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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Interview with Hillary Clinton about the 2020 Presidential Field, the Mueller Report and Immigration. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 14, 2019 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:24] FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.


ZAKARIA: Today on the show, Hillary Clinton. And the field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am absolutely delighted to see this incredibly diverse field.

ZAKARIA: On Robert Mueller's findings.

CLINTON: We deserve to see the Mueller report.

ZAKARIA: On leadership. Do men and women lead differently?

CLINTON: Of course.


ZAKARIA: And much more.

CLINTON: Now if you really wanted to solve this problem, you would not be separating families and putting babies in cages.


ZAKARIA: But first here's my take. There are many explanations for Benjamin Netanyahu's victory in this week's elections that have to do with Israel's particular situation. Its economic boom, stable security climate and the prime minister's political talent. But he is also part of a much larger phenomenon. The continued strength of populist nationalism around the world, and the continued inability of left-of-center parties to respond to it.

The case for populist nationalist goes something like this. It's a nasty world out there. People are trying to take our jobs, undermine our security, move into our country. The cosmopolitan urban elites don't care. They benefit from these forces. So we need a tough guy who will stand up for the nation and against the liberals in our midst.

In some variant or another, this is the argument made by Netanyahu, Putin, Erdogan, Modi, Orban, Bolsonaro, the Brexiteers, and of course Donald Trump. In 1972, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote that nationalism expresses the inflamed desire of the insufficiently regarded to count for something among the cultures of the world. The sentiment, the kind of victim mentality, can be found in almost all modern variations, even among rich and powerful nations.

Look at Putin's claim that Russia has been pushed around by the West since the Cold War. The Chinese obsession with their humiliation since the opium wars. The Israeli right's complaint that the world is always biased against Israel and Trump's constant refrain that all foreigners, from Mexicans to Chinese to Europeans, take advantage of the America. These leaders promise to rectify the situation and restore their countries' proper standing in the world.

Netanyahu, for his part, has long argued that Israel deserves a much better place among the nations, arguing in his 1993 book for an Israeli nationalism that is aggressive and unapologetic. Though Israel's strength and security have grown immeasurably, as its historical enemies, Saudi Arabia and Syria, among others, have either become buddies or basket cases, the argument that the world is against it has somehow persisted.

In fact, despite the pose of victimhood adopted by most of these populists, nationalism is probably the most widely held ideology in the world today. Which American politician today does not speak up for America?

The danger for liberals is that they underestimate the power of these raw, emotional appeals. For centuries, liberals have assumed that nationalism was a kind of irrational attachment that would grow weaker as people became more rational, connected and worldly. In fact, Isaiah Berlin wrote, "Like a twig that is bent in one direction and has to snap back, as globalization grows in its reach, nationalism will be the predictable backlash."

Populist nationalists understand the core appeal of their ideology. I recently asked a Bolsonaro supporter whether the Brazilian president's economic policies, which are free-market oriented and reformist, or his cultural nationalism was the key to his appeal. The supporter's answer, nationalism is the party's core. The economics is simply about efficiency and growth.

Meanwhile, liberals in America still don't seem to get it. The Democratic Party continues to think the solution to its woes is to keep moving leftward economically. This week, Bernie Sanders revealed his new Medicare-for-all plan, which four other presidential candidates co-sponsored immediately. The plan will probably require $2 trillion to $3 trillion in additional annual tax revenues.

[10:05:02] At the same time, Donald Trump tweets about the Democrats' love of open borders and insists that he and he alone will protect the country and enforce its laws.

What if Trump understands the mood of our times better than Bernie Sanders?

For more go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

There are still 569 days until the 2020 election, but already there are nearly 20 Democratic presidential wannabes. Hillary Clinton knows something about being a presidential candidate. She of course was one in 2008 and again in 2016.

So what is her advice to the 2020 contenders?

