tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC November 15, 2016 6:00am-7:01am PST
happening now, president obama's last trip abroad. landing just hours ago in europe, set to hold a press conference any moment from now after weighing in on president-elect donald trump on monday. >> i don't think he is idealogical. i think ultimately, he's pragmatic in that way. >> we'll bring it to you live, moments from now. while there is a clearance uproar stateside. donald trump asked if his kids could get security clearance as democrats lash out at his pick for chief strategist. steve bannon. even glenn beck is angry. >> he's a nightmare. and he's the chief adviser to the president of the united states now. >> state of state. rudy giuliani now a top contender for secretary of state. he was asked who was in contention last night. >> maybe me, i don't know. >> i don't know. i don't know. plus, the protests.
students stage a walk-out nationwide, but watch this. a protester tackled at ohio state. >> you idiot. >> president obama is in athens right now on his final trip abroad. and he will be holding a joint news conference with the greek prime minister any minute from now. chris jansing is traveling with the president and joins me by phone. chris, this has to be a tricky task for the president. he's trying to reassure the rest of the world about donald trump, a guy just a week ago president obama said was wholly unfit for the job. >> not only the president saying those things, but think, stephanie, of the number of things said by european leaders. you know, the deputy chanceler of germany called trump a trailblazer of a new authoritarian and chauvinistic international movement. theresa may says he doesn't understand the uk.
he doesn't understand what happens in the uk. italy's prime minister did a big facebook posting and endorsed hillary clinton. so this is obviously a completely different trip than they had planned for for many, many months. this was supposed to be the president making his final foreign foray, shoring up things that were important to him, many of them exactly in line with what hillary clinton has been talking about on the campaign trail. and now, even his deputy national security adviser, ben rhodes, who is traveling with him and is writing the big speech, says this is what people want to hear about. they want to know what happened in the election, what does it mean to us. in greece, in particular, for example, they're dealing with a crushing dent. they're dealing with the refugee crisis. they want the president to go to germany and convince angela merkel to give them more help. but the fact of the matter is, and again, acknowledged by senior officials, that the fact that hillary clinton did not win this election and the differences of opinion with donald trump mean that his
influence is much less significant than they thought it would be, that they hoped it would be, and there is a lot of concern as you look at the newspaper headlines still across europe, stephanie. >> there is a lot of concern, and we're going to go back to athens any moment from now when president obama begins his speech. in the meantime, we have to take a look at the puzzle, the pieces of those puzzles are beginning to fall into place for the trump administration. i'm joined now by our top notch team to break it all down. katy tur, who has been with trump team for months. katy. there is so much speculation, you know, my mother would say, just sit, wait. let's see how it all unfolds. >> i wish we would do that. >> but that's just not what we're going to do. okay, there's so much speculation about who is going to get the cabinet posts. rudy giuliani last night, wink wink, i don't know. maybe me. like what's happening? >> so there's a lot of jockeying going on behind the scenes. >> or in front of the scenes if you're rudy. >> there's that. that's to be expected, because
donald trump suddenly has a lot of power. and suddenly, there are people coming out of the woodwork saying i want a part of this. i was speaking to a source last night who said they basically had people calling who he's known for 30 years but he hasn't spoke to in 29 years trying to get a job. the number one way that people are getting jobs right now is how loyal were you to donald trump? and we know who the most loyal people were. they're jeff sessions. they're rudy giuliani. they're newt gingrich. they're reince priebus. the people that you saw visibly during the campaign, the folks that stood by donald trump. even when he was going through a rockier time. who was not on that list? chris christie. chris christie was not standing by donald trump during some of the rockier times of this campaign. in fact, he became significantly less visible after he was not chosen as vice president. but the ones that are out there, the ones that are most apparent, the ones everyone are talking about are rudy giuliani. not for a.g. any longer, but for secretary of state.
