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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Interview With Fmr. Gov. Phil Bredesen (D-TN) and Fmr. Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN); Interview With British Prime Minister Liz Truss. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired September 25, 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): Changing the guard. The U.K. loses its queen, as the West confronts economic and foreign policy crises.
LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We do face an increasingly insecure world.
TAPPER: How will the new prime minister respond? And will the relationship between Britain and the U.S. remain special?
New U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss joins me for an interview next.
And filling in the blanks. The January 6 Committee bursts back into public view, as one of the investigators criticizes a parallel Justice Department probe.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Why don't you have your own damn files?
TAPPER: What new information and interviews will we see this week? I will speak to Select Committee member Congressman Adam Schiff in moments.
Plus: Look who's talking? We're in the middle of a midterm season defined by divisiveness, but two former Tennessee governors on opposite sides of the aisle say they're ready to bridge the gap.
I will talk to Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Bill Haslam ahead.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is watching international crises build.
One thing that was clear as world leaders gathered in New York City this past week, the Western world is fighting battles on two fronts, one against Russia, which has ramped up nuclear threats, as Ukraine pushes ahead with its forceful recapturing of its own land, and, second, against global economic peril, with inflation continuing to soar and recession looming, people around the world struggling to keep up with rising energy prices and other costs.
One leader facing a particularly stiff challenge is the brand-new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Liz Truss. She officially took on the role just days before the nation's monarch of 70 years died, with the nation in economic crisis, as war rages in Ukraine.
After 10 or so days of mourning the loss of the queen on Friday, in Truss' first major move as the nation's leader, she announced massive tax cuts at a volume not seen since the 1970s, sending U.K. markets into a tailspin and crashing the pound to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985.
Truss is facing perhaps the biggest set of challenges for any new U.K. prime minister since Sir Winston Churchill.
And I had the rare opportunity to spend some time with the new prime minister at 10 Downing Street for an exclusive conversation in her first ever U.S. interview as prime minister.
TAPPER: Madam Prime Minister, first of all, thank you so much for doing this. Really appreciate it.
TRUSS: Great to be here.
TAPPER: So, one of Queen Elizabeth's final acts was to invite you to become prime minister.
You met with her just two days before she passed. What was that like?
TRUSS: Well, I was hugely honored to be asked to form a government by Her Majesty.
And it was a great experience. She gave me her wisdom, which she's built up over the years. I was the 15th prime minister that she asked to form a government. And to have that honor is immense.
And she has made such a contribution, not just to national life here in Britain, but right across the world. So, it was a -- it was a huge honor.
TAPPER: You just met one-on-one with President Biden at the United Nations.
Before leaving office, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised you to -- quote -- "Stay close to the Americans," but you previously described the U.S.-U.K. relationship as -- quote -- "special but not exclusive." And you didn't refer to the special relationship at all in your meeting with President Biden.
Do you think that the special relationship is not what it used to be?
TRUSS: I think that the U.S. is an incredibly close partner of the U.K. I do think our relationship is special. And it's increasingly
important at a time when we're facing threats from Russia, increased assertiveness from China. We are both freedom-loving democracies. We have such a strong connection.
And we also need to work with our other allies in the G7. And we need to reach out to countries like India as well, because we are facing increased threat from those autocratic regimes.
So, it's very important. I had a great meeting with the president. We talked about many, many issues. But the core of it, the core of it is our belief in freedom, our belief in democracy. And that's what we need to continue to work on, because we do face an increasingly insecure world.
TAPPER: There are people in the Biden administration who are concerned that you don't share the same belief of the special relationship that previous prime ministers have.
Obviously, you know that it was Winston Churchill who came up with the term special relationship in 1946.
TRUSS: Well, I -- first of all, I'm personally a huge fan of the United States of America. And it's a country I've travelled a lot in. It's a country that we share so many values and core beliefs in.
And I'm determined that we make the special relationship even more special over the coming years and we work with our friends and allies around the world. And for too long after the Cold War, the free world didn't do enough to take on the challenges of autocratic regimes.
I believe we've now stepped up. I think our response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, unprecedented sanctions, military aid -- and I've just committed that the U.K. will put even more military aid into Ukraine. Of course, the Biden administration has put huge amounts into Ukraine.