I was invited to interview the former senator and former secretary of state on Friday of the 10th Annual Women in the World summit. I talked to Secretary Clinton in front of a packed audience at the event, which was founded by Tina Brown and held at Lincoln Center here in New York.




ZAKARIA: Welcome, Hillary Clinton.

CLINTON: So happy to be here.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you here.

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.

ZAKARIA: Today, April 12th, four years ago, you announced for the presidency of the United States.


ZAKARIA: If there is one piece of advice you have for the 18 Democrats who are trying to do what you did about running against Donald trump, what would it be?

CLINTON: Wow. OK. I am absolutely delighted to see this incredibly diverse field and especially to have more than one woman running for president of the United States is exciting.


CLINTON: But I think you really have to do two things simultaneously. And it's challenging. You do have to present what you want to do, what is your vision, what is your hope for our country, how do you see the future, what are you going to propose that will make a difference in the lives of Americans and maintain the values, the ideals of America in a very complex world. So you bear that responsibility.

At the same time, you have to be able to counter and ignore where possible, respond where necessary, to the diversion and distraction that we see, unfortunately, working by the current incumbent in the White House. And so you have to do that balancing act. And I think that we have excellent candidates who are demonstrating their ability to do that. But, you know, really, Fareed, what it comes down to, because, yes, I

kicked off my campaign four years ago today, and I think about what an amazing experience it was traveling the country, talking with people, listening to people, making the case for the kind of America that I want for my children and grandchildren. But I also think about what I said at the very end of that campaign when I addressed all the little girls and told them to keep dreaming and told them to, you know, be powerful, be ready to take on risks, be brave because it comes down to not just the candidate, it comes down to all of us.

Our country, our democracy, they need all of us. They need all of you. And so while the candidates are doing the best job they can, I hope that people, voters, citizens, are thinking about what they can do to make sure that, you know, we live up to our best selves and that we elect someone who will reflect our positive self and not our negative, and will not appeal to the lowest common denominator but try to lift up us and move us with confidence and optimism into the future.


ZAKARIA: So one of -- one of those candidates running, Pete Buttigieg, just gave an interview to the "Washington Post" where he said, "Hillary Clinton went around telling the country America is great already." And the implication was, I think, Trump was able to appeal to people's anxieties, their fears, their sense that things were going wrong, that the America that they loved was changing, and that you appealed too much to the hope that, in fact, a Democrat needs to understand that people are feeling pain, they are feeling that there are problems and that those problems need to be addressed in some way.

[10:10:13] Do you think that's a reasonable critique?

CLINTON: Well, I don't want to comment on any of the candidates because, like I say, I think that they all have a lot to contribute, not only to the Democratic Party but to the country. And it will be up to voters to decide who our nominee is. But I would say this.

I really do believe that we always have to appeal to our better selves. Because the wolf is at the door, my friends. Negativity, despair, anxiety, resentment, anger, prejudice, that's part of human nature. And the job of a leader is to appeal to us to be more than we could be on our own, to join hands in common effort, and --


CLINTON: I absolutely, though, agree with the thrust of your question because the campaign that was run in 2016 was dark. It was negative. It did provide a long list of scapegoats. So if you did have problems in your life, if you were feeling left behind and left out, there were answers as to why that was happening that the other candidate, the opposing party, was going to offer to you.

So I am well aware of the power of that. And I think you wrote an article recently about the power of appeals to nationalism and how we see that not just in our country but elsewhere in the world. I just believe that it is important to say where there are legitimate concerns, and I addressed that. I mean, I did put out what I would do to bring jobs to places that were left out, to deal with inequality in our economy, to try to make sure everybody had quality, affordable health care.

That's what I have been standing for, fighting for, working for my entire public life. So I -- I was well aware that we have problems that we have to solve. But it's been my experience that anger, resentment, prejudice are not strategies. They stop people from thinking. They don't enlist people in the common effort to try to find solutions.

