WASHINGTON – Former Secretary of State John Kerry, author of Every Day is Extra, predicted that “lives will be lost” due to President Trump’s position on climate change, calling his time in office a matter of “life and death.”
“This is why it’s the anecdote to what Bob Woodward lays out [in his new book Fear: Trump in the White House]. This book describes how we accept and fight, many times unsuccessfully, more times successfully, to make our democracy work and never had we needed to do that more than right now. We’re in trouble,” Kerry said about his memoir during a discussion at the Carnegie Center for International Peace on Monday evening.
“I don’t try to be a troublemonger or to be somebody who tries to scare people, but I’m telling you folks – and I write about this in the last chapter of the book – I mean, I wish I could find legal standing to bring a case against Donald Trump for the lives that will be lost and the property that will be damaged and the billions of dollars because of his decision on climate change. This is life and death. Our democracy matters that much,” he added.
Kerry also criticized Trump’s handling of relations with North Korea and Europe.
“What is happening is the sloppiness of the diplomacy that is going on with Kim Jong-un, the sloppiness of his reckless statements in Europe at a time when Europe is already weakened somewhat, and it matters to us more than ever since the end of World War II. I mean, these things matter, enormously, and we’ve got to fight for them,” he said.
Kerry recalled the “huge division” in the country when he stood up against former President Nixon during the Vietnam War.
“I was arrested for civil disobedience and demonstrating against the war, so it was divisive and I certainly earned some enemies for a lifetime through that experience. And we saw some of them come to the forefront in ’04, that’s what that was about,” Kerry said, referring to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads that aired during his presidential run in 2004. “That wasn’t about my record. It was about them being angry I opposed the war and told the truth.”
Kerry cited Nixon “unleashing the FBI on people” and said the Trump presidency is more dangerous in “some ways” than the Nixon era.
“All you have to do is listen to the Nixon tapes to hear the bigotry and the hate that came out – despicable – and then, of course, there was pipe bombs blowing up in buildings,” he said. “People forget this, and people wondered about American institutions. Guess what? We not only made it through it, we got stronger.”
Kerry said America would “get through this period, which is certainly the most dangerous moment for our country since all of that and more dangerous, in some ways, because Henry Kissinger and Nixon were not, you know, they were smart in foreign policy – let’s be honest.”
Addressing Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, Kerry said Iran would never come to the table while Trump is in office.
“Not on your life or mine will they come to the table with this president. It’s impossible politically, physically, now, which underscores the fact that I think the administration is not looking for a renegotiation,” he said. “What they are looking for is regime change and you know, once again, first of all, the United States of America does not do regime change well. I would have hoped people might have learned that by now. The last evidence of that is Libya and our efforts elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Answering a question about the state of politics in the U.S. heading into midterm elections, Kerry said, “We’ve got a lot of pissed-off citizens and you cannot pretend to be involved in public life in this country if you don’t understand why people are pissed off. And they’re pissed off because none of the promises have been delivered on either side of the fence.”
Kerry attacked the way Republican lawmakers have handled Trump so far in his first term.
“Right now, today, while every one of those guys there on the Hill, they absolutely know how sick this situation is, how unbalanced, how unhinged it is, how dangerous it is but they are happier to ignore their oath of office to uphold the Constitution and save the institutions of America,” he said. “They’re happier protecting their power, their party and their president, and that’s a disgrace. So that’s where we find ourselves, and it’s all happened for extremely understandable, explainable reasons.”
When asked why he chose the title Every Day is Extra for his memoir, Kerry quipped, “Well, ‘every day is extra’ is what Donald Trump thought when Mueller was appointed. I just figured that out, actually.”