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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
President Trump asserts executive privilege to keep the hidden parts of the Mueller report away from Congress. While ratcheting up tensions with Iran
to new highs. Tehran withdraws from parts of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Reaction to all of that from Senators Mitt Romney and Chris Murphy, fresh from their bipartisan tour of the Middle East.
Then Former Massachusetts Governor, Bill Weld, why he’s challenging President Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEHA NARULA, DIRECTOR, DIGITAL CURRENCY INITIATIVE AT THE MIT MEDIA LAB: Hey, I can start to imagine money that isn’t necessarily based on a
government or, you know, a mineral or a piece of paper.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Still confused by cryptocurrencies and block chain technology? Digital cash expert, Neha Narula, talks to our Hari Sreenivasan about the
future of money.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
Iran has ended some aspects of cooperation under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, exactly one year after President Trump quit the agreement and
launched a campaign of maximum pressure against Iran. Here’s a sobering response from Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. “Hey, everybody,” he
tweeted, “we are at war in three different countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and inching toward conflict in two more, Venezuela and Iran.
And we haven’t even had a Secretary of Defense for five months.”
Iran has blamed the U.S. for its actions, saying, “Hardliners in Washington and economic sanctions have made it impossible to continue.” Tehran says
it will now keep enriched uranium stocks in the country rather than sell them abroad and is threatening to increase its enrichment levels within 60
days. However, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, maintains the country is not walking away from the deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The decision the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken at the moment is actually
to continue with our commitments to the nuclear agreement and not go against it. Unlike the USA, which has pulled out of it, we have not pulled
out of the agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Democratic Senator, Chris Murphy, and Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, have been traveling to the Middle East in a bipartisan mission to assess
security issues in that region. And I have been speaking to them about their trip and also, about President Trump today invoking executive
privilege over the redacted parts of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller’s report to Congress.
Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Chris Murphy, welcome to the program.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Thank you, Christiane.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Thanks for having us.
AMANPOUR: We are going to deep dive into your trip to the Middle East where, Senator Murphy, you even raised the specter of this administration
slouching to war there. But let me — particularly in Iran, let me first ask you about what looks to be a White House war with Congress. How do you
assess President Trump’s assertion of executive privilege over the redacted parts of the Mueller report? Senator Romney first.
ROMNEY: Well, it’s a legal issue at this stage. It’s a process which may ultimately be resolved in the courts and we’ll see what that resolution
leads to. I had hoped that this process could be entirely open and collaborative, it is becoming less so. I had also hoped to hear from Mr.
Mueller. I still hope that we’ll get a chance to hear his perspectives on the process.
At the same time, I think that the hearings that were held with Attorney General Barr were so hysterical in some respects that there seems to be a
retrenching on both sides. And frankly, when everything is called an outrage, then nothing is an outrage. So, I think the process has gotten
off the rails to a certain degree. But clearly, we have the Mueller report. I spent two full days reading it and people can draw their own
conclusions by doing so.
MURPHY: I think —
AMANPOUR: Senator Romney, just to say — sorry, Senator Murphy, just to say, you, Senator Romney, said, “I’m sickened that the extent and
pervasiveness of the dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.” That is from your
reading of the Mueller report.
ROMNEY: Yes, I wasn’t speaking about a criminal or legal implications in that circumstance. I was just speaking about the degree of dishonesty and
misdirection that I was seeing as I read through the report. And particularly, the second volume of the report suggested misdirection that
was being laid towards the press, things that were happening inside the White House that I found to be disappointing in the extreme. And I think
other people, if they take the time to read the entire report, will come away with that same very, very deep disappointment.
AMANPOUR: And that’s on the obstruction issue in volume two. Senator Murphy, you were about to say. Do you think the president
asserting executive privilege over the redacted parts is an appropriate and correct use of executive privilege which does, in fact, have certain
MURPHY: Well, of course, it’s hard to know because we haven’t read the redacted portions of the report, but I do agree with Senator Romney that
this was headed to the courts, frankly, before the president asserted executive privilege because the attorney general had not complied with a
subpoena for the full report.
One way or the other, it has seemed, unfortunately, inevitable that the courts were going to have to litigate this question as to whether Congress
gets to see the entirety of the report or only the portions of the report that the administration believes that we should see.
I believe in the end, that the courts are going to come to the conclusion that this is, of course, in the interest of the United States Congress to
be able to see the entirety of it. But I agree that it would be much better for this to be worked out between the Congress and the
administration rather than have to go through the expense and the time of a court process.
AMANPOUR: And do you, then, think, you know, there’s been a lot spoken about in Washington, we’ve delved into it on this program, the notion that
there is a constitutional crisis developing, particularly between the executive and legislative branch?
I mean, Senator Romney, you just said some of the questioning of Attorney General Barr and of course the holding him in contempt, you called it a bit
hysterical. Do you believe, though, that there is a constitutional crisis or some trouble within the parameters that the constitution allows for
Congress to have oversight over the executive?
ROMNEY: Well, I think in some respects, when we overstate a circumstance such as a constitutional crisis, why that’s somehow dims the real crises
that may occur. I don’t think there’s a constitutional crisis at this point. I hope we never reach such a thing in our country. But there are
debates going on with regard to Congress’s responsibility for oversight and the administration’s authority to be able to preserve documents and so
forth and exert executive authority, and that’s something which will ultimately be resolved in a constitutional way, through our legal system.
