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State of the Union
Interview With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; Interview With Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams; Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired June 26, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Overturned. Dismay and celebration across the country, as the U.S. Supreme Court eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a sad day for the court and for the country.
TAPPER: As states react, what will the future of abortion rights look like? I will speak to Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams next.
And global test. President Biden meets with international leaders.
BIDEN: We have to stay together.
TAPPER: At a time of worldwide uncertainty and fear, what can they realistically accomplish? Secretary of State Antony Blinken joins me exclusively to discuss in moments.
Plus: Keep calm, carry on. Boris Johnson emerges from a no-confidence vote weakened, but still with his job.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I want to say this to the people of the United States.
TAPPER: As the world's economy slows and rushes war rages, what's next for a key ally? British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joins me in a U.S. exclusive ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper live in Krun, Germany, at the site of the G7 global summit.
President Biden is on the world stage this morning meeting with fellow leaders of Western democracies, in addition to the U.S. and Germany. The other five in the G7, or Group of Seven, are Canada, France, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom, whose prime minister we just interviewed. They are here to try to figure out how to stave off a global recession
and ensure stability at a time of autocratic muscle-flexing, especially Russia's war on Ukraine, where missiles hit the capital of Kyiv just hours ago and where Russia seems to be gaining ground in the east.
The world looks much different than when this group met a year ago. Coming up, I will speak exclusively with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, ahead of President Biden's remarks this morning, and, as I mentioned, of course, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who just survived a no-confidence vote at home and is trying to ensure that no one in the G7 goes wobbly on Ukraine.
But overshadowing President Biden's visit here, seismic societal upheaval back at home, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday, and abortion immediately became illegal for millions of American girls and women, depending on where they live.
The news was celebrated by some, while others were dismayed and warned the U.S. would return to a time of unsafe back-alley abortions and more impoverished mothers.
I want to begin there with one of the most prominent Democrats on the ballot this year running in Georgia, where women are likely to have just a few weeks more to obtain abortions after the state asked an appeals court to allow a so-called heartbeat abortion ban to go into effect.
And joining me right now is the Democratic candidate for governor in the state of Georgia, Stacey Abrams.
Thank you so much for joining us.
So, Roe has been overturned. You're running to be governor of Georgia. What will this mean for your state?
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: In 2019, Brian Kemp, the current governor, signed an extreme six-weeks ban on abortion. That's six weeks, often before women know they're pregnant.
And, in Georgia, where half of our counties do not have an OB-GYN, it can be that they won't find out they're pregnant until after it's too late to have this medical opportunity.
We know that the rights to choose should not be divvied up amongst states, and that the sinister practice of taking constitutional rights and allowing each state to decide the quality of your citizenship is wrong. Women deserve bodily autonomy. They deserve the right to make these choices.
And in Georgia in particular, in a matter of days, this six-week ban will be the law of the land. That is horrendous. That is appalling. And it is wrong. And, as the next governor, I'm going to do everything in my power to reverse it.
TAPPER: We have all heard the polling statistic that about two in three Americans support Roe v. Wade, did not want the Supreme Court to overturn it.
But, as you know, polling on abortion is very complicated, and, in more nuanced questions, most Americans support at least some restrictions on abortion overall.
Do you think the government should play any role in restricting abortion? As governor, what restrictions would you be willing to support in Georgia, if any?
ABRAMS: My first responsibility is to protect the life and the welfare of the women in the state and to make it safe for them to make medical choices.
Those medical choices should not be governed by someone's religious or ideological convictions. And if we're going to make medical decisions, they should be made with medical input, not at the whim of politicians.
I believe that Georgia should do what is right for the women of our state, and that the six-week ban and that this derogation of our opportunity to make our own choices is wrong. I believe there should be federal law that allows women to have these choices, to have reproductive choice and reproductive justice.
And I think that it has to stop being a political football, where the ideology of the leader of a state can determine the quality of life for a woman and her ability to make the choices she needs.
TAPPER: Many businesses such as Disney and Netflix have expressed their opposition to the so-called heartbeat abortion ban in Georgia when it was passed in 2019.
Do you think those companies should pull their businesses from Georgia when and if this abortion restriction goes into effect?
ABRAMS: Let's be clear. This abortion restriction, this extreme ban, will take effect in a matter of days.
The attorney general and the governor have already gone to the 11th Circuit to ask for the stay to be lifted. I would tell every single business and every single woman that they should do what is best for the women who work for them. They need to make certain that they are accommodating the very real health care challenges that will face women in the state of Georgia.
It is my hope that we will be able to reverse this law by passing new legislation in 2023, because we also know that Brian Kemp intends to make it even more difficult for women. He intends to add incest and rape as prohibitions. He's already broken our health care system by refusing to expand Medicaid, and Georgia already has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.
And so I would tell anyone, whether you're a business or a citizen thinking about being in Georgia, to take into very real consideration the danger that Brian Kemp poses to the life and welfare of women in this state.
TAPPER: President Biden has vowed to protect women and girls' access to abortion pills and contraception, as well as their ability to cross state lines to seek an abortion if they want to.
Republican state lawmakers across the country are already working to pass even further restrictions. Do you think what President Biden is doing is enough? Or do you think he needs to do more?
ABRAMS: I think President Biden should do what is within the purview of the executive.
I believe that we need a legislative solution that restores the constitutional protection to women, regardless of the state they live in. State lines should not determine the quality of your citizenship in the United States.
We know that, in Georgia, a law has already been proposed that would expand the restrictions in the state. We know that Brian Kemp has already signaled his -- at least an ambiguity about how he feels about birth control and the laws that govern birth control access.
And so it is very, very dangerous for women in Georgia right now. We need new leadership. And we need new leadership that can work with the president of the United States to provide the protections, to provide the health care, and to provide the sanity of good laws that can help women and their families thrive in our state.
TAPPER: There are a lot of progressives, as you know, who are calling on President Biden to expand the size of the Supreme Court. Do you think Biden should do that?
ABRAMS: I know how the law works. And it is not up to President Biden. This is a choice that has to be made by our both executive and legislative branch.
But I do think that we have to recognize that there's nothing sacrosanct about nine members of the United States Supreme Court. But that is a long-term question. What we have to focus on right now is the danger that this Dobbs decision presents to women in the state of Georgia and across the country.
As someone who is pro-choice and proudly pro-choice, I believe that we need leaders right now who are willing to defend who we are and defend the women under our care. We have to be deeply concerned about what is happening to our LGBTQ community, to people of color, especially black women, who face the highest rates of maternal mortality in the nation.
And that is -- it's exacerbated in the state of Georgia. I believe that we need to do more. And I want the president to do more. I want our Congress to do more. But we have got to recognize that the stage that we're in right now, it is left to the states.
And that's why I encourage people to go to StaceyAbrams.com to learn more about my plan to protect women in the state of Georgia. TAPPER: Well, in more short term, do you think that the Senate should
eliminate the filibuster to codify Roe vs. Wade into law? Would you support that?
ABRAMS: I would support lifting it for Roe v. Wade. I would support lifting it for voting rights.
These are constitutional issues. I believe -- and I have said this very consistently -- that when we are talking about fundamental protections that should be accorded to every citizen in our country, then the filibuster is wrong. And we should suspend the filibuster with regards to voting rights, and we should suspend the filibuster with regards to making certain that we can protect the constitutional right to privacy and the ability of women to make choices for themselves and their bodies.
TAPPER: Do you think this ruling might help you defeat Governor Kemp in 2022?
ABRAMS: I think this ruling puts into very sharp relief the difference between my candidacy and his reelection.
Brian Kemp has shown himself again and again to have very little concern for the life and welfare of the women of Georgia. That is why he expanded access to permitless carry, to criminal carry, putting more guns on our streets, when Georgia is number nine for gun violence.
He has done very little to support the lives of women by refusing to expand Medicaid. We know that Medicaid expansion is one of the best predictors for a healthy pregnancy, for women to be able to take care of themselves.
And while they may point to what they're willing to do postpartum in terms of small expansion, if you really want to take care of women, if you really want to protect their lives, then you should expand access to Medicaid, so they have access to health care throughout their lifetime.
We know that Brian Kemp has shown that he does not care about the women of Georgia, about the families in Georgia, except when it's politically convenient. And so I believe that this is a sharp distinction between us, and I encourage every Georgian to pay attention.
TAPPER: Stacey Abrams, thanks so much for your time today.
ABRAMS: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: We should note that we invited Georgia Governor Kemp to join us this weekend. And he is welcome to join us on the show anytime in the future.
World leaders condemned the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States. I'm going to ask British Prime Minister Boris Johnson his thoughts in our exclusive interview in the United States. That's coming up.
And President Biden on the global stage, as war and a slowing economy stalled leaders' plans. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will join me here exclusively next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm live from Krun, Germany,where G7 leaders are meeting in the building right behind me, as global leaders confer on how to combat a slowing economy, as well as the fallout from the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine.
Here with me now exclusively is the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken.
Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Secretary. Appreciate it.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: So, we're here at the G7.
France and the U.K., who are here, as well as other world leaders from Belgium, to Mexico, to Chile, have all expressed concern about what the U.S. Supreme Court did on Friday, reversing Roe vs. Wade. They say it sends the wrong signal globally.
What signal does it send?
BLINKEN: Well, Jake, I'm not in the habit of commenting on Supreme Court decisions, getting into U.S. politics.
This is one occasion where I did because there are so many questions being asked around the world, questions being asked by our work force. So, I put out a statement making clear that we're going to continue to do the work that we're doing around the world to advance access to reproductive health services for women and girls around the world, and, at the same time, make it clear to our own employees that, consistent with the law, we will do everything we can to make sure that they have access as well, no matter where they live.
TAPPER: Including if a -- as many businesses are saying they're going to do, paying for their travel to states where they can get abortions if they want one?
BLINKEN: We are looking into whatever we can do consistent with the law to make sure that, irrespective of where any of our people live, they have access to reproductive health care services.
TAPPER: So there are a lot of things that you're focusing on here, but one of them is Ukraine and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And Russia does appear to be edging closer to taking over all of the Luhansk region. Severodonetsk has fallen, apparently, and just overnight, many missiles were launched at Kyiv, including residential areas. Russia state media says the Russian defense minister just visited Russian troops in Ukraine.
Is Russia winning?
BLINKEN: Jake, let's not confuse the tactical with strategic.
When it comes to Putin's strategic objectives, he's already failed. His strategic objective was to end Ukraine's sovereignty and independence, to erase it from the map, to subsume it in Russia. That has failed. And a sovereign, independent Ukraine is going to be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene.
Meanwhile, there's a tactical, ferocious battle going on in Eastern Ukraine with the Russian aggression, with Ukrainian forces pushing back. And that line has shifted. There are gains one way, gains another way.
But what's really important is the strategic proposition that Putin will not succeed in what he's tried to achieve. Not only that. He's also tried to divide NATO. We're about to go to a NATO summit, where the alliance is going to show greater unity, greater strength than in my memory.
In Ukraine itself, here at this meeting of the G7, as well as at NATO, we will continue to do collectively everything we can to make sure that the Ukrainians have what they need in their hands to repel the Russian aggression.
TAPPER: Do you think the attack on Kyiv overnight and this morning was part of a direct provocation against the meeting of the G7?
BLINKEN: We have seen sporadically, even -- ever since Putin lost the battle for Kyiv and had to shift his focus just to Eastern and Southern Ukraine, that they have occasionally launched missiles at a distance, basically to terrorize people.
They struck an apartment building. There are reports that they struck a kindergarten. That has no purpose, other than to try to terrorize Ukrainians.
TAPPER: The G7 just announced a new ban on Russian gold imports.
BLINKEN: That's right.
TAPPER: The U.S. said that Western sanctions against Russia would devastate its economy.
But that doesn't seem to be happening. The ruble is at its highest in years. Oil profits are soaring. When are these sanctions going to start having the effect that the West and that President Biden has promised?
BLINKEN: Oh, they're already having a dramatic effect. Well, first, let's take gold, the thing that we're just announcing. That is the second most lucrative export that Russia has after energy. It's about $19 billion a year. And most of that is within the G7 countries. So cutting that off, denying access to about $19 billion of revenues a year, that's significant.
But, beyond that, Jake, everything that we have done from the start in imposing these unprecedented sanctions and the export controls, is having a profound impact on Russia.
Even as it gets oil revenues with higher prices, it's unable to spend them because of the export controls. It can't acquire what it needs to modernize its defense sector, to modernize its technology, to modernize its energy exploration, which means that, over time, each of these areas is going to go in decline.
Already, we're seeing predictions that the Russian economy will shrink by 8 to 15 percent next year. The ruble is being propped up artificially, at great expense. A thousand companies, major international companies, have left Russia. They had products that were still on the shelf when they left.
But those supplies have now dwindled. Russians were no longer being able to buy what they're used to buying. The standard of living for Russians is dropping. All of this is having an effect immediately, but it's also having a cumulative effect.
We have seen a brain drain from Russia; 200,000 Russians, among the most educated, working in some of the most important industries, have left. Many foreigners working in those same industries have left.
All of this over time accumulates, accumulates, accumulates.
TAPPER: So there was a House resolution, bipartisan, in favor -- expressing the desire that Brittney Griner be freed, the WNBA star who has now been detained in Russia for 129 days.
American, former Marine Paul Whelan has been there for almost four years. After the U.S. brought Trevor Reed home in a prisoner swap, my understanding is that there might be another prisoner swap in the works right now. CNN is reporting that there is a -- there are discussions going on and that you and President Biden and others are in favor of swap, Griner and Whelan in exchange for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.
Is that going to happen?
BLINKEN: As a general proposition, Jake, I have got no higher priority than making sure that Americans who are being illegally detained in one way or another around the world come home. And that includes Paul Whelan. That includes Brittney Griner. That includes people in a number of other countries.
In fact, I spoke to Brittney Griner's wife just a few days ago. I spoke to the families of many detained Americans.
TAPPER: They really want to talk to President Biden.
BLINKEN: And some of them have. But we have a regular dialogue with them and no higher priority.
I can't comment in any detail on what we're doing, except to say this is an absolute priority.
TAPPER: So the White House says President Biden's upcoming meeting with Saudi officials in Riyadh next month will include the kingdom's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
President Biden, as you remember during the campaign, promised to make Saudi Arabia and MBS a pariah for the murder of a journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for "The Washington Post."
Is cheaper oil worth breaking that promise?
BLINKEN: Jake, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, what we have said is, we needed to recalibrate the relationship to make sure that it more effectively reflected our own interests, our own values, but not rupture it, because we have got a multiplicity of interests involved and our values.
And so when it comes to the relationship broadly, Saudi Arabia has been an important partner in dealing with extremism. It's been an important partner in contending with challenges posed by Iran. It's also absolutely critical to helping end what has been one of the worst wars and atrocities in recent memory. That's the war in Yemen.
By most accounts, that's the worst humanitarian situation on Earth. And that's saying something. Saudi Arabia's engagement in doing this now has been absolutely critical to getting what we haven't had for eight years, which is a truce. The truce has been extended. Humanitarian assistance is getting to people who need it. The guns have been silenced.
That's important. And when it comes to our values, we had -- we inherited the murder of Ahmad Khashoggi. We made sure, I made sure that the report with accountability and making clear the responsibility for his murder was put out in public with the imprimatur of the U.S. government on it.
We initiated something called the Khashoggi ban to make sure that countries that try to repress those criticizing them from third countries, including from the United States, are penalized for doing that. We have used that ban something like 70 times since we put it forward.
And, of course, energy is part of the equation too. So, for us, it's about making sure that we put all of this together, that we are working to advance all of these interests, consistent with our values. If we're able to end the war in Yemen, that will be a dramatic step forward for human rights, for freedom, for democracy as well.
TAPPER: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thanks so much for your time.
BLINKEN: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.
TAPPER: My next guest just survived a no-confidence vote in the U.K.
I'm going to ask Prime Minister Boris Johnson about lessons learned, if any, and his take on America's democracy.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper live from the G7 summit in Krun, Germany.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping on the world stage today with his standing at home weakened after COVID-related scandals prompted a no-confidence vote in his leadership, a vote that he survived.
I spoke with him earlier this morning.
TAPPER: So, you had a very strong reaction when you heard about the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade.
You called it a big step backwards.
Look, I want to stress that this is not our court. It's not our jurisdiction. So, in a sense, the -- anything I say is -- it's for the United States. It's not for the U.K.
But Roe-Wade -- the Roe v. Wade judgment, when it came out, was a huge -- important psychologically for people around the world. And it spoke of the advancement of the rights of women, I think.
And I regret that -- what seems to me to be a backward step. But I'm speaking as someone looking in from the outside, and...
TAPPER: Do you think it hurts the United States as a representative of rights and freedom?
JOHNSON: No. I want to be very clear about that. I think that the United States is a -- for me, it remains a shining city on the hill. And it's an incredible guarantor of values, democracy, freedom around the world.
You know, we're going to talk about G7 in a minute, but if you look at what Joe Biden is doing to stick up for people's rights in Ukraine, it's quite extraordinary. So I don't see -- I don't see it that way at all.
But what I -- just on the -- a woman's right to choose, which I have always backed, and which we back very much in the U.K., it seems to me to be a step backwards.
TAPPER: So, we're here for the G7 summit, where addressing skyrocketing inflation and energy costs is going to top the agenda.
Inflation in the U.K. just hit 9.1 percent, the highest of any G7 member. But, obviously, inflation is high across Europe and the United States. Do you think that we are headed for a global recession?
JOHNSON: Look, I think that we've got a lot of headwinds right now.
And if you think back to the last G7 in Carbis Bay, we were coming out of COVID. Everything was looking a cautiously positive. We could see a way for the world economy to grow. We've now got a big problem with -- what Putin has done in Ukraine is driving prices of commodities, energy, obviously. And that's driving food and fertilizer as well.
And that's causing problems around the world. And we need to fix those things. And I don't think there's any -- any point focusing on how bad things might get. Let's look at what we can do to address it.
So, we need to be working together to ease problems in global supply chains, fix those inflationary pressures, fix pressures in labor markets, and do what we can to help people through tough times. I think it will get better. I think that inflation will start to abate.
But, right now, we've got to use the fiscal firepower we have in the U.K. Particularly, we have got -- I'm focused on helping people with the cost of energy. We're using the cash we have to tide people through, 1,200 pounds for eight million of the most vulnerable families.
TAPPER: Is there realistically anything serious that Western countries can do to bring down inflation and energy costs, as long as the war in Ukraine, as long as Russia keeps attacking, continues?
JOHNSON: I think that OPEC plays a role.
I think that the -- there is an opportunity for other sources of supply to come forward. And I think, if there were to be -- the taps were to be turned on by some of our other partners around the world, that would unquestionably help.
But, in the meantime, what we've got to do is find the alternative suppliers ourself. So, in the U.K., we're making huge progress towards more wind power. I mean, we are the -- one of the biggest producers of offshore wind power the world, I think, if not the biggest.
We're going to be building a nuclear reactor every year, rather than every 10 years. And you've got to do that.
And I think that, here in the G7, I think what we're all realizing is that the party's over for Russian hydrocarbons. So -- and everybody's finding new ways of adapting. In the short term, we're going to have to find hydrocarbons from elsewhere.
And I think some countries are being heroic in what they're -- in what they're doing. But, in the long term, we've got to work together on the green solutions that we all believe in.
TAPPER: You were in Ukraine last week. You met with President Zelenskyy, yes?
And you -- it was -- you warned against what you call Ukraine fatigue...
TAPPER: ... in the West.
How do you combat Ukraine fatigue at a time when so many Western nations are struggling with real issues at home? And do you worry at all that the tying of the war in Ukraine with higher energy prices might cause people in the U.K. in the United States to say, you know what, it's not worth it?
JOHNSON: But it is.
And I would just say to people in the United States and -- that this is something that America historically does and has to do. And that is to step up for peace and freedom and democracy. And if we let Putin get away with it and just annex, conquer sizable parts of a free, independent, sovereign country, which is what he is poised to do, if not the whole thing, then the consequences for the world are absolutely catastrophic.
It means he -- we're legitimating further acquisition by him by violence of other parts of the former Soviet Union. We're legitimating aggression in other parts of the world. And you can see the read across in East Asia. You can see the consequences, the lessons that will be drawn.
And that would be...
TAPPER: Taiwan? Hong Kong?
JOHNSON: And that is -- that is what is ultimately disastrous, not just for democracy and for the independence of countries, but for economic stability.
So, remember what America -- you remember when America came in -- in 1941, 1942, the United States came in, in the middle of last century, it came in twice in the last century, as the arsenal of democracy.
And what Joe Biden is currently spending, I think $46 billion to help Ukraine, I would argue that that is a price worth paying for democracy and freedom, because when you think about the postwar period, when that argument was conclusively settled in favor of democracy, against the violent changing of borders by aggression, think what that achieved, the decades and decades of peace and freedom.
So, all I'm saying to people is, sometimes, America is asked by the world to step up. Again, getting back to your first question, I think America is still the last, best hope of peace and freedom.
TAPPER: But are you worried about what's happening in Ukraine right now?
TAPPER: The Russian defense minister just visited for the first time in the five-month war. There are reports that key cities in the east are falling to the Russians.
TAPPER: Are countries like France and Germany doing enough to help?
JOHNSON: Look, I think if -- both of those countries have done an astonishing amount, when you consider where they were before the conflict began.
TAPPER: Ukrainians complain about that they're not doing enough, though.
JOHNSON: Yes, but you've got to look objectively at where the -- how far Olaf Scholz has moved his country, to much bigger defense spending.
Never in my lifetime did I expect to see direct German military contribution to supporting another European country in the way that they're doing right now.
And that's coming at a -- don't forget also the price that the Germans are paying in terms of moving away from Russian oil and gas. So, could we all do more? Yes, we could all do more. And we're going to do more. But, right now, I think the most -- the most effective thing that the G7 have brought to this thing has been our unity.
TAPPER: So, you've long advocated for a stronger economic and business relationship with China.
Do you worry at all that you're making the same mistake that Europe did with Russia 20 years ago, thinking that you can use economic ties to bring a partner in and influence their bad behavior, and, ultimately, it doesn't work? Because that's what happened with Russia.
JOHNSON: The United States has a free trade deal with China, which we don't have, so, you know, just...
TAPPER: I don't represent the United States.
JOHNSON: I know that.
JOHNSON: So, look, the -- every country in -- China is a gigantic fact of our lives. China is a massive and growing economy. Every country gathered here today at the G7 does a huge amount of business with China.
The question is, can we continue to do that? Can we continue to advance projects of mutual economic benefit, whilst, as G7, protecting our values, protecting our critical national infrastructure -- and you remember all the arguments about Huawei -- and making sure that we stand together and stick up the democracy and freedom?
And I think -- I think we can. I think there is a balance to be struck. You may be right. It may be difficult, but that's what we've got and try to do.
TAPPER: Much more in my interview with Prime Minister Johnson coming up, including the pressure he's facing back home in the U.K. and his take on the state of the U.S. democracy, after this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper live from the G7 summit in Krun, Germany.
Here's more of my interview with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
TAPPER: So while you're here at the G7, as you know, there's a lot going on back home for you, some scheming going on perhaps by Tory M.P.s.
You're the first sitting Prime Minister found to have broken the law, because of the parties at 10 Downing that broke your own government's pandemic rules. You narrowly survived a no-confidence vote, and your party just lost two critical elections.
What is your message to members of your party who say you're a drag on your ticket? JOHNSON: I think the great thing about democracy is that leaders are under scrutiny and that I do have -- you say I have got things going on back home. That's a good thing.
I've got people on my case. I've got people making arguments. I'm -- by the way, I've got a new mandate from my party. And I'm very happy to...
TAPPER: You survived, yes.
JOHNSON: Yes, I got a higher percentage of the parliamentary votes than I did the first time. So I'm very happy. We will move forward.
But the positive thing is that it means you have a government that has to respond, has to think about what the public wants.
And if -- just make a serious point about the G7 countries vs. the -- or contrasted to the autocracies. Both of -- both China and Russia, I think, make big mistakes because they don't have those democratic checks and balances.
Do you really think that Vladimir Putin would have launched an invasion of another sovereign country if he had had people to listen to probably, arguing, if he had had a committee of backbenchers, the 1922 Committee on his case?