And I really feel that we are stepping up as an alliance to take on what is absolutely appalling, an appalling war created by Putin.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about that, because, at the U.N., you called on Western democracies to stay united against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
So, Putin is calling for 300,000 more reservists to come into the -- into Ukraine to join the fight. He insists he's not bluffing when he talks about potentially using nuclear weapons. Some people think he's effectively preparing and threatening war with NATO.
Have you and President Biden discussed how the West would and should respond if Putin escalates matters even more?
TRUSS: Well, first of all, the reason Putin is doing this is because he isn't winning. He made a strategic mistake invading Ukraine. And I think he has been outsmarted by the Ukrainians. We've seen the
Ukrainians continue to push back against the Russian offensive. And I think he didn't anticipate the strength of reaction from the free world.
And we should not be listening to his saber-rattling and his bogus threats. Instead, what we need to do is continue to put sanctions on Russia and continue to support the Ukrainians, because, if Putin is allowed to succeed, this wouldn't just send a terrible message in Europe, and, of course, huge threats to the Ukrainian population themselves, but it also would send a message to other authoritarian regimes around the world that it's somehow acceptable ...
TAPPER: Like China?
TRUSS: ... to invade -- well, for example, but it's somehow acceptable to invade a sovereign -- a sovereign nation.
So, this is why it's so important that we continue to be resolute, we don't listen to the saber-rattling that we're hearing from Putin, and we continue to back the Ukrainians to the hilt. And that's what I'm determined the United Kingdom will do.
I know President Biden is absolutely committed from the U.S. point of view. We've worked closely with our American allies, with the G7. And we will continue to do so until Ukraine prevails.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about another authoritarian country, China, because President Biden unequivocally said this month again that the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invades.
Is the U.K. willing to make the same pledge?
TRUSS: Well, what we are very clear about -- and I was clear with President Biden -- is, we support and work with our G7 allies, first of all, to reduce our strategic dependency on China, and also to make sure that we are standing by our democratic allies around the world.
And we are determined to work with our allies to make sure that Taiwan is able to defend itself.
TAPPER: Well, when you say stand by, I mean, does that mean you would go as far as President Biden has gone in saying that the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily? Would the U.K. defend Taiwan militarily if China invades?
TRUSS: Well, what I've been clear about is that all of our allies need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself. And that is very, very important. And we need to learn the lessons from Ukraine.
The fact is, the free world didn't do enough to counter Russian aggression early enough. And Putin was emboldened to start this appalling war. And we can't see that situation happen in other parts of the world.
[09:10:08] But the U.K. does work with its allies, whether it's Japan -- that's
another important ally in the Indo-Pacific region -- with the United States, with Canada, to make sure we have a common response. And, of course, I discussed that with President Biden. And we continue to work with our allies.
TAPPER: Let's talk about some domestic issues.
The Bank of England just raised interest rates again this week and said that the U.K. may already be in a recession.
Are they right? Is the U.K. in a recession?
TRUSS: Well, that's a matter -- that's a matter for the Bank of England and for the GDP figures, our official figures.
I think what is certainly true is that the world is facing a economic shock, first of all, the aftermath of COVID and, secondly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed up energy prices.
And what I'm determined to do as prime minister is make sure that we are doing all we can to grow our economy, all we can to attract business and investment into the U.K., so that we have a clear pathway to becoming a higher-growth economy, more jobs, higher wages. That's what I am focused on.
TAPPER: And, in that vein, your government just unveiled a new tax proposal this week that would reverse plans to raise the corporate tax rate. You've also proposed lifting the cap on bonuses for bank executives.
In the U.S., President Biden is taking a very different approach, and, obviously, he has a different view on economic measures such as the one you're proposing.
He tweeted this week -- quote -- "I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics. It has never worked. We're building an economy from the bottom up and middle out."
And, so, President Biden is, in essence, saying that he thinks your approach doesn't work. The opposition in Parliament says you're recklessly running up the deficit and turning your back on the so- called compassionate conservatism.
TRUSS: Well, I don't -- I don't really accept the premise of -- premise of the question at all.
The U.K. has one of the lowest levels of debt in the G7, but we have one of the highest levels of taxes. Currently, we have a 70-year high in our tax rates. And what I'm determined to do as prime minister and what the chancellor is determined to do is make sure we are incentivizing businesses to invest, and we're also helping ordinary people with their taxes.
And that's why I don't feel it's right to have higher national insurance and higher corporation tax, because that will make it harder for us to attract the investment we need in the U.K. It will be harder to generate those new jobs.
