Show NotesEpisode 1 - Liberty & Justice with Matt Whitaker and Special Guest Ambassador Ric Grenell.
Former acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker and Former Ambassador to Germany and Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell discuss current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the increasing threat from China, UFC and mixed martial arts fighting and Ric’s plan to fix the State of California.
Ric Grenell is not your typical Republican. FixCalifornia.com
He is seen by many as the embodiment of the American First agenda through his bold approach as one of the nation’s top diplomats and during his transformative service as the Acting Director of National Intelligence.
Born in Michigan, Grenell went to Elementary school in Redwood City, California, and high school in Jenison, Michigan. He describes himself as an “imperfect follower of Christ,” who was driven into public service through his faith. He has worked for decades to advance conservative policies and candidates as a principled and consistent voice for the American people.
Prior to becoming the longest serving U.S. political appointee at the United Nations, Ric served as a top advisor to San Diego Mayor Susan Golding. He has since gone on to become one of the most impactful diplomats in American history. As the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Ric advanced President Trump’s America First policies, facing down international foes like Iran and Hezbollah. Ric’s effectiveness earned him the ire of some in the international political establishment and among European leftists, which he relished.
It was also during this period that Ambassador Grenell was appointed by President Trump to spearhead the Administration’s effort to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.
Ric was the Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations, where he was able to broker an historic Economic Normalization deal. His role in the effort earned him the Presidential Medal of Merits from Kosovo President Thaçi. At the request of President Trump in 2020, Ric served as the acting Director of National Intelligence. This appointment meant Ric became the first Senate-confirmed Cabinet member who was openly gay – a reality the media has tried to ignore.
'Grenell received a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and his Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Public Administration from Evangel College. He currently serves as a Senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s Institute for Politics and Strategy
Ric resides in Southern California with his partner, Matt, and their dog, Lola.
Ric on Twitter @richardgrenell
Fix California on Facebook
Ric on Instagram
Matthew G. Whitaker was acting Attorney General of the United States (2018-2019). Prior to becoming acting Attorney General, Mr. Whitaker served as Chief of Staff to the Attorney General. He was appointed as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa by President George W. Bush, serving from 2004-2009. Whitaker was the managing partner of Des Moines based law firm, Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP from 2009 until rejoining DOJ in 2017. He was also the Executive Director for FACT, The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust, an ethics and accountability watchdog, between 2014 and 2017. Mr. Whitaker is Author of the book -- Above the Law, The Inside Story of How the Justice Department Tried to Subvert President Trump.
Mr. Whitaker graduated with a Master of Business Administration, Juris Doctor, and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa. While at Iowa, Mr. Whitaker was a three-year letterman on the football team where he received the prestigious Big Ten Medal of Honor.
Mr. Whitaker is now a Co-Chair of the Center for Law and Justice at America First Policy Institute and a Senior Fellow at the American Conservative Union Foundation. Matt is on the Board of Directors for America First Legal Foundation and is a Senior Advisor to IronGate Capital Advisors. He is also Of Counsel with the Graves Garrett law firm. Whitaker appears regularly to discuss legal and political issues on Fox News, Newsmax and other news outlets. He splits his time between Iowa, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Eposode TranscriptMatt Whitaker [00:00:18] Welcome to Liberty and Justice with your host, Matt Whitaker. Welcome to Liberty and Justice. I'm Matt Whitaker. I'm the former acting attorney general of the United States. I'm excited to have this opportunity to share my thoughts and talk every week with thinkers, leaders and doers across this country that care deeply about our country. Thank you to CPAC for streaming this show every Friday at seven p.m. Eastern Time. As part of their CPAC Now lineup, you can also connect with me at Whitaker Dot TV. Before I get to my guest Ric Grenell, I want to share what is on my heart this week. As I travel around this country, I get many opportunities to speak to our fellow Americans, and what we talk about is what will restore American greatness. One of those things is the citizen servant. This is the concept that a citizen raises their hand at whatever level they choose. Then, after serving a limited time, they go back to their community and live under the laws that they passed. The power is with the people, and career politicians can never fix our country or restore our republic from within. You know, the American dream does not exist without America. There is no French dream. There is no German dream. We are a beacon of freedom and opportunity throughout this world. The American dream is only limited by one's imagination, grit, perseverance and an ability to define and achieve your own success on your own terms. I learned this from growing up in the Reagan era, and his doctrine of peace through strength was so important to American supremacy. Strong American leadership is good for the world. Reagan taught us the winning recipe, in addition to strong American leadership, is that success for our country includes limited government coupled with personal responsibility. You know, there's an ever-growing threat from the East and that is China: through fentanyl distribution, IP theft and so many other ways, China is trying to destabilize and dethrone America as the world's superpower. We cannot and must not allow that to happen. And I look forward to exploring that here on Liberty and Justice. Thanks for joining me today on Liberty and Justice, where we not only discuss the many challenges our great country face and the unique challenges that only we can solve. We talk about common sense, practical solutions to those problems. I'm optimistic about our future, and our best days are certainly ahead of us, but only if we come together with a shared purpose of restoring this great republic to its foundational principles like individual liberty, economic prosperity and limited government. Please sign up for our newsletter at Whitaker.tv To stay in touch so you never miss a thing. Today's guest is Ambassador Ric Grenell, a great American. Ric served as Trump's ambassador to Germany and director of National Intelligence. Great to be joined with my good friend Ric Grenell, former ambassador to Germany and director of National Intelligence Ric, thanks for joining us.