going up against john bolton. listen to what rudy giuliani said at a "wall street journal" dinner or speaking engagement last night when he was talking about this. >> i won't be attorney general. >> you won't be attorney general? >> so good, i won't have to decide that one. thank god. >> made that clear. >> i can escape that one. >> i should ask jeff sessions that one, should i? >> wouldn't be a bad idea. >> that's a happy rudy. >> a happy rudy, and reporters who were in the room say that he smiled quite a bit. you just want to read body language, when they were talking about secretary of state. there's a battle royale going on between john bolton and rudy giuliani. >> i want to talk about other members of the trump team. the real trump team, his children. they have been with him every step of the way. many said his son-in-law, jared kushner, one of his best surrogates. ivanka. donald trump is now potentially requesting security clearance for his family? >> so, he made an informal
inquiry into what his kids would need to do to get security clearance. this is according to andrea mitchell's reporting. no official request has been made. it certainly sounds pretty untraditional to have your grown kids be taken in and given the national secrets. the transition team -- >> the kids who are running his multi-national business in 500 businesses in 22 countries. >> so here's the issue. and the transition team came down and tried to throw cold water on this. without actually saying that the report was wrong. there's that. but if you look at why this matters, not only, you know, giving security clearance to your kids might seem unseemly on the surface. but beyond that, they're running his business. donald trump has promised there would be essentially a big beautiful wall between him and his kids when it came to the business, but the kids are on the transition team now. jared kushner is going to be in the west wing. he won't be a paid adviser because that's illegal, but he's
going to be an informal adviser and have the ear of donald trump as he has had during the entire campaign. the lines between trump and the business are very blurred. and right now, all we have from trump is this promise from him that he's not going to talk about it going forward. talk about the business, that is, going forward. but it doesn't necessarily matter if he talks about it with his kids. and it doesn't matter necessarily if he is true to his word and doesn't make any decisions in the interest of his self rather than the country. other countries can use his holdings overseas as leverage against him. and these aren't things that are blind. rifrt not a blind trust. not like no one is going to know about it. these are public places. they're properties. they're things that everybody can see. they're things everybody can know about. they're things people will report on. they will be out there. a blind trust is not something that is, as you know, feasible with this current situation as it stands. >> disruptive innovation was the term of 2016. unprecedented might be the term for 2017.
>> unbelievable. >> unbelievable. all right, thank you, katy. i want to bring ing msnbc contributor and conservative radio host charlie sykes and npr political reporter and co-host of politics podcast, sam sanders. charlie, i want to stay on this topic. the trump team reportedly inqueering about giving his kids top security clearance. put the law aside for a second because donald trump is an unprecedented president-elect given his business ties. last year in december, when he was asked about turkey's role in isis, he actually went on record and said, listen, as it relates to turkey, i may have a little conflict of interest. i have a big, beautiful hotel, trump towers, in istanbul. how does donald trump request to have his children on the transition team, top security clearance, and run his business, which is in 500 businesses in 22 countries? >> yeah, what could possibly go wrong? apparently, donald trump is going to drain the swamp and then turn it into a family
business. i mean, the conflicts of interest are pretty obvious. i guess what's most disturbing about it is the fact that this kind of gives off the vibe of being an amateur hour here, and these conflicts of interests have always been a possibility, but again, in this particular case, look, are these the people that he's going to be relying on to give him advice on really sensitive national security issues? is this really what the administration is going to look like? look, he's got a long way to go to reassure a lot of folks, including me, about his administration. i think he can do this, but this is an indication that he really hasn't found his footing yet. >> sam, to charlie's point, charlie is saying i think maybe he can do this. many people who weren't necessarily trump supporters but who have said he's now the president of the united states, let's give him some time, let's give him some space. let's see how he does, this is a moment where people are waiting and maybe trusting. in the last few days when we see him make appointments like stephen bannon, have his children on the transition team,
ask for clearance for them, does that not leave many people head scratching, i thought this was the moment when donald was going to reassure us that everything was a-okay. >> there might be head scratching, but it's not that pri surprising. we have seen truths from trump in the whole campaign. very close to the family, very close to steve bannon. why would he not bring his family in if his entire life he's really trusted him? >> i want to talk more about stephen bannon. trump's chief strategist. trump team has said we know stephen bannon personally. any of those thautoughts about t breitbart is, that's not steve. what he is a brilliant strategist. a piece came out, in 2014, the daily beast quoted steve bannon saying i want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today's establishment. those are steve bannon's words. >> yeah, those are steve bannon's words, and that, of courseerse is his approach. he describes himself as a leninest. this is going to be an intere
