tv William Barr One Damn Thing After Another CSPAN May 8, 2022 8:01pm-9:01pm EDT
foundation and is my middle name implies the grandson of president richard nixon. and patricia ryan nixon and i want to say the proud grandson of richard nixon. thank you so much for being here tonight for what i know will be a fascinating discussion. we are delighted to have you all here again in person not in front of a zoom camera or computer. over the years we've had the honor to host many distinguished guests here in yorba linda. we have never however had the opportunity to welcome someone who has served as attorney general of the united states. not once but twice and not in one presidential administration, but in two presidential administrations separated by 25
years. pretty unique this is that is a unique distinction in american history and it says a great deal about william barr's patriotism and his commitment to public service. and perhaps his two tours of duty as attorney general under two very different presidents were the inspiration of his book one -- thing after another. our guest of honor tonight has had a very distinguished career in both the public and private sectors. he began government service in the administration of president reagan as a member of the white house domestic policy staff from 1982 to 1983. after several years in private practice. he returned to government and president george h w bush's administration serving as assistant attorney general the office of legal counsel. next is deputy attorney general and then is the 77th attorney general of the united states
from 1991 to 1993. he returned to the private sector where from 1994 to 2017. he enjoyed great success and earned enormous respect as one of the nation's preeminent legal minds and i'm sure he didn't have to deal with as many -- things in the private sector. then in 2018 when he was undoubtedly enjoying the fruits of a long and successful career. he answered our country's call once again when president trump nominated him and the senate confirms him as the 85th attorney general of the united states. his book one -- thing after another debuted last month at number one on the new york times bestseller list and to date has remained on the list for the last five weeks so i know tonight we're going to keep it on the list for a sixth week because not only will you all buy a book for your cells.
this is going to make great summer reading. so get a book for all of your friends here tonight, and we're gonna keep it on the list one one more week for sure. and if you need any more reason to go out and get this book one reviewer wrote of the book, this is an incredible story of the life of a great public servant. so many lessons about how government works and how public service operates at its finest. this was a courageous book to write and i couldn't put it down. i think that is each of you reads. this book. you will come to the exact same conclusion. we are also very fortunate tonight to have joining us professor matt parlow the executive vice president chief advancement officer and parker s. kennedy professor of law at chapman university. but yes round of applause for that. professor parlow earned his jd from yale law school after which
he served as a clerk for the us court of appeals for the ninth circuit and then in private practice. to the good fortune a students first at marquette law school and now at chapman professor parlo left private practice for academia voted professor of the year at each school. he is enriched the studies and minds of countless future attorneys. professor parlow is also served on the boards of several nonprofits as well as on a number of state and local government task forces. in addition, he consults with several professional sports leagues and teams, which makes in my new best friend and i hope that he enjoys this introduction so he can take me to visit some of those professional sports teams. the nixon foundation of course is established a great partnership with chapman university, which is led by jim byron the president of the nixon
foundation and a proud graduate of chapman. among the many benefits of that partnership is having professor parlow here with us this evening to discuss attorney general barr's book with him. now i know tonight's conversation between attorney general bar and professor parlow will be lively informative and fascinating. so please join me in welcoming the 77th and 85th attorney general of the united states william p bar and professor, matt harlow. thank you very much.
