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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
New insider accusations link President Trump to the Ukraine dirty tricks campaign. But Ukraine’s foreign minister tells me, he doesn’t trust the man
pointing the finger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Frankly, I never spoke with this individual. And again, frankly, I don’t trust any word he is now
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Then, as deadly fire and smoke sere the Australian bush, I ask a major mining magnate about his huge donation and his conscience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., HOST, FINDING YOUR ROOTS: One way to address your own erasure is to unerase your answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The host of “Finding Your Roots,” Henry Louis Gates Jr., reveals why we’re all obsessed with our own family history.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
Ukraine is launching two significant investigations. One into the alleged surveillance of the former U.S. ambassador there, Marie Yovanovitch. And
the other into the Russian hacking of the gas company, Burisma. Both are central to the drama around President Trump’s impeachment trial.
Today, as senators are being sworn in as jurors in Washington, a key character is directly implicating the president himself. Lev Parnas, an aid
to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave an explosive interview detailing the White House’s efforts to intimidate the Ukrainian president
into provide dirt on Joe Biden, who is Trump’s key rival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEV PARNAS, GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: I basically told them very strict and very stern that several things, A, that he needed to make — Zelensky needed to
immediately make an announcement nearly that night or tomorrow, within the next 24 hours that they were opening an investigation on Biden.
ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: You told the top official in the Zelensky inner circle that if they did not announce an investigation of
the Bidens immediately and get rid of some folks around Zelensky who they believe were opposed to President Trump that there wouldn’t be any aid and
Vice President Pence wouldn’t come to the inauguration?
COOPER: How did you have the authority to say, the vice president of the United States will not attend the inauguration if you don’t do what I say?
PARNAS: I mean, that’s what I was told to do.
COOPER: Who told you to do that?
PARNAS: Rudy Giuliani.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Parnas is currently facing criminal charges over campaign finance issues. And when I spoke to Ukraine’s foreign minister here in
London, he told me that he doesn’t know or trust Parnas. He is here for a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the investigation into the Ukraine
airliner that was shot down last week by Iranian military. And we discussed all these international crises that Ukraine is being dragged into.
Foreign Minister Prystaiko, welcome to the program.
VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you. Good morning.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, let me ask you the questions that everybody is talking about right now, and it is Ukraine’s position, place
in the ongoing domestic political drama, the impeachment case in the United States.
Lev Parnas, a crony of Rudy Giuliani, who is the president’s personal lawyer, has now spoken out, as you know, and he has said several things,
mostly that he did carry a very explicit message from the president via Rudy Giuliani that there would need to be a quid pro quo if Ukraine was
going to continue getting any kind of assistance, financial, military, political, whatever kind of assistance.
And furthermore, he has now said that he has spoken to key officials within President Zelensky’s circle. Since you are one of those and you were when
this happened, did you get that message from Lev Parnas?
PRYSTAIKO: It’s all over Ukrainian media as well today and yesterday. And strangely enough, my name was not mentioned, although, I am minister of
Foreign Affairs. And then, frankly, I never spoke with this individual. And again, frankly, I don’t trust any word he is now saying.
The assistants which he’s referring to was reviewed each and every year annually, at least twice, and half a year, at the end of the year. So, we
knew that this assistance is to be reviewed. Sometimes it would be cut because of some political understanding of what is to be done in Ukraine,
sometimes it’s being raised, which is now we’re observing. At the end of the year, we would receive even more than it was planned.
I understand that this individual, which I don’t know personally, but he is now trying to save his own case, and I — again, I don’t trust what he’s
saying and I would — you know, I was so tired of these questions about the — our own impeachment.
What we’re trying to tell Americans that we’re so happy to have bilateral support from both parties. And we will be so happy to have it as well.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you though, because you were the head of President Zelensky’s office. You have been with him since the very beginning, even
before you were made foreign minister. And it’s very clear that Lev Parnas and others who’ve testified before Congress have said that this message was
passed through officials.
You say that your name hasn’t been mentioned public. I just want to make sure that you never received this kind of message verbally or otherwise
from anybody connected with Rudolph Giuliani or representing the president.
PRYSTAIKO: I never met Rudy, I never met this Parnas and the all other name mentioned. I believe that people are now trying to raise their
political importance. I never had the chance. And frankly, we don’t need these channels. Our channels of communications with the Americans are well
If some of — unofficial contacts through advisers, that’s why adviser is for. We took the official formal part. We are happy with the conversation.
I was at all the meetings and the conversation is a telephone and in person with President Trump. And I can tell you with all certainty that he was
never mention that we have to do something. And President Zelensky was always telling him that whatever this message and this — and the lesson
you are teaching us, all these 30 years of our independence, that it should be rule of law and should be independence judiciary and prosecutor general
from the present, we finally got the message.
We are not going to intervene because of some political gains. We told them, if you have information, send it to the official channels, which is
prosecutor general’s office. You have your prosecutor general, we have ours, let them talk. If anything to be investigated, let’s investigate
AMANPOUR: So, let me then ask you another question. Because clearly the United States had made it clear that either the president or the vice
president was going to come to President Zelensky’s inauguration. And this we are told, also, was mentioned by either Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani or a
number of people who they say were carrying message to your president. It didn’t happen, as you very well know, they didn’t come to the inauguration.
PRYSTAIKO: I can tell you why. We — some blame can be on our side because we had to do it in very fast way. President Zelensky wanted to leave the
parliament free from his new presidency and we have just a couple days to make it legal. We’re limited by ourselves by time.