interesting dynamic. reince priebus is chief of staff. steve bannon is chief strategist. that relationship and that rivalry will really determine whether this is game of thrones or hunger games. you could not be talking about two more different guys. and the reality is, you know, as disturbing as the request for national security clearance for the children is, putting steve bannon in the white house is far more disturbing because the reality is, he is really from the darkest reaches of the alt-right, and he's someone who may not himself be an anti-semite, but he has enabled the nationalists and the white supremests and that has to be a concern, not to mention the smash mouth style of politics he brings and what it means for the role of brightpart media. again, not a terribly reassuring appointment. reince priebus was, but he balances it out with steve bannon. >> does reince have a fighting
chance to have his voice in there? sam, given what a tour deforce steve bannon is, business week described him as the most dangerous operative in politics. and he's not reporting to reince. he's reporting directly to donald. >> yeah, i mean, i sahib the last months of the campaign, it was bannon's campaign and not reince priebus' campaign. i think the reality now is that he's there, and he's procedure going to be there for a while. i have seen lots of reports of people saying, call their house member, complain about bannon's fire, call this and do that, he's an appointee of the president and he'll be there as long as trump wants him there. >> charlie, to sam's point, does it matter? there is this backlash, people complaining. some panicked about the message it sends, having a guy like steve bannon at the white house, but the trump campaign could say the same thing they said about trump's taxes. people voted and they didn't care. this is what we're going to do. but people voted and donald trump won the presidency, but he
doesn't just represent his supporters. he represents the country? >> yeah, well, and steve bannon represents donald trump's i.d., and he's going to have his ear. no question about it. the one thing that reince priebus -- he has a lot of things going for him, but the reality is at some point, donald trump is going to have to acknowledge in order to get things done, he's going to have to work with congress. i cannot imagine that steve bannon is going to be able to work with either the senate or house of representatives, and that's one thing that reince can actually do. if donald trump wants to keep those lines of communications open, he's going to have to work through reince. but again, you know, you have that dark voice whispering in his ear, and that, of course, could determine a lot of what this administration does. >> before we go, sam, can you help me on john bolton? many have said you want to have people in a cabinet or the white house with difference of opinions as the president. but when we look at a war hawk like john bolton, how do you square that off with donald trump who throughout the campaign says he was against going into iraq.
>> i don't know how you do it, actually. i don't have an answer for that. and i think that this is one of the areas where we have seen a lot of different ideas from trump. there are some paolicy issues where he's clear, taxes and obamacare repeal and immigration. but his foreign policy has kind of been all over the map for some time. i don't have any predictions for where that goes going forward. >> a wait and see. gentlemen, thanks for sharing your thoughts. sam and charlie. >> thank you. we are waiting for president obama's news conference in athens, starting any moment from now. >> plus, new reporting on another trump conflict of interest. will president trump be the landlord for one of the trump organization's most prized properties? the details straight ahead. he gets a lot of compliments.
he wears his army hat, walks around with his army shirt looking all nice. and then people just say, "thank you for serving our country" and i'm like, that's my dad. male vo: no one deserves a warmer welcome home. that's why we're hiring 10,000 members of the military community by the end of 2017. i'm very proud of him. male vo: comcast. welcome back.
you're watching msnbc. we have our eyes on athens, greece, where moments from now, president obama will be making remarks. but first, i want to talk to you about the business of being trump. donald trump, the negotiator. >> one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. i think itual end up being the great hotels of the world. >> president-elect donald trump has said it many times. he is a great negotiator. but has he assumes the presideny and keeps the businesses in the family, he may find himself faced with the biggest conflict yet, negotiating with himself. remember the o remember opening of the hotel in d.c. >> one of the most beautiful hotels in the country. i think it will be one of the great hotels of the world. >> he built it on time and on budget, and look at it. it is beautiful. rooms costing more than $700 a night. but guess what. he doesn't own the building. he's leasing it, from whom? the federal government.
