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Transcript: H.R. McMaster on "Face the Nation," February 6, 2022

McMaster "absolutely" agrees with Pence over Trump
McMaster "absolutely" agrees with Pence that he couldn't overturn election 05:08

The following is a transcript of an interview with former national security adviser and retired General H.R. McMaster that aired Sunday, February 6, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to former National Security Adviser retired Gen. H.R. McMaster, who is with us from Palo Alto, California. Good morning to you and I understand you can hear me now. So that's good. I want to go-

GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER: Good morning, MARGARET. It's great to be with you. Thanks for your perseverance. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. Well, let's pick up on that question I put to you. Do you agree with the former Vice President Mike Pence, that Donald Trump was wrong in what he claims about the 2020 election?

GEN. MCMASTER: Absolutely, and all Americans should agree with Vice President Pence and you- it's time, MARGARET, I think, to demand more from our political leaders, demand that they stop compromising confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes to score partisan political points. And as you know, this happens across both political parties and it's just time to stop.

MARGRET BRENNAN: And you do you believe January 6th  was in any way legitimate political discourse?

GEN. MCMASTER: No, it was- it was illegitimate political discourse because it was an assault on the first branch of government. And so I think it's really important for us to come together now, MARGARET. And you know, I mean, I really think it is possible to improve the transparency in the security of our elections while ensuring that every eligible voter gets to vote. So I think what we need to do is stop posturing across these political parties and begin conversations with what we can agree on. I mean, your show has been great. I got to listen to the whole thing to be here at the end, but it is pretty clear that we are emerging from a number of traumas of the past couple of years, and it's time for Americans to come together and to restore our confidence in who we are as a people and in our democratic principles and institutions and processes. And of course, Russia preys on our weaknesses in the divisions and tries to portray democracy as weak. But you know, MARGARET, I believe that totalitarianism is fragile and weak and democracies are resilient and we can work together and- and come out of these traumas stronger.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for your clarity on those questions. General, the Trump administration back in 2018 was the first to give lethal aid to Ukraine, the anti-tank systems. It didn't deter Vladimir Putin from what appears to be a plan to invade. Why not?

GEN. MCMASTER: Well, who knows what it deterred more, it's hard to- it's hard to prove a negative. Of course, Russia will push, Putin will push until he meets strong resistance. And so what we really need and what you're starting to see, I think, is deterrence by denial. Convincing Putin that he can no longer accomplish objectives through the use of force. And- and so if- if his objective is to divide NATO, what he needs to see is a NATO who comes together with it- with a stronger and higher degree of unity. If he wants to, if he wants to weaken Ukraine and keep it under its thumb, he's going to see obviously, a rise of nationalist sentiment in Ukraine. And Ukraine is doing everything they can to strengthen themselves, not only militarily but also economically. And what I'd like to do is see the whole world amplify the Ukrainians' voices and actually support them militarily, but also economically as well. And you know, MARGARET, I think what you see this past week is some anxiety on the part of Ukrainian leaders because as Russia continues to prepare for what looks like a renewed, massive offensive against Ukraine's port, remember they already invaded Ukraine.


GEN. MCMASTER: Seven thousand Ukrainians have already died as a result. So I think we need to help Ukraine economically as well, as well as threaten Russia with economic consequences. What can we do to help strengthen Ukraine in the face of this crisis?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, what do you think is the impact then of this growing alliance between Russia and China, and you know, is China going to be emboldened by what happens next in Europe?

GEN. MCMASTER: I think possibly depending on how we respond, and of course, China already is more and more aggressive in terms of extending and tightening its exclusive grip on power internally, you've seen how they've gone across sectors of the economy, continuing the genocidal campaign in Xinjiang, extinguishing human freedom in Hong Kong, persecuting journalists and anybody who might criticize the Chinese government during the Olympics have been intimidated or or imprisoned. And then, of course, externally as well, Margaret and we've seen them bludgeon Indian soldiers to death on the Himalayan frontier. You're weaponizing these islands in the South China Sea. Now they're painting some of their naval ships Coast Guard colors so they can claim really the biggest land grab in history in the South China Sea. And then, of course, Taiwan is probably the most dangerous flashpoint, and we've seen how aggressive they've been there as well. So it's really important, I think, for the free world to come together to strengthen again our confidence and to communicate to these totalitarian regimes that they can't accomplish their objectives at our expense.

MARGARET BRENNAN: H.R. McMaster, I have much more to talk to you about on China. I'm going have to leave it right there for this moment, though, that's going to be up for us today at FACE THE NATION. Thank you for sticking with us through some bumps. We'll see you next week.

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