So, we gave quite a short notice to all the nations. And in our case, in the American case, Secretary Perry came. We believe that we would have
somebody else if we want to if we give more time for foreign delegations. So, it was not a big deal for us, at least we did not feel.
Whatever these individuals are saying, we invited given just one-week prior notice to delegations and we received Secretary Perry, which was a good
representation and good level. And I was at the conversations with Secretary Perry as well. And anything of the sort you were just referring
never been mentioned in none of these conversations.
AMANPOUR: Well, I understand that you have your position, and it definitely differs from a lot of what we’re hearing from the American side.
But I just want to ask you in general, how important is it for Ukraine to have that demonstrable show of support, whether it’s from the president,
whether it’s the vice president, or then a lower member of the cabinet who’s actually no longer even in the cabinet, to come to you, vis-a-vis
your basic power struggle with Russia? How important was it to have the highest levels at the inauguration?
PRYSTAIKO: I hear the irony in your question when you ask about a certain formal party line, which I’m trying (INAUDIBLE). But, frankly, I assert
(ph) myself in Washington to see in our embassy, I know how many of these certain individuals, lobbyists and everybody else trying to show how
important they are, how much result they can bring and how much message they can get over to somebody else.
Believe me, you know, most of the cases, these people working for themselves rather than for the cause. And we understand that sometimes
these official/unofficial contacts are important. But most of the case, we will stick to support with the Congress, with the Senate, with the
president’s office, with the State Department, which is on a great level. And we enjoy that we have this support.
Again, it’s never, never enough. And we believe that more we can have the assistance and, first of all, understanding from the American government
the better. That’s why we are trying to come to the — visit to agreement when we see each other. And I know that this is in the pipeline for so
long, the people are starting to make some conclusions. But we are expecting to have these conversations at these visits and these exchanges
with President Trump.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let’s just be perfectly clear, Mr. Foreign Minister, even the president’s own ambassador to the E.U., Sondland, who was tasked
with the Ukrainian brief says that there was a quid pro quo.
Was there a quid pro quo quid pro quo as far as you know? And were you surprised when you did actually hear that that military aid was being
PRYSTAIKO: I know personally Ambassador Sondland and I have to, again, remind you that he was political appointee. He was not in the formal site.
He’s over the State Department. He was also close to the circles which we’re sort of trying to get in their own business-like way. Maybe he was
bringing the message. But if you read in his statement, he never talked to me. Although, I was the adviser and the administer of Foreign Affairs,
about any unofficial channels or ways of what we can do to get closer to President Trump.
No. He was talking to some people who believed was instrumental at that time. I personally see that we are OK with the support we have right now
and we don’t need — sorry to be blunt — and we don’t need this unofficial support. It’s not on the level — at the level when we have the Americans
already. We can have the support.
And if we are told that the assistance, military assistance, can be affected by some lack of reform, this is a normal conversation we had with
Americans so many times before. And during this particular year, you’re describing right now, we had a couple of times to explain to members of
Congress that we understand that assistance is not coming from this guy, it is connected to some reforms we have to do to changes, and we were doing.
So, it was not about political gains on any side. We heard the assistance is important. We told them that this is important and it is connected to
some reforms, which we were doing.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, your brief, obviously, as foreign minister is about protecting foreign diplomats as well, respecting foreign
diplomats. I believe this might have happened before you became foreign minister. But nonetheless, I need to ask you about the concerns of the
former U.S. ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, and what has since transpired over the last 24 hours in these texts and other things that have been
released in the United States by Lev Parnas and his cronies and others to Congress no less.
This is material that has been delivered to the U.S. Congress in the case of an impeachment trial in the Senate of the United States. And one of
these says, it’s about Yovanovitch. And they say, they’re moving her tomorrow. She’s talked to three people, her phone is off, computer is off,
she’s next to the embassy, not in the embassy. Private security, been there since Thursday.
Look, it’s pretty cryptic but they are suggesting that somehow, she is being moved around because of threats or other such issues in Ukraine, in
Kiev, to her. Do you know anything about that?
PRYSTAIKO: No. And I know Yovanovitch very well. I remember how I was part of foreign service professionally. I remember her when she was on the
previous tenure as the Deputy Chief of Mission. She’s very good, refined diplomat who was instrumental for both Ukraine and the United States for
I hope that this is some mistake. She was never — never having any troubles or threats in Ukraine. I would have to read what you were just
referring. But I hope that the information is not correct. We appreciated the level of cooperation with her, which by the way, with each and every
Now, the person which was sent to substitute her was Bill Taylor. Used to be ambassador to Ukraine before. So, we have this, you know, number of
people working with us for many years bringing to Ukraine to all these parties (ph), we needed assistance, we needed. And we do appreciate each
and every high leveled American diplomat working for both American interest and Ukrainian as well.
AMANPOUR: So, you must have been personally, I don’t know, chagrinned, offended, sad, when you saw this professional diplomat, Marie Yovanovitch,
being trashed by the administration.
PRYSTAIKO: You know, as a professional courtesy, we believe that diplomats who are serving their nations and their political (INAUDIBLE) for such long
time that their services, at least, should be recognized. As a professional myself, I hope that I will be treated differently in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: Another part of this e-mail basically says, or text, they’re willing to help if we/you would like a price. Guess you can do anything in
Ukraine with money. You know, again, they’re suggesting that they have got this surveillance of her and that they can do it in Ukraine because of
bribes or payoffs or whatever.