Ric Grenell [00:03:28] Matt, I almost don't recognize you without a tie.
Matt Whitaker [00:03:30] I did this for you. You know, we every time that we've appeared together, you, you know, we're an open collared shirt and maybe a blazer, oftentimes a vest. And I just I'm trying to take advice.
Ric Grenell [00:03:43] Yeah, it looks good.
Matt Whitaker [00:03:44] Thank you. You know, I I have good advisers that dress me, so. So let's let's get right into it, you know, I mean, this is like a timely conversation because I'm watching, like a lot of Americans, what's happening between Russia and Ukraine? And why don't you? Why don't you tell me and tell, tell us what's happening, why it's happening and then what Joe Biden and his administration are completely getting wrong as it relates to that situation.
Ric Grenell [00:04:10] So I think it's important just to remember that, you know, during the Barack Obama administration, the Russians, Putin rewrote the borders of Europe by grabbing this area of Ukraine called Crimea, and they just took it and there were no consequences. And I think you've got to understand that when Putin grabs a part of Ukraine and says this is now mine and Europe just kind of rings its hands and complains, but no other action, and the United States doesn't really take any action. I think that he learns a big lesson. What's interesting to me, though, Matt, is that from 2016 to 2020, Putin didn't do any of this. He didn't move. He didn't try to go on borders. It was quite astonishing. He was in his best behavior mode, and I think that's because of Donald Trump. I will say this that I heard from European leaders constantly when I was ambassador in Germany, and they would say it as a complaint, but they would always say to me, You know, I just I don't know what your president's going to do. He's very unpredictable. And they meant it as a negative. And I remember always smiling and thinking, that's exactly what we're supposed to do
Matt Whitaker [00:05:31] crazy like a fox.
Ric Grenell [00:05:32] But but yeah, and I and I think that's where we are, is that from 2016 to 2020, Putin was well behaved and now he's defaulted back to the Barack Obama Joe Biden days since Joe Biden is president. And look, he's moving troops to the border. He's threatening Ukraine again. He's always tried to threaten Ukraine. Now, one thing to remember about this region is that Putin does not want to see an expansion of NATO. That is the one thing that you have to understand. He doesn't like the former Soviet countries that are now members of NATO have always frightened him. They're too close to his border, and he's made that clear. Even in the Trump administration, President Putin would say, You know, I just don't want to see an expansion of NATO's my position. And I think the Trump administration's position was always like, I'm not sure we should be expanding NATO's when the current countries aren't paying NATO's obligations. Why are we going to extend this umbrella to new members when we are not even getting the full participation from them?
Matt Whitaker [00:06:42] And it feels like I'm sorry to interrupt Ric, but it feels like that the NATO's allies always turn to us to fix this problem, and they are expecting us to, you know, put our troops somehow in Eastern Europe to....
Ric Grenell [00:06:58] But I think we're to blame that. I mean, what are we, you know, wouldn't they? Right? Why wouldn't they do it? And then to be honest, I've been in the conversation with Chancellor Merkel and President Trump, and I've watched them communicate and there's incredible respect there. But I have been in that room when President Trump would say to Chancellor Merkel, Look, I don't blame you. I don't blame you for not paying your NATO obligations and not paying money when you have been allowed to by consecutive American presidents to not pay your fair share. And yet Americans have fifty thousand troops in your country protecting you. Is any other country Iran is? North Korea is, you know, Russia going to invade Germany when there's 50000 American troops? The answer's no. So why? Why wouldn't she want to do it on the cheap? And and remember that the Germans have a budget surplus? Yeah, think about that. And I get annoyed with the Germans. I like the people very much, and I was always very respectful, even with Chancellor Merkel. But she knew exactly where I stood because I would be blunt. When I was there, we had watched right down the street in Berlin, and this is a situation that that didn't get a lot of press. But the North Koreans ran a hotel, a hostel in the middle of Berlin, and they were getting money. But yet the U.N. had North Korea under sanctions for its nuclear ambitions. And yet Germany, the largest economy in Europe, was like, Oh, we're fine with this hotel from the North Koreans in the middle of Berlin. And when I got to Berlin, you know, most people at the embassy was like, Oh yeah, this has been around for decades. You can't do anything about it. And I was like, the Heck, I can't. This is ridiculous. And so I just went after it and and said, What are you doing? You're flouting. You know, it's just beyond me. They would ignore international sanctions and they would get away with it, so it's a lot, by the way, we did get that youth hostel shut down while I was there and there wasn't a big fanfare about it, but we did. But but here is the problem with the Germans is that they have a Germany first economic model. They definitely want to trade with everyone. They want to sell cars to everybody. They don't share the same threat assessment. They don't believe Iran is going to bomb them. They don't believe Iran's going to attack them or North Korea is going to attack them or Russia. They have a great relationship. And so we should not be scrambling to to have a totally same policy between US and Germany when they don't share the same threat.
