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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH MAGUIRE, U.S. ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I believe that the situation we have and why we’re here this morning is because this
case is unique and unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Condemnation of the president. The whistleblower complaint at the center of the impeachment investigation is out and it’s damning. I ask
what does this mean for President Trump?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They are the enemy of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In the age of Trump’s assault on the free press, I talk to “New York Times” Cairo bureau chief, Declan Walsh, about new threats reporters
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MONA ELTAHAWY, AUTHOR, “THE SEVEN NECESSARY SINS FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS”: I consider (INAUDIBLE) occupying force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Journalists and activists behind the mosque #MeToo movement, Mona Eltahawy, tells us about her bold new feminist manifesto.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christian Amanpour in New York.
The threat of impeachment facing the president takes center stage on Capitol Hill as a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint that
triggered these proceedings was made public. The allegations and the counts are damning. The whistleblower’s concerns go beyond that now
infamous phone call between Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine to how the White House handled the call afterwards, apparently trying to “lock
down” the records and control the damage.
Democrats say the case that the president used his office to interfere in the 2020 elections by pressuring Ukraine to investigate rival Joe Biden is
gaining strength. Republicans, though, echo the president, calling it a hoax and a witch hunt. So, the battle lines are drawn, again.
The acting director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has been testifying before the House Intelligence Committee and he calls these
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGUIRE: I think the greatest challenge that we do have is to make sure we maintain the integrity of our election system. We know right now, you
know, that there are foreign powers who are trying to get us to question the validity on whether or not our —
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we’re going straight to President Trump who’s taking questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Maybe legally through the courts, but they’re going to tie up our country. We can’t talk about gun regulation. We can’t talk about
anything. Because, frankly, they’re so tied up, they’re so screwed up, nothing gets done except when I do it. I’m using Mexico to protect our
border because the Democrats won’t change loopholes in asylum.
When you think of that, and I want to tell you, I want to thank Mexico. 27,000 soldiers they have. But think of how bad that is. Think of it.
Where we use Mexico because the Democrats won’t fix our broken immigration system. We need their votes. If we don’t get their votes, we can’t do it.
And the Republicans are all onboard, they want to fix it. But the Democrats won’t do it. They don’t want to talk about infrastructure, they
don’t want to talk about lowering drug prices, they don’t want to talk about anything because they’re fixated. And Nancy Pelosi has been hijacked
by the radical left and everybody knows it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. We just need to fact check some of the stuff the president was saying there, saying that Adam Schiff isn’t talking
about Joe Biden and his son walking away from the Ukraine and China with millions of dollars. There is no proof that Joe Biden has had any
wrongdoing when it comes to what we’re seeing in Ukraine or China and these things have been looked at for sure.
He also talked about Biden firing a prosecutor. That prosecutor actually, and this was Joe Biden as a member of the Obama administration, it was a
prosecutor, the Obama administration did not want to see there in Ukraine but that was actually because the prosecutor was lax on enforcing
corruption and had not even looked into the energy company, the head of the energy company, Burisma, that Hunter Biden sat on the board of and
actually getting rid of the prosecutor.
It was seen as something where there could have been more oversight of the board of this company that Hunter Biden was sitting on. I think in
retrospect, would Hunter Biden have sat on that board, I think that is something certainly that the Biden campaign will be reckoning with right at
this point. But again, no findings of wrongdoing when it comes to Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.
We were just talking about the acting DNI who had just finished testifying about the contents of a whistleblower complaint under oath. Let’s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGUIRE: I think the whistleblower did the right thing. I think he followed the law every step of the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whistleblower complaint is nine pages long and it really helps bring things full circle because consider this, if
yesterday’s transcript of the phone call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president revealed evidence of a potential impeachable offense, a
quid pro quo, then this complaint reveals its alleged cover-up.
Here is how the whistleblower begins the complaint. “I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the president of
the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” And then the
whistleblower goes on to describe President Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukraine’s president in which, according to a White House transcript,
President Trump asks for a favor to investigate —
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you’ve been listening to CNN Domestic, listening to President Trump and analyzing what has just been going on. Joining me now
is Antony Blinken, former National Deputy Security Adviser and now foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden. And he is joining us from Washington.
Tony Blinken, welcome to the program.
TONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, this is a gathering legal and political storm, at the heart of which is the person you have worked for for years and you continue to
work for. So, I guess let me start out by asking you what you make of what’s been made public so far of the congressional testimony this morning
and how you think this is playing politically rather than just in a matter of legal and national security first.
BLINKEN: Well, Christiane, I think today was devastating because we now know that this was not just one phone call. We’ve had an ongoing campaign
by the president of the United States to dig up dirt, discredited dirt, on his leading political rival, Joe Biden, and to put U.S. foreign policy at
the service of his re-election. That’s devastating.
We have now a long pattern of misbehavior. And tragically, an effort by the president to corrupt other agencies of government, the Justice
Department, potentially the State Department, the National Security Council, all in service of his personal political gain.
And so, that’s what’s really come out today in the revelation of the whistleblower’s report. And eventually, that person presumably will
testify. We’ll hear more, but there’s so many other individuals now who have been implicated in what’s gone on, not just in this one phone call but
over many, many months.
AMANPOUR: Tony Blinken, a lot of the characters who are certainly testifying today and who are involved in this — bringing this to a head
are in fact President Trump appointees. Today, the acting DNI was questioned by the House Intelligence Committee and there is a back-and-
forth that I want to play to you about the whistleblower, him or herself.