thank you. thank you very much. thank you. general barton honor to be with you here tonight. i'm honored to be here at the library and i appreciate everyone coming out this evening. them to the land of $7 gas. so let's jump in at your second attorney general stint. you had a great life in retirement. the book talks about all the interests and things you were doing the balance and being able to do consulting and have lots of time for family and other interesting things. what called you back into public service? i thought we were at a critical juncture in our history. i felt the 2016 election. was absolutely essential to win. i was worried for the republicans. i was worried that the
progressives were pretty close to pushing the country over the cliff into the abyss from which it would be very hard to ever recover. and trump turned out to be i didn't originally i was never a never trump or i didn't support him initially. i supported one of the other candidates, but i was happy to support him once won the nomination. and i think that his policies were were excellent policies were which were just what the country needed. but i felt that. the democrats were trying to hobble his administration with this russia gate thing, which i was skeptical about. it didn't add up completely to me. and i was worried that we were headed toward a constitutional crisis the department of justice and the fbi were in turmoil. and you know, i had lost a lot of credibility with the american people and those are two institutions that i loved and and think are very important in
our system. so originally i i started pushing other people out in front of me to try to get the white house interested in other candidates, but none of them really gained any traction. and the president wanted to talk to me and i didn't want to talk to him unless i knew i was willing to accept the job. i didn't want to waste his time and and so we had a discussion in the family and people agreed that you know, if this was something i was asked to do i really should do it. i felt that. as i say we were headed toward very dangerous waters as a country and my friend bob gates who i have immense respect for who had been this secretary defense and and then when i first served as attorney general had been the head of cia. he said look, you know you're serving the country and and we're you know, we're facing a lot of challenges and what's important. is that the best people serve in
these jobs people who know what they're doing so that's the reason i took the job. the the one of the most interesting things i've seen written or said about the book is our friend of the nixon library hugh hewitt said that your book may be the the fairest assessment of president trump that he's read. can you talk a little bit about your your sort of relationship with him and your your assessment of of him as a president? i was never under any illusions about trump's persona and you know how difficult it was to. deal with him. i had never met him before although i had worked in new york for 15 years as general counsel of gte and then verizon corporation and most of my business friends who knew him some very well and had worked for them told me he was very difficult person and advised me not to go into his ministry.
so i was under no illusion about that. i wasn't going in to be his best buddy or to build a you know, a friendship with him. i was in there to serve his administration as attorney general and try to help his administration succeed. and and a personal level we hit it off very well, you know we both grew up in new york around the roughly the same time. he's a little bit older than i am and i thought we had an easy rapport and i talked very bluntly and directly and vice verse can assure you. i also felt that he that his policies were generally sound and many of his policy instincts were were good. and i think what people view as some of his downsides in which occasionally were his downsides. also served them well at other times i think perhaps in 2016. it took someone has pugnacious
as aggressive as a direct as he was to surmount the media the media's hostility and get his message out and also to tangle with the organized left-wing attacks against them and to stand up against them. so those and also to push his policies through the bureaucracy and the resistance in washington. so these were things that help them win the election at the time and helped him get things done like taking control of the border, which was a slug hard slog for, you know for four years, eventually succeed. but he also his style. could be very excessive and alienated a lot of key voters and and his advisors including me kept on telling him that he should dial it back a little bit especially in 2020 as we went into the election year and there were some friction between us during 2020 at into a head in
which i explained in the book. i want to come back to that you are talking just now about public service and you you start out your career and work in the cia, but then you decide to go to law school what drew you to a career in the law? my mother i had always wanted to be in high school in the 11th grade you when you met with your college advisor counselor or whatever. he said what's your career goal, and i said to be director of the cia and he almost fell out of his chair. this was during the vietnam war. so it wasn't that. you know obvious a choice, but and i went to columbia. i studied chinese i got my master's degree in government and chinese studies because i figured everyone else was studying russia. and the other long-term rival was china. which i felt over the long term would be the more serious challenge. so that's why i went into
