Former Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he’s “never” seen an administration in as much disarray as President Donald Trump’s, and warned that other countries were “taking advantage” of the chaos in Washington.
“There are certain people who are readily and happily taking advantage of this president,” including China and Russia, Kerry told PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff. “I think people all over the world are holding their breath and wondering what’s next.”
Kerry criticized Trump’s foreign and domestic policies, saying the president had a “disdain for fact,” and argued that congressional gridlock and partisanship in the U.S. was having a “horrible effect” around the world.
Kerry, who served as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, compared the infighting and turmoil in the Trump administration to Richard Nixon’s White House during the Watergate scandal. But Kerry also took leaders in Washington to task.
”What we’re seeing [today] is simply not rising to the level of concern publicly or in choices that are being made by people in Washington who have an ability to have an impact,” Kerry said.
The NewsHour interview comes as Kerry is back in the spotlight with the publication of a new book, “Every Day Is Extra.” The memoir recounts his long career in public service, including his service in Vietnam and his nearly three decades in the Senate, including a failed White House run in 2004.
Here are more highlights from Kerry’s interview:
On Syria: When asked if the Obama administration’s inaction led to the country’s entrenched conflict and humanitarian disaster, Kerry said it was the “failing” of the entire international community, not just the U.S. He called the result a “festering wound.”
On North Korea: Kerry criticized the results of Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June, saying it ended with no clear definition of what “denuclearization” is, nor how the North Koreans would achieve it.
On Iran: Kerry said he believed the U.S. is “reaching for a regime change strategy.” National Security Adviser John Bolton and others have claimed regime change was not the administration’s intent by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry, who helped broker the Iran agreement, said the U.S. withdrawal infuriated American allies and empowered Iranian hardliners.