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A Warning from Hillary Clinton; Crisis in Democracy and Rule of Law; Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 9, 2018 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here what's coming up.
Democracy and rule of law in crisis, an urgent warning from Hillary Clinton in my exclusive interview at Oxford University.
Nikki Haley resigns as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. As a diplomat who is tough on Russia, we delve into the spy poison story
engulfing the U.K. And we ask, are hit jobs on foreign soil a growing phenomenon?
Then, Historian Jill Lepore on the roots of political trivialism. Can political civility be renewed to rescue our democracies?
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christie Amanpour in London.
America's role in the world is back in the spotlight after the resignation of Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador. But after the bitter Brett Kavanaugh
appointment to the Supreme Court, the spotlight is also on rule of law and democratic institutions at home. The president appeared uninterested in
judicial impartiality on the nation's highest court at an unprecedented event at the White House last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and
suffering who have been force to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, called on all Americans to give the new president a chance to
lead. Since then, she has become more and more alarmed at what she calls an attack on America's democratic institutions.
Clinton is at Oxford University to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights, which was negotiated for the United
States by her personal hero, Elanor Roosevelt.
When I spoke with her there, we discussed the crisis in democracy, what Kavanaugh means for the rule of law, and for the midterm elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Hillary Rodham Clinton, welcome to the program.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: You're here to talk about the crisis in democracy, not just in the United States but also around the world.
Let me just take you back to election night 2016 when you said we have to give him a chance, we have to let him prove himself and lead, talking about
then President-Elect Trump. Now, you say you think you were overly hopeful.
What, precisely about democracy has you worried?
CLINTON: Well, really five things. And I started worrying at his inauguration, both because of what he said in his speech, which I thought
was defiant, defensive, dystopian, it wasn't a speed to bring together people who had not supported him. But instead, it was aimed, as I say in
my book, what happened at the, you know, white-nationalist gut.
And then, over the course of now two years, nearly, since the election, we have seen him degrading the rule of law, we have seen him delegitimizing
our elections, we have seen him spreading corruption, both him personally, his family business, others in his administration. We have seen him also
attacking truth and facts, even reason itself. And fundamentally trying to undermine our national unity.
So, I was hopeful. I wanted to give him a chance. I think every new president deserves a chance. But every month that's gone by, I've become
more and more worried about how he governs and how he treats people.
AMANPOUR: Well, we've obviously gone through an incredibly divisive confirmation hearing and now appointment to Supreme Court. I'm going to
get to that in a moment.
But specifically, because midterms are coming up.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is an election season in the United States. Everybody says elections have consequences. What are your solutions,
proposals? How can one get out of this crisis that you identified?
CLINTON: Well, the first step is for Democrats to win the House and hopefully the Senate in November, in these midterms. That's a tall order.
It's looking positive. But one never knows in an election, as I know from personal experience.
So, we have to convince people that whatever they care about is on the ballot. It doesn't matter. Do they care about the climate, do they care
about the economy, do they care about health care and pre-existing conditions, do they care about our foreign policy, whatever they care
about, it is on the ballot.
We have seen the unpredictable behavior of this president. And if he wants not only to change direction, but to hold him and his administration
accountable, you have to vote.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you what you mean by accountable? I think it's quite important because many people even here, I'm sure they've asked you, is the
president going to get impeached? If the Democrats win, will they impeach him? The Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, told me last month, that was not
was not her goal, to go for impeachment. What do you think?
CLINTON: Well, what I think is there are many ways for a Congress to hold a president accountable. Some of them, frankly, should have been exercised
by the Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate.
The investigation into Russia's interference in our election. The Senate Intelligence Committee has tried to work in a bipartisan way. The House
Intelligence Committee has been turned into a circus.
So, a really focused deliberative effort to not only look at what this administration has done and that's in every area, whether it's in how
they're regulating or deregulating the economy or the tax cuts, the ballooning of the deficit and the debt, what they're doing to the
environment, education. There is so much to be concerned about.
So, the first order of business for Democratic House and Senate should be to get back to regular order and try to impose discipline and
accountability on this administration.
The question about impeachment, you know, that will be left to others to decide. I want to stop the degrading of the rule of law, the
delegitimizing of elections. One of their priorities should be, let's protect our elections. Let's make sure that we have electoral security.
Let's end the suppression of voters. So, there's a big agenda if the Democrats take over.
AMANPOUR: I want to get rule of law given what just happened in the Kavanagh hearings and appointment. But first, I want to ask you about
women, about -- you have said women's rights to human rights and human rights are women's rights.
What do you think the Kavanaugh hearings, what kind of impact will they have on the midterms? Because at first, the Democrats were happy that it
might galvanize, now the Republicans are happy that it will galvanize their base. What do you think is going to happen?
CLINTON: I think that both sides will be galvanized, it's just a question of who actually takes those feelings and shows up to vote, and it always
comes down to that.