the federal government he will soon lead. >> every hotel company, every office company, everybody wanted it. they brought it down to ten finalists and we got it. >> he got it. trump signed a 60-career lease for the property. the trump organization promising to pay the government $3 million a year in rent, which is a big sum. >> one of the most competitive deals in the history of government services. >> to get the property, he had to outbid his competitors and outbid he did. one of his competitors for the bid filed an appeal saying the money trump claimed he could make off the hotel is unachievable and unrealistic. and mother jones magazine found other critics who said the same. many are predicting the hotel will not bring in the revenue predicted, so they won't be able to pay the rent agreed to, and then, of course, the trump organization could seek to renegotiate the terms of the lease. renegotiate with the government donald trump will lead. >> i think i'm a great
negotiator. i think i will do a better job than anybody because i'm really a great negotiator. i know how to negotiate. >> again, all modern presidents have put their assets in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. trump says he will let his kids run it, and that is not a blind trust. and those kids may even get security clearance as part of the transition. we have been reporting on this all week. and we'll stay on it, and one smaller note. if you happened to have seen ivanka trump on 60 minutes and if you liked her bracelet, her company is already trying to capitalize off the appearance, sending an e-mail to journalists about it, her favorite bangle from the metropolis collection available for only $8,000. another conflict of interest, new report this morning that the team trump inquired whether president-elect's children, you know what? we're going to interrupt this because president obama is now speaking in athens.
>> translator: the last stops before concluding his eight-year term as the american president. the presidency during which -- >> this is the greek prime minister speaking right now. president obama will be speaking next. you may recognize him, during the bailout a couple years ago, he was in the news here often. so much talk about the united states's role, so he knows president obama and secretary kerry well. take a listen. >> translator: heavy historic burden. heavy historical burden. and i think that it was a historic moment when during the previous visit of an american president in greece in 1999, president clinton recognized the errors of the u.s. as regards the dictatorship in greece. because the greek people do not only relate to the ancient
traditions. they have fought, they have shed blood until recently. to defend the violence of democracy and freedom, which are our common values. therefore, greece is now welcoming an american president who throughout his term in office has strongly defended these values, who has fought for the rights of all people, irrespective of color, religion, or sexual orientation. who has worked in order to deal with climate change. a president who has integrated millions of americans into health care. a president who has put his strength and his influence behind humanitarian solution of
the great refugee crisis, the greatest after world war ii. and i should also like to point out because this is very important to greece, this is a president who when he had to deal with the 2008 economic crisis, has led the american economy on a completely different path than the one that europe has chosen. eight years later, the result is more than visible. quantitative easing, commitment to employment, which was the choice of the united states, have led to impressive growth rates and decline in unemployment. while on the other side, the insistence of european leaders to austerity policies keeps the european economies trapped in
stagnation, and it therefore brings about huge political and social problems. and it is in this respect that i had the opportunity to discuss with president obama the huge challenges that our country but also the whole of europe is dealing with. these are challenges that need to be dealt with collectively, decisively, and effectively. otherwise, we will be led to backwards from a political and a social point of view. we have therefore agreed that for the modern society -- for modern societies to have help and hope and aspirations is the only way against the increasing trend in skepticism and inward
looking, which is a threat to modern democracies. the international community when trying to avoid historic mistakes of the past, saw this issue clearly when in 1953 and with the assistance and support of the united states of america, they settled the german debt and they linked it to a growth clause. today, the strong germany which is the powerhouse, financial powerhouse of europe, should think in the same manner. greece and the greek people have recently had to deal with the most -- the harshest consequences of the global and european economic crisis. as an economy and as a society, we have had to experience a
program of disastrous austerity, which made the problems more acute instead of resolving them. within a few years, we have lost 25% of our gdp while in 2004, unemployment went up to 27%. today, and despite what we have suffered, we are still standing. we were able, through great sacrifices, to avoid the threats and the threatened disaster, and we're step by step restoring our economy. today, for the first time in years, we are back to growth. slowly but surely, we are decreasing unemployment and we are restoring confidence to the future of the greek economy. about 18 months ago, although we
were a young government, we were asked to take very difficult decisions. and with this opportunity, i want to recognize publicly the role and the contribution of president obama during those difficult moments, to recognize his moral and political support he gave to my government in the effort to find a political solution. difficult decisions were made, not only in order to keep our country in the eurozone, but also in order to maintain the cohesion of the european union. i believe that our decisions were right. as shown by history. we have made difficult reforms in the social security, in taxation, in public administration. but we have always taken
