tv Washington Journal Ben Rhodes CSPAN July 11, 2018 8:00pm-8:59pm EDT
university of connecticut profession professor. the 1918 silent french film, dedicated to america's efforts in world war i. sunday at 2:00 p.m. eastern, the national world war ii museum symposium. then, on american artifacts at 6:00 p.m., the u.s. army heritage and education center annual living history event. featuring french, world war i soldiers. watch american history tv. this weekend on cspan-3. cod ben rhodes is the former security adviser. speech writer for the duration of the obama administration. talking about his new book, the world as it is. your whole reason for coming to
washington and later meeting then senator barack obama was your experience in new york on september 11. tell us about that and how that brought you to washington. >> i was on a totally different course in life. i wanted to be a writer. i was working on political campaigns, and on 9/11, it was election day. i was standing at a polling site. i had a clear view of the second plane hitting the first tower falling. i knew then that whatever i was going to do in my life at 24 years old was going to be about what happened next. and i went to an army recruiter who didn't know what to make. found my way down here to work for lee hamilton. i worked my way into foreign policy. but felt i wanted to get involved in politics. politics is how you made change. that led me to the obama camp. >> you are meeting with barack obama fairly quickly thereafter. he brought you on board.
this is early in his campaign for the presidency. 2007. >> it it was the spring of 2007. free work for the obama campaign. i got called into a prep session. and there he is at the head of the table. i was so nervous back then, that i frankly, felt like i couldn't speak in paragraphs. you know, debating whether or not he should vote for a bill that would fund the iraq war. he liked that approach in terms of trying to identify what the common sense case is. you're not for this policy. why would you vote for this? ultimately, got hired as the speaker. >> not to give away the ending of the book or whatever, but you write in the beginning, one of the last trips with barack obama in 2016, and you are
riding along and he says something to you. he asks you, what if we were wrong? which startled you. did this book help clarify that answer for you? >> yeah, i wrote the book to answer that question. and having been there the very first day of the obama administration, experiencing eight years of history, and having the end be the opposite of what we were looking for. what he was referring to there, i think is sometimes we as progressives think that everything is moving inevitably in a certain direction. society will be more open, more tolerant, more progressive, frankly. you can under estimate how contested american politics is. and obviously, we saw backlash, not just in the united states, but in britain, for instance, the forces of change. but, i think in going through this, i wanted to revisit both what we did and what the forces we were building.
here in the united states and around the world and our politics and foreign policy. and frankly, at the end, i ended on a hopeful note. i do believe you take a long view of history. it's not four year or eight year incriminates. it's what is the direction oche things. my belief continues to be that the politics barack obama represented is where the country is headed. >> you identified yourself as a progressive. you look back to 2008, there was certainly a political, not price to pay, but it was harder to say that back in 2008. what do you think has changed? >> you know, i think what i found in my ten years in this political world is that americans like authenticity. and if you're progressive, they want you to be up front about that and up front about your policies, just like conservatives. donald trump is authentic, just as barack obama was.
in the democratic party, there has been greater acceptance of being ourselves and standing up to what we believe in. when we are shading ourselves off of conservatives or republicans and not just declaring what we believe in, that doesn't resonate with the voter who wants to know, who is this person i'm being asked to vote for. >> do you think the course of the things you wanted to get done? >> i don't think so. i think it's interesting. in the beginning, it was a crisis. it was such a crisis situation. everything we did, given the financial crisis, we're learning 750,000 jobs. we had troops in iraq. everything we did the first year was about riding this ship. then turning to a progressive agenda, with healthcare reform, and trying to wind down the wars. i think what hindered our agenda was an inability to find a way to work with republicans. who understandably had a different view. but i think broke from some
precedent in the complete embrace of what obama is for. progressives and conservatives can find some common space to work together, even if the policy ends are different. i wish williams we could have done more. you did see a much more progressivism in part because we couldn't find any common ground. we set up for the things we believe. >> is it famously in the first year of the administration, the then republican leader, mitch mcconnell, made it his vow to make barack obama a one-term president. how did that specifically or more broadly that added to hurt what you tried to get done. >> it's interesting when you come in, you know, you don't know what the congressional dynamic will be. we got an enormous amount done.