We have more voters who favor Democratic candidates. One of the tragedies of what's happened in our electoral system is the Republicans have
systematically suppressed voters, probably as many, Christiane, as 12 million voters were purged by Republican governments in states between 2012
and 2016. We have all kinds of questions about the security of our voting machines.
So, we know that Democrats have to turn out in even bigger numbers and a lot of congressional districts and states to be successful because they're
being, you know, pushed back by a headwind that is trying to prevent them or discourage them from voting.
But if Democrats -- and I only include Democrats, I include Republicans who are worried about the direction of this administration, independence who
want to see more accountability, if they show up, we should win.
AMANPOUR: Last night, President Trump had a sort of ceremony for now Justice Kavanaugh at the White House, and he apologized on behalf the
American people for the immense amount of pain and harm that he said that the judge had been put through by this system.
What do you make of that and what message, including the president's mocking of Christine Blasey Ford for her allegations, what message does
that send to women? And remember, went for President Trump in 2016.
CLINTON: White women.
AMANPOUR: White women.
CLINTON: White women. All women went for me. And look, White women have been voting against Democratic presidential candidates for decades now.
The White vote has only then won twice in the last 60 years. My husband being one of the two. Lyndon Johnson being the other. So, it's not a
surprise. It's a disappointment but it's not a surprise.
What was done last night in the White House was a political rally. It further undermined the image and integrity of the court. And that troubles
me greatly, it saddens me, because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.
So, I don't know how people are going to react to it. I think given our divides, it will pretty much fall predictably between those who are for and
those who are against. But the president's been true to form. He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign really for many
years leading up to the campaign, and he's continued to do that inside the White House.
Kellyanne Conway, the Presidential Adviser, talked about this process, and she said, "It looks very much like a vast left-wing conspiracy." It echoes
what you said about when your husband was being perused by the investigation back in the '90s, a vast right-wing conspiracy.
First of all, your comment on that mirrored language. And secondly, do you see any way, even a conservative who I was speaking of yesterday said the
only way to repair America is try to get back to some civility and to try to make it that even if we have political disagreements, we're not going to
war with each other, we're not trying to destroy each other.
CLINTON: Well, certainly, I would love to see us return to civility. Listening to one another, working out our differences. That is not the
Republican party that exists today, and that is certainly not the administration that we have in power right now.
When the Republican Senate denied the right of President Obama to have his nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, heard --
AMANPOUR: I think you even wrote that they stole a justice from the Democratic party.
CLINTON: Well, I think they did. I mean, to keep a Supreme Court seat open for a year, to deny a distinguished jurist, they could have voted him
down. They could have said, "Well, for ideological reasons, philosophical reasons, we're not going to vote for him." But no, they stonewalled. And
that was such a breach of Senate ethics and the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to advice and consent on nominations, that you
cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.
That's why I believe if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then,
the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.
And you heard how the Republican members, led by Mitch McConnell, the president, really demeaned the confirmation process, insulted and attacked
not only Dr. Ford but women who were speaking out. You know, look, I remember Republican operatives shutting down the voting in Florida in 2000.
I remember the swift voting of John Kerry. I remember the things that even the Republican party did to John McCain in 2000. I remember what they did
to me for 25 years, the falsehood, the lies, which, unfortunately, people believed because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money and effort
in promoting them.
So when you're dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interest who want a government that
does its bidding, it's hard -- you can be civil but you can't overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections.
And so, the answer to everything is to get back to a balance, to get back to what is called regular order. They don't even have committee processes.
They -- the idea that they wouldn't seek and obtain all of the written record from Kavanaugh, that they would not have done a full investigation,
that is not the way that they treat Democrats.
And so, unless we win and we say to the people of our country, "Look, we need to protect the rule of law. We need to protect processes that are in
place in the Congress and the government to protect you, to protect what you care about." So, this should go both ways, and that's what I'm hoping
AMANPOUR: You talked about the papers and the written rhetoric and you talked about the Democrats. Well, apparently, when Elena Kagan was being
confirmed, Democrat handed over all her written paper and stuff she had done for the administration, and there seems to be sort of a question
amongst Democrats, should we fight dirty and meet them or whoever on the same playing field or should we, as Michelle Obama said, "When they go low,
we go high."
Rahm Emanuel who used to work for your husband, who also worked for President Obama has remembered President Clinton saying that, you know,
"Democrats since the Vietnam war have been afraid of using power, have been reluctant to, you know, be a bit more ruthless."
I mean, what is the answer? Especially when President Trump says about Al Franken, who was basically pushed out by your party of Senate because of
certain allegations, that the Democrats folded like a wet rag. Are you the wet rag party today?
CLINTON: Look, think Democrats have a real dilemma. We do believe in making government work. We're not interested in disabling it, cutting
taxes so dramatically that it gives you an excuse Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We try to have empathy for the situations people find
themselves in, that's why support universal health care, why we wouldn't deprive people with pre-existing conditions from getting access to health
care, and the list goes on.
