Exclusive - Evan McMullin Extended Interview

December 8, 2016 - Evan McMullin & DJ Khaled 12/08/2016 Views: 31,483

Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin weighs in on how to keep the Trump administration in check and talks about the post-election state of the GOP. (13:39)

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Please welcome Evan McMullin.

-(cheering and applause)-Welcome.

-Thank you for being here.-Nice to be here.

-Let's jump straight into it.Real quick, -Sure.

for those who don't know you,I mean,

you were a name and a facethat I wasn't familiar with

during this race.And then when it got really deep

into the election, all of asudden, you came out of nowhere

and you said, "I'm running.I'm a conservative,

and I'm runningto oppose Donald Trump."

-That's right.-Why did that happen?

(chuckles)Well, it happened

because somebody fromthe conservative side needed

to stand up and opposeDonald Trump's bigotry

and his threat to our system,our...

his threat to our democracy.

It couldn'tonly be Hillary Clinton.

Someone else had to do that.Now, there was a small chance

that we could've blocked him,blocked them both,

but, really, it wasabout standing for principle

but also standing upfor the future,

in case that he was electedor not.

Being able to stand upfor a limited government,

for liberty,for equality in America--

someone on the conservative sidehad to do that.

And now that he's elected, if...it's even more necessary.

Well, you say someoneon the conservative side

-had to do that.-Yeah.

It's strange that you haveto say somebody had to do that,

when it seems like everybodysaid they were going to do that.

You know?Paul Ryan, during the race,

came out on numerous occasionsdenouncing what Trump had said.

Uh, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz.

The names and the lists seemto be endless.

Uh, and yet we haven't seen thatfollowed through.

And-and you have been extremelycritical of not just that

but-but, more importantly,of Donald Trump.

-Mm-hmm. -Why is Donald Trumpsuch an issue for you?

He's the leaderof the Republican party now.

He's the head of it now.Why is it an issue?

-You're a conservative.-Well, yes,

but there's-there's a questionas to whether

the Republican Party willstill continue to be the party

for conservatives.I mean, even Donald Trump's

key economic advisorwent to the House recently,

the House of Representatives,

and informedour Republican members there

that the Republican Partywould no longer be

a conservative party-- it wasthe party of Donald Trump.

Now, we'll see how he governs,

but everything he says and doesleads me to believe

that it's unlikelythat-that the Republican Party

will still governin a conservative way.

And when I saya conservative way,

what I mean is standing upfor the most fundamental ideals

upon which this nationwas founded.

Number one, that all menand women are created equal.

And, number two, that we haveliberty, we have rights

that come from the factthat we're humans,

not from the governmentand not from any leader.

Donald Trump does not dictatewhat our rights are.

Our rights come with uswhen we arrive on Earth here,

and the government's roleis to protect them.

-Now, it's-it's interesting...-(cheering and applause)

It's-it's interestingthat you...

that you use the word "dictate,"

-because we...-(laughter)

No, we-we made a jokeon the show

about Trumpas an African dictator.

-But you workedas a CIA operative, -Mm.

-which I'm assuming means spy.-Mm. Yeah.

Which makes...You look like Jason Bourne

kicked you outof a window somewhere.

Like, you have...No, you've got that look.

Like, the guy who, like...-Less hair though. Less hair.

-Yeah. -Like, you looklike you blend into a crowd

and you fight with Jason Bourne.Um...

-But-but you've-you've workedall over the world -Yeah.

-for the CIA, and whatreally interested me -Mm-hmm.

is I-I read your op-ed in the...in The New York Times,

where you wrote about the factthat you've seen leaders

-like Trump all over the world.-Mm-hmm.

What does that mean?

Well, yes, I mean,I-I served all over the world,

especially in-in South Asia,in the Middle East, and Africa,

and there I saw authoritarians

and I saw how they operate,what they do.

The-the most important thingto understand

about an authoritarianis that an authoritarian

is uncomfortable with any threatto his or her power.

And that could be the law,that c...

-For example, the Constitution,in our case. -Yes.

That could be other leaders.

It could be other branchesof government.

It could be cultural norms,democratic norms.

It could even be the expectationof consistency

or common decency.

All of those things threaten,

in the mind of an authoritarian,their power.

What they want is for everythingthey say right now,

their latest whim,to be supremely important.

And so, if they undermine ordestroy all of those restraints

or other sources of power,that inflates their power...

-Mm-hmm. -...or growstheir power at our expense.

And so, I see thatin Donald Trump.

I saw that during the campaign.

I certainly see that now,post-election.

And again, as you pointed out,

we're stilling waiting in linefor this wild ride,

so who knowswhat will come next.

