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Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich served in public office for over three decades. But in his new book, “It’s Up to Us,” he calls on the American people to pay less attention to the president and political drama in Washington -- and more to their own actions and communities. Kasich sits down with Judy Woodruff to discuss President Trump, impeachment and the 'gifts' that let us move the country forward.
Former Ohio Governor John Kasich served in public office for over three decades.
But, in his new book, "It's Up to Us," he calls on the American people to pay less attention to the president and the dramas in Washington. Instead, Kasich urges individual Americans to focus on the ability each one has to move their community and the country forward.
Governor John Kasich, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
Always great to be with you.
So, I do want to ask you about the book.
But I first want to ask you about the news of the day. And you have made some news yourself.
You said today that you have now come around to the view that President Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives.
Well, first of all, Judy, I thought there should have been an impeachment inquiry from the very beginning.
In fact, I think the Democrats should have a vote in the full House on the inquiry. It gives it credibility. It gives it transparency. And I think that's very important.
What was hanging me up about the call that the president made to the president of Ukraine was, was there a quid pro quo?
And there's so much going on in this drama yesterday, with Sondland and text messages between him and Taylor and Volker. Those had me greatly concerned.
Yes, all the testimonies.
But when Mulvaney said, it's absolutely true that we withheld aid until they agreed to go back and do an investigation of the 2016 election, withholding aid from a country like Ukraine that lives in the shadow of the — of Russia, it's got troops on their land, there's no excuse for that.
But, as you know, though, Mick Mulvaney said then, he said again today, hey, there's political influence in American foreign policy. Get over it.
In fact, the Trump campaign is now today selling T-shirts with "Get over it."
Well, look, it's one thing for a president to be able to pull aid from a country based on public policy. But it's another thing to say — to dangle aid, vital military aid, over the head of a nation that's fighting literally for their survival, and so — and based on politics, based on just, you got to go do this investigation we want.
And we don't want any president to do that. And I don't come to this — this is really, really hard for me. I'm — it's a really sad day for me. I don't want to have to be doing this.
But when I look at it — and I have responsibility to respond to questions. I felt this was absolutely the right thing to do.
So I feel good about what I have said. But I'm saddened at the same time.
As you know, though, John Kasich, President Trump said — and he again — he said it again last night — I'm unconventional. I do things in a different way.
Why isn't he, in his words, allowed to do things in a way we have never seen before?
Well, because there's appropriate ways in which a president should conduct himself in office, keeping in mind that there can't be things like an abuse of power. Everyone's held accountable.
And if the president had said, I'm not going to give any money to Ukraine because I think there's too much corruption, well, that'd be OK with me.
But to say that, I'm going to withhold this aid until you want — meet — with until you do what I want you to do politically, which is what the chief of staff said yesterday — and no matter how hard they try, they can't take those words back, because that demon — that gives us a window into the way they were thinking there.
So you're saying, if you were in the House today, you would vote for impeachment?
Which is equivalent in criminal law to an indictment.
It's a statement of charges.
What about convicting him, which is what the Senate would be asked…
Well, I think I would like to see what the articles of impeachment are that — whatever the House comes up with.
And at the same time, Judy, I think it's important for the Democrats to try to bring Republicans along.
And what Republicans have to ask themselves, because we are now so tribal, we're so partisan, is it right for any president to dangle foreign aid for the survival of a country in a quid pro quo that, you need to investigate either your political rival or some political manipulation or political investigation?
I think the answer is no. We have to have guardrails in which our presidents and leaders have to operate.
So are you ready to say he should be removed from office?
I want the process to go forward.
For me to say impeachment, that's like as hard as it gets for me. And that indicates, I think, there's enough there to be able to do that. But that's the job of the Senate. And we all have to slow down and let this process take its place.
There are so few Republicans in Congress — in fact, virtually…
… none, who agree with you right now.
Why — why so few?
Well, again, it's tribal. We're going to protect our guy.
And I just wish this would go away. I mean, what has been amazing to me is, they're not even saying that that phone call was wrong. And they won't say, of course, that you want to have an impeachment inquiry, but when the mass majority of Americans now are saying that this is necessary, we need to get to the bottom of it.
But you know what? It's now. Tomorrow is a different day. And as more people testify, as there's more witnesses, everybody will have to judge for themselves.
I'm not going to beat anybody else up into having the opinion I have. It's just that — look, it was so hard for me to vote to impeach Clinton when he was up. And I struggled over that, but I decided to do it.
This is not the area of government that I like to focus on, scandal and impeachment. But we all have our responsibilities to do and say some things, even when we have to get out of our comfort zone.
And, in fact, your book is about, don't focus so much on Washington.
The title is, "It's Up to Us." You're saying the American people have the ability, they have the obligation to themselves try to make the country better, their community better.
Well, live a life — yes, live a life a little bigger than themselves.
We all have certain gifts. You have them. The people watching have them. And they're given to us. And we're expected to be healers in the world. We're not expected to be dividers.
And we need to get out of our silos. We need to put ourselves in other people's shoes. And we need to take care of things where we live. And that doesn't mean that, sometimes, those actions don't result in big global things, like Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old girl who held a sign and created a global movement, or those young people at Parkland in Florida who pushed gun control through the Florida legislature.
But there's also stories in here about people. One girl, she lives in Illinois. She was 5 years old when Hurricane Florence was coming. Her name was Florence. She told her mom: "They're not going to like me, because my name is Florence, and that storm is horrible. I got to go get Band-Aids."
And she and her brother went around the neighborhood in a little red wagon. And when they collected supplies, they filled the garage, and somebody took a tractor-trailer down to North Carolina.
Now, did she change the world? She most certainly did.
What do you say to the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016? There were 60-some million of them, who many of them have told us and they have told others, I voted for him because I wanted change. I didn't like what was going on in Washington. I thought he was going to bring the change.
What do you say to them?
Well, they have to look in the mirror and ask themselves honestly, did he bring the change that he promised?
I mean, are there more steel mills? Are there more cars being made, all those kinds of — are there more auto plants open? And how do I feel about the rhetoric?
This whole business of bullying, to some degree, I have had people argue in this — who work in schools that, somehow, bullying has become more acceptable.
It — look, I don't like this, Judy. I don't like to have to say these things about our president. But when I look at it, when I look at the scale of his policies and the behavior that divides us, something has to be done about it.
But that's not why I'm for impeachment. I'm for impeachment because of what I think is the quid pro quo, bringing politics into foreign aid, and putting other nations at risk.
John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, former congressman.
The book is "It's Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change."
It's for the young, for the middle-aged, and it's for our seniors.
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