So, Democrats come to this current political moment, really torn, because on the one hand, we don't want to model bad behavior, we don't want to act
like there are no limits what should be done in a legislative or executive branch.
But on the $ other hand, if we don't get smarter -- and include myself in this, you know, and I did not know the extent to which there was Russian
interference. I knew there had been some in my election. I didn't understand the pressures from the right-wing, frankly, on Jim Comey that
would cause him to interfere in the election to my detriment. Those were things that were almost unimaginable.
Who in setting up a presidential campaign would say, "Oh, and don't forget, we have to worry about the Russians manipulating the outcome. We have to
worry about the FBI director intervening into it. We have to worry about WikiLeaks, which was (INAUDIBLE) subsidiary Russian intelligence. I mean,
who would have thought that those were the challenges we face.
So, we do have to get tougher and smarter and stronger. Not cross the line into lying, but there's enough truth and facts that should be more widely
known about what this Republican stand for. Whose bidding, they are doing. And where Trump really comes from.
And at some point, the accumulation of evidence about how Trump and his father manipulated their business, how they, in so many ways, broke, you
know, at least spirit if not the letter of tax laws, how he did business with the mafia, how he's indebted to the Russians. At some point, that has
to matter. But it won't matter unless Democrats keep driving this message about what's really at stake with the presidency of someone who admires
dictators, who clearly authoritarian tendencies.
You know, one of the reasons I gave the speech today about human rights is, I want people not to think of it as some highfalutin diplomatic endeavor
that academics study, I want people to understand that human rights are really the freedom that we want to have, the decency we should treat each
other with, the respect we should demand for ourselves, the opportunities we should have in democracies. And I want people to realize those are at
risk right now.
AMANPOUR: You said in your speech that in the years since the end of World War II, the universal declaration of human rights, the United Nations, all
of this world order that the United States built and led has done so much good. There's much, much less war, there's less disease, there's all --
that has more literacy. But, you also said that freedom seems to be on the backfoot and freedom seems to be on the wane.
That's a really shocking thing to hear. We're sitting in Europe. You mentioned the nationalist right-wing governments of Hungary, Poland, which
are really assaulting the rule of law.
And I'm interested how you compare that, again, with what's happening in your own country where I asked you about left-wing conspiracy, you didn't
answer it, but Judge Kavanaugh in his opening statement the other day talked about a vast left-wing smear campaign, it was very political and
So, how does the U.S. rule of law in the Supreme Court with this now political taint to it measure up against actual assaults on independent
judiciaries right here in Eastern Europe and other parts?
CLINTON: I think this is one of the really important questions that the press as well as political leaders and the public need to unpack and
understand, why is it when the world, and particularly the West, is by any measure richer, safer, healthier, stronger?
What is giving rise to these yearnings, not for greater freedom and for a democracy that really lives up to its name where you don't try to throw
voters off the roles but you want everyone to vote? What is it that is motivating large numbers of people to seek the kind of leadership that will
limit freedom, starting with the press, academia, political parties?
And why is that so my on the right in the United States and in Europe look to Putin, a known authoritarian, someone who has journalists and political
opponents murdered with impunity? What is going on in the minds of 21st century Americans and Europeans that would lead them to say, you know, "I
just want to have security, stability and I think we need a strong leader"?
Now, some of it is traced to discriminatory feelings, prejudice bias that other people are getting ahead at a greater rate or somehow to their
disadvantage of me. And so, people look and say, "Well, these cultural changes, whether it's, you know, woman's right to choose or gay marriage or
whatever it might be," that somehow, they find threatening.
And so, there are cultural forces at work that are now spilling over into political allegiance that is often described as tribalism. So, yes, I want
my freedom but limit hers. Take away her right to choose. Oh, and you know what, I shouldn't have to sell a cake or provide a service to a gay
person because that impinges on my freedom. And all of a sudden you start to see the atomization and the fragmentation.
So, I think these are really important questions.
AMANPOUR: So, what happens though if some of these huge cultural issues which have the potential to rip, you know, the fabric of society apart even
further, comes to the Supreme Court at a time like this when even other justices have been saying, you know, "We used to have this kind of tacit,
sort of balance. There was always one of us who potentially would vote either way." And that's sort of a sum-up of what Elena Kagan said at
What happens now and are you worried, do you believe that with Justice Kavanaugh, who by the way attacked the Clintons, saying that all of this
was revenge for the Clintons --
CLINTON: Yes, I heard that.
AMANPOUR: And of course, he was on the Ken Starr Commission, I believe.
CLINTON: Yes, he was.
AMANPOUR: What do you think? Do your faith in rule of law in the United States Supreme Court going forward?
CLINTON: Well, I always have had even when I disagreed with decisions. I'm in a wait and see attitude. There will be some important cases before
the court. I don't know what private assurances Kavanaugh may have given to certain senators to win their vote. Those senators seem to have heard
him say that he's going to follow precedent, that he's not going to overturn Roe v. Wade. I will wait and see.
