Valerie Jarrett - Upholding Democracy in the Age of Trump - Extended Interview

Extended - May 10, 2017 - Valerie Jarrett 05/10/2017 Views: 36,862

Former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett discusses Barack Obama's relationship with fired FBI Director James Comey and weighs in on democracy under the Trump administration. (8:50)

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Please welcome Valerie Jarrett.

(cheering and applause)

Thank you.


Whoo. You all are awake tonight.

My goodness.

How is everybody doing?


We're doing good, we're doinggood now that you're here.

-Welcome to the show.-Thank you.

You know, any daywould be a pleasure

having you as a guest.

Today in particular, though...

You're on fire.

I've been listeningto you backstage.

Thank you very much,thank you very much.

-There is much to be on fireabout. -Yes, this is true.

Uh... let's, uh...

(laughter and applause)

Let's jump straight into it,let's jump straight into it.


The New York Times is reporting

that just before FBI DirectorJames Comey was fired,

he asked the DOJfor more resources.

You know,this is an investigation

that was clearlyabout Russia's meddling.

What do you makeof the latest development?

Well, every timeI turn on the news today,

there's a new development.

It's kind of hard to keep upwith everything going on,


So this is whatI would say to you.

Look, our democracy is foundedon the rule of law.

And a part, an important partof that rule of law

is we have an independent FBI,

we have an independentJustice Department.

And, in fact,when I had the honor

of working in the White House,and traveled

with President Obama,all around the world,

uniformly, we heardthat the United States

was the beacon of hopefor that democracy.

So it's not just importantto the American people,

everybody's watching us.

And so my hope is that thereplacement for Comey

is somebody who has integrityand character,

and a track recordof demonstrating

that they are an independentthinker and actor.

And I hope that that personhas the opportunity

to appear before the appropriatecommittees in Congress,

and the Senate,and make a good case.

And that we,the American people,

have a chanceto listen and watch.

And that's still-- I mean,I don't want you to give up.


Don't give up.

Don't give up on our democracy.

It is strong and it can take,

it can take a little bitof a shaking,

-because the pillars are strongand deep. -We're gonna find out.

But you know what? Where--there are not that many places

in the world where you could goand say the kinds of things

you just said,and not have to worry

about getting thrown in prison,but still...

Oh, I'm still worried.

-I'm still worried. -Honestly,maybe he should be.

Just a little bit.

-But we have comedians, right?-Let's chat about the, uh...

Let's chat aboutthat-that concept

of not, you know,trusting that person,

and having somebodythat's separate.

You worked with the presidentfor so many years,

President Barack Obama.

And it's no secret thatJames Comey's views

and President Barack Obama'sviews differed at times.

Especially towardsthe-the election,

and the end of the campaign.

When you look back at that,

did Barack Obama have fullconfidence in James Comey?

Look, what the presidentbelieves in is that

it is important,once you've selected somebody

and you've put them in place,in the Justice Department

-or in the FBI, you have to givethem wide berth. -Right.

Because that's partof what independence means.

And so you should selectvery carefully on the front end.

And there were times, perhaps,when we may not have agreed

with decisions that they make,but it's important

that you have that independence,

that you cannothave political interference.

But it's also important,when you have a new nominee

coming forward, that youget to ask those questions

-all over again, right?-Right.

And that's what I'm lookingforward to seeing

as a new nomineefor the FBI comes forward.

We should all be taking a hardlook and asking important

questions and encouragingour representatives to do that.

Looking at Obamacare... Youknow, the president's admitted

that it wasn't perfect. He didsay it's like a starter home.

What do you think could havebeen done differently to fix it?

Or what would you dogoing forward

if you were to suggestsomething to the senate?

Well, we need to make surethat, throughout the country,

people have the opportunityto have affordable health care.

I never understoodwhy that was so controversial.

What's wrong with affordablehealth care

for all Americans, right?

-Right.-(cheering, applause)

And we need to make surethat young people understand

the importance of having healthcare. Oftentimes they think that

they're not gonna get sick,but they do, and they

get in car accidents and...and-and we need to make sure

that the pool is a strong pool.

And so I think that thereprobably were steps

that we could take and couldstill take to make sure

that insurance is offeredabsolutely everywhere.

