Gates: 'Big Mistake' to Push Key Intelligence, Military Leaders Out of Security Council Principals Committee

The former secretary of defense under both President W. Bush and President Obama is interviewed on "This Week."
7:02 | 01/29/17

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Transcript for Gates: 'Big Mistake' to Push Key Intelligence, Military Leaders Out of Security Council Principals Committee
Defense Secretary as well as CIA director Robert Gates he has served under eight presidents from both political parties and is author of the book up passion for leadership. Out now in paperback welcome Secretary Gates here prolific writer these deaths. I want to get your reaction to the refugee banned the immigrant and a specially. For Iraqis. Well I think first of all that. Any effort to. Strength then. National security two. Improve the vetting process. I think that's all perfectly reasonable and and totally legitimate and in fact we would expect that of the president. Hank the key is doing in a weighing that doesn't risk creating more enemies. Then. Threats it to terrors and that's the balance that has to be way. And do you think this executive order. Will create more and it. I haven't read the executive order me honest immigration policy and refugees was not in my daily wake but I will saying. That. At a minimum the way it has rolled out and the way it has been personally. You use as you have it ready you know what's happening they're very they're banning people from these seven countries including Iran in a rock. So is this the right way. But I that I would just pick up on on one of the things that was just said. I know that. A former senior commanders. In Iraq and Afghanistan. Are very concerned about this a worker and what it. The impact it will have on. Those that helped us in Iraq and Afghanistan and the interpreter translators and so on who were promised safe haven in the United States. And now may not get it I spoke as recently as last night with General Petraeus that he and others like general per LE. Are very concerned about this so I think one thing the administration ought to do. Is clarify this as quickly as possible. Will this make Rex Tillerson job harder. The man he recommended travel secretary of state. Probably because I think there will be a negative reaction among. Henman in many countries. I want to talk about this week in general in an op Ed piece. Last fall you called candidate Donald Trump willfully ignorant beyond repair stubbornly and informed. And temper Mannelly unsuited you've said that you spoke out against candidate trump during the campaign because she took issue. With some of the statements made during the campaign about national security but in his first week as president. He repeated some of those comments and followed through with campaign promises reiterating his support for torture drafting memorandums like this one to ban. Several Muslim majority countries building a wall insisting mex go pay. After what you've seen this week DF's concerns again. Well my view is that. It is very important for us. Now that mr. trump is president. For us to be successful. In. For him to be successful. In national security policy it's one of the reasons that I introduce general Kelley to their homeland security committee for his nomination. Sandwich Rex Tillerson. And I believe that people like general Mattis and Rex Tillerson and John Kelly. Will bring to the president extraordinarily good advice and in a very realistic appreciation of the world tonight and I give the president credit. For being willing to appoint strong independent minded individuals. Two advising on these. Matters so do you have absolute confidence in him as president and commander in chief. It's one week in I think that's a little bit it's it's a it's a big week and then a lot of the executive order saying repeat I think is clan is. We need a little perspective Martha I mean every administration I've worked for. Begins with a flurry of executive orders overturning what their predecessors did. Or amplifying it in the case of the first President Bush sell so let's just. Give them a little time but I do worry about. The impact. Of this executive order in terms of the way its received around the world. An aunt and on that in his inaugural address president trump said it's going to be America first. To our allies view that is America retreating from a leadership role and does that create a vacuum. My worry is that and I think. The way in which we withdrew from both Iraq and Afghanistan. First well I was always going to be complicated to avoid sending the message we were withdrawing more broadly from leadership around the world. I think a lot of the steps that were taken in the last. Couple of years or so the Obama administration created the impression of US pulling back I would say that the actions of the rhetoric of the new president. Simply continue. That drumbeat of giving the impression around the world that the United States is pulling back this. Creates whether we want longer not a vacuum and that vacuum will not be filled by benign forces. I wanted very quickly if you will is your 2007 Naval Academy commencement you said the press in my view is a critically important guarantor of our freedom the press is not the enemy. And two treated as such is self defeating so what's your reaction. What Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are saying that where the opposition party. First of all. As you mentioned I've worked for eight presidents. Every one of them thought that the press was their adversary. And weather and acted it doesn't matter which one of them a Republican or a Democrat they all felt. That the press was out to get him in one way or another. Different presidents have dealt with a been different ways but it's just a fact of life when you're sitting in the White House and and the press's role is to be an adversary in many respects so. You know it's I think that's the proper role for the press and and frankly. I told senior commanders that. The Department of Defense has said if there's a newspaper story that's critical. Of sending your doing personal find out Weathers true. And if it is true then fix it. And if it's not true then have the facts to push back OK and very quickly one more Steve Bannon in the National Security Council meeting since the chairman. Adding people to the National Security Council never never really bothers me. My biggest concern is there are actually under the law only to statutory advisors. To the National Security Council and that's the director of central intelligence or that the NI. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I think. Pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings except when they are specific. Issues are at stake. Is a big mistake I think that they both bring a perspective. And and judgment. And experience to bear that every president whether they like it or not fine she useful. Thanks very much for joining us once again great to see a hope it comes back.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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