Matt Whitaker [00:09:54] And with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which my understanding because you've been, you know, you were right there on this as it was being constructed. But my understanding is, is that essentially that bypasses the Ukraine, which was usually the terminus of the natural gas pipeline and takes it more into the heart. And maybe it takes it all the way to Germany. And you know, you were outspoken like, we shouldn't do this. This is a bad idea. Biden is now threatened to shut it down, even though he greenlighted it too recently, and so
Ric Grenell [00:10:27] took off the sanctions he gave them.
Matt Whitaker [00:10:29] And so it seems to me that that is that the only tool we have to keep Russia from, you know, essentially making Ukraine a satellite state.
Ric Grenell [00:10:40] It's a good question. I think it's also important to kind of talk about why we're against Nord Stream two. Right. So the United States has a policy that we believe other countries, including ourselves, should have a diversified supply of energy. No one should get energy from one country, and it's obvious you don't want that other country who's supplying you energy to overly leverage against you or cause you to be beholden to them simply because you need their energy. You're trapped. And so we, the United States, believes that Nord Stream 1 is a part of Europe's diversified energy structure, including Germany's, but that Nord Stream 2 went too far. And so I always try to educate people to say, Look, we we're not against Russian gas. Of course we buy some and we want to just make sure that it's not overly supplied. And so Nord Stream 1 is a part of it. Nord Stream 2 is not, in our opinion, a good thing to do. And so we've had that policy for a long time. But again, remember, you know, Chancellor Merkel knew that the United States and others in Europe were against this Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and she went ahead with it anyway. She she started building it during the Obama administration, and there was no big outcry back then. And I blame the Obama-Biden administration for allowing that to even take hold. And so, you know, now what we're hearing from Chancellor Olaf Schultz, the new chancellor of Germany, is that if Russia invades, then they're going to do something with us about Nord Stream 2. I think that's a bunch of baloney. They didn't do anything when Crimea happened when the Russians invaded Ukraine the first time and took land, Nord Stream 2 pipeline continued. And so I think that you have to look at the German energy models and realize they are desperate for Russian gas. Now I'm going to finish with this because it really angered me during the Trump administration and Chancellor Merkel told me told President Trump, told me multiple times that she would and the German government would build two liquid natural gas terminals inside Germany to receive liquid natural gas, some of which would be U.S. LNG. But it would also be other countries LNG. But to be able to to, you know, solve the diversification problem is, you know, she would say, we're not beholden to Russia and to prove it to you, we're going to build two new LNG facilities and we'll bring in a supply from other countries. That's what she promised. She told me constantly. She told President Trump that constantly they canceled the two terminals. And as Joe Biden got into office. So, you know, I'm a tough diplomat. And I think that we can avoid war by do it by utilizing economic sanctions and other tools of the U.S. government. I think the Biden team has just defaulted to troops on the ground and DOD and Pentagon and shoved the State Department right off to the side because if they would have put sanctions on or kept the sanctions of what the Trump team had put on for Nord Stream 2, we wouldn't be in this situation. Russia would not be able to to, you know, be so belligerent and amass troops along the Ukraine border. But, you know, Joe Biden maximized and would rather have good relations with the German government because he believes, you know, in the roar of the crowd applauding him more than he does in an America First.
Matt Whitaker [00:14:41] Yeah, and it seems to. All the while Putin is very keen on, you know, who the president is because, you know, like you said, an Obama administration, Obama, Biden, they annexed Crimea to use as probably they did more than annex it. But you know, they essentially by force took over a warm water port. You know, that was very important to their strategic ability to project power because otherwise they, you know, there are only other ports were, you know, frozen some of the year. And now, you know, obviously they're they're trying to, you know, take some of this Ukraine in the Biden administration because I think the calculus is saying that this is not they're not tough and they're going to ultimately not be able to, I guess, stomach what it's going to take to deter Russia from from invading Ukraine. What look in your crystal ball, Ric? I mean, you spent a lot of time in that part of the world and you have a lot of relationships still. What do you think is the timeline if Russia is going to move and what's it look like when they do move?
