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Michelle Obama speaks out on impeachment proceedings: 'It's surreal'

The former first lady opened up about a number of issues in an exclusive interview with TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager.
/ Source: TODAY

Michelle Obama views the impeachment proceedings involving President Donald Trump as "surreal," but believes the nation can make it through the current political turmoil.

The former first lady gave her thoughts on the impeachment inquiry in an exclusive interview with Jenna Bush Hager on TODAY Monday during a trip to Vietnam to raise awareness about the importance of educating young girls.

"It's surreal,'' she said. "I don't think people know what to make of it. But do I think we can come back from it? Oh yeah.

"We've seen tough times in this country. You know we've gone through depressions and wars and bombings and terrorist attacks, and we've gone through Jim Crow, and we've always come out stronger. And that's what we have to continue to believe because what's our choice? To ball up in a corner and call it a day? Well that's not fair to this next generation that's coming before us that are counting on us to get this right."

The impeachment proceedings have highlighted the political divide in the federal government and across the country, but Obama believes that can be overcome.

"It's not an 'us or them,' it's not an 'R or a D' (Republican or Democrat), we are all here as part of this country,'' she said. "We all want the same things, it's just sometimes that gets lost in the noise."

Obama announced her trip to Vietnam in October on the International Day of the Girl and has now traveled to the country as part of her Girls Opportunity Alliance to highlight the importance of education for young girls.

In a country where young girls are often pressured to drop out of school and go to work instead, Obama is supporting programs like "Room to Read," which has helped more than 6,000 girls in Vietnam stay in school.

"It's important for us to know more versions of what it means to be human, and we're seeing it in these girls,'' she said.

Her trip comes after a year in which her memoir, "Becoming," became a staple on the best-seller list, but she considers the issue of girls education to be a defining one in her mission since leaving the White House.

"It's also a continuation of what I consider my life's work,'' she said. "Yeah the book was something I did, it was wonderful, the response I'm humbled by it, but the truth is that working on girls' education is what I want to do for the rest of my life until we fix this issue."

She will be heading to Malaysia next with her husband, former President Barack Obama, to continue to raise awareness about education for young girls.

The journey to Vietnam also marks her first public overseas trip since leaving the White House nearly four years ago.

"The truth is that for eight years Barack and I rarely traveled together because we didn't want to be away from the kids at the same time,'' she said. "But now that we're empty-nesters, there are no kids. We're just sort of living our lives and taking our time and taking some of the sights in and being with each other. It's kind of neat."

Jenna will have more with the former first lady on TODAY Tuesday and Wednesday as they share some inspiring stories from Vietnam and get Obama's thoughts on the upcoming election and the emotional experience of dropping their youngest daughter, Sasha, at college for her freshman year in the fall.