In his first televised interview as president, Trump also openly embraced torture, including waterboarding, saying torture “absolutely” works. Trump’s comments sparked immediate criticism, including from international human rights experts and lawyers. This is Ian Seiderman with the International Commission of Jurists.
Ian Seiderman: “This is almost unprecedented. We just came through many years of cleaning up the mess in this area that was made by a previous U.S. administration, under President Bush. But even the Bush administration, while it engaged in torture—and that’s been well documented—was very careful not to publicly condone torture. In fact, on a number of occasions, the president, Bush, himself, as well as a number of officials, condemned torture. They saw it as—they understood it was criminal activity. They saw it as something embarrassing and to be covered up.”
On Thursday, top ranking Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain, signaled congressional Republicans would not change the laws on the use of torture. Ryan said, “Torture is illegal. … [W]e agree with it not being legal.” British Prime Minister Theresa May also indicated that Britain may stop sharing intelligence with the CIA, following Trump’s endorsement of torture, saying, “We condemn torture, and my view on that won’t change.” May and Trump are scheduled to meet for about an hour today in the Oval Office, marking the first visit by a foreign leader to the White House since Trump took office. Prime Minister Theresa May, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans were all speaking out against torture from the Republicans’ annual three-day retreat in Philadelphia, which Trump also attended Thursday.