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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Can we at least agree that the inspector general made a sound conclusion that this whistleblower complaint was credible?
MAGUIRE: That is correct. That is in the cover letter that’s been provided to the committee. I believe that’s also made public, the decision
and the recommendation by the inspector general that, in fact. the allegation was credible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Maguire goes on to say that he believes the whistleblower followed the law every step of the way. Tell me about how — I guess Joe
Biden, we know, in the Obama administration was tasked with trying to clean up corruption and the abuse of power in the Ukraine during that
investigation. But it’s now a really dirty mess. It sort of tarnished what Biden has been trying to do when he was vice president. How does that
BLINKEN: Well, I think it’s a dirty mess for the president of the United States brought on entirely by the president of the United States on
himself. When he was vice president, you’re right, Joe Biden was responsible for leading international — American and indeed international
efforts to support Ukraine in the face of aggression from Russia.
One important component of that was getting the Ukrainians to tackle something that was eating away at their country from within and that was
corruption. And that’s exactly what the vice president did, leading an effort that was U.S. government policy and it was also the policy of
France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the European Union, the IMF, all of the supporters of Ukraine in the international system.
AMANPOUR: Can you just walk us through, then, this connection between Vice President Biden, his son Hunter, obviously there’s a connection obvious
there, but the fact that they’re both involved in Ukraine around this what has now become a scandal. Because obviously Vice President Biden went in
there to try to clean things up and it has devolved into this right now.
Just give us the tick tock about the interface between his son and the prosecutor and the vice president.
BLINKEN: Christiane, you know, I’m really reluctant to get into any of this because this is exactly what President Trump is trying to
do. He is trying to take discredited allegations, overwhelmingly discredited by virtually every major media organization, “The New York
Times,” “The Washington Post,” “Bloomberg,” you name it. “The Washington Post” called these allegations bogus on their face. It said there is no
there, there and that’s because there is no there, there.
And the president’s game is to raise these spurious allegations, dirt that has been totally discredited and then force people to talk about it. So,
I’m not going to play that game.
AMANPOUR: You are an adviser to the vice president. So, let me ask you about another issue that’s come out in this whistleblower complaint. And
that is the action around the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, who is a career foreign service official, and she was basically recalled from
Ukraine by President Trump.
And in the transcripts, you can see between President Trump and the Ukrainian prime minister, they basically, you know, trash this career
foreign service official and her defenders have said that there was a smear campaign against her and now she’s been recalled. She was active during
the Obama administration. What can you tell me about her, Marie Yovanovitch?
BLINKEN: The Ambassador Yovanovitch is an exemplary public servant. Indeed, I knew her, I worked with her. She went to Ukraine at a very
challenging time. Again, Ukraine under sieged by Russia. In that post — in the other post that she held before being in Ukraine, she was really one
of the leading lights of the foreign service. And it looks like she’s been made a victim of this campaign by the president to try to dig up dirt on
his leading political rival, Joe Biden.
So, that’s deeply, deeply unsettling. It’s deeply, deeply unfortunate and it sends a horrible, chilling message to the career officers of the foreign
service. She was doing her job. And by every account, she was doing her job, including to deal with the ongoing problem of corruption in Ukraine.
And she, apparently, was made a victim of this, you know, terrible effort by the president to abuse the power of his office.
AMANPOUR: So, you’ve obviously been a State Department official, you’ve been a National Security official and you know all these issues really
well. So, I want to ask you what’s already been raised in the press, the question that this kind of situation simply could give fuel to any “tin pot
dictator” to come to this president or another American president with dirt on a political opponent. In other words, tell me about the potential
ripple effects of what’s going on right now.
BLINKEN: Yes, Christiane, you’re exactly right. And I think the use of tin pot is unfortunately appropriate. You know, the United States up until
now has been the country constantly leading efforts to deal with this kind of tin pot dictatorship behavior that we see in other countries around the
world. And now, apparently, we’re doing it ourselves.
So, I think on the one hand that vastly undermines our ability and our authority to take on corruption around the world. And you’re right, it
seems to invite others to think that they can buy favors for themselves by interfering in our elections.
AMANPOUR: I want to play this soundbite from President Zelensky of Ukraine who was at a bilat with the press yesterday with President Trump here in
New York at the U.N. and trying desperately to stay out of what has become a big political crisis. This is what he said.
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VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRANIAN PRESIDENT: You sure that we had, I think, good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. And I — so,
I think when you (INAUDIBLE) that nobody pushed me. Yes.
TRUMP: In other words, no pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tony, he also said, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved in democratic elections, elections of the USA. He’s basically saying don’t
involve us. But, you know, Ukraine is obviously involved and there’s so much about Ukraine that’s vital to the United States, including this money
which certainly the Obama administration also and weapons, defensive weapons, was given, taxpayers’ money approved by the Congress to fight off
an active war by Russia.
Just talk to me a little bit about the notion of holding up that kind of money.
BLINKEN: Ukraine has been under siege from Russia for years now, ever since the invasion of Crimea and then Eastern Ukraine, the Donbass. Its
number one international supporter and the leading patron has been the United States.
And so, the assistance the United States provides is vital. But also, the political support that the United States provides is vital. And
any Ukrainian president knows that he or she needs to be in good graces with the United States. They desperately need that support.
