Gen. David Petraeus on Whether He Voted for Trump: 'I Don't Vote'

Former CIA Director David Petraeus sits down with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."
11:04 | 12/04/16

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Transcript for Gen. David Petraeus on Whether He Voted for Trump: 'I Don't Vote'
I'm he went very well. Was within about an hour he basically you. Walk this around the world. Go to great grasp. Variety of the challenges are out there and some of the opportunities as well. Very good conversation. We'll see recovers from. There is General David Petraeus after meeting with present electron this week in New York they toured the world. General Petraeus comes to us from Germany this morning thank you for joining us. General Petraeus and you heard. Vice president elect Mike Pence speaking about your service to this country's ended calling you an American hero. It talked about your possible possibly getting comp confirmed as well. It appears that this is not disqualifying that your your security pry it Clarence proms are not disqualifying to present electron. Right now but CNN has reported that several Republican senators. Are concerned about this confirmation battle once that is causing a high level of banks. What can you say to reassure them. Well first of all good dog George good to be with you. What I would say to them is what I've acknowledged. For a number of years five years ago I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it I apologize Florida paid a very heavy price for it and I've learned from it. And again they'll have to factor that he and then also obviously 38 and a half years of otherwise. Fairly in some case is unique service to our country in uniform and at the CIA and then. Some four years or so in the business community during which have continued to travel the world nearly forty countries. In that time as well. He'll he'll be pressed on whether you made false statements added to the FBI director call me said you did. And you acknowledge that in your plea agreement get your attorney told the Washington Post this week. He simply forgot about about paternal journal CU challenging. The directors conclusion there. Well no look I mean obviously I've made a false statement. I'd at the time I didn't think it was false and frankly I think if they add they might have pursued that more. I'd also like to add by the way something that he left out which is that the FBI in the agreement acknowledge that nothing. That was in my journals and I shared it certainly improperly. Ended up in the biography are made out to the public. I think that's a fairly significant. Point in fact the book is read by someone colonel at the time Mike Meese had been with me and whole year. That I was in Afghanistan is now brigadier general retired but again look I made a mistake. I have a gimmick knowledge to it folks we'll have to factor that in. And determine whether that is indeed disqualifying or not mullah impression presently trump you've worked with several presidents how does he stack up. Well I think he's actually quite pragmatic. And in our conversation what I enjoyed most frankly was. The discussion of issues or to say campaign rhetoric if you will and then placing that in a strategic context. As an example he's not anti trade he's against he's anti unfair trade. The ball well the wall would be eight an element in a comprehensive effort. To shore up our security on the southern border which by the way was we discussed would include. More help to Mexico for the problems that it has in the broader rule of law area. And indeed perhaps with its southern border which is so challenged as well. But again we talked about all of those kinds of issues these are issues and which I had concern needless to say. And it was good to to discuss the strategic context. In which each of those would be placed. If you were chosen the secretary say you have the job of convincing Mexico to pay for that wall how would you do it. Well I'm not sure what the scheme would be there for that again. The issue with Mexico would be to determine together. How we could improve the status of the security while certainly not impeding the flow of commerce back and forth. That is so very important to both of our countries. Indeed it's notable that the president elect has already gained agreement from president Pena. And I believe with the Canadian prime minister as well. To sit down to examine the issues in NAFTA you may recall that together would Bob Zoellick former World Bank president. I co chaired a council on foreign relations task force on North America that identified a number of pages of issues. That could be resolved on NAFTA. To make it even more effective for the citizens of all three of our nation's one I think she called for in that report was comprehensive immigration reform which doesn't appear. The president electron disinterested in in bad and certainly didn't mention anything about Mexico thing for a wall. On our border. Well I think actually immigration issues will be among those that will be addressed there'll be a number of initiatives I would think. Based on the discussions during the campaign in our meeting. About how to ensure that we are very carefully reviewing. Those who come to our country particularly those and immigration. Also shoring up our defense is just but on those who come here. On passports for tourism. And then. Allen and move on to Russia now President Putin of Russia as giving interview overnight where he called present like trump a Smart man presently