it was almost impossible to get a major piece of legislation through. we could do things, spending priorities and compromises, but mcconnell's approach was such a brick wall. even different from john boehner who was more inclined to get something done. that it really limited the space for any legislative action. the only thing the president can do is executive action. i think where it manifests the most clearly is on the mayor garland piece. eight months before the end of his term, he doesn't get a hearing on it, which is about precedent. >> you write that mitch mcconnell's refusal was partisan, that the context of
the republican party, which spent eight years disbanding and circled the wagons. obama reflected this sense of exhaustion. what else do you expect, cohn li said, he won't give us a hearing. he was warned by republican obstructionism. >> that was related to @ russian intervention. in september of 2016, we went to congress and said here's the evidence. and rather than us make a statement, we like to be a bipartisan expression of concern. mcconnell refused to sign on do that statement. ultimately, there was no strong bipartisan statement about this. you know, obama, it was almost sad in a way that i was shocked. a lot of us were surprised, mcconnell was looking at this as a political thing.
obama was so warn down and so customed to that obstruction. look, the guy won't give me a hearing, why do you think he would stand up and do the right thing. >> our guest is ben rhodes, we welcome your calls and comments. democrats, republicans, independents and others, 202- 784-8002. the book, the world as it is. a memoir of the obama white house. what was the president's world view coming in to 2008 and how did it change over the course? >> i think the world view coming in was that we have been over extended in the wars in iraq and afghanistan. and he saw his principle objective as trying to draw down our troops. at the beginning of the add min stlaition, administration.
and i think what he wanted to do is draw those down and then refocus on priorities. the global economy, dealing with climate change. stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, which led to the iran nuclear deal. what changed was circumstance. that's what happens when you are president. the arab spring, really ended up consuming a huge chunk of our time, and managing the different crisis in libya and syria, obviously, we didn't come in expecting that would consume the amount of time it did. he struggled with the balance between wanting to do what he could to limit the human suffering and to try and promote some form of to believe the, but he had the humility that we can't going into middle eastern country after another to remake their society.
that didn't work fundamentally. it was the balance of how much can we do to manage crisis, versus not getting over extended in another war. >> we have callers waiting for ben rhodes. let's go first to cedar falls, iowa, and hear from greg on our independent line. greg, go ahead. >> good morning. >> cedar falls, iowa, go ahead. >> looking back at the obama administration, it's very clear one of the key foreign policy struggles for the administration is related particularly to israel and particularly, i think barack obama's relationship with benjamin netanyahu. this is reflected in news from this past may that the isreali spy, security organization, private organization, which was also involved in helping harvey weinstein, pick up dirt on his sexual acould accusers
and victims, was involved in operations and grasping the iran deal. my question for ben is, this is obviously a major issue of difference, whereas the obama administration had differences with netanyahu's government, with iran now the trump administration is taking a much more positive. at least in the eyes of netanyahu and his inner circle. as much, you'd say, better relationship in terms of agreeing about iran and other issues related to israel immediate policy. immediate need, so to speak, at those closest to him. my question is just how much of this whole battle going on within the foreign policy establishment with regards to
trump is related to israel and this very different vision as far as iran is concerned. it's very significant and very important disagreement between the obama administration and the netanyahu government. >> it's a very important question, greg. i spent a lot of time on this in my book. the reality is, barack obama obviously had a different point of view with netanyahu, not the fundamental relationship between the united states and israel. we provided more support for israel's security than any administration in history. on two issues, having to deal with iran and its nuclear program, and how to deal with the palestinians. and you know, question supported a two state solution through the palestine conflict. ultimately, unable to make any
