Hillary Clinton on Health Care, Impeachment and Gutsy Women

Hillary Clinton on Health Care, Impeachment and Gutsy Women

Hillary Clinton has been touring the country with her daughter, Chelsea, talking about “The Book of Gutsy Women.” But she took time to talk with Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook conference about, among other things, health care, impeachment and the 2020 election. The following conversation has been edited and condensed.

I want to talk to you a little bit about health care, because I know it’s an issue that you care so much about, and have thought a lot about. Because we seem to be in a very divided world, not just among two different parties, but even within the Democratic Party. “Medicare for all” versus public option — you look at what Elizabeth Warren presented and you think what?

I think that the debate within the Democratic Party is a very healthy debate to try to figure out how to achieve the goal of covering everybody with quality, affordable health care, O.K.? My view on this, having been working on it for many years now, is that the Affordable Care Act took us to 90 percent of coverage, the highest we’d ever gotten in our country, after many, many efforts, including the one I was involved in, you know, more than 25 years ago.

We have a 10 percent gap to fill, and we have a lot of learning to do about the best way, not only to fill the gap, but then to drive down costs as much as it’s possible to do so, without undermining quality advancements. O.K. So I believe the smarter approach is to build on what we have. A public option is something I’ve been in favor of for a very long time. I don’t believe we should be in the midst of a big disruption while we are trying to get to 100 percent coverage and deal with costs, and face some tough issues about competitiveness and other kinds of innovation in health care.

And if you look at our major competitors, a lot of them have mixed systems and produce very good outcomes — like Switzerland, Germany, etc.

O.K., philosophical question for you, maybe personal. When you think about the role that you were trying to get before President Trump got the job and now — do you think it’s now a different job fundamentally, that it’s been changed forever?

Wow, that’s a really — that’s a really interesting question, Andrew. I hope not. Because what I see is governance by impulse, by personal grievance, a sense of, you know, vengeance, vindication, a disregard for the rule of law, and undermining of our institutions, so I hope not. Because if that becomes the model. …Now, it is the model, unfortunately, for other leaders right now, you know?

Not just here in the United States, by the way.

That’s my point. That’s my point. I mean, you have all kinds of wannabes around the world who are cracking down on the press, who are trying to subvert or at the very least avoid institutions, the rule of law, etc. You’ve got that happening right now. And so I would like us to return to a presidency where we don’t have to wake up every day worried about what the president’s going to tweet, what’s going to happen next.

Throughout this whole conversation we have not raised — or at least I have not raised — one word, which is “impeachment.” And you know a lot about impeachment.

Oh, yes I do.

So we can talk about that. But what I wanted to understand from you, knowing what you know about the situation with Ukraine and the president, would you say unequivocally that you’d impeach him today?

Based on what I know, yes. And here’s why. And as you alluded, I was on the staff as a very young lawyer that investigated President Nixon. So I spent 18-hour days for, you know, seven months collecting evidence, analyzing it, doing the legal analysis, obviously the constitutional analysis. Why did our founders put that in there?

You know, we have elections, so you don’t like somebody or you think they’re not performing well, you know, you vote them out. But they worried so much about somebody being in power, particularly the presidency, in between elections who would do irreparable damage to the country. And the high crimes and misdemeanors was a way, borrowed from ancient Anglo-Saxon law, to express their concern and to put a mechanism into the Constitution. So I think Nancy Pelosi resisted, you know, the calls that a lot of people had after whatever happened, emoluments this, obstruction of justice that. You know, no.

Would you have impeached on those issues?

No. But I wouldn’t necessarily exclude them now from articles of impeachment. But the reason why Ukraine broke through is that it was abundantly clear, even to people who were indifferent toward all the other challenges or questions about Trump, that there’s got to be something really wrong with a president using the power of the office to intimidate, extort, bribe the president of another country to do his bidding by manufacturing scandalous material about apparently the opponent that he was most worried about.

Let me just ask you this. Case for optimism: You wrote a book called “The Book of Gutsy Women.” And I want to understand, if you could, to give us the case for optimism today.

You know, I am fundamentally optimistic, because I think the worm is turning. I think that, you know, people are beginning to wake up and say, you know, “Hey, come on, this is — you know, this doesn’t make sense.” We need to get back to our usual political arguments, not what’s happening now.

And so my daughter and I wrote a book called “The Book of Gutsy Women” because we wanted to highlight women whose courage, resilience, really inspired us, and women from the past, obviously women of our current time. And some of them faced extraordinary burdens, and challenges and tragedies of all sorts. But they didn’t quit; they kept going. And part of that was their gutsiness, but it was imbued with an optimism.

You were on “Good Morning America” recently with Chelsea. And it almost went without comment, so I wanted to ask you about it: You were asked what was your gutsiest personal moment. And you said staying with your husband.

Yes, it was. It was really hard. It was not by any means an easy or foreordained decision. But at the end of it, after a lot of soul-searching, and prayer, and counseling, and talking to my closest friends, thinking about my family, thinking about, you know, how much we loved each other and all we’d been through I decided it was the right thing for me. But I have always said it’s not necessarily the right thing for everybody. People have to make their own decision in such a personal moment.


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