Now, the bigger question though is, what does it mean for the rule of law if the Supreme Court is seen as politically partisan? That is deeply
troubling. Because then people are going to disregard what the court says. People are going to believe that the court had an outcome that it sought to
Now, I know the right has said for many years, "Well, we had activist judges that Democrats appointed." I don't argue with that. But I think in
many ways the activism was a reaction to social changes. So, was it activists to find that there was a right to an education under Brown v.
Board of Education and to order the desegregation of schools? Probably, but was it sufficiently rooted in the constitution and in the overall
understanding of what the United States has held out as a promise to all of its people regardless of race? I think so.
And you could go through case after case. So, in some ways, is the glass half empty? Is the glass half full? Here's what I'm hoping, Christiane,
I'm hoping that now that the confirmation battle has ended, Kavanaugh has been confirmed and seated on the Supreme Court, that the awesome
responsibility of that position will affect him and, frankly, everybody else up there, whoever they are, whoever they vote with.
Because we're losing faith in all of our institutions. People have a low opinion of the Congress, a low opinion of the press, a low opinion of now
the church, unfortunately, a low opinion of nearly everything. And if we don't rebuild our institutions, we can't rebuild our checks and balances.
And more than any political outcome, I worry about the constitutional crisis that this will present.
AMANPOUR: To foreign policy quickly. You mentioned in your speech and in some of your recent writings what's happening in China, for instance.
AMANPOUR: President Trump seems to have a very good relationship with President Xi. Obviously, trade issue is a problem right now. But there's
also a surveillance state with a massive internment camp that you --
AMANPOUR: -- describe in Uyghur land where the Chinese Muslims live. And your concern about maybe Putin picking up that philosophy, that technology.
Explain a little bit.
CLINTON: Well, I think what China is doing, first with respect to the Uyghurs who are Muslims who are Chinese citizens, they are pursuing a
ruthless campaign against them, setting up internment camps, for example.
But it's not only about the Uyghurs. The Chinese are engaged in constructing a surveillance state that will surveil everyone. You don't
have to live in Western China. You can be in Beijing or Shanghai or any other part of China where the Han Chinese live, and you are now going to be
subjected to facial recognition, to something they call a social credit score where you get points from your government for doing things your
government approves of. And you get, apparently, demerits and maybe even punished for doing things your government doesn't approve of.
Now, who is making those decisions? There is a very concerted effort by this current Chinese government to prevent the internet from influencing
opinion inside China. Now, as they develop these tools, and they're very sophisticated, they're going to sell them. And it won't necessarily just
be the Russian who are competing to apply such tools, the Iranians, the North Koreans who already have a police state but can actually impose even
greater control through this, other countries that are electing populist or nationalist leaders who are creating authoritarian regimes even if they
were first elected. So, it's not going to only affect the Chinese people.
AMANPOUR: To that end, it appears that you and your husband, President Clinton, are going to go on a big city, 13-city wide speaking engagement
around the United States. It's just been announced. What is it you plan to say? What are you going to talk about?
CLINTON: Well, we were asked to do this. Apparently, there's some appetite for it. But it's going to be both personal, which is something
people are very interested in. Obviously, I'll talk about my grandchildren.
But I think from my perspective, it will be also answering questions about what's happening in our country and t world. Both Bill and I are deeply
Earlier in the interview you quote what had Rahm Emanuel said about Bill. And, you know, Bill had to be incredibly strong, first to get elected, then
to get re-elected and to survive. And it was not easy by any means, obviously. But he really believes Democrats have to be tougher and have to
stand up to the bullying and the intimidation.
So, I think he'll have things to say about his own experience and how it applies here. I will certainly have a lot to say about what's going on in
the world today based on not only my Secretary of State years but my travel and my book, "What Happened," which came out in paperback, which has an
afterword where I talk about these threats to democracy.
I don't want it to be too serious because I think a lot of people will be coming just to see us, to show their support, to be part of a gathering of
like-minded folks. But I do want to leave some thoughts, as I tried to do in the speech today, about what each of us can do.
AMANPOUR: You say that you're going to talk about the difficulties that your husband went through, that you went through. Obviously, you're going
to be prepared to have questions about that moment in 1998, the impeachment, the allegations of sexual harassment against your own husband.
Are you prepared to answer those? Is he prepared to answer them? And how do you see that similar or different from what President Trump is being
accused of and Kavanaugh and others today?
CLINTON: Well, there's a very significant difference. And that is the intense, long lasting partisan investigation that was conducted in the
'90s. If, you know, the Republicans, starting with President Trump on down, want a comparison, they should welcome such an investigation
AMANPOUR: Hillary Clinton, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
CLINTON: Good to talk to you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And just to note, President Trump reacted to Clinton's views on the Kavanaugh controversy when he was asked during that Oval Office session
with Nikki Haley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your response to Hillary Clinton saying, last night's swearing in of Judge Kavanaugh was more of a political event than a
United States national event?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I guess that's why she lost.
