Oct 12, 2022

Biden addresses Putin’s nuclear threats in Ukraine Transcript

Biden addresses Putin's nuclear threats in Ukraine Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsCNNBiden addresses Putin’s nuclear threats in Ukraine Transcript

In a CNN exclusive, Jake Tapper talks to President Joe Biden about dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the investigation into his son Hunter and if he plans to run for reelection in 2024. Read the transcript here. 

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Speaker 1: (00:00)
Thank you so much for doing this, sir. Appreciate it.

Speaker 2: (00:01)
Happy to.

Speaker 1: (00:02)
So for people at home who don’t know, this is the Map Room. During World War II, this is where… It was basically the situation room for FDR. He would look at sensitive information, and now we’re at a period where there’s another high stakes war in Europe. You recently said that this is the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis that there’s a legitimate possibility of someone using a nuclear weapon, which could lead to Armageddon. That’s the word you used. How realistic is it, do you think, that Putin would use a tactical nuclear weapon?

Speaker 2: (00:31)
Well, I don’t think he will, but I think it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it. The idea that a world leader, one of the largest nuclear powers in the world says he may use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, and the whole point I was making was it could lead to just a horrible outcome. And not because anybody intends to turn it into a World War or anything, but it just… Once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations, who knows what would happen?

Speaker 1: (01:00)
What is the red line for the United States and NATO, and have you directed the Pentagon and other agencies to game out what a response would be if he did use a tactical nuclear weapon, or if he bombed the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, or anything along those lines?

Speaker 2: (01:17)
There’s been discussions of that, but I’m not going to get into that. It would be irresponsible of me to talk about what we would or wouldn’t do.

Speaker 1: (01:23)
Have you asked the Pentagon to game it out though? I mean, just in case?

Speaker 2: (01:27)
The Pentagon didn’t have to be asked.

Speaker 1: (01:29)
So, French President Macron told me that he doesn’t think that Putin is acting rationally. And he said that he thinks a lot of this is because of how isolated Putin was for two years during the pandemic. And others who have dealt with him, Condi Rice and Bob Gates and James Clapper have used words like erratic and unhinged to describe Putin’s behavior today. Do you think Putin is a rational actor?

Speaker 2: (01:57)
I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly. I think he thought… You may recall, I pointed out that they were going to invade, that all those hundred thousand were troops there, and no one believed that he was going to invade Ukraine. You listen to what he says, if you listen to the speech he made after, when that decision was being made, he talked about the whole idea of he needed to be the leader of Russia that united all of the Russian speaker… I just think it’s irrational.

Speaker 1: (02:31)
So if he’s not rational and-

Speaker 2: (02:34)
No, I didn’t say he’s not rational.

Speaker 1: (02:35)
You said the speech is [inaudible 00:02:37]-

Speaker 2: (02:37)
I think the speech, his objectives were not… Jake, I think he thought he was going to be welcome with open arms, that this has been the home of Mother Russia and Kyiv, and therefore he was going to be welcomed. And I think he just totally miscalculated it.

Speaker 1: (02:52)
So, you talked about this a few days ago, the search for an off-ramp for him, because his back is against the wall, there are questions about how rational he is. He already was a brutal dictator. What is the off-ramp? Is there any acceptable way that he can leave, in his mind, without seizing territory in a way that would not be acceptable to Ukraine?

Speaker 2: (03:19)
I don’t know what’s in his mind, but clearly he could leave. He could just flat leave and still probably hold his position together in Russia. The idea that he’s been able to convince the Russian people that this is something that he thought made sense, but now he’s accomplished what he wanted to do and it’s time to bring Russians home.

Speaker 1: (03:48)
Would you be willing to meet with him at the G20?

Speaker 2: (03:51)
Look, I have no intention of meeting with him. For example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, I want to talk about the release of Griner, I’d meet with them. I mean, it would depend, but I can’t imagine… Look, we’ve taken a position. I just did a G7 meeting this morning. The idea, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So I’m not about to, nor is anyone else prepared to negotiate with Russia about them staying in Ukraine, keeping any part of Ukraine, et cetera. So it would depend on specifically what he wanted to talk about.

Speaker 2: (04:26)
But look, he’s acted brutally. He’s acted brutally. I think he’s committed war crimes. So, I don’t see any rationale to meet with him now.

Speaker 1: (04:38)
When people hear the word Armageddon, they get scared, used by a US president, they get scared. Do you think in any way discussing this type of thing publicly, openly, Putin’s possible use of nuclear weapons might have the opposite effect of what you want? It might make some of our wobblier European allies be even more scared of confronting Putin?

Speaker 2: (05:03)
Well, no, I don’t think so at all. I think, look, it was a directed… What I’m talking about, I’m talking to Putin. He in fact cannot continue with impunity, to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that’s a rational thing to do. The mistakes get made and the miscalculation could occur. No one can be sure what would happen, and it could end in Armageddon.

Speaker 1: (05:27)
And you still are afraid of that though, that it could?

Speaker 2: (05:31)
Well, no, I don’t think any rational person is saying the initial use of a nuclear weapon killing thousands of people does not have the prospect of leading to something that can be way out of control.

Speaker 1: (05:44)
Let’s turn to Saudi Arabia. Some of your Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are afraid that the US got played when you went to Saudi Arabia and fist bumped with the Crown Prince, because now obviously a few months later, Saudi backed OPAC, is slashing oil production in partnership with Russia. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez just called for a freeze on cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including most armed sales. Senator Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate says the Saudis sided with Russia against the United States. Do you think it’s time for the US to rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia?

Speaker 2: (06:20)
Yes. And by the way, let’s get straight where I went. I didn’t go to… went about oil. I went about making sure that we made sure that we weren’t going to walk away from the Middle East and what was going on. And by the way, today, I just got off the telephone with the President of… I got off the phone with the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of Lebanon. They’ve worked out a deal. They’ve been at war, declared war with one another for a long time. They’ve worked out a boundary relationship in the Eastern Mediterranean, for oil. Then they’re going to make an agreement that is historic.

Speaker 2: (06:56)
We also got over… Flights for Israeli planes over Saudi Arabia, we got movement in terms of how we would deal in the Middle East with aggression from Iran. But it wasn’t… There were eight other parties there. It wasn’t about oil.

Speaker 1: (07:14)
Okay. But you would-

Speaker 2: (07:16)
But we should, we should. And I am in the process, when this House and Senate gets back, there’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia.

Speaker 1: (07:29)
What kind of consequences? Menendez says, “Suspend all arm sales.” Is that something you’d consider?

Speaker 2: (07:34)
I’m not going to get into what I’d consider and what I have in mind, but there will be consequences.

Speaker 1: (07:40)
The midterm elections are four weeks from today. The economy remains top of mind for voters. JP Morgan Chase CEO said the US is likely to enter a recession in the next nine months. Bank of America says the US could start losing a hundred to 75,000 jobs a month. Gas prices are on the rise again. Should the American people prepare for a recession?

Speaker 2: (08:01)
No. Look, they’ve been saying this now how… Every six months they say this. Every six months they look down the next six months and see what’s going to happen. It hadn’t happened yet. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to be… I don’t think there will be a recession. If it is, that’ll be a very slight recession, that is we’ll move down slightly.

Speaker 2: (08:23)
Look, think about what’s happened. We have done more, we’re in a better position than any other major country in the world, economically and politically. We still have real problems. But look what we’ve got done. We passed so much legislation, that significantly makes a point about, for example, the American Rescue Plan, the legislation to deal with inflation, the Inflation Act. We moved along… I mean, there’s so much that’s been accomplished, that the idea that there’s something, there’s an automaticity to recession is just not there. They’ve been predicting this off and on for the last-

Speaker 1: (09:06)
But you just said that a slight recession is possible.

Speaker 2: (09:09)
It is possible. Look, it’s possible. I don’t anticipate it. What I do think, look, we talk about the impact on families. The families are… They have reason to be concerned about energy prices. They have reason to be concerned about a whole range of issues. But look at what we’ve done. The Inflation Reduction Act, look, I know I’m always quoting my dad, but my dad used to say, “Is there any breathing room for a middle class family?” And the breathing room is after all the bills are paid at the end of the month, do they have anything left? And there’s more than one way to bring down the monthly cost for people who in fact are struggling, to make sure they have the ends meet and they have enough money.

Speaker 2: (09:53)
And that’s what we’ve done with the Inflation Reduction Act. Look, we’ve reduced drug prices. For the first time, we’ve been trying for years to get Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices. We pay the highest drug prices of any nation in the world, any major nation. We are going to be in a situation where no senior is going to have to pay more than $2,000 a year for the drugs, no matter how much they cost. They’re going to make sure that nobody has to pay more than $35 a month for insulin, et cetera. So, there’s so much that we’ve done.

Speaker 2: (10:25)
And the same with on energy. We passed the… Look, what I ran on, I said we’re going to deal with energy. And the energy problem, we’re going to deal with the whole notion of global warming. We pass $368 billion worth of help, which as the same, bankers talk about, is going to bring $700 billion off the sidelines, in investment. Look what’s happened… Look at the investment that’s going on in America right now.

Speaker 1: (10:52)
Yeah. So, you think Democrats have something to run on?

Speaker 2: (10:54)
Oh, I think we do. I know we do. And here’s the contrast; What’s the Republican platform going to run on? What are they running on? What are they for? Well, they want to put Social Security on the chopping block every five years. And the other leader comes along and says, “No, every year it should be up for grabs.” Medicare, Medicaid, these aren’t negotiable items in terms of whether you’re going to continue them or not. The first thing they said they’re going to do is get rid of the Inflation Reduction Act. And so what’s that do? They’re going to raise drug prices, raise medical costs again, be sure that we’re going to no longer be able to have the ability to have tax credits for weatherizing your home, saving money. I don’t know what they’re for.

Speaker 1: (11:38)
Our reporting, CNN’s reporting, and the Washington Post reporting suggests that prosecutors think they could… They have enough to charge your son, Hunter, for tax crimes and a false statement about a gun purchase. Personally and politically, how do you react to that?

Speaker 2: (11:54)
Well, first of all, I’m proud of my son. This is a kid who got… Not a kid, he’s a grown man. He got hooked on, like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that. He’s established a new life. I’m confident that he is… What he says and does are consistent with what happens. For example, he wrote a book about his problems, and was straightforward about it. I’m proud of him. He came along and said, “By the way, this thing about a gun. I didn’t know anything about it.” But turns out that when he made an application to purchase a gun, what happened was he stay… I guess you get asked… I don’t guess. You get asked the question, “Are you on drugs? You use drugs?” He said, “No.” And he wrote about saying no in his book. I have great confidence in my son. I love him. And he’s on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple years now, and I’m just so proud of him.

Speaker 1: (12:56)
You’re about to turn 80 next month. Happy birthday, ahead of time. Whenever anyone raises concerns about your age, you’re the oldest president in the history of the United States, you always say, “Watch me.” Voters have been watching you. Democratic voters approve of the job you’re doing. Democratic voters overwhelmingly like you. But one poll shows that almost two thirds of Democratic voters want a new nominee in 2024. And the top reason they gave was your age. So what’s your message to Democrats who like you, who like what you’ve done, but are concerned about your age and the demands of the job?

Speaker 2: (13:30)
Well, they’re concerned about whether or not I can get anything done. Look what I’ve gotten done. Name me a president in recent history who has gotten as much done as I have in the first two years. Not a joke. You may not like what I got done, but the vast majority of American people do like what I got done. It’s a matter of can you do the job? And I believe I can do the job. I’ve been able to do the job. I’ve gotten more done. I got the Inflation Reduction… I got all these pieces of legislation passed, and I ran on that. I said, “This is what I was going to do,” and I’m still getting it done.

Speaker 2: (14:02)
Dealing with making sure that veterans get compensated for the-

Speaker 1: (14:07)
Burn pits.

Speaker 2: (14:08)
… the burn pits, making sure that we’re in a situation where we finally have action on guns. And by the way, I’m going to get the assault weapons ban. Before this is over, I’m going to get that again. Not a joke, and watch. And so I just think it’s a matter of has anybody done more in the first two years of their administration for a guy who was… They’ve been saying this about my age since I began to run. So, you can come work out with me in the morning.

Speaker 1: (14:38)
Anytime, anytime. The big question, of course, is when you’re going to make an official announcement about whether or not you’re going to run for 2024, for reelection. Do you think you’ll make a decision before the end of the year?

Speaker 2: (14:50)
Well, look, I’m not going to make this about my decision. I’m going to make this about this off year election. After that’s done in November, then I’m going to be in the process of deciding.

Speaker 1: (14:59)
Is one of the calculations that you think you’re the only one who can beat Donald Trump?

Speaker 2: (15:05)
I believe I can beat Donald Trump again.

Speaker 1: (15:08)
All right, Mr. President, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it.

Speaker 2: (15:10)
Thank you.

Speaker 1: (15:11)
And I know you’re rooting for the Phillies.

Speaker 2: (15:13)
That’s a fact. If I weren’t, I’d be sleeping alone. I married a Philly girl.

Speaker 1: (15:17)
Oh, yeah. All right. Thank you, sir.

Speaker 2: (15:19)
Thank you.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.