And I want the U.S. economy to be successful as well. I want the European economy to be successful as well. I want free -- freedom- loving democracies to succeed.
And one of things that we're doing here in the U.K. is moving forward on our infrastructure programs, road-building, broadband, mobile telephones. And I know that is what the administration in the U.S. is doing as well. But, of course, we all need to decide what the tax rates are in our own country.
But my view is, we absolutely need to be incentivizing growth at what is a very, very difficult time for the global economy. And we've also put in place a package of measures to support consumers with energy prices to make sure that nobody is having to pay more than 2,500 pounds on their bills, which is very important as well.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because you've announced a cap on energy prices, as you've just noted, to try to ease the pain on everyday Britons. But, even at that price you've capped, everyday families are still struggling to get by because the prices are so high.
Are you prepared to do more to address these skyrocketing energy bills?
TRUSS: Well, what we've done is, we've made sure that no family, no household is having to pay more than 2,500 pounds on those energy bills. But we're also providing more help to the most vulnerable families.
And we're also, as well as dealing with the real short-term issue we face this winter and next winter, making sure we invest in the U.K.'s energy supply.
And it's one of the things we're in discussions with the United States about, how we can collaborate more closely on energy supply, because we don't want the United Kingdom to be dependent on authoritarian regimes like Russia.
We want to work with friends and partners like the United States, like our friends in Europe, as well as building more of our own domestic supply, more nuclear, more renewables, working in areas like hydrogen, because we can never be in a position again when we are so dependent on the global spot price and, essentially, regimes like Russia.
TAPPER: Stay right there. We're going to have more of my exclusive interview with U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Does former President Trump's handling of classified information make her nervous at all? I asked her.
And that's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
"Our closest ally in the world," President Biden used that exact phrase when he met with U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss last week, but, already, the two leaders are facing a big disagreement.
TAPPER: One of your biggest disagreements with President Biden appears to be over the Northern Ireland issue. You're threatening to unilaterally rewrite the E.U. trade agreement that was designed to keep the peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit.
E.U. diplomats told "The Financial Times" that your current approach is -- quote -- "like putting a loaded gun on the table."
What compromises are you willing to make in your negotiations with the E.U.?
TRUSS: Well, President Biden and I both agree that what is vital is to protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. And we are celebrating 25 years of that agreement next year.
But what's important is that we protect and respect the positions of both the nationalist community in Northern Ireland, as well as the unionist community in Northern Ireland.
So, what I want to do is find a way forward. And my preference is a negotiated solution with the E.U. that protects that North-South relationship, but also protects the East-West relationship. And that is absolutely core to the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
TAPPER: It's interesting, because I'm wondering what your reaction was when you saw the census figures that showed that Catholics outnumber Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time. It's likely going to accelerate calls for a referendum on Irish reunification.
Do you think, at this point, it's just a question of when that's going to happen, especially given the fact that there are more Catholics than Protestants in Northern Ireland, which was one of the arguments for there being a Northern Ireland at the time there were more Protestants?
TRUSS: Well, no, I don't.
And the fundamental point here -- and this is what is encapsulated in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement -- is that both communities in Northern Ireland need to be respected, both the unionist community and the nationalist community. And that's what I want to achieve through the changes we're making on
the Northern Ireland Protocol. And that's what we need to achieve into the long term.
TAPPER: Are you concerned at all about all the movements, now that Queen Elizabeth has passed, to remove countries that don't want to be part of the commonwealth anymore, Australia, New Zealand, countries in Africa?
There seems to be a possibility you're going to preside over the loss of many counties in the commonwealth.
TRUSS: Well, what -- what we've seen over the past few weeks is a huge outpouring of love and affection for her late majesty. And we had a huge collections of world leaders come for the state funeral that we had a few days here.
But what we've also seen is huge warmth towards King Charles III. And I am very, very supportive of the commonwealth. I think it's been a hugely important organization. The commonwealth believes in freedom and democracy, which are important principles that we were -- we were discussing earlier in this interview.
Now, of course, it's a decision for any country about how they decide to organize themselves. And King Charles has been very clear about that himself. He was clear about that at the Kigali Commonwealth Summit earlier this year.
But I think the commonwealth is a force for good. It's a belief in freedom and democracy, and we need more of that in a world where we are facing these authoritarian regimes who want to subvert, want to subvert those ideas.