So, I think the process has become unfortunate in terms of the rhetoric around it and some of the extreme statements that have been made, but I
think it’s very much in the interest of the American people to have had the investigation complete. They can read it, the reports, about what it says,
and people can draw their own conclusions.
AMANPOUR: And Senator Murphy, I hear you both say that this is not going to be resolved between the White House and Congress but through the legal
process. How do you feel about whether there is a crisis given Congress’ constitutional duty to have oversight and to hold the executive branch
MURPHY: Well, again, I think the crisis would come if the courts demanded the production of documents or the redacted sections of the Mueller report
and the president did not comply with those court orders. Now, I would argue this is an extraordinary level of refusal from the administration of
this information to Congress but these fights have existed before. And the crisis, I think, really comes if there is a refusal to comply with a court
order. I hope we don’t get there.
AMANPOUR: OK. Let’s turn now to this very important trip that you’ve just made and it couldn’t be more timely that we have — that we’re able to talk
to you, because in response to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran, you know that Iran has now decided to withhold some
parts of its cooperation under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Senator Romney, you said a year ago, when President Trump pulled out of the deal, that it was a bad deal. Do you believe, though, in the intervening
year that the president has advanced U.S. national interest or his own strategy and how do you react to the fact that Iran is pulling out of some
parts of its cooperation?
ROMNEY: Well, I’m not surprised that Iran is doing what they’re doing. They are a malign actor and they’re going to use every source of
intimidation they can and threat they can. This, by the way, is just an indication of what would happen if Iran had a nuclear weapon. The kind of
threats they’re posing towards Europe and towards the world would be only that much more severe.
I believe, and I indicated this some years ago, that President Obama was wrong to enter into a deal with Iran that would allow them to ever have a
nuclear weapon. And the president has taken that same view, he believes that Iran should not ever be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and that the
only agreement that we should enter into is one where they agree to dismantle their nuclear capacity and they abandon their hopes for ever
having a nuclear weapon.
They don’t need one. They’ve got plenty of energy to power their economy. And so, the president is exerting economic pressure to make sure that he
does everything in his power to get Iran to come back to the table and to abandon their nuclear folly.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Senator Murphy, because you have been tweeting a lot about this today and I think you have a little bit of a different take
on it than Senator Romney. I mean, clearly the Iranians are unable to pursue a nuclear military program under this monitored deal. And you have
said — you’ve described what the maximum pressure campaign is, that it’s blind escalation, there’s no end game, no overriding strategy, no way out,
escalation for the sake of escalation. You’ve said it’s wildly dangerous and inexcusably dumb in that order. Explain why you believe that.
MURPHY: Well, again, our goal here is the same, to make sure that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. Of course, I thought that the diplomatic
agreement was the best way to get there. And by withdrawing from it, we’ve given an excuse to the Iranians to back out of at least a portion of the
deal as well.
When we were in Iraq together, we also heard about the decision from the administration to declare elements of the Iranian military as a terrorist
organization, there’s no defending what the IRGC has done and who they support. But what I worry about, as a series of actions that are pushing
the Iranians back towards a nuclear future and I am hopeful that Senator Romney is right and that there is a diplomatic path in the near future that
the Trump administration can engage in with the Iranians. I just remain skeptical that that is in the offing.
I worry that at the end of the Trump administration, we will still have an Iran that is closer to a nuclear weapon than they were at the beginning.
But our goal remains the same, which is to try to support this administration to get Iran back to the negotiating table now that the deal
has been breached by both sides.
AMANPOUR: Senator Romney, I guess the question is, what is the strategy? Let’s just say this maximum pressure of economic strangulation of Iran,
let’s say it works or it doesn’t work. On either side, what is the U.S. hoping or what is it prepared to do? What if there is a regime collapse in
Iran, which presumably is the goal of Secretary Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton. What if this ratcheting up sort of causes
the U.S. to enter a military conflict with Iran as Senator Murphy suggested today? What does the U.S. do about it and how does that help it achieve
ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to speculate on a future that we can’t possibly see at this stage, but let’s go back to the time when President
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were putting pressure on Iran. They put economic pressure on Iran, they put in place sanctions to cripple
their economy, hoping that by doing so, they would get Iran to come to the table and enter into an agreement to abandon their nuclear ambitions.
They got them to the table, but Senator Kerry and President Obama agreed to allow them to ultimately have a nuclear capacity by saying, “Look, we’re
going to push that down the road for 10 years.” President Trump and the administration are saying, “That’s not the right way to go.” I felt that
was the wrong way to go at the time. And they’re going back, if you will, to the policies we had under President Obama in terms of putting sanctions
in place, putting economic pressure on Iran, making it so difficult there that ultimately their leadership has to come to the table and agree to
abandon ever having a nuclear weapon and dismantling their nuclear capacity, and that’s what President Obama wanted. This president wants to
achieve that. Hopefully he’ll be able to achieve that on a permanent basis.