progress there. i think the reality is that when you don't have parties in israel and the palestinian property who are willing to take big risk as former isreali leaders said, then there's only so far you can get. on iran, it has to deal with, can we resolve this diplomatically? our view was, iran is a bad actor in the region. they threaten israel. but that's precisely why we want an agreement. so there's limitations on a nuclear program. i think at the end of the day, prime minister netanyahu did not want to see that diplomacy go forward. differed with the approach of having the world powers in an agreement. you know, i think did this shape a lot of the debates in
washington. not just israel, but saudi arabia. israel and saudi arabia are influential countries here in washington. has spent a lot of time pressing their case. and saudi arabia, like israel, is very adversarial towards iran and was adversarial to the iran nuclear agreement. this did kick up a lot of attention. the black cube thing is an indication. it was very shocking to me, a year and a half out of government, who are collecting information on my family, my two young children, pictures of my apartment where i lived. i think it's one thing to have differences on policy. it's another thing when it crosses the line. frankly, i can't think of a precedent in american history where you have that type of investigation by a foreign
entity, potentially contracted by the current administration. i hope for the sake of everybody in government this does not become a normal thing. you know, obviously, i take a different view. better to have an iron agreement in place than the uncertainty that we have now without it. obviously, the irony for me is that the trump is going to north korea and trying to reach some type of agreement there. as far as the commitment to give up near leer weapons. so, i think it's hard for people to explain why is the north korea deal okay with trump when the much more stringent international inspected limitations in the iran deal were not. >> doing initial low level meetings between north korea,
between iran, or whatever deals being structured. you wrote in the book that president obama, very early on wrote the supreme court leader of iran, and approached the idea of some sort of conversation starter. what was their reaction? >> so he wrote it in early 2009. he was open to diplomacy. you kind of make peace with your enemies, not your friends. the response was over the top, ressation of differences with the united states throughout history. we were clearly not going to get anywhere out of the box. we did take some of his language. we actually took some of those language from the responses and pullet put it into a speech president obama made. we aren't going to compromise. that's how we framed it in the
speech. frankly, it took an evolution where we had to impose sanctions for several years before they were willing to come to the table. and then, a hard liner was replaced. the new iranian president opened up. >> let's hear from tallahassee, florida. we go to charlotte. good morning on our democrats line. >> good morning. thank you very much. cspan, you've been doing a fantastic job. good morning mr. rhodes. i think is this a very enlightened, thought provoking, and brilliant book. i have this book. i'm an academic myself. i'm going to include this book in a 13 book curriculum masters program. because i think it creates a
very inside view of a perspective. i look at our historical context. the politics, and the responsibility we have as citizens. you had an up front and close insight in writing as this book was made. however, my question to you, sir, if i could have. right now, look at the 25 year window, from 1954 with brown, coming into 68, with the changes that society mode. then we went from the changes to the 70s to the 90s. then we come to the obama years. it appears to me that we have an extreme and entrench the fight that this book, i think, reflects for the politics, for
the social. where you and your administration, where the democrats refusing to gland an authority, but prioritizing that we're going to sack sacrifice the instruments for principal. your book is a brilliant recommendation of the leadership. for the 25 year history, as historians. >> i'm going to let you go there and get some response from ben rhodes. >> first of all, thank you so much for the comments on the book. i appreciate that, and hope it's useful to you. i wanted to show people what it was like. how president obama was like.
what was he wrestling with. not just at the head of the table, but talking inbetween events and car rides. also, what were the forces in opposition to us? and how do we deal with that? and look, i really don't mean it as a partisan statement. i think it's a pretty plain fact that we did face an unusual level of opposition, you know, as we were discussing before. mitch mcconnell, from day one, not waiting to see what we were going to do. you saw the rise of a hyperbolic, it it was different from the type of opposition that we have seen in the past. and the underlying premise of your statement in question, i think is fair, which is to say there seems to be an imbalance.
