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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” And here’s what’s coming up.
A gruesome new theory about what happened to the body of the slain Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. I’ll ask the vice chair of the Senate
Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, about this and about government after the midterms.
Then, as President Trump rachets up his midterm rhetoric, we talk to Marc Short, his former director of Legislative Affairs. Plus, is America really
as divided as it seems? Republican Congressman, Garret Graves, tells us Walter Isaacson why cross-party cooperation might still be possible.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in New York.
It’s been almost exactly a month. Saudi Arabia has admitted that he was murdered inside their conciliate in Istanbul while Turkey says it was
premeditated, planned and that he was dismembered. But, it is still not known what happened to Jamal Khashoggi’s body.
The “Washington Post” which Jamal wrote for is quoting a senior Turkish official saying they are now exploring whether his body was destroyed in
acid on the grounds of the Saudi conciliate or the Saudi consul general’s residence.
Last week, CNN spoke to the private company that was reportedly hired to examine the sewers outside the consulate with robotic cameras. These
developments come as the United States and the United Kingdom use this souring of relations with Saudi Arabia to finally demand a ceasefire in the
Yemen war and to ease the regional standoff with Qatar, this is according to U.S. officials.
Senator Mark Warner has been vocal and insistent on getting to the bottom of this crisis. He’s the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
and he joins me now from Capitol Hill to talk more about this and, of course, about the Democrats strategy for the midterms and what the
afterward will look like.
Senator Warner, welcome to the program.
MARK WARNER, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: Thanks for having me on today.
AMANPOUR: So, let us talk with something that’s very close to, you know, domestic affairs, and that’s obviously the midterms next Tuesday. I just
want to ask you in context with what we asked, is America as divided as it looks, with all these hate crimes we have seen over the past week and with
the incredibly divisive rhetoric and new campaign ads that are coming out right now targeting immigrants?
WARNER: Well, clearly we have never had a president like Donald Trump who is so loose with language, so willing to antagonize friend and foe alike,
and who seems only about trying to rally his supporters, and even in the aftermath of the tragedies of the last two weeks hasn’t seen his role as
president as someone to bring folks together after crisis. That is a huge disappointment to, I think, the vast majority of Americans.
But there are moments of time. I work in the Senate and on a committee, on the Intelligence Committee, for example, where we have maintained our
bipartisan status through the whole Russia investigation. I think on many issues there are still areas of common ground. And one of the areas I
spent a lot of time on recently is investigating some of the challenges, for example, in social media.
One outside expert testified before our committee that if you look at the activity on the far left and far right in terms of political commentary on
the internet, that that commentary is literally 25-1 foreign based bots or foreign based fake accounts over actual Americans. Now, if that proves to
be the case, it may at least be a little bit of a good sense that there may not be as wild and crazy a voice as on each ends of the extreme as there
sometimes appears to be at least in terms of volume of internet traffic.
But I do think these midterms which will be now just a few days away are critical and I would argue that every American needs to get out and vote.
And even folks that may even support some of this president’s policies, I hope they will go out and recognize that our system of government which has
this enormous need for checks and balances, that if there has ever been a time that Congress, the House and the Senate needs to exercise its
constitutional responsibility to put a check on an executive that, for example, is recently as this week, thought he could change the constitution
by simply an executive action, they need to get out and vote.
And I believe that means by putting Democrats in control of the House. My hope is, while the margin is thinner, put a Democrat in charge of the
Senate so we can provide that constitutional check on a president that sometimes I don’t think understands the legal and constitutional limits on
his own power.
AMANPOUR: Well, Senator, you raise a lot of really interesting points which we’re going to dive into. But let’s take them slightly in order and
stay close to the midterms for the moment.
First and foremost, you’ve just raised this issue of the constitutional amendment that the president has been talking about, which is the 14th
Amendment, giving birth right citizenship. Immigration served him really well in the 2016 campaign, propelled him to the White House and he’s
obviously doubling down and using that right now.
Can he, given his ability to nominate to the Supreme Court, actually follow through with this idea of changing that birth right citizenship which he is
telling his base right now?
WARNER: Well, I think this is an attempt to simply whip up fear. There is no responsible constitutional scholar on the left or the right that thinks
the president can act, you know, unilaterally to make this kind of change. Even the Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, called Trump out on
this item, of course, that earned Paul Ryan another hit by a presidential tweet.
But there are most of us in Washington, myself included, who have been the object of these presidential tweets. But as I think as you pointed out,
this is an effort to stoke fear, it is not a legitimate issue. If he wants to try to change the law, there is a constitutional process where Congress
has to act and then states have to act. There is no ability for a president to act in any unilateral fashion.
So, this is just one more campaign tactic. But we shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, think about just, you know, prior to the tragedy in Pittsburgh on
Saturday when in the previous week we had literally 15 bombs sent that I would argue were assassination attempts against former President Obama,
Former President Clinton, Former Vice President Secretary of State and the president, rather than out and out condemning that action, was complaining
that the media was spending too much time on that rather than back on his favorite subject of simply trying to stir up folks against immigrants.
AMANPOUR: Senator, you mentioned the extreme expressions that are on areas of social media. And in fact, we’ve just been looking and there’s been a
lot of reporting on the post Pittsburgh moment, which is tragic, but the social media hate groups are proliferating and the number of people on them
are exploding, they’re not getting less after that terrible tragedy.