And as to what happens if they don’t do that, why, time will tell. But I can say something that we heard time and again on our trip, which is if the
United States of America applies with its full force the kinds of sanctions that it has the capacity to apply, the nations have a hard time getting
around that. And Iran is going to start feeling the pain. And at some point, they may say, “You know what? It’s time for us to get to the
bargaining table and step away from this extraordinary folly of becoming a nuclear power.”
MURPHY: Senator Romney and I, I think, are trying to find the places where we both agree and can work together on a means to constrain Iran’s
influence. And one of the things that we heard in Iraq as well is that this new government is committed to going out and finding other partners,
other economic investors in Iraq besides Tehran, and that’s something that we can work on together to try to open up the avenues of economic
communication and cooperation for Baghdad into Oman and frankly, into Saudi Arabia.
Well, we may not agree on our support for the nuclear agreement, there are plenty of ways in which we can work together to try to have a policy to
constrain Iran’s influence in the region.
AMANPOUR: Just finally, on Iran, you did say that you were concerned that, you know, you said in your tweet, “We’re at war in three places, Iraq,
Afghanistan, Syria, and it may soon be Venezuela and Iran.” What do you — how do you think that might happen? What do you think might trigger that?
And do you think there are enough people in Congress or in the press who are questioning that strategy? Because you remember the press was very
heavily criticized in the run-up to the Iraq war.
MURPHY: So, I hope the president and his advisors understand that they can’t take preemptive military action in Iran without Congressional
authorization but what I’m more worried about is a series of accidents or escalatory actions that cause it to fall into kinetic conflict with Iran
and this designation of Shia militias as part and parcel of the IRGC potentially puts us in that position of friction.
I think we need to have a Secretary of Defense as quickly as possible. I think having someone at the top of the Department of Defense would perhaps
prevent us from falling by accident into a conflict with Iran and that’s something I hope the administration will take seriously very soon.
AMANPOUR: This obviously dovetails very, very closely with the other part of your trip, which was to Israel and Palestine. We know, and Israel has
sometimes talked about it and sometimes not, that over the past couple of years, it’s taken some 200 military strikes against Iranian positions and
assets in Syria and Iran has not responded. It’s sat on its hands and it hasn’t responded because, we understand, that it doesn’t want to be trapped
into an escalation or into some kind of military conflict with Israel and with the United States.
But I want to ask you about, Senator Romney, the so-called peace plan that the Trump administration says that it is close to unveiling. What sense
did you get, either from the Israeli prime minister or from the Palestinian authority prime minister, of what they were expecting?
ROMNEY: Well, I think we’re in the beneficial position of there being low expectations, which is they’re all very fearful that what’s going to be
proposed will not be acceptable to them and yet, they don’t really know what’s going to be proposed, and I’m more optimistic than that.
I know that Jared Kushner, one of the president’s senior advisors, has been working on this for some time. He’s a very bright and capable person. He
spent time working on this, a great deal of time. And I hope that he is able to provide an outline, a framework for negotiations between
Palestinians and Israelis that is able to satisfy the hopes and dreams of Palestinians as well as Israelis.
It’s not an easy setting by any means. And what we heard was, whether we were in Jordan or in the Palestinian areas, at Ramallah, or whether we’re
in Israel, what we heard was a great deal of anxiety to see what’s going to come forward. Some hope, as some fear, but there’s a great expectation
that there will be a proposal made by the United States that will help bring some closure for the people that live in that region.
AMANPOUR: You know, what a lot of people are wondering is, given the fact that President Trump has such a close, shoulder to shoulder relationship
with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and that he has already given and demonstrated so much in terms of moving the embassy, in terms of declaring
declarations over Jerusalem as the capital, in terms of unilaterally recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, he’s given so much
that some people suggest that he would be right to consider Israel to give something back, that he’s laid the groundwork for Israel to have faith in
him and to give back at the negotiating table.
Senator Murphy, do you think Israel has any intention of pursuing the two- state solution, of trading, you know, what has to happen under the established peace deals and that Prime Minister Netanyahu has any intention
of really negotiating with the Palestinian side?
MURPHY: Well, you know, we both talked with the prime minister. My hope is that he remains committed to the two-state solution regardless of some
suggestions to the contrary that he made during the campaign.
I think that he and many people around him understand that without a two- state solution, you are potentially facing a permanent state of affairs in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza in which you are going to be
forced to treat Palestinians as permanent second class citizens, which is something that Israelis are deeply, deeply uncomfortable with. And so, the
two-state solution remains the only viable option on the table.
Now, you know, in Ramallah, we certainly heard from the new prime minister that he does not believe that the United States is an honest broker here.
But let me be hopeful. Let me be hopeful that ultimately the plan that is proposed surprises me and surprises the Palestinians in that it actually
requires and asks for concessions on both sides.
I don’t think that that’s what the Palestinians believe it will say today, which is why the expectations are low, but no one has seen it. And so, it
would be foolish for any of us to judge it ahead of time.
AMANPOUR: And I get the Palestinians think they’re going to be offered a load of money in return for — well, I see you nodding your head, and that
the prime minister in Ramallah told you that would amount to financial blackmail. And you don’t need know tell you that they are not cooperating
or negotiating with the United States right now.
