Rising Democratic star and 2020 presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg sat down with CNBC's John Harwood on Monday for an extensive interview. Here is their exchange on how Buttigieg views the turmoil in the administration of President Donald Trump.
John Harwood: Yesterday, the Homeland Security secretary resigned abruptly. This morning, we learned that the director of the Secret Service has been fired by the president. We have an acting White House chief of staff, and acting Defense secretary, acting Interior secretary. Do you think that the government itself is in a state of crisis?
Pete Buttigieg: I think the government's been in some kind of crisis ever since this president arrived. Not just when you have a vacancy, but frankly sometimes when you have an appointee who was hostile to the mission of the agency that she or he is heading up. In the case of DHS, that's a little bit different. Many of the concerns around DHS are not so much about the personnel but about the policies. And when you talk about family separation, or just the unpreparedness for some of the issues at the border, that's a concern.
But one thing we are seeing more and more is, Americans need our government to work. We can have an argument over how big it ought to be or how small it ought to be, what functions it ought to take on. But fundamentally, I'd be run out of town on a rail if I couldn't run a government. And what we're seeing in Washington — it's hard to sink a ship, but they seem to be doing their best. And these vacancies are going to be more and more of a problem. So I think for those of us who are opposed to this administration's policies, it's kind of a choose-your-poison thing. I don't know what's worse: them being well staffed and pursuing policies that are destructive, or them being hamstrung by the ability to do much at all, because there are so many key positions that are vacant.