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tv   Right This Minute  ABC  January 18, 2017 2:30pm-3:01pm EST

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a tough prison sentence. so the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished, i don't think would get that impression from the sentence that chelsea manning has served. it has been my view that given she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received,
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and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence. you know, i feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent that when it comes to our national security, that wherever possible, we need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves to the whistle blower protections that had been put in place. i recognize there are folks that think they're not enough and you know, i think all of us when we're working in big institutions may find ourselves at times at odds with policies that are set.
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but when it comes to national security, we're often dealing with people in the field whose lives may be put at risk or the safety and security and the ability of our military or our intelligence teams or embassies to function effectively. and that has to be kept in mind. so with respect to wikileaks, i don't see a contradiction. first of all, i haven't commented on wikileaks generally. the conclusions, the intelligence community with respect to the russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether wikileaks was being the conduit through which we heard about the dnc e-mails that were leaked. i don't pay a lot of attention to mr. assange's tweets.
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that wasn't a consideration in this instance and i refer you to the justice department for any criminal investigations, indictments, extradition issues that may come up with him. what i can say broadly is that in this new cyber age, we're going to have to make sure that we continually work to find the right balance of accountability and openness and transparency that is the hallmark of our democracy. but also recognize that there are adversaries and bad actors out there who want to use that same openness in ways that hurt us. whether that's in trying to commit financial crimes or trying to commit acts of terrorism or folks who want to
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interfere with our elections. and we're going to have to continually build the kind of architecture to make sure the best of our democracy is preserved, that our national security and intelligence agencies have the ability to carry out policy without advertising to our adversaries what it is we're doing. but do so in a way that still keeps citizens up to speed on what their government is doing on their behalf. but with respect to chelsea manning, i looked at the particulars of this case, and i felt that in light of all the circumstances that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate. margaret. >> mr. president, thank you. the president-elect has said
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that he would consider lifting sanctions on russia if they substantially reduced the stockpile. given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that's an effective strategy knowing this office and mr. trump, how would you advise his advisers to help him be effective when he deals with vladimir putin and given your actions recently on russia, do you think those sanctions should be even leveraged? >> a couple of things. number one, i think it is in america's interest and the world's interest that we have a constructive relationship with russia. that's been my approach throughout my presidency. where our interests have overlapped we worked together. at the beginning of my term i did what i could to encourage russia to be a constructive member of the international community. and tried to work with the
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president and the government of russia in helping them diversify their economy, improve their economy, use the incredible talents of the russian people in more constructive ways. i think it's fair to say that after president putin came back into the presidency, that an escalating anti-american rhetoric and an approach to global affairs that seemed to be premised on the idea that whatever america is trying to do must be bad for russia and so we want to try to counteract whatever they do. that return to an adversarial spirit that i think existed during the cold war has made the
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relationship more difficult and it was hammered home when russia went into crimea and portions of the ukraine. the reason we imposed the sanctions recall was not because of nuclear weapons issues, it was because the independence and sovereignty of a country, ukraine had been encroached upon by force by russia. that wasn't our judgment. that was the judgment of the entire international community. and russia continues to occupy ukrainian territory and meddle in ukrainian affairs and support military surrogates who have violated basic international norms. what i've said to the russians is as soon as you stop doing that, the sanctions will be
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removed. i think it would probably best serve not only american interests but also the interests of preserving international norms if we made sure that we don't confuse why these sanctions have been imposed with a whole set of other issues. on nuclear issues, in my first term we negotiated the star two treaty which has substantially reduced our nuclear stockpiles. i was prepared to go further and told president putin i was prepared to go further. they have been unwilling to negotiate. if president-elect trump is able to restart those talks in a serious way, i think there remains a lot of room for our two countries to reduce our stockpiles and part of the reason we have been successful on our nonproliferation agenda and nuclear security agenda is
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because we were leading by example. i hope that continues. but i think it's important just to remember that the reason sanctions have been put in place against russia has to do with their actions in if ukraine and it is important for the united states to stand up for the basic principle that big countries don't go around and bully smaller countries. i've said before i expect russia and ukraine to have a strong relationship. they are historically bound together in all sorts of cultural and social ways but ukraine is an independent country and this is a good example of the vital role that america has to continue to play around the world and preserving basic norms and values whether it's advocating on behalf of human rights, on behalf of women's rights, advocating on behalf of freedom of the press,
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you know, the united states has not always been perfect in this regard. there are times where we by necessity are dealing with allies or friends or partners who themselves are not meeting the standards that we would like to see met when it comes to international rules and norms. but i can tell you that in every multilateral setting, in the united nations, the united states typically has been on the right side of these issues and it is important for us to continue to be on the right side of these issues because if we the largest strongest country and democracy in the world are not willing to stand up on behalf of these values, then certainly china, russia and others will not.