you know, we were consistent. the movie lincoln came out, and can this was a movie about congress working with the president to get something done. president obama invited republicans to a screening to think that would be an interesting thing to do at the white house movie theater. not a single one came. we invited republicans to camp david. nobody came. you can extend a hand. if someone doesn't reach back, you can't work together. i think we have seen a pattern in the last 25 years. the impeachment of bill clinton. where it did become difficult for democrats to figure out how to deal with that level of opposition. and how you balance the need to work together, to try and lead by an example where you're not trying to be as partisan. the strange thing for barack obama, he was passed as this
radical figure. conservative guy who gets along with people. he's not a name caller. he's not a bomb thrower. and i do think the question becomes, when do you try to work together? when do you set that kind of example and when do you say, look, i'm going to go my own way here and fight for the things i believe in. and he was willing to obviously do that on a number of cases. that's how we got some of the more significant things done, whether it's gay marriage or healthcare, or the changes he tried to put in place. climate change, immigration. this is a difficult call for democrats. at the end of the day, you don't want to turn into the very political force that, you know, rejected you. you don't want to be a mere image of that uniform sense of rejection. but i do think you have to
stand on principle. you make your case and build your movement. because what barack obama was able to do in 2008 and 2012 is turn out a sufficient number of people to overcome the backlash. and democrats have not been able to do that. so, i think to build your case. we have to try to work with the other side. try to lead by example and embracing a view of democracy that is inclusive. but, i do think when you reach a certain limit, you have to willing to fight and stand on principle. you are seeing the view the party emgraced under trump. >> the book, the world as it is, ben rhodes, john is up next, burlingtom, north carolina. on the independent line. >> good morning, i appreciate the conversation this morning. mr. rhodes, i look forward to
reading your book. i like to listen to people like you, because you have an inside birds eye view of the average person. voting needs that insight and needs that perspective. you come across as a respectful young man and rational. that's what i want for democrat, republican, you know, or independent. we want thoughtful dis agreement. we want both sides listening, and we want people to work out problems. that's the reason like me voted for trump. we're interested in outcomes. as i listen this morning, i say this with the deepest respect for everyone. a lot of talk that i've heard about obstructionism specifically. i don't know how anyone listening to this could not
rationally conclude that everything you just stated about how our obstruction with president obama, how that is not mirrored now. and as i would like to hear you comment on is how -- if you could answer this question for me. there was no hearing for his nominee for the supreme court justice because the numbers weren't there. the republicans weren't in position to withhold that hearing. i would like to ask you respectfully, would you comment, can you honestly say in your perspective, democrats were in position in the senate and congress today to stop a hearing from taking place on his nominee no matter what anyone thinks about that nominee. can you comment and let us know, can you honestly look at
us or advise us and say the democrats won't obstruct. i look forward to listening to your book. i look forward to your comment. i am going to purchase your book and i'm going to read it. >> thanks so much. i appreciate your question. your comment. you know, first of all, part of the challenge. i understand. people always say to me, how did some people look for obama and trump. i did understand that there's a frustration, you just want change. i do believe that the obstruction is a political strategy under obama. basically, from the get go, we're going to be against what he does. did that have more to do with the dysfunction than president obama who we tried, particularly in the early days, the stimulous, for instance,
and the economic crisis. we made a third of that text us, which is not what we would have done if completely left our own devices. we are trying to bring them along. we tried to make it the type of bill that could attract bipartisan support. and again, i think there's a political judgment made on the other side that says look, we're better off hunkering down, not voting for anything obama does and running against him. which is everybody's political right. i think to someone with your impatience with obstruction, if president trump had come in, and i think led with some things he talked about frankly on the campaign trail, like infrastructure. said look, i think that we need to get this economy hypercharged and fix our roads and bridges. he would have found democrats