measures to fight corruption, to attract investment, to create a better context for investment in greece. we will continue to decisively promote reforms that will promote growth. and at the same time, we will continue to negotiate hard in order to avoid any reforms that would undermine growth. but what is more important to all of us is that society should understand, should feel the results of all that. and to make the burden to the weak members of society lighter. and also for the younger and productive generation, because after seven years, people cannot take any more austerity. the important reduction of the
greek debt, the reduction of the surpluses which are expected of us in the future, and the participation of the bank of greece in the quantitative easing program are rightfully should be rightfully given to greece and the time to do that is now. and from this point of view, i think that it is not only symbolic but it is also very important that barack obama is now in athens and the day after tomorrow will be in berlin. at this very critical point in time, when decisions are expected. decisions that would not only concern greece. they concern europe, and therefore, the global economy. cooperation and solidarity are
necessary requirements in order to bring about the solutions that will once again bring stability to the european integration and bring it back to the track of growth. and in relation to that, president obama and i discussed a number of important issues such as the continuation of our bilateral economic and business cooperation. more specifically, the important potential for investments in greece, in a series of sectors, such as tourism, research and technology. we also discussed the future where greece with its important shipping power, can become an important transit center for trade, transport and energy, linking europe to asia and to
north africa. we also discussed the important projects and the way which upgrade the role of our country on the intenergy map, the tap, igb pipelines, the upgrading of the lng terminal and the fsru plant, which is now being designed. also, we discussed the possibility of opening new natural gas corridors in the eastern mediterranean, which will play an important role to peace and stability in our region. we have also discussed the excellent greek human potential. human capital. and especially young scientists. we have stressed the huge potential opening for the
cooperation between the american and the greek business communities in the fields of innovation and start-up companies in greece. and we have also discussed the current regional developments, the great challenges in security, migration, the need to strengthen our cooperation on these issues. we have discussed the critical role that greece plays as a pillar of peace and security in a region where stabilization is on the grow. a country of europe, of the eastern mediterranean, of the balkans, of the wider black sea neighborhood, which promotes steadily promotes bilateral and alongside cyprus, the cooperation with all of the
countries of the region on the basis of international law. a country which is using its role as an active member of the eu and nato to promote peace, stability, and security in the region. and which is gradually strengthening its role in order to promote border security and cooperation against terrorism. a country which despite its financial difficulties has offered support to hundreds of thousands of refugees who arrived on its shores. a country which when the balkan corridor was unilaterally closed and despite the pressure exercised the need to violate our common values, still insists that the only way to deal with the refugee issue is respectful
international law, cooperation with transit countries and countries of origin, and dealing with the origins of migration with the reasons of migration. in this framework, we have discussed the importance of implementing the e.u./turkey agreement and continuation of na nato. we have stressed the needs to do whatever possible to promote peace and stability in syria, iraq, and libya. the hardship, the fighting against civilians should stop. and terrorism should be fought decisively. we have also stressed the need to restart the credible talks on the middle east issue. and in this framework, i have
underscored my commitment to dialogue and cooperation with our neighboring turkey. a country that plays an important role for the future of our nation. but i still stress that the promotion of this important relation can only take place on the basis of mutual respect without threats of war and questioning of sovereign rights. and of course, we have discussed the cyprus issue. the need to find a fair and viable solution on the basis of u.n. resolutions, and the compatible with the fact that cyprus is an e.u. member state. we have therefore expressed our support to the very important, critical bicommunal talks which are under way. tomorrow, i will be meeting the
president in athens. we need to be very careful at this very critical point in relation to these talks because important issues are still pending. our objective is to achieve a solution that will benefit all of the sip rcypriots and a solu that will be confidence building on the island. this, in our view, cannot happen without the departure of the occupation army and without doing away with the obsolete system of gaer tuarantees. before i conclude, i would like to once more thank president obama for opting to visit our country. i would like to remember the words of another important president who in the previous
century had to fight in order to deal with challenges similar to the current ones, security, economic crisis, or migration movements of populations. and he had said that real freedom for people can only exist whenever there is security and independence. and he had also said that famine and unemployment are the raw material for dictatorships. these words are very topical nowadays and i am certain that our peoples who are committed to common values will fight in every way to deter any possibility of us going back into history. it is our duty to make a leap into the future, and i believe that we will make it, thank you.
