Transcript of Jesse Ventura on Piers Morgan
From Jeff Sheridan:
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“MORGAN: Now to a man who’s done it all. Professional wrestler, actor, governor of Minnesota and perhaps presidential candidate. Who knows? Jesse Ventura is the outspoken author of “DemoCRIPS and Repub – I can’t even say it – “ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs In Government.” And Jesse Ventura joins me On the Grill tonight. Jesse, how are you?
JESSE VENTURA, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: I’m doing good, Piers. How are you? I just got back from Mexico about two weeks ago.
MORGAN: There’s been about five stories in the news involving big political scandals recently. Every time I though to myself, I wonder what Jesse Ventura thinks of that. So now is my chance to put you on the grill and go through them.
Let’s start with today’s development at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has now upheld the police practice of taking DNA samples from people who have been arrested but not convicted of a crime. What is your view?
VENTURA: Well, again, the assault on our Bill of Rights is just astounding that we’re allowing the government to destroy all the protections in our country. I do have to confess to you, Piers, as we get into this grilling, I may not be as good as you want because this year when I went to Mexico, I did not watch any television from January 2nd until about two weeks ago, and I still haven’t watched the news yet.
MORGAN: Well, I can fill you in on any of the gaps, Jesse. I’m sure it won’t take you long.
Let me ask you this. What is the difference — what is the difference between the police taking a DNA sample and fingerprinting you?
VENTURA: I don’t know. You know, I guess because to fingerprint you, aren’t they supposed to charge you with a crime? I think that you should have to be charged with a crime before they’re allowed to do any of that to you. You know, they need to arrest you and officially charge you with a crime.
MORGAN: Let’s just move to Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning, the Wikileaks soldier. There is a 21-year-old soldier who finds all this stuff online, which is obviously supposed to be secret, spills it all to Wikileaks because he believes it’s manifestly wrong that the American military is doing all this stuff. Is he a victim of an attack on his own freedom of speech rights, the way that he’s being treated?
VENTURA: I do. I think he’s a necessary whistleblower. I mean, when bad things happen, certainly we don’t like to hear about them, but we certainly need to know about them. And I know the one thing I saw was the particular incident where a helicopter apparently was shooting innocent people down in a street in Iraq and, you know, those are serious things and again I never bad mouth our military because I view many times that the military’s victims also.
Whenever there’s a war it’s because of failed politics. It’s the politicians’ failure and then you’re required to go to war. And many of the wars we’re fighting right now I don’t think are necessary, especially the Iraq war. It was based upon lies. It was based on untruth and we went into this country, invaded it, overthrew their government and occupied them.
And I’ve never been in favor of that war from the moment they decided to do it, because there wasn’t one Iraqi involved in 9/11 at all, and everything they told us, they never did anything to us. Why would you attack someone who never did anything? (CROSSTALK)
MORGAN: But — but Jesse, but Jesse. Jesse. On Bradley Manning, though, there’s no doubt that some of what he revealed was overtly in the public interest. And he supposed did a lot of wrongdoing by doing so. But what he should have done, I would argue, is done this the proper way. Gone to his commanding officer, said what he’d seen.
MORGAN: If the commanding officer didn’t do anything, then discharge himself from the Army and apply under the Freedom of Information for specific details about what he’d seen. Why wouldn’t you encourage people to do it that way?
VENTURA: Well, maybe so, you know. I can’t — I can’t think for Bradley Manning. I can’t imagine what went through his mind when he saw some of the horrific things that he felt were that horrible and that the public needed to know about. But I also counter and say what’s the deal when our government labels top secret literally millions of documents a year, we’re not allowed to know about.
Now I understand having been in the military there are certain things you can’t reveal, but after the fact, after it’s all over, everything should be revealed, in my opinion, and I state this because as a taxpayer, I’m entitled to know everything my government does because I pay for it, and I’m entitled to know what my money is spent on.
MORGAN: Right, but there — but there is an argument and you would again know this from a military point of view. And I’ve got military in my family. That the time for all the information to be revealed should be after a conflict, should be after there is no ongoing operational risk to the troops on the ground, or to diplomats or to whoever it may be.
There’s no doubt that Bradley Manning, given the scale of what he released, put a lot of people’s lives potentially into danger. Where do you draw the line?
VENTURA: I don’t know. I haven’t read everything he released, but then again, if you’re seeing something that you deem to be murder, how do you sit on that? You took an oath.
MORGAN: Well, I — I agree but if —
VENTURA: And you have to remember, in the military —
MORGAN: Jesse, there are 700,000 documents. Clearly a lot of that —
VENTURA: In the military —
MORGAN: — did not involved murder.
VENTURA: OK. But in the military, you take an oath, you take an oath to protect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And within that, that’s what you take an oath to. And I can’t answer for what Bradley Manning thought. I — he — maybe he potentially put people in danger, maybe not, but sometimes who knows what compels a person and motivates a person to be a whistleblower, but thank goodness that we have some because, you know, our government is not truthful to us that often.
They’re very misleading at times and they’re very political and they’re not honest.
MORGAN: Do you agree —
VENTURA: Somebody out there needs to keep them honest.
