The following article by Abby Phillip was posted on the Washington Post website February 27, 2017:
Former president George W. Bush rarely weighs in on current political events, but on Monday, he offered some of his most pointed critiques of President Trump’s statements and policies in an interview with NBC News’ “Today” show.
Asked about Trump’s claim that the media is the “enemy of the people,” Bush warned that an independent press is essential to democracy and that denouncing the press at home makes it difficult for the United States to preach democratic values abroad.
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account.
“Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse power, whether it be here or elsewhere,” he added.
Bush noted that during his presidency, he sought to persuade people like Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect a free press.
“It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” Bush said.
On Russia, Bush added that “we all need answers” about whether Trump campaign officials had contact with Russian officials in the election. But he did not endorse the idea that an independent prosecutor was necessary. Bush said that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr was an “independent thinker” capable of handling the inquiry.
“If he were to recommend a special prosecutor, then it’d have a lot more credibility with me,” Bush said of Burr.
Bush’s interview was pegged to the release of his new book of oil paintings of wounded veterans. But the former president seemed unusually willing to offer criticism of the sitting president from his own party, a departure from his longtime practice of staying out of the fray.
Bush even chuckled as host Matt Lauer reminded him of Trump’s colorful description of “American carnage” during his inaugural address, which Bush attended.