willing to work with him. even guys like chuck schumer. out of the gate he decided to help with the repeal of healthcare is not something that will win democratic support. it's the most con contention. it deals with the development of infrastructure. it deals with further implyification. the type of things that where americans want to see improvements. we tried that, and even on ideas that usually attract bipartisan support is hard to find. trump's agenda has found little place for the issues. on immigration, for instance, i would like to see a compromise get done. i don't think we fix things
until it does. you're right to be frustrated. i think that democrats would prefer to not be obstructionists. i think you're absolutely right in the premise, that it's quite likely. i can't say for certain, that if democrats control the senate, they would at least try to heavily scrutinize the nominee. the questions holding up the hearing until the next president is elected, which is three years. i don't think there's feasible. i do think what happened to mayor garland, the democrats had some control now, they would say, let's wait until after the november election. unfortunately, that's the consequence of breaking norms. that when one side does it, the other side says okay, we're doing this. in this case, because mcconnell made the argument, the american
people should have a say at the ballot box before there's a hearing on a supreme court justice, i think if democrats were in a similar position now, less than six months before midterm election, they would be saying, let's wait until after the election. so, i think you're right. i think this is the consequence. it's very hard to say to a political party, we get to break the rules. violate the norm and not have a supreme court hearing, but you democrats, you know, you're going to hold yourself to a higher standard so we can get all our things done. your question is the other side of the coin of the previous caller. expressing the frustration. i hope this kind of fever breaks in general and our politics in both parties. i think it will take a couple elections to just kind of reset the dynamic in washington.
i would much prefer if people could work together. given the president attacking them and kind of undoing the obama legacy, to say this is what will garner bipartisan support. it will take a different set of issues. it will be representative of a conservative president. the confined space for a common ground. >> among the many foreign policies, you were deeply involved in. showing the president making president obama making the announcement and your six day old daughter in front of the screen. tell us about that process and what do you think about the trump administration's reversal about some of those policies. >> to me, one of the most exciting things i did in government. for almost two years, led the secret negotiations that led us to the vatican, where us and the cubans finalized our
agreement in the presence of cardinal have the vatican. and it really was a powerful thing to participate in to essentially try to put a difficult period of our history behind us. the first meeting with the cubans, they went through the invasion, and attempted to assassinate castro. i said look, i wasn't born when those things happened. we're here to move forward. i think it did express a bigger point. the countries can work through issues. i believe we can improve the lives of the cuban people. the embargo, complete isolation of cuba is hurting the people we said we wanted to help. we wanted to help cubans. frankly, their politics weren't changing. the idea was to promote
democracy, clearly what we were doing wasn't working. our theory is, more information reaching cubans, ultimately, that would be more likely to open up political change inside after cuba. >> frankly, they have a lot of bipartisan support. libertarian really like that idea. i met with a lot of libertarians. the people in the house, too. who believe that open markets can open up society. they are republicans who thought there were opportunities in cuba that we were denying ourselves, to work together, to develop their agriculture. to sell them equipment. to purchase materials from them. so, there was actually an interesting -- put it this way, if you put it to a vote in congress, the embargo would go away tomorrow. there's a lot of republican support for it. the reason that never happens,
they are very loud voices who are well placed. in both parties, by the way. marco rubio on the republican side, and mendez on the democratic side. usually out of the cuban, american community. what i also experience is the younger cuban americans want to open up and change. trump's policy is missed opportunity. he has not rolled it all the way back. he hit the pause button. you know, again, in his announcement, he passed it as we want to help the cuban people. they hate his policy. the cuban business owners benefiting from travel suddenly are isolated again. and the cuban people are suffering again. it's not becoming more democratic, because you know, we're once again beating them over the head. so, i think if we're interested in the outcome, opening up to a
place that is 90 miles from florida, and seeing that our ideas can prevail through travel and commerce rather than through this would be the better course of action. >> over 20 minutes left. for democrats, 202-748-8001. thanks for waiting. madison, wisconsin, on the independent line. >> hi, good morning. i am wondering, ben, as a former national security adviser, national security, and how you have seen that perception of aide change both in washington and among normal americans around the country. and also the possible reprecushions are of this change and how other world leaders perceive the u.s. >> a tough one in american
