Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argued Tuesday that Russian interference in the election should “absolutely not” delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency.
“In a democracy, when somebody loses and somebody wins, you move on,” she told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric
That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be repercussions for Russia, Rice said. “We know you did it. We will, at a time of our choosing, respond,” she said of the message she’d like the Kremlin to receive from the U.S.
The U.S. accused the Russian government of backing the hacking attempts that led to massive email leaks from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, in addition to other moves meant to influence the 2016 race.
Trump would also like everyone to move on from this story. He has fumed as the FBI and congressional committees probe whether his associates colluded with Russia to influence the election. “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” he tweeted Monday evening.
Rice, George W. Bush’s former secretary of state and national security adviser, was once hostile to Trump’s candidacy. In October, she called on Trump to withdraw from the campaign, saying he lacked “dignity and stature” after a tape surfaced of the then-candidate crowing about groping women.
But in the interview, Rice was mostly complimentary of Trump’s foreign policy, reserving especially effusive praise for the White House national security team. Still, she did take an opportunity to ding Trump’s “America first” credo.
“It has a history that’s also not very good,” she said. “We’ve learned that, actually, America’s interests are best served by realizing that we have to have an answer for the instability, the chaos, and the lack of freedom in the world.”
Rice also addressed her role in promoting Rex Tillerson to be Trump’s own secretary of state. Tillerson was previously the CEO of ExxonMobil, a client of Rice’s consulting firm. But Rice was dismissive of the accusation that she lobbied for Tillerson in order to increase her firm’s stature.
“If anybody thinks that I would actually recommend somebody for secretary of state because I’ve gotten to know them in a business relationship, well go right ahead and think it,” Rice said. “That’s not how I roll.”
She also concurred with Trump’s controversial quip calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “a pretty smart cookie,” though she also branded him “reckless” and “unhinged.”
“If you stay in power in that system, you’re pretty smart,” Rice said. “It doesn’t mean it’s somebody we should admire.”
Rice further said she was “sympathetic” toward Trump’s professed revelation that he expected the presidency to be an easier job, and expressed some optimism that he would grow in the job.
“It’s really hard,” Rice said. “And it’s lonely. It’s probably the loneliest job in the world, too.”
“And so, I think there’s a learning curve for every president, maybe a little steeper for this president, given that he’d never been in government. But I like the people around him, I like some of the things that they’ve done.”
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