Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid doubled down on his recent comments calling President Donald Trump amoral, a term he said describes someone immune to feeling guilt, during an interview Thursday morning on KNPR.
The longtime Nevada politician and former Senate majority leader broke his public silence earlier this month when The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy profile about him and, most notably, his thoughts on the nation’s commander-in-chief. The piece quickly made the social media rounds given Reid’s signature blunt assessment of the president.
He stood by those remarks.
“I used the word because I meant it. I have had dealings with the man,” Reid said of Trump. “I think he is amoral. I don’t think he has a conscience.”
The government shutdown — now in its 19th day — is an example of Trump being amoral, Reid said. He called the shutdown “a really, really horrible thing for our country,” which he said penalizes Americans living on shoestring budgets and creates a ripple effect that harms small businesses.
Reid said he never considered running for president and doesn’t think Hillary Clinton could have done much more to defeat Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign. He chalked up Trump’s victory to an election “aberration” fueled by voters’ distaste with the status quo.
“It was a time in this country when they were looking for something different and, believe me, they got something different,” he said. “Now, I think in hindsight people are going to have a lot of reflection on what they did because he has not been good for the country.”
Reid went on to criticize the president’s handling of foreign affairs, including what he perceives as ruined relations with Europe.
“Originally, when he was elected, I worried about America,” he said. “I’m now worried about the world and what he has done.”
Although not in the limelight since retiring two years ago, Reid’s comments made it clear he’s still very much a background figure in the nation’s political world. He mentioned talking to former President Bill Clinton recently. He also met for more than an hour with former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s considering a 2020 bid for the Oval Office, and has been fielding calls from other Democratic presidential contenders.
Reid declined to offer his presidential recommendation for the Democrats, saying that would interfere with Nevada’s caucus system. But Reid did voice support for his one-time foe, Republican Mitt Romney, whom he previously accused of not paying taxes. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and failed Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was elected to the Senate in November. He now represents Utah, where he re-established residency.
Reid danced around the controversial tax accusation. On the Senate floor in 2012, Reid said Romney had not paid any taxes for 10 years — a claim later debunked by PolitiFact.
“I never said he didn’t pay taxes,” he said. “I said he didn’t pay his fair share of taxes.”
Even so, Reid said the two men patched up their relationship during a meeting in Salt Lake City.
“I’m very happy to see that, for example, Mitt Romney is now a senator,” said Reid, who described him as the “moderate voice” Republicans need. “I think he would be a great foil against Trump. I think Republicans may even allow him to be nominated.”
Reid didn’t express regrets about his retirement. The 79-year-old said “now is not my time.”
The former senator recently underwent chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. But he took issue with wording in The New York Times Magazine piece, which indicated his days may be numbered.
“Well, I’m sure the guy writing the article is going to die, too, so I’m doing fine,” he said. “Everything was working out well. I’m strong and have a pretty good life, I think. I’m not worried about what someone says. I have good health care.”