TAPPER: The U.K. regularly shares your most sensitive classified intelligence with the United States.
I wonder what you make of the way that Donald Trump has handled that classified information and also his recent declaration that a president can declassify anything he wants just by thinking about it. Then, automatically, it's declassified, and then he can do whatever he wants with those documents.
We don't know what's in those documents, but it could be sensitive information that the U.K. provided, for all we know.
TRUSS: We talked earlier about the special relationship and how important it is. And we do work very closely together in areas like intelligence, in areas like defense, in areas like energy.
But I will not be getting involved in internal discussions of U.S. politics.
TAPPER: Certainly, though, you would be concerned about any country with whom you share intelligence not treating it respectfully?
TRUSS: As I have said, this is a matter for the U.S. authorities. TAPPER: Last month, when asked if French President Macron was a
friend or foe to the U.K. you said: "The jury's out."
Macron told me a couple days ago the jury's not out for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): For us, there is no question. Brexit, not Brexit, we are allies. There is no doubt we're friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You and President Macron just met this week. What's your verdict, friend or foe?
TRUSS: Well, we had a very good meeting earlier this week.
And we again talked about the values we share with France and how we're working very, very closely together in all kinds of areas, for example, tackling illegal migration, standing up to Russia, backing the Ukrainians, and working together on energy. And it was a very good meeting with President Macron. And I'm looking forward to working with him in the future.
TAPPER: The world just witnessed the grandeur and spectacle of Queen Elizabeth's funeral, probably something we'll never see anything like again.
Most of the cost of the funeral was not paid for by the crown or the royal family, which has an estimated net worth of $28 billion, but by the British public.
How much did these ceremonies cost your taxpayers? And is it fair to ask struggling Britons to pay for this, when the royal family is worth $28 billion?
TRUSS: Well, I don't have an answer to your question about the cost.
But this was a very important event for the United Kingdom. Her Majesty, the queen, gave a lifetime of service to our country, 70 years, 15 prime ministers, wisdom and advice that didn't just help Britain and move us forward to the modern age we're now in, but was also widely respected around the world.
And the funeral was a very impressive and respectful event. And I think that's entirely appropriate for somebody who made a huge contribution to our country and to the modern world.
TAPPER: I know you have to go, but I just do want to note that there's been a lot of turnover, obviously in the monarchy, obviously, in the prime minister's office. Your Cabinet is changing.
But I do want to note that -- if you can confirm it, that it's not going to be entirely turned over because, at Number 10, you're going to be keeping Larry the cat as the chief mouser. Is that correct?
TRUSS: That is true. Larry's -- Larry's position is assured.
TAPPER: He's safe?
TRUSS: And he's doing a great job, although he does spend rather a lot of his time asleep, which you might have noticed when you came in, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Madam Prime Minister.
TRUSS: Thank you.
TAPPER: I appreciate it.
TRUSS: Thank you.
TAPPER: One key January 6 Committee member is lashing out at the Justice Department this weekend. Why he's so upset and what to expect from the committee's new hearing this week.
Congressman Adam Schiff is here live. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: It would be equally breathtaking if we were to say to the Justice Department, turn over to Congress all your files.
My first reaction when we got the request, turn over all your files to us was, why don't you have your own damn files?
SCHIFF: Why haven't you been conducting your own investigation? Why do you need us to do it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Some clear and cutting criticism there of the Biden Justice Department from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff calls Attorney General Merrick Garland's approach to investigating January 6 very slow, just ahead of his own committee's hearing coming up.
Joining us now, the select committee member and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Mr. Chairman, you really put the Justice Department on blast over its
handling of January 6. There are signs that the Justice Department's investigation is ramping up, but it seems like you think it may be too little, too late?
What more do you want Garland and the DOJ to be doing that they're not doing, apparently?
SCHIFF: Well, I hope it's not too little, too late, but it has been very slow, in my view, in coming.
We're now more than a year-and-a-half after the events of January 6, and, still, there seem to be, at least from what we can gather in the public record, areas that the Justice Department hasn't fully investigated.
The Justice Department knew, for example, that Donald Trump was on the phone to the secretary of state in Georgia demanding that secretary find 11,780 votes that don't exist, and had that information for a long time. And I don't think that should be left to the Fulton County district attorney alone.
Now, it may be that they are pursuing that and have just been pursuing it very diligently and very quietly. But it also may be that they have been very tenuous in not feeling the sense of urgency that many of us do about pursuing justice when it comes to all of the multiple lines of effort to overturn the election.
TAPPER: This would certainly be in contrast with the members of the January 6 Committee, including the two Republicans.
The vice chair, Liz Cheney, said at The Tribune Festival, Texas Tribune Festival, where you can deliver those remarks we just played, she said she thinks that the entire committee will unanimously make a referral or not -- or decide to make a referral or decide to not make a referral to the Justice Department. And then, separately, she told me that she thinks it's clear that Donald Trump did break the law.
Do you think, ultimately, there's going to be a unanimous criminal referral by the committee?
SCHIFF: We -- we operate with a high degree of consensus and unanimity.
It will be, certainly, I think, my recommendation, my feeling that we should make referrals. But we will get to a decision as a committee, and we will all abide by that decision, and I will join our committee members if they feel differently.
But, look, I do agree, as the judge, Judge Carter, in California wrote in multiple opinions, there have been several laws broken. And it is, I think, apparent that there is evidence that Donald Trump was involved in breaking several of those laws.
And I think, when Congress does find evidence that people have broken the law, not -- it is not always the case that it makes a referral, but, in circumstances like these, I think that's the better part of the argument.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Cheney also said at the Texas Tribune Festival that the committee has obtained 800,000 Secret Service communications from the period surrounding January 6.
She suggested that they indicate that not every Secret Service agent that has testified has told the truth. Can you tell us what the messages show? Do they back up the story that Cassidy Hutchinson said that then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Ornato told her, that there was a violent confrontation between President Trump and his Secret Service detail in the presidential vehicle?
SCHIFF: I found her enormously credible and courageous as a witness. I have yet to see anything that has dissuaded me from that view that she was being candid with what she saw and what she was told by others.
So, I have remained very confident of her testimony and what she said. And, yes, I do have questions about the testimony of others and whether they showed the same candor.
In terms of the records that we have obtained, we are still going through them because they are very voluminous. I will say they're not a substitute for having the text messages that were apparently erased from those devices. And we are still investigating how that came about and why that came about.
And I hope and believe the Justice Department, on that issue, is also looking at whether laws were broken in the destruction of that evidence. But we do have a mountain of information that we need to go through. But I think it's fair to say that it won't be a complete substitute for some of the most important evidence, which would have been on those phones.
TAPPER: As someone who handles classified information on a regular basis, I do want to get your reaction to something Donald Trump said this week. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There doesn't have to be a process, as I understand it. There's different people say different things.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Right.
TRUMP: But, as I understand, there doesn't have to be.
If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, I'm -- it's declassified, even by thinking about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Is that how it works, sir? SCHIFF: No, that's not how it works.
Those comments don't demonstrate much intelligence of any kind. If you could simply declassify by thinking about it, then, frankly, if that's his view, he's even more dangerous than we may have thought, because, with that view, he could simply spout off on anything he read in a presidential daily brief or anything he was briefed on by the CIA director to a visiting Russian delegation or any other delegation and simply say, well, I thought about it, and, therefore, when the words came out of my mouth, they were declassified.
No, people work hard to get that information. People put their lives at risk to get that information. That information protects American lives. And for him to treat it so cavalierly shows both what a continuing danger the man is, but also how very little regard he has for anything but himself.
TAPPER: Take a listen to what former Republican Congressman and former adviser to the January 6 Committee Denver Riggleman told "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): You get a real aha moment when you see that the White House switchboard had connected to a rioter's phone while it's happening.
BILL WHITAKER, CBS NEWS: Someone in the White House was calling one of the rioters while the riot was going on?
RIGGLEMAN: On January 6, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, CNN's reporting is that the call lasted only nine seconds and was not placed by a White House switchboard. It was a landline call from the White House to a cell phone registered to a rioter.
Do you see this call as significant to your investigation?
SCHIFF: You know, I can't comment on the particulars.
I can say that each of the issues that Mr. Riggleman raised during the period he was with committee, which ended quite some time ago, we looked into. And one of the things I think that has given our committee credibility is, we have been very careful about what we say, not to overstate matters, not to understate matters.