I feel for President Zelensky sitting there next to President Trump and having to say he didn’t feel any pressure when it was obviously exactly the
opposite. In that phone call with the president, it’s clear that he was very well prepared, knew what the president was looking for and was trying
to give him the answers he wanted, precisely because military assistance was being held up, it was being blocked.
Indeed the phone call itself, according to what we’re hearing today, was held up until the Ukrainians made clear that they were ready to “play ball”
with the United States and with President Trump’s efforts to get the Ukrainians to interfere in the election and dig up this discredited dirt on
the leading political rival of the president, Joe Biden.
So, again, that puts Ukraine in a horrible position. And I can very much empathize with the president of Ukraine when he says, we don’t want any
part of this.
AMANPOUR: And finally, and it is a political question, how does your boss, Joe Biden, translate this and what’s happening around him into continuing
to run his campaign, and how does he address this issue as he’s trying to fend off what President Trump is really, really, really accomplished at,
and that is filling the airspace with a lot of, you know, chaff and all sorts of deflection for any incoming missiles, so to speak?
BLINKEN: You know, Christiane, on one level, the most important level, this is not about Joe Biden, this is about a president abusing the power of
his office for his own political personal gain. That’s much bigger than anyone.
But to the extent it is about Joe Biden, it’s quite astounding the amount of time President Trump spends trying to find ways to take Joe Biden down.
And the reason is pretty clear, it’s because he sees him as his toughest potential opponent in the 2020 election. We’ve had 70-plus face-to-face
polls so far taken, Biden versus Trump. Biden has won every single one of them.
So, what this really tells me, among other things, is that the president is frightened about the prospect of facing Joe Biden in an election. He’s
doing everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen.
AMANPOUR: Antony Blinken, thank you very much indeed. Foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden in the 2020 campaign.
BLINKEN: Thanks very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, let us turn to John McLaughlin, he is the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and he’s joining me
from downtown New York.
John McLaughlin, welcome. Thank you for joining me.
You’ve obviously been hearing and witnessing what’s going on in Washington with the testimony of Maguire, the acting DNI. I know you weren’t DNI but
you were acting CIA and have been very heavily involved in that. How would you have handled the whistleblower and the fallout from that if you were in
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER CIA DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Well, Christiane, I hate to second guess an honorable person like Director Maguire, but I think looking
back on it, he was hampered a lot by his inexperience in this kind of job. He’s a Navy SEAL.
Had I been in the job, I would have used something called an accommodation process. Big fancy term but basically it means you have a problem like
this, you go up to the Hill and meet with the committees, at least with the chairman and the vice chairman and you lay it out and say, I’m not quite
sure how to handle this. You’re going to need some of this. Let’s talk it over and come to an agreement. That process apparently was not used in
this case and I think that has in part led to the mess we’re in now.
AMANPOUR: Well, you hit at a very, very important situation right there because a lot of questions have been going on not only in the media and
amongst analysts and politicos but also, obviously, in the questioning on Capitol Hill.
You know, it’s quite tortured to try to, you know, yank sort of what looks like a rotten tooth out of Maguire, trying to figure out why he would have
gone to the executive branch to ask about how to deal with a complaint about the executive branch rather than do what you’ve just suggested, take
it immediately to whatever kind of appropriate committees on Capitol Hill.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know, as I look back at this and consider all the levels involved, there were at least five levels of government where
judgments had to be made and the biggest problem in government is usually not procedure, it’s usually judgment.
And so, I think he was correct to first consult with his own inspector general. And had I been there, I probably would have asked the general
counsel at the DNI. That’s fair as well. I never made a move as CIA director or acting director or deputy director without talking
to my lawyer.
But then in the end, you as an individual have to make a judgment about what are the boundaries in which you’ve got to operate. I think he was
being appropriately careful here, but he — again, not to second guess him, he’s a good man, but I think he may have just been a little too cautious
about how he handled this in the end. I think there would have been a way to get this to the committees without exposing anyone to legal jeopardy.
AMANPOUR: John McLaughlin, I just want to state that you are a career official in the intelligence community. You have worked under both
Republican and Democratic president. So, I just want to ask you whether you think, given what the whistleblower’s redacted letter now shows,
whether you think that there was an attempt even after this call and, you know, getting a heads up that this may be troublesome for the White House
to potentially cover it up?
MCLAUGHLIN: I think it’s pretty clear there was an effort to cover it up. If you read the complaint, which I think is very well done, and frankly,
has CIA analyst written all over it just the way it’s written, the carefulness, it’s pretty clear that there was an effort to cover it up.
And in fact, one of the things that jumps out at you is the effort by people in the White House, assuming the complaint is correct and I believe
it is, to put this whole incident in a special compartmented channel under an official in the White House who is known as the director of intelligence
programs. That’s a place where the most sensitive issues are handled. They’re put into code word channels, which means that not everyone can see
them and you have to have special access to look at them.
And clearly, that decision was made by a lot of people. And the other thing in the complaint, which is noteworthy, is the complainant here says
this was not the only issue that was handled that way, as people described it to him.
So. in a way, this whistleblower complaint is a road map, if you will, for further investigation. I mean, I could just list at least a dozen people
whose testimony should be sought at this point. The other thing that jumps out at me is with so many people knowing about this, it’s interesting and
I’m kind of proud to say this, it took a member of the intelligence community to step up and bring it forward.
AMANPOUR: John McLaughlin, the acting DNI director, Maguire, did say that he believed the whistleblower acted lawfully and that there wouldn’t be any
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned that there might be reprisals? And just give me a few. You said I could think of a dozen people who should come forward
and be questioned and get their testimony. Like who?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, on the first point you raise, I have confidence in what Director Maguire said about his determination to protect the whistleblower
from reprisals. I think I’ll take that to the bank. He will do that.
On the other hand, all the controversy about this will inevitably discourage whistleblowing in the government generally and perhaps in the
intelligence community. And so, efforts have to be made as this goes on to reaffirm the integrity of that process.
So, on the people who ought to be called for testimony, well, you know, obviously you start with Rudy Giuliani and then you move on to, I think at
some point, Attorney General Barr needs to step forward and explain why he did not recuse himself from this. A number of State Department officials,
including some I know and think highly of and consider friends, such as the special representative for Ukraine, Ambassador Volker, who was somehow
designated to go talk to the Ukrainians. One would want to know exactly what were his instructions for that discussion.
You know, I don’t have this in front of me but —
MCLAUGHLIN: — it wouldn’t be hard to find, you know, a dozen people.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And let’s point out that you have come to talk to us from, obviously, meetings and other situations that you had in downtown
Manhattan. So, it’s interesting to get your particular expertise. I want to read you just about three elements from the whistleblower report that we
have pulled out. One of them is on national security risks. This whistleblower says, “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to
U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.”
Given what happened in 2016 and that this seems to be an ongoing situation, expand on what that whistleblower was afraid of and how deep and serious it
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this is a little hard to parse in the whistleblower complaint without more careful reading, but it struck me as I went through
it that he was recounting an effort by the president to have the Ukrainians look into servers in Ukraine that may have somehow been involved in
whatever — that is internet servers that may have been involved in whatever interference occurred in our election.
That feels like an effort to divert attention from what was in the Mueller report, if you recall, of course, where Mueller documents that there was a
sweeping effort by the Russians to interfere in our election. Well, that’s point one.
Point two, I think, is this muddles the whole issue of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and makes it harder, I think, for the Ukrainians to combat that,
just the whole controversy about all of this, when in fact I don’t know what’s in the complaint, the whistleblower’s mind here, but if I were
trying to read it, I would be saying, you know, it’s very important that our number one priority in Ukraine be to assist them in repelling the
Russian advances because Ukraine — I had a member of the Ukrainian parliament once say to me, a young person who was fairly new, Ukraine is
the only country that can change Russia.
I think, Christiane, with your experience, you’ll know exactly what she was talking about. She was basically saying, you know, if we get this right
here, if we have a functioning democracy, a pluralistic democratic free society, Russians who kind of view us as their Slavic kin will want the
And so, you know, Ukraine turns out to be, although, perhaps obscure to many people in the United States turns out to be actually a very important
country in our international relations. And this may have been part of what is involved here.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And again, depending a lot on U.S. aid, U.S. support as well as European support. So, I just want to read you one more little bit
that we’ve pulled from the whistleblower on this particular issue. Basically, the whistleblower says, “Multiple U.S. officials told me that
the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or a phone call between the president and President Zelensky would depend on whether
Zelensky showed willingness to,’play ball’ on the issues.”
And we know that part of this complaint and the reality is that aid was held up and then it was released. So, tell me about the play ball on these
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, again, you have to use the cliche. I think you have to connect the dots here, they’re not explicitly connected, but the clear
implication is that someone was saying in order to get that aid, playing ball, just connecting the dots must mean then pursuing an investigation
that would shed a bad light on vice president Biden and perhaps his son. And that’s certainly what it looks like.
To not see it that way requires almost a willful decision to not see it that way. And I guess it’s going to take further testimony to bring that
out explicitly, if that is the case.
AMANPOUR: So much more to be investigated and to come to the public sphere. Thank you so much indeed, John McLaughlin, for joining us this
And as the president’s contentious political actions are called into question, so too is his disdain for the press, as he and Republican
congressmen beat up on journalists over this and many other issues, not to mention the constant stream of abuse about so-called fake news, that
journalism is now facing an unprecedented threat.
In 2018, at least 53 journalists were murdered in the course of their work according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The publisher of “The
New York Times,” A. G. Sulzberger, believes the president’s anti-press rhetoric has been contributing to the targeting of journalists by
oppressive governments around the world. And he’s raised the possibility that the Trump administration actively withheld information that one of his
reporters faced arrest while reporting in Cairo. Declan Walsh is that journalist and he joins me from London.
Declan Walsh, welcome to the program.
DECLAN WALSH, NEW YORK TIMES CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: You know what, before I get to your specific question, I want to play the latest Republican and presidential attack on journalists and that
came right in the beginning of these congressional testimonies that we’ve just been reporting on. This is what the ranking member told the world
about how the press was going to treat this very, very serious issue unfolding on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): I want to congratulate the Democrats on the rollout of their latest information warfare operation against the president
and their extraordinary ability to once again enlist the mainstream media in their campaign. This operation began with media reports from the prime
instigators of the Russia collusion hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Declan, there seems really no limit to the abuse the press gets from this administration and at this time. First, what do you make of
that statement at this time given what we just said and given what you know very well, the dangers surrounding journalists?
WALSH: I think it’s another example of this phenomena that’s been building really since the 2016 presidential election where rhetorical terms like
fake news, particularly the use of the term enemy of the people by the president of the United States or accusations that journalists are
treasonous or somehow acting improperly is creating this atmosphere that is not only, I think, dangerous for politics in many countries but is also in
certain countries around the world placing journalists’ safety at risk.