But I want to play this soundbite from President Trump who seems to still be committed to the two-state solution. Let me just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I like two-state solution. Yes, I think —
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President —
TRUMP: That’s what I think works best. I don’t even have to speak to anybody. That’s my feeling. Now, you may have a different feeling, I
don’t think so, but I think two-state solution works best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I don’t know what you think the Palestinians or the Israelis really plan to do to make that happen. And just a quick question. The
Israeli prime minister consistently says he does not have a partner for peace. And yet, a former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has told me
that, yes, they do, Mahmoud Abbas is the only and still committed partner to peace. Would you agree with that description, Senator Romney?
ROMNEY: Well, I’m not going to disagree with a foreign power and their own assessment. But I do believe that there’s a great desire for a resolution
of the current status of Palestinians living on the West Bank as well as in the Gaza Strip and believe that people will come together to reach that
I don’t know what the proposal is going to look like but I think in the quote that you just played of President Trump that he’s right to say our
hope is for a two-state solution. Frankly, we didn’t hear any alternatives to that in our trip together. We listened to a number of people about
their concerns but no one came up with a different view.
And as Senator Murphy has indicated, if there’s not going to be ultimately, a two-state solution, a single state would be a very unusual state where
you would have about 6.5 million Palestinian, 6.5 Jews. And unless you had a disadvantage or an apartheid-type situation, why, it would be very
difficult for that to remain a Jewish state.
So, a two-state solution seems like it has the most merit. Always open to new ideas but I think that’s the direction that you’re going to see that
comes forward from the administration.
AMANPOUR: And last word to you, Senator Murphy. Are you surprised that the Israeli prime minister failed to meet with two such senior U.S.
senators who came to his country?
MURPHY: I’m not surprised because he did what many of us do after elections, he took a few days off and we spoke with him at length on the
Listen, I hope that he’s a partner for peace. And I hope that this plan ultimately does require concessions on both sides. I tend to be of the
belief that if it relies only on economic investment in the Palestinian territories, which, by the way, desperately need investment, that it won’t
be enough to bring both sides to the table.
And so, I have the similar low expectations that we heard in the region and yet, I hope that the president and the prime minister understand that they
are in a unique position to push for and deliver concessions that perhaps others aren’t in the position to do. And if they are willing to do that,
then I would expect and hope that the Palestinians will do the same. The jury is out.
AMANPOUR: I must say it’s interesting to hear you both talk about low expectations to what the Trump administration or President Trump called the
deal of the century. Well, we’ll wait and see.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me.
MURPHY: Thank you.
ROMNEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, President Trump does have sky-high approval ratings amongst Republicans, often side to be around 80 percent to 90 percent. And also,
as we know, he has very high approval ratings overall for how he’s handling the U.S. economy.
So, who, you might ask, would want to challenge the president in 2020 Republican primaries? Former Massachusetts Governor, Bill Weld, that’s
who. He is the quintessential long shot and is worlds apart from Trump on practically everything. In fact, as a socially liberal,
fiscally conservative candidate it’s hard to know where to place Weld in today’s political landscape. And he’s joining me now from New York to tell
us why he’s running and whether he thinks he can win.
Well, I don’t know, Governor Weld, welcome to the program.
With that set-up —
BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: — tell me, why have you chosen to run?
WELD: Well, I like to say that President Trump and I are two large orange men who have absolutely nothing in common. I really don’t think the poor
fellow is up to the job. He had absolutely no preparation for it.
You were asking Senator Romney and Senator Murphy Senator whether you think we’re coming to a constitutional crisis, it’s obvious to me that President
Trump is trying to provoke a constitutional crisis. He’s not willing to really join issue and have a serious discussion about any of the issues
generated by the Mueller report.
You know, you had 400 federal prosecutors, former federal prosecutors yesterday signing a letter saying that President Trump clearly committed
obstruction of justice, and no one’s even talking about that. All the president is saying is, “We’re not going to comply with any subpoenas
because they’re partisan. They’re on one side and we’re on the other.” OK, that is the path to a constitutional crisis.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me just probe that a little bit now, because you are – – obviously, you have a long history of prosecutorial involvement and experience. You’ve had experience in the realm of impeachment. But this
is what the Senate Republican leader, the leader of the majority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said about the Mueller report. Just listen to
this for a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Special Counsel’s finding is clear, case closed. Case closed. This ought to be good news for everyone. But my
Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, what do you say then? This is a Republican, the leader of the Senate, of your party, the Republican saying, case closed. Well, you
did hear the previous senators, Murphy and Romney, saying that it will probably take the courts to close any case.
WELD: Well, I would begin by saying that 400 or 500 federal prosecutors yesterday disagreed with the Senate Republican leader’s conclusion that the
case is closed. They found that there was overwhelming evidence that the president of the United States did commit obstruction of justice.
And I would suggest that the only reason that Mr. Mueller didn’t seek an indictment for obstruction of justice is because Attorney General Barr told
him that he would not permit that. And he outranks Mr. Mueller in the Justice Department. But if Mr. Mueller had had a free hand, I think he
would have sought that indictment. And by the way, I was one of those 400 former federal prosecutors who signed that letter yesterday.
AMANPOUR: Well, let’s get back to your challenging the president in the primaries. I mean, I said that you were a little bit of an outlier in
today’s political landscape, being socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Let’s just put up a little graphic of some of the positions that you have
supported when you were governor of your own State of Massachusetts. On abortion, supporting a woman’s right to choose, on same-sex marriage, you
support gay rights, on marijuana, supporting legalization. And of course, when it comes to the climate, you support the Paris Accord.
