WATCH: George W. Bush criticizes Donald Trump's attitudes toward free press, Russia

The 43rd president had some uncharacteristically harsh words about the current one

Published February 27, 2017 3:55PM (EST)

 ((AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File))
((AP Photo/Ron Edmonds, File))

President Donald Trump is being criticized for his attitudes toward the press and Russia by an unexpected source — former President George W. Bush.

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account," Bush told Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" Monday morning. "I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."

Trump has raised alarm by his recent references to critical media outlets as "fake news" and as "the enemy of the people."

Bush also expressed concern about the extent of Trump's relationship with Russia's ruling class, which has been extensively chronicled and led to the resignations of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"I think we all need answers," Bush told Lauer. "I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered."

Given Bush's own record as the president who governed America during the infamous Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, his criticism of Trump's proposed Muslim travel ban may have been the most pointed.

"I think it's very hard to fight the war on terrorism if we're in retreat," Bush said.

Although former president George H. W. Bush (George W. Bush's father) was willing to endorse Hillary Clinton due to his opposition toward Donald Trump, George W. Bush has traditionally avoided speaking out against his presidential successors since leaving the White House in 2009. In March 2009, he famously refused to criticize then-President Barack Obama by declaring that the newcomer "deserves my silence."


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has also appeared in Mic, MSN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Quartz, The Good Men Project, The Daily Dot, Alter Net, Raw Story and elsewhere.

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Donald Trump First Amendment Free Press George W Bush Russia