politics. i think what's hard for people to understand is first of all, how a small fraction of the budget is. a small budget of the money we spend. it does enormous good. some of it is about saving lives and president bush's hiv, aids initiative saved millions of lives in africa. but also, it's for family in our interest. when the ebola epidemic took place, our ability to strengthen public health systems in west africa, that ultimately saved american lives, because we were able to contain the disease there, rather than see that epidemic spread there. you can go down the list where a little bit of foreign assistance makes it better for us on the security side. the ability to improve the
situation in terms of governance. that investment there can prevent a terrorist organization and things coming and blowing back on the united states. my concern now is what we have seen is essentially slashing of that assistance. i think that has a number of reprecushions. number one, that could harm a lot of people. a lot of people who depend on assistance to prevent disease or famine are now at greater risk. i think on a human level, america should always be the leader of the world and trying to solve problems. secondly, i think again, it's going to prevent our capacity. at a fraction of the cost. a war costs a lot more than preventing a war from foreign
assistance. immigration. the amount of money we're spending on enforcement action, on a wall, what we could get through investments in central america in preventing that flow of people through our border. the reason people are coming to our border is not because it's easy to get in here, they don't want to stay where they are. they are at great risk of violence or destitution. again, a relatively small amount of business in central america. this could dramatically cut down on that flow of people north of our border. it's a good example where we could end up spending tens and billions of dollars on enforcement where less than a billion dollars could change the dynamic in some of those central american countries and cut down on the people who are seeking to reach the border. it's an important thing for people to understand.
while this seems like why are we spending this money in other countries, it can be beneficial. it hurts us when we are walking away from programs. other countries are supporting them. part of our leadership role, we build collective action for how we solve these problems. when we walk away from the table, we isolate ourselves and other countries, like china, they take our place. you see china providing a lot of assistance. my worry is that if we walk away from the field, they will be replacing us. they have a different view of how the world should be organized. >> we'll hear from springfield, massachusetts, ben is next, democrat line. >> good morning. thank you for accepting my
call. i want to make a statement. 25 years in the house of representatives. we've been dominate in massachusetts. we have a very good working relationship with our republican governor. and we've had governors during the time i served, at least on four different occasions. so you end up trying to cooperate and for the best outcome to provide. i want to talk a little bit. i want to ask you a question. you have a good name, by the way. my name is ben as well. i wanted to -- i haven't read your book, but i plan to. i respect the perspective that
you provide. when obama was elected, he tried to treat the working relationship with the republican party. you explain why it didn't happen already. but he did try, and among his efforts, he also pointed members to his cabinet. he kept comey. he kept gates, who was a republican. he tried to, and he planted some directly. i would like for you to talk about the effort he made to the republicans, specifically, in terms of appointment. this president we have now, and i don't know any democrat appointed, you may be able to help me with that. >> i think he called bob gates
yoda. >> yeah, his view was, both that there needs to be continuity in positions and you needed to reach out. bob gates had an under stated and clinical competent way of providing advice very calm. calls him yoda. but you know, i think that there were a couple ways. yes, you try appointments. we kept in place, the fbi director appointed by george w. bush, who was bob mueller. repeated republican appointee. then james comey, who was also a republican. ray lahood was a republican that was appointed. the transportation in our administration, bob mcdonald appointed to reform that agency. we frankly tried to appoint
greg, republican member of congress, to the commerce department and ultimately, he pulled out at the end because he saw the direction toward obama and the congress. a number of appointments had different levels as well. another important point, though. you have been here from massachusetts. the healthcare bill, everybody forgets that it becomes so contention. the idea of a democratic legislature having worked with the republican governor, mitt romney, to provide universal healthcare. we drew from that idea. we did not pursue a single payer, completely socialized healthcare system like today we have in the united kingdom. this idea had come out of a lot of republican thinking. theway you have exchanges in place and give more options.
