Former President George W. Bush joined Ellen DeGeneres in person for the first time, telling her his thoughts on the media, and a one-of-a-kind story about his dog's interaction with Vladimir Putin.
"I'm out of politics," Bush said. "My whole view is I don't think it serves the nation, or the office of president, to have a former president criticize his successors."
Bush, however, did talk about criticism of the media and defended the role of a free press. He also cleared up media reports that he criticized President Trump in an interview with Today Show host Matt Lauer.
"I said something the other day and of course the headlines were 'Bush criticizes Trump,'" the former president said. Here's what I believed when I was president, post-president, the nation needs a free and independent press. And the reason why is power can be very corrupting and we need a press corps to 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."
"Power doesn't make you immune to criticism or to corruption investigations," Bush said of the media. "I'm a big believer in the free press. Just like I'm a big believer in free religion. You can worship or not worship and you're equally American. It doesn't matter how you worship or who you worship."
"He's got a chip on his should," Bush said of Putin. "I had a contentious relationship with him and I think whoever the president is is going to find out that Putin will push and push and push until somebody stands up to him."
In 2001, Bush famously said he saw into Putin's soul and saw "a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country"
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country," Bush said.
Bush also talked to DeGeneres about admiration for veterans, the meaning behind his collection of portraits: