary intelligence that the intelligence community deemed credible enough to put in the president's daily briefing the most important exclusive process they create that indicate the russians are paying taliban forces and taliban affiliated or so to kill american servicemen and women in afghanistan and what does the president of the united states to? first of all he does nothing when that information was brought to him and i believe it was brought to him often written form and perhaps earlier by one of my successors john bolton. even today two weeks or so after that information first came to public light president trump has said and done nothing critical
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of russia, did not indicate any sense of concern or urgency for the safety of our forces in battle, as not to anybody's knowledge initiated any action to respond to russia. that he said we don't believe it's true so we are going to bother with it but the intelligence community i can assure you believes it's true or would not put it in the presidential daily briefing and even more so jonathan the most widely disseminated piece of intelligence that the u.s. government produces goes everywhere including to capitol hill staffers so this had to be a piece of information which they have a good degree in, and even if 100% certainty which is virtually never the case in president trump has done nothing. he is left our forces vulnerable so either he's doing that out of
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some mysterious motivation to serve written centrists for which we have seen many disparate pieces of evidence over the course of the last four years but no overarching explanation or and/or he's running a national security process where the people around him are so scared, so incompetent that they are unwilling or unable to bring him the information that he must have to serve effectively as their commander-in-chief and reject our forces in the field. either way you look at it it's a disaster and made their way you look at it as a message to vladimir putin that he can attack americans anywhere in the world with impunity and then get invited to rejoin the g7. >> i just want to be doubly sure here because you anticipated a question i was going to ask in that is it possible at all but that resident of the united states was not briefed and did not know about this intelligence
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and judgment answer you just gave it's virtually impossible that he didn't know. >> here's what i believe. i believe was put in his presidential daily briefing. i believe he often doesn't and maybe always doesn't read his daily briefing could any national security adviser would have rather daily briefing even if their boss doesn't and when they saw that information done what i would have done which is what directly into the oval office and greet the president of the united states or early if they knew he wasn't going to see it in writing and say to the president look mr. president we have deeply concerning information about russia. i'm going to work with the intelligence community to validate it. in the meantime i'm going to work with the other agencies and the principles to pull together options for you to respond and i will keep you posted.
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if the current national security adviser didn't do that to me would be an abdication of his or her responsibility and if he did do that than the president of the united states is lying again. but what i also believe is that john bolton who has hinted that information similar to this came to light in 2019 while he was still national security adviser he would not have been so intimidated not to bring that information to the attention of the president read i believe one way or another the president has chosen not to act. >> ambassador rice my follow-up question is given everything that you said in its entirety in response to this is the president of the united states a national security threat to the united states? >> i think by virtue of his dereliction of duty, still you
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to protect americans whether on the battlefield in afghanistan or here at home would be a grave threat from coronavirus and his very bizarre penchant for cozying up to our adversaries in doing vladimir putin's bidding is in fact acting against the interests of the united states and that is about as friendly as i can put it. we have a president who is acting against the interests of the united states. >> we have a president who likes to disseminate conspiracy theories. one of them is that president obama and the obama administration signed on his 2016 campaign in interview with the christian broadcasting network. i believe in june he sets quote treason. when i came out a long time ago i said they are spying on my
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campaign and that was meaning a modern-day version of payday. it's all the same thing but a modern-day version. they have been spying on my campaign. did that happen ambassador rice? >> jonathan you know what i know in most of the pair in -- american people know absolutely no comment did not happen. that is false and that's another lie designed to deflect from the president's bizarre relationship with russia to distract from those much validated realities that russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit donald trump and president trump isn't some sort of a fever dream about the obama administration with always tried to do was execute despite the trump administration or incoming administration's reluctance for the most responsible transmission we probably -- we possibly could.