that was very much modeled on the plan. it was interesting, i think it's a window into how peculiar they can get. while running for president, somehow he explained why the same plan he was for the governor was terrible and now obama had done it as president. a missed opportunity. it was the idea, as i was saying, the stimulous. the healthcare plan, drawing on the idea of exchanges. trying to find that common ground in substance, and we see again, we don't see that happening now. u i think you're right to be frustrated. the democrats have to work with republicans. >> let's hear from nick next. he's in sarasota, florida, independent line. >> yes. good morning. thank you for taking my call.
i watch washington journal every morning. i'm a retired, disabled veteran. i would like to ask your guests about the mueller investigation. it's been over a year, so either there's nothing to the collusion, which is most likely, or two, he has the most incompetent investigating team. my question is, isn't it time for a second -- to look into this fbi stuff, because whether you like him or not. i think president trump, i'm sure your guests would dis agree. everything that has been because of these false allegations, and everything else is keeping things from going on. if they are looking for cooperation from the democrats, quit doing these false narratives. i think the second special
council should look into lesser thing they can find, because i'm fed up. he's my president. along with millions of other people. and i want him to get the job done, and i'm just tired of this. thank you. >> well, first of all, thank you for your service to our country. i think it's important to note that bob mueller, the democrats have nothing to do with the appointment of bob mueller as special council. what happened was, jeff sessions recuesed himself from the russia investigation, and a republican trump appointee. rob appointed bob mueller to be his special council. bob mueller, a republican. so, you know, this is not an investigation being run by chuck schumer and nancy pelosi. it's being run by a man, who is a republican, who was appointed by democrat deputy attorney
general for again, on what have of a republican led justice department. i think it's also important to note that in the u.s. system, we let the rule of law run its course. to suggest that nothing has come of the last year or so of this investigation, there have been more indictments of people in this investigation, and anyone i remember in recent memory. you have the president's former national security adviser, his campaign chairman, and a number of others who have been indicted. the campaign chairman is in prison as we are speaking now. so, it's not as if he's not finding crime. keep in mind, some of these crimes, people have admitted to. have pled. reached plea agreements. so, sometimes you hear this notion this uncovered nothing. it has uncovered a lot. some of this is not just the
special council's findings. it's people themselves who have entered into plea agreements. that they lied to the fbi or other things. i think that again, what is at stake here is a nonpartisan principle. which is the rule of law in this country independent of any power, including the president of the united states. whoever is president, if there's an investigation, including one that he may not like, he can't just shut that down. and i don't know what bob mueller will find. but i do believe that you don't interfere in an on going investigation of an important matter. as much as people would like to move on. whether or not russia interfered in our election in collusion with or coordination with the trump campaign affects the outcome of that election is a very important question. not just to understand what happened in the past, imu
because they'll probably do it again. in fact, i'm sure they will do it again. trump's own appointees said, expect interference. >> it was the republican party that wanted to stand up to russia the most. that was what john mccain stood for. i understand the frustration with, there always seems to be investigations in washington. as a citizen, why do we of what happened? why do we not want there to be capacity for bob mueller? impeccable record, to just do his work? it can't go on for ever. but you know, he has shown he identified of crimes and let him come out with the full story and people can judge for themselves. above all, hopefully our legal system can run the final judgment. >> question on the midterms. i gave your book to my dad for father's day. he's really enjoying it.