Ric Grenell [00:15:48] So I actually don't believe that Russia will do it, although we do have the history that after the Olympics, they moved on Crimea. So we've got to be concerned about what they're going to do after the Olympics. I think that that's key. But I think that the Russians have already won there. Their goal was to divide NATO to make sure that we somehow had a, you know, disjointed non unity in NATO. The Germans have successfully done that for them. You know, the Germans have been very belligerent towards Estonia, telling Estonia not to provide hardware weapons for Ukraine. The Germans have been a terrible neighbor to to the Ukrainians. And I think the Europeans see it and the mistake that many Americans make, and I want to emphasize this, the mistake that many Americans make, including Joe Biden and the current crop of Democrats in Washington, is they assume that Europe is Paris and Berlin, and it's actually more than that. There are a whole bunch of other capitals,
Matt Whitaker [00:16:54] two lovely cities, by the way.
Ric Grenell [00:16:57] Yeah, the amazing cities, I love Berlin. But but Europe is so much bigger, you know, the European Parliament said to the Germans, don't build Nord Stream two, and they ignore that. So I think it's it's very clear and right to say that the Germans are a bad member of NATO and they are being a bad member of the UN.
Matt Whitaker [00:17:16] And like you said, they're going to follow a Germany first policy that may be inconsistent with their allies. And that's what it appears in this situation, especially.
Ric Grenell [00:17:27] It's certainly inconsistent with their rhetoric, right? Because now we have a government in Germany that is a coalition of the socialists and the socialists, you know, that's all they ran commercials on. You know, we're part of Europe and you got to be a part of Europe and Europe, Europe, Europe, but then they get in and their policies are kind of like, Screw you, Europe, we're going to take whatever gas we want, no matter what you say.
Matt Whitaker [00:17:51] Yeah, well, let's talk about and let's pivot to away from the Russian bear that I think is probably a geopolitically less of a threat to the United States than the Chinese tiger. What is, you know, from your perspective, what is our equivalent of NATO? Do we have an equivalent NATO or are we going? Or are we a little more exposed as it relates to, you know, Chinese hegemony?
Ric Grenell [00:18:16] Such a good question. I think we're definitely more exposed. You know, I think it's past time to to to kick the Chinese out of the WTO. You know, more than 20 years ago, we brought the Chinese into the World Trade Organization because we thought, well, engaging them. And this was Bill Clinton's statement at the time. Engaging with the Chinese and bringing them more towards capitalism is going to teach them how to do more of the rule of law and respect human rights and all of that. And I'm all for engagement. I think that that we should absolutely always try engagement. But you also have to benchmark engagement, and there needs to be a quick assessment a year or two after engagement to say, Did this work? Is this working? And we've never done that with the Chinese, because if you step back and you look at the participation of China in the WTO more than 20 years ago, there's no other way to come to a conclusion other than to say they got worse. That being a part of the World Trade Organization did not bring China closer. Engagement did not work with the rest of the world. And so I think we've got to make some really tough decisions about China. We certainly have a guy in office right now, Joe Biden, who told us not to look at his son's laptop filled with all sorts of connections, money, connections, corruption with Chinese officials. And what did they say in that campaign? And I still am adamant about calling this out, but they said, Don't look at that Hunter Biden laptop, because it's Russian disinformation. That's what the campaign said. And 50 former U.S. intelligence officials signed on to a letter and said, Don't look at that laptop. Now, this was the last month of the campaign of 2020. That was a total political move. We talk a lot about manipulating intelligence for political purposes. That's exactly what they did in that instance, and they've never been called out. You have people like Leon Panetta who signed that letter and has faced no scrutiny whatsoever from the media to say, Why did you sign a letter saying that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation? You said in that letter you had information you didn't. There was no briefing. I'm the former acting DNI. I can tell you there wasn't anything, not even raw intelligence that pointed to the fact that that was Russian disinformation. They've never been held.
Matt Whitaker [00:20:52] Well, it isn't this sort of their go to statement where they say, we have information, there's there's kind of this D.C. whispering game where one person says there's information exists. I mean, the same thing happened to Schiff, you know, who said he had the goods that never materialized and ultimately, you know, he was never held to account. But you know, again, it's a different standard, and you and I, Susan Rice
Ric Grenell [00:21:17] Samantha Power. I mean, I could list everybody. That's why I declassified all of those transcripts and put them out there because I saw what they said under oath that that wasn't released to the public. And then I saw what they were saying on CNN and MSNBC to the public, and they were lying. And so releasing these transcripts to show that they were lying. I mean, look, you hit it on the head. This is the Washington game of Russia, Russia, Russia, and to be honest, that's the Beijing line. That's exactly what China wants you to do is say, look over there, look at Russia. That is the Beijing strategy.