chinese studies. and as we all know president nixon went to china and all of a sudden china was the craze and the cia was knocking on my door. and and that's why i went in the cia but meanwhile and i worked part-time there for two summers before i joined up. and my mother said, you know being a child of the depression. she said you know you need to profession you need a career you need something to fall back on. go to law school. my father said nah do what you like to do because that's what you'll do best. so i so i went to the cia and i went to law school at night and later on under jimmy when jimmy carter won the election and appointed someone i didn't think was a good director. i laughed but having gone to cia. through a series of remarkable coincidences. i was brought i was brought in i
would they elevated me to the legislative office to help work on all these investigations of the cia and that way i met the director george h w bush who had come to head the cia. he had been the ambassador to china. came to head to cia and i established my relationship with bush. i was 26 years old at the time and that relationship was obviously. pivotal in my life because he eventually made me attorney general. he served in that role for a year if i recall. yeah, he was in that role as a head of cia for one year and during this time. the cia was under investigation by six committees and one commission. this was for alleged. excesses during the cold war things like attempted or successful assassinations and things like that. and so he had to defend the agency during the time where everyone was trying to tear it apart. and he did such a great job in
that one year and he won the respect of the agency professionals who are the old-time cold warriors in those days? that they named the cia campus and building after him. it's the george hw bush intelligence center. so that's the kind of impact. it could have even just one year in the job. you your doj. you're the number two there. you become acting attorney general and attorney general thornburg gets convinced to run for senate when the unfortunate death of senator heinz. it was supposed to be the the dog days in washington right in august sleepy time, but you you had to deal with a very major issue early on with it prison, talladega. you tell the the audience about that story. that was a really compelling part of the book for me. yeah. so, you know, i initially had
justice. bush put me in as the head of the office of legal counsel, which is like a legal beagles office. i call it the egg heads of the department. we give the constitutional advice. and i only have that job for years a fantastic job, and they made me number two, which is the chief operating officer the deputy attorney general. and then -- thornburg had to go and and run for the senate because john heinz had been killed in a plane crash. and the president said look. we'll make the decision about who's going to be the permanent attorney general after clarence. thomas gets confirmed. but you just hold the fort is acting attorney general until that happens. so i was acting attorney general in august. and 120 mario leto cubans, who? where the hardest core sociopaths that had come over when fidel castro had opened up his prisons and led a lot of
criminals come over here in connection with the mariel boatlift. these were people had been over here for a long time had committed serious crimes over here and we were getting ready to ship them back to cuba fidel castro would agreed to take them and they thought probably with some good reason that they would die if they went back to cuba, but we had them in a federal prison 120 of them and they took over the prison seized 11 harstriches. and this i was confronted with the head of prisons comes in and and and and the prison unit is like a fortress you couldn't see and it was solid concrete big metal gates and so forth and a long story short. i realized that we could never give in to their demands their demands were to stay in the united states. they would rather be in a federal prison and go back to cuba. and i knew we couldn't give in and that eventually we were going to have to do a hostage
rescue. and so i activated the each rt the house address key team of the fbi and they started immediately training and planning for an operation. i worked very closely with the top guys in the fbi. on this and after nine days, we hadn't fed them or anything. it's a very interesting story. it's the kind of thing. you can make a good movie about actually as long but john can't once john candy died. there was no one left to play me. yeah, but although i hear on twitter that that john goodman. but anyway sorry, finally, you know, i i gave the order to conduct the hostage rescue and it was implemented at 4 am in the morning and it was all very dramatic. you know, there were some last-minute curve balls as to whether we were gonna get in there and actually be able to find the hostages and time. because they had knives and they had started playing russian
roulette by putting their names in a bag and stuff like that. but anyway, they it was a success it took less than 90 again took less than a minute to reach the hostages and and they were all rescued and so that was an interesting thing and when people say to me, you know, what was the most satisfying thing you did as attorney general certainly in the first tour. that was it. it wasn't that much to do with law books or anything like that, but when i went down there that morning you know how i met all the hostages and their families and it was you know, the most meaningful thing that i did was to do that because their lives were at stake shortly thereafter. the president appointed decided he was going to appoint me as as attorney general. and when you entered the oval office to have that conversation with him you said to him mr. president? i appreciate this is i don't bring you much politically do can you tell the audience what he said back to you?
yeah, so after a cabinet meeting i was waved in and johnson new who was the chief of staff at that time said look bill. here's the deal. he wants to go with you steady hand at the tiller and all that stuff, but you don't get him anything politically because the other people at that time being considered were george duke agent who you know, obviously and and john ashcroft to governors or former governors and he said but so we're going to pick your deputy and i hope that's not a problem. i said, well, actually i'm not crazy with anything. so well, you better tell him about that so when he offered me the job. okay, i'm very excited. you know, i mean look, you know, have you as my attorney general, i guess john told you about that other thing. i assume that's not a problem. i said, well actually it is a problem mr. president. oh, and i said look the department of justice if there's any daylight between the attorney general and the deputy you're gonna have turmoil in the department and and you know, the
people they just cripple the political level level of leadership that way. and and he was looking at me and i said, let me put it this way mr. president. the attorney general's bulls are in the deputies pocket, and i'm not going to and i'm not putting mine in anyone's pocket who i don't know. this this look of came over as oh, okay. you have someone in mind and i said, yes i said, okay fine. you talk talk to some other people if we have someone to free to talk to fine, but if you still want to go with your guy, that's fine, too. and that was that was that. he also said to you the best politics at doj is no politics in doj and in reading your book that seems to be actually your ethos. you may be reflect a little bit on maybe that there's being a shared value between me you and
president bush, right, you know, the attorney general performs a number of different functions, you know one is providing legal advice. and they are you're you are acting as a political official who was politically. sympathetic to the administration and you try to give advice that will you know be in accord with law but also from the standpoint of trying to help the administration get to where it wants to go within the law. the other is as a policy advisor and executing programs like fighting drugs or crime and so forth. that's a political position president wants to do something for political reasons in the crime arena fine. there's nothing wrong with the attorney general acting that way. but the thing that's really sacrosanct in the department of justice. is the enforcement of the criminal law and trying to make sure that there are not different standards for different people depending on
what party they're in or anything else about them. the same law has to apply to everyone now. i like i think most of you believe that we've moved away from that and that in fact in practice. we do have two standards of justice. and but that's what the president men when he said that the best. polity when i said, you know, i know i don't get you anything political mr. president. he said the best politics at the justice department is no politics. and that's what he meant by that and and agree with that. and i tried my best to apply one standard for everybody and not allow politics to be played if i didn't have the evidence. sufficient to indict someone whether it be james, call me or anyone else the president would publicly declare should be indicted by the way if biden went around right now. saying you know, this person
should be indicted in this prayer which he has with respect to the president for a few president trump. people object to that trump was you know saying what i want the justice department to indict call me and so forth that created a problem. but the fact is if i didn't have the evidence efficient to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, i wasn't going to indict someone simply because the president wanted them and died. we can't go down that road. and and i kept on saying the president i can't do -- for tad mr. president. i know they have behaved on fairly. i know they're they applied to different standards, but the answer to that just can't be that that i politicize the department and try to use it as a political weapon. sometimes i paid a price for that. so when i saw i felt line prosecutors were going to seek a penalty on roger stone. who by the way, i don't like
roger stone. okay. i think he's a jerk. and i thought he violated the law and i thought he should go to prison myself. but he didn't deserve to go to prison for two to three times longer than other people would go for that very same crime, and that's what they were trying to do. and that came on my desk and once it came on my desk i was going to make the decision. i wasn't going to dodge it and i did what i thought was right, even though i knew the media would attack me and claim i was doing this because he was the president's friend. no, i did it because it's one standard of justice for everybody and the president's friends aren't treated differently. the president's enemies aren't treated differently. you it seems that when you you started each of your stencil's attorney general something big was going on talladega and the
one example the russian investigation in your your latest. can you talk a little bit about what kind of a hornet's nest that was to sort of navigate is attorney general? yeah, i mean i knew what i was getting into a very highly charged situation the left and their media. allies which is essentially almost all the mainstream media. invested a lot a lot vested in the russia gate narrative and they were trying to bring down president trump. and they thought bob mueller was going to be saint george killing the dragon. okay, and so i realized that this was going to be a can of worms. and i also walked into a department that you know had been battered had been fighting both republicans and democrats on the hill. everyone was attacking the department. and so i knew it was going to be
require some some fancy footwork here if you will, but as you know mueller as i described in the book, you know mueller came and he talked to me i saw that. you know there were signs of that. he certainly wasn't the same old. bob muller i had worked with before and i've been friends over the years with and he came in with this. finding no not to my surprise found no collusion. but he tried to punt on the issue of obstruction just throw out all these. facts and a lot of verbiage over 200 pages of stuff but come to no conclusion. so i had asked them when he told me what he was going to do. i said, you know is your report could somebody make a decision based on your report? he said yes, someone could make the decision as to whether there was a prosecutor or prosecutable offense.