>> thank you, prime minister tsipras, for your kind words and for welcoming me to athens today. i have always wanted to come to greece, and i'm delighted to be able to make this part of my last trip overseas as president of the united states. i think we all know that the world owes an enormous debt to greece and the greek people. so many of our ideas of democracy, so much of our literature and philosophy and science can be traced back to roots right here in athens. i'm told there's a saying from . when someone or something is good and beautiful on the outside, but it also is good and noble on the inside in terms of character and in terms of purpose, and i think that's a
fine description of the friendship that exists between the greek people and the american people. the ideas of ancient greece helped inspire america's founding fathers as they reached for democracy. our revolutionary ideas helped inspire greeks as they sought their own freedoms and americans came here to fight for greek independence. at the dawn of the cold war, when president truman committed the united states to the defense of greece, he said i believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. to this day, the united states is profoundly grateful for our friendship and alliance with greece, and i'm personally very grateful to my many friends in the greek american community. sons and daughters of people who have found success in every walk of american life. and alexis, i want to thank you
for your commitment to our alliance and for the good work we did today. as the prime minister already noted, we spent much of our time discussing the economic situation here in greece and how greece can continue to move forward. i know this has been a painful and difficult time, especially for greek workers and families, pensioners and young people. this crisis is not an abstraction but has had a very concrete and devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across this country. in our meeting, alexis outlined next steps, including reforms to make greece more attractive to investment and to prevent the kind of imbalances that led to the debt crisis in the first place. in other words, greece under his leadership continues to do the hard work necessary to recover. at the same time, i have been clear from the beginning of this crisis that in order to make
reforms sustainable, the greek economy needs the space to return to growth and start creating jobs again. we cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy, and it is incredibly important that the greek people see improvements in their daily lives so that they can carry with them the hope that their lives will get better. and in this context, as greece continues reform, the imf has said that debt relief is crucial. i would continue to urge creditors to take the steps to put greece on a path towards a durable economic recovery, because it's in all of our interests that greece succeeds. we all want the greek people to prosper, to be able to provide a good life for their families and their children. that would be good for greece. that would be good for the european union, good for the united states, and ultimately, good for the world. beyond economic issues, we discussed the pressing security
challenges that we face as nato allies. i want to take this opportunity to commend greece for being one of the five nato allies that spends 2% of gdp on defense. a goal that we have consistently set but not everybody has met. greece has done this even during difficult economic times. if greece can meet this nato commitment, all our allies should be able to do so. we also discuss the need to continue sharing intelligence, to help prevent terrorist attacks, the importance of keeping sanctions, including e.u sanctions in place until russia has fully implemented the minsk agreement along with the ukraine. i want to thank the greek people publicly for their response to the crisis of so many migrants and refugees seeking safier in
europe. greeks have shown extraordinary compassion and they have earned the love of the world. greeks have done so even as they faced their own economic hardships and that's a testament to their solidarity and commitment to treating people with kindness and fairness. prime minister tsipras has made commitments to increase housing for unaccompanied children and to improve access to education for children who are migrants and refugees, and in these goals, it's an obligation of the united states to help because this cannot be viewed just as a greek problem. this is an international problem. i reaffirmed my support to help in any ways that we can, including reaffirming america's support for the deal between the e.u. and turkey that can manage arrivals in europe in a way that is orderly and humane. finally, as alexis mentioned, we discussed cyprus, where the prospects for a just,
comprehensive, and lasting settlement are the best they have been for some time. it doesn't mean that success is guaranteed, but the possibility of resolving a decades-long conflict is there, and we urge the parties to continue their work. the interest of all cypriots would be advanced by a bizonal, bicommunal federation. we hope a solution that is durable, which would create new economic opportunities for all the people across cyprus is within reach. and it would be a powerful example to the world of what's possible with diplomacy and compromise. so, again, mr. prime minister, thank you for welcoming me. thank you for your partnership. the greek people have gone through some very difficult times. and there's still a hard road ahead. but despite those hardships, greece has continued to be a reliable ally. has shown true compassion to fellow human beings in need.
