Breaking News
More () »

Janet Napolitano saw extremist threat 12 years ago. Now, she says, we don't know how to deal with it.

In exclusive interview, former Arizona governor and Homeland Security secretary also weighs in on Senate GOP audit, Sinema's dilemma, and border issues.

ARIZONA, USA — Twelve years ago, then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sparked a national uproar with the release of a DHS report warning that right-wing extremists were an emerging domestic terrorism threat.

Those warnings came vividly to life during the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, a culmination of rising extremism on the right during Donald Trump's four years as president. 

In an exclusive interview for this weekend's "Sunday Square Off," Napolitano concedes the country is still struggling to deal with what she calls "enemies to democracy."

"I think it's hard for us to recognize that we have enemies to democracy who are within our own population," Napolitano said.

See the full interview with Napolitano on our YouTube page here:

"I think we need to recognize that... Questioning the fundamentals - the integrity of a national election - goes right to the heart of the central problems facing us today." 

In a wide-ranging interview, Napolitano discussed what it would take to undo those problems; dismissed the Senate Republicans' audit of Maricopa County's presidential election vote as a "mess"; and shared her view of what might move Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to drop her support for the filibuster. 

Napolitano left Arizona in 2009, in the middle of her second term as governor, to lead the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama.

Napolitano won three consecutive elections to statewide office in Arizona, and was being mentioned as a possible future Supreme Court justice.

She retired last year as president of the University of California System and now leading the new Center for Security in Politics at Berkeley.

Napolitano was visiting Phoenix last week for meetings related to the new institute and with Democratic officeholders. 

Also on "Sunday Square Off," panelists Julie Erfle, a communications consultant at Erfle Uncuffed, and Paul Bentz, senior vice president at Phoenix-based Highground Consulting, discuss:

  • The Republican "flat tax" in the works at the Capitol. It would create just one income tax bracket for all Arizonans. Who wins, who loses?

  • The challenges facing Democrats and Republicans in the August 2022 primaries, as more candidates announce for statewide offices.

"Sunday Square Off" airs at 8 a.m. Sundays on 12 News, after NBC's "Meet the Press," with Chuck Todd.

12 News on YouTube

Watch all of the segments from "Sunday Square Off" in our YouTube playlist here.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out