so after he gave me the report. here's one of the things the media has always claimed. i lied about the report and i think anyone can read it. the english language will know that that's crazy. i told mueller. look, here's the problem. if you give me the report that i can't make public very quickly and there's a delay. the country is going to be at risk. everyone will think that's because the president's about to be prosecuted and that will hurt our national security the stock market and so forth the economy. so if you give me that report, you have to already indicate in the report what has to be redacted under the law. there's some things illegally have to be redacted. i said, i'm not going to know what they are. you guys have to tell us. he said he understood but when he gave us the report, he did not indicate any of that stuff. so i knew we were talking about it two or three week delay. in that situation. i thought the only responsible
thing to do was to tell the public the bottom line there were news reports that friday going into the weekend that the president was about to be indicted and his family and there was all you know, the press was all roiling. and so i said, you know the pub i'm going to tell the public the bottom line. which is there was no finding of collusion. he punted you know, he did not reach a decision on obstruction. he said his he did not exonerate the president. i said that in my letter. but i said i'm gonna make the decision and then i explained the decision i made made which was no obstruction. and somehow the media was so deflated by this and so upset that they claimed that i misrepresented the content of the report a report, which i knew was coming out in two weeks anyway, so anyway, that's the story there. following that on the heels of that obviously ukraine's president zelinsky has been in the news a lot lately but back
then he was sort of at the center of a storm that would ultimately be a trigger point for impeachment proceedings. as attorney general. how did you try to steer doj through sort of the time when you learned about the call between president zelensky and president trump and then eventual release of the transcript delayed though may have been which was obviously the trigger point for impeachment proceedings. how'd you try to navigate that right? so the day mueller testified june 2019 i realize that his testimony. was not going to be what the president's opponents wanted and so when he testified for all intents and purposes the whole russia gate scam was over. and the very next day. the president had his call with zelensky. so that's one -- thing after
another we thought we thought that the night after mueller testified. we're sort of happy in my office. you know, we're pouring our scotches at the end of the day and clinking our glasses and and we thought we had gotten past russia gate and now we could focus on this, you know, the successful program of administration and then boom those olinsky thing happened so our i didn't find out about it immediately because i normally wouldn't find out about the call with the foreign leader, but it but over the ensuing weeks we heard about this call. i looked at the transcript. i didn't think i was angry with the president. because the president lumped me in with rudy giuliani. now the president and his typical imprecise and discursive way of talking we're saying, you know, yeah, i want you to do, you know, i want you to cooperate with the durham investigations. he can work with bill barr on that. i want you to investigate, you
know biden that has to be looked at and you should talk to giuliani and the attorney general about that. we were not investigating biden at that point. joe biden and we didn't investigate him while i was attorney general. but i was angry because he lumped me in together with rudy giuliani, but you know, i didn't raise it was not the time lump me in as if i'm sort of doing this sort of freebooting assignment that he was up to and europe but what i was focused on was was there was this evidence of a crime because they were claiming that he was soliciting a political contribution. essentially they were trying to bend the law. that's what the politics is about now mainly prosecutors trying to bend the law to prosecute their political opponents, and i didn't think there was and then congress moved that very sharply to
impeach him and basically overtook anything that the department would be doing. it's very interesting mike reed of the situation was they were so upset. that i made the decision on russia gate that i made the decision. there was no obstruction. and that was the end of it. they didn't want me to act. on the on the ukrainian thing. they wanted to move impeachment first. so that the same thing wouldn't happen to them on ukraine. so they went hell for leather to go on impeachment. the department is not a party in that. we don't really have a mission in that we sit back and and watch and watch the show, but i never thought the president was really in jeopardy. do you think things might have gone differently if the transcript had been released earlier or would not have mattered? i don't think it would have mattered. in the book you say that you think the civil rights issue of our time is religious liberty