question, what should the question be? how much policy proposals? how much trump criticism? >> you know. i do think that this is a basic matter of politics. let's face it, people tend to vote in midterm elections against something. we experience that in 2010 when there was an election that brought republicans into power. in 2006, a wave election that brought democrats into power. however, importantly, the presidential election, you better have a positive, affirmative agenda. it's not enough to be against somebody. it's not enough to oppose trump. so i do think that democrats are going to mobilize their voters through oppositions to the agenda emanating from trump. extending greater americans, trying to fix and reform our immigration system, and create
a broader base of economic growth. on a policy side, the tax bill, that frankly has a lot of significant give aways to corporations. doesn't help working people. we have an agenda on working people for healthcare and other issues. i honestly think that what will europe unify the party. you know what we're against, here is the agenda that we'll take into the 2020 election. you are not going to beat trump by running against him. you have to run for something. that's what worked for obama. >> a couple more calls here. we'll get to jeff on our democrats line in maryland. >> how are you doing, mr. rhodes, and thank you for taking my call. i was just wanting to ask, do you think that the obama administration should have been a little less forceful on
trying to get the ach through? because it seems like when they put it through, as soon as he got into office, it caused a lot of backlash from the republican party. almost like he got in and punched him right in the nose. they didn't recover and they became obstructionists. here we have trump who came in and his first thing was to get rid of the ach. so, or the ahc. so, just want to know, do you think the obama administration should have been less forceful and what do you think is going to be the one policy issue that will try and bring both parties together? thank you, and i'll take the answer. >> that's a good question. i think at a minimum, we certainly misjudged how difficult it would be. i remember we came in, we did the stimulous. dealing with the economic
crisis. and that spring, we pivot to healthcare. the feeling was, this would be a few months. we'll get a bill done, and frankly, it ended up dragging on for almost a full year. and just consumed the political debate and we, at a minimum, definitely under estimated the opposition the time that it would take. we still hear about certain groups, like immigration reform. so, i don't know, like i said, i didn't work directly on the healthcare bill. i think maybe what we did is we misjudged the difficulty of getting that through. we had trouble holding democrats. lieberman, for instance, kind of cast a deciding vote against the concept of having a public option and the aca, that extended things by several months. so, you know, i think we are guilty of misjudging the time that would take and the
acrimony it would invoke. to your question, i think that infrastructure is the obvious choice. you know, we as a country, number one have enormous transportation needs. roads, railways, airports, a significant amount of jobs. good jobs. rebuilding that infrastructure. and different ways to finance it. you know, some think government spending. but there are different ways and different models that can incorporate ideas in terms of how you might finance infrastructure and how much from government spending, but how much of it comes from benefits of a private sector. i think there's a clear consensus it could be forged around this. i think it's also important because aztecnology extends, you know, trade is not what is displacing most workers now.
it's automation. we'll have to work very hard to find the jobs of the future here. that will demand bipartisan census. the industries will be wiped out by artificial intelligence and automation. one place to start is infrastructure. building out and a consensus on how to build jobs in a world where technology is taking those jobs away, that's what i would like to see. >> world as it is, ben rhodes, former national security adviser, what is next for you after the book? >> you know, i have to get through this book tour. i'm going to do a few different things. i still work with president obama a little bit. i'm traveling with him to south africa next week. helping him with his international work. i'm going to do more writing on my own. i have an organization. national security action, that does deal in the progressive, tries to help progressives in national security debates. a little politics, a little writing, and kind of see where things lead me. >> do you think we'll see the
former president on the campaign trail? >> he is taking a low profile. to let other democrats emerge. he'll be out there on the campaign trail this fall. >> i hope you come by again. >> thanks, it was great. >> cspan washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, the atlantic steve clemens discusses president trump's foreign policy agenda. then the "new york times" anna swanson talks about the trump administration threat to impose additional tariffs against china. and utah republican congressman, john curtis, on president trump's meeting with nato leaders. be sure to watch cspan's washington journal. join the discussion. the former chief of the section is on capitol hill in the morning is scheduled to
testify on the clinton e-mail investigation and russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. live coverage beginning at 10:00 eastern right here on cspan3. you can stream it live on our website, cspan.org and on the free cspan radio app. earlier today on the senate floor, a group of republicans spoke out against president trump's recent decision to impose tariffs on certain steel and aluminum imports. we'll show that to you now starting with remarks from georgia senator, david perdue. >> mr. president, i rise today to talk about my opposition to the section 232 motion that will be voted on later today. i have utmost respect for my colleagues. i fully understand their logic and respect their point of view on this and many other