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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
Chaos in Britain as government ministers resign in protest over the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. And, uncertainty at the White House as Trump
weighs ways a shake up, the Democratic midterm victory keeps growing and 2020 speculation begins. Will Democrats look just Senator Kirsten
Gillibrand who wants to restore the moral compass of this country?
And as the president keeps up his verbal assault on the Mueller investigation, who will protect the rule of law? I speak with award-
winning author and national security expert, Tim Weiner.
And later in the program, the immortal sound of New Orleans. Ben Jaffe is not just the impresario behind the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, an American
cultural treasure, he’s also the tuba player.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The Brexit deal and the British government itself could be in a state of crisis as Prime Minister Theresa May fights for her survival and to
preserve her plan for leading the European Union. In a marathon session in parliament today, May face jeers from all sides of the political spectrum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So, Mr. Speaker, the choice is clear, we can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all or we can
choose all or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
May’s government has been hit by some cabinet resignations including her own chief Brexit negotiator, Dominic Raab. Now, Brexit hard liners are in
full revolt, formally calling for a vote of no confidence in May’s leadership. What’s it all about? May’s draft Brexit deal reached up to 17
months of painful negotiations with the E.U. It is filled with compromises and artful dodges on intractable issues from trade to the tricky status of
the Northern Ireland border.
European leaders are cautiously so cautiously supportive of the draft agreement but it could all be rendered moot if May’s government falls.
Meanwhile, the British pound is falling sharply as fears of Brexit chaos rise.
Now, Simon Fraser was head of the Foreign Office right here in Britain. As such, he’s perfectly placed to help us understand what this Brexit crisis
will mean for Britain’s place in the world.
So, Simon Fraser, welcome back to the program.
SIMON FRASER, FORMER HEAD OF U.K. FOREIGN OFFICE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Often, we call upon you to help us navigate this because as a top civil servant, former, you are nonparty political.
FRASER: That’s right.
AMANPOUR: So, we hope to get straight to the facts of what’s going on. So, first and foremost, how bad is Prime Minister May’s position right now?
FRASER: Well, it’s difficult but we knew it was going to be difficult because she was going to bring this deal back at some point from Brussels
and we knew there was opposition on all sides to elements of it, in her own party, in the Labor Party, from pro-Brexit people and from anti-Brexit
people. So, it’s not surprising that she’s had a hard time but it was a really hard time in parliament today.
AMANPOUR: And of course, she has to potentially face, we do not know whether the numbers will be there to call for a no confidence. And even if
one is called for, we don’t know whether the numbers are there for it to put it over the top and we don’t know what will happen when this Brexit
deal goes to parliament.
However — oh, well, comment.
FRASER: Well, that is true. I mean, first of all she may face a challenge within her party to her leadership from her own backbench MPs. We don’t
know yet whether that will happen. And of course, it is true later on if she finalizes the deal with Brussels, she has to bring it for a vote in
parliament probably in December and that is when parliament could formally vote it down.
AMANPOUR: So, let us take her latest intervention. She just had a press conference, some speculate that she might even say she’s going to resign,
but she didn’t, she came out fighting frankly and it looks like she wants to take this to the country and she actually put MPs on notice, she said,
“They will do what they have to do and then they’ll be held accountable by their constituents.” But this is what she said about her position right
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAY: One simple fact remains, and that is that nobody has produced any alternative proposal which both delivers on the referendum and also ensures
that there’s no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. And I understand some people feel uncomfortable about the details in the
backstop, particularly in the withdrawal agreement and I share some of those concerns but there’s another inescapable fact, there is no deal which
can be agreed with the European Union that does not involve a backstop to act as an insurance policy against a return to the borders of the past in
All the other approaches, Norway, Canada plus, et cetera, they would all require a backstop. And the alternative of repudiation that backstop would
not only mean reneging on a promise to the people of Northern Ireland but it would also collapse the negotiation and hopes of securing a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: She’s right.
FRASER: Yes, she is right.
AMANPOUR: I mean, there has been no other credible alternative to what she’s brought back.
FRASER: That is true. So, those who don’t like what she’s proposing have not come up with a clear alternative approach. And what this shows is that
Brexit is a really complicated thing and there’s no ideal version of Brexit. Really, she’s trying to find the least bad option economically but
she also preserves some very important political points about the unity of this country and the position of Northern Ireland.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you have tweeted over the last few days and today, I mean, sort of agree, you know, her proposed messy withdrawal deal but the
fact is, there is simply no good version of Brexit for the U.K., you’ve said that. And then about the hardliners, you have said, about Boris
Johnson, who’s one of these — who’s probably going to call her leadership into question, but the man who both campaigned for Brexit and argued to
stay inside the single market has no credibility on this.
So, what do the hardliners, the Jacob Rees Moggs, all these names that are flying around who want to challenge her, who are they playing to? Do the
people of Great Britain want this uncertainty at this moment?
FRASER: Well, a lot of these people are driven by a sort of ideological aversion to the European Union, and they’ve taken different positions at
different times. Now, let’s be clear, I’m somebody who favored remaining in the E.U. and I think I have to say that. But their position is
And I think the people of Britain just want clarity at the moment and particularly businesses want clarity about — and continuity about what’s
going to happen because March is not a long way away. And at the moment, we are on schedule and it’s legally written into law that we’re going to
leave on the 29th of March. If we don’t have a deal with the European Union, that is going to be a really serious situation.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, what does that look like? Because we’ve already seen the pound fell by more than 1.5 percent against the euro and the dollar.
People look worried and people are saying that the markets have been remarkably complacent about this potential chaos. I mean, I heard
interviews about potential — you know, making deals to fly in medicine and being worried that some people might not survive actual — there might be
people’s lives at risk if there’s no deal and we crash out.
FRASER: Well, those are the worst-case scenarios. And personally, I don’t think it will come to that but there’s a very serious risk it does if we
don’t get the politics sorted out and get a sort of coherent process in place. Because we will leave the European Union and we’ll no longer be
governed by the regulations of the European Union. And unless we’ve got an agreement that we’re actually going to stay in that relationship for a
temporary period, at least, then there could be very serious disruption.
And I think the markets have not really know what to make of this and I don’t think they’ve really priced that risk in fully in the past and we saw
some of that today.
AMANPOUR: So, just, you know, to the international audience because the E.U. has already come out and cautiously welcomed this, so have some
government leaders, obviously, they also have to pass it through the European Parliament and then all the E.U. 27 have to agree. I mean, nobody
is out of the woods yet.
But what are the main sticking points? There are three, right? It’s about Northern Ireland, the customs union, backstop, European Court of Justice?
FRASER: Well, the fundamental question is, what sort of relationship is the U.K. going to have with the European Union? And the U.K. hasn’t really
decided that. If you want to stay in a close trade relationship with the E.U., you have to accept the rules of the European Union single market up
to a point and that constrains you in other things you do. And so, that is the sort of dilemma that we face.
And the E.U. are saying, “If you want to enjoy the benefits of trade with us, you have to decide how far you’re prepared to abide by our rules,” and
that is the underlying issue, whether it’s related to Northern Ireland or the rule of the court or other things, that is the essence of that issue.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, put your foreign office hat back on and you’re negotiating hat back on, was there ever a likelihood that the hardline
Brexiteers who just wanted a clean break, was it even remotely possible?
FRASER: Well, it was remotely possible if we were prepared to accept great damage in our relations with Europe and protect our economic relation. And
let’s remember that 45 percent of our trade is done by the European Union. So, there’s an awful lot at stake there.
And if we had left abruptly and said we’re going to sever those links, they would have a big cost. And I think that’s what people have understood over
time. And it’s not only trade, the complexity of the interconnected relations that we’ve built over 40 years of membership of the E.U. really
can’t just be unraveled overnight.
AMANPOUR: And what would you say? I mean, even President Trump sort of weighed in over the weekend during the Armistice commemorations, you know,
berating apparently so we read Prime Minister May over a variety of issues including, you know, being a sap when it comes to being a negotiator. I
mean, that’s what he thinks.
FRASER: Well, I mean, President Trump can make whatever observations he wants. I think she’s had a really difficult job, she has pursued it very
doggedly. I think she has made mistakes early on, she probably over — she hemmed herself in with some of her early positions, that’s true, but it was
a very difficult position she inherited remember.
She basically came to power in a situation of crisis and she’s been trying to keep the show on the road. So, I have some sympathy for her even if I
do think that she’s — you know, she hasn’t always got it right.
AMANPOUR: And of course, she voted for remain.
AMANPOUR: I mean, she’s not a whole hearted remain, I mean, before people were calling her a bit of a Euro-skeptic but she actually did when push
came to shove.
FRASER: She was a marginal remainer.
AMANPOUR: A marginal remainer as home secretary.
AMANPOUR: And then she stepped into a leadership vacuum. And now, here she is having to implement it. This is what the chief E.U. negotiator
said, Michel Barnier, today about the draft plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL BARNIER, EUROPEAN CHIEF NEGOTIATOR FOR BREXIT: Very important moment. What we have agreed at negotiator’s lever (ph) is fair and
balanced. It takes into account the U.K.’s positions, organizes the withdraw (ph) in an orderly fashion. And I’m sure new our border and I am
(INAUDIBLE) and lays the ground for an ambitious new partnership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, my question to you is, knowing the draft deal and knowing how these things work, is this deal much more weighted towards the E.U.?
And even — you had what Barnier says, and he’s welcoming this, but others are saying that they’re still prepared for a no deal. And what impact
would that have on the E.U.?
FRASER: Well, I’m not sure the deal is weighted towards the E.U. It’s true, you know, the E.U. actually has a stronger hand in the negotiation
than the U.K., that is the fact. We are asking to leave, there are 27 of them, they’re a big economy. So, it’s a tough negotiation for us.
But both sides have made compromises in the last few days to get this deal. And actually, the shape of the deal is very much as I would expect it to
be. And what we always knew is that no deal was going to be popular on all sides and that is what the prime minister is facing at the moment.
AMANPOUR: And what would you imagine is going to happen over the next few days?
FRASER: Well, I think we need to see whether this settles down now. So, whether today is actually a significant political tipping point in this
country or whether the prime minister braves it through and it stabilizes a bit.
And if it does, I think they will do more work together on the document that they’re working on the future relationship and then it will go to the
member states in Europe and then we will have this European summit meeting on the 25th of November to finally agree — sign off the deal at a
political level and that is the process. But it all depends on whether the situation in this country stabilizes because the biggest risk is the
British political risk.
AMANPOUR: Are you a betting person?
AMANPOUR: So, Simon Fraser, thank you very much indeed.
FRASER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: We’re going to see whether there’s going to be a leadership contest or whether she’s going to get this deal through her own parliament
but we’re not taking odds.
As the Brexit drama continues to play out here in Britain, President Donald Trump is chewing over his own divided government woes. Democrats, of
course, have now picked up 33 seats in Congress so far. And even as midterm votes are still being counted in Florida and Georgia, attention is
already turning to the 2020 presidential race.
New York Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, is at the top of just about every list of Democratic prospects. She has just crushed her reelection
campaign, she has the name recognition, fund raising credentials and policy bona fides to make her a serious contender out of the gate.
She’s also just written a timely children’s book, it is called “Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote,” and it celebrates the
100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America, which is coming, wait for it, in 2020. Kirsten Gillibrand joins me from Washington.
Senator Gillibrand, welcome back to the program.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, we have a big crisis here in Britain with Brexits and governments defecting or ministers and nobody knows quite which way is up.
There’s a lot of uncertainty still in the United States as well, President Trump potentially shaking up his cabinet, midterm votes still being
counted. But the Democrats seem to be doing well. How would you assess the relative strength of your party right now?
GILLIBRAND: I think we’re very strong because the American people spoke loudly and clearly that they wanted change. Over 110 women got elected to
the House of Representatives or are going to shake things up when they get there. They’re focused on basic things the families need like health care
and education and jobs, but also getting the money out of politics and restoring voting rights so that we can really restore who we are as
AMANPOUR: So, Senator John Kerry, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, and most notably, Former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry has
been in London and he’s been talking about what the Democrats must do to confront as he said and to replace a truculent child president.
But he specifically said that Democrats must not get bogged down in impeachment and other such things, that they need to clearly put out an
agenda for progress and change, on major issues, sensible real policy change for the American people. Where do you stand on that, on the
investigative part, for instance, of the House and what the priorities should be for Democrats now?
GILLIBRAND: Well, certainly you need oversight and accountability over President Trump as — and his administration. We have never seen a more
corrupt administration, self-dealing, lining of pockets, fraud, there’s just a lot of very serious allegations. And of course, we need to protect
the Muller investigation because he is tasked with the job of finding out what happened with regard to the Russian interference. So, that work has
to be done.
But as I started, I think the American people want Congress and want Washington to work for them and they want health care as a right and not a
privilege, which means taking on the drug companies, it means taking on the insurance companies and offering some kind of not for profit public option
so that people actually can get health care that’s good, that’s affordable, that’s universal.
They’re also looking to make sure that no matter what block you grow up on that you have that opportunity to get education. So, it means good early
childhood education, affordable daycare, universal pre-K, good public schools, debt free college, things that can really get people into the job
training they need.
And last, you know, we’ve always believed that the American dream is for everybody. And so, you need to build the middle class, you need better job
training, you need to strengthen our unions, you need to make sure workers are invested in, and that means rewarding work, it means equal pay for
equal work, it means higher minimum wage, it means making sure you have job training so you can earn your way into the middle class. And so, that’s
the agenda that I think America and certainly in New York, as I’ve traveled around the whole state, that’s what they’re looking for.
But as I started with, Christiane, you’re not going to get any of this done until you get the money out of politics, because the money in politics is
what is so corrosive, it’s undermining one person one vote, it’s undermining the fabric of our democracy.
And so, to get any of that done, you need to take on the sources of all the money and power that funnels into politics, drug companies, insurance
companies but also the NRA because, you know, nothing gets done because of the corrupting influence of hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on
campaigns across the country.
AMANPOUR: Which, of course, brings you up — or brings me to the ultimate campaign that everybody’s now looking at now the midterms are behind us,
and that is the 2020 presidential campaign.
On the Democratic side, it’s already a sort of crowded field. I mean, people are sort of, you know, testing the waters, names are being brought
up, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Are you thinking about it? Particularly in the age of women and we’ve had, as you said, an unprecedented number of women voting and an unprecedented
number of women elected. Are you now ready to consider testing the waters for a presidential run?
GILLIBRAND: Well, I will be considering it, as I’ve said. But for me, Christiane, I really think it’s a moral question. You know, I believe in
right first versus wrong. And up until this election, I really felt like wrong was winning. And I have watched President Trump put so much hate
into my state, our hate crimes have gone up exponentially in all places in New York, whether it’s antisemitism, racism, homophobia, anti-Muslim,
antiimmigrant, and that’s not who we are as a country.
We’ve always believed in the golden rule that you should treat others the way you want to be treated, that we should actually fight for other
people’s kids as hard as we fight for our own. And so, I do feel called to do whatever I can to fight as hard as I can to restore that moral compass,
to restore that integrity, that truth that we do care about one another.
And I will be thinking about it. I’m sure many other people. And I think all of us need to think about what we can do to restore what’s best about
America, and that is that we should care about one another.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, this is an important moment. But I just want to press you on this issue because just recently in a debate you said the
following about, you know, finishing out your own term as a senator. Let’s just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to make this clear. You are saying you will not get out of the race, that you will not run for president, you will
serve your six year?
GILLIBRAND: I will serve my six-year term/
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But now, you’re saying maybe you won’t?
GILLIBRAND: Well, of course I’m focused on being the absolute best senator I could be. And as I said during the last couple years that I was entirely
focused on the 2018 election because as you saw, changing the House and holding some of these senate seats were the most important thing we could
But in light of where we are right now, I will be giving it strong and serious consideration in the future.
AMANPOUR: Now, we’ve talked a lot about women, you know, as — they’re sort of game changing role in this last election cycle. And you’ve just
come out with a new book. It’s quite unusual because it’s not, you know, a memoir or a kind of, you know, presidential book but maybe it’s a different
and smart way to do it, it’s sort of done as a children’s book, but it’s about you thanking the 10 women who helped bring women the right to vote.
GILLIBRAND: The right to vote.
GILLIBRAND: Oh, yes.
AMANPOUR: And we’re in about 100 years since, at least, White women could vote in the United States. And the book sort of opens with the view or the
words of one young woman, Inez Milholland. “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
And I believe that is the last thing she said or one of the last thing she said before she died in 1916.
GILLIBRAND: It was. Yes. Yes. So, I thought it was really important to write this book because I wanted to highlight the lives of extraordinary
women who sacrificed everything so that women could have the right to vote.
Many of these women never got to see the right themselves even though they worked their whole lives to achieve it. Some of the women I highlight are
well-known like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. But less known who people might not know were instrumental in the suffrage movement
like Sojourner Truth or Harriet Tubman or Alice Paul or even Inez Milholland or (INAUDIBLE) Wells, Mary Church Terrell, these are incredible
women who each one did something extraordinary.
And we are going to be 100 years since America had the right to vote for women in 2020. So, telling that story now, it’s really timely. It’s also
timely because of what just happened in this 2018 election, the fact that so many women have been marching since President Trump was inaugurated,
showing up, going to town halls, sit — doing sit ins, doing vigils, trying to be heard and now, being heard at the ballot box and being heard as
We saw some amazing women win across America who are changing everything, Lucy McBeth wanted a seat that was lost last cycle. But as a Black woman
who lost her son to gun violence, her voice was not only passionate and authentic but was a new voice and a voice that people really wanted to
support and that’s why she’s going to Congress.
AMANPOUR: And again, Congress, the Democrats flipped it, the Democrats also flipped seven governors, I believe, across the United States and
several state legislatures. But also, it was a record youth turnout we’re hearing. And I wonder what your book or you yourself have to say about
young people. You have pictures of yourself in the book.
I mean, you know, they are drawings of you when you were five, you have your mom, your grandmother, your great grandmother in the book. What is
your message for young people and particularly young women?
GILLIBRAND: I want young readers to be able to see themselves in these women’s lives and see the courage and the boldness and the braveness that
took to accomplish something so important and then to value that right to vote more than anything, which is one of the reasons why our agenda right
now is to restore voting rights.
Unfortunately, Republican state legislatures have worked over the last 10 years to undermine those voting rights by making it harder for people to
vote with programs like we saw in Georgia with exact match, but Stacey Abrams running for governor, she’s going to make sure that every vote is
counted in that state.
And so, we need future leaders to carry this torch to know that our democracy only works when regular people stand up and demand it, and that
they too have a role to play in this democracy, not was just voting but speaking out, speaking up, speaking choose to power in the same way these
women did, and then some day voting.
AMANPOUR: Talking about leadership, obviously, the House, now majority leader, I guess, hoping to be speaker, Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated her
amazing leadership, flipping the House and really running a very disciplined campaign, the health care and all the rest of it.
Where do you stand on her desire to run for speaker? Do you think there’s any sort of sexism that calls for her to step down or step aside given that
none of the male leadership in the Senate, for instance, where you are being, you know, told to consider their positions even after potentially
not winning, certainly on the Democratic side in the Senate? Where do you stand on this and you think she has every right and justification to run
for speaker again?
GILLIBRAND: I do. And the one thing I know about Nancy is she gets things done. She’s a release tough, tough leader, she knows how to bring people
together, she knows what the pulse of the country is right now, they want health care as a right not a privilege, they want education, they want
access to better job training, strengthening our unions and workers’ rights. So, she’s going to have a very strong agenda about what’s
happening in the country.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any sexism there, I mean, or do you think it’s just because she is such a long and established politician that others are
trying to elbow her out of the way or do you think that a man might have the — you know, get the same treatment?
GILLIBRAND: Well, there is a lot of sexism in politics, a lot of sexual bias in pretty much every industry that you want to look at. You probably
know it in your own industry. And so, I’m sure that’s a factor, but I think she is qualified and she is extraordinary and she is strong and she
will make a very effective speaker.
AMANPOUR: And just finally, you talked about the mother investigation. Senator McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate has, again, refused to
allow this sort of oversight to protect that investigation. Senator Jeff Flake is challenging that and says that he won’t use his position to
approve any more judicial nominees, et cetara. How do you think this investigation, this process will be protected until it’s — it delivers its
GILLIBRAND: Well, I think we have to insist with everything we have, with every bit of advocacy around the country to insist that we get that
bipartisan vote done, because we do need to protect the Mueller investigation. We have to make sure that he can bring his full
investigation to fruition. We’ve already had scores of indictments of Russians actively trying to undermine our elections. And then, other
indictments of self-dealing and fraud and corruption.
And so, those investigations need to be completed because the American people have a right to know what actually happened and whether laws were
broken, and that’s his job. So, I think the job of the Senate right now is to pass our bipartisan bill and I hope that certainly New Yorkers and
people across the country speak out about how important it is that that investigation is not undermined.
AMANPOUR: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, about that Mueller investigation of Russian interference, it is still very much on the president’s mind.
Just today, he tweeted that the investigation has gone “absolutely nuts” and he called it a disgrace to our nation. Now, that the president has
fired the FBI director, forced out his own attorney general and sidelined the deputy attorney general overseeing Robert Mueller, is there anything
still standing between this presidency and a constitutional crisis?
Journalist and author, Tim Weiner, is an expert on America’s national security architecture. His book, “Enemies: A History of the FBI” is the
basis of a documentary series coming to the Showtime network starting this Sunday. And he joins me now from New York.
Tim Weiner, welcome to the program.
TIM WEINER, PULITZER PRIZE-WILLING JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, you just heard Senator Gillibrand speaking very forcefully about the obligation of the legislature, the — you know, the Congress to
protect the Mueller investigation. Do you have any fears that it may still be, you know, open for, you know, assault by the White House?
WEINER: I don’t think the president can fire Robert Mueller. I don’t think that a stooge of his in the Justice Department, like Mr. Whitaker,
can act against him. Were Whitaker to do that, Mueller’s grand jury would take a hard look at whether Whitaker was trying to obstruct justice.
AMANPOUR: So — OK. So, we’ve got that clear. And actually, the president said in his post midterm press conference that, you know,
politically, he — you wouldn’t want to do something like that, but he does keep tweeting about it.
And now, that the Democrats have certainly won power in the House of Representatives, Jerry Nadler who is the incoming chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee —
AMANPOUR: — he has written a letter to the — you know, Whitaker who is the acting attorney general and et cetera. He wants answers to over 100
letters sent by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee that have been left unanswered. And he basically saying, “The president’s behavior appears to
be motivated by an urge to shoot himself, his family and his business interests from the ongoing work of the department and the bureau,” meaning
the FBI. “These actions are not normal and they ignore the guidance of the White House counsel, flout the Constitution and undermine our federal law
enforcement agencies.” So, you’ve been doing a deep dive on the FBI. Where does this put this process right now?
WEINER: The president and his lawyers, as we speak, are trying to answer written questions from Mueller about conspiring with the Russians and about
obstructing the investigation into the Russia hack. They’re having a very difficult time doing it. If they answer truthfully, it might implicate the
president. If they answer falsely, that’s slammer time.
Mueller’s grand jury will convene certainly tomorrow. He has a lot of work ahead of him. I think many, many months. He will certainly bring a fresh
round of indictments in the near future. And looming over all this is his final report, which has to be submitted up the chain of command in the
Department of Justice but will surely see the light of day.
[13:30:00] AMANPOUR: So, you know, I mentioned, obviously, the documentary series on the FBI that’s taken from your work, from your book. I just want
to play a little clip and then I want to talk about it and the history of the somewhat fraud relationships between many presidents and the FBI
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEINER: The only thing that can destroy the United States is us by allowing our Constitution and the rule of law to disagree.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the president of the United States above the law?
WEINER: It is the FBI that is sworn to uphold the rule of law and protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies. What does the FBI do when
the president breaks his own oath?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So that’s dramatic and it’s, you know, a major question and it comes from obviously your book, Enemies, the President, Justice, and the
FBI. Tim Weiner, give us a sense of the history. President Trump is not the first president who has come in to, you know, full body contact with
the FBI. I mean in recent memory, it goes back to — I know Ronald Reagan and the Iran Contra. You’ve got George Bush in surveillance. You’ve got
before that, President Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky. Give us a sort of running tally on how fraught those moments were.
WEINER: Well, this story begins when J. Edgar Hoover dies six weeks before the Watergate break-in. President Nixon moved to appoint his own stooge to
run the FBI. When the FBI rank and file were on the Watergate case, resisted every attempt, and there were continuous attempts by Nixon and his
henchmen in the FBI and in the Justice Department to obstruct the investigation, it was the FBI that finally brought Nixon to justice.
Every — I would say a decade or so, give or take a few years, we see this happening again with Ronald Reagan during the Iran Contra affair. Some
years later with Bill Clinton and his lying under oath to protect the secrets of his sex life, with President George W. Bush and his illegal
eavesdropping on Americans.
It was then in 2004 that Robert Mueller, the head of the FBI and his immediate superior James Comey, the deputy attorney general went to the
president and said, “You have to bring this program of spying on Americans within the ambit of the law or we will resign in protest.” Bush backed
down. Now, we see Mueller investigating the president and his star witness is James Comey.
AMANPOUR: So OK. You know expand on that. Many of them, you know, engaged during the Bush controversy as you’re just saying and you said Bush
backed down. What is — give us a sense of Comey and the others and Mueller, how many are there around him that might also say, “No, you know,
we’re all going to stand in this together”? How are the others all sort of standing tall still if they are?
WEINER: The key fact here is that Trump can’t fire the FBI. Even if somehow he subverts Robert Mueller as investigator, the FBI will carry on.
They will gather evidence. They will submit it to the United States attorneys and federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., in Virginia, and
here in New York. They can’t be stopped.
AMANPOUR: Do you see any parallels? I mean certainly what President Nixon did, the Saturday Night Massacre, I mean all of that stuff was so utterly
egregious. I mean it’s not the same with Donald Trump, is it? It’s not as full frontal assaulting.
WEINER: Well, we’ve seen repeatedly that history has no meaning to Trump. The precedent has no meaning to Trump. He lives in the moment. He lies
for sport. But this week, we are seeing Trump behave like a cornered animal. He’s lashing out in fury and I believe in fear because he feels
the hot breath of Mueller’s bloodhounds closing in on him.
AMANPOUR: Tim, do you think that’s because of this business of having to give written answers? Do you think because that’s actually happening now?
WEINER: I believe that is the case.
[13:35:00] AMANPOUR: Everybody remembers and everybody brings out this exchange between President Trump and Lester Holt of “NBC News” back in May
of 2017 when he actually out now said why he fired James Comey. Just going to play a little clip and ask you for your analysis a year or more than a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of recommendation.
LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: So there was —
TRUMP: He made a recommendation. He’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. And the Democrats like. The Republicans like him. He
made a recommendation but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I
decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It’s an excuse by the
Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So the “He” obviously was the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Do you think that on the record commentary from President
Trump about why he fired Jim Comey is something that Mueller is focusing on?
WEINER: Christiane, that’s a smoking gun tape. That is a willful admission of obstruction of justice and it will haunt the president for a
long time to come. Let’s keep in mind that Mueller is not only investigating the Russia hacks and potential obstruction of justice in the
investigation of the hacks.
He has the power to investigate Trump’s tax returns, Trump’s business records, Trump’s self-dealing for profit as president. There will come a
time perhaps in two years when President Trump is citizen Trump and no longer protected by the idea that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
I predict that he will be in a world of pain when that day comes.
AMANPOUR: And just going back to the Nixon, Reagan, W. Bush, before that Clinton and now Trump. We’ve talked about, you know, their confrontations
with their various FBI directors. And yet you also write and people obviously observed and you mentioned a little bit about J. Edgar Hoover
that the FBI has sometimes in history been out of its box, being overreaching.
I mean I want you to tell me a little bit about it but, you know, blackmailing Martin Luther King for instance. We can talk about that, the
surveillance and harassment of gays for many decades, indefinite military detention without trial of any American citizen under President Obama’s
National Defense Authorization Act, you know, when it came to the fight against al Qaeda it. Give me that side of the story. Fill in those
WEINER: Of course. The FBI under Hoover illegally wiretapped Americans, bugged them, and used secret information as a weapon of political warfare
to try and destroy people. Notably, Martin Luther King. Hoover has been dead for 46 years, Christiane. And the 21st century FBI is Robert
Mueller’s FBI. Remember, he ran it for 12 years, taking office the week before 9/11 and serving until September 2013 when Jim Comey took over.
I’ve met Mueller, I’ve interviewed Mueller two years ago this week. This is an extraordinary man and the FBI for all its flaws is Mueller’s FBI.
They are straight shooters and they will follow the evidence wherever it goes. And if Donald Trump decides to follow Richard Nixon down the road to
hell by trying to take down the command structure of the Justice Department, the FBI will follow him. They will be on the case and on his
trail down that road.
AMANPOUR: So I want to get your analysis. You know you say the FBI is straight shooters, it’s Mueller’s FBI. You know, Comey worked very closely
with Mueller but, of course, Comey was very, very controversial about the whole e-mail situation with Hillary Clinton and there’s some, you know,
reporting now about his own e-mails and things like that. You know it’s really hard when institutional leaders themselves become embroiled in all
these issues. How much damage do you think that has done, the whole e-mail and to this sort of FBI’s independence if you like?
WEINER: Well, Comey had two bad choices going back a little more than two years, to speak to the Clinton e-mail case or to not speak. If he spoke to
it, Clinton might be damaged and he sure he was. If he didn’t speak and there was some something [13:40:00] there, the FBI would be destroyed.
And Comey’s loyalties were to the FBI and not to Candidate Clinton. That decision has come in for a great deal of criticism and that criticism is
well founded. Nonetheless, you will see Comey as a witness for Mueller speaking out. And I believe he’s getting ready to speak out tomorrow on
AMANPOUR: Interesting. We will stay tuned obviously. Tim Weiner, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
WEINER: One last thought.
AMANPOUR: Go ahead.
WEINER: Grand jury convenes tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much.
Now, we make a much-needed turn to the sweet sound of music. So please welcome to the stage the Jaffe family, saviors of New Orleans jazz. In the
early ’60s, Allan and Sandra Jaffe created a refuge for musicians and so the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was born, a cultural treasure that left
discrimination at the door. Now, their son Ben Jaffe helms this ship and a new documentary A Tuba to Cuba, exploring the legacy of this family and
their band. He told our Walter Isaacson why he believes diversity is at the core of jazz.
WALTER ISAACSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Ben Jaffe, welcome to the show. Your father comes from Philadelphia with your mother, Allan, Sandy Jaffe and there at
the Hall in 1961. It’s really an art gallery but they have a few musicians play now and then. And they decide that they have to help resurrect
traditional jazz. Why was that dead falling out of favor?
BEN JAFFE, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PRESERVATION HALL: New Orleans jazz by the time my parents had arrived here was — had almost disappeared from the,
you know, from the landscape, from the musical landscape. And my parents discovered this gallery and this group of artists and, you know, sort of
preservation as I guess, musical preservation as that were, having these very small jam sessions really just for themselves in this gallery that was
— and had become an artist collective.
And that was the idea for Preservation Hall was to continue to bring out of retirement or to help organize this community of African-American jazz
pioneers, these musicians that had been there at the birth of jazz and provide an environment, a stage for them to perform. And that’s what
Preservation Hall became.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Orleans people are, of course, aware their jazz heritage is disappearing and some are trying somehow to save the only art
form that is strictly, entirely American. One effort to save it is here at Preservation Hall. And a young couple named Allan and Sandra Jaffe started
ALLAN JAFFE: What we’re trying to do here is just present the music. The people are sitting on wooden benches, sitting on the floor, there’s no
drinks. Pretty hot in there too in the summer. People come to hear just the music. I think the men realize this, the men play it the way they want
to play it, people hear it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: When I was growing up here in New Orleans, used to go to the Hall all the time. I began to realize it wasn’t just about the music, it
was about the musicians that in some ways they had been resurrected and saved by this Hall.
JAFFE: It was always about the musicians. It still is. On this thing that my parents became a part of the thing that was most meaningful to them
was becoming a part of these musicians’ lives that had given —
ISAACSON: Who did they discover? I mean we discover.
JAFFE: I mean they brought back to life Punch Miller, the incredible trumpet player. I mean Louis Armstrong talks about Punch Miller as being
his rival coming out. You know, George Lewis who was regarded as really a king of jazz outside of New Orleans and in Europe and in Japan. But in New
Orleans, really didn’t have an outlet for his music. William, Percy Humphrey, Sweet Emma Barrett.
ISAACSON: And these people are marginally employed, unemployed before the Hall brings them in?
JAFFE: There were very few opportunities for them to perform in New Orleans. There would be maybe social dances actually right along here,
maybe on St. Charles or up here at Tulane for prom dances. At Carnival Time, at Mardi Gras, they would have parades. Mostly it was for themselves
at times of mourning when a member of the community would pass away and musicians would come together to celebrate and honor that person’s life
with a jazz procession at their funeral.
But besides that, you know, jazz in the 1950s [13:45:00] wasn’t something that was being celebrated on a concert stage. It was — if you were able
to find jazz musicians, it was in a bar room setting, you know. And occasionally it would be a band on Bourbon Street with dancers and you
would be hustled for drinks, the two-drink minimum and tips and whatever. And there might be a comedian and a tap dance and that kind of thing but
there was never a place that presented music the way that Preservation Hall did.
ISAACSON: But something about those places you talked about then, it all segregated.
ISAACSON: And one of the things that Preservation Hall does is not only does it revive the jazz. It is actually very strongly at the forefront of
the integration of New Orleans.
JAFFE: It was on — yes it was very much from — on the vanguard of that movement.
ISAACSON: Your parents were doing that consciously?
JAFFE: It wasn’t something that my parents had intended to do but it was a product of what they were creating. After talking to my mom for so many
years in knowing my father, it was part of their innocence. They couldn’t really imagine life any other way. And being outsiders, coming from
Philadelphia, this was a foreign idea to them, segregation.
Also, my dad wanted to play with these musicians, these idols of his, these musicians that he had listened to for so many years on albums and now was
getting to not only meet for the first time but also able to employ and provide a sanctuary sorts for them.
ISAACSON: You know when Jelly Roll Morton is playing story bill in the late 1890’s, I think he does a song Basin Street Blues. It talks about
where the black folk and white folk meet. And that was sort of common and then we lost that in the ’40s and ’50s. It was a re-segregation. Did your
parents get pushback for creating an integrated entertainment venue?
JAFFE: They occasionally would get shut down. The Hall would be shut down and people would be dragged off to court.
ISAACSON: Your mother must have been good at night court.
JAFFE: She not one to be very conservative with her words sometimes and her feelings. But she — it was never anything lasting. I mean New
Orleans obviously has a very different relationship with race than most cities. And that’s —
ISAACSON: What do you mean by that? Better or worse or more complex?
JAFFE: More complex but definitely better than anywhere else in America. We — we’re very far ahead of everybody else and we still have a long way
to go. It’s never bet that — battles never won I believe is something that it’s ongoing every generation has to come to peace, some peace with
its relationship with race. But at that time, it was just being able to have white and black musicians performing together was unheard of.
ISAACSON: Some people question when people say diversity is part of our strength, part of our creativity, say why? Why is diversity good?
JAFFE: I’ve never really thought about it because diversity is — we’ve always celebrated diversity. I mean New Orleans is a celebration.
ISAACSON: Tell me about that through the music. What’s strange? You have Haiti, you have Cuba, you have Spanish-American —
JAFFE: Yes. I mean we have — I mean African. I mean our music is African. It’s also Western. I mean the instrumentation of our bands. I
mean these trumpets and clarinets and trombones and pianos, these are Western instruments that have mixed with this — the rhythms and melodies,
and traditions, spiritual traditions of so many different cultures. Diversity is at the core of jazz. I don’t even think we even talk about it
because it’s just accepted as it is.
ISAACSON: You just did an amazing documentary on the band, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s trip to Cuba. Why did you do that?
JAFFE: We, as a band, had always wanted to visit Cuba and the doors have been closed to us and we’ve been looking for a way to get there. And then
the embargo was lifted and we’ve raised the funds to get the band down. For us, it was important to [13:50:00] visit a place that’s so connected to
New Orleans historically.
ISAACSON: Is it connected to the music?
JAFFE: Oh, definitely. Yes, definitely. You can almost see the physical connection in the music, the African rhythms, the melodic continuity that
exists. I mean you can hear it in New Orleans’ music, the Spanish influence you can definitely feel the African pulse in our music. And when
you’re in Cuba, it’s visual. You can actually see it.
ISAACSON: And did the people in Cuba seem to feel the connection to New Orleans jazz?
JAFFE: They understand the connection better than we do. Yes. We learned almost more about our history from them.
ISAACSON: One of the scenes has a lady showing you the picture of Harold Dejan in the Olympia Brass Band on the wall of a house. It was in
JAFFE: It was actually outside — just outside of Havana.
ISAACSON: And that was your godfather.
JAFFE: Yes, my parent, Harold Dejan lead the Olympia Brass Band. And that’s who my father played with, with the Olympia Brass Band for many
decades. He was, you know, probably almost single-handedly the reason that I’m a musician today is because of Harold Dejan.
ISAACSON: Where were you when Katrina hit?
JAFFE: I was here in New Orleans. I was at my house. I was helping musicians get out of town. I was helping Narvin Kimball who was bedridden
at that time and his wife who was blind get a ride to Baton Rouge. I was helping to close up Preservation Hall. I was helping other musicians get
ready for the storm. I had an open door for people at my house. I lived in what they consider a high area and one of the older sections of New
Orleans and we stayed and felt that we could contribute something.
ISAACSON: After you help get people out, how do you get people back?
JAFFE: I started the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund and what I knew was we — musicians needed, we all needed immediate financial help
just to stay alive, just to get through life. Because New Orleans is that rare place that actually musicians can actually have a career. Right here
in the city, you can work and go out and play five, six nights a week. You can actually — if you’re a tuba player, you can work as much as you want
in New Orleans.
ISAACSON: Four bands and four marches a night.
JAFFE: Yes, yes, exactly.
ISAACSON: You know, Walker Percy once said that hurricanes allow us to focus and figure out what we’re supposed to be doing next. To what extent
do you think Katrina led you to focus and figure out what you should be doing next?
JAFFE: Oh, Katrina put everything into focus for me. My whole life became crystal clear. Those first two years after Katrina, 2005, 2006, my entire
life came into focus absolutely. I had a purpose. My purpose was to ensure my community was safe and that my community had a future, that their
families were taken care of. We were all impacted differently.
Some musicians in my band lost everything. They lost their houses. They lost their instruments. When I finally reconnected with my band, my
trumpet player arrived in the clothes that he was given at Red Cross in Little Rock Arkansas and someone had given him a student trumpet to play.
So it was rebuilding lives brick by brick. And we all suffer differently, whether it was a personal loss or the loss of a family member or just the
pain of not being able to return to the city that is your home. You never come to peace with that.
ISAACSON: Ben, this was really great. But there’s one thing I learned from your father which is that if something is really great, it’s even
greater with the tuba. Want to grab your tuba and show us something?
ISAACSON: Thank you, Ben.
AMANPOUR: Well, that musical impromptu performance closes us out.
That is it from us for now. But we’re going to have another musical performance tomorrow. I speak with Jeff Goldblum. You know him as the
brilliantly offbeat star of movies like Jurassic Park and The Fly but he’s also no slouch as a musician. Take a listen.
And until then, thanks for watching ‘Amanpour and Company’ on PBS and watch us tomorrow night.