So I believe that we have to start where people are. And the country is very divided. And there are a lot of really positive optimistic people and events happening. And then there are people who absolutely feel left out, unheard, dismissed, marginalized. But what we've got to try to do is appeal to everybody. And I still believe that we will do better as a country in recognizing honestly our problems, but appealing to our common sense and our common hopes to try to deal with those problems.

And that's what -- you know, that's what I believed in. That's what I ran on. And that's what I think is best for the country.


ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, the Mueller report, or at least the Barr letter. Does Secretary Clinton believe there was no collusion?


[10:18:02] ZAKARIA: Robert Mueller ran a tight ship with few leaks. But Attorney General Barr has now promised that Mueller's report with some deletions will be delivered to Congress in the coming days.

I wanted to find out Hillary Clinton's thoughts on the report.


ZAKARIA: Do you believe William Barr's summary of the Mueller report?


CLINTON: Well, how can we? I mean, how can we? We deserve to see the Mueller report. And --


CLINTON: If there is material that for whatever reason should not be shared publicly, it should be shared with the Congress. You know, I do have a life that you cannot make up. And one of the things that I did as a very young lawyer was work on the impeachment staff of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 investigating Richard Nixon. So I know what can be made available, what the court has to be asked to permit to be made available. I know what the Republicans did when they were in charge of the

Congress in demanding information from the Justice Department that had never been offered before. Very sensitive information. It was all turned over to the Republican Congress. So we're in this bit of a "Twilight Zone," aren't we?

There is a report that depending upon which figure you believe is somewhere between maybe 300, 400 pages long. And it is not being delivered to the Congress, which has an absolute right to see it. It is not being presented to the public. So I think that what we saw in Congress with the attorney general's presentation in both the House and the Senate is someone who considers his principal duty to be protecting Donald Trump, not protecting the rule of law and the democracy that the Justice Department should be defending.

[10:20:07] And I remember when Nixon was really upset because there was an investigation going on and he fired people who would not do his bidding until we finally ended up with somebody who would do his bidding. But it didn't save him because the information that had been collected was made available to the Congress, to the courts, and eventually to the public.

So I would hope that the law is followed, that the information is provided, that the American public and the press has a chance to go through these 300 to 400 pages with, you know, as few redactions or cross-outs as possible. And I think the Congress has to take a very hard look at what their remedies are if they are not given that information. And they do have remedies to go court and the like, but it should not be necessary. This information should be provided.

You know, as someone who has been in the eye of the storm all of these years, I think that everybody deserves their chance to tell their story. I believe in facts, and evidence, and law. But this was an investigation that had a serious purpose, to determine what role the Russians played in our election, to try to understand the kind of bizarre connections between Russians and members of the Trump campaign and people close to Trump.

These are really important questions. And it's not, fareed just because -- we should for historic purposes really find out what did happen. It's because we need to be prepared to prevent from whatever happened in the past happening again that would influence wrongly our elections.


ZAKARIA: When you look at the crisis in immigration, and there is a crisis in terms of all of these asylum seekers coming.


ZAKARIA: Is President Trump right in saying essentially, look, you can't take everyone in, we have to be tough on this issue, we otherwise will get overwhelmed. And again, is there a danger that the Democrats cede the issue to him? I read to you what David Brooks wrote in the "New York Times" about

this issue. He says, "Democrats aren't having a primary campaign. They are having a purity test. The idea being that everyone has to demonstrate, particularly on immigration, how pure they are, which again might cede the field to Donald Trump, who can say look, I'm the only guy who's willing to actually enforce the law."

CLINTON: Well, if that were true, but it's not, and here's why. If you really were serious about dealing with immigration, which I am, and believe we must, we do not and cannot have open borders. That is, you know, not in anybody's interest. But we also can't demagogue the issue and expect to solve the problem. And so for people who want to deny there is a problem or people who don't want to solve the problem but want to use it as a political issue, they are both in my view failing.

And so here's what we should be doing and we could be doing, if the president wanted to solve the problem as opposed to keep beating it as a political drum to try to rally his supporters.