Matt Whitaker [00:21:53] Yeah. And the thing that you quickly realize when you spend any time in Washington, D.C. and it was, you know, I mean, I was a little bit of a, you know, Pollyanna-ish person before I came to the swamp and started to understand how it worked. But there is no story in the media that that gets traction that does not have a fairly sophisticated public affairs campaign. So right behind it. And these the reason these things have legs,
Ric Grenell [00:22:19] usually those usually those campaigns come from the newsroom.
Matt Whitaker [00:22:22] Not only that, but they also, you know, again, there are people that are being paid a lot of money. And you know, and I also think that the Russians, but especially the Chinese, are becoming very sophisticated at taking stories that divide Americans and amplifying them. And it's that simple. And it's, you know, it's not $70000 of Facebook ads. It's much more sophisticated than that. And and unfortunately, you know, again, based on what I'm watching and what I see the social media companies especially, but you know, the search engines and everybody else are fairly complicit in the in the promotion of some of these these tactics.
Ric Grenell [00:23:00] Look, Russia's a problem, China is a crisis. It's why we shut down the consulate in Texas. You know, we've had to really look at the reality of what the Chinese are doing and who they have compromised. And you know, it's it's clear that when you compromise somebody on the intelligence committee, you know, Eric Swalwell, that they have been wildly successful and and you know, I go back to and I keep pounding this. But the 50 former intelligence officials who signed that letter saying, don't look at Hunter Biden's laptop, that it is shameful. They manipulated intelligence, that they didn't have a single shred of raw evidence and
Matt Whitaker [00:23:45] they really, you know, they still all those people that, like you said, said one thing when under oath, but set an entirely different thing, went on the Sunday shows or on CNN or MSNBC. They still have their cushy contributor jobs and they still, you know, get to say whatever their, you know, quote unquote opinion is. And it's, you know, nobody's nobody's been held to account because again, they're, you know, at at worst useful idiots, but mostly they're just, you know, singing from the hem more of the left. And that is that is cherished in the newsrooms and in the editorial boards and in Washington, D.C. and our major cities.
Ric Grenell [00:24:23] Yeah, and it's a problem, but I think, you know, for conservatives, I think what we have to do is we have to stop expecting Washington DC types to change. They're never going to tear down their city. I mean, you look at reporters who now live in Washington, D.C., they go to church there, their kids go to school. They're they're wearing hats from sports teams from Washington, D.C. We can't. We're ridiculous and stupid if we're going to ask those people who are entrenched in Washington to vote for or publicize why we should have a smaller government. They're never going to do it. They love Washington. They want it to be big and bad. We've got a fight not between Republicans and Democrats, but between Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country. And we conservatives that live outside of D.C., we have to stop expecting that they are ever going to change their city or the system. They love it and it works for them. So we've got to start sending people to Washington that don't have a social life or a church there and that their life is back home. True reformers.
Matt Whitaker [00:25:29] And that's why they hated Donald Trump so much. You know, he actually, you know, he didn't wasn't from the swamp, didn't have relationships in the swamp, and they hated that. Yeah. Well, let's you know, we got so much to talk about. But I, you know, I think that one of the interesting things that we're dealing with right now is this whole idea of the arc of democracy. And somehow, you know, Republicans and conservatives like Tucker Carlson and you know, Sean Hannity and the folks on Newsmax, you know, whether it's Salcedo or whether it's, you know, all those individuals are being accused of of essentially being lap dogs for for Putin and for China. And somehow, the left is is now wearing the, you know, the hat, which is again, this is crazy world. I mean, I you know, you have to understand, but is there only two sides? Can you only be, you know, either for authoritarian regimes or for democracy? Or is there like a rational foreign policy of the United States? That is America first, but also, you know, takes into account that we can't fight every war and on every in every continent.
Ric Grenell [00:26:41] Well, first of all, we have to stop. I mean, the answer is yes. We've got to be able to think outside of just black and white. And yet I think these arguments that we make that are in the middle work outside of Washington, they don't work inside Washington, D.C.. And so, you know, I think that one of the lessons is just to ignore that group, think that that echo chamber of Washington and listen to practical people on the outside. But the other thing is, is that Washington, D.C., you know, we're stuck into immediately going. We talked about this a little bit earlier, but immediately going to the to the Pentagon for solutions. And we're pushing aside the peaceful part, the diplomacy. I mean, the State Department is flooded with people who don't know how to negotiate and don't know how to negotiate creatively, that we need to have a top down restructuring of the State Department so that our diplomats are empowered to actually solve problems before we send in the Pentagon. I'm tired of having the State Department shoved off to the side while we rush into boots on the ground and then ask our soldiers to kind of fight for hearts and minds. That's the job of the diplomats. But every time we've had in the last decade a strong diplomat, you know, they've mocked the diplomat as being undiplomatic as if to say diplomacy is weak and you're just supposed to cut the baby in half. And, you know, do this consensus. I mean, look, I think consensus sounds good and it's a good word, and maybe we can get there and we we should maybe try for it, but only if it's good for America, only if it is part of our policy. But you don't need funding of the State Department and diplomats if the solution is just what do the Germans want, what do we want and we need the middle? I mean, that's not diplomacy. Diplomacy is you fight for your ideas and you try to convince the other side that your way is going to be good for them. And I do think that an America First policy is good for the world, and our diplomats need to understand that they have to go sell why a strong America is good for the global economy and good for stability and good for peace and security. It's not a hard sell if you believe in it. And so I'm somebody who thinks I will never apologize for the America First strategy. It's not a selfish strategy. It's always made the world better, and it is the best system to help poor people become part of society and live there.