And I want to know what you think about the idea of, you know, regulation. I spoke to Tim Cook, the Apple CEO last week and he was in Europe calling
for privacy laws and regulation. Let me just play what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: Usually, I’m not a big pro-regulation kind of person. I believe in free markets, but I think we have to admit, when a
free market doesn’t work and take an action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, that’s the short version of what he told me and it’s a lot to do with what we’re talking about right now, the polarization and
the ripping apart of the fabric of society including in the United States. Do you think America would go for regulation of some sort, Congress would
WARNER: I believe that Americans are ready for some guard rails. I think for years we celebrated the great success of these tech companies and they
are remarkably successful. But as we have seen over the last few years in major way starting with the Russian intervention into our elections in
2016, we have seen the ability to manipulate and misuse social media.
Russians did it fabulously well by creating hundreds and hundreds of fake accounts that touched literally hundreds of millions of Americans. So, I
laid out what I believe is one of the most extensive white papers, laying out over 20 ideas on how we might think of some of these guard rails, and
let me briefly, not touch on all 20 but touch in three areas where I think some debate and somewhat sense of regulation may take place.
First is around privacy. And Europe, as you’re aware, Christiane, has already set up a set of regulations called GDPR. It’s a little bit clunky
in certain ways but has set privacy regulations. Much of those regulations have actually been copied by California with their own state legislative
activities, part of that will allow you to have better transparency into the data that this company collect on you, the ability to be forgotten, the
ability to take down some of that data. But there’s a whole series of ideas around privacy. That’s bucket number one.
Bucket number two, it’s not received as much attention, but I think it’s where a lot of the debate will be — is moving is around identity
validation over the internet. In many ways, the internet was created as this vast open square where you could appear anonymously and many times
these hate groups are — people are not representing themselves with the real names but they’re appearing anonymously and spreading this kind of
venom and frankly, finding ability to connect with similar kind of hateful views in ways that are fairly spectacular.
So, certain ideas that I have laid out, for example, should we, when we go in the internet, have the right to know when we’re being contacted, whether
we’re being contacted by a human being or a bot, a fellow computer? Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being communicated by with a computer
but should you have the right to know that as you receive these messages? Should you have the right to know if someone says they’re, Christiane,
posting in New York but this post is actually originating in St. Petersburg, Russia? Should there be a geo indicator that pops up and says
somebody is representing themselves to be one place but they’re actually — this post is originating someplace else?
And there are even some that are starting to say that there needs to be perhaps even two internets going forward. One where you can be anonymous
but another internet where if you’re going to transact business, you have to have identity validation. So, there are countries like Estonia that
have received so much Russian interference that within their borders they decided that you could no longer be anonymous, you had to indicated to both
biometrics and through special passcodes that you were the actual person you represented to be. So, identity validation is a second bucket.
Third, briefly, is this whole question around can we add competitive factors so that we diminish a little bit of the dominance of these firms?
I think most Americans, for that matter, most citizens of the world who use Google or Facebook think, “Oh, gosh, these are free services.” They are
not free. They are milking huge, enormous amounts of information about us.
I can guarantee you, if you are a regular user of Google and Facebook, those companies know more about you than does the United States government.
So, the — a couple of the ideas that we laid out just as in the old telecommunications world that used to be hard to move from one telephone
company to another then we mandated number portability, perhaps we should mandate data portability. So, it’s easy for you to take all of your
Facebook feeds, including your cat videos, and easily move them from one platform to another that might offer greater protections.
And we know — we have even put forward — let me make this last point is – – and Facebook has said they’re open to this and the proof will be in the pudding, should you be able to know how many pieces of information Facebook
or Google or others have about you and not only be transparent about that data but also how much that data is worth on a monthly basis. Soyou’re
your data is worth $18 a month to Facebook and mine is worth $20 a month, that kind of transparency around pricing would actually, I think, make
people realize their data is valuable and might interject new competitors into the space that might, again, help provide protections just within the
competitive landscape. So —
AMANPOUR: Well, Senator, it’s going to be —
WARNER: Data privacy, identity valuation and competition are three areas to look. Sorry for the long explanation but very important areas.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And it’s going to be really interesting to see whether they gain traction and whether it actually lands somewhere that there’s a
change made because many citizens are quite fed up with this.
But I want to ask you, because you did in all of that mention how Russia was able to interfere with the last elections and obviously, there’s an
investigation into that. I want to ask you, given these elections that they still think there’s interference, why haven’t we’ve been able to stop
that or why haven’t you all been able to stop that?
But also, the other set of interference is getting a lot of focus and traction right now, and that is voter suppression. Apparently 24 states
and the like have got significant hurdles toward voting rights and mostly target minority communities. How is that going to, A, change, and B,
affect this election coming up?
WARNER: Well, let me put them in two difference categories. One in terms of foreign interference. The Russians were masterful at misinformation and
disinformation, that goes back to their history from the Soviet Union on. And that kind of misinformation, disinformation used by individuals
misrepresenting themselves as Americans, that activity, the Intelligence Community, has said is still active, is still out there.
A matter of fact, there was an indictment two weeks ago of a Russian agent for both that she had taken in 2016 but also activities that were going
forward in 2018. So, making citizens more aware of fake accounts, fake representations. We haven’t made as much progress as we have liked. We
have seen certain aspects. For example, Facebook has started to at least label foreign campaign advertising on the internet the same way they label
advertising on TV and radio, good half steps but self-regulation won’t get it.