it's an example of the greek character. and i'm looking forward to the opportunity to say more to the greek people in a speech that i'll deliver tomorrow. for now, on behalf of the american people, i just let me say that we're proud to count greece as one of our closest allies and one of our greatest friends. >> translator: we will now proceed to questions. there will be two questions from greek media and two questions from american media. first question, from the state tv. >> translator: to take you seven, eight years back, when you entered the white house, the rates of unemployment, it was 6%.
next two years, jumped to 11.6%, and today, you manage to get it back to 5%, which is the lowest ever. 4.8%. the gdp of your country, you managed to grow it almost 2.6 trillion. so on the contrary, of course, there is nothing to compare between greek and united states economy, but on the contrary, greece, the last seven years, has followed the treatment of the financial institutions, and we're still in the eye of the storm of the recession. so in the same time there is no discussion about the debt relief. my question is, how far this economy can go with this reform programs without any of the debt relief. how far these relationship between greece and the foreign institutions can last. >> well, you're right.
you can't entirely compare between the united states and greece for a range of reasons. not just because of the size of the economy. we went through a very severe contraction. we were losing 800,000 jobs a month when i came into office. in fact, the economy was contracting faster than it did during the great depression. but we were able to intervene, apply lessons learned, and stabilize and then begin growth again. but i do believe that one of the lessons we tried to apply is that it is important to combine structural reforms and good fiscal stewardship with a growth strategy, because when your economy is growing, and more revenue is coming in, that helps
relieve debt. and sometimes if your only approach is cutting spending at a time when the economy is contracting, then the economy will contract further and that can add debt. now, the advantage we had is that the dollar is a reserve currency to the world. even in the midst of crisis, people were still buying u.s. treasury bills. we were not part of a broader arrangement like the eurozone. so it gave us some additional flexibility. but the key lesson that we've drawn from our experience, and it's true that we recovered faster and better, frankly, than most of europe. is that particularly when the economy is still struggling,
putting people back to work, finding ways to spur economic activity, ultimately can help to reduce the structural deficits and debts that countries experience. i think the path that greece is currently on is the right one. you have engaged in some very difficult structural reforms, and i think the greek people, although it is difficult and challenging and the politics of it, i know, are not good, should appreciate the fact that in this global economy, the greek economy was going to have to go through some structural reforms. we all do, all the time. the united states has to go through structural reforms in terms of improving our education system or revamping our
infrastructure or looking at some regulations that weren't properly controlling excesses on wall street. we initiated -- or health care reform. we had to initiate a whole range of reforms. they're not the same as the ones that greece has had to do but these were necessary reforms. and the prime ministers and his government being willing to move forward on those, i think, will lead to greece being more competitive and more attractive place for investment in the future. look, and the greek people are entrepreneurial, there's enormous resources in this country. my hope is that more and more investors around the world see an opportunity to do business here in greece. buzz even as you have those structural reforms, our argument has always been that when an
economy contracted this fast, when employment is this high, that there also has to be a growth agenda to go with it. and it is very difficult to imagine the kind of growth strategy that's needed without some debt relief mechanism. now, the politics of this are difficult in europe. and i think in fairness to some of the governments up north that i know are not always popular here in greece, it's important to recognize that they have their own politics and their populations and their institutions often are resistant to some of these debt relief formulas. but i think that having seen greece begin many of these difficult steps towards
structural reform, having shown a commitment to change with the the greek people having endured some significant hardships for many years now, there should be an opportunity, i think, for both sides to recognize that if we can come up with a durable solution as opposed to each year or every six months having a new negotiation that that could potentially be good for everyone and now that the greek economy is growing again, the timing may be right. >> first question from white house reporter. anthony jerome. >> thank you, mr. president. a lot of people in europe are still struggling to understand what happened on november 8 in the united states. do you believe it's the exact
