Transcript for One-on-one with Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice
and knives. The mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed. We're joined by Susan rice who served as national security adviser and U.N. Ambassador under president Obama. Thank you for joining thus morning. To pick up on the president's last tweet, how alarmed should we be? Well, George, unfortunately, this is -- something that the people of the United Kingdom have suffered now three times in the last three months. And it's important to begin by expressing our condolences and say that our thoughts and prayers go out, yet again, to the people of London an the United Kingdom. Terrorist threats is something we have been dealing with for many, many years in Europe, the Middle East, and the united States. What is important in these times is to remain ewe fie in unified. To be vigilant. And to know this is a long-term challenge to stamp out terrorism. We're battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We see threats all over the world. We need to remain very focused on dealing with that threat. But at the same time, we need to recognize that there will be home grown extremists in all of our countries. There is no easy way to predict and defeat every single one of them. We have to strengthen our intelligence, our law enforcement. And, work together with critical partners like the united king don. You heard the president say the travel ban would bring an extra level of safety. Your response? Well, George, there's no evidence to suggest that by banning muslims or banning muslims from a particular set of six countries that we would make ours here in the United States safer. That's I believe one of the major reasons why the courts thus far have been very skeptical of the travel wan. Moreover, I think there's a havery real risk that by stigmatizing and isolating muslims from particular countries and muslims in general that we alienate the very communities here in the United States whose cooperation we most need to detect and prevent these home grown extremists from being able to carry out the attacks. We need the cooperation of our Muslim communities. The cooperation of all Americans. They need to feel valid and part of this challenge that we face together as nation. By stigmatizing a subset of ourselves, or a subset even or foreigners, we make that much more difficult. It's counterproductive. In the wake of the man chers attack two week ago, Britain was very upset with leaks from the American side. The president is upset with leaks from the intelligence community generally. How serious is this? What can be done about it? These leaks are very concerning. We are able to work so closely and effectively with partners like the United Kingdom because they trust us and we trust them. And we're able to share for the most part, without concern, that leaks will find their way way into the public domain at a time that compromising the investigation. Our shared ability to go after the threat. This is very concerning. I think prime minister may is correct to express concern to the president. The president is correct to esz prex his outrage at this. It is incumbent on the administration as well as state and local law enforcement to hold carefully and closely confidential information. A tough critique in "The new York Times" yesterday. You wrote Russia has been a big winner under president trump. How so? The United States has been the leader of the world because the world trusts and respects us. Because we have an unprecedented network of alliances with close partners that work with us, whether it's to defeat ISIS, to deal with a threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, or to go after challenges of a new sort like pandemic disease or climate change. We need these partners. When we alienate our western allies, in particular when the president wept to nato and failed to reaffirm, as every president has since 1948, that we're committed and remain committed to the defense of our nato partners, he September shock waves through Europe and that -- is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants. Putin's interests, as he reaffirmed just on Friday is to see nato weakened and ultimately destroyed. When the United States, the most important player in nato, casts doubt about our commitment to at the vital alliance, it undermines our security. It undermines the security of our closest allies. It's a big win for Vladimir Putin. On Friday, president Putin continued to deny that his count interfe interfered. He said it might have been by patriotic Russians. Is that as close as we're going to get to an admission? I don't know what we'll hear. But frankly, he's lying. As our intelligence agencies have come together to confirm with high confidence, the Russian government, at the highest levels, was behind the unprecedented efforts to meddle in our 2016 presidential election. We need to understand exactly how and why that happened and whether or not there's any evidence to suggest that there were those on the American side who facilitated that. Shoul president Obama and your team done more earlier to blow the whistle? We did blow the whistle as soon as we had a unified assessment from the intelligence agencies about the Russian role. And on October 7th, the director of national intelligence, with the secretary of homeland security put out an unprecedented statement, very, Sr. Plain, saying to American people, this interference is happening. And it's happening at the direction of the highest levels of the Russian government. Think what's unfortunate is that that very important warning got lost in the coverage of other events that transpired. It was indeed later the very same day that the access Hollywood video tape came out. More wikileaks came out. And so, I think that it didn't get the attention that it deserved. But, we worked also very closely with our 50 states to ensure that they were aware of the threat and took all the necessary precautions to protect the integrity of our voting system and our voter registration rolls. I think we did what we needed to do. And I'll -- I think it's regrettable that other issues clouded the focus on that very important statement. After the election, president Obama also sanctioned the Russians. Took back those compounds in Maryland and Long Island. Some talk now that the state department of the trump administration considering reversing that. Good idea? No, George, not a good idea. Let's be clear. Russia San adversary. They have invaded a sovereign country and annexed part of it in Ukraine and crimea. It's not only in cahoots with a regime in Syria thats chemical weapons. It's interfered directly and deliberately at the direction of its highest levels of government to interfere in our government. We need to hold Russia accountable. President Obama rightly imposed strong sanctions in December for thelection meddling. Those sanctions should remain. Russia hasn't changed its behavior. It's just denied and obfuscated and continued to behave badly. There's though reason to ease the sanctions. I think it's time to consider stlengtenning sanctions. Would it have been appropriate for Jared Kushner to have a back channel during the transfer. Your successor suggested there's nothing wrong with it. Well, think, these reports, if accurate, are concerning. Not just because of communication between the trump transition and the Russian government. And we do have communications between transition teams and foreign governments. Rarely with adversaries like the Russians. Rarely with the frequency we have seen. What I found most concerning about that report, which, if true is that Jared Kushner cuttinged to the Russian ambassador that they communicate using Russian communications in a Russian diplomatic facility to hide their conversation from the United States government. That's extraordinary. If not mind-boggling. From the point of view of a national security professional. I have worked in this field for 25 years. And I have never heard of such a thing. The United States and from one administration to the next, has one government, one president at a time. And we worked very hard to do a professional and effective handoff. A seamless one. We worked very hard in this transition to accomplish that. And, to do so transapparently. Th that's the hallmark of what make our democratic system resilient and our ability to endure as a leader and a democratic icon for the world. Finally, the chairman of the house intelligence community subpoenaed people for requests you may have made. Do you have objections for them to comply with the subpoena? I don't have any objection to the agencies being responsive to congressional oversight. That's what they're expected to do. This, I think, is a question now, between the house intelligence committee and the agencies. I think what is unfortunate is that it appears that this request or this subpoena rather, was issued on a unilateral basis, by the chairman, not on a bipartisan basis. I think at this stage with our democracy being challenged and threatened directly by a foreign adversary, it points up the critical importance now more than ever, of our working on a bipartisan basis. And our protecting and advancing our national security interests on a bipartisan basis. You're confident those documents will show you did nothing wrong? I'm confident that they show that I, like national security advisers before me and other senior officials in positions of responsibility, at the state department, defense department, or the intelligence community were doing what we needed to do to do our jobs, to protect the American people. To protect classified information. To protect civil liberties, that's what those documents will show. Few for your time this morning. Good to be with you, George.
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