And without the advantage of the additional information we have gathered since he left the committee, it, I think, poses real risks to be suggesting things. So, we have looked into all of these issues. Some of the information we have found on various issues, we will be presenting it to the public for the first time in the hearing coming up. It will be the usual mix of information in the public domain and new information woven together to tell the story about one key thematic element of Donald Trump's effort to overturn the election.
TAPPER: So, your committee is going to hold its first public hearing in more than two months coming up.
How much new information are we going to see Wednesday? And what will the focus of the hearing be?
SCHIFF: You know, we're not disclosing yet what the focus will be.
I can say that, as this may be the last hearing of this nature -- that is, one that is focused on sort of the factual record -- I think it'll be potentially more sweeping than some of the other hearings. But it too will be in very thematic. It will tell the story about a key element of Donald Trump's plot to overturn the election.
And the public will certainly learn things it hasn't seen before, but it will also understand information it already has in a different context by seeing how it relates to other elements of this plot.
So, I think it will be, as the others, a hearing worth watching. And I hope we will, additionally, down the road have a hearing to explore our findings and our recommendations going forward to protect the country.
TAPPER: All right, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, thank you so much for your time today, sir. Appreciate it.
And make sure to tune in Wednesday at 12:00 noon Eastern for full coverage of the next January 6 Committee hearing.
Coming up next: crime, inflation abortion, tough issues shaping the midterm elections.
One former Democratic governor and one former Republican governor, both in Tennessee, are willing to have conversations about it all and say four words you will never hear on the campaign trail: "You might be right."
They're going to join me live next.
TAPPER: After the last several years of observing and experiencing American politics, you might no longer have much hope that things can improve. And you might be right.
But my next two guests are trying something radical. They're trying to change the conversation and acknowledge that, sometimes, your political opponent might have a point.
Joining us now, the former Democratic Governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen and the former Republican Governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam. They're the hosts of the new podcast "You Might Be Right."
Governor Haslam, let me start with you.
One of the big challenges for the nation coming together is that so many in the Republican Party, including the top three House Republicans, all continue to push Trump's dangerous election lies and, in the views of many critics, don't seem to have a real commitment to democracy.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney last night said, if needed, she would campaign for Democrats to defeat all the election liars out there. So, what do you say to those who say you can't find common ground with people who are literally trying to undermine democracy?
FMR. GOV. BILL HASLAM (R-TN): Well, I would say this.
One of the reasons that Governor Bredesen and I started these conversations is, both of us served as mayors, as governors. We were in business before. And we really believe what's gotten lost in all the back-and-forth argument is this idea that we have real problems that need to be fixed.
And most Americans aren't out there watching -- wondering about this or engaging in an argument this way or another. They're living their lives. But they do want to understand it better. What we're trying to do is take difficult issues, show both sides of the problem, so that people can understand, the other side might have a point.
TAPPER: I get that.
But, Governor Bredesen, do you see my point? It's difficult to have an argument with tax -- about tax reform or foreign policy, about abortion rights, or social issues, if the other side won't even accept the results of a free and fair election?
FMR. GOV. PHIL BREDESEN (D-TN): Well, I mean, if we're going to get stuck on that particular issue, I don't think we're going to make any progress in doing this.
What Bill and I are trying to do is to say, look, there are some issues there that are -- they're very difficult and people are in hard corners, but there's a lot of issues in this country having to do, I mean, with the debt and with the environment and so on, that there are real problems that need solutions. And trying to explore with the public at large, not necessarily with the Congress, but the public at large, as to what some of those common grounds might be, I think, is important.
The other thing I think is important is, I mean, what I found was that, looking at both sides, you actually get to a better answer, that, if you just stick to catechism of one party or the other, it's a very narrow range of alternatives. And I guess most of the difficult problems I dealt with as governor,
you solve them by doing a little picking and choosing from different -- different points of view to get the best solution.
TAPPER: Governor Haslam, I know your faith is important to you, and you have talked about how white evangelicals have been drawn into the rise of conspiracy theories like QAnon and sometimes take a mean- spirited posture. Even further, you said the presence of Christian flags and symbols on January 6 showed how far off-track the church has gone.
What role do you see white evangelicals playing in both the extremism in the Republican Party today and also the potential solutions that you and Governor Bredesen talk about?
HASLAM: Well, one of the things, if you read the Sermon on the Mount, the clear message is, be different.