Let's talk about some of thosepoints that you were making.

-So let's lookat the constitution. -Mm-hmm.

You've been vocalabout Donald Trump, saying,

a lot of what he's sayingis not constitutional.

-Yeah.-You know?

Specifically, he tweeted,for instance,

-about anyone who burnsthe American flag... -Right.

...should losetheir citizenship,

-or go to prison for a year.-Mm-hmm.

These are thingsthat some people go,

"Why is that an issue?Why can't he say that?

This is somethingthat's patriotic."

Mm-hmm. Well,I would certainly say that

I don't have a lot of respectfor those who burn our flag,

as somebodywho has served this nation

and put my life on the lineso many times for it.

But more than that,

free speech is just

critically importantin our country, and it's

a constitutionally-guaranteedright.

And so, when you havethe leader or our country,

or the to-be leaderof our country saying

that he would lock somebody upfor a year

for exercisingtheir freedom of speech,

or withdraw their citizenshipif he could--

that's a violationof our constitution.

But that's not the only timehe's threatened policies

that would be in contradictionto the constitution.

-It's actually quite a pattern.-Yeah.

If you look at Trump--it's the constitution.

-Mm-hmm. -And then you said,there's other institutions.

-There's leaders,there's the media. -Mm-hmm.

In your opinion,why does he do what he does

in the wayhe speaks about the media?

Why does he say,we shouldn't trust the media?

Why does he say, we shouldn'ttrust politicians at large?

Well, it's a very good question.

There's a lot there,but, you know,

the media is another sourceof tremendous power.

And I would say their role,

their jobin the next four years,

your job in the next four yearsis crucially important.

We as Americans,especially the media, though,

through the media, will needto be watching very closely

to see what Donald Trumpand his administration does.

And we will needto be very vocal

when it crosses certainboundaries that,

you know,are related to the constitution

-and cultural norms. -But whatdoes...? What does "vocal" mean?

-Forgive me for interrupting,but, like... -Yeah.

You know, everyone's sayingwe should do something.

But what is the "something"that people are speaking?

-What can people do?-Mm-hmm.

Because, as you said, DonaldTrump's not even in power,

-and already, he's making moves,he's doing things. -Mm-hmm.

-Yeah. -So when Donald Trumpgets into power

with the cabinet thathe's surrounding himself with,

who seems like they will reallybe pushing his agenda,

-what can people actually do?-Well, there's this...

There are a series of thingsthat need to happen.

But the first thingI would say is

we can never, ever lose hope.

The worst authoritarians willtry to break our hope.

Now, I hope Donald Trumpdoesn't become that bad,

but it's possible.

We can never, ever lose hope.

The second thing is,we need to understand

where our rights comes from.

As I said, they come from thefact that we are human beings.

They're enshrinedin our founding documents.

We need to know thatand internalize that.

No matter what he says, he isnot the arbiter or our rights.

That's somethingthat is natural to us

and enshrinedin our founding documents.

Then we need to organize,we need to pay attention.

-We need to be able to tell thetruth from the untruth. -Yeah.

And we needto hold our other leaders,

especially in Congress,

responsible for standing upto him when necessary...

-Now... that's... -Mm-hmm.-(applause and cheering)

-That's a powerful pointthat you make. -Mm-hmm.

But now, this is whereI'm confused.

So, I go, Evan,you are a conservative.

You, you know, you ranas a Republican, and...

Ran as an independentconservative, yeah.

-As an independent conservative.Okay. -Yeah.

So... for someoneout there going:

Donald Trump and his partysay they're conservatives,

-Mm-hmm. -Paul Ryan sayshe's a conservative,

Mitch McConnell sayshe's a conservative,

but these are the same peoplewho seem to be supporting

what Donald Trump is doing,so then I don't understand

what the difference isbetween you and that person

other than the fact thathe's in person and you're not.

Well, I hope that Republicanswill stand up to Donald Trump

when requiredand when necessary,

but again, you know,we don't have a lot of hope...

You can't just hope that it willhappen, I guess, is the message.

-Yes.-The message is: It's on us.

It really is. It's on us.

We have to call them,we have to write letters,

we have to speak outon social media and otherwise.

We need to force themto stand up,

because they're... they'vebeen playing a political game,

I'm sad to say, most of themthroughout this election,

where they didn't wantto stand up to Donald Trump

because they thoughtthey would be criticized,

they thought they would losevotes in their own reelection.

We have to change that dynamic.

It's on us.

But-but...here's what confuses me is...

-Mm-hmm.-you say they have to stand up

-Yeah.-to Donald Trump.

The question is, why wouldthey stand up to Donald Trump?