AMANPOUR: Well, yours has been placed at risk just by reporting as Cairo Bureau Chief from Egypt amid all sorts of political crackdowns and
upheavals there. So let’s start with your specific story which you’ve written about and also the publisher of your newspaper has written about.
It was about two years ago, I believe, that a confidential call was made by an American official in Washington about your safety in Cairo. Tell us
what happened. Who was that official? What happened?
WALSH: So as you say this was about two years ago. “The New York Times” Magazine had just that day published a story that I had written about
Giulio Regeni. He’s an Italian student who had died in brutal circumstances in Egypt.
And the story that I wrote cited some American officials who linked the Egyptian authorities to that death. So hours after that story was
published, I received a call from my editor, the international editor Michael Slackman, and he told me that the paper had received a confidential
tip from an official inside the administration in Washington and that that official was warning that the Egyptians were furious with the story and
that they were considering quite severe action up to and including my arrest.
AMANPOUR: You know, Declan, obviously what leaps out there is confidential call, as if he was under pressure not to warn you or “The New York Times.”
What was going on? I mean why was it so confidential? Why wasn’t it just like pick up the phone, the administration knows get your journalist out of
WALSH: That’s right. This kind of warning in and of itself is not particularly unusual. What was unusual was that this official felt obliged
to do it under the cover of secrecy.
In fact, the official told one of our editors that he felt his own career was at risk because he had decided to get in contact with us. And he made
that call because he feared that the Trump administration or that the State Department or the American authorities were not going to intervene to stop
the Egyptians carrying out this arrest if indeed that’s what they were going to do.
So that’s a step change really from what we’ve seen in the past where these kind of — sometimes government officials will pass on these kind of
warnings if they think a reporter’s safety is at risk, but that’s usually done quietly but with official sanction.
AMANPOUR: I mean you’re right, it is a major departure, as all of us who work for American organizations know. And, of course, I have to say you’re
not an American, you’re an Irish citizen but you work for an American organization, “The New York Times.”
So then because you weren’t going to get any help from the U.S. and the Embassy officials on the ground, your paper went to the Irish embassy, is
WALSH: That’s right. The first thing I did after I received that warning was to call the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. They told us that they had no
information about this threat and they told us that as an Irish citizen I could go to my own embassy first.
So I called the local — the ambassador in Cairo and they sent a vehicle around to my house and a diplomat escorted me to the airport and I left
Cairo later that evening.
AMANPOUR: And what is the fallout? I mean you went back and you were able to operate safely afterwards? What was at the heart of this fear that the
Egyptian government might do against you?
WALSH: You know, I’ve asked myself that question many times and the answer is, of course, we don’t know. Perhaps nothing would have happened. It’s
possible that whatever anger those Egyptian officials felt could have passed over.
But it’s also possible in a country like Egypt that things could have gone wrong and certainly foreign journalists have been arrested in Egypt, not to
mention of course the fact that so many Egyptian journalists have been arrested, according to the committee to protect journalists.
Egypt is one of the three top jailers of journalists around the world. And indeed, three Egyptian journalists have been jailed just in recent days in
the context of the crackdown on protests over the last week so.
AMANPOUR: And let me ask you this. You were talking about how it unfolded. Do you think that this is a case of omission or commission? In
other words, do you believe, does “The New York Times” believe that this Trump administration which every day shows its disdain for the right and
safety of the free press, do you think they’re actually actively telling their people not to look out for people like you?
WALSH: I think there are a couple of levels to it. I think one is what’s said in public and the effect that that has. I think that the rhetoric
that we’ve been talking about, particularly the use of the term “fake news” sends entirely the wrong signal to authoritarian leaders in countries like
Egypt and Turkey where those leaders see the press as an irritant to be squashed.
And they feel — and when they hear a country like the U.S., which traditionally has stood staunchly for press freedom, they see that as a
sign that those principles are wavering in the U.S. and that they will not face the same kind of pushback or reprisals that they might once have faced
if they crack down on journalists, either international ones or local ones.
And I think the second aspect to it is what’s going on in private. We don’t know exactly what the policy of the Trump administration is on press
freedom in relation to cases like mine or in relation to local journalists in these countries.
But what we do know is what this official told our editors which is that he felt in this case at least that the administration, even though it was
aware of this threat, was not ready or was not prepared to act. And I think that was a worrisome sign.
And I think that’s why the publisher of “The Times”, A.G. Sulzberger, chose earlier this week to make this case public as an example of what he sees
and has seen more broadly as a worrying phenomenon, that the U.S. that was once, if you like, the guarantor of press freedom for its own journalists
and for other journalists in other countries now seems to be stepping back from that role.
AMANPOUR: And A.G. Sulzberger did go to the White House again in February and talked face to face with the president about this issue which has been
published before. But this sound of their conversation, let’s just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
A.G. SULZBERGER, PUBLISHER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: As I’ve talked to my colleagues around the globe, working in different countries, particularly
working in countries where a free press is already a tenuous thing, they say that they are increasingly of the belief that your rhetoric is creating
a climate in which dictators and tyrants are able to employ your words in suppressing a free press. I’d urge you to reconsider these attacks.
DONALD Trump, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that.
SULZBERGER: But if — you choose not to, I just, I want you to be aware of some of the consequences that I’m starting to see out there.
TRUMP: Would you say more so now than over the last five years?
TRUMP: Right now? I mean —
TRUMP: More so now than even a year ago?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Declan, the president appears to be interested in asking about the facts here. But we also know that over the last, you know, since
entering office he’s tweeted fake news nearly 600 times and just earlier this month he says the good news is that we are winning. And this is, of
course, in his fight for re-election.
Our real opponent is not the Democrats or the dwindling number of Republicans that lost their way and got left behind. Our primary opponent
is the fake news media. In the history of our country, they have never been so bad.
So this looks like it’s going to be a campaign that goes on and on. As you’ve said, dictators like Orban in Hungary, Duterte in the Philippines,
Maduro, all over the place are taking up that cajole. It’s going to be really difficult not only for, not just domestic correspondents, but
foreign correspondents as well.
WALSH: That’s right. I mean one of the interesting things about Egypt is that Egypt had the highest number of journalists last year who were
prosecuted just for fake news. Fake news has now become a crime, technically cited as a crime in countries like Egypt.
So it shows the effect that this rhetoric is having, that it’s passing on to these countries. I think the other point that is worth making is that
in the past — I mean journalists all around the world face an array of threats.
And in the past, things like kidnapping by terrorist organizations was high on the agenda. But in recent years as there’s been this rise in
authoritarianism across the world, arguably I think some of the biggest threat that many people face is actually from governments and it’s
journalists being arrested and it’s journalists being charged with these kind of crimes that previously didn’t exist.
AMANPOUR: Right. And actually the nature of the journalism being targeted is investigative in many, many instances. Declan Walsh, thank you so much.
And let’s not forget that almost a year ago, the most appalling attack on a journalist was to Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered by
allegedly the highest levels of the Saudi regime. As journalists fight for their freedom and safety around the world, that same fight continues for
women around the world.
And Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American journalist and activist. And she’s a pioneer of #MosqueMeToo which brought the #MeToo movement to the
But in her new book, “The Seven Necessary Sins For Women And Girls”, she speaks to America and she calls for a radical challenge to the status quo.
She sat down with our Michel Martin to talk about it.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: One of the things that distinguishes your work and has for years now is you can do the geopolitical analysis with the best
of them but you are a person who makes the connection between what’s going on politically all over the world and what happens in the home, I mean even
in the bedroom.
And so when is it that you made the connection between the personal and the political, do you remember?
MONA ELTAHAWY, AUTHOR, THE SEVEN NECESSAR SINS FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS: I think it was most foremost in my mind during the Egyptian revolution
because I was so excited when the Egyptian revolution happened. It was something that I had dreamed of for the greater part of my life with so
many other Egyptians because I knew we deserved to be free.
So I was so ecstatic when the Egyptian revolution started after Tunisia and then the revolutions and uprisings in other parts of the Middle East and
North Africa, the parts of the world where I’m from. And then I thought, you know, these revolutions about dignity and freedom, they’re going to
free everybody, including women.
And then I heard about the so-called virginity tests that the Egyptian military subjected Egyptian female revolutionaries to and I thought hold on
a minute. So here are these women risking their lives and they are sexually assaulted by the military? Absolutely nothing happened, Michel,
and I thought, wow, this is it. This is what’s wrong with so many so- called revolutions.
MARTIN: Really, how come? I mean how come that? Why that?
ELTAHAWY: Because when we started to complain as Egyptian women that how can you be silent in the face of the military assaulting women, how can you
be silent about gender equality, where is gender equality in your revolution.
I was told and so many other women were told this is not the time. We have to fight torture. We have to fight military dictatorship. We have to
fight a whole list of things.
We were told to wait. Martin Luther King Jr., his letter from a Birmingham jail when he said when you’re told to wait, that usually means it’s never
going to happen. And that’s something that everyone who fights for freedom understands very well.
So when Egyptian men were telling Egyptian women wait, I was like, OK, now this is where the personal and political are connected. Because I
understood then that the men were fighting the state for their own freedom from the state but they didn’t understand that the state and the street,
public spaces, and the home together oppress women.
MARTIN: This led to your book “the Seven” — which you call “The Seven Necessary Sins For Women And Girls”, anger, attention, profanity, ambition,
power, violence, lust. Obviously, you’re playing on the seven deadly sins and so forth.
MARTIN: But how did you come up with this idea?
ELTAHAWY: I think it all crystallized in February of 2017, it would be, or is it 2018. 2018, because I finished this book last year.
So in early February, I heard that a young Pakistani woman called Sabika had posted on Facebook that she had been sexually assaulted during the
Muslim pilgrimage in Mecca, which is in Saudi Arabia.
And Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam. It’s the holiest site for Muslims around the world. It’s the site toward which Muslims pray
five times a day.
And the pilgrimage for Muslims is the fifth of the five pillars of Islam. She got a lot of support but she was also told she was a liar. And this
really, really (inaudible) me because when I was 15 years old in 1982, my family went to perform the first of several Hajj pilgrimages that I have
And I was sexually assaulted twice. And it was a very traumatic experience for me that I buried and kept for years. Because to be sexually assaulted
in the holiest site of your religion as you’re performing the fifth pillar of your religion breaks something in you. It broke something in me that
MARTIN: Forgive me for interrupting, but you didn’t tell anyone?
ELTAHAWY: No, I couldn’t. I was 15 years old.
I mean what I usually connect this to, is all those children who was sexually abused by priests. And the power that the priests held over these
children, because this is what I’m talking about essentially.