We have also seen, in terms of election security, an increase in security at our polling stations. But election securities, there’s three categories
again. There’s the companies that regulate or manage the voter files. And unfortunately, three companies in America manage 9 percent of all of these
voter files and I don’t believe we have appropriate perspective into those companies and what kind of security that’s taking place.
Second is, at the voting machine level, there’s been great progress made where in my state and many states we now have a paper audible trail. So,
even if the machines were hacked you could find a paper ballots that would have some record. Unfortunately, because this administration has opposed
election security reform legislation even though it would pass the Congress overwhelmingly, we have not been able to pass this on a national basis to
have that in effect paper trail.
The third area around where the votes are tabulated. Again, the Department of Homeland Security has done a better job. But in a normal
administration, after the kind of intervention we saw in 2016, a normal White House would have appointed someone in charge of election security.
This White House has not done that, and a matter of fact, this White House eliminated the position in the White House in terms of cyber security.
Now, on the second part of your question — and refresh my memory because I just went through that election security.
AMANPOUR: Well, to be honest with you, very rapidly, because I really want to get to Jamal Khashoggi and the intelligence that you may or may not
have, that was about voter suppression in 24 states significantly.
WARNER: Yes. Now, on the voter suppression issue, this has been an activity that is not active at the Federal level but there has been virtual
virtually no history or examples of major voter suppression, yet you have state after state in a classic case in Georgia where the secretary of state
is actually running for governor where you have states try to restrict voter rights or add additional identity — identification requirements with
— the idea is to stop and start — stopping — stomping out voter fraud but there’s no evidence of that. I believe most of this is actually geared
at voter suppression.
AMANPOUR: And we’ll see how it actually manifests itself and what the results are in the elections. But I want to move on because as vice chair
of the Senate Intelligence Committee you heard how we started with this new “Washington Post” theory according to Turkish officials about what awful
thing might have happened to the remains of Jamal Khashoggi, our colleague. I mean, it’s almost too awful to even talk about, but that his body might
have been disposed in acid.
But what I want to ask you is the CIA Director, Gina Haspel, went to Turkey last week. She was briefed. We understand she was told about whatever
audio or video or whatever evidence he Turks may have. Has she come back and briefed you, Congress, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the
president? Do you know anything of what she was told?
WARNER: Very shortly, the Intelligence Community leadership and Congress, which is called the Gang of Eight, the leaders of the Intelligence
Committee and the leaders of the House and the Senate will receive the briefing.
But, you know, I believe it’s obvious now that Mr. Khashoggi was brutally murdered, that it was a planned activity by Saudi Arabia. The question I
would ask and we’ll never know the answer to this and this, again, where I sometimes think the president doesn’t understand that his words matter,
often sometimes more abroad than even domestically. I cannot imagine under an Obama administration, under a Bush administration, under a Clinton
administration, I could not imagine under a Reagan administration that a so-called ally like Saudi Arabia would take this brazen a reaction because
they would fear the come back and the price that would be paid from America and its other allies because in a normal course, you’d have a president of
the United States that would, one, stand up for the freedom of the press and two, be willing to call out allies who violate human rights.
AMANPOUR: So —
WARNER: When this president refuses to make those kinds of traditional calls to action that previous American president of both parties had made,
again, we’ll never know for sure. But did the Saudi somehow think that this action could be taken this brazenly without any repercussions.
AMANPOUR: So, do you think there will be repercussions? And, you know, we’ve heard from some of your colleagues including Republican Senator Marco
Rubio that America’s civilian nuclear talks with Saudi should be abandoned and that potentially, the U.S. and U.K., as I said, according to American
officials are trying to use this moment to end and call for a ceasefire in the war in Yemen.
WARNER: I think that you will see Congress act. You’ve heard Democrat and Republican alike condemn the purported Saudi actions, which, again, I think
even the Turkish prosecutors made a very strong case. And I — and whether it’s our collaboration on nuclear activities, whether it is arms sales, I
think there will be action that we will take even if Trump doesn’t take.
But I also hope and commend finally Secretary Pompeo and Mattis, if they are using this moment to try to reign in the Saudi activities in terms of
the war in Yemen. And there are parties on both sides that are guilty in Yemen. But the Saudi misuse often times of American technology in terms of
their indiscriminate killing of civilians needs to come to an end. And I hope that we and our British allies and frankly, others can put enormous
pressure on the Saudis to rachet back and bring this — bright about the ceasefire in Yemen that will be long overdue.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed. Senator Mark Warner, thank you so much. And in fact, the world has called Yemen an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe
in our time. So, thank you so much for being with us today.
Now let’s dig down further into Donald Trump on a last-minute midterm campaign blitz. Even by his controversial standards, the U.S. president is
causing uproar new for sharing what some say is the most racially charged campaign ad in decades, repeating tropes about Central American invaders at
the border, filling the nation with cop killers, that’s what it’s saying. As we said, it is highly charged.
His immigration rhetoric propelled him to the White House two years ago and he’s counting on it suring up Congress now.
So, let’s talk to Marc Short. He is former director of Legislative Affairs in the Trump administration. And we, of course, have to disclose that he
has signed a non-disparagement agreement.
So, Marc Short, welcome to the program.
MARC SHORT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Christiane, thanks for having me on.
AMANPOUR: Can you first tell me what that non-disparagement agreement means and why we have to say that.
SHORT: Sure. Because I signed a contract with CNN I got clearance from the White House council that any time I come on here I can give you a full
and unvarnished opinion about what happened inside the White House. CNN has determined that they want to continue to disclose that each and every
interview I do. But the reality is I have been on the network for three months and have been providing my opinions both favorably and unfavorably
about the administrations act.
AMANPOUR: All right. So, then let me ask you whether you have a favorable opinion of this ad that we have been talking about. I mean, we’re
reluctant to give it too much air because it does seem such a dog whistle. And you know which one I mean, right, the ad which shows a convict in court
who looks completely off his rocker and he’s talking about he wish he could kill more cops, and that’s, you know, being used as scare, sort of,
tactics. What do you think about using that ad at this particular time?
SHORT: Christiane, I believe that it’s a legitimate issue. I believe border security is an issue that has continued to plague this country and I
think it’s one that many voters have supported Trump for, as you have said.
Where I probably disagree, as I think that some of the interjection of changes to the 14th Amendment, I think that there’s actually a lot of
independents and even some Democrats who believe the president is right on border security.
When you begin talking about changing the constitution, I think that that coalition fractures and falls apart. And so, I think that the
administration should focus on their action to actually be able to secure the border without talking about 14th Amendment changes.
AMANPOUR: So that’s interesting. I mean, you kind of agree then with what Senator Mark Warner said that, you know, you can’t just change the
constitution. It would take among other things an act of Congress. So, you think it’s kind of dead in the water and you would not advise this
president to focus on that?
SHORT: You know, I’m not a lawyer. So, I’ll try to make sure that I understand my limitations here. But I think that the concern is not so
much changing the constitution as the way Senator Warner said, it’s the way you interpret a clause about other jurisdiction within, meaning that are
some conserve legal scholars who say that if you are here illegally, or frankly, if you’re here as part of an embassy in a foreign diplomat, you
don’t have the same rights and protections and therefore shouldn’t have birth right citizenship.
Again, I think there’s too many other issues that unite a larger percent of Americans about what we need to on border security, that one I think is one
that’s going to be more controversial and many Americans just aren’t interested in looking to change interpretation of the constitution.
AMANPOUR: So, Marc, are you prepared to analyze and tell us, predict, what you think will happen on Tuesday and what we might hear on Tuesday evening.
Others, many are saying according to polling that the Congress might flip to Democrat control the Senate will probably stay within Republican
control. Is that kind of your working assumption?
SHORT: I think Republicans in the House face a lot of head winds. I think the reality is that Americans like divided government. I think that
Republicans have 44 retirements now among House Republicans. And when that happens, as retirement here and you create an open seat, you lose all the
power seniority and all the power of incumbency. And so, that puts many more seats at play. And I think that the Democrats have the advantage in
Having said that, the playing field in the Senate is different. And I think Republicans will actually gain seats in the Senate. So, it will be
somewhat of a split decision here in the United States in which Republicans get more power in the Senate but certainly, Democrats, I think, are poised
to have a significant night on Tuesday in the House.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you to weigh in then because maybe it might be different if things weren’t so polarized and highly charged right now. I
mean, the president, obviously, has — is able to run on the economic performance. And others have said, I’m not original on this, that you
shouldn’t be having sort of, you know, almost no unemployment and a pretty good economy booming, plus the president’s low — you know, low-ish
approval ratings. Those numbers shouldn’t be happening in the same sentence.
So, what do you say then to those who are analyzing, for instance, you know, the people who were his coalition before, a lot of them being turned
off by the race and the gender and the divisive aspects that the president keeps harping on?
SHORT: Well, I think it’s important to remember that when Donald Trump won the presidency, his approval rating was at 38 percent. So, I think people
talk about numbers that are falling when, in fact, the country was divided. I do think you’re right that there’s been significant achievements and
judicial appointments and the economy and the unemployment at all-time lows, growth it’s now over 3.5 percent this question, 4.2 percent the
previous quarter. So, a lot of things going the right way.
But as far as the campaign rhetoric, often, I think, voters don’t really care about what you’ve already done for him, it’s what you can do for me
now. And so, that’s why I think you see a lot of the immigration discussion objective because there’s a complacency about the economy
saying, “OK. Well, you already took care of that. What are the other issues that can motivate voters to come out?” And I think that’s why you
see the administration focusing a lot on the immigration debate right now.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you, of course, yourself said that it was a political winner. You’ve said that in the past and presumably the president believes
that as well. But let me get back to what might happen post Tuesday. If indeed there is divided government and you said the American people like
that, what do you think is going to happen? Do you envision a House controlled by the Democrats, you know, putting up obstacles along the way
even if they don’t go for impeachment as, you know, Minority Leader Pelosi has said that that’s not where her focus is. What do you see coming down
SHORT: Well, I think you’re going to see Democrats poise for a lot of investigations, a lot of subpoenas, the administration. And frankly, I do
think you’ll see them proceed with impeachment hearings and some of them will be more of a show trial.