She doesn't get it. She never did. I knew that a long time ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, Hillary Clinton is among many who've raised eyebrows and questions over Trump's pawshaw (ph) for playing hardball with allies, but
not so much with strong men adversaries.
He talks about liking Kim Jong-un, respecting Vladimir Putin, embracing the Saudi Crown Prince, and the Turkish President to name just a few. So, who
is going to hold them all accountable when necessary?
Like Kim Jong-un's nerve agent attack on his half brother in Malaysia, or the suspected Saudi involvement in the disappearance of the journalist
Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, and, of course, the Russian novichok attack on a former spy living here in the U.K.
Today, there has been another possible breakthrough in that, the Skripal case. The British journalist Mark Urban has interviewed Sergei Skripal for
his book. It happened over many - many times last year. Now, as a diplomatic editor for the BBC, Urban is closely monitoring the case and,
indeed, all of the other developing diplomatic news. So, Mark Urban, welcome to our program.
MARK URBAN, BRITISH JOURNALIST: Hi.
AMANPOUR: So, diplomatic editor, you know what the foreign - foreign policy establishment is saying. What do you think will be the reaction to
the resignation of Nikki Haley?
URBAN: I think if you look across Europe, she did have a reputation as a straight shooter, a grown up. Now, I think it's fair to say in some
European countries, her line on Iran, and the nuclear deal all, for example, stormed support of Israel were not always appreciated in the
ideological set. But they always knew that she was a sensible person, someone within you could have a - a good dialogue. And of course, compared
to some of the other figures in the - in the Trump administration, she'd been there for quite a while. So, I think they'll be regretting the loss.
AMANPOUR: Quite a while means not even two years yet, but I - I take your point. I did say, who was going to hold these, you know, malfeasance when
they - when they committed an accountable cause? Nikki Haley was very strong against the Russians. And she was very strong about sanctions. If
she's gone, what do you think will happen in - in terms of holding these people, as I listed, accountable when necessary?
URBAN: Well, your point is well made. In that sense, she was a representative of the stable state - let's call it that, very much in favor
of holding the Russians to account. And it will be fascinating to see next month because the State Department comes to quite a moment on possible
sanctions over the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
As to whether to impose further sanctions on Russia, it's an open question. We'll see. I mean, we'll see how tough the U.S. wants to go on that issue.
But, overall, clearly there's - there's a question mark over the willingness of countries to endanger key relationships in pursuit of a
And I think the common theme across the issues you've raised in this segment is, you know, with a - with a good or important relationship, Saudi
Arabia, Russia, Turkey, how far do people want to endanger the wider relationship in pursuit of justice and accountable when there's some
flagrant rule breaking?
AMANPOUR: So, I'm just staggered, actually. I couldn't believe it when I read all those things out. I mean, that's just a few of some of the things
that have happened by a government on another government's sovereign territory. You know, why do you think this is happening at this point now?
URBAN: Well, with any of these things you've got to ask, what's the or else? If, for example, the U.K. were to ask for those two Russian
suspects, now believed GRU officers, who were said to have gone to Salisbury to do this poisoning, to be extradited and Russia refused, as it
did in the case of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, what is the U.K.'s position at that point?
Is it going to try and set further sanctions? What other action can they take? It's quite limited. And that, presumably, was one of the factors
playing in the minds of the people who OK'd that operation. It's that, ultimately, you've got to be willing to go really hard on this. And those
countries are not prepared, literally, to risk war and peace over this type of incident.
AMANPOUR: Again, so many of them have put sanctions on, but I do take your - your point that these are, you know, to be - to be evaluated every so
often. Regarding the case of Jamal Khashoggi who is a colleague, who's a journalist, who used to be very close to the Saudi royal family, worked for
the government and embassies around the world, as well as being a journalist, but recently has been a critic of the - what he considers,
heavy handed tactics, and the crackdowns under the new Crown Prince.
Obviously Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in his disappearance. What do you think - I mean the United States is very close to the Saudi regime
right now. Do they fear being held to account? How do you analyze that?
URBAN: Well - I mean, if - if you look at the recent rowel with Canada over criticism of the Saudi human rights record, they don't appear to be.
They appear to be ready to take quite tough and compromising positions. Although, of course, on this one they're denying that - that they
disappeared Mr. Khashoggi.
But it is interesting - I mean, listen, there are different ways of holding people to account. And in this case, of course, President Erdogan of
Turkey is really putting the pressure on the Saudis. And, of course, as it happened on his territory, albeit in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, he's
in a position, I think, to put some pressure on.
AMANPOUR: And it's actually really - really unclear what has happened because the clear - the clear fact is that he went in and his fiance has
not seen him come out. She actually has spoken to the Washington Post.
He said I hope we will soon learn what happened to him. I still have hope that he is alive, but I need to know where is Jamal. I have to know what's
happened to him and also, all sorts of leaks and allegations that he may have been murdered inside and dismembered.