What is asylum? Asylum is a request by a person who under our law has the right to come and say, there are reasons why I cannot stay in my home country, I am seeking asylum. Now how do you resolve asylum cases? You resolve them by eventually having somebody appear before an immigration judge to have their case heard.

Now if you really wanted to solve this problem, you would double, you would quadruple the number of immigration judges. You would hire more people. You would send them to the border. You would begin to organize a system so that people could be quickly processed in a legal and humane way. You would not be separating families and putting babies in cages.


CLINTON: You know, we're really good about doing things if we decide we want to do them. You would have enough decent humane housing. You would have people who were in a system -- one of the worst things this administration has done is to separate those children and have no system that actually would tell you where they are.


[10:25:06] CLINTON: I mean, I would go to the big tech companies and I would say, OK, you have got, you know, 15 days. Give me a system so that I can keep track of everybody. I'm not going to lose anyone, no baby, no older person. Everybody is going to be in the system. And we are going to have enough judges down there. We're going to have decent housing conditions. And we're going to start hearing those cases.

That is what someone who wanted to solve the problem would be doing as opposed to either denying it or politicizing it. And that's what I hope eventually will be done.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) ZAKARIA: We'll be back with a moment with much more of my interview with Hillary Clinton from Lincoln Center.


CLINTON: We do have the biggest economy, still. We do have the largest military, still. Those are important. But what we stand for has always been more important.




ZAKARIA: As secretary of State, you met many, many world leaders. One of them whom you met often was Benjamin Netanyahu.

[10:30:00] Do you think that the administration's strategy toward Israel, which seems to be to largely accommodate Prime Minister Netanyahu, give him what he wants -- recognition of the Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, move the embassy -- in the hope that this will produce a deal between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Does that strike you as realistic given what you know about Bibi Netanyahu?

CLINTON: I don't know, we'll find out if there is such a deal ever presented, which it hasn't been yet. But I worked closely with him, and I had a very positive working relationship. And I also was honest with him, he was honest with me. I didn't think it was useful to, you know, pander. I thought it was better to provide our best assessment.

You know, I worked with him to end a Hamas attack on Israel back in November of 2012. It was really complicated. I had to go to Jerusalem, meet with him, had to go to Ramallah and meet with Abbas and the Palestinians, go back to Jerusalem, go to Cairo, meet with the then-Muslim Brotherhood president. So I've had a lot of hands-on, first-person experience with him. He's very smart. He's very determined.

Whether the kinds of actions that this administration has taken will, in any way, move toward a two-state solution, I think, is an open question. And I worry that toward the end of the election -- you know, Bibi was talking about annexing all the settlements, which you would start from a very difficult position trying to reach some kind of resolution.

I am a very, you know, strong supporter of Israel's security, of Israel's democracy. But I also believe that the Palestinian people deserve to have more support, more autonomy, more efforts to practice self-government, and so --


CLINTON: -- how we get there -- and, you know, I watched my husband make an offer to the Palestinians on behalf of the Ehud Barak Israeli government that, if they had accepted it, they would have had a state now for, you know, more than 15 years. But they didn't.

And so I watched in, you know, my time in the Senate and then as Secretary of State with all the efforts that were undertaken not only by the United States to be an honest broker, but by other countries, by the U.N., and none of it has been resolved. So we'll see. He's obviously been re-elected. He gets to govern for probably another five or so years. So let's see if there is any kind of movement.

Because everyone who cares about Israel knows that, in the absence of some resolution, you know, the demography is changing, and the Palestinian population is increasing far faster than the Israeli population. So how do you reconcile that? And that's going to be a real test of leadership, and I hope that everybody is ready for it.

ZAKARIA: President Trump says, in dealing with Saudi Arabia, that you cannot do much more than they have done in pushing on any kind of consequences for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi because Saudi Arabia is, at the end of the day, the central banker of the world's oil. I think it's -- Donald Trump says if you push Saudi Arabia too hard, oil will go to $150 a barrel, we'll have a recession.