And I say that, Christiane, because that’s where the base of their party wants to be right now and I don’t think their elected members would be able
to resist that. And I can candidly say on the Republican side, there are occasions when Republicans shutdown the government and every elected
official in the Republican side will say, “Hey, that’s a bad idea,” but they’re getting flooded with phone calls from their constituents that say,
“Hey, we’ve got to stop the spending. We want you to do that.” And I think that you’re going to see many Democrat elected members in a similar
position next year.
As far as what could actually get done legislatively, I do think that there’s promise for an infrastructure package. Something that was on the
table. In the last Congress we did not accomplish it. But I think that Democrats typically want more government funding for infrastructure
American. It’s something the president agrees with them on. And I do see that you’re going to have many House Democrats running in 2020 when the
presidents on the ballot in states the president won in 2016 that will want to partner with him on that.
One area that I probably have a greater caution than I think some of my colleagues is, is on trade. Because when the second NAFTA goes up to
Congress in December 1st, there’s 108 days for Congress to approve that. If the Democrats have recently taken over control of the House and launched
investigations of potentially impeachment, it’s hard to see on Nancy Pelosi at the same time tells Democrats to give the president a huge victory on
trade. And so, I do have concerns about that pathway in Congress on NAFTA 2.0.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you about trade because obviously, clearly one of the things that the president said in his campaign was that he’s going to
hold China accountable and he talked about a trade war. He said he’s good. He said they’re winnable.
But we’re hearing lots of anecdotal evidence from people in the so-called Trump heartland, whether they’re farmers or others who are feeling the
impact of tariffs which are, in fact, the tax. Whichever way you call them, they’re a tax. They’re feeling this impact. How do you think that’s
going to play out and do you believe that the president will continue to ratchet up the trade war with China?
SHORT: I do think that he will continue to ratchet up the trade war with China because I think there’s a lot of support among a lot of Republicans
in Congress. They believe that China has some stolen intellectual property from many of their constituent’s companies. They believe that there’s
probably manipulation of currency. They believe that China is a bad act. They believe that China is a growing threat in the Pacific.
So I think the president has a lot of congressional support there. To your point about some of the districts that the president wants, particularly in
farm districts, I think their sense like all Americans have been let’s focus on China, let’s not have trade wars with the European Union and with
Canada and Mexico. And I think you’ve seen the president move to try to wrap up NAFTA 2.0 as well as initiate trade discussions with European
allies. So I think that there is more of a move from the administration to focus more singularly on China.
AMANPOUR: I mean you talk about European allies, not to mention allies in Canada or in Mexico, one of the big complaints that many in the foreign
policy establishment, both Republican and Democrat have is not the way President Trump necessarily discusses with adversaries but what he’s doing
with allies. Consistently they view sort of alienating allies and not fully understanding the value of alliances in trying to get his own agenda
and the sort of western agenda forward. Do you think in a post-midterm election he might take a different tack with allies?
SHORT: I think that the president has restructured some of the alliances. I do think that he’s raised concerns about what our allies have been
contributing to NATO and I do think you have seen a change there. But Christiane, I also believe that one of the strongest teams this president
has is his national security team with Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Mattis, Ambassador Bolton, also our NATO ambassadors, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,
a longtime member of the United States Senate.
And I think that that has been somewhat of a — despite some of the rhetoric, if you actually look at the access of this administration, it’s
continued to enhance many of those alliances and I think you’ll continue to see us move forward protecting those sustained alliances. I accept that
the president has some rhetoric in which he felt that we’re being taken advantage of in some places. I think a lot of that has been corrected and
I think you’re going to see him continue to — his administration continue to solidify the existing alliances we have.
AMANPOUR: So I’m not sure whether this is in your bailiwick, but you know, we’re talking in the context of what I asked Senator Warner and the news
about Jamal Khashoggi and what might have happened to his remains. And there’s a huge bipartisan, significant bipartisan push to stop the weapon
sales to Saudi Arabia or at least to suspend some of them to get them to stop the war in Yemen which the United States is sort of attached to and to
hold them accountable for this murder. What do you think should happen? And the president has really tied his Middle East strategy to this one
SHORT: Yes. I think that’s a very important point is this is less about the crowned prince but about the alliance with Saudi Arabia is so much
focused on Iran and needing additional allies in the region. At the same time, there can be no tolerance for murdering in cold blood a journalist.
And I think that the administration probably needs to take a stronger action because I think the Congress is poised to look to try to pull back
some of the arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
When that legislation was passed in the first year of the presidency, it actually was a pretty narrow margin at that time. You move forward to
today and all the concerns about Saudi Arabia now and I think if the administration doesn’t take more forceful action, you’re going to see
Congress step into that void in their future and look to end some of those arms sales that are ongoing to Saudi Arabia.
AMANPOUR: It’s really an interesting point. You talked about how a journalist’s murder should not be tolerated. Let’s not beat around the
bush. The president is kind of at war with most journalists in the United States. And even this week, even after the horrible events, the hate
crimes last week, he was on “Fox,” he talked to Laura Ingram. She asked him how this was good for him, this sort of war with journalists and this
is how the conversation went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAM: How does it help expand your base to call them the enemy of the people? How does it help America heal?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’ll tell you what, it’s a very good question. It’s my form of telling the truth. Here’s the
problem, we have a lot of supporters, you know that better than anybody. All you have to do is look at your ratings, OK. But you know better than
anybody, [14:35:00] those supporters know that they’re lying. I watched “Meet The Press” this weekend, everything was so falsely put. Putting
words in people’s mouth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I don’t want to get into “Meet The Press”, but really, is that the kind of rhetoric that we should hope for or expect going forward?