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we prepared over 100 individual reading papers to the incoming national security adviser. i spent 12 hours in four separate sessions breathing my successor on all the important issues that might arise that were on the table ranging from russia to china to pandemic are. in this. our effort was despite the bizarre nature of election and despite president trump strange behavior before during and after our approach was to do our utmost in a responsible hand off from one administration to the other just as president bush has done for barack obama. >> one of those papers come you mentioned papers on pandemic spread one of them was a 59 page paper that when we spoke in
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april used the word pandemic for dummies. when they spoke in april you said that the idea of a pandemic was quote keeping me up at night is way up not begun to hit the top of the curve here. as for the president you said quote indie brag. if he hasn't done anything maybe 2.2 million would have died in 240,000 is a good outcome. i'm what circle of is that a good outcome is what you said to me when we spoke on the podcast in april. is it safe to say three months later that your assessment has not changed? >> no, it's change. it's gotten worse. not only did the president, president trump wastes two months and do nothing in january and february brushing this off as nothing more than the seasonal flu, not only was he slow to order and recommend the
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shutdown of various states when they were thrown into the first part of this crisis in march and april but then he came behind that and all too quickly in the interest of his own re-election and in the interest of his own personal benefit not the health safety and economy of the united states champions the premature reopening of various states in what we are seeing now is the result of that extraordinarily irresponsible rush to reopen and we are seeing it tragically in parts of the west and the south which were among the states to first reopen it to do so very rapidly without the super cautions like mandating the use of masks and the like. it's gone from very bad to frankly worse and the numbers bear that out. it's frightening to contemplate how high that death toll may go
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was longest donald trump is putting his own interests ahead of that of the well -- health and welfare in the economic well-being of the american people. now he is championing the reopening of all schools everywhere with full class sizes and live teaching regardless of the circumstances at the local level. nothing could be more irresponsible. he's willing to sacrifice the health and safety of our children and teachers and the staff at these schools in order to convey the false reality, the false message that america is back and ready to reopen. if we had done with people and countries in europe did which is to wait until the curve was truly bent and until the infection rate had gone down and the number of new infections were close to zero before beginning the process of reopening had we done it
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gradually and responsibly and mandated things like mask and had adequate testing and contact tracing we would be a much better place in our schools and mud to the country would be able to reopen with minimal risk at the beginning of the school year. now they face the horrific choice of opening prematurely and putting all of the people in those schools and adults and everyone in their family at community art at hand is to risk or kids are going to be forced to lose time and quality of life. it didn't have to be this way. >> ambassador rice given the fights that have been happening around the country i take it you don't think schools should reopen period. that's pretty clear. >> jonathan i think you have to look at the subtle local level. you have to look at what is the disease doing it?
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how fast is a spreading and what is the reinfection rate? what's the positivity rate? they are going to be places where things are relatively better than other places but in the so-called hotspots of the south and the west when schools are said to reopen sometime in august it's very difficult to see how they can do so and then even when they do reopen the cdc guidance before her was manipulated and is going to be manipulated has been that it's very important to be able to maintain social distancing in schools at least 6 feet between students in a classroom. i jonathan was the cochair here in washington d.c. of mayors reopening d.c. advisory group and we worked for all these issues but i was particularly involved in the educational aspect of our recommendations.
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the reality is you cannot reopen safely if you can't maintain that safety and most schools don't have the physical space to reduce class sizes by half or more which is what you are talking about to enable students to have that space. even when the risk are moderate to low you're not going to have every student in the classroom all day every day. you will have to have some kind of co-wording or a certain amount of days on investor demand of days off and on the off days do virtual learning. then you'll have kids jonathan hubei or chew up their own health circumstances and that of their parents and grandparents don't feel like it safe to return to schools. you'll need to have continued on line learning even in those places where it's possible to begin to have some version of in-person teaching.
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>> ambassador rice do you think that we as a nation earlier the pandemic should we lock down again? should we shut down and stayed home again for at least two or three weeks in order to really and truly bent the curve? >> in some parts of the country i think unfortunately we must and we have seen a recognition of that for example in california where governor newsom ordered the bars close in the restaurant close for indoor dining gyms and churches and major population centers and the like, in order to get a better grip on this. nobody wants to be in lockdown. everybody wants to get back to work and school but to do so safely and therefore sustainably requires that we get that curve bends and keep it down. a requires each of us as individuals recognized we have
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to look out for ourselves but we also have to look out for our fellow citizens. you may be healthy and i may be healthy and my kids may be healthy but that doesn't mean we can't get seriously ill with this disease nor does it mean we aren't in a position to a in fact others that are more vulnerable. we are coming together with a sense of common person -- erpa's and unity of effort that's necessary to defeat the virus and that i blame substantial and president trump. if we had leadership that was calling on us to come together that was preaching science and facts rather than bleach and hydroxychloroquine, if we had responsible leadership that put the interest of the american people our help and our welfare and economic well-being first rather than his personal political ambitions to be reelected we would be in a far safer and better place.