same dynamic as brexit which happened six months before and does it have to do with leaders with the mood of their country? do you think you underestimated anger or resentment of fear in america? and do you, prime minister, president obama has repeatedly said including today that greece should get substantial debt relief. from your conversation with him today, are you hopeful that he might convince merkel to make in that regard later this week? >> no two countries are identical, and, obviously, there's a difference between a referendum on a very complex relationship between great britain and the rest of europe and a presidential election in the united states. presidential elections always
turn on personality, they turn on how campaigns are run, they turn on natural desires for change if you've had an incumbent who's been there for eight years, there's a temptation to think, well, you know, let's maybe make a change. i think there's a whole range of factors involved, but i do think there's a common theme that we've seen in a lot of advanced economies and that we've seen around the world. although, they manifest themselves in different ways. globalization combined with technology, combined with social media and constant information
have disrupted people's lives, sometimes in very concrete ways. a manufacturing plant closes and suddenly, an entire town no longer has what was the primary source of employment, but also psychologically. people are less certain of their national identities or their place in the world. it starts looking different and disoriented. and there is no doubt that that has produced populist movements, both from the left and the right in many countries in europe. when you see a donald trump and a bernie sanders, very unconventional candidates have considerable success, then
obviously there's something there that's being tapped into. a suspicion of globalization, a desire to rein in its accesses, a suspicion of elites and governing institutions that people may not feel are responsive to their immediate needs, and that sometimes gets wrapped up in issues of ethnic identity or religious identity or cultural identity and that can be a volatile mix. it's important to recognize though that those trends have always been there and it's the job, i think, of leaders to try to address people's real
legitimate concerns and channel them in the most constructive ways possible. did i recognize that there was anger or frustration in the american population? of course, i did. first of all, we had to fight back from the worst recession since the the great depression and i can guarantee you if your housing values have crashed and you've lost most of your pension and your job, you're going to be pretty angry, and so we fought back and recovered but that l t left, i think, fear and anxiety in people, a sense that the economy wasn't as certain as it could be and maybe the game was rigged on wall street or by special interests in washington or what have you and that's been there. i was also aware of it because
of the fact that you've seen some of the rhetoric among republican elected officials and activists and media. some of it pretty troubling and not necessarily connected to facts, but being used effectively to mobilize people. and obviously, president-elect trump tapped into that particular strain within the republican party and broaden that enough and get enough votes to win the election. the lesson i draw and i think people can draw a lot of lessons but maybe one that cuts across countries is we have to deal with issues like inequality.
we have to deal with issues of economic dislocation. we have to deal with people's fears that their children won't do as well as they have. the more aggressively and effectively we deal with those issues, the less those fears may channel themselves into counterproductive approaches. that pit people against each other. and frankly, that's been my agenda for the last 8 years. i think raising wages, investing in infrastructure, making sure that people have access to good educations that are equipping them for the jobs of the future.
those are all agenda items that would help alleviate some of those economic pressures and dislocations that people are experiencing but i couldn't convince the republican congress to pass a lot of them. having said that, people seem to think i did a pretty good job. and so there is this mismatch, i think, between frustration and anger, perhaps the view of the american people was that you just need to shake things up. time will now tell whether the prescriptions that are being offered, whether brexit or the u.s. election ends up actually satisfying those people who have been fearful or angry or concerned. and i think that'sng