Matt Whitaker [00:29:21] Oh, you're right, and I I've said this recently. In fact, at a dinner, you and I were both at and that is, is that the American dream--without America--there is no American dream. There's no French dream. There's no German dream. It is. You come with nothing. And I've seen it in my own life with friends and others that, you know, really start with nothing but a desire to succeed. And they succeed on their own terms. And it's extraordinary. But I have to I have to go back just a little bit on watch as I'm watching this Ukraine situation, I see Macron and he's doing shuttle diplomacy. I see us send a deputy Secretary of State to try to negotiate something. But is this a lead from behind? Am I seeing lead from behind again from the Biden administration?
Ric Grenell [00:30:06] Because you're talking about what? What do you want, Wendy? Wendy Sherman? I mean, she literally is the worst negotiator known to the United States. She's failed in North Korea, she failed in Iran, and now she's like supposed to be leading our strategy with Russia.
Matt Whitaker [00:30:21] Why not Sen. Kamala Harris? Why not like actually
Ric Grenell [00:30:24] what she is going to the Munich Security Conference and she's supposed to be rallying the troops. I'm very proud mad that yesterday, yesterday, two years after I've been gone. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman was still angry about Ric Grenell diplomacy in Germany towards Nord Stream two pipeline and and how belligerent I was, she said. I love the fact that they're still talking about our strong diplomacy and Trump's diplomacy all these years later. Meanwhile, they're celebrating Joe Biden. The Europeans and others are loving Joe Biden. But I would remind my friends in Europe that the last time you had Barack Obama and Joe Biden, a Democratic president, you had the beginnings of Brexit, the shrinking of the EU. You want to see the EU become weaker, then you can ignore all of your problems and realize that Crimea and rewriting of the borders in Ukraine are going to continue when you have a weak United States
Matt Whitaker [00:31:27] And that's and that's the thing. We need to not only be powerful, we need to use that power in a judicious manner. And I think that was, you know, you mentioned President Trump and his stance where he was unpredictable. But I. He was also unpredictable that he kept all of his options open where, you know, he could if he needed to use a kinetic solution, he could. But you know, that was not his first instinct. In fact, he was trying to get us out of the forever wars, not in the disastrous way that Biden ultimately did. But, you know, obviously understood that, you know, our threats, our major. Threats are not coming from the Middle East. It's just a group.
Ric Grenell [00:32:06] Yeah, I would just add I would just add to that that the reason I think Trump did so well in foreign policy is because while he articulated that we want to come home and not start wars. He was also targeting terrorists and willing to do that. You know, Soleimani, he was really willing to utilize the Pentagon where he thought that it was needed and to build up the Pentagon, the old Reagan peace through strength idea. I think that's really important when you're when you're going to talk about coming home and bringing the troops home, building up the military in case you need it
Matt Whitaker [00:32:48] is a real. Yeah. That's good point. Good point. So let's let's let's move on. Again, we could you and I could probably talk about just foreign policy all day long. I continue to learn, you know, sort of you've forgotten more than I can learn from you. So I I think it's really interesting discussion. And every time you know we get together, you know, I pick your brain on some of these so I can understand it better. But you know, why don't you talk a little bit about your effort with Fix California, obviously your home state and you guys got all sorts of problems. I don't have to tell you that, but you know what? What's the vision? What's the plan and tell me about the organization? And then, you know, tell me how people can get involved in Fix California.
Ric Grenell [00:33:29] Well, thank you. I mean, you can go to FixCalifornia.com and sign up Fix California is really a long term strategy. It's not a campaign, but it's a long term strategy to fix the problems of California. You know, we have a pillar system where one is we're going after every county and holding them to account, legally, challenging them to clean up their voter rolls. And the second thing we're doing is we are trying to change the system through getting more engagement, right? So the idea would be taking conservatives who are currently sitting on the sidelines in California and getting them involved and telling them that that there is a shot. We have a problem in California where it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, where people say, Oh, we don't have any chance and they're going to call the election at 9:00 p.m. So why vote? And what we found is 1.4 million conservatives are sitting on the sidelines unregistered. And so we've got to encourage people to register to vote. The third thing we're doing is we're supporting education reform and we're really pushing the idea of school choice. We've got some internal politics in California trying to figure out how to do that and how, when best to do that. But we are supporting the idea that we should fund students, not system.
Matt Whitaker [00:34:51] And that's I mean, that's obviously the way of the future. And that's what's going to ultimately reform the schools is when they have to compete for students and deliver results for students. You're going to see, you know, a lot of reform in education. So it's not a it's not a campaign. It's not you're not just doing one referendum this election cycle. This is a long decade thing.
Ric Grenell [00:35:14] I've told our donors, you know, we can't be an ATM for the rest of the country anymore in California. We got to fund our people and our programs and our conservatives. And that's what the focus of Fix California is. So I'd encourage people to go to FixCalifornia.com Sign up. You'll get good California news. We hold Gavin Newsom to account, we hold Eric Garcetti to account. And I think, yeah,
Matt Whitaker [00:35:37] no, I've I've I've been to that website. I think it's really a great long term project because this is the thing. These things are not one in a in three months or even a year. I mean, this is, you know, obviously the long slide into the abyss as happened to California, is going to take a long time to climb back out of that. So anything I can do to help, let me know on that. So one of the things I learned recently, Ric, when we were together is that you are an aficionado of mixed martial arts and the UFC. Why don't you tell me a little bit about your interest in that? And you know, again, there's a there's a fight this weekend on Saturday, and you know, I think people would ah, would find that not so, you know, I mean, you're an interesting guy, but I just think it's like surprising that, you know, Ric Grenell is a huge MMA fan.
Ric Grenell [00:36:23] So, as you know, I'm a huge MMA fan and I'm, you know, more than just a fan. I'm involved and I know fighters and I support fighters and, you know, do what I can. You know, it really started, this is crazy, but my dad, you know, there's four kids in my family, three boys and I'm the youngest. And my dad always wanted us to be in sports. And he would sometimes pick the sports when we were younger. And so Ric Grenell was a wrestler. As a young little kid in elementary school and I was horrible. I was bad at it. My brothers were really good, but I was not good. And there's a lot of family stories that make fun of me for being a wrestler. But my dad wanted us to do things that challenged us. And so he made me do wrestling for a number of years and I learned a lot. But I became a fan of it just because it's an incredibly hard sport and I have reverence for it. And then you put on top of that the fact that my dad was a boxing judge and loved to go to, you know, Golden Gloves. And so as a kid, I'd tag along with my dad. And I found a way during Golden Gloves where they needed the 12 year old kid to go collect the ballots of the judges, and I would go collect the ballots. And I saw the power in that map because I was the first one to know who won the fight, right? I'd look at all the ballots. And then in those days you'd hand it to the announcer and he would look at it and figure it out. I had a blast doing that with my dad. So you combine wrestling, you combine, you know, boxing and then just the the sheer entertainment of MMA and UFC. And I got to be friends with Dana White. And so when I went to Germany, I really tried to promote this American MMA UFC idea, and I started going to all of the German MMA fights, got to know all the German champs and the German fighters. I introduced you to some good guys who are who are amazing guys. You learn a lot from them and you learn discipline, you learn really incredible discipline. And so I have great respect for the athletes who do UFC and MMA. And yeah, I'm a big fan.
Matt Whitaker [00:38:43] Well, I look forward to, you know, we've talked about maybe doing something at a at an upcoming fight, and I'm looking forward to that. I told you, though, that I always find when I'm watching MMA fights, I find myself almost contorting in the chair, you know, taking on almost the fight myself. It's really interesting, you know, kind of pure athletic endeavor. And you know, I mean, you know, just wonder, well,
Ric Grenell [00:39:09] it's going to get worse because Nasrat, who I introduced you to fights on Saturday . You got to watch Nazrat's fight from from Houston.
Matt Whitaker [00:39:16] And yeah, no, that's exciting. But I just thought that was that was something that I was really I really enjoyed our time in Vegas and that was that was a special dinner that we had. So then the next thing I want to get theoretical and not boring theoretical, but just like I think a lot about the Republican Party, but mostly about the conservative movement, you know, and I came of age during Reagan and his three legged stool of, you know, kind of the, you know what we had to win elections. And I just I'd love to hear, since you're a thought leader in so many places, including foreign policy, what would do you think is the current conservative winning recipe in America? And, you know, kind of how do we how do we get to that point?
Ric Grenell [00:40:02] Look, I've thought long and hard about this, and really our theme of conservatives in the Republican Party really should be small government, limited government and personal responsibility. What comes with that is personal responsibility of making sure that you do what's right for your community and you do it at that personally. But it's your personal liberties that get to determine kind of that moral compass of where you go. We believe in people not in government. And so because of that, I think the conservative movement is really about empowering the people that would benefit from smaller government. And I think that Donald Trump did an amazing job of articulating why minorities are going to benefit, why Hispanics, why blacks, why gays are going to benefit from a smaller government. Because the government, you know, will articulate that we're going to take care of the minorities. But they don't. They don't have enough money. They can't. And we are different people anyway. And so I think that what's been happening is the articulation of why personal responsibility with limited government is the solution for the people. I think that's really taking off. First and second generation Americans will give you an amazing tutorial of why this country's great they don't apologize for America. They love America. They left fascism, totalitarianism, and they came here. And so they can really articulate why America is wonderful. And our problem is fifth, sixth, seventh generation white rich people who are taking advantage of the fact that they live in the greatest country and they don't know it. And so they're critiquing it and they're they're picking at it and they're they're saying negative things about it, and they're causing this storm to say, we've got to change America because it's not that great because they're just focusing on the negative. And what I would say to those people is trash Go around and visit the world.
Matt Whitaker [00:42:07] right and study history. I mean, study history as well because, you know, as I've thought about those folks, I mean, I'm a seventh generation Iowan. So I mean, I'm, you know, I'm deep, deep roots in, you know, my my a lot of the folks, you know, if we trace back kind of my family got here in the seventeen hundreds and sort of were farmers and miners and just working folks. And you know, I've never I mean, I don't I my attitude is if you don't understand history and that's why these recent immigrants get it, people from Venezuela and Cuba and the places where they, you know, have lost their country through, you know, one of these ruthless or autocratic dictators, you know, they just they appreciate what we have and the freedoms we have. But you're so right. The personal responsibility is the key to that whole thing. And you know, again, the issues change. This is the thing it's hard to, you know, write a book on this. You said this is what conservatives believe. Well, you know, the political issues two years from now are going to change. But ultimately, it is so true that we have to be for limited government. You know,
Ric Grenell [00:43:13] smaller government ideas are never going to right. Right. You're always limiting government or when government is appropriate, making it temporary and quick. You know the the idea, you know, they always say it's a safety net is what the government should be. I think it should be a trampoline. Where it bounces is.
Matt Whitaker [00:43:32] Certainly not a hammock.
Ric Grenell [00:43:33] And it's not a hammock and not it, not something that ensnares you like a, you know, like a net.
Matt Whitaker [00:43:40] Yeah. One, as we wrap up here, I I guess I have a question. Are you working on or have you ever thought about a Grenell doctrine? Is there, you know, as I mean, because obviously, if you get a coin that if there is a Grenell doctrine, then you know, you can, you know, if you get an opportunity, you could employ that, you know, to great success. I mean, have you thought through sort of, you know, peace through strength, obviously is one of the, you know, doctrines that we hear so much. But what's what's your what's your doctrine?
Ric Grenell [00:44:16] I mean, I can't really say that I've thought about that in particular. But you know, I think what I'm passionate about, what I try to talk about, what I try to point to is the fact that because I've been at the State Department for 11 years and I and I know the State Department well, and I love so many people there, and I know all the Foreign Service officers, they're amazing people, they're smart people. They love their country, but they have been shoved aside and told that they don't get to be tough diplomats. And I don't think that we have a system right now where we send in the diplomats into danger areas. Right now, we're in this mode where we immediately and quickly remove the diplomats and then send in the troops on the ground. And I think most people who join the foreign service, who work at the State Department want to solve problems, and they understand the world is dangerous and they do work in dangerous situations. We need to train up a better foreign service system officers who will deploy into danger posts and do what diplomats do, which is avoid war. So I think that my mantra has always been don't shove the State Department aside, and let's have diplomats with muscle. Let's try to solve the problems before we send in the troops. Because we negotiate at the State Department, the Pentagon doesn't negotiate.
Matt Whitaker [00:45:43] All right, well, Ric, this has been a great discussion. I look forward to seeing you in person soon. And, you know, if people want to learn more just about you generally, what's the best place to find you out there? I know you're very active on Twitter, but aren't you telling folks-
Ric Grenell [00:45:57] Yeah, probably. Twitter don't go to Wikipedia because it lies.
Matt Whitaker [00:46:00] Amen. Amen. Well, I look forward to continue this discussion. Thanks for being with us.
Ric Grenell [00:46:06] Thanks for having me.
Matt Whitaker [00:46:08] Well, it's great talking to you, Ric, and thanks for your time again. You can follow Ric on Twitter and Instagram @RichardGrenell Link is in the show notes again. You can connect with us at Whitaker.TV. I would like to thank CPAC for broadcasting this show every Friday at seven p.m. on CPAC Now. You can, of course, find us on the internet. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram at @MattWhitaker46 Great talking to you. Thanks for joining us. Next week, another great show. God bless. Liberty & Justice with Matt Whitaker.