People close to him, are now thinking, perhaps, he was maybe sedated and taken back to Saudi Arabia, something other than his death may have
happened. We - we still wait to see. And, of course, as I say, the Saudis still deny it.
Let's just get back to your investigations and the investigation into the Skripal case. You are, sort of, a - kind of context for this because Jamal
had said he was worried. He was worried because he was an outspoken critic. He was worried about what might happen to him. You talked to
Sergei Skripal who...
AMANPOUR: ...was poisoned. What was his concern? He was living here in the U.K.
URBAN: Absolutely. I spoke to him in his home in Salisbury last summer. I haven't spoken to him since the poisoning attack. But Sergei Skripal, at
that point, he did express concerns. He put it largely in terms of his son who's, sadly, since died and his daughter who were traveling back and forth
to - to Russia quite frequently.
And he said to me, look, you know, I don't want to become a big public figure and all of this. We are afraid of Putin. So, he did express
concerns, particularly, about becoming a public quoted figure.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, you've - you've heard what the investigative website Bellingcat has said. But it believes that the second suspect in the
novichok case is actually a doctor recruited by the GRU, to carry out this attack. Along with other person who was identified, you know, a few weeks
ago. Where do you come down on this? What do you think about identifying these two? How significant is this potential new lead?
URBAN: I think it's very significant. I mean, look, we've had - we've had a whole train of events since the fifth of September, when the Metropolitan
Police issued those CCTV images, and put the names out there - the fake names; Petrov and Boshirov. And then, amazing amounts have happened since
then. And then, I thought, really. Is someone really going to come forward and name these people?
And low and behold, today, we have someone - we have reporters going to Michigan Village up near the Arctic Circle in arch angel districts of
Russia, interviewing villagers who knew him.
Talking about what he did when he was a kid. How he joined the military, even alleging that Putin personally presented him with the Hero of the
Russian Federation medal. Now think about that because back a few weeks ago, President Putin was saying these people are civilians.
So, that's extraordinary, the way that this whole naming of these people has just gained its own momentum as a story. And remember, an awful lot of
this spread (ph) work that's being done. It's being done by independent Russian journalists.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and President Putin - because he's been quoted about this, has called Sergei Skripal scum. He said he believes this will all blow
over soon and it's only the media that is fanning the flames on this. That's it's - that it's nothing. That he had nothing to do with it, but
nonetheless, he's scum. So, you have been, you know, obviously, digging into this. What is the mindset? What do you think was Putin's beef with
URBAN: Well, when I was writing my book, obviously one of the key things that came back again and again as a question and I've talked to people who
have been dealing with all of the aspects of the instance and things that happened, was why? And a lot of people struggle with this question.
So, you've got to look at it in the context of a long-term campaign against traitors. But actually, the people have actually spied for the major
western agencies, the CIA, MI6. There aren't that many of them.
There aren't that many people to be made examples of. And when you then try to deal with the practical problems about how we're going to reach out
and take someone like that, or take away their life, the ones in the U.S., in particular, are pretty well protected.
So, I guess, Skripal, because he'd been in jail for a while he kind of presents a problem. He didn't consider himself as a high threat. He was
living under his own name in Salisbury. And that just made him more approachable.
If you like, it was a compromise between the aspiration, in terms of hitting back at great traitors, and the availability. Who was actually
available to be made an example of.
AMANPOUR: And I mean Skripal did give information to MI6, the British Intelligence Agency. He doesn't call himself - he still calls himself a
nationalist and a patriot. Jamal Khashoggi calls himself a patriot, he never called himself a dissident.
He just felt he was doing his patriotic duty and raising warning signals. What do you think, given the publicity around this now, that's going on
inside the Kremlin in - in Putin's mind?
I mean must he be thinking that this is all sort of crumbling around him, or do you think he's still sort of, you know, feeling that his - the long
arm of his whatever, I don't want to say revenge or anything like that, but the long arm of his reach is still very potent.
URBAN: Well, I mean, that's an interesting one because, you know, if he was - or whoever did this - planned this, the senior ranks, the GRU were
trying to send a message. You could argue it's still being sent that if you think you can spy for a western agency and go and make a new life in
the west, we can find you and we can make you pay.
And that remains the fact, you know, Sergei Skripal and his daughter might have survived but they've been through a pretty terrible time. On the
other hand I think OK, if that's the aim of it, what you really don't want to do is turn the GRU as one of your central intelligence and covert action
agencies into an international laughing stock,
And with the appearance of the two men on our team, that's what's happened.
AMANPOUR: Really fascinating, Mark Urban, thank you so much indeed for joining us. So as politics in the United States continues to feel
increasingly tribal and divisive, many are turning to the past to look for answers.
In her new book "These Truths: A History of the United States" author Jill Lepore explores how American history has influenced some of the most
polarizing issues in politics today, such as race, women's rights and hyper partisanship.
Our Walter Isaacson sits down to see what it would take to redress this gaping wound and possibly rescue a democracy in distress.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON, CEO, CNN: Welcome to the show, Jill. Thanks for being here.