But let's make no mistake--the bill that passed the house

that would take health care awayfrom 25 million folks

or the ones that...And we still haven't heard

the full impact of it, because,keep in mind, it wasn't scored.

And what that means is-is thatthe congressional budget office

-hasn't figured outwhat the true impact is. -Right.

So I'm saying that number basedon the one they considered

several weeks ago.Why would they vote on something

without actually knowingthe impact it's gonna have

on you and me and on our budget?

-(cheering, applause)-Right?

If you...

I mean, uh, the presidentis-is now back in the fray,

in-in a certain way.You know, he's-he's come back

-from kite surfing.And, um... -Vacation.

-And...-Don't you think he deserved

-a little bit of a break?-Oh, no, he deserves

-all the vacations. -After eightyears? -(cheering, applause)

-He deserves all the vacations.-Right?

It's just, like, it's seeingyour ex having a great time.

That's all it wasfor many people.

And so, um...

and so Barack Obama came back

and he did say he did not wantto encroach upon Donald Trump

unless he felt that, you know,

pillars of societywere being threatened.

One of those being,uh, the Affordable Care Act.

Barack Obama's in a place nowwhere people are looking to him

to lead a resistanceor to, in many ways,

reignite the passion that he originally did

when he was running for office.

He said, in many ways, he doesnot want to lead a resistance,

but rather wants to createmore Barack Obamas.

-What does that mean?-Well, first of all,

what he said is if he does feelour core values

are being threatenedhe will speak out.

And so the first time he didthat, through a spokesman,

-was about the travel ban.-Right.

Which he thoughtwas inconsistent

with our core values.

He did it againabout the Affordable Care Act,

which he thinks it's importantthat 20 million people

have health carewho didn't have it before

and that everyone's protectedagainst preexisting conditions

and women can get preventivecare and other services, right,

without a co-pay.All that's very important.

But what he's really lookingforward to--

he and the first lady-- isbuilding their new Obama Center,

which is gonna be a platformin Chicago,

-South Side of Chicago,our hometown... -(cheering)

-Chicago's in the house, right?-Right.

Where we can really bringtogether people to focus

on the big problems, the bigchallenges that we still have

that lie aheadand use civic engagement

to empower the next generationto solve those problems.

And so that's what he'sreally interested in doing.

It's an affirmative,positive agenda.

There are so many people outthere who want to get involved,

and we're seeing,across the country,

this groundswell of energy.How do we channel that energy

to be a positive forcefor change?

And that's the rolethat he wants to play.

-If you... -I thinkthat's a good thing, right?

(cheering and applause)

If you look at the futurethough--

I mean, we are livingthrough history right now,

what do people do? What dothey look to in this situation?

If Congress is in a place,uh, the Senate is in a place

where they're saying,"We're not going to im...

you know, hold Donald Trumpaccountable..."

Well, we get to hold themaccountable.

That's what democracy'sall about.

That's what it meansto be a citizen.

We get to...And every single district

and state across our country,

people ought to begetting on the telephone.

They need to be showing upat meetings,

-and they needto be participating. -Right.

I was with a group of womena few weeks ago,

and one of them said she'd beento two city council meetings

in her city in the last month.

She'd never been toa city council meeting before.

That's what we have to do.It's...

And it's not just Congress.We need to be participating

at the stateand local level as well.

We need to vote.43% of our country,

eligible voters, didn't votein the last election.

-Elections have consequences.-Right.

And so we need to vote.We need to get engaged.

We can all participatein improving our communities.

Volunteer at a, you a Boys & Girls Club.

Run for the school board.

Get involvedwith your city council,

and holdyour elected representatives

in Washington accountable.

And the media playsa vital role,

and you can't be intimidated.

I know you all are coming underattack a little bit right now,

-but you got to stand strong.We're counting on you. -Oh,

oh, we're fine. We're fine.

-(cheering and applause)-Yeah. -You're fine.

-No, we're fine.-You're fine.

Yeah. We-We're not under threat.

Donald Trump loves fake news.We're fine.

Well, and our judiciaryis strong.

They've been standing strong.I think that's important.

And our elected representatives,the tool we have with them

that no one can take awayfrom you, is your right to vote.

And we need to vote andget ready for that right now.

-(cheering and applause)-I could talk to you all night.

Thank you so muchfor being on the show.

Valerie Jarrett, everybody.

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