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kevin. >> thank you, mr. president. you have been a strong supporter of the idea of a peaceful transfer of power. demonstrated not terribly far from the rose garden. yet even as you and i speak, there are more than five dozen democrats that are going to boycott the inauguration of the incoming president. do you support that? and what message would you send to democrats to better demonstrate the peaceful transfer of power? and if i could follow, i wanted to ask you about your conversations with the president-elect previously and without getting into too much of the personal side, i'm curious were you able to use that opportunity to convince him to take a fresh look at some of the important ideas that you will leave this office with, maintaining some a semblance of the affordable care act. some idea of keeping people here
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in the country without fear of deportation? and how successful were you? >> i won't go into details with president-elect trump. as i said before, they are cordial. at times they have been fairly lengthy and they have been substantive. i can't tell you how convincing i've been. i think you would have to ask him whether i've been convincing or not. i have offered my best advice, counsel about certain issues both foreign and domestic and my working assumption is is that having won an election opposed to a number of my initiatives and certain aspects of my vision for where the country needs to go, it is appropriate for him to
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go forward with his vision and his values and i don't expect that there's going to be enormous overlap. it may be that on certain issues once he comes into office and looks at the complexities of how to in fact provide health care for everybody, something he says he wants to do, or wants to make sure that he is encouraging job creation and wage growth in this country, that may lead him to some of the same conclusions that i arrived at once i got here. but i don't think we'll know until he has actual chance to get sworn in and sit behind that desk and i think a lot of his views are going to be shaped by his advisers, the people around him which is why it's important to pay attention to these confirmation hearings.
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i can tell you that -- and this is something i have told him. that this is a job of such magnitude that you can't do it by yourself. you are enormously reliant on a team. your cabinet. your senior white house staff. all the way to fairly junior folks in their 20s and 30s but executing significant responsibilities. so how you put a team together to make sure that they're getting you the best information and they are teeing up the options from which you will make decisions, that's probably the most useful advice and most constructive advice i've been able to give him. that if you find yourself
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isolated because the process breaks down or if you're only hearing from people who agree with you on everything or if you haven't created a process that is fact-checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises that you have made, that's when you start making mistakes. and as i indicated in some of my previous remarks, reality has a way of biting back if you're not paying attention to it. with respect to the inauguration, i'm not going to comment on those issues. all i know is i'm going to be there. so is michelle. i have been checking the weather and hardened by the fact it won't be as cold as my first inauguration because that was cold. jenna. >> thank you. you have said that you would come back to -- you said that a couple of weeks ago. are you fearful for the status of those dreamers, the future of
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the young immigrants and all immigrants in this country with a new administration and what do you mean when you said you would come back? would you be congress, maybe explore the political arena again? a second question, why do you take action on dry food/wet food a week ago? >> well, let me be absolutely clear. i did not mean i was going to be running for anything any time soon. what i meant is that it's important for me to take some time to process this amazing experience that we have gone through, to make sure that my wife with whom i will be celebrating a 25th anniversary this year is willing to reupand p put up with me for a little longer. i want to do some writing. i want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn
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much. i want to spend precious time with my girls. so those are my priorities this year. but as i said before, i'm still a citizen. and i think it is important for democrats or progressives who feel that they came out on the wrong side of this election to be able to distinguish between the normal back and forth ebb and flow of policy. now are we going to raise taxes or lower taxes? are we going to expand this program or eliminate this program? you know, how concerned are we about air pollution or climate change? those are all normal parts of the debate. and as i've said before in a
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democracy sometimes you're going to win on those issues and sometimes you're going to lose. i'm confident about the rightness of my positions on a lot of these points but we got a new president and a congress that are going to make their same determinations and there'll be a back and forth in congress around those issues and you guys will report on all that. but there's a difference between that normal functioning of politics. and certain issues or certain moments where i think our core values may be at stake. i put in that category if i saw systemic discrimination being ratified in some fashion, i put in that category explicit or
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functional obstacles to people being able to vote to exercise their franchise. i put in that category institutional efforts to silence disent or the press and for me at least i would put in that category efforts to round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are american kids. and send them some place else. when they love this country, they are our kids' friends and our classmates and are now entering into community colleges or in some cases serving in our military. the notion that we would just
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arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids when they didn't do anything wrong themselves, i think would be something that would merit me speaking out. it doesn't mean that i would get on the ballad anywhere. with respect to wet and dry, we underwent a monumental shift in our policy towards cuba. my view was after 50 years of policy not working it made sense for us to try to reopen diplomatic relations, to engage a cuban government to be honest with them about the strong disagreements we have around, you know, political repression
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and treatment of discenters and freedom of press and religion. our best shot was to suddenly have the cuban people interacting with americans and seeing the incredible success of the cuban american community and engaging in commerce and business and trade. and that it was through that process of opening up these bilateral relations that you would see over time serious and significant improvement. given that shift in the relationship, the policy that we had in place was wet foot/dry foot which treated cuban immigrants completely different from folks from al salvador or
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nicaragua or any other part of the world. one that made a distinction whether you got here by land or by foot, you know, that was a carry-over of a old way of thinking that didn't make sense in this day and age particularly as we're opening up travel between the two countries. we had very lengthy consultations with the department of homeland security. we had some tough negotiations with the cuban government. but we arrived at a policy which we think is both fair and appropriate to the changing nature of the relationship between the two countries. nadia. >> thank you. i appreciate the opportunity. i want to wish you and your family the best of luck in the future. >> thank you. >> mr. president, you have been
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criticized for the resolution that concerned the settlements. mr. trump appointed an ambassador that doesn't live in the two state solution. do you as leadership and beyond, would this ignite a -- would this even protect israel? in retrospect do you think you should hold israel more accountable like president bush, sr. did with the longer entities? >> i'm -- i continue to be significantly worried about the israeli/palestinian issue and worried about it both because i think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for israel, that it is
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bad for palestinians, it is bad for the region and it is bad for america's national security. and i came into this office wanting to do everything i could to encourage serious peace talks between israelis and palestinians and invested a lot of energy, time and effort in the first year, second year, all the way until last year. ultimately what has always been clear is that we cannot force the parties to arrive at peace what we can do is facilitate, provide a platform, encourage but we can't force them to do it. but in light of shifts in israeli politics and palestinian
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politics, a rightward drift in israeli politics weakening the president's ability to move and take risks on behalf of peace in the palestinian territories, in light of all the dangers that have emerged in the region and the understandable fears that israelis may have about the chaos and rise of groups like isil and the deterioration of syria, in light of all those things, what we at least wanted to do understanding that the two parties wouldn't actually arrive at a final status agreement is to preserve the possibility of the two-state solution because we do not see an alternative to it. and i've said this directly to prime minister netanyahu and said it inside of israel, i've
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said it to palestinians as well. i don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains israel as both jewish and a democracy. because if you do not have two states, then in some form or fashion you are extending an occupation, functionally you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate a second class residence. you can't even call them citizens necessarily. so the goal of the resolution was to simply say that the settlements, the growth of the settlements are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two-state solution impossible.
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and we believed consistent with the position that had been taken with previous u.s. administrations for decades now that it was important for us to send a signal, a wakeup call that this moment may be passing and israeli voters and palestinians need to understand this moment may be passing. and hopefully that then creates a debate inside both israeli and palestinian communities that won't result immediately in peace but at least will lead to a more sober assessment of what the alternatives are. so the president-elect will have his own policy. the ambassador or the candidate for the ambassadorship obviously
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has very different views than i do. that is their prerogative, part of what happens after elections. i think my views are clear. we'll see how their approach plays itself out. i don't want to -- i don't want to project today what could end up happening but obviously it's a volatile environment. what we have seen in the past is when sudden unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive and what we tried to do in the transition is just to provide the context in which the president-elect may want to make some of these decisions. [ inaudible ] >> well, that's part of what we have tried to indicate to the
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incoming team in our transition process is pay attention to this because this is volatile stuff. people feel deeply and passionately about this. as i said i think many times, you know, the actions that we take have enormous consequences and ramifications. we're the biggest kid on the block and i think it is right and appropriate for a new president to test old assumptions and re-examine the old ways of doing things but if you're going to make big shifts in policy, just make sure you have thought it through and understand there are going to be consequences and actions
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typically that create reactions. and so you want to be intentional about it. you don't want to do things off the cuff when it comes to an issue this volatile. chris johnson. chris johnson. >> on lgbt rights -- >> where's chris? i sorry, didn't see you. >> you have seen a lot of achievements over the past years including hate crime legislation, marriage equality nationwide and issuing transfer of people. how do you think the rights will rank in terms of your accomplishments and your legacy and how confident are you that congress will continue to honor the president-elect? >> i could not be prouder of the transformation taken place in our society within the last


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