PRYSTAIKO: And when you refer as they, you mean who, Americans?
AMANPOUR: No, no. This guy Parnas and Robert Hyde. The conversation are between them.
PRYSTAIKO: Never had the privilege to talk to these individuals and I hope that I will never have it in my life. And I don’t believe what they’re
saying is true. Again, what I believe they are trying to do is just to raise in the political awareness — political importance of them to escape
some persecution in the United States. We do not need such individuals to get in the way of our cooperation with any state, the United States or
AMANPOUR: I want to know about Burisma and the hacking event that was discovered and reported this week. Apparently, again the Russian GRU is
being accused and labeled of hacking this very company that is at the center of all this, your energy company that Hunter Biden was a board
member of. And again, this is all about allegedly finding dirt on President Trump’s biggest rival so far.
What do you make of that? And do you feel that your vital infrastructure is actually safe from any kind of interference like this, cyber interference
and the like?
PRYSTAIKO: Why I’m not surprised that Russians hacked in the system of any company in Ukraine. As a minister of Foreign Affairs, I know how many times
my own system been tried and how many attempts, successful and unsuccessful, to breach our security system, not just Foreign Affairs but
all our missions abroad.
We (INAUDIBLE) to so much knowledge of the cyber-attacks against us, we’re sharing this information within NATO or with all our partners. We have
people coming from all parts of the globe trying to learn from our experience. I just returned from Singapore where most people were talking
about cyber and hyper threat posed by specific nations right now around the world. And I’m not surprised at all.
I remember the first conversations about how the Burisma already talking in this sort of stage, that President Trump was told by — again, by Russians,
that it was something about Burisma and Biden’s son. But I have to tell you that in this particular company, there’s so many foreign nationals, you can
see sort of the border, list of the directors, board of directors, and you’ll see that this company consists of very, very famous individuals who
came as one of the biggest Ukrainian foreign company, which is operating right now in Ukraine.
So, it’s not just son of President Biden who was a part of this company.
AMANPOUR: Did you — were you, the government, aware of this hack before it was published by the “New York Times”?
PRYSTAIKO: Not — at least not, me as a foreign minister, no.
AMANPOUR: You’re obviously here to discuss with fellow foreign ministers, the tragedy, the mistaken shootdown of the Ukrainian airline by the
Iranians. Can I first ask you, you lost 11 Ukrainians, there are also other nationalities and the majority of the victims were Iranian and Canadian. Do
you accept that it was a mistake? Are you all starting from that principle?
PRYSTAIKO: First of all, let me tell you that we are bringing the condolences to everybody perished, including British citizens. And we, at
least, have this now recognition which we were given — by the way, received, from the very first days.
I had the talk with ministers of foreign affairs of Iran the first days and he never mentioned that it was — the plane was shot down by the rocket.
Now, at least, we have this piece, which is bringing some peace to the families of the perished ones.
So, we are starting as the nation — grieving nations, this coalition from the nations from this point and we hope that we’ll be able to bring the —
to the criminal accountability of those perpetrators of this crime. And we are not just talking about some poor soldier who pushed the button. We made
it clear when President Zelensky talked to President Rouhani that we want to know who gave the order, the whole link. We have to find out who is
responsible for the deaths of our people. And we will talk about it today and we hopefully be able, as a collective body, to talk to Iranians and
president in right direction.
AMANPOUR: So, are you now getting the cooperation you want from the Iranian authorities? The president, the foreign minister, the military
authorities? Do you — is your message getting through?
PRYSTAIKO: We understand that our message and the message of international community are coming through and that’s what’s made the Iranians to
cooperate. I can tell you that we have good cooperation right now. The practical level, people working throughout the day, 24 hours a day, the
technicians, the experts on both sides.
We have our team be working. We have now Canadians joined our effort. The site is cleared, which we had the problem. We now have access to everything
we needed. We managed to identify bodies, at least Ukrainians. And we are ready to (INAUDIBLE). By the way, we are offering now assistance for other
nations for repatriation.
What we’re missing last piece in this equation is the access to information stored in black box. We’ve been telling — we’ve been told by Iranians that
we will be able to repatriate the boxes. Now, there’s discussion raised from I don’t know where that it can be sealed on in Iranian territory. It’s
not a big deal who — where it would be done. We just want to know that nobody is tampering with the recordings themselves and we have right
expertise on hands when it’s done.
AMANPOUR: So, when you say right expertise on hand, you mean Ukrainian officials? You want your Ukrainian officials or others internationals to be
there when this black box is investigated? When the boxes are decoded?
PRYSTAIKO: Right, right. But the perfect is to have the boxes them self physically on Ukrainian territory because we lost the plane, we have the
right to investigate. Then we would be — we’ll be able to have every expert. If it is not something we can achieve with the Iranians, we will
ask our colleagues and friends who have the expertise to come with us to be sure that what we are reading from the black boxes is actually the actual
AMANPOUR: Are you still getting resistance from Iran after all that’s happened and after the immense amount of pressure that Iranians are now
PRYSTAIKO: Besides this unsettled business with black boxes, so far, we are having the expertise given by Iranians and the support on different
levels. I know the Iranians are planning official visit to Ukraine to come even to Ukraine with apologies. What we were hearing with the president
allowing us to go ahead with the Iranian president.
So, what we don’t want is to be caught in sort of internal political Iranian dynamics. We see there’s some things going on, you can see the
people on the streets, there are differences in the government. We wanted to go through this. We want the justice to be brought. And then, they will
deal with whatever they have the problems, political implications, on the grounds themselves.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you one last political question, though, about Iran. And that is, as you can see, the Trump administration is putting a
huge amount of pressure on the so-called E-3, the European nations who joined the Iran nuclear deal, and others who had signed up to it.
What do you make of the so-called collateral damage if a nuclear agreement is destroyed that you all signed onto, the U.N. signed onto, the Europeans
and previously the Americans as well?
PRYSTAIKO: Don’t forget that we are — is a nation which gave up third biggest arsenal, which was bigger than your — the French and Chinese
together. So, if anybody is pushing more for the deal, it’s that the place of our land, the whole globe will be more secure, that’s Ukrainians. We
don’t want this agreement to suffer because of any political implications, any bilateral relations. We believe that this is the right way to go and we
support the effort of international community of how to get the Iranians to drop this idea of becoming yet another nuclear state.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for your time. Thanks for joining us.
PRYSTAIKO: Thank you very much. Thank you, ma’am.
AMANPOUR: Major issues there. But let’s now turn to Australia and the devastating wildfires. The blazes have been burning for four months,
killing at least 27 people. An outpouring of support and donations is flooding the country.
And now, the Australian mining magnate, Andrew Forrest, is digging deep into his pocket. Donating $48 million to the fire relief. The founder of
Fortescue Metals Group, Forrest leads one of the world’s largest iron-ore producers and he has enormous political clout in Australia as well. And
he’s joining me now to talk about all of this.
Welcome to the program.
ANDREW FORREST, AUSTRALIAN MINING MAGNATE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, firstly, you have been to the scene of these devastating fires. What did you see? What really hit you?
FORREST: Well, complete devastation. In fact, I haven’t seen anything like this since the Black Saturday bush fires 11 years ago, which is the first
time you saw these infernos which were so powerful that they came at you like walls of metal vaporizing flame. Nothing could stop them. They’re in
micro climate and then a macro climate, and it’s terrifying.
But since that time, it’s been quieter. But now, it’s broken out completely across the eastern seaboard of Australia. And I think this is a red warning
light to say this is what could come if we don’t change the way we do things.
AMANPOUR: You have given, as I said, I mean, I think it’s 70 million in Australian dollars, almost 50 million in U.S. dollars. What made you dig
into your pocket? Obviously, it’s your foundation, the Minderoo Foundation, and we actually have some video of a PSA that you’re running to try to draw
attention to all of this. But what made you — and there it is there. What made you dig into your own pocket for this?
FORREST: I think, like so many Australians, we were watching it up to and during Christmas thinking it’s got to go away. This cannot get so bad. We
must be getting on top of it. And then it dawned on me, during Christmas and early in the New Year that actually it was getting worse. And we’d been
thinking about it since about November. How do we put together a really strong multi-lateral response to help the emergency services to do what we
did really well, I think, Christiane, after the Black Saturday bush fires to stay there for years helping the communities recover and rebuild.
But then come up with a program, a science-based program, that is peer reviewed globally so that the politics goes out. This is how to prevent it
ever happening again, not in Australia, not in California, not in Brazil.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you’ve raised a lot of interesting issues, which go to the heart of all of this. You’ve talked about the politics going out of it.
You’ve talked about being a game changer and how, you know, our environment is changing and we need to deal with it, you’ve just said.
So, I just want to get you on the record, because, at first, you said that this was mostly due to arsonists, these fires. And then you changed and you
said, actually, climate change plays a huge role in these fires. Just be precise, what do you think is the main reason for these fires?
FORREST: Yes. You cannot draw a complexity of issues into one, as much as I’d like to simplify it like that. Arsonists have had a horrible impact.
The fuel load has probably had the greatest impact. But this is why we need the science. And there is no doubt that you’ve got this red warning light
on the dashboard of the world call Australia saying, we’re all existing in a warming — gently slowly warming client on this planet earth. We have to
change how we do things. Otherwise, we have Black Saturday, we’re going to have these east coast hell fires and they’re going to happen all over the
world. We have to change. The science has to be done. And that’s why we’ve put in so much capital.
AMANPOUR: So — OK. So, now, let’s talk about the — you know, role of mining in this whole sector and in this issue. What we know is that
Australia has been massively successful. I mean, 28 years of economic growth. That’s a very seductive and important thing for any government. And
it rests on the mining industry, whether it is coal, gas, iron-ore. And it’s given the industry, including yourself, a huge amount of political
Are you prepared now to use your political clout and maybe invite all your other mining colleagues of other industries, to change the way you’ve been
dealing with politics and governments up until now, instead of trying to lobby against measures in a climate policy, to lobby for them?
FORREST: You know, look, I really don’t think we have people that I know and really deeply respect have lobbied hard against responsible climate
Seven, eight years ago, my company started moving strongly away from diesel and oil to (INAUDIBLE) and gas. We invested heavily in hydrogen. We’re
leaders in the field. And I myself have a — yes, I am a miner and proud of it. Iron is permanently recyclable. It’s this beautiful material that goes
But I also did a PhD in Marine Ecology. I studied climate sciences. And I now understand there is a serious role of climate in everything we do, it
touches everyone. That’s what I’m saying to my fellow Australians, let’s understand that climate has a role here, but not shy away from our real
responsibility as well, to change our practices towards our next reserves, our regional and our national parks.
Because shutting them up, locking them up and saying, actually, what (INAUDIBLE) and I grew up with those (INAUDIBLE) people. We used to walk
around in winter and we used to light the fires. We carried fire sticks, Christiane, and we lit the fires up and the frost would come in the morning
or the heavy dew put them all out, we’d light them up again. They’re called coal burns. The koalas, they’d get watery eyes. But no one would get hurt.
These fires are almost without precedence. When you see steel vaporize, then something is changing completely.
AMANPOUR: And again, your very, very senior and world-renowned climate scientists, Tim Flannery, has told us it’s because — and many others,
because of the way the earth is warming. And, you know, Melbourne University Academic has said the mining sector is one of the most powerful
groups in Australia. Its power is manifested and ability to get senior politicians on the phone or meet face to face with relative ease.
And let’s just play what Tim Flannery told me on this program last week.
FORREST: Yes. No, I watched it.
AMANPOUR: Oh, you did?
FORREST: Right. Yes.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, let’s reacquaint you and our viewers with it, then we’ll talk about it.
FORREST: I enjoyed it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM FLANNERY, CHIEF COUNCILOR, AUSTRALIAN CLIMATE COUNCIL: We have this thing in Australia called the Revolving Door. These people go in as
lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry, they come out of the Revolving Door as a minister in a conservative government and then they go back in again
and they come out on the board of a fossil fuel company.
The links are just so intense, they’re so interwoven that I don’t think there’s a prospect for change. These people, if we want change, we have to
vote them out and vote in a government that will take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Do you — sitting here now, given the facts that are here today, given your $70 million of foundation charity, do you think it’s time to
vote out the governments that have caused climate policy paralysis?
FORREST: Well, Christiane, these are great questions. Can I just take you to what Tim said? Fossil fuel companies, he’s talking about oil, he’s
talking about coal.
AMANPOUR: Your iron ore company also relies on energy, those kinds of energies to work.
FORREST: But, Christiane Amanpour, so do you. So does CNN.
Now, we produce iron ore, a permanently recyclable material. I’m very proud of — we are leading and pushing hard to go from fossil fuels, which Tim
has identified correctly is one of the main contributors to climate — to a warming climate.
We’re going solar, we’re going gas, and we’re going hydrogen.
I’m immensely proud of that. I could have had a company, I think, twice the size of what I have now if I invested in the coal industry, because they’re
dripping roast of investments. They’re getting handed to — come, you’re in the mining industry, Twiggy. You would want to take the snub.
I said, no, we’re not getting into that coal. So you have got to judge people on their word.
Now, when Tim speaks, he speaks of fossil fuel. Now, that’s oil, that’s coal. Let’s not wipe out the whole mining industry. That would be
AMANPOUR: OK. I understand from your perspective.
However, I don’t have those magnates in front of me. I have you.
FORREST: And here I am.
AMANPOUR: And you are taking a stand.
FORREST: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And I’m trying to figure out what you can change that has been an absolute fact. You and others — you yourself have lobbied against the
mining tax — you know, the carbon tax, the mining tax.
FORREST: No, no, no, no, no.
AMANPOUR: You fought the legality of that in Australia’s high court.
FORREST: Christiane, that was the Resource Super Profits Tax, which…
AMANPOUR: Well, it’s a — the shortening is mining tax, isn’t it?
AMANPOUR: OK, the shorthand.
But the fact is, it’s happened. So, I’m just asking you, do you regret that now, in retrospect?
FORREST: Oh, no.
I mean, the Resource Super Profits Tax, let’s not confuse the issue.
AMANPOUR: How about the carbon tax?
FORREST: That was a privatization of the resources sector by government.
That was crazy in the first place. It’s been dissed as — dismissed as crazy ever since. Carbon tax, I haven’t lobbied against.
And I can say this. Carbon is very much partially responsible for a slowly warming planet, which has an impact on fires.
But unless we raise the money, unless we put the money into the science, then we’re going to be having these debates the whole time. The reason…
AMANPOUR: Yes, but the science is there. We know what the science is.
FORREST: Yes, but if…
AMANPOUR: We know what the science is. The question is, how do you get political change, because it’s only government change that’s going to make
And how do you have solutions to your companies, to your economy and all the — the science, we know that.
I want to ask you to answer this. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says that the mining multinationals run sophisticated operations to kill off climate
change in through a vast lobbying network and — quote — “the umbilical cord with the Murdoch media.”
And Australia today is ranked the worst-performing country on climate change by the Climate Change Performance Index.
Just talk me into that. Why does the mining industry gets so connected with the Murdoch media, and why — maybe not you, but all these others, but
AMANPOUR: This is the important thing, though. As a group, why has it been so important?
FORREST: So, this excellent conversation pivoting to this really interesting subject of politics, and politics and media, and politics,et
AMANPOUR: Yes. It is about politics.
FORREST: This isn’t.
We need to raise $500 million, as a minimum, Christiane. I have done a Ph.D. in Marine ecology. I know the science must be done.
We must take it out of this football field of politics and have peer- reviewed science, the best universities and technologists around the world and lay it out on the table, not only want…
AMANPOUR: What do we want peer-reviewed science about? You have heard from Tim Flannery. You hear from James Hansen. You hear all the major NASA and
global scientists, who are unanimous.
There might be a small percentage of denier still, but they’re unanimous on the science.
FORREST: Christiane, the science has so far to go.
We do — We cannot say there’s a single reason. If someone says, oh, it’s climate change, then, can I tell you, they’re copping out of their
responsibility to take everything else…
AMANPOUR: But do you believe that there is a climate change issue?
FORREST: I have believed this for years and years. But, Christiane…
So, do you not think that, with all these warnings — like, Sir David Attenborough today gave a massive warning — we have to do something on a
macro level now? Al Gore says that. We have had the climate conferences.
FORREST: Now, Christiane, this is hijacking. I’m here for the bushfires.
AMANPOUR: Right. But this is what this is about.
FORREST: If we simplify it and say this is only about climate change, then, you know, that fuel load, which the aboriginals have been removing
for 50,000 years, will build up and build up, because, Christiane, people just say, oh, it’s just climate change.
Let’s not do any coal burns. Let’s not do firebreaks. Let’s just blame climate change. That would extraordinarily naive.
And we will kill thousands of people, not dozens, if we do that. So we have got to be responsible.
FORREST: We recognize there’s a complexity of issues here.
It’s fuel load. It’s arsons. But it’s definitely a warming planet. The science must be done to take it out of the politics.
Now, I know politics is fun, but I have got to take it out…
AMANPOUR: It’s not fun. It’s really important.
FORREST: I have got to take it out that and give it back to the science.
AMANPOUR: OK, but isn’t it really true that it’s also about the economy, it’s also about jobs?
I mean, for instance, your prime minister, Scott Morrison, who’s in pretty deep trouble at home right now, asked if his government would work harder
to reduce emissions, says: “I’m not going to put someone’s job at risk or a region’s town’s, future at risk.”
Isn’t that the problem, that people think that, in order to save the environment, and the bushfires that you’re now trying to give millions of
your own money to relieve, you do need a different policy?
So, we have argued that for a long time. We have a warming climate. I started this interview with that. But I’m not allowing it to be simplified.
If we simplify it, then so people are going to die, OK?
AMANPOUR: You have explained that.
What do you think your prime minister should do in this case?
FORREST: You know, I’m Australian, and a proud Australian.
I’m not going to hop up on CNN and criticize any Australian prime minister. So, he can call it. But if he wants to know my advice, he will hear, as
he’s heard before, we’re part of a slowly, gently warming planet.
The ecology of the world and particularly the ecosystems of our terrestrial parks, they are going to change. We have to manage them differently. We
have to be alert.
We need to do the coal burns. And we need to make sure that we — that the science — this is — this phenomena of having fires so hot, Christiane,
that they create their own thunderstorms, seven, eight kilometers in the air, they shoot out lightning which can go 10, 20 kilometers away.
They’re starting bushfires just by being bushfires. These — this is new phenomenon.
Now, our warming planet has a role in that, but so does so many other factors. And we have to get across it all, because I’m not here to win a
political battle. I’m here to create a blueprint that will keep Australia safe, and then export that technology and scientific know-how to other
parts of the world, who will undoubtedly be affected by the same warming planet.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Andrew Forrest, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
FORREST: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, our next guest is the host of Emmy Award-winning show “Finding Your Roots” on PBS.
Historian and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has explored the ancestry of dozens of people from diverse backgrounds, including mine last
year — disclosure.
The show is now in its sixth season and includes guests such as Jeff Goldblum, RuPaul, and Queen Latifah.
And Gates told our Walter Isaacson how family tapestries can offer a sense of stability in these unsettled times.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Skip, welcome back to the show.
HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It’s nice to see you again.
ISAACSON: Hey, and congratulations, six seasons of “Finding Your Roots.” It just began again.
GATES: Thank you. It’s a blessing. I love doing this show.
And I love the way that people respond. People see me on the street. People write me. People care about retrieving their ancestors.
I have a metaphor, which is that I think your ancestors are in purgatory and waiting to be discovered. And when we find them, we unlock the doors,
and they tell their story.
And their story is really part of your story. You just don’t know it. And…
ISAACSON: We have a wonderful video that shows some of the excitement. Let’s just go to the video, and then we can talk about it.
GATES: That’s great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STERLING K. BROWN, ACTOR: You hear, like, your friends talk about their German ancestors and their Irish ancestors and Italian ancestors. I can
join in that conversation.
JORDAN PEELE, WRITER/DIRECTOR: It’s cool to know that I have — there’s a warrior’s blood.
GATES: This is from your ancestral home. That is from Unterstinkenbrunn.
ERIC STONESTREET, ACTOR: I think the best part of that is that they’re leaving behind a place called Unterstinkenbrunn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so wonderfully scandalous.
ANJELICA HUSTON, ACTRESS: I’m proud of my ancestors. This is a great document.
QUEEN LATIFAH, ACTRESS: My family got balls like this. You know what I mean?
STONESTREET: This is when I’m, like, proud of being from where I’m from.
MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: I have always thought the best of us is this combination. It’s taking from everything to make something stronger.
QUEEN LATIFAH: You need to know your history. You need to know your roots.
JEFF GOLDBLUM, ACTOR: This is the best time I have ever had in my whole life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: Wow. How exciting.
ISAACSON: That’s amazing.
And you did my hometown friend Jon Batiste, who comes from a wonderful lineage.
GATES: Yes, we found a couple of amazing stories on his family tree.
We found the voter registration document for his great-great — third- great-grandfather, who registered to vote in what I call the freedom summer of 1867, when black men in 10 of the 11 Confederate states, were given the
right to vote by the first Reconstruction Act.
And he was illiterate because it was illegal to teach the slaves to read and write. And he signed his name with an X.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON BATISTE, MUSICIAN: That’s powerful. I mean, think about that, just the idea of signing something, signing something.
And we take — we take it for granted.