SHORT: I think that a free press is foundational to any democracy and it’s been foundational to American democracy and we should be protecting it.
The media is not the enemy of the people. But also with the free press comes an enormous responsibility to get it right and without bias. And I
think that it would be hard to argue that mainstream media have not covered this administration with bias.
And so I know the president faces — has an enormous frustration. He believes that many of his social media outlets are ways to get around the
media to communicate directly with the American people. But in a short answer to your question, no, the media is not the enemy of the people. And
I don’t think it’s constructive to call them that.
AMANPOUR: We have to keep saying this, we fact check all the time and unfortunately the president is constantly throwing out things that are
inaccurate, conspiracy theories, and this, that and the other. So we also have to do our job responsibly but shoulder our burden and we aim to do
But let me ask you this, the president after these two years in office, we’re seeing according to studies according to polls that many groups of
people are now getting motivated to vote. Whether it’s young people, they seem to be appalled, wanting to come out even more than they did last time.
Whether it’s non-white voters. There seems to be a big sort of groundswell amongst perhaps those who would perhaps not vote. How do you think that is
going to shape the midterms?
SHORT: Great question. I think if you look back to 2010, the last time there was one party in control, Obama was president, Harry Reid was leader
of the Senate, Nancy Pelosi leader of the House. Republicans had a huge election victory and, in fact, won 63 House seats to record. I don’t think
you’ll see that replicated this cycle, but there’s no doubt that the party and the power’s energized.
And so the challenge for Republicans is there are a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump who actually don’t like Republicans in Congress. And so
then, how do you get those voters to turn out? And I think that’s why the president you see making this in some ways a referendum on him because
there’s a concern about that gap of Republican voter and that Trump voter who’s actually not turning out.
How do you close that? And I think one way to do is to say here’s what happens when Democrats take control and how it impacts the president. So
that’s why he’s making it in many ways a referendum on him.
AMANPOUR: And just finally, you worked at the White House. Obviously, you were the director of legislative affairs, directly with Congress. How do
you think this White House, the president will deal with a divided government, will deal if they don’t still control the House, for instance?
SHORT: If we end up there, I think he’ll surprise a lot of Americans. I think that if you recall in the September of 2017, the president had a
meeting with Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader Pelosi and to the surprise of many, he sided with Schumer and Pelosi in
striking a deal to keep the government funded for three months.
I think this president is very much of an independent-minded, I want to do what’s best for our country. And I think that you will see him be able to
find opportunities to work there. But at the same time, I think if Democrats in the House are launching impeachment proceedings, that’s going
to complicate it in a way that the president will take that very personally and I think that it will impair some of those opportunities to work
AMANPOUR: I mean this might sound sort of a repeat of that question, but do you see any place for this unprecedently divisive fabric of American
society and government and the White House and everything to calm down?
SHORT: I actually see plenty of places honestly, Christiane where there are opportunities for them to work together from not just infrastructure
package but also criminal justice reform. Several packages that I think had been on the docket waiting for more of a bipartisan opportunity. As
far as calming down the administration, I think that — honestly, I think the media does cover the parlor games inside the White House and that’s
But I also think there’s often an avoidance of some of the things that have been accomplished. If you look at the record of the administration, what’s
been accomplished in the first two years I think is pretty phenomenal. Not just for the tax bill, but with the judges, with 15 bills signed under
Congressional Review Act when previously the record was one. And I think that this administration has done a lot at the regulatory front, the
economic front, and as well as the judicial front.
And so I think that yes, it’s fair to cover what’s happening inside the building, but also needs to cover what’s actually been accomplished too.
AMANPOUR: All right. Marc Short, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
SHORT: Christiane, thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So amid this political fervor, few politicians actually dare step across the aisle for some bipartisan leadership. We heard earlier
what the Democratic Senator Mark Warner feels about that and we’ve also heard from Marc Short.
Our next guest also wants to bridge the yawning gap. He is Republican Congressman GARRET Graves from Louisiana.
[14:40:00] And he tells our Walter Isaacson that he wants to make deals and friendships, even with political rivals.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Congressman, thank you for joining us.
REP. GARRET GRAVES (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you.
ISAACSON: We’re here in Louisiana, your home state and mine. It has a colorful tradition of politics and yet somewhat, miraculously, there’s not
as much partisanship as you see in other southern states right now. We have a democratic governor, a Republican lieutenant governor, a legislature
that’s able to pass budgets and appropriations. Why is that?
GRAVES: I think it’s Mardi Gras. Walter, I say that in jest but if you think of it a little bit, we do have a different style here. We have a
different culture and it’s a very fun-loving culture here. And so while, with Republicans and Democrats, we may disagree on policy, we do have fun
and share time with one another.
And whether it is a Mardis Gras celebration or Jazz Fest or Washington Mardi Gras, we spend time together and it’s not this situation where you’re
entirely tribal and spending time only with folks of like mind. And I think that’s one thing about Louisiana that really is amazing is how that
joie de vivre, that fun environment that we have here, it does transcend the politics of this area and the different ideologies.