And he did it because he is so -- his ego was so personally invested in the project, and continues to be so personally invested. And there's absolutely nothing to stop him. That's the problem.
Second, look at the zero COVID approach in China. And whatever the arguments, it's clear it's a very, very difficult and burdensome policy. But it's being driven by the president, because that's the policy that he's invested in, without checks and balances.
So, you know, what I'm saying to you is, it's the...
TAPPER: That criticism is good. Democracy is good.
JOHNSON: It's the worst system in the world, apart from all the others.
TAPPER: Right. Well, you don't have to convince me that democracy is good.
But let me just ask you, because...
JOHNSON: Well, it's not -- whoa, whoa. I mean, we...
TAPPER: No, but as part... JOHNSON: But it's a point that needs to be made.
TAPPER: You were recently asked about criticism from your party about Partygate, and you said that you were not going to undergo a psychological transformation. That's a quote of yours, psychological transformation.
Some Tories are upset. They say that it -- that suggests you don't get how much there are members of the public that feel betrayed by the parties that are going on during the strict COVID rules, and that it shows that you're out of touch.
I think -- when you're taking your country through a tough time -- we went through a tough pandemic. We've now got obviously serious economic headwinds. You're bound to come in for a lot of criticism and a lot of scrutiny. And that is fine.
But I have to decide what is the stuff that I need to change and the stuff that will make a real difference to people. And the stuff we need to change that really matters is the way our energy markets work, the way our housing markets work, the cost of our transport systems, the burden of taxation that people face.
That's where the change is coming. That's the program that we've had. It's our plan for a stronger economy. And I think that's what people want to see. So we've got some good things going for us right now. We've got unemployment very low. We've got huge investments coming in. There's lots of reasons to be confident.
JOHNSON: But I think the thing people need us to focus on and to change is the way things work for them.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because Thursday marks six years since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. That was a cause that you were right on the forefront of.
The U.K. is grappling the skyrocketing inflation, low unemployment, but skyrocketing inflation, cost of living crisis you alluded to, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, slow wage growth.
Is the U.K. better off than it was six years ago, when you left the E.U.?
JOHNSON: It is.
And we've got -- look, we've -- what we've been able to -- let me give you an example. Thanks to the position that we took, we had an independent medical agency that was able to make sure that the first COVID vaccine in anybody's -- first approved COVID vaccine in anybody's arms in the world was in the U.K.
We then had the fastest vaccine. And that was because we were outside something called the European Medicines Agency, which is...
TAPPER: ... you couldn't have done if -- otherwise?
JOHNSON: Jake, correct.
TAPPER: You're quoting Fonz?
JOHNSON: That is right.
JOHNSON: Secondly, we've been able to do a lot of free trade deals around the world.
We're able to change some of our regulations. We've taken back control of our borders. We have -- we're no longer spending shedloads of money on projects that we couldn't control. And...
TAPPER: So, it was a good decision?
And I will give you one other result, back to Ukraine for a second. I don't think that the U.K., within the European Union and within the kind of matrix of the common foreign policy and security policy that we then had, I don't think that we would have been out in front as the first European country to arm the Ukrainians, to give them the wherewithal to protect themselves.
And I think that speaks to a country that is thinking about things differently, that is thinking about the world with a more global perspective, and is ambitious. It doesn't mean we're less European.
JOHNSON: We're still European. But I think we have a more global -- a more global approach.
TAPPER: So, we're here at the G7, a gathering of the world's leading democracies. When I talk to friends in Canada, the U.K., Australia and elsewhere,
people express concern about the United States as...
JOHNSON: The United States?
TAPPER: About the United States in terms of our ability and our institutions to thrive and continue, after what happened with the election of 2020. They're worried that democracy is on life support in the United States.
People might not know this about you, but you were born in the United States. And until recently, you...
JOHNSON: I was.
JOHNSON: I was. I was born in New York City...
TAPPER: As was I.
JOHNSON: ... a fantastic place.
Jake, where you were born? Where you were born in New York?
TAPPER: Where was I -- Staten Island.
JOHNSON: All right. I was born in New York General Hospital.
TAPPER: Are you worried at all? Do you look at...
TAPPER: You're not?
JOHNSON: I want to say this to the people of the United States. I'm not.
I think that -- I just get back to the -- what I have been trying to say to you throughout this interview. I think that reports of the death of democracy in the United States are grossly, grossly exaggerated. America is a shining city on a hill.
And, for me, for my -- and it will continue to be so. And I think that the mere fact that Joe Biden has stepped up to the plate in the way that he has shows that the instincts of America are still very much in the right place.
And, yes, look, I mean, there were some weird and kind of unattractive scenes back in the -- you know, back in... TAPPER: People died. I mean, it was pretty serious.
JOHNSON: It was -- it was pretty weird. I won't deny that.
TAPPER: It was worse than weird. I mean...
JOHNSON: Looking from the outside, it was pretty weird.
But I don't believe that American democracy is under serious threat, far from it. I continue to believe that America is the greatest global guarantor of democracy and freedom.
TAPPER: Joe Biden talks about the world in terms of autocracies and democracies, and it's -- this is the big struggle. You talk about it that way as well.
He also talks about the United States is going through that, that struggle, and he sees Donald Trump as autocratic, as somebody who didn't respect the will of the people, who -- there are hearings going on right now. I know you're familiar with them, bipartisan hearings, about all the ways to Donald Trump -- Trump tried to undo the election...
TAPPER: ... undo democracy.
JOHNSON: Jake, I'm going to -- I'm going to take the Fifth on this, because this is -- the convention in...
TAPPER: You don't have a Fifth. That's...
JOHNSON: Well, OK. Well, OK. I was born in New York. But I had to give up my citizenship because it was just so expensive.
But, look, the fact is that we, as friends and partners -- and there are no two closer friends and partners than the U.S. and the U.K. -- we don't talk about domestic -- in principle, we shouldn't talk about each other's domestic politics. And it's -- that's for the people of U.S.
TAPPER: Thanks so much for your time today.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
TAPPER: I really appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
TAPPER: Nice to meet another New Yorker.
JOHNSON: Yes. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TAPPER: The founding fathers had great hopes for their American experiment in democracy. Is it panning out?
TAPPER: The success of what is called the American experiment has been of interest to our friends here in Europe and around the world ever since the term was coined in "The New York Tribune" in 1860, just before another attempt to destroy the republic because one group of Americans did not like the results of an election.
"The New York Daily Tribune" noted than that -- quote -- "The social and especially the political institutions of the United States have, for the whole of the current century, been the subject in Europe not merely of curious speculation, but of the deepest interest" -- unquote.
The question asked then and now, according to "The Daily Tribune" -- quote -- "Is it possible for a government to be permanently maintained without privileged classes and without either hereditary or self- appointed rulers? Is the democratic principle of equal rights, general suffrage and government by a majority capable of being carried into practical operation, and that too over a large extent of country?" -- unquote.
Now, obviously, at the time, American realities for blacks, for women, for other non-white Christiane men did not match American rhetoric and ideals.
The American experiment is, in fact, about those ideals and our ability to meet them. We have been moving as a nation in the right direction, until the election of 2020. "The Tribune" wondered in 1860 and many of you may be wondering today about whether -- quote -- "our institutions rest on a solid and permanent basis" -- unquote.
Do they? We have been learning a lot over the past few weeks about just how much Donald Trump and his minions attempted to disrupt the solidness of those institutions. Can a state's electors be thrown out by the House of Representatives based on lies?
Two-thirds of House Republicans, including Republican leaders McCarthy, Scalise and Stefanik, as well as senators such as Cruz and Hawley, they voted that way, knowing it was all a lie, knowing they were rending the garment of our republic, but apparently not caring.
Can a president pressure a state's secretary of state to -- quote -- "find" enough votes to flip the result? Can the president weaponize the Justice Department to push states to offer slates of fraudulent electors, so as to throw the counting of the electoral votes into confusion and disarray, thus allowing a desperate electoral loser to hold onto power despite the loss?
Can a political mob storm the Capitol to stop the counting of electoral votes, to stop democracy in action?
The American institutions have held, barely, but you can be forgiven for wondering, as our European allies are, whether our American experiment will ultimately prove successful. Remember, it is the American experiment. It is not the American proven theorem. Whether it succeeds, well, that's up to us.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.