Former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein assesses the Trump administration’s first six months and responds to questions about an infamous photo that showed her sitting at the same table as Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a dinner in Moscow in 2015.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, President Trump said this week, when asked about North Korea, "It will be handled. We handle everything."
DR. JILL STEIN: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I want to take that to the larger sense of the Trump administration, as he handles everything. Your assessment of that, as a person who ran against him?
DR. JILL STEIN: Yeah, I mean, Donald Trump is a symptom of a very sick political system. You know, what we see going on in the White House right now, you know, hearing—I think it was yesterday, you reported, I think, on your program that Lindsey Graham is now instructing President Trump that if he continues to harass Jeff Sessions or tries to get rid of him, that, essentially, what he was saying is that—you know, get ready for impeachment hearings. And, you know, to hear that from staunch Republicans, that they’re actually threatening him now, they’re—Lindsey Graham is also, you know, writing a bill to stop Trump from dismissing Mueller at the FBI. So, you know, people really get that Trump is a liability, he’s a disaster. You know, the sparks flying out of the White House now with the dismissal of the chief of staff and, you know, the incredible comments of the communications director—talk about, you know, communications. You couldn’t have a worse example of how not to do communications. You know, they’ve really become the laughingstock of the world, and not just the world, even, you know, in the U.S. And I think they’re becoming a big liability to Republicans. So, you know, I think Donald Trump is very clearly digging his own grave. He’s been a lame-duck president since the beginning. He’s, you know, passed absolutely nothing. He remains a grave danger, because of what the president can do, especially around the military. But, you know, he does seem to be on his way out now, which is a wonderful thing.
At the same time, you know, remember, he got elected by supporters who were not so much voting for him as they were voting against Hillary Clinton and the neoliberal legacy of the Democrats, that have also been throwing people under the bus. So, I think, you know, the bottom line is that we are in a very unstable and transitional political moment. People are looking for something else. The Democratic Party has not been able to step up to the plate and do a real kind of internal self-assessment. So, you know, I think it’s an open book right now as to where it goes. It’s potentially a very liberating moment. The Democratic Party has been trying to reform itself at least since the realignment movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It hasn’t gotten there. And the efforts to reform the DNC, you know, didn’t work. Nancy Pelosi is still staying the course against single-payer healthcare. This would be a perfect time for the Democrats to be pushing it forward. You had the majority of Democrats in the House that actually supported an even bigger military budget than what Donald Trump is supporting. So, we need a political change. And, you know, I think—you know, stay tuned and hold onto your hat.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about that famous photo that is the bane of Trump’s existence, of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, together in 2015 at a dinner in Moscow. You also, Jill, were at that dinner, and you are actually in that photograph at that head table. So, to say the least, you had a bird’s-eye view. What were you doing there?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, I was there, actually, to deliver the—one of the main messages of my campaign, which is that war has failed in the Middle East and that we need a peace offensive consisting of a weapons embargo and a freeze on the funding, the bank accounts of those countries that are sponsoring terrorism. At the time, Russia had just begun to bomb Syria. And my message was that Russia was following in the disastrous footsteps of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
AMY GOODMAN: But how did you end up at that table?
DR. JILL STEIN: So—
AMY GOODMAN: This is the head table?
DR. JILL STEIN: That’s right. I knew I was going to be at the head table. All of the foreign diplomats were seated at the head table. Unfortunately, there was no interpreter at the head table, and there were no introductions made. Vladimir Putin came in—
AMY GOODMAN: And this was a celebration of 10 years of Russia Today, the—
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, it was a celebration, but it was also a conference. And there was media there, actually, from all over the world, including U.S. media and Canadian, you know, Chinese, etc. It was a real chance to lift up a different point of view about U.S. foreign policy, as well as Russian foreign policy, to a broader audience. On that same trip—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, you didn’t get a chance to talk with Putin then.
DR. JILL STEIN: Not a word. I was hoping to deliver my message to Putin, but there was no interpreter. He walked in with a group of people that I thought were his bodyguards. It turns out they actually were his head of communications, his chief of staff, etc. But you wouldn’t have known it. I spent the evening—well, I spent the dinner talking to the German diplomat to my right. He was the only person who spoke English that was in earshot of me. And, you know, my under—
AMY GOODMAN: And your assessment of what has been made of that? And, of course, ultimately, Mike Flynn was forced out as national security adviser.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes. Well, you know, bear in mind that Mike Flynn has many contacts to Russia and, in fact, was paid $40,000, which he accepted from the Russian government. I wasn’t paid a penny, and I declined sponsorship for my transportation, my room and my board. So, you know, I went there absolutely without any conflicts of interest or encumbrances, you know. But it’s like nothing happened at that dinner.
AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds.
DR. JILL STEIN: Nothing happened at that dinner. Michael Flynn has his own issues going on with Russia. You know, I can say that, for my own part, that picture circulates without a single fact. I was there with a number of peace advocates, who, you know, unfortunately, we have to turn to Russian TV and to Democracy Now!, but there are very few TV stations that cover peace candidates. I was there with Rocky Anderson and Ray McGovern.
AMY GOODMAN: The former mayor of Salt Lake City.
DR. JILL STEIN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re going to do Part 2 of this discussion, and we’re going to post it online at democracynow.org. Jill Stein, the 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party, just came back from South Korea.