Congressman Cedric Richmond represents this area right here. He and I are very good personal friends and we spend time together. But we also
understand the districts that we represent. They’re very different ideologies. He and I do a lot of legislation together. In fact, have had
the president signed a number of our bills into law in just the past few months.
ISAACSON: We’ve gone through a really horrible period recently with the pipe bombs and the temple in Pittsburgh and Kentucky Kroger. There’s sort
of divide in this country that I think people are yearning to heal. You’re Republican. You’re running for re-election and you’re about let’s try to
get together, let’s heal, let’s avoid this shouting in partisanship. How do you think that resonates and how would you make that work?
GRAVES: Well, I think it’s very different from what you’re seeing in most other places. And that in many cases, you see campaigns that are actually
trying to drive people to the polar opposites. Our message is just that seeing this country being as divisive it is and seeing some of the
volatility such as the events that you mentioned happening, we think that there actually is a way for us to be working together. And think that it
is important for us to keep in mind that there are so many things that pull us together.
Whether us all being Americans or us all wanting better education for our kids or all wanting infrastructure improvements and crime reduction and
things like that and just remembering that we can work together. There’s a path for doing it and there are so many goals that we share. We think that
it’s a really powerful message that’s being received well and we have tried to carry out that strategy. And we’ve had some great legislative successes
this year doing it.
ISAACSON: A traditional role of the president is to unify us and be president of everybody, to bring us together. Trump with his rhetoric is
not doing that. What would you say to Trump if you wanted to have him be part of healing this poison that we now feel?
GRAVES: Well, first of all, if I had the chance to steal his cell phone with the Twitter account, I would be all over it. Unfortunately, secret
service keeps stopping me. But seriously, Walter, I think it’s important to keep in mind the environment that we’re in where you have these 24-hour
news cycles where folks are just constantly attacking each side in this barrage of misinformation or misleading attacks on folks. And I think that
it results in people responding in ways that are probably overly emotional.
With the president, one of the things that we have tried to focus on is focused on outcomes. And I think that you can look at the fact that right
now, all Americans, whether African-Americans with the lowest unemployment history. Asian-American, lowest unemployment history. Hispanic-American,
lowest unemployment history, a 65-year low for unemployment level for women.
These are great things that are happening and so trying to focus people’s attention on outcomes I think is one thing that’s really important. I
think the president has an entirely different style than I’m used to. I do wish that we could find ways to say things differently sometimes, but I
think you’ve got to put it in the perspective of the environment that we’re all operating in where it’s this crazy environment where everyone is trying
to speak to their tribes and inciting those strong emotions.
ISAACSON: Isn’t it the role of the president to say, “No, let’s stop this. Let’s not keep inciting both sides”? He’s got an extra responsibility.
GRAVES: So Walter, but let’s keep in mind the environment that he’s operating in. He’s operating in this environment we have 24-hour news
cycles that are just completely beating him up constantly and trying to paint this image of what’s happening in the United States that’s completely
inaccurate. I don’t understand why it is that everyone tries to paint this doom and gloom [14:45:00] picture of his performance when things are
If you allow the rhetoric to tone down and just look around, you’d realize that things are actually going pretty well in this country. And that
perhaps this approach in terms of the economy and regulation is actually benefitting all Americans as opposed to this doom and gloom and criticizing
every single decision that happens.
ISAACSON: But isn’t the divisiveness somewhat driven by a president who keeps, both tweeting and saying things at rallies that seem bullying and
GRAVES: I think that a lot of his comments were actually in response to what happens and how things are being —
ISAACSON: So you don’t see that he has a bigger role to transcend just responding?
GRAVES: I think that the press has a bigger role and I think that the president needs to — I’ll say it again, I would take away his Twitter if I
ISAACSON: And if you were in his role, would you be acting differently?
GRAVES: It’s not my style but that’s a personality issue. Look, I think that you’ve got to remember, Americans — I’ll tell you something that was
one of those most revealing moments for me during the presidential election. I watched an interview and I think it was on CNN where they were
going through and they’re interviewing all of these millennials.
And they were interviewing them and said, “Who are you going to vote for, for president?” And almost every single one of them said, “I’m going to
vote for Bernie Sanders.” So then they said, “What happens if Bernie Sanders doesn’t get the nomination?” Virtually, every single one of them
then said, “Donald Trump”.
At that moment, it was very clear that what voters were looking for is someone that was going to come in and flip the tables over and cause this
transformational change. They weren’t looking for folks that were going to come in and sort of rearrange decks on the Titanic or make these small
changes. People did not feel represented. I think they wanted this bold change and that’s what we’re seeing right now.
ISAACSON: One of the things that may unite Louisiana is we kind of know we’re in the same boat when it comes to hurricanes and flooding and things.
To what extent should that be a non-partisan issue? And how could you, for example, make climate change which has become such a polarizing issue which
haven’t been in the past, Republicans versus Democrat, how can you make that a unifying issue?
GRAVES: Well, if you think back to the history of Louisiana and our coastal land loss problem, we lost about 2,000 square miles of our coast.
I think initially a lot of people looked at it like an environmental problem, like a bird and fish problem, not a human problem. Hurricane
Katrina is really what united us here and that folks understood that it was an economic problem in addition to an environmental problem and it made
folks come together.