And, unfortunately, one of the -- I wrote a book called "Faithful Presence." My experience in office was, believers act just like everyone else when it comes to the political sphere, instead of being different and saying, one of the reasons that you serve in offices like Phil and I did is to actually solve a problem, to make a difference, to -- it's not about making a point. It's about making a difference.
And I'm trying to encourage people of faith to say, how can you actually make a difference? Make a difference means actually trying to solve a problem, instead of just yelling at the other side about how horrible they are.
TAPPER: Governor Bredesen, you and...
TAPPER: Go ahead.
BREDESEN: Yes, I was going to say, I think just focusing on the kind of backgrounds that both of us have, I think, helps you to -- helps people to understand that point that, I mean, we both were in the business world before politics. We both were mayors and then governors.
I mean, those are all jobs where you actually have to do something Monday morning. If there's a problem out there, you're expected to do something to begin to -- begin to solve it.
That's just a very different environment than you have in the Congress, for example, where there's very little problem-solving going on, but there's a lot of posturing going on and working to the base.
So, I hope that the combination of experiences of the two of us bring something a little different to the discussions as well.
[09:50:04] TAPPER: Well, let me ask you, Governor Bredesen, because you and Governor Haslam have both talked about how the world views of so many Americans are so dramatically different.
You call it a cultural canyon between -- quote -- "the so-called cultural elite and folks who knows somebody who drives a Ford F-150."
What's the root of the divide? Do you think we're living in two different Americas right now?
BREDESEN: I think we're living in an America which is obviously divided, although my perception is, it's not as divided as you would think by listening to the Congress or listening -- listening to the media.
If I walk into the grocery store and see people, probably, I'm sure, on both sides of a lot of these issues, I mean, they're largely the same -- the same people with the same desires in life and the same intentions as to what they do.
I think of it more as an urban/rural divide, I do, than anything else. And that may be inevitable, given the way that this country has moved to -- in separating that way and moving away from a more rural lifestyle, as more people move to the cities.
But I think it's possible to bring it back together again. We were very divided in the '30s, and World War II fixed it. I'm not suggesting that we want another war or something, but there will be some challenge that comes up to the country at some time that I think will help to pull us back together and find our common roots.
TAPPER: Governor Haslam, your party, the Republican Party, is -- go ahead. What were you going to say?
HASLAM: Well, I would just say, the truth is, we're -- we're pretty evenly divided as a country. The Senate is 50/50. The House is a few votes separate.
We haven't had a president-elected by a double digit margin in the last, like, 12 elections. But the problem is, we have become kind of segregated by our beliefs. And so we think everybody thinks the way we do, and we can't believe anybody would think differently.
Part of what we're doing with this podcast "You Might Be Right" is modeling former Senator Howard Baker saying always remember the other person might be right. And that's what's lost in this -- in the discussions we're having today, is this idea of, the goal is to get to the right answer, not to get to my answer.
And so we're trying to take hard topics, present people that have two very different perspectives, and then present some potential solutions.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Haslam, Governor Bredesen, the podcast "You Might Be Right."
Thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate it.
BREDESEN: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up: A brutal assault over headscarves sparks what looks like a revolution in the streets of Iran.
TAPPER: Her name was Mahsa Jina Amini.
The 22-year-old Kurdish woman living in Iran was just visiting relatives in the capital last week, when she was arrested by the Iranian so-called morality police, a unit tasked with enforcing strict social rules, including zealotry, such as the dress codes for women, forcing them to wear hijab in public.
She died while in custody. Iranian officials claimed she suffered a heart attack, fell into a coma and died. The U.S. says Amini was reportedly beaten before she died.
This week, thousands of courageous Iranians across dozens of Iranian cities are rising up in protest. Take a look, women cutting off their hair, women burning their headscarves, chanting messages such as "Women, life freedom" and "Death to the dictator."
The oppressive Iranian government has responded as you might expect, killing dozens of innocent civilians in the unrest, one woman reportedly killed on her way back from a doctor's appointment, another a 16-year-old bystander, a child, allegedly shot by Revolutionary Guards.
At least 1,200 Iranians have been arrested for standing up, voicing their protest against an abusive regime and demanding the human rights to which they are entitled.
This is a pivotal moment for Iran and for the world. The U.S. is imposing new sanctions against the so-called morality police, but leaders of the Western world need to go further and make it even louder and clearer that they stand with the women, with the people of Iran, and not with the twisted leadership of the Islamic Republic.
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is up there.