I’m not saying that this is something that was specific to an Islamic experience, that was Specific to a Muslim holy site. What I’m saying is
that there is something about the sanctity of the place as there is about the sanctity of the power that a priest holds over his flock, his
congregation, that makes the sexual abuse if possible even more painful, because you’re in awe of the place and you’re there to experience something
that is awe-inspiring.
And then your spirited experience is ruined by this terrible violation. And then you think to yourself this couldn’t have happened. How could this
happen in this space, which is the holiest site for my religion, as I’m sure those children were saying. How can this happen from the priest, who
is the person between me and God, you know.
So when she wrote that, I once again wrote about my experience to support Sabika and also I wanted to acknowledge Tarana Burke’s #MeToo Movement.
Tarana is a black feminist in the U.S. who started #MeToo in 2006.
And in 2017, #MeToo took on a more global aspect because of very famous white actresses. You know, as much as I admire those actresses who spoke
out about their experience of sexual assault in Hollywood, it became this very rich, white privilege thing. And I know Tarana and I know that that’s
not what Tarana meant meant it to be.
So I wanted to acknowledge and show solidarity with Tarana’s work and say that this movement is for Muslim women too. And so to show support to
Sabika, I said for all the Muslim women out there who feel comfortable sharing their experience of sexual assault in a sacred space, let’s talk
under #MosqueMeToo and that went viral.
Now, five days later I was in this club in Montreal. And now, I’m 50 years old. Now, when I was in Mecca performing pilgrimage, I was covered from
head to toe in Hijab. All you could see was my hands and my face.
Fast forward to this club in Montreal. And I went dancing because dancing to me is self-care. I heard so many stories from so many Muslim women
under #MosqueMeToo, I wanted to go and dance and just get those stories out because I love to dance.
Now, I’m wearing a tank top and jeans and I’m 50 years old. And I’m dancing with my beloved and I feel a hand on my back side.
MARTIN: Not your boyfriend’s?
ELTAHAWY: Not my partner. And I was like wow. I said you’ve got to be kidding me, this is still happening?
So now I as working on instinct. At 15, I couldn’t — I burst into tears, I couldn’t speak, I was ashamed.
Then in that nightclub in Montreal, I immediately turned around, I could tell who he was because he was moving in a sea of couples. I went up to
him. I tugged at his shirt. He fell because he wasn’t expecting this and I sat on him, Michel.
MARTIN: You sat on him?
ELTAHAWY: I sat on him and I punched him around 12 to 15 times. And every time I punched him I was like don’t you ever touch a woman like that again.
And every time I thought I was done, I was not done. I continued to punch him and it was glorious.
MARTIN: So that led to the book?
ELTAHAWY: Between those two, I thought, you know what, these are exactly the things that women are told not to want to do or to be. These are the
so-called sins, what I called sins.
To be angry, to want attention for the message that you have, to want to be profane in a world that keeps insisting that you’re silent and polite and
civil, to be violent as a right to defend yourself, as a right to make patriarchy fear us. I insist that patriarchy fears feminism.
To be lustful and to say that I own my body. And if I want my body to be in a dance club dancing with my beloved, I own this body. And this I own
my body came up because the club manager came up to me to ask me what happened and I explained.
And he asked me why didn’t you let your husband take care of it? I was ready to beat him up, because I said to him, first of all, he’s not my
And, second of all, this is my body. It’s not his body, I own this body. So that went into lust.
So I came up with these seven sins because I wanted a message that would terrify patriarchy. And I wanted this message as a message that I insist
is led and spoken of loudest by queer women of color, by queer feminists of color.
MARTIN: I want to read this one passage here about violence. And you say that — I can’t read some of these sentences because there is a lot of
profanity in it, which is again one of your seven necessary sins.
But you said that imagine if we, editing here, snapped and masked and systematically killed men for no reason at all other than for being men.
Imagine this culling starting in one country with five men a week then each week, this imaginary scenario would add more countries and kill more men in
each of them, 50 a week, then 100 and then 500.
And you go on to sort of say how many men do you think must be killed before patriarchy begins to dismantle, 1,000, 10,000, 1 million? Is it
barbaric? Is it savage?
Many millions of men have been killed in wars begun by men against other men. Imagine this our declaration of war against patriarchy.
Look, obviously in an argument like this any sentence you take out of context can be sort of interpreted in a certain way but I don’t want to go
around killing men. I don’t want to kill my son. I don’t want anyone killing my son. I don’t want somebody killing my husband or my cousins.
So tell me why you wrote this passage and indeed this whole chapter about violence.
ELTAHAWY: Because every day here in the United States, women who are someone’s mother, daughter, sister, and friend are killed by current or
former partners. No one wants their daughter or mother or wife because sometimes it’s ex-partners or friend to be killed just because she’s a
And there are three human beings in the United States who are killed just because they’re women by current or former partners. So I want to reverse
that and shock people into the realization that this is already happening. This culling is happening to women.
And it just seems like the backdrop to our lives, Michel. I also say in that chapter if the news that we listen to every day just had a list of the
women who were killed or sexually assaulted or raped today, it would be too much. People wouldn’t be able to take it anymore, and yet it happens.
So I’m thinking what is it going to take so that we shake people into the realization that three women every day are killed for no reason other than
the fact that they are women. Then I also connect, because like you said I connect the person to the political.
And I say liberation movements around the world have always claimed the right to be violent against occupying forces. You know, people get into
arguments and they discuss is violence warranted in this instance, and people say yes, because we are fighting for freedom and it’s usually men
fighting against other men for the freedom of men.