GATES: And this would have been the first thing he probably…
BATISTE: The first thing…
GATES: He signed.
BATISTE: … he signed.
GATES: Right. That’s astonishing, man.
BATISTE: That’s a lot to process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: And you know what, Walter? Eighty percent of the black men who were eligible to vote in the former Confederacy registered to vote in the summer
And in 1868, 500,000, cast their votes for Ulysses S. Grant.
ISAACSON: Which gave him the margin of the election.
GATES: Grant’s popular majority was 300,000 votes, so he won overwhelmingly in the Electoral College.
Black men had elected a white man president of the United States three years after the end of the Civil War.
And Jon Batiste’s ancestor was one of them. We also found out that he was 85 percent sub-Saharan African and 14 percent European. So these are the
kinds of things that we try to find for each of our guests.
ISAACSON: You did it with RuPaul too.
GATES: And RuPaul, another Louisiana story.
So, an incredible motif has emerged this season, which is a pattern of black people who descended from ancestors who were freed early on. RuPaul’s
fourth-great-grandmother’s name was Nannette (ph). Her brother’s name was Andre (ph).
They were freed in St. Martin’s Parish in 1804. And then — but their mother wasn’t freed. And they worked for about 15 years to save enough
money to free their mother, who was RuPaul’s fifth-great-grandmother.
Queen Latifah — Queen Latifah’s fifth-great-grandmother’s name was Juggy Owens. Queen Latifah’s birth name is Dana Owens.
Juggy Owens — you ready for this? — was freed in 1792. And we found the manumission certificate. She was freed by a white woman named Mary Old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUEEN LATIFAH: “Being conscientious of the injustice and impropriety of holding my fellow creature in state of slavery, I do hereby emancipate and
set free” — no way — no way — “one Negro woman named Jug, who is about 28 years old, to be immediate free after this day, October 1, 1792. Mary
Oh, my God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: And through another document, we found the name of Queen Latifah’s sixth-great-grandmother, whose name was Grace Owens, who wasn’t freed, but
she was born in 1740.
So to be able to take a black family back by name to 1740 is quite extraordinary.
ISAACSON: But your own family, your own roots, your own heritage, you are from West Virginia.
ISAACSON: And a real multicultural, multiracial sort of communities there.
How did you start figuring out your own roots?
GATES: Well, as a surprise, when we started the series off, I only did black people.
We started, it was called “African-American Lives,” Oprah, Quincy Jones, Chris Tucker, Bishop T.D. Jakes, my Yale classmate Ben Carson, my Harvard
colleague Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot.
So, when we were doing it, just on a lark, the genealogist decided to search for my family tree. And what they found was incredible.
They found out that I’m descended from three sets of fourth-great- grandparents who were free, including one fourth-great-grandfather, John Redman, on my mom’s side who actually fought in the Continental Army.
I wrote an essay about him for “The Times.” And because of him — he was in the Continental Army from 1778 to 1784. And because of him, my brother and
I — my brother, Dr. Paul Gates, is an oral surgeon.
We were inducted into the Sons of the American Revolution.
GATES: I mean, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
Here’s the punchline. Those three sets of fourth-great-grandparents lived 30 miles, Walter, from where I was born.
ISAACSON: Tell me why this is important for America, for all of us.
GATES: You know, I’m asked that question a lot.
And I think that people feel so unsettled. They feel personally erased.
It used to be, when we were growing up, my dad worked at the paper mill in the daytime, he worked at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, had
a part-time job as a janitor.
He worked two jobs to put my brothers through three degrees at Western University, including the dental school, and me through Yale and then the
University of Cambridge.
He knew that there was an upward curve of economic progress, that, if he worked hard, his kids could be doctors. I mean, I was raised to be a
medical doctor. I almost killed my mother when I got a Ph.D. instead.
But I never doubted that was going to go to college. They never doubted that things were going to be better for the next generation and then for my
Now there are many Americans, I would say the majority, who can’t assume that curve of progress. And so people are unsettled. Traditional
foundations that provided stability have been rocked. It used to be the church. It used to be economic progress. It used to be that people believed
in the Constitution and respected it and the Declaration of Independence.
Now all these things are, if not under erasure, at least questioned. So, people are looking for other forms of stability.
And one form that they found is right under your own feet, which is the roots that you stand on, the ancestors on whose shoulders that you stand.
One way to address your own erasure is to un-erase your ancestors, to establish their identity, to know where you come from.
And I think that the political — the subliminal political messages of finding your roots each week are, one, that we’re 99.9 percent the same, no
matter where we came from. And, two, there is no such thing as racial purity.
Our use of genetics deconstructs the racist notions of white supremacists, that there is — that we’re all pure, that we’re purely black, that race is
a centralizer, that there’s such a thing as a white race.
ISAACSON: Sometimes, do you find out things that are controversial, unsettling, that people don’t want to hear?
GATES: Well, one of the most difficult things I have faced involved the ancestry of Christopher Walken. And I’m really worried about this. He comes
from a long line of bakers, people who owned bakeries in Germany.
And there were two brothers. One came to the States, and one stayed in Germany. And one fight for the Nazis and the other became an American. And
I had to tell him that. And we found that details about his service in the German military.
And — but I don’t think that guilt is heritable. And I’m very, very careful about revealing unpleasant detail.
On the other hand, through the use of genetics, we can basically perform miracles, which is to find biological parents, biological mothers and
fathers for adoptees.
So it’s complicated.
