Since leaving office in 2009, he has made a point not to criticize his successors. After speaking on the importance of a free and independent press, some took it as a slight toward President Trump, who called the press “the enemy of the American people.” But that wasn’t his intent. Even though he might not have liked what the press wrote about him, he saw their role and often spoke about it to other leaders.
“Here’s what I believed when I was president, post-president: The nation needs a free and independent press,” he told DeGeneres. “And the reason why is that power can be very corrupting and we need a press corp that can hold politicians to account—including me. And yeah, I didn’t like it sometimes when people said things about me but you know that’s the job. I always viewed the—I’m gonna drop a big word on you—symbiotic relationship.”
But he also revealed aspects of how he and Putin interacted in their “contentious relationship,” including an instance where Putin insulted Bush’s dog Barney and later showed Bush a hound to demonstrate that it was “bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney.”
“I think whoever the president is gonna find out that Putin will push and push and push until somebody stands up to him,” he said.