-Mm-hmm. -Because for allintents and purposes,

it seems like Donald Trumpis the embodiment

of what many Republicanshave stood for for a long time.

The only difference ishe's unvarnished.

-Mm-hmm.-Donald Trump has come out...

-(applause)-with a raw version

of what many Republicanswere doing.

There were Republicans fightingfor voter I.D. laws

that were specifically designedto disenfranchise black people.

There were Republicans who wereactively going out there

to create laws that would stripwomen of their reproduct...

reproductive rights.

So... how is that differentto Donald Trump?

Do you really think thatthey will stand up to him?

What is differentbetween the two of them?

-I'm confused by that. -Well,I think it's a fair criticism.

Now, you know, we could getinto some of the policy issues

that you just mentioned,

but especially on issuesof equality,

I'll say that yes,there has been an issue,

and he is more unvarnished.

The reality is,for the Republican Party--

and I say this as someonewho comes from that place

as a conservative-- the realityfor the Republican Party

is that if it wants to providethe kind of leadership

that this country needs--again, respecting our liberty

and our equalityand unifying this nation--

it is going to have to get pastsome of these things

that I agreehave long been problems.

So that's the reality.Will they be able to do it?

If-- I don't know-- but ifthey are not able to do it,

I believe thatalthough they won this election,

they will shrink in sizeand become less able

to lead this country, less ableto win national elections,

and it will beto their political defeat

if they're not able to do that.

But you know what,let me tell you something.

I think that post-election,

there's some very interestingthings happening.

People on the rightand people on the left

who are still standingfor liberty and equality

are coming together in a waythat I've never seen before.

-Yes.-And it's in very early stages,

but we're gonna seea lot more of it.

My team and I, we're buildinga new organization--

we haven't announced itofficially yet--

but we're standing upwith others

for equality and liberty,and that, I think,

might be the silver liningto all of this,

is that we unify around equalityand liberty in this country.

-I have to let you go soon,but... -Yeah.

one thingthat plagues me is-is...

oftentimes there is an illusionof unity and equality

that some peoplespeak about, and...

the actual goalof unity and equality.

I've seen many politicianssay that.

-Their actions don't match that.-Mm-hmm.

So if I were to say to you--and, really, it's not a test,

I mean, I just needto understand--

so I go: Okay, Evan McMullin,you're a conservative,

you were running for president.

I go: Help meand my viewers understand

the difference betweena principled conservative

and Donald Trump.So I go: So with regards to,

let's say, a ban on Muslims,

-Mm-hmm.-what is your view on that?

Well, it's absolutelycounterproductive

and runs counter to everythingwe should believe in

in this country, our found...our foundational principles.

I've opposed that publiclyover and over again.

So with regards to, let's say,uh, climate change,

because, I mean...the official stance now

of... you know, Donald Trumpand his administration

is that this is, they said"a load of bunk," I believe,

-Mm-hmm.-and it does not exist.

Is thata conservative standpoint

or is that Donald Trump thing?

Well, a lot of Republicanshold that view; I don't.

I think the climate is changing.

I think we are contributingto that,

and I think we need to takeaction in response to it.

-And we can debate howto do that. -Yes.

But, but, yes.But, you know what?

I think there's something-- Imean that's an important issue,

-don't get me wrong.-Yeah.

But we've got to fightfor liberty

and equality in this country.

We can debate these kindsof things,

which are important,don't get me wrong.

We have so many importantchallenges in this country.

But there's a real opportunityfor those of us on the right,

and the leftwho are still standing

for the truth that all menand equal are created equal,

regardless of the colorof their skin,

or their faith, or their gender.

Those of us who are stillstanding for that,

and standing for liberty,for our basic freedoms,

we need to stand togetherright now,

because we have a presidentcoming into the White House,

who may be an authoritarian.

Now, let's see what happens whenhe actually gets there,

-but every data point we'veseen so far, -Yes.

essentially suggests thathe will be an authoritarian.

Let's unite.

We will have thesepolitical debates

on these other issues.

They're important,don't get me wrong.

But this is, this is a differentkind of moment here, I fear.

You know what it sounds likeyou're saying?

Like, when you watch Independence Day,

and those movies,and the people are like,

"I know we have our differences,the the aliens are coming.

"And right now we can all agree

that the aliensare gonna kill us all."

-That's what, that's what...-I hope it's not that bad.

That's pretty muchwhat it sounds like.

But you know what?I-I would love

-to have you back on the show.-Yeah.

I'm sure we won't agreeon everything.

But I'm glad you came on,

-and I appreciate your voice.-Thank you.

-Thank you very much.-Pleasure. Likewise.

Evan McMullin, everybody

(cheering and applause)