WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush said Tuesday that the trial of Derek Chauvin has been conducted "fairly" as the nation awaits the jury’s verdict in the case.
Speaking on NBC’s “TODAY” show in his first live television interview in three years, Bush was asked by co-anchor Hoda Kotb what impact he thought the verdict will have on the racial reckoning across the country.
“I think the first thing, Hoda, is that people know that the trial has been conducted fairly and that rule of law reigns supreme in our judiciary,” Bush said.
“We'll see what a jury of his peers says,” he continued. “I think a lot of people have already made up their mind what the verdict ought to be. All I can tell you this is that if the trial is not conducted fairly, there is an appeal process.”
The former president said a fair judicial system is "really important for the confidence of the American people," and "I think that's what's playing out on our TVs right now."
The wide-ranging interview also delved into Bush's views on today's Republican Party, the humanitarian crisis at the southern border and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan 20 years after he brought the U.S. to war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The former president, whose daughter Jenna is a co-host on the show, said part of his goal in publishing a new book featuring paintings he made of U.S. immigrants, was to "elevate the discourse" on immigration and remind people about why so many want to come to America.
"It is a beautiful country that we have, and yet it is not beautiful when we condemn, call people names, and scare people about immigration," Bush said. "It is an easy issue to frighten so many electorates, and I am trying to have a different kind of voice."
Asked how he would describe today's Republican Party, Bush then said the GOP has become "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist."
He did not mention the influence former President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policies and rhetoric have had on the changes in the party.
Addressing the influx of unaccompanied children at the U.S.-Mexico border, Bush said, “It's hard for Americans to understand, and I can't really understand, why a mother becomes so desperate or how a mother becomes so desperate that she's willing to put her children in the hands of a coyote, a smuggler. And so there's been a lot of devastation in Central America: political upheaval, earthquakes and gangs and drug lords, and the people are totally intimidated and so they're streaming to our border.”
Bush said the U.S. immigration system must be reformed, adding that two steps to help fix it would be to implement a more robust asylum process and a process to expand work visas for jobs that need to be filled.
On whether President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 was the right one, the former president spoke about concern over the future treatment of Afghan women and girls, who have faced violent treatment by the Taliban.
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, these girls are gonna have real trouble with the Taliban,’” he said. “A lot of gains have been made, and so I'm deeply concerned about the plight of women and girls in that country.”
Asked if the administration should have held off on the decision, Bush said, “Well, I think we'll see. I mean, the time will tell. I think the administration hopes that the girls are going to be OK through diplomacy. We'll find out. And all I know is the Taliban, when they had the run of the place, they were brutal.”