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>> i'd like to move to another epidemic that we've been dealing with this in this country and that's racism. talk about race. have you visited lacked lives matter in washington and i'm wondering do you think we are at an inflection point with the national protests we have seen in the black lives matter protest in small towns and big cities all around the country. are we had an inflection point or are we having a slight detour on the well trodden road we are used to going down? >> jonathan my answer to that is it depends than it depends on us. i think what we saw over the last couple of months has been extraordinary in the wake of george floyd's tragic murder and that of many others before him. we saw americans from all walks of life, white, black, and it
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lets you know native american rich and poor in every state of this country in towns large and small, old people in younger people babies all coming together largely peacefully to say once and for all that we live in a fundamentally unequal society for people who look like you and me are treated very differently from people who don't and that is unacceptable and that we have after 400 years a reality that remains of systemic racism that needs to be rooted out. in this moment which is become aloofness results in nothing more of the confederate -- taken down the mic hometown finally changing its name and confederate monuments being put in museums. it would be another momentous
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moment and that we cannot allow pre-what we need jonathan beyond the symbolism and beyond steps might be taken at the local level to address particular problems with policing in our respective communities we need systemic reform to confront systemic racist and that systemic reform can only come through the act of responsible congress and a president willing to sign those reforms into law. it's got to be the justice and policing act and much more in the criminal justice room but we have also got to deal with educational disparities, health disparities, poverty, the lack of job opportunities, environmental degradation and low income communities of color in this country could all of these things and vice president biden spoke about this today as he did last week about an
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economic agenda that empowers people who have been left out and takes us into the 21st century economy of what is at the forefront at things like clean energy. these are things that we can do but we can only do it if we have a president who cares and has the vision and the commitment to rooting out systemic racism and inequality and if we have a congress particularly ascended as well as a democratic house that is willing to back him up. we vote for change if we vote at the ballot box and yes it can become much more than a moment and much more than symbolism. >> i want to go to the saudis -- audience question from maryland from carl beaty wants to know what do you think about the idea of a funding the police?
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>> be funding the police. >> i'm not a fan of a terminology in the funding police because it's been manipulated and misunderstood. there's a place in certain local circumstances depending on what's going on in this particular area to reimagine and re-envision the role that police play to get them out of some of the work that they customarily do that is more akin to social work then traditional policing. i think they have to be attached to the community and responsible to the community and their places where there could be responsible a reallocation of resources but there's no one-size-fits-all model. there's no cookie-cutter approach that you can apply. i largely agree with vice president biden and represented jim clyburn and others that reimagining and reinvesting investing additional resources in our communities that have
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suffered as the solution rather than a vague terminology that has been hijacked and manipulated by the right-wing. unfortunately taking the goodwill of people who wanted positive change and turning it on its head with the term defunding. can i say one other thing? president trump likes to beat up people who have called for defunding and two stay extraordinarily obnoxious things about the black lives matter grumet but yesterday he called for defunding public schools that don't conform with his autocratic tech tape if they don't -- so this is how upside down everything is coming out of this white house. >> let's talk about this vice
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president biden preview works closely with him during your two terms in the obama administration produce a great picture of him giving you a hug after your mother lois passed away. do you have the kind of relationship where, with vice president biden were you could he on the same page before the cameras at 9:15? >> yes. but it would end with a hug because that's who he is. joe biden is what you see. he is warm, a sympathetic, he's decent. he doesn't use a lot of curse words by the way but i can't always claim the same just in all candor. their relatives joe biden is the kind of leader who welcomes robust discussion and debate looks for people who are