And I also had to tell Joe Madison — get ready for this — talk about owning a slave or what your ancestor did in a war. I had to tell him that
the man he had called his father was not his biological father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: Joe, one of the most difficult phone calls I ever had to make was the Saturday morning when I called you to tell you that that man, Felix
Edward (ph) Madison, according to your DNA, is not your biological father.
And I didn’t know how you would take this news.
JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well…
GATES: If somebody told me that, I don’t know how I would take it. It would be a big shock.
MADISON: Well, I appreciated the — your sincerity and concern.
And I thought about it, and it just — there was this curiosity. And then the real question is, then who was?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GATES: It’s a big responsibility. It’s very, very difficult.
And we do have a protocol at PBS. If there is something like a non- paternity event, as the geneticists and genealogists call it, we have to tell you that privately. This is not like a gotcha kind of show. And then
you can opt out.
We could tell you, that’s all we tell you.
ISAACSON: You went through an incident that was supposed to be a national learning experience, when you are trying to enter your own house in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s a Harvard professor trying to get the door unlocked.
Somebody calls the police, thinking you’re breaking in. You get arrested by the police officer, and there’s a battle.
What have you, thinking back on that, learned from that?
GATES: I think what happened to me was of a fundamentally different nature than the terrible things that have happened to people who have been killed
by the police, people like Eric Garner.
It’s a completely different level of experience. So I don’t often talk about my arrest, because I think it was a bizarre one-off.
I think the officer just happened to be walking down the street, and he got a call from a woman who happened to see the man who had driven me from the
airport after two weeks in China.
And someone had — what’s left out of the story is, someone had tried to break into my house while I was in China. So ,my key wouldn’t work.
So I asked the driver, who was a big man and happened to be from Morocco, now is a very close friend of mine, I asked him if he would just try to
break the door down. He goes boom, and the door popped open.
At the same second, a white — older white person is walking by, and she looks up, and she calls the police, two black guys. He’s a brown North
GATES: She calls the police and says, two black men are breaking into this house.
So, this officer — officer Crowley is nearby. I had three suitcases, which I had taken with me to China. So, as soon as I got home, I opened the
suitcases in the foyer of the house.
The policeman later told me that one of the motifs that thieves use is to bring suitcases into a house empty and fill them up, and then steal the
stuff, so they look like they’re just leaving.
So there was my black face, and there were these empty — there were these suitcases. So he couldn’t even see me anymore.
Barbara Johnson, whom, as you know, was a brilliant professor of comparative literature at Harvard and one of my best friends, who passed
much too soon, once defined a stereotype as an already read text.
This is what racism is about. This is what anti-Semitism is about. They look at you, and you have already provided a narrative, a narrative that’s
been superimposed by a history of stereotyping.
I tell my students at Harvard that, under the floorboards of Western culture, there are two streams that are constantly running. One is anti-
black racism and one is anti-Semitism.
And we saw that at Charlottesville, and we see it every day in American society. But both are rooted in economic insecurity.
So, if we can address the causes of economic insecurity, we can begin to address the causes of anti-Semitism and anti-black racism.
ISAACSON: You teach at Harvard. To what extent do you feel multiculturalism, a push for separatism, things like that are happening
among the different groups at Harvard?
And to what extent do you feel it’s your role to push back on that and to make things more complex for the students?
GATES: The students at Harvard are very integrated.
Now, this was surprising. There are 16 — I believe that’s the latest count — 16 black organizations in the undergraduate college at Harvard, 16.
I mean, I was the secretary of the Black Student Alliance at Yale. And I had a list of all the black kids. And my job was to call them the day
before the meeting and say, please come out. We’re not going to beat you up ideologically. Please come out. We need a show of force.
Sixteen groups. The Nigerian students have a group. The Black Men’s Forum, of which I’m the faculty adviser, has a marvelous group. Every Monday, they
dress up in suits and ties. I kind of like that, I’m old-school.
GATES: Black women have different groups.
But then they have a leadership council. So, they cross-pollinate. I don’t think that you could embrace a universal cultural identity without having a
particular culture on which to stand.
And that’s the same principle that’s at work in “Finding Your Roots.” We’re all admixed. We all have been sleeping with each other for a long, long
time. We all are Africans. The only question is if you are a distant African or a recent African.
Yet, despite how different we look, at the level of the genome, we are 99.9 percent the same. We all come from the proverbial common ancestors, the
proverbial Adam and Eve.
And that’s a marvelous thing to contemplate. And that’s what I hope “Finding Your Roots” teaches Americans week to week.
ISAACSON: Skip Gates, thank you so much for being with us again.
GATES: Thank you, my brother. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, a bookshop here with no shoppers.
Owner John Westwood tweeted about his unprecedented day at the Petersfield bookstore in Hampshire, England: “Tumbleweed. Not a single book sold today.
No pounds, zero. We think this may be the first time ever.”
It was a tweet, not a book, but people read it, including the famous author Neil Gaiman, who retweeted the message. Then orders came flooding in, which
is a much needed sales bump for a store struggling to survive in the age of Amazon. Westwood tweeted out his gratitude: “People are kind, and that is something to never forget.”
And that is it for now.
But tune in tomorrow for my conversation with “The New York Times”‘ bestselling author Peggy Orenstein. She gives us a rare and important glimpse into the world of boys and sex and the need
to focus on boys’ emotions and how to educate them on this issue. That’s tomorrow.
And that’s it for our program tonight. Remember, you can follow me, Walter, and the show on Twitter. Thanks for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.