George W. Bush said he favored a welcoming immigration policy and warned that the media is “indispensable to democracy” in an interview with Matt Lauer Monday that seemed to take several shots at President Trump.
When Lauer asked Bush directly if he was for or against Trump’s immigration ban, Bush said, “I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law.”
“I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize that one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to, or not worship at all,” Bush said. “A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely. People who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology.”
Lauer asked Bush if he thought the ban was helpful in the war on terrorism.
“It’s very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we’re in retreat,” Bush answered. “I think we learned that lesson — that if the United States decides to pull out before a free society emerges, it’s going to be hard to defeat them. The enemy is very good about exploiting weakness. If that’s the goal, to defeat ISIS, I believe that we should project strength.”
The former president acknowledged that Trump has only a little over a month in office.
“I think you have to take the man for his word that he wants to unify the country, and we’ll see whether he’s able to do so,” Bush said. “It’s hard to unify the country with the news media being so split up. When I was president, you know, you mattered a lot more because there was like three of you, and now there’s all kinds of information being bombarded out and people can say things anonymously. It’s just a different world.”
Lauer then asked Bush if he ever considered the media to be “the enemy of the American people.”
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he said. “We need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, 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, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
“One of the things I spent a lot time doing was trying to convince a person like Vladimir Putin, for example, to accept the notion of an independent press,” he added. “And it’s kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent, free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”
Lauer asked Bush if he would like to see “a special prosecutor appointed to look into” the president’s alleged ties to Russia.”
“Well, first of all, I think we need answers,” Bush answered. “Whether or not the special prosecutors the right way to go, you’re talking to the wrong guy. I have great faith in Richard Burr for example, he’s the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, really good guy, and an independent thinker, and if he were to recommend a special prosecutor then it’d have a lot more credibility with me.”