Threatening doesn’t work in diplomacy, says Bloomberg of Trump at the UN

As world leaders and dignitaries gather for the UN General Assembly, Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York and CEO of Bloomberg L.P., hosted a special forum about today's economic challenges. Bloomberg joins Judy Woodruff for a conversation about sending aid to the U.S. Virgin Islands, reactions to President Trump’s remarks and the state of U.S. immigration policy.

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    But first: one on one with Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist, businessman and former mayor of New York City.

    As world leaders and other notable dignitaries gather in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly, Bloomberg hosted a special forum today about economic challenges facing the country and the world.

    We spoke just a short while ago about that and more.

    Michael Bloomberg, welcome.

    You said earlier today that, after an appeal from one of your partners, you were sending some of your people and aid down to the U.S. Virgin Islands because of the crisis there.

    What are you hearing? And how important is it for private individuals and private organizations to get involved?


    Well, Judy, based on my experience with Hurricane Sandy in New York, the federal government actually does a very good job.

    The trouble with the federal government is, it's a big organization and it takes a while to mobilize. And, at the moment, they also have a lot of their resources expended in helping Texas and Florida.

    So, small territories like the American Virgin Islands, at the very beginning, they can't get there quick enough. And the people there didn't have a roof over their head. They didn't have food, they didn't have electricity, they didn't have water, they didn't have medicines that they take or penicillin or tetanus shots if they have an injury.

    And so that's where the private sector can come in. One of my partners has a house down there. He went down there. He called me right away and said, we have just got to do something.

    I said, OK, we will marshal the resources. We took some of employees who had worked on Hurricane Sandy, got them on the plane. I got Johns Hopkins to send us up a whole bunch of the medicines that they needed, put them on a plane, took it down with some other things that they could use. And we were able to help them while they wait for the federal government to come in.


    Different subject. You're holding your forum for government and business leaders the same week President Trump makes his first address to the United Nations, making news because he's saying to North Korea, we will totally destroy you if you make the wrong move.

    What are you hearing from these other leaders about that? And what do you think about it?


    I didn't agree with a lot of what he said.

    I think that, at the United Nations, whether you inside are seething or not, diplomacy calls for a certain level of discourse. And, in diplomacy, that's the way you get things done. Threatening, cajoling and being in your face doesn't really work in the diplomatic community.

    And we do need to have good diplomatic relations with lots of other countries. I think, if there's anything you can — that comes out of the North Korean problem is, you realize you can't do it alone. We have to employ the — get the rest of the world to join us, particularly China, since China's the country, the main trading partner with North Korea.

    So they're the ones that, through them, anything we want to do is going to have to be affected. But I think that the president has — obviously has some views. I hope he has the best advisers that are competent and understand what's going on, because he's going to have to make decisions based on what they say.

    And, remember, he does not have a long history of working in the diplomatic world, doesn't have a lot of experience with overseas businesses or overseas governments or the military. And so what he's got to do is build the best team.

    And, so far, he's got a lot of holes in his team. And if I were him, I would focus on filling those holes, getting the smartest people he can. I have always used the criteria I always want to hire people smarter than me. A cynic would say that's easy.

    But, nevertheless, you need very good people to deal with all the problems of the world.


    And on the subject of immigration, Mayor Bloomberg, the — as you know, this president is reflecting the views of many Americans who think too many immigrants have been allowed to come into this country.

    Just recently, he said he's rescinding the move by President Obama to protect the so-called dreamers, the DACA agreement, young people who came to this country without documentation as children.

    What is the overall effect of that?


    Well, the dreamer thing is a separate issue, I guess.

    These are people who it's really ridiculous to say that they committed a crime. And just think. a woman carries her newborn baby in her arms, walks into a bank, takes out the gun, holds up the bank. The cops grab the woman. Are they going to arrest the infant? No, nobody thinks the infant had anything to do it.

    So, the dreamers, this is — it is nothing to really do with immigration. They are here, brought here without them doing anything active. Their parents brought them here. They become, if not legal citizens, they become productive members of our society. And to throw them out, I cannot conceive of the president actually doing that.

    Just there is no congressman that would get elected if you saw screaming people being — young people being dragged in handcuffs to the border or put on a plane. That's just not going to happen.

    In terms of general immigration, this — I think what's happened here is, some of the president's supporters have probably misinformed him about the impact of immigrants. Every reputable study shows that immigrants create a lot more jobs than they take away.

    Most immigrants that come here either do jobs that Americans absolutely wouldn't do at any price, or they come here to start businesses or take jobs that are additive. When there is another business or more business in a given company, they hire more people.

    And for people who think that they have lost their jobs because of immigrants, maybe some of them have, but we have got to find ways to help them and not make it worse.

    If you want jobs, we need more global trade. If you want more jobs, we need TPP, the Trans-Pacific trade agreement. If you want more jobs, we have to keep NAFTA in place, so that Canada and Mexico and the United States together can create more jobs.

    We have to do all these things. We have to have training programs. And cutting back a lot of the stuff that the president wants to do doesn't help create jobs. If anything, it takes away jobs.


    Just finally, you have got some strong views on a number of issues out there. You decided in 2016 not to run for president. Was that a mistake?


    No. I think the conclusion was that you could not run as an independent. The Constitution, with the Electoral College, means that no independent is going to get a majority of electoral votes.

    And if you just had a plurality, it doesn't mean anything, because the House would then pick the president, and the Senate would pick the vice president. And they would pick from whatever party was in control of the House or the Senate. They certainly wouldn't pick an independent.

    So, we weren't going to win. And I — there is a lot of ways to effect change. I'm a very lucky guy. I would like to leave this world better for my daughters and for my grandkids. And that's what I'm doing with all my money. My companies' profits virtually all go to our foundation, and we work very hard to improve the quality of government that you have at the local level.

    We have some expertise. We work very hard on public health issues, on the arts, on the environment. There are a lot of things that we are working on. And, hopefully, we can have let people have longer and healthier and more fun lives.


    Businessman, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we thank you.


    Judy, all the best.


    And tune in tomorrow night. I talk with philanthropist Melinda Gates about the importance of U.S. aid abroad.

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