Bill Hagerty, the former Ambassador to Japan under President Trump and candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, blasted Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for failing to defend President Trump on Friday’s edition of The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am.
“Mitt is flat wrong” in his statements on the issue of impeachment, Hagerty told Leahy.
“Mitt Romney hasn’t yet decided whether President Donald Trump should be impeached, but the Republican senator from Utah on Thursday stuck by criticism that has earned him a stream of insults from Trump on Twitter,” the Associated Press reported early Friday morning.
In his in-studio interview with Leahy on Friday, Hagerty made it clear that Romney’s failure to oppose the impeachment of President Trump is a big mistake for Romney, for Republicans, and for the country as a whole.
“I think the Democrats have been hell bent on impeaching this president from day one,” Hagerty told Leahy.
“The Democrats can not stand the fact that they lost 2016. This is just another iteration of that,” he continued.
“That has been extremely troubling. It should be troubling to every American. But I’ll tell you what troubles me as well. That’s when our own Republicans fall prey to this,” Hagerty noted.
“If it [impeachment] were to come to the Senate, there may be a couple of senators they will try to pick off on the Republican side. Do you think they’re going to succeed in that, and what would you do if you were there in the Senate,” Leahy asked.
“I absolutely hope they don’t, and when I see Republicans, like Mitt Romney, fall prey to this discussion, Mitt is flat wrong,” Hagerty said.
“Now that’s a very significant point for you to make, right there. Mitt Romney, you worked on his 2012 campaign. You’re just coming out and saying ‘Mitt Romney is flat wrong’,” Leahy noted.
“Absolutely, the president and I both supported Mitt Romney in 2012. He was our nominee. But when I see this discussion today [on impeachment] taking place, I think we need to stand with the president, we need to support the president, not undercut him, and not fall prey to this impeachment conversation. I don’t think Mitt is doing us any good taking that sort of position today against the president. We need to stand together. I certainly stand 100 percent with the president,” Hagerty added.
“Mitt Romney won’t take my phone calls, but he might take your phone calls. If you were to have a conversation with him, you would state that directly to him?” Leahy asked
“I have no problem stating that. Look, people don’t have to agree on every point in life. Just because I supported a candidate in 2012 doesn’t mean that I agree with every position that candidate might take in the future,” Hagerty concluded.
Hagerty, who has been endorsed by President Trump in the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, faces Dr. Manny Sethi, a trama surgeon at Vanderbilt University, in the August 2020 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Dr. Sethi is expected to appear in an exclusive interview on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy in the near future.
Earlier in the exclusive interview, Hagerty discussed his confirmation as an ambassador and how many of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate currently running for President voted . He also commented upon why he’s running for Senate and his thoughts on the impeachment inquiry.
Here is the transcript of that earlier portion of the interview:
Leahy: In the studio with former ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty. Welcome, Bill. We’ll call you Bill instead of ambassador. Welcome to our studios.
Hagerty: Thank you very much, Mike. It’s great to be with you this morning and I appreciate you calling me Bill.
Leahy: Well, I would call you ambassador out of respect but you’re running for the Senate and everybody in Tennessee wants to call you Bill I think right?
Hagerty: I think that’s what they should call me.
Leahy: We’re delighted you’re in the studio. You’re from Gallatin, right?
Leahy: And you didn’t grow up rich from what I hear?
Hagerty: I grew up the way a lot of people grew up in Tennessee Mike. My father worked in road construction. My mother was a school teacher.
Leahy: So just an average guy. As a kid did you work with your dad?
Hagerty: I worked outside from the time I was 14 till the time I was in my 20’s. I worked outside just like my dad did.
Leahy: What sort of stuff were you doing?
Hagerty: I raised cattle and pigs. I bailed hail. I shoveled a lot of asphalt. I painted.
Leahy: I’m glad you said asphalt because there’s a lot of other stuff you could shovel.
Hagerty: Well, that’ was the cattle and pig operation. I was very fortunate because my parents taught me the value of hard work. My dad didn’t graduate college but he made certain I did.
Leahy: So there’s another thing we found out talking a little bit here before, Bill Hagerty. That’s an Irish name right?
Hagerty: That’s correct.
Leahy: And your folks are from County Kerry?
Hagerty: Originally. We’ve been three generations before me in Tennessee. And then with my wife and I and our four kids that makes five generations now here in Tennessee. My wife and I lived in the same house my grandfather built in Gallatin. And my father lived there.
We lived there until we had our second child we lived there too. But we sort of outgrew that house and moved from Sumner County to Davidson County.
Leahy: And you told me your brother’s name is Michael Patrick Hagerty. How can you not like that? Our people are from Tipperary not Kerry so not too far away.
Hagerty: Neighbors back then.
Leahy: Neighbors back then. So you have a very interesting career. You go to Vanderbilt Law School. You learn about the law and get a job with Boston Consulting Group. Now how did you get to Japan? How did that happen?
Hagerty: Well as we talked about earlier, Boston Consulting Group has an interesting Tennessee history founded by a guy from Walter Hill, Tennessee over near Murfreesboro named Bruce Henderson.
Leahy: A legendary guy in business, came up with the cost curve. Of course in business school, we always studied what the Boston Consulting Group did. That whole approach to business was standards for years and years.
