- Glenn GreenwaldPulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His most recent piece is headlined “Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit.”
As Trump heads to the White House, Trump’s transition team has assembled a shortlist of who could make up Trump’s Cabinet. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are among those in consideration for attorney general. Christie is also being considered for homeland security secretary, as is Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. Secretary of the interior might go to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or oil executive Forrest Lucas. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are in the running for secretary of state. Donald Trump is also expected to quickly nominate a conservative Supreme Court justice to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the names that are being now talked about as a possible Trump Cabinet, like former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani maybe as attorney general, or Governor Chris Christie, whose two top aides were just found guilty on all criminal counts around the Bridgegate scandal? Christie also possibly being considered for homeland security secretary, as is Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. Secretary of interior might go to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin or oil executive Forrest Lucas. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the running for secretary of state. When Ambassador Bolton was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, he famously talked about lopping off the top 10 stories of the United Nations. Glenn Greenwald, your thoughts?
GLENN GREENWALD: Amy, that question was some kind of form of torture that ought to be outlawed. I could barely withstand listening to that. You know, I think, honestly, my brain hasn’t yet processed all of that. I think most people’s brains haven’t. It’s still very—I remember last night, I was on Twitter, and I—someone linked to a tweet from Donald, which I clicked on. And in his biography, it now just says, very simply, “President-elect of the United States,” with his huge picture and then “Donald J. Trump” underneath. And it was startling. It’s still very difficult to believe, very difficult to believe that Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States and will actually be president of the United States in two months. I don’t think we’ve even begun to process or analyze the actual repercussions of that.
And then, when you go to this sort of second-order horror, it’s almost like a wicked nightmare, like the worst—like Sarah Palin as the secretary of interior, or Rudy Giuliani, who I’ve long regarded as probably the most authoritarian and borderline fascist mainstream figure in American political life, to be the attorney general in charge of the prosecutorial power and the FBI, or Chris Christie, a lifelong prosecutor, in charge of the mechanisms of homeland security, or John Bolton, one of the most sociopathic warmongers on the planet, in charge of anything—these are genuinely terrifying prospects. And so, no, I don’t have much intelligent to say about that, because I haven’t really started to even accept it yet.
I guess the one thing that I would say is that, to the extent that one can find any kind of silver lining in the election of somebody as horrifying as Donald Trump, it is that he will be—that this sort of extremism can galvanize a unified opposition that cuts across what had been impenetrable ideological and partisan lines to create a more potent opposition than has existed for a long time in this country, and that there will be a kind of clarifying moment about core political values, that we’ve allowed to be assaulted by the establishment wings of both parties, about the necessity of protecting those. And I am at least hopeful that there will be a kind of backlash that will be positive to the horrors that we’re about to endure, many of which are unimaginable.
AMY GOODMAN: And on foreign policy, with Donald Trump’s admiration of Vladimir Putin, Putin being one of the first, also Benjamin Netanyahu, to congratulate Donald Trump on his victory?
GLENN GREENWALD: I think foreign policy is the area where there’s the biggest question mark. The fact of the matter is that the primary critique of Donald Trump throughout the course of the campaign against the foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was that they have used the military too much to engage in wars that were unnecessary, costing far too much money and sacrificing far too many lives, not, on occasion, he pointed out, just American citizens, but also the lives of innocent non-Americans. At the same time, he is advocating this explicit form of war criminality where he wants to reintroduce torture and carpet bombing and those sorts of things. And so, I think it’s a—
AMY GOODMAN: Expand Guantánamo.
GLENN GREENWALD: —a huge question mark. To expand Guantánamo and to essentially embrace all of the components of the war on terror. So, I think that it really remains to be seen. I think it probably will be the case that there will be moments when the D.C. elite will be demanding that we intervene militarily, where Hillary Clinton would have been tempted to do so and Donald Trump won’t. And maybe that’s, on balance, in a very isolated way, something that’s positive. But the idea of putting into someone like this’ hands the military of the United States and all of its might and the spying apparatuses, I think, is extremely alarming. And I guess we’ll have to see how that manifests.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Glenn Greenwald, we want to thank you very much for being with us. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. We’ll link to your piece, “Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit,” as well as your other pieces. Thanks so much for joining us from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we’ll talk about the president-elect, his positions on the environment, who he could choose in positions of power, and his own views on, for example, climate change, as he talks about it as a Chinese hoax. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Indian Givers,” a new song by Neil Young. And you can go to our website at democracynow.org to watch and hear the whole song. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.