In Simi Valley, Former President George W. Bush Says Recent Remarks Misconstrued as Criticism of Trump

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Former President George W. Bush greets the crowd during a discussion about his new book ‘Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors’ at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on March 1, 2017 in Simi Valley. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Former President George W. Bush on Wednesday pushed back at the notion that his recent remarks about the media were criticisms of President Trump.

“I’m asked the question, ‘Do I believe in free press?’ and the answer is absolutely, I believe in free press … because the press holds people to account,” he said. “Power is very addictive and it’s corrosive if it becomes central to your life and therefore there needs to be an independent group of people who hold you to account. And so I answered that question and of course the headlines were, ‘Bush criticizes Trump.’ And so therefore I needed to say, ‘There should be a free and independent press, but it ought to be accurate.’”

Bush made the remarks at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley during an hourlong question-and-answer session promoting “Portraits of Courage,” his new book that features his paintings of veterans. While doing media interviews about the book in recent days, he has raised eyebrows by making comments about the media, immigrants and allegations of Russian interference in the November presidential election that were widely viewed as criticisms of the new president.

He said that he decided once he left the office not to second-guess his successor, former President Obama, and that the same holds true for Trump. Doing so would undermine the office, Bush said, adding that he wants all of his successors to succeed because it is good for the nation.

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