So I’m saying well I consider patriarchy occupying force is actually the oldest occupying force in the world. And I demand my right to liberate
myself from this occupying force.
MARTIN: So what does this look like? I mean in this case of the bar, I mean this man put his hands on you so you felt that you were acting in
MARTIN: What is the vision then of how everyone else should proceed here?
ELTAHAWY: Well, I call it feminism in 3D. And that is — so it is defying, disobeying and disrupting the patriarchy. Defy, disobey and
And I’m urging readers of the book, women, girls, non-binary people, people — gender queer people who identify with the message of my book to find
ways to defy, disobey and disrupt the patriarchy every day.
Now, the violence chapter obviously imagines this very very extreme scenario because I want patriarchy to fear feminism. I’m at a stage right
now, especially here in the United States, I find that feminism has become too polite and too sanitized.
It’s like the word “resistance.” Since Donald Trump was elected, we see #resistance in so many social media post. What does resistance mean? What
does resistance mean when we have a white supremacist president who’s been accused by at least 21 women of sexual assault?
MARTIN: Yes, but the reality of this is your book is global.
MARTIN: So why are you focusing on the United States here? Is it because you feel that women here have the space to do that and perhaps in some
other places, they would be brutalized for these steps and you feel like here in the United States they can do it?
ELTAHAWY: No, I’m focusing on the United States because I want women in the United States to understand that they’re not doing enough. My book
takes a global look, and I’d be happy to share global examples with you but I also deliberately question and hold up a mirror to especially white women
in the United States and ask them what are you doing?
Because I’ve lived in the United States since the year 2000. And I noticed that it was only since Donald Trump was elected that white women began to
be angry. And I watched this with great fascination and I thought, wow, finally angry? Where have you been?
MARTIN: A majority of white women voted for Donald Trump.
MARTIN: So I guess that leads me to my question, clearly sufficient numbers of white women felt that he had a compelling message. They have
told us time and time again that they are not — they may be disturbed by his language, they may be discomforted by some of his behavior, but at the
end of the day they feel he’s acting in their interests.
I’ve spoken to many women, Republican women who have said this to me. It cannot be an anomaly. So what’s your argument to them?
ELTAHAWY: My message to white American women is you are failing at feminism. My book is not for the women who voted for Donald Trump. My book
is for the women who didn’t vote for Donald Trump who have suddenly woken up and discovered their anger.
And my book says to them do you know how long black women in the United States have been angry, indigenous women in the United States have been
angry, women of color, Latinas women in the United States have been angry and then I connect that to the global anger of women around the world.
White American feminists for too long have considered themselves and the feminism here in this country the center of the universe, the center of the
feminist universe and they’re not.
MARTIN: I think some of them would say that they feel that they are morally led. They would say that this is their religious belief.
They might say that this is how they were raised. They might say that they believe this is right and good. It is in the best interests for society.
Some women would say, and I believe, truly believe that it’s best for women and men to have complementary roles. And so —
ELTAHAWY: What would I say to them?
MARTIN: Yes, what would you say? I mean —
ELTAHAWY: I would say to them that I might be able to listen to your argument if not for the fact that you voted for a man whose policies have
affected so many of us in this country as well as the rest of the world.
This president that they voted for, if they claim that this was done out of a moral choice and for the sake of their religious beliefs, is responsible
for concentration camps on the border between the United States and Mexico in which children are separated from their families, in which children have
died, in which people have kept — people are kept in inhumane conditions.
So I do not and I refuse to accept the fact that someone says to me this is my religious belief. Your religious belief and your moral choice is
damaging to the entire world and is actively hurting if not leading to the death of so many people. So I do not respect their moral choice.
MARTIN: Point taken. And you’ve already said that this book isn’t really for them.
MARTIN: You’re saying it’s really for people who you feel are too quiet and too polite in their pursuit.
ELTAHAWY: And who want to be civil towards women and men —
MARTIN: Well, let me ask you this, though. Many — one of the central projects of many of the great religions of the world is to tame anger and
these hot emotions out of everyone, not just of women. I mean I know that you make the point that these are emotions and feelings that have been
denied women particularly.
But many of the great religions of the world have sought to tame anger in all people. I mean in the beatitudes, the Gospel according to Matthew,
Jesus says the meek shall inherit the earth.
I guess the question I have for you, Mona, is where is the space for quiet people? Is there space for quiet people in the world that you envision or
just not yet?
ELTAHAWY: No, I don’t think this is neither the time nor the space globally for quiet people because we are in a world now that is seeing the
rise of global patriarchal authoritarianism. Because when you see Donald Trump, you see Netanyahu in Israel, you see Cece in Egypt, you see the
crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman, you see various fascist far-right prime ministers and leaders of countries in Europe, so many men
around the world who are the antithesis of quiet and who are using religion and who are using this idea that we should be polite and who are using
civility to keep us quiet and basically keep their feet on our necks.
So I’m Egyptian-American and I’ve got presidents of both my countries who are authoritarians and they use this idea that we have to be polite and
civil to maintain their power. And I reject quietness and I reject politeness obviously, because if you look at the cover of my book, it’s the
antithesis of what I am.
MARTIN: Mona Eltahawy, thank you so much for talking with us.
ELTAHAWY: Thank you, Michel.
AMANPOUR: A passionate case for speaking up and not to remain silent.
That’s it for tonight. Remember, you can always follow me, Michel, and the show on Twitter.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS, and join us again tomorrow night.