And added to that, the president is overwhelmingly popular, I mean, 80 percent to 90 percent of the Republicans support him, and as I said, some
56 percent of the country supports his economic performance. I mean, what makes you think that you can, you know, chip away at that?
WELD: Well, the polls also say that 54 percent of the voters in the country are definitely not going to vote for Mr. Trump in 2020. So, that’s
not really a good start.
I will grant you that Mr. Trump has the undying loyalty of the Republican State Committee members in each of the 50 states because they were the
Trump campaign, and the Republican national committee and the Trump campaign is ordering them to fall in line. But that’s — if you think that
closes the deal, you’re really saying that the party bosses have to dictate the result of this election. And I think the electorate should be
considerably broader than that.
And I would mention that 20 states permit crossover voting where a Democrat or an independent can take a Republican ballot. So, this is not going to
be decided by the Republican State Committees.
And my position on issues such as climate change and the danger to the world from the melting of the polar ice caps if nothing is done to retard
that warming process, that is a position held widely by millennials, by Gen-Xers (ph), they know they’re going to reap the whirlwind if nothing is
done here. They know that they’re going to reap the whirlwind from the deficit if nothing is done to cut the deficit.
You may recall that I was rated the most fiscally conservative governor in the United States when I was in office in Massachusetts. We need an
economic conservative in the White House. And Mr. Trump, frankly, has shown no sign of being an economic conservative.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You just raised on the issues, what matters to what apparently is going to be the most significant
voting bloc, and that is the millennials taking over from the baby boomers.
I mean, just to be a little bit snarky if I might, you are 73 years old. The President is also up there at 73 years old. How are you going to
appeal to a rising active young population who want to vote, who wants vote on climate, who want to vote on income inequality, who want to vote on
gender and all the other areas that say of justice and equality? What’s your message to them?
WELD: Well, Christiane, in my political career, I’ve always been fresh and minty the un-Cola, if you will, and those positions that you mentioned that
I took in the 1990s, in favor of full gay and lesbian civil rights and marriage equality, I appointed the woman who wrote the opinion holding that
marriage equality is constitutionally required. And I’m proud of it.
And on that issue, I was 20 years ahead of my time, everyone thought I was crazy. But you know, millennials identify with people who can take
positions like that. I’ve got three millennials in my house. So I know where I speak. And I think my point of view and their point of view,
dovetail rather nicely, rather than a point of view that decisions as to personal conduct should be made by bunch of, you know, big white guys in
Washington, DC, who live 700 miles away.
AMANPOUR: Now, as a fiscal conservative, explain what — how you would, for instance, tackle on this hurtling towards almost irreversible climate
change, as the U.S. report says, as the UN report says, and now people are getting it, and they’re out on the street, certainly the young people, and
you’ve heard the Democrats who are in charge of Congress, talk about a Green New Deal.
I mean, some of it is going to take whatever you want to call it a carbon tax, a payment, some kind of some kind of way to dis incentivize the use of
fossil fuels. Where do you stand on the policy on climate change and what it takes to mitigate it?
WELD: First of all, the Green New Deal is somewhat over the top. What has to say about energy and renewables, that’s fine. But it also says no more
oppression, everyone has a guaranteed income. I mean, it’s everybody’s wish list thrown into one bucket.
But on what to do on climate change, I think, you rejoin Paris, you adopt standards for CO2 emissions in 2015 that are consonant with, consistent
with the standards agreed to by other industrialized powers.
I do not believe as Mr. Trump maintains that the future of energy is coal and oil. That’s ridiculous. The future of energy is renewables. It is
wind and solar. We have a lot of hydro from Canada. And I myself believe that up to 25 percent, maybe even higher of our base should come from
The biggest reduction in CO2 emissions ever recorded was when France — I forget whether it’s the 70s or the 80s — moved to the small nuclear plants
to account for 75 percent of their energy now, and they’ve never had a problem. And we could have the same thing in the United States. I’ve
traveled in a lot of wide open counties where people would love to have a nuclear plant. They are a very good safe neighbor, and a very major
employer. We’ve got to get serious about the energy mix if we want to combat climate change, and I am serious about it and I want to combat it.
AMANPOUR: I mean,I guess you’d have a bit of a toss to convince people now of the safety because this was as you mentioned in Europe on the whole
nuclear power until Fukushima and what happened with the tsunami in Japan, but clearly a lot of people are thinking about that because it does what
you say it does.
But you talked about party boss. Okay, carry on.
WELD: I was just going to say, we don’t have to build a humongous nuclear plant on a barrier reef, which is what happened in Fukushima. We can do it
the way it was done in in Western Europe. And people have been saying for a long time, why don’t they invent something that could create almost a
limitless amount of power and have zero carbon emissions? They have invented such a thing. It’s called the atom.
AMANPOUR: Right. Now, you said that it won’t be local party bosses who decide and yet your own state, the GOP Party has now decided winner takes
all in the primaries not proportional representation. So that’s a probably a problem for you potentially.