and in particular you use examples during covid and how some religious liberties were infringed upon in some cases that doj worked on and talk a little bit about your your thoughts on religious liberty and some of those cases during the covid shutdowns. yeah, well a lot of the governments during covid a lot of the governors and mayors and other people who thought that they had this untrammeled power for long period of time to do this we're clearly treating religious activity as second class activity. they would leave. you know. a lot of commercial activity and other comparable non-religious activity free of restrictions or freer of restrictions, but they wouldn't pose very draconian restrictions on churches and we said no has to be this can't be worse. you know you have to you can't treat religion worse. then you're treating other people. but the reason i say it's a civil liberties of our time is
because it goes back to the speech. i gave it noted dame which got a lot of attention which is to say, you know, the framers always. the foundation of our of our system of government and our political philosophy is actually religion not in the sense that we establish religion that in the sense. we compel people to be religious or what have you people have freedom of conscience, but the framers believe that the constant that our society could could have limited government. of limited role for government because people would be able to control themselves because they would be a virtuous people who were generally religious people and therefore they had internal moral compasses. and therefore they didn't need external coercive power that was overweaning. it could be curtailed and limited. that was their philosophy and what we've seen in the west
generally and in the united states specifically is a crumbling of that foundation less fewer and fewer people? have that self discipline and self-government. ability to govern themselves. that's by the way what they really meant by self-government. it's not so much, you know how to count votes. it's governing yourself and this i have a whole chapter that discusses this and its relationship to education. there used to be a consensus in this country that education should require some kind of moral formation and so forth but starting in the 60s, you know, they started stripping away all vestiges of religious belief in treating with some hostility in schools. and what i said is starting in the obama administration, they've been trying to secularize public education. by not by subtraction of religion but by of by addition of secular philosophies in islams, like critical race
theory and other things that explain a more there are an alternative system to support a set of values. and i'm saying you know, where's the government get off teaching people? ideal, you know instructing indoctrinating people in ideology and telling people what to believe especially if it's subversive of traditional beliefs that a family is trying to raise their children with and so i get into i think that raises some serious constitutional issues. it seemed like your number one issue as attorney general both under president bush and president. trump was violent crime. talk about why you're so passionate about making that a top priority in your in your two administrations. yeah. i people right now say oh gee the american people are upset by
crime. i haven't seen i mean they should be more upset by crime. i mean crime fighting crime. protecting citizens from violent predators is the number one duty of government it is. it's the we establish government. and we're getting to the point in many jurisdictions where people would be just as safe if they if they protected themselves. they were their own police and security service. and that's an outrage. now we've been here before. and we apparently have to learn this lesson every 40 years. but here's what's happened with violent crime in the 60s and 70s. it trebled almost quadrupled. at a time we were releasing people from prison.
reagan comes in and flattens the trajectory. through the eighties so it's still going up? it peaks at the time. i become attorney general the first time in 1991. and the crime was twice as level of crime was twice as high as it is today. or it was up until the last couple years. the reason was revolved. we all know what it is the cops have always done their job pretty well. it's the rest of the system and it's the revolving door. it's not a mystery. most predatory violence is committed by a very small group. less than 1% of the population probably. but they are repeat violent offenders their career criminals. they start committing crime when they're young they keep on committing crime. they have long rap sheets. they will be violent for a long time to come they commit hundreds of crimes when they're
out on the street a year. you have to get these violent predators in the prison. to serve long sentences incapacitate them. that's the only thing that happened. in 1991 the federal government hadn't done much on violent crime or street crime. but in 1991 we started leaning forward using our gun laws our gang laws and our drug laws setting up joint task forces with state and locals and going after the shooters the violent criminals and putting them away if the state wouldn't the da love this, you know, if they could only get 18 months we could get 18 years and some guy who's had a long criminal history and still using a gun in crime. we the we push the states to stop there releasing of prisoners and stop the revolving door for 22 consecutive years starting in 1992.