JILL LEPORE, AUTHOR: Thanks so much for having me.
ISAACSON: And on the best seller list with a scrawling, wonderful -
LEPORE: Who knew?
ISAACSON: -- narrative history of the United States. Who knew? And your theme is in your title, "These Truths", from one of the greatest sentences
ever written, the second (inaudible) of the declaration. What are these truths?
LEPORE: Well these truths in the Declaration of Independence that are self evident, political equality, popular sovereignty and natural rights. And
this is a nation that is founded on an idea, those particular three ideas, and unlike other countries that are founded on a common ancestry or a
common heritage or a chain of leaders, this is a nation that is founded on those ideas.
And so the way the book works is to try to figure out where did those ideas come from. They have a particular history and then to ask, you know,
whether the course of American history since the founding has belied them.
ISAACSON: Well the - the idea of equality of course is written by the people who write both the declaration and the constitution, but as you
point out in your book, if it's Madison, you also do Billy his slave, George Washington you do Henry.
You weave the slaves in with the people writing the constitution and the declaration. Why did you do that and what does that help teach?
LEPORE: Yes, so one of the things I want to call the readers' attention to is the asymmetry of the historical records. We know so much about Madison,
he's endlessly fascinating, we know a lot less about the people that he owned as chattel, as property.
And yet we are descended from both of those people, from all of those people. And to have to sort of struggle for racial equality and political
equality in our day means having a richer history and a fuller history.
So the - and a more integrated history, right, so people sort of would study, you know, presidential history or political history and then maybe
also studied the history of slavery and emancipation and Jim Crowe and civil rights as if those are kind of separate tales, you know, you could
tell them in separate books.
But they're - we know in our own day, these things, you know, Black Lives Matter and Obama's presidency and Trump's presidency are all part of the
same world. So how to restore that sense of the interconnectedness and I think the causal relationships between those two things.
There's a big commitment that I - that I made in - again, giving it a shot, trying to lay out a story that - that holds together.
ISAACSON: And you also weave in women that way, we share a common interest in Benjamin Franklin and -
ISAACSON: -- what he did (ph) on his sister Jane, right. And tell me how that story wove in and you brought women into the narrative?
LEPORE: Yes, what I'm trying to - like with the history of race, there are these - there's this sort of segregated history in our text books. With
women, they're - they really remain pretty much left out of any account of political history.
Women tend to sort of appear in 1848 and kind of curtsey and say we would like our rights and then they come back in 1920 and get the right to vote
and then they appear sort of, you know, protesting the America - the beauty pageant or whatever, Miss America in 1968.
And that's kind of it and it makes no sense. It doesn't explain the world we live in now where partisanship and struggles for women's equality before
the law are just explosively in confrontation with one another in our contemporary world.
So I started out wanting to be a historian because I wanted to write women's history and I ended up writing political history but trying to
write political history that took women seriously as political actors.
And one way I tried to do that here is both with, you know, individual characters we might want to know more about like Jane Franklin is quite -
she's just a compelling person.
But also just thinking about all the decades when women didn't have the right to vote and yet influenced American politics outside of electoral
politics, through the work of moral suasion and the moral crusade, which becomes just a key feature of the American political style, the moral
crusade that's really brought into politics by women working as abolitionists.
It's fueled by the second great awakening of evangelical Christianity in the 1820s and '30s, working for women's rights, working for temperance,
later for prohibition. In the 20th century, women's moral crusades have generally moved to the right.
McCarthyism can really be understood as a moral crusade really run by women. The pro-life movement of course is a moral crusade. You could
think of the MeToo movement as a moral crusade too.
Women have really consistent (inaudible) denied equal political power and the way that women have tended to try to influence politics has taken - has
generally taken other forms that have - have big consequences for how our republic works.
ISAACSON: You talk about how the women involvement in politics has often been a very conservative thing. In fact, you highlight Phyllis Schlafly,
one of the women who was part of the original I guess '70s and '80s - 1970s, '80s, '90s, the New Right movement against abortion and other
Do you feel that in some ways women's involvement, as you've said, is a conservative force as well as liberal?
LEPORE: It absolutely is both. I mean the - the women were really involved in the populous movement in the 19th century that is a left
movement, but also was a nativist movement, has both what we would term liberal and conservative dimensions.
It would - it wouldn't - those labels wouldn't have applied at the time. Prohibition is - is essentially a conservative movement. Schlafly is a
good stand in for how conservative women have aligned over the course of the 20th century.
She enters politics in the 1950s as a McCarthy supporter. She's a - she's a huge and really influential supporter of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and
again even - and even before. And then she turns her attention to stopping the ERA after it passes Congress and goes to the state (ph) ratification in
1972, in part by conflating equal rights with abortion.
And she's just -- the last dying act of Phyllis Schlafly was to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, she went to the Republican Nominating Convention in
Cleveland. She endorsed him before he spoke at her funeral just before the election.