MORGAN: Do you agree with the Department of Justice and Eric Holder, the attorney general, targeting journalists, you know, going after the Associated Press or the FOX News journalists for information about potential leaks?
VENTURA: Well, first of all, I think that we — we got bigger fish to fry. We’ve got people down in Guantanamo who haven’t been charged with anything —
MORGAN: Well, let’s come to that. Let’s come to — but Jesse.
VENTURA: They’re — well, they’re literally holding them until they die.
MORGAN: Right. We’ll come to Guantanamo. But here’s my point. If you’re going to defend Bradley Manning as a great freedom fighter, revealing information that should be in the public interest and he should —
VENTURA: I’m not saying that.
MORGAN: No, I’m saying if you take that position, though, if anybody takes that position, that he shouldn’t be prosecuted for what he did, how could you then justify the targeting of journalists who are revealing equally valuable information in the public interest?
VENTURA: I fully agree. You don’t get no argument from me on that, Piers.
MORGAN: So they shouldn’t be doing it.
VENTURA: They should not be. They should not be doing it, absolutely not. There’s another example of these two parties and our administrations completely ignoring the Bill of Rights. You know, it’s about time we hold them to the fabric of our country, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. And enough of this, allowing them to simply run roughshod over the very document that defines the United States of America.
MORGAN: Let’s take a short break, Jesse. Let’s come back while you’re nicely boiled up now. We’ll talk to you about targeting right- wing groups by the IRS. Pretty sure I know what you’re going to say about this. And I look forward to hearing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VENTURA: You know, they always say, Piers, in the private sector, competition is good, right? Isn’t that what we always hear? Well, how come competition isn’t good for president? Why has it been 20 years since we’ve seen any third voice in a presidential debate? Because these two parties will — they make the rules and they will not let anyone else win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Jesse Ventura on this show last year. The former governor of Minnesota has been hinting about a presidential run in 2016. Even if doesn’t that mean to be more political his opinions, you don’t Jesse Ventura. He’s back with me now on “The Grill.”
Jesse, I mean, are you seriously thinking still about potentially running?
VENTURA: Well, 2016 would be the year to do it, Piers, because you don’t — as an independent, you don’t want an incumbent, so the office will be wide open. That’s what I looked at in Minnesota.
And I’ll tell you right now what I would run on. I would run with no political party and I would give the people of the United States of America the opportunity to elect their first president since George Washington, the father of our country, who does not belong to a political party. And I believe the time is right for that in 2016.
I believe on that issue alone, you would have a great chance to win the presidency because there are that many people out there who are completely disgusted with both of these political parties, and would have the chance to make history and elect since George Washington, with no party affiliation, if Jesse Ventura ran.
MORGAN: What did you think of the IRS targeting right-wing groups?
VENTURA: Well, first of all, let me state one thing I would do is abolish the income tax and go to a national sales tax, and then you wouldn’t even have the IRS, or you would reverse their role and you would make them the watchdog of the government to make sure they spend our money properly.
So having said that, I don’t particularly like — when I got targeted before, way back politically when I was mayor of Brooklyn Park. I got audited two years in a row and came out fine. In fact, at one point they owed me money but I never got it because I had to pay my accountant who took care of the business for me.
The IRS is one place where I don’t go represent myself, Piers, because you — I’d get in too much trouble there. But I don’t particularly like the IRS.
MORGAN: I don’t think anybody likes the IRS. That’s not really the point of the IRS, is it? Nobody likes paying taxes.
Talking of getting into trouble, I want to talk to you about a slightly sensitive matter. And I know you’re going to be careful what you say here. But you’re currently involved in a lawsuit against the wife of the slain sniper, Chris Kyle. He was of course gunned down —
MORGAN: — at a shooting range by a troubled former Marine.
MORGAN: You had a defamation lawsuit against Chris Kyle when he was still alive for allegations —
MORGAN: — he made in his book about a brawl that you had allegedly been involved with, and you’ve now decided —
MORGAN: — to continue the action even though he’s died. Why have you continued it?
VENTURA: Well, because it’s always been about clearing my name and getting back my reputation. This never happened, and the only way that I can do that, Piers, is to go into court and let’s present the evidence and let a jury and a judge determine whether this incident occurred, because it did not happen. So I feel totally fine with going to court over it and I will continue to pursue that, because how am I going to run for political office if I do decide to do that nationally with this hanging over my head.
I was accused by this gentleman of committing treason. That’s very serious. In fact, it’s a capital offense in the military. And I want to clear my name because the event and everything written about it did not happen. It never occurred.
MORGAN: But Jesse —
VENTURA: And the only place I can do that is to exercise my right to go to court. It is not about money. It’s about restoring my reputation.
MORGAN: But do you not feel slightly uncomfortable about the fact you’re now suing his widow? VENTURA: No. Because an insurance company is paying for the whole thing anyway. It’s the insurance company of the book publisher. It has nothing to do with me. I just have to sue her simply because she is now the estate since he has passed away. It’s just a legal procedure you have to go through because of a death. I would have continued this lawsuit all the way to court because I have to clear my reputation after what he did to it.
MORGAN: Jesse Ventura, always good to talk to you. Thanks for joining me.
VENTURA: Thank you, Piers. I appreciate you letting me clear that up for you.”