for 20 last year. i was attorney general for 22 years. crime rate went down guess what? the prison rate went up? we doubled the prison population in the united states from about 700,000 about 1.5 million. but crime was cut in half. murders went down from 24,000 a year to to about 14,000 a year. the beneficiaries of that were mostly african-americans were the main victims of homicide. under obama 2014 the war against cops ferguson. the revolve the going up again. so after 22 years of going down it started going up under obama under trumpet went down again until the second half half of the covid year 2020. the bottom line is it's not like
we don't know the answer to dealing with violent crime and we've heard all these arguments about oh, you know, we have to give these guys more chances more chances more chances. the only way that has ever worked of reducing crime and protecting society is get the violent repeat offenders off the streets and it's just a question of will and where that is done crime goes down. when you all get a chance to read the book, there's so much rich policy in there that that general bar really worked on from mexican drug cartels to big tech to china. it's really worth the read we won't be able to cover all of that tonight because there's a 2020 stuff. i'd like to jump into so you've it's spring of 2020 and election
was looking really good for president trump in your eyes at one point and then it starts to look not as good and like you did with president bush when you saw the tide started to turn you tried to give advice, but it seemed to failure relationship a little bit. can you talk a little bit about what you saw and what you were trying to hope to help the president with in terms of reelection and advice. so from my standpoint, i was worried. at the president was going to lose the election. i thought the president was going to lose the election. i thought he's going to lose the election because he had alienated about 10% roughly of of educated. a suburban voters who typically voted republican either as republicans or as republican leaning independence. and they were completely repelled by trump. mostly women but not exclusively women and and i saw this in my own state of virginia where the
republican party essentially collapsed. from us from people from a party that could actually win in virginia to one that was hopelessly behind the defection. of suburban republicans under trump and this was true in a lot of the key states and he was advised by his campaign advisors by his other advisors who've been around the track you gotta stop the pettiness. you got to stop punching down and getting into these these fights with you know, some grade b movie actor who happened to insult you or something. it's beneath the office. it makes you seem petty you'll stop this stuff. he wouldn't listen. and he his mantra was his base liked it. he would get his base out and people wanted him to be a fighter. and i said, yeah people want you to be a fighter and you know, you are a fighter and stuff, but there's a time in place and you know, you got to sometimes pick your fights. i went into advice, you know to
suggest that. he it was time to sort of pull back a little bit and and and address in the suburbs. and he listened as he listened out everyone else he told them and i was all the cabinet secretaries agreed with this. it's not like i was you know taking an unusual position. i think most of you probably saw the same thing. and he just would not listen and i think it's because you know, it was funny in 16. when he made that off-color remark billy bush a couple of shortly before the election he was really shaken and people thought it might actually pull out in election was over. but he was scared enough to actually listen to advisors. and he mended his ways for the last few weeks and he pulled out a narrow victory. in 2020. he thought he had a mystical relationship with his base.
and he knew better than everybody else and so we wasn't listening to advice. and i think that's why he lost the election. and so later in the in the after the election results, i mean the whole question of fraud obviously is is the in the room. people sort of meld together a lot of different things that can happen election. there are things that changes to election law and practices that are unfair and skew the playing field, but they're not necessarily against the law. few pat, you know you pass a law or some rule that helps one side. not the other it may not be against the law. a lot of the stuff was like that. it's stuff that the republican party has to fight tooth and nailed to make sure it's a level playing field going forward. the other kinds of violations were not fraud. they were where rules that are
designed to prevent fraud were not observed like, you know, not requiring an application for an absentee ballot in a state that required one or or allowing, you know people that harvest ballots in the state that prohibits harvesting the point is that does not allow for it and negating of the votes. you still have to come in and show that the votes that were cast under that situation. we're not valid votes. and then there's fraud we're actually votes are stolen. they're you know, false votes are put in or good votes are taken out. and there was no evidence but forward of that of any degree of scale that could have affected the outcome of the election and all the stories circulating and all the excessive remarks made by the president about millions, and there's proof and more people voted in philadelphia than they were voters false.