AMANPOUR: And then, you know, you did announce your candidacy in April 15th. But it’s sort of went unnoticed. President Trump
studiously avoiding you, no nicknames, no tweeting, no nothing. And even some, you know, Republican colleagues are not quite clear that you’ve
entered the race. How are you going to make a splash, Governor?
WELD: Well, if it’s Republican colleagues in Washington, they’re all whistling past the graveyard and saying, “I’m happy, happy, happy.” And,
you know, a bunch of people in Washington and both parties really only care about one thing, which is demonizing the other party, so they can scare
their base into giving them so much money that they can get reelected. That’s not my mindset.
When I was in office, I was the national chairman of U.S. term limits. So I don’t see the situation the same way officeholders in Washington do. And
I think what we need in Washington is a good dose of what I did in my two terms as governor reaching across the aisle, to the other party, and
getting solutions that work for all the people.
I don’t see that from this President — from President Trump. I see a lot of bravura, a lot of bragging. And I see frankly, you know, insecurity. I
think that Mr. Trump, we now know from his tax returns that came out for a decade, in one sense, he is the biggest loser in the United States, because
he lost more money according to “The New York Times” than anyone else in the United States.
So I just — and he has a famous temper when the Mueller report was coming out, everyone said, “We fear the President’s wrath,” you simply shouldn’t
have a President of the United States whose head is so full of anger that he can’t seem to focus on the substance of issues. And I think that is the
case with this man.
AMANPOUR: Governor Weld, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
WElD: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So what makes or breaks any presidential bid is cold, hard cash. It also of course, dominates ordinary, everyday life, but the way we use
money is rapidly evolving.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the rise and fall and rise again of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. So how do we figure out this digital money
of the future? Our Hari Sreenivasan got answers from Neha Narula, the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.
HARI SREENIVASAN, AMERICAN BROADCASTER: Just so we have a baseline understanding, people have kind of different ideas of what cryptocurrencies
are, what is it?
NEHA NARULA, DIRECTOR OF THE DIGITAL CURRENCY INITIATIVE, MIT MEDIA LAB: Well, the idea is that about 10 years ago, we figured out how to use
cryptography, which is a field of mathematics. It is about keeping information hidden or proving the integrity of information. And we figured
out how to apply that to money. So you can actually use with the clever application of cryptography, you can actually secure the transfer of money
and payments without needing a trusted third party. That’s the basic idea behind cryptocurrency.
SREENIVASAN: So what could you do with a cryptocurrency that you can’t do with the money we have today? I mean, you’ve described the money that
we’re familiar with, as a collective story. Explain that.
NARULA: Yes, so money isn’t really necessarily something objective. The idea behind money is that we’ve all sort of landed on the same form of it.
We’ve decided that certain pieces of paper are worth something. We’ve decided that bars that are colored a certain way and have a certain
chemical composition are worth something.
And these choices are in some ways, slightly arbitrary, but in other ways, not at all. They represent an entire network of human beings who have come
together and agreed upon a story, like you said.
So you know, when you start to think about money that way, and when you start to think about value, that way, you start to realize that, “Hey, I
can start to imagine money that isn’t necessarily based on a government, or, you know, a mineral, or a piece of paper, but instead money that is
just digital and just really exists because people think it’s valuable.”
SREENIVASAN: Okay, in this new crypto world, there’s this idea called blockchain. Explain that.
NARULA: Yes, so it’s really interesting that the word “blockchain” has taken off. It’s sort of — you know it’s hard to decipher what’s behind it
exactly. So the blockchain is the data structure behind cryptocurrencies.
So it’s basically a ledger, it’s a list. The idea behind it is that there are a lot of computers, sometimes thousands all around the world running
the same software. And that software is sending transactions around and is maintaining this ledger, which we call the blockchain.
SREENIVASAN: So if you gave me $4.00 of some sort of cryptocurrency, the computer network is deciding and making sure that you have four less
dollars and that I have four more dollars and those dollars didn’t go anywhere else.
NARULA: Exactly. If you think about account balances, right. If I pay you, you debit my account, you credit your account. That’s the basic idea.
These transactions are just transfers of value.
NARULA: And the blockchain is just a giant list of all of these transactions. And so as long as everybody agrees on what the transactions
are, then we all agree on who has what money.
SREENIVASAN: So give me some examples of how blockchain technologies or cryptocurrencies could impact different industries of our lives.
NARULA: So I think it goes back to that idea of this open permission-less network. We haven’t really had that for digital money before. Before,
cryptocurrencies came around, the only way to make a digital payment was to involve a bank in some way.
Now, with the advent of cryptocurrencies, we’re actually seeing ways of making digital payments that where you don’t need to go through the banking
system. The real sort of interesting idea behind cryptocurrency is this idea that you can just start playing around with value, moving value,
taking payments, creating new forms of financial assets without asking for permission.
A lot of people like to make an analogy to the Internet. The Internet gave us a way of discretizing data. So we could take data, and we could send it
around the world in an instant. We don’t have to really think about it too much because we had a set of protocols that anybody could use. You don’t
have to ask someone’s permission to go visit a website or to make a Google search or something like that. You can just do it. And that’s the idea
that we want to apply to value.
SREENIVASAN: And if you did that for value, what are the kinds of efficiencies that you gain? So right now, if I wanted to give you let’s
say, it’s not cash, and I wanted to give you a credit card payment of $25.00, I have to probably give you a credit card number or maybe I can
swipe it through my phone and somewhere along the line, someone is making a couple of bucks off of that transaction. Right? So if I did this to a
cryptocurrency, how is that different? How is that more efficient if a bank is not involved?
NARULA: Actually, cryptocurrencies are less efficient. So cryptocurrencies are pretty slow and clunky right now. But I think it’s
the idea of them that’s really exciting.
So right now, everybody takes credit cards. My credit card works pretty much everywhere. It’s not a problem. But we live in the United States.
We’re in New York right now, that’s not definitely not the case everywhere in the world.
There are several billion unbanked people in the world who don’t have access to digital financial services. And part of the reason for that is
not because it’s technically impossible to bank them or to give them access to payments and financial services. It’s just hasn’t been in the economic
interest of the existing financial intermediaries to do so.
And so they haven’t had access, they haven’t been able to — they haven’t had been served in terms of payments.
SREENIVASAN: So if they’re served, I mean, that’s your onboarding, so to speak, of a couple of billion new people that could be customers who could
be engaged in the system? What are things that — so is there a possibility then that there are parts of the world that completely leapfrog
our banking system as we know it and go directly onto a blockchain base or cryptocurrency model? Because all they care about is making sure that the
vendor that they’re dealing with, whether they’re buying groceries or whatever gets that value? And that person says, yes, you’re good for it?
NARULA: Yes, I think that’s the dream. What we’re seeing is we’re seeing almost like a little mini-parallel financial systems spring up where
everything is done via blockchain technology. Things are tokenized, digitized. Your trading assets on exchanges, things like that.
So far, it hasn’t really taken off and it’s very, very small compared to the rest of the financial industry. But it’s a really interesting
experiment and a lot of people because again, of that open permission-less nature, a lot of people are building new things on top of it, and they’re
going to figure something out.
SREENIVASAN: Give me an example of something that they’re going to figure out.
NARULA: So in 2018, we saw a lot of people using blockchain technology to raise money. Now, unfortunately, a lot of these things were scamming. And
you know, it was sort of the Wild, Wild West, a lot of people were circumventing financial regulation. But people were able to experiment
with really interesting funding models.
People could list a token on an exchange and start collecting money.
SREENIVASAN: Like a stock.
NARULA: Yes, almost immediately. And they didn’t have to register. They didn’t have to hire a lawyer. Well, a lot of them did hire lawyers,
because that’s a smart thing to do, but — and they were able to think about sort of different types of properties that could come along with
So it’s not just that you’re a traditional stock investor, people are experimenting with all sorts of things like, “Hey, maybe I will pay a few
cents in order to up-vote this post that I really like.”
SREENIVASAN: Yes, so these initial coin offerings that you’re talking about, kind of like a public offering of a stock saying to the world, “Here
I am.” You can buy a coin that means you sort of have some faith in what I’m about to do.
NARULA: Yes, initial question offerings, where it’s a play on the word on initial public offering — IPOs — ICOs and IPOs.
NARULA: And the idea behind them is that instead of hiring a giant investment bank to issue shares and to sell shares and yourself to
the public, you’ll just do it yourself, you’ll just do it through a website, through blockchain technology, and a lot of people did that.
And the way that it works is you sort of set up an offering of these tokens, these tokens kind of are like stock shares. You issue them and
offer them to the public, and people can buy them if they believe in your project.
SREENIVASAN: So with this came an enormous speculative bubble. There were a lot of people who had no understanding of what the technology was. They
watched the news, and they saw, “Oh, wow, Bitcoin is worth more today. Oh my gosh, I’ve got to get in on this. Who do I know? A friend of a
friend.” And all of a sudden there, you know, does that do more damage or now that that bubble has sort of started to collapse a bit, is that shaking
off those speculators who don’t understand it, and the people who are kind of in it here, they’re either for the long haul, or they understand a
little bit more what they’re investing in?
NARULA: We saw the price of cryptocurrencies go pretty high, pretty remarkably high and a lot of people were very intrigued about, you know,
what’s going on? How is this happening? Can I make money with this? That’s financial speculation. It’s not the part of what’s happening that
excites me the most.
What excites me is really the underlying technology. And so I think when the price crashes, it sort of weeds out a lot of the people who are just in
it for the financial speculation.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, there are there are countries like India who have looked at this and said, Listen, there are people getting fleeced. They are
thinking about writing laws that just say, “We don’t want anything to do with this stuff?” Is that even possible to regulate?
NARULA: That’s a great question. I am not sure that it is possible to regulate. I think that the entire way this technology is designed is it’s
trying to be designed in a way that can circumvent these types of regulations.
SREENIVASAN: It’s a bit like the Internet was designed.
SREENIVASAN: Sort of withstand war and oppression and everything else; if you can get anywhere on the network, you can transact information, right?
NARULA: Exactly. The design is to be as resilient as possible. I think that we have to find a way to coexist with these networks, with
cryptocurrencies, the way that we coexist with the Internet.
SREENIVASAN: One of the concerns has been that as this resiliency increases over time, it also makes it that much harder to weed out some of
the sort of bad actors in this space. If, for example, there was that site, Silk Road that had, you know, transacting and horrible stuff, not
just drugs, but weapons, and possibly even human trafficking. And people were trying to say, how do we shut this down? There’s no paper trail.
It’s not like somebody used a credit card where I can say, “Okay, this is where the transaction happened. This is the bank that it happened through,
this is the person who did it, and there’s the person and received it, I can go get both sides and stop this.” Right?
NARULA: Governments need to be able to police and enforce — absolutely. The question is, where does it happen? I think that a lot of the times, we
rely on the financial system to do enforcement. And I’m just not sure that’s going to work in the future, so much the way, as soon as you post
something on the internet, it’s out there, and you can’t take it back.
I think we’re going to have to sort of accept the fact that they’re going to be ways of transferring value, that can’t necessarily be stopped. Now,
that doesn’t mean that we can’t have law enforcement and that criminals are going to run rampant, it just means that we have to think about how to
enforce these goals at a different layer in the system.
SREENIVASAN: But what’s a good mix of regulations? Is there a country out there that’s doing it, right, yet?
NARULA: A lot of countries are doing really different things. So you have some countries, which are thinking of banning cryptocurrencies, or have
already banned them. You have some countries, which are definitely taking a wait and see approach. Let’s see what happens.
I think what Singapore is doing is really interesting. Singapore’s regulator is very engaged. They’re doing experiments. They are thinking
about how to evaluate different companies and businesses. They’re thinking about sand boxes. And so you know, they’re being really open to the
SREENIVASAN: So what are the things that you can do with cryptocurrencies that you know, in the in the world of contracts and everything else? How
is this money capable of being smarter than what I have in my pockets?
NARULA: So I think one example that really helps is to think about micro payments. It would be very cool if I could pay for things in a more
granular level, if I could pay for exactly what I consume. If I could tip people tiny amounts of money. People are also thinking about things like
more methods of funding, kind of like crowdfunding, letting people come together and decide to pull their assets and invest together.
I think that basically every finance instrument you see on Wall Street today, even the most complex will eventually be rewritten as software, as a
program that runs on a blockchain and can do whatever it is the investment bank was doing, but with crypto assets.
SREENIVASAN: I’ve heard that, for example, that this public ledger can be used for lots of things, even for example, tracking a piece
of food all the way through the chain from the farm all the way into your burrito.
NARULA: Yes. So what’s really interesting is that cryptocurrencies have kind of inspired people to take a look at cryptography and some of the
technologies behind blockchains, and use them in all sorts of ways.
And so one thing that’s become really interesting is sort of making our data and making our systems more transparent and more verifiable. Right
now, our data is pretty opaque, it lives inside of companies, and we don’t necessarily have access to it all the time and we can’t necessarily decide
how it’s used or even track how it’s used.
The really cool thing about blockchain is that blockchain is going to turn all of that upside down. The data becomes something that is very
specifically tracked and can be cryptographically verified.
And so we’re seeing people apply this to the supply chain world. It seems like a really natural fit. A lot of people are very concerned about where
the food they’re eating is coming from. So people are really interested in trying to figure out, “Hey, how do I get finer grained tracking? How can I
go up to someone and convince them cryptographically that this tuna that they’re about to buy has been sustainably harvested?” For example, and so
people are applying these technologies at different points in supply chains.
SREENIVASAN: So it’s almost you’re describing something, I guess, almost like when you look up your FedEx or UPS number, there’s a little dot that
says, “Okay, it’s gotten to this point and then at this point, the facility left this.” So you could do that with tuna, or you can do that with
lettuce. And at that point, say if there’s something bad that happens at the end, you can trace it right back to where the source was.
NARULA: Exactly. And it’s kind of cool to know exactly where your food comes from. It’s a it’s a really neat property to be able to provide.
SREENIVASAN: Or even electronic health records if there was a way to keep them safe and know exactly who touched what part of my health data, right?
So saying, “Okay, this doctor can have access to everything, but they don’t necessarily need access to this other stuff.”
NARULA: Exactly. People are really interested in applying this technology to medical healthcare records. I think that, you know, you talk to
doctors, and you talk to patients, and they’re just frustrated. They have to take these printed files with them from doctor to doctor, and it’s
really annoying and frustrating.
And I think applying these ideas to the medical healthcare profession, could be really nice. It could be really helpful.
SREENIVASAN: Where are we in terms of the evolution of all of this? I mean, put it in terms of like, you know, a car versus a horse and buggy
NARULA: Yes, so I think we’re just about the point when maybe you can drive your car down the street before it explodes. So we’re still — we’re
still very much at the beginning of stages of this technology. It’s moving really fast, faster than I ever thought it would, which is really exciting
to see. But it’s still the case that probably the cars are slower than the horses right now. That’s where we are. Even though it’s been 10 years,
this stuff takes a long time to figure out.
SREENIVASAN: Neha Narula, thanks so much for joining us.
NARULA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that was a crash course into yet another facet of our lives where technology is transformative and from the future of money to an
unheard story, an unheard history, in fact, tomorrow I’m joined by the lauded theater producer, Kate Pakenham, who joins me to talk about her
latest play. It’s called “Emelia.” It reveals the true story of the first woman to be a professional poet in the English language and who may have
been the quote “dark lady” who inspired the sonnets of Shakespeare himself.
You won’t want to miss that.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.