There's a really interesting trajectory there about women and conservativism that I think we've kind of lost sight of. And it - it - I
wouldn't say that it explains everything in the world, but it's an important piece of an explanation of the second half of the -
ISAACSON: And it's interesting that you say that liberals have left out some of this conservative strand in women's politics. Is your book - do
you consider it ideological at all in your approach to American history, meaning coming from a liberal side or coming from a conservative side?
LEPORE: So I was actually trying to reject the highly ideological interpretations of American history that we have been kind of stuck with on
the one hand - we have a sort of polarized past, people kind of line up there.
I mean less - scholars don't do this, politicians do this. They offer - you know, there's a kind of conservative version of American history and
then there's a liberal version of American history.
And with this book I would like to illicit a conversation about whether we can have a shared past, because I don't know how these partisan divisions
that make it impossible for us, you know, to formulate a budget to complete a full Supreme Court to pass pretty much any legislation.
And I think most importantly to think deeply about the need for political reform, we have a lot of conversation in our country about resistance and
revolution, and I think there's so much wrong structurally that we really ought to be having reform conversations as well.
And that's the spirit in which I - I - I tried to offer this account. Not to dilute - dilute something or be wishy-washy about things, but to just
take seriously that this is a set of things that did happen and here's my interpretation of them.
ISAACSON: Now all of this seems to culminate both the strands, women rights both on the liberal and progressive side, and as you point out so
well in the book on the conservative side, in the Kavanaugh hearings and the MeToo moment that we're going through, how do you react to that? How
do you see the history leading us to that and where will it go?
LEPORE: Yes. I think that's the intersection of two different developments. One is the changing relationship between the public and the
Supreme Court, largely through the nomination process, but and the other is women struggle to gain equal protection of the law and I think we think
about that more squarely when we look at that, those confrontations, we're thinking about, well wow, if all the violence against women and sexual
harassment laws and sexual assault laws have been passed in the 1970s had been enforced, we wouldn't be here now. We're here because that didn't
Many women don't have equal rights and they don't have equal protection. I think that's the visible piece of what's going on now, separate from like
the partisan piece of it. But the Supreme Court public opinion is a thing that actually kind of distracts me and captures my attention here, because
throughout the 19th century generally when president named a new Justice, the decision just went to the whole of the Senate, which is voted up or
down and they almost always voted up.
It doesn't even really go to Committee. When it started going to Committee, the Committee maybe had a few deliberations and they voted up or
down and sent it to the Senate. The first Justice nominee to appear before the Senate was in 1925.
Like the idea that people are supposed to go and be interrogated before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that's a very recent development on our history
and that was just a weird kind of one-off until 1939 when Felix Frankfurter was called to answer the charges he was a communist and he agreed to go.
And the only reason he was asked was because you go black in 1939, he'd been nominated by FDR after he got through the Senate it was revealed that
he had been in the KKK and the Senate thought, whoa, we should have brought him before the Committee and asked him about that.
So, it's not until 1955 that it's even regular that nominees appear and since 1987 that that is a television spectacle. That is, of course, the
Robert Bork televised hearings, which is really the last spectacle of the Watergate hearing, honestly, I think is the best way to think about Bork.
But, now we have this notion, ever since the Merrick Garland situation, when Mitch McConnell said the American people will decide our next Justice.
That's actually now how it's set up. It's not a popularly -- it's not an elected position. It's an appointment for (inaudible) to be insulated from
public opinion. So, I think it's quite troubling to imagine that Twitter is deciding who will hold the next seat on the Supreme Court.
ISAACSON: One of the themes in your work and Einstein once said it, is that in American Democracy there seems to be gyroscope, just when it's
tipping one way it knows how to right itself. Do you think we have, in our history, in our DNA, and going forward, the mechanisms to right ourselves
when we seem to have become so divided?
LEPORE: I do. I do. Whether that will happen, I don't know. And I work pretty hard to hold onto that hope. I think a lot about the speech that
Frederick Douglas gave in 1894, shortly before his death, to an audience of school children in Manassas, Virginia, black school children, and he --
think about everything that he had achieved that had been undone. Right?
He fought for emancipation, for abolition, emancipation and equal rights and by 1894, right, the Civil War has been won, the emancipation happened,
but Jim Crow has taken over.
The South wins the peace, there's violent segregation and an epidemic of lynching and he tells these school children to hope that what is necessary
in challenging times and the more challenging the times are is to do the hard work of figuring out where hope lies.
ISAACSON: Jill Lepore, thank you so much for being with us.
LEPORE: Thanks for having me.
ISAACSON: Appreciate it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And in these busy times, it is always instructive to know how Americans were able to overcome historic divisions and always keep the
hope. And in the aftermath of today's resignation by U.N. Ambassador, Nikki Haley, please join me tomorrow for my exclusive interview with James
He is the respected U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, who has resigned his post because he feels he can no longer defend America's foreign policy. But for
now, that is it for our program.
Thanks for watching and remember you always listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.