turn out and philadelphia was actually lower than the average turn out in in pennsylvania, you know, 70% range. it was high same statewide so i looked at the votes later and to me it was sort of obvious why he lost which is what people had been telling them. you know in states like arizona there were 75,000 republicans in maricopa and pima counties who didn't vote for. they voted otherwise republican. the number in wisconsin and wisconsin was at least 60,000 the same and in pennsylvania was at least 60,000 the same he ran weaker in those three states. then the republican ticket the state candidates the congressional candidates the statewide the tickets did well, he was the weak link on the ticket. you can't win. that close a race if you're
running weaker than the republican ticket in the battleground state. that's why he lost the election. you're pretty critical of political leaders from both parties who you describe as being quote more attached to self-serving narratives and the factual truth you juxtapose that then this sort of seeming disease in our political system with the role that doj plays in our federal government upholding the truth. can you reflect on that in terms of these troubled times we live in can we just work as a government to uphold the truth or his politics so soured that that seems an impossibility? well right now i mean the the politics are pretty pretty intense sour and you know it the justice department is probably the agency. that's the most battered because you know, we have to say what the evidence is and what we think the truth is regardless of politics and we live in an age
where that's you know, not considered. being part of the team i do think. that the hope i'm very worried about the country. i think things probably i think this is probably the biggest crisis we've gone through other than the civil war. and i think there's a lot of different aspects to it. that would take us a little night to discuss the different factors at work. but when people get discouraged i always say look the first step on the road back. is a decisive victory that will be able that we can translate into lasting changes and addressing some of these things that are off track like education or the fact that we have moved away from the principle of federalism and so
forth. we have to start addressing the basics, but we need a decisive electoral victory. and i think that what we're going through today is like what we went through in the 60s and 70s. where the democratic party took a sharp turn to the left. i think they're actually wackier nav than they they were even then there they are essentially not interested. you know, they're not they cannot be quite liberal. they're not within the liberal tradition, you know, they're totalitarian and their approach. they've taken a sharp turn to the left. divided their own party they tore down president nixon. who had won 49 states? in 72 and then they come up with you know this. empty vessel in jimmy carter that everyone could you know, see what they wanted to see in them? and he was overwhelmed by the problems and he was a one-term failure.
remind you of somebody. so what i say to the people who i agree with and you know it. you know, it grieves me that many people who are maga supporters are mad because i think the president lost the election but i i say to. the maga supporters. that's what i want. i want to restore america, but that will take more than just one narrow victory and a president who you know. punches back publicly all the time what that will take is a reaganite type victory and reagan won was a reaction against the democratic excess. he won 40 states the first time 49 states the second time his vice president george hw bush 140 states. the democrats had to go to the middle.
they got a democratic leadership conference a guy and clinton who then had the reform welfare and past two tough crime bills. so the debate and the policies for for over 20 years were dominated by the republicans and liberal was a dirty word in those days. that's the kind of victory we need and we need leaders who will produce that kind of victory and i personally and and you know, i i am not hostile to trump, but i just think it's 78 is a lame duck president who will want to settle scores and stuff. he's not the guy to deal deliver that kind of victory. that's just the hard brass tacks. does that mean everything solved just by that? no, it's going to take hard work and it's going to take an administration. that has of talented.
presidents nixon was a this way reagan was this way i think hw bush was who can strategically figure out what have to do. to deal with the educational crisis in our country and you know some of the other factors at work that that are leading to this poisonous atmosphere and at least that will be the first step on the road back, but that's the essential step and until that happens. i don't see anything. you know preventing this or or reducing the trench warfare that we have today. final question. it's a quick one because we have the book signing right after this. so you and john crittenden are the only two people to be in attorney general for two different terms. would you go for a third? well first i'd like to say that i am the only one to do it in two different centuries.
good evening, everyone and welcome to pnp live. i'm brad graham the co-owner of politics and pros along with my wife. listen muscatine, and thank you all for shifting with us to this online format. we've been planning as you know to make this an in-person event. covid intervened and fortunately through the wonders of zoom. we're