What would you have done, what would you do if you were at the State Department today, in response to the Khashoggi murder?

CLINTON: Well, today it's unfortunately kind of late, isn't it? So if it had been in the immediate aftermath of this brutal murder, which I don't think anyone doubts had to be ordered from the highest levels of the Saudi government, there should have been a much stronger response by the United States.

We cannot, you know, single-handedly in any way reach in and change the Saudi government. That's beyond our power to do so. But you can certainly set standards, and the United States, historically, has been the guarantor of human rights and of the hope that the countries of the world will, you know, not revert to crass behavior, including the murder of political opponents or journalists.

[10:35:02] We stand up against Russia when they do it, Iran when they do it, China when they do it, and we should have been much more vocal in standing up against the Saudis. They finally got around to using sanctions again, some of the principal identified personnel.

But, you know, even if you're dealing with a country -- and I dealt with countries that commit gross human rights abuses. I negotiated with leaders who were really difficult to sit across from because you knew what their behaviors were.

But at the end of the day, the United States has to stand for something besides barbarism. We have to stand for a society that is constantly trying to, you know, create the institutions that will support a rule of law, that will support human rights, that will, you know, give us the position of leadership in the world to speak out and speak out forcefully.

When we retreat from that and we basically say we're not going to interfere, for whatever the excuse is -- I mean, right now, the United States has actually surpassed Saudi Arabia in the production of oil and gas, and we don't need the Saudis like we did before. But we want to continue to work with them, but not on any terms. There has to be some at least rhetorical if not actionable steps taken.

And I just think that when you retreat from that, when you surrender that, you surrender a lot of our power. You know, we do have the biggest economy, still. We do have the largest military, still. Those are important. But what we stand for has always been more important.

People have followed us, people have not wanted to get on the wrong side of us because of what we represent. And when you walk away from that, when you make fun of it, when you deride it, we lose power.

This is not just a nice thing to do. This is leverage. This is how we try to create a world of laws, not of strong men. And we try to enforce those views of how the world should work.

And the current administration has an affinity toward dictators. They have an affinity toward knocking out all of the institutions that have been built up to restrain nations. I mean, when you blow the top off and say that you are supporting autocrats, dictators, nationalists, you are forgetting the lessons of the 20th century.

We fought the bloodiest war in human history twice. We dealt with gulags. We dealt with concentration camps. We dealt with the worst that people are capable of doing.

Why did we set up institutions like NATO or the E.U.? Why did we pass something called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Because we wanted to contain those impulses. We wanted people to be held accountable.

So when you walk away from that, whether it's in Saudi Arabia or Russia or anywhere else, you are contributing to the unleashing of those very basic, primal instincts. We didn't change human nature by creating this institutional framework, but we contained it. And we set standards for it. And we were able to win a Cold War because people never gave up on freedom and on the hope that they would have a better future.

When we recede from that, we recede from America. And we recede from America's power and influence in the world. And that is a dreadful mistake.



ZAKARIA: Last week, Tina Brown, the founder of Women in the World, told me she believes women and men lead differently. I'll ask Hillary Clinton what she thinks when we come back.

Don't forget, if you miss a show, go to for a link to my iTunes podcast.



ZAKARIA: Technically, our time is up, but I'm going to ask you one more question because it relates to this extraordinary summit that Tina Brown has put together.

Tina Brown, in an op-ed in the "New York Times," said women lead differently than men. That they have different qualities, different characters. Do you think that's true? Do you think that the world would be different if it were led by women?

CLINTON: Of course!



CLINTON: I don't just say that; I believe it. It's not that every woman would govern differently, we know that. But let's just take the example of the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand and the response of the Prime Minister. Right?


CLINTON: And I had a chance to meet with her about a year ago while she was very pregnant. And we talked about all kinds of things, but we talked about, you know, having a baby when you are in a public position and how you balance all of that, the things we would talk about with our friends -- or in my case, with my daughter and her friends now.

[10:45:00] And she showed the heart not only of a leader but of a mother. And her reaching out to the Muslim community in New Zealand sent a message about how leaders should behave in the face of horrific violence conducted for ideological reasons. And I think that that was as strong a signal as we could get that, given the chance, many women will govern and lead differently.

I want to just end with this story. I just had dinner the other night with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected president in Africa. She was elected twice to be president in Liberia.


CLINTON: A country that survived, barely, a terrible civil war. How did that civil war end? It ended because leaders like Ellen and others enlisted the women of Liberia -- the market women, Christian and Muslim alike -- to make it clear they were not going to put up with the war anymore.

There was a conference that was called to try to end the civil war that was being held in Ghana. No women were involved. No women were invited. And so those women, those market women, and their leaders made their way to Ghana where they camped out around the building where the negotiators were meeting, and they would not let the men out until they had ended the civil war.


CLINTON: And there are lots of evidence that, including women, in the economy, in politics, in conflict resolution, leads to better, more sustainable outcomes. And if you're interested in what happened in Liberia where women truly made the difference, there is a great movie about it called "Pray the Devil Back to Hell."

And there are other examples like that around the world. And all of you who are here in this wonderful conference that Tina conceived, and now has put on for 10 years, gives us this moment in time to listen to people, but also to ask ourselves, what can I do?

No, you may never run for office. You may never, you know, be appointed to some big position somewhere. But there is something everybody can do. You know, speaking out, speaking up, supporting organizations, non-profits and others, supporting candidates who you believe in who can make a difference.

So, yes, I think that we saw this in the midterm election when all those women were elected to the House of Representatives.


CLINTON: And maybe most importantly, they are led by one effective, tough woman, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. So, yes, it makes a big difference.


ZAKARIA: Hillary Clinton, a pleasure to talk to you.

CLINTON: Thank you so much, Fareed. Thank you, all.


ZAKARIA: Thanks to Tina Brown and the 10th annual Women in the World Summit for asking me to interview Secretary Clinton. And thanks to Mrs. Clinton for the great conversation. We'll be back.


ZAKARIA: As the next presidential campaign begins to ramp up, candidates promise to improve the lives of their fellow Americans.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running to declare, once and for all, that health care is a fundamental right.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do believe housing is a human right.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to protect the individual rights and wages of working men and women. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It brings me to my question. Americans are least satisfied by which of the following parts of their personal lives? A, household income; B, personal health; C, education; or D, amount of leisure time? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

My book of the week is "Accidental Presidents" by Gerald Cohen. This is a fascinating prism through which to look at American history, the eight men who ascended to the presidency because the elected president died. It's a well-written, fast-paced book that is filled with interesting facts and insights. Anyone interested in American history will delight in it.

And now for the "Last Look." Eight hundred miles from the North Pole sits the island of Svalbard, home to the northernmost town in the world and also one of the places most dramatically affected by global warming.

The town is of Longyearbyen is completely built on permafrost. With rising temperatures, buildings are sinking into the ground as what used to be a solid foundation transforms into something more soggy and less permanent. Some residents have moved to safer ground, but it's not just townspeople and local reindeer who rely on the permafrost.

This is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, also called the doomsday vault for its mission of guarding the world's crop diversity in case of catastrophe. It is the world's largest seed bank and was built deep under the permafrost, a natural fridge of sorts for the precious cargo. But now, a recent report confirms that the permafrost is melting.

[10:55:02] Of course, seeds are not the only things stored within the permafrost. It also holds vast quantities of carbon, so melting it will exacerbate global warming. At least we do have a backup of the world's plants for now even though we do not have a backup for human beings.

The answer to my "GPS Challenge" this week is D. It turns out Americans are mostly very satisfied with their family life, then with education, the way leisure time is spent, housing, personal health, community, their standard of living, their job, household income. The item with the least satisfaction is their amount of leisure time. Well, summer vacation is right around the corner.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.