Bush says Chauvin trial conducted 'fairly', 'deeply concerned' Afghanistan will regress

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 added, "I think that's what's playing out on our TVs right now."

The wide-ranging interview also delved into the former president's views on immigration, today's Republican Party 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.

On whether President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 was the right one, Bush 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.”

Bush, whose daughter Jenna is a co-host on the show,discussed his new book featuring paintings he made of U.S. immigrants in the interview, after which he participated in a naturalization ceremony at Rockefeller Plaza for front-line workers in the pandemic.

Bush said the rhetoric over immigration and the situation at the Southern border should be toned down, adding the Republican Party today has become "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent, nativist." He did not mention the influence former President Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies and rhetoric have had on this trend.

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 then 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.

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