trumpets praised him. As well but would the other contender six secretary of state Mitt Romney famously called Russia under prudent. Our top strategic threat. Who's right about that presently trump or Mitt Romney. Well Russia certainly is one of the threats one of the challenges. To our security and that of our allies and partners around the world. But it's also a feature of the landscape and there are issues in which we do have convergence is. And I don't think you would rule out at all discussions at some point in time. With Russia about issues such as do you defeat of the Islamic state such as the ultimate resolution. In Syria. Obviously about the challenges of the Russian supported separate tests in southeastern Ukraine again you can keep going around the world and again strategic discussion I think is very much warranted. With Russia and indeed with China as well it's our allies and partners around the world. Is a meeting of the minds possible to Russia on Syria when you are in the government you were advocating. Arming supporting the Syrian rebels pres electron doesn't seem all that interested. In that and Russia has been decimating them in recent weeks. Well look let's first of wall focus on the defeat of a dog shut the Islamic state and indeed of the al-Qaeda affiliate. In Syria in some cases that is going to be pursued. In support of some of the opposition forces are on the ground in Syria that is of primary vehicle that we have on the ground. And as what is being enabled by our intelligence surveillance reconnaissance and strike assets. Overhead. The ultimate resolution of Syria. Inevitably is going to involve all of the different regional stakeholders. The Sunni opposition forces the Syrian Kurds. And indeed the regime forces. That are being supported by Russia and ultimately discussions with Russia. Continuing what senate secretary carry it has been doing. Will be necessary. Although I think you probably have got to take a very cold hard look at the situation. And ask whether the discussion the what is being sought Mallon in diplomacy. Is actually realistic or not but that time will come some months from now. Speaking about what's realistic or not present electron has it has vowed to rip up. The Iran deal when he becomes. Present if you were secretary of state would you advise him and to do that isn't even possible. Well first of all we discuss this and I think the issue here is to ask what is it that we really want to see happen in this case. And I think that the to override in our objectives are to ensure that Iran lives up to its word that it doesn't ever seek to have a nuclear weapon and you could do that by the White House and congress. Having a statement of national purpose that Iran will never be allowed to enrich uranium to weapons grade. And then ensure that US Central Command which I was privileged to command. As you were called maintains a capability to carry out the contingency plans that we developed. Back in that time as well and in the other big objective is to counter the maligned. Iran in activity in the region. Its activities in Syria in Iraq in. Yemen and elsewhere. Working with our regional partners in our ally Israel in so doing. But our allies aren't gonna go along with ripping up the Iran deal are they. Well again multilateral deal have to sit down and really assess this is a deal out publicly said. Has some positive elements to it. It's also got some significantly negative elements. Including that it ends. Ten to fifteen years depending on the various elements of the agreement with no clear. Indication of what follows it so again. Coming back to what our overriding strategic objectives are then assessing whether this deal should be ripped up or not. As part of achieving those objectives is I think going to be the task of the administration. When it takes office in January. One of the other questions you might face if indeed you are chosen by pres electron to be secretary of state is. Is is how to handle the fact that if you're chosen you'll have three general street former generals in the top Nash security. Positions general Flynn is Escude advisor general Mattis. At the Pentagon as well what would you say to senators or Americans are concerned about the over reliance on the military in those spots. Well it you know it generals not necessarily a general. Not trying to sound insufficiently humble here but. I would. Would contend that I carried out about as much statesmanship. Working and as the commander of the theater of war in Iraq together with the great diplomat Ryan Crocker. In Afghanistan with a number of different coalition ambassador says a regional combatant commander where you're working very closely. With elements of the State Department and the ambassadors on the ground in each country and an obviously as a CIA director and even cents. And the business world where I've traveled to some forty countries are so over the course of the last four years. For that in for academic endeavors indeed what I'm doing here in Germany and international security conference. Right now and did did present like chump ask if you go to foreign. I don't vote so that's an easy answer and I also did not support a nor did I oppose him nor did I support or oppose any other candidate out. Surely tried to be apolitical non political. George as I think you know and so that was a pretty easy question and answer gen Petraeus thanks for joining us this morning.

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

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