We had to lose 12 to 1,500 of our neighbors and brothers and sisters and friends in order for us to come to that realization, but now there is a
very concerted bipartisan effort to restore the coast, restore our coastal wetlands and environment and it’s working well right now. In regard to the
climate which, of course, is challenging our coastal problems with sea rise, it’s one of those poster child issues that make Republicans and
Democrats resort to their respective corners.
And I think that redefining it — and I think that we have an opportunity with climate change and with welfare programs and others to redefine it.
And so, for example, since 1980 in the United States, we’ve had about 220 disasters that have cost our nation over a billion dollars. We spent $1.5
trillion responding to those disasters.
And so, instead of talking about climate change as this big issue that is related to emissions, talking about how we can come in and carry out
adaptation projects and help to improve the resiliency of our coastal communities and our coastal ecosystem. Because 40 percent of our nation’s
population lives along our coastlines in those counties and parishes and you have to get good at living resiliently in those areas because we can’t
afford the alternative of continuing to be reactive. So it’s all about redefining.
ISAACSON: But you would push that that be accompanied by carbon reductions?
GRAVES: Well, so I think if you come out of the gates and say we’re going to do this because of carbon reductions, I think you’re going to run into a
brick wall. But if you can talk about it from a, hey, here’s a way for us to approach, innovatively approach bringing down consumer prices, helping
to reduce prices on how much it cost us to drive our cars or how much it costs us to power our houses, how much it costs us to power these factories
that we’re building products and competing on a global environment, you reduce emissions because of the innovation, the conservation and the
technology that you’re bringing to the table.
And so if you’re in Democrat circle, sure, talk about it from, hey, here’s my emission reduction idea. But if you’re in Republican circles, I think
there’s a different way to define it, to help bring folks on board and not have this continued knocking of heads or resorting to corners.
ISAACSON: The various climate change studies we’ve seen, say we have maybe 12, 15 years before [14:50:00] it’s going to get really bad, do you feel
there’s a manmade component to climate change and we have to have a holistic approach?
GRAVES: I do. I do. I think that there’s both a biogenic or natural impact and I think that there’s also a manmade impact that is contributing
and I do think that we should be looking at it holistically.
ISAACSON: You’re at the forefront of transportation and infrastructure, not just coastlines but throughout this country. It’s been one of your
fields. Why is it that we haven’t had a great infrastructure rebuilding program as the economy got better?
GRAVES: Now, with our economy growing like it is, I think you are seeing the cracks in both workforce and infrastructure. And infrastructure is a
huge one. The underinvestment and the I think poor priorities that we’ve exercised over the last few decades are really showing right now. And I
think one of the problems with infrastructure investment is that everyone knows of infrastructure projects that were little priorities that were
built anyway, sort of politicizing where these investments go. And I think that has really frustrated a lot of taxpayers and say, “You know what, I’m
not giving more money to that system that has delivered poorly to our communities and has mismanaged the dollars that are there.”
So I think that’s been a big part of it. I also think that you continue to be largely in this disconnect between a lot of the taxes and fees that are
out there and how they may benefit communities. And what I mean by that is right now, and you and I were talking earlier, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 13th
worst traffic in the nation. New Orleans, Louisiana, 20th worst traffic in the nation. Those are positions we don’t deserve when you look at the
And so I think that a lot of the community is just very frustrated that they’re paying dollars and they’re not seeing projects that are actually
yielding results. So whenever people come in and say, well, I want more, I want more money to invest in projects, people say, “No, I’m not going to
give you more.” We’ve got to do a better job helping to quantify. This is how much money you’re spending in extra gasoline payments because of
traffic. This is how much time you’re wasting in traffic and this is how much those additional emissions are affecting our environment and our
And helping to quantify some of those costs today and then also demonstrating if you give us this much, we can build these five projects
which will then cut your extra gasoline payments in half, will give you back 30 hours a year in your time sitting in traffic and will help improve
the environment by this. And we have got to help to reshape that discussion because I think that everyone looks at an additional fear of tax
as an increase whereas there are ways where you can clearly demonstrate that some projects are truly investments that are going to provide a
ISAACSON: If the Democrats win the midterms, do you think we’re fated to have really bad gridlock or could people like you and your friend Cedric
Richmond from here actually lead us out of that wilderness?
GRAVES: I think that if the House flips to Democrat, I think that you’re going to see some very aggressive oversight investigation activities that
are going to probably further divide the Congress for a period of time. Without a doubt, you will have some relationships among different members
of Congress that will transcend party but I do think you’re going to see for several months a good bit of, believe it or not, growing divisiveness
if the House does flip as a result of some of these efforts.
And you’ve heard members of Congress talk about it about what their oversight agenda would look like against this administration. And so I
think ultimately, you could see some islands of bipartisanship happening, but I think it is going to be a very divisive environment if that happens.
ISAACSON: Thank you very much, Congressman.
GRAVES: Thank you.
ISAACSON: Appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: So fascinating conversation ahead of the midterms.
And that is it for our program tonight. Don’t forget, you can always watch us online. You can listen to our podcast.
And tomorrow, our turn turns to music and telling the stories of our times. The singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash collaborating with her husband John
Leventhal gave us a special rendition of her song “Everyone but Me” from her new album “She Remembers Everything”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSANNE CASH, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Mother and father now that you’re gone, it’s not nearly long enough, still it seems too long
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Her father, of course, the legendary Johnny Cash.
But that’s it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching ‘Amanpour and Company’ on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.