george bush laura inauguration biden
© AP/ Carolyn Kaster
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Comment: Pretty rich coming from the butcher of Iraq.

Former President George W. Bush said in a new interview he's "still disturbed" by the U.S. Capitol riot.

"I can't remember what I was doing, but ... I was sick to my stomach ... to see our nation's Capitol being stormed by hostile forces," Mr. Bush told Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith. "And it really disturbed me to the point where I did put out a statement, and I'm still disturbed when I think about it.

"It undermines rule of law and the ability to express yourself in peaceful ways in the public square," he said. "This was an expression that was not peaceful."

Mr. Bush made the comments to the Tribune as part of the SXSW virtual festival that was recorded last month and made public Thursday, in which he promoted his new book, Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants.

The former president made headlines in January after he joined three former presidents, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, in condemning the Jan. 6 riot, when thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt the certification of President Biden's election win.

While Mr. Bush, a Republican, has managed to mostly keep out of the spotlight since he left office, he notably declined to support either of Mr. Trump's presidential campaigns. In November, Mr. Bush congratulated Mr. Biden, a Democrat, for his election win, effectively dismissing Mr. Trump's claims of a rigged election.

During his interview with the Tribune, Mr. Bush explicitly said the 2020 presidential election was not stolen and praised Mr. Biden's first weeks as president.

"I think the election, all elections have some kind of improprieties," the former president said. "I think ... the results of this election, though, were confirmed when Joe Biden got inaugurated as president."

When asked directly whether the election was stolen, Mr. Bush answered, "No."

"Look, politics has always been rough ... And right now we're at a period of time, though, when there's a lot of anger in the system, which then causes people to worry about the future of our democracy," he continued. "I think it's going to eventually work its way out of the system."

"History and the United States has shown these populist movements begin to fritter over time, and so I'm optimistic about democracy," he added.

Mr. Bush said he recently had a "good conversation" with Mr. Biden and is confident about the country's future.

"He's an experienced guy, and you know, I had a good conversation with him," he said. "I said, 'Anything I can do to help, if I feel comfortable with it, let me know.'

"He's off to a good start, it looks like," he said. "Hopefully, this anger will work its way out of the system."