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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
The Russian response as President Trump is cleared of conspiring with Moscow. I speak with Russian Senator, Konstantin Kosachev.
Then, what are the real threats to American safety? Former Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano tells us what people should be worried
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The American that you knew and the America that you celebrate in, the great books that you wrote and — of
these great people, that’s not the country we are right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Pollster, Frank Luntz, tells our Walter Isaacson why he fears the fall of America.
Plus, the growing schism between this Israeli government and American Jews. Author and reporter, Jonathan Weisman, joins us.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The summary of Robert Mueller’s report is reaching far and wide. And outside the White House, it’s warmest welcome could be in Russia, where
politicians and state-run media are holding it up as confirmation that Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 U.S. election, which is something the
Kremlin has consistently denied doing.
The thing is though, the Kremlin has not been exonerated, the special counsel has handed down many indictments against Russians. According to
the attorney general, the investigation only “did not” establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian
So, will there be a reset in U.S.-Russia relations now and how will the U.S.-Russia standoff play out on the world stage? Where this week, some
100 Russian troops were flown into Venezuela along with military equipment. It’s a daring show of support for President Nicolas Maduro, while the U.S.
recognizes his opponent, Juan Guaido.
We got a rare interview with the Senior Russian Official, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, about this and about Moscow’s reaction to the Mueller
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV, RUSSIAN SENATOR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, what is your reaction to the Mueller report’s conclusion or at least to the interpretation by the attorney general of the report that
there was no crime committed by the Trump administration, they did not conspire with Russia over the interference in the 2016 election?
KOSACHEV: Well, frankly speaking, we are definitely not very much surprised by this conclusion for the simple reason, here in the Russian, we
knew from the very beginning of that these allegations were completely unbased (ph), they were false, there has not been any conspiracy in our
relation with the Candidate Trump, this President Trump or anybody else in his team.
So, for us, the conclusions of the special counsel is just the confirmation that both we here in Russia and President Trump and his team have been
right all the time denying these accusations based completely on political reasons and interests, not the substance of the situation.
AMANPOUR: As you know, and let me read this out for you, you know, this information, the report confirms was spread by Russia’s internet research
agency during the 2016 election, 13 Russian nationals, 3 entities, including the IRA were indicted in February of last year, another 12
Russian nationals also tied to hacking were indicted last July and it also details the Russian government’s hacking of Democratic Party officials and
members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
So, that is still out there. Are you still celebrating the results of this Mueller report?
KOSACHEV: Number one, I have never described our emotions here as a kind of a celebration. We are far away from being happy with this situation at
all in general and with this report either. And yes, we are definitely very much not in favor of the conclusions made on Russia and alleged
meddling in the American elections.
I’ve seen that the special counsel made 13 requests to foreign countries in order to know better what is going on, what was going on, none of these
requests was addressed to Russia. We were not included at any stage in this investigation, we were not given any chance to react on these
allegations to give our analysis, our interpretation of what was going on.
So, we diffidently do not share the conclusions by the special attorney — by the special counsel, and this is not a fair approach.
AMANPOUR: There’s never been any doubt that President Trump has been very friendly to Russia and very friendly to President Putin. However, there
are sanctions on Russia. Congress has imposed a whole number of restrictions and other measures against Russia for certain activities and
actions. Do you believe that this result will reset relations?
KOSACHEV: I believe we do not have a chance to reset our relations so far, for the simple reason it does not any longer depend on the political will
personally of President Trump.
On the one hand, he was forced to hire certain people in his team and his administration who are broadly considered as hoax (ph), at least, towards
Russia in order to oppose allegations addressed to him for the conspiracy – – alleged conspiracy with Russia. And these people are stealing his team, are stealing his administration out there. I believe they are very much
opposing any ideas of normalizing relations with Russia.
AMANPOUR: Do you mean National Security Advisor and the Secretary of State? Are you talking about Bolton and Pompeo?
KOSACHEV: Yes, yes, yes. Specifically, yes. Specifically, I mean, these people, they are well-known for their size on Russia. As long as we have
the current composition of the American Congress, which is almost 100 percent strongly anti-Russian, I believe not much may take place on the
positive side in our bilateral relations.
And I give that analysis with deep sorrow because I believe our nations, our people, our countries deserve much better relations than we have now.
AMANPOUR: At the same time, it looks like Russia may be able to make hay abroad. For instance, I know that you have said, because you have
announced, after Trump’s Golan statement, any demagoguery about Crimea is groundless.
Now, this, of course, refers to President Trump signing an executive order, tweeting that they, the U.S., will recognize Israel’s annexation of the
Golan Heights from Syria. And you, as you know, Russia has been sanctioned for its annexation in 2014 of Crimea.
Are you now saying that that is out the door, that the U.S. and others have no possibility of continuing their criticism on that?
KOSACHEV: Well, I do believe that they have a clear case of double standards. I will not compare the situation in the Golan Heights with the
situation in Crimea because the Golan Heights were occupied with a military force. This large share of local population thrown out of this territory.
While the case of Crimea is of a completely different character, no military occupation, a free choice of people living there.
And now, the rights of these people are well protected by the Russian legislated, much better then these rights were protected by the former
Ukrainian legislation. So, the situations are different.
But in terms of moral attitudes, definitely a decision to recognize an occupied territory as a part of a different country for the simple reason,
much time has gone, for me is completely unacceptable. We need to stick to the international law. And according to international law, no part of no
country, of any country, should or may be occupied with military force. And this is the case of Israel and Golan Heights and this is not the case
of Russia and Crimea.
AMANPOUR: I don’t want to get into a massive geopolitical argument but I do just want to state a major difference and that is that Syria did invade
Israel and that is why it was occupied back then. And of course, you know, Ukraine did not invade Russia. You, as you say, you went in with the
approval of the people but nonetheless, you did invade that part of Ukraine.
Can I move on to something else that has just happened and that is Russia’s sending a couple of planeloads at least of soldiers and military equipment
to Venezuela. And again, the Secretary of State has said to your own foreign minister that Washington “would not stand idly by if Russia
continues to deploy these planes in support of Nicolas Maduro.”
What is your aim there and is this Syria, again, where Russia took advantage of a certain vacuum and intervened in Syria on behalf of
KOSACHEV: So, I do not see any reason of being concerned about that. We know that the United States of America has interfered severely in the
internal affairs of Venezuela, recognizing kind of a new president there, and this is a clear break of international law.
Our bilateral relations with Venezuela are bilateral relations of Russia and Venezuela, and they should not be a matter of concern for any sort of
countries, the United States of America included.
AMANPOUR: I actually had tried to compare it to the issue in Syria where you also had bilateral relations with Syria and President Bashar Assad.
And yet, it became a major competition for influence between yourselves and the United States. Is that what we’re going to see in Venezuela?
KOSACHEV: I hope that your description of the situation in Syria should not be accepted as a fair one because it has never been a competition. The
United States of America tried to change the authorities, the ruling authorities of Syria while we were, all the time, combating terrorists on
the territory of Syria, not taking any position on the character of the ruling authorities there and leading that to the people of Syria.
And I am definitely against of seeing any country in the world as a place where the United States of America and Russia compete with each other. And
in order to avoid any kind of that competition, which may have unpredictable consequences, we have to do just one single and equal thing,
to stay out not to interfere in the internal affairs of any state.
And by that, we will have a chance to avoid direct conflict between the United States of America and Russia anywhere in the world.
AMANPOUR: So, by that logic, are you saying that you have sent military troops and equipment to Venezuela in order to head off America’s clear goal
and that is not to support President Maduro but to support the Interim President, Juan Guaido? Are you trying to head that off? Are you trying
to keep my Maduro in power?
KOSACHEV: One, I have never said that we have sent troops to Venezuela. Check our record.
AMANPOