Michael Lewis Analyzes Wednesday’s Impeachment Proceedings

Today, four constitutional scholars testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee about impeachment. It follows the testimony to the Intelligence Committee of multiple career foreign service officials, whom critics have said were sidelined by President Trump, leaving key national security issues in the hands of cronies. Michael Lewis, author of “The Fifth Risk,” joins the program to discuss.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: What are you thinking right now?

MICHAEL LEWIS, AUTHOR: Well, about the impeachment, I have a couple of thoughts. But the first is, from where I sit, the whole thing has got the shape of a very bad story, because you already feel like you know the ending. He is going to be impeached, and the Senate is not going to remove him from office. And the question is, are any minds in America going to be changed? And the thing that I just found so shocking is how impervious the American mind right now is to, like new information. You’re getting really interested in the impeachment hearings, but the kind of people who you would hope would be interested in the impeachment hearings are paying no attention to it whatsoever. So, for me, the second thing about these hearings that it was actually kind of in a funny way reassuring, was when finally they dragged the poor civil servants from the State Department. You know, they had to subpoena them to testify and they testified. The world just saw what it was like to have someone who knew something about the subject talking about it. And, you know, Fiona Hill got a standing ovation when she was finished. And I think what, you know, people — and then people milling and then good and go back and forget about all of that. But my story, the story that I’ve told in the book is about those people. It’s like about what are those people that Trump dismisses as the Deep State actually doing? And what’s going on inside their minds when they’re doing it?

AMANPOUR: Well, well, I mean, as you say, you know, the book was originally published a year ago. Now, we’ve got the paperback out. But you basically said, you know, part of the description of the book reads, “The Fifth Risk unspools the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works.”

LEWIS: And so it goes back, I think, just as a refresher, it goes back when Trump took over the government, he had by law to have this transition team in place of hundreds of people to go in and receive the government from the Obama administration in those meetings that there was going to be an exchange of information that would explain how this government worked in all the departments of government. And he fired the entire team in the days after the election, so he never bothered to go get — you know, he never found out how the Center for Disease Control worked or how the Department of Energy worked or how the State Department worked. So the ignorance is the — is the first principle here. So it isn’t — it looks maybe from the outside, it looks like a sinister conspiracy to dismantle the government. I think he actually just doesn’t know anything. And it has relegated all to the category of not important to me even though he is supposed to be running it.

About This Episode EXPAND

Kay Bailey Hutchison, President Trump’s Ambassador to NATO, joins Christiane Amanpour to discuss this week’s summit and the 70 year old alliance, Michael Lewis talks about his book “The Fifth Risk” and Jonathan Haidt sits down with Hari Sreenivasan to explain how social media is driving polarization across the world.