Hagerty: Bruce was a guy who could think out of the box. And he brought his Tennessee work ethics to business and really had a transformational approach. He built a company that was global and they sent me to Japan. I do not know why I was sent to Japan at that point in my life.
Leahy: Did you speak Japanese?
Hagerty: I did not speak Japanese and had never been there.
Leahy: (Chuckles) Hold it hold it hold it. How does that happen? ‘Hey Bill, you’re going to Japan.’ How did that happen?
Hagerty: That was pretty much the decision that was made by people higher up in the firm than me. But it began to make more sense later in my life that God had a plan for me. And that built the foundation that I was able to build upon later on in life.
Leahy: So you arrive in Tokyo. And you’d not been there and don’t speak the language. What do you do? Do you get a tutor? Do you learn Japanese?
Hagerty: Absolutely. Intense Japanese lessons. Did that for three years.
Leahy: That’s not easy to learn.
Hagerty: Not easy to learn. Not easy to learn. And it was a wonderful time to be studying business and working in business there. It was a booming economy in Japan. You may remember it was very tense, the trade relations. The Japanese were very tense at that time.
They called Japan, Japan, Inc. Japan was overtaking the world. They had just become Japan and just become the second-largest economy in the world that overtook Russia, the USSR at that point, in the 80s and I got there in 1988.
Leahy: And so you worked there for a while. You come back and you start your own investment firm.
Hagerty: Yes and we just began to build businesses.
Leahy: Now, here’s the thing about this. You start off a middle-class guy here in Tennessee. Go to college. You get a good gig. You learn Japanese. And then you go out on your own. It’s not like you didn’t just fall into business success. You had to take some risks right?
Hagerty: I learned how to take risks and I learned how to work hard. I understand how important a good job is to an individual.
Leahy: And that’s going back to President Trump who you became friendly with and headed the transition up for him and he named you Ambassador to Japan.
Hagerty: That’s one of four different times the President’s endorsed me first. He made me the head of the victory operations here in Tennessee. I joined the President in the primary and we saw a very challenging situation. At the point, I came on board I remember the odds of us winning were just minuscule.
But the President won on the primary. He went on to win the election. A lot of work during the transition was just keeping our team together. But I volunteered to do that and I actually left my family here and moved up to work on the transition.
Leahy: Really? You went into DC. So you went into DC or New York?
Hagerty: I was in DC. The operations team for all campaigns are situated in DC. There are some statutory authority and reasons for that and a budget for that. Put the team together there. The US government provides housing if you will for the operations, the office base and the equipment. So we built the opposition planning operation there. And then we moved into the Trump transition process as you well remember.
Leahy: Oh yeah.
Hagerty: Immediately after the election was won. And I worked very very closely with the President to provide him with great options.
Leahy: Tell us what kind of guy is President Trump? Because I’ve interacted and interviewed him a couple of times. Just tell our listening audience what kind of guy is Donald Trump.
Hagerty: He’s like me. He’s a business person. He’s got a strong business background. He’s got an instinct for a deal. He is extremely focused on output and achieving his goals. I think what you’ve seen with the president is a person that made promises on the way into the office and he’s been keeping his promises.
Leahy: Yeah he’s done great on keeping his promises hasn’t he?
Hagerty: Absolutely. Tax cuts. Deregulation. He’s delivered the strongest growing economy that we have seen in a long time. Business confidence and consumer confidence are at an all-time high. If you compare the United States to other nations, we are growing three and four times the rate than any other major developed economy. This is the place to be in the world today, the United States.
Leahy: So he’s got confidence in you. He wins the election. Names you ambassador to Japan. How did that come about?
Hagerty: Well the ambassadorship to Japan is different from many others. A lot of people don’t know this Michael but the US military presence in Japan is larger than any other place in the world outside the United States.
We have more US stationed there in uniform than we do anyplace else. More than twice the number of military than we have in South Korea for example. We’re in a tough neighborhood in Japan. We’re dealing with North Korea. We’re dealing with China. We’re dealing with Russian all on the doorstep.
So I spend a tremendous amount of my time working with our US military and with the Japanese to make certain we are properly positioned to defend Amerca’s interest in that region. And if you remember when I first got over there, Kim yon Jung launched not one but two rockets.
Leahy: This was a serious time in history.
Hagerty: Absolutely. He blew up a hydrogen bomb, and the school children in Simple, Tokyo were wearing hard hats and doing evacuation drills. I took my family to the border of North Korea.
Hagerty: We crossed the border with the US military. My wife and I and our four kids. Their ages would have been eight through fifteen at the time.
Leahy: So you went into through North Korea?
Hagerty: Absolutely. At the same place, that you might have seen Kim Yon Jung and President Trump meet.
Leahy: Yeah I saw that. You were there?
Hagerty: I was there with my family and we were able to deliver a loud and clear message that I had ultimate faith and confidence in the US military’s ability to protect and defend that region. That was a message to people of South Korea and the people of Japan. But also it was an important message to the North Koreans and the Chinese.
You can listen to the full third hour of Friday’s Tennessee Star Report (the Hagerty interview begins in the second half of the hour) here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Mitt Romney” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.