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unafraid to tell him the truth mine closed doors but then we are one team, one fighter once the president makes the decision is barack obama did when joe biden was his vice president whether the vice president recommended that course of action are not he was foursquare behind barack obama in implementing that policy and that's what he deserves with his own vice president whomever he may select to fill that role. >> aside from candor which is something you would bring to the role if you are selected to that role would this be one other attributes you have that would serve a biden administration well? >> you are constraining me to one? >> hey, have at it. >> i'm joking with you. i think the most important have to be that i have is almost two decades of experience in senior
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ranks of the executive branch. understand how to make a government -- iran the process at the national security council dealing with the most complex and difficult crises we face in the world whether it was the ebola epidemic or the rise of isis or how to confront china. whatever it is my job as national security advisers particular was to bring the agencies together to tackle the problem. that is what we are going to need when i hope joe biden is the next president of the united states. we are going to have to tackle a pandemic and an economic crisis on the order of nothing likely seen since the great depression. we'll have to to renew and reestablish her leadership role in the world and lead the world through this pandemic in an economic recovery. we will have to deal with racial injustice issues that we have
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been talking about and what i call an equality agenda where we can finally make the sorts of investments and performs that are necessary to redress the systemic inequalities and systemic racism. we need to bring the government together with the common purpose for someone who knows how to work with the congress and how to get the elements of government harness towards sharing objectives and jonathan that's what i've done for the bulk of my career. i've been a predominantly in the realm of foreign-policy but foreign-policy is climate pandemics in global health and a large span of issues in those skills translate into making government function no matter what the agendas. >> ambassador rice last question. i mentioned your mother lois
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rice who is known as quote a mother of the pal grant. her father amit rice is an economist and former governor of the federal reserve. you come from a storied washington family. i'm wondering what do you think about both your parents and what they would be saying to you are thinking right now to know that their daughter is being talked about as a possible vice president of the united states? >> i where so much jonathan that i could talk to them and have a conversation with them. this is a moment where i could use their counsel and loving advice more than any. i think they would be thinking about their parents and their grandparents. i come from immigrants who came from jamaica to portland maine in 1912 with no education and nothing on my mothers side of the family and they saved and worked as a janitor and send all
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five of their kids to college and all their children went on to become professionals. on my dads side he was the grandson of. he was able to rise out of jim crow and segregation in south carolina in the 1920s and 30s and serve at tuskeegee with the storied airmen and go on to get a ph.d. in economics and run the federal reserve board. i think they would be looking back and saying you know what a blessing that in this country you can be an immigrant, you can be a descendent of in you can still reap the opportunities of this great country reality is jonathan i've been extraordinarily blessed and my parents were extraordinarily blessed and not all of us and far too many of us don't have the same blessings and opportunities that i had or even
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that my parents had creative think what they would be saying now is the best i can guess is to do what i have always done which is to serve at whatever capacity and bring my utmost to it and do it for the benefit of the people of this country, not for myself and not for any ambition that i might have but serving the people at a time when we are so divided and there is so much suffering and loss of life and economic hardship, where the integrity of our democracy and our national community are all at risk. this is a moment where you think they'd say to me if you are asked in whatever capacity you got to get in there and do your best and give back for all the blessings that you have had and i have had and they have had. >> ambassador susan rice thank you for coming back to the podcast. good luck and will be keeping
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our eye out to see what happens. thank you very much again for coming on "washington post" lives. >> take you for having me jonathan. >> i conceived of the project
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because there's a lot going on in her country right now and it's unsettling times for a number of americans everything having to do with the covid crisis to the lockdown to the killing of george floyd and the subsequent protests and riots in the presidential election. a lot of people are taking the opportunity to re-examine principles and try to figure out where we stand as a nation. our countries are linked by trade and travel. >> our ongoing efforts to focus on the mission to save lives and meet the needs of our state, our health care workers.
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>> i want to thank everyone for giving up their afternoon for this official remote hearing. i want to make sure we talk about the important requirements in the meet began by saying committeeul


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