Tony Blair: Drama surrounding Woodward book, Trump White House a 'global soap opera'

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday described the latest drama surrounding the Trump White...

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 3:09 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 3:09 PM

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday described the latest drama surrounding the Trump White House as a "global soap opera" -- one that even people across the world are interested in.

"Well, this is the sort of global soap opera, isn't it?" Blair told CNN when asked why Bob Woodward's bombshell new book, "Fear: Trump in the White House" is selling well in the United Kingdom.

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"I haven't read it myself," Blair told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day" Wednesday. "I've read about it because you can't really escape it."

The book -- from the same legendary Washington Post journalist who helped break the story of Watergate during the Nixon administration -- offers an unsparing portrait of a dysfunctional White House surrounding President Donald Trump. Woodward's latest book has been met with intense criticism and pushback from Trump himself, as well as other members of his administration.

Blair suggested that politics are in a state of upheaval both in the US and abroad and added that he would like to see closer ties between America and Europe during Trump's tenure.

"Frankly, politics everywhere is in a pretty strange state right now, here and back home and across Europe," Blair said. "It's very important that America and Europe rediscover the importance of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. It remains the bedrock of our stability, our security, our future prosperity, and in the light of the challenges that are coming down the track at us, that is the single biggest concern I have."

Trump and Russia

The former British Prime Minister weighed in on the US relationship during the Trump administration with Russia, which critics of the White House have argued is too cozy. Blair said that it's normal for world leaders to look for areas of cooperation but stressed that when it comes to Russia, "you've got to call them out" when necessary.

"Russia is an extraordinarily difficult phenomenon to deal with," Blair said. "In certain areas and on certain topics, you have to work with Russia. Practically every American President, every British Prime Minister wants to try to get into the right relationship with Russia of cooperation."

Trump has faced criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers for not going far enough in rebuking Russia for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election, but Blair suggested that Trump's approach to dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin is comparable to actions by past US presidents.

"It's the same thing that all American presidents that I can remember, President (Barack) Obama wanted to do a 'reset,' President (George W.) Bush thought that he could work with President Putin," he said. Blair added, however, that he prefers to "judge the (Trump) administration on their actions."

"Those actions actually have been pretty strong," Blair said. "America recently has strengthened its forces in Eastern Europe, I welcome that. ... America, in certainly your defense department here, is making a very strong commitment to the defense of Eastern Europe, which is right."

The problem is that Russia continues to overstep, Blair said, citing Russian interference in "democratic processes all over Europe" as one example.

"It's got to be absolutely clear what's acceptable and what isn't," Blair said.

Asked if Trump needs to be warned about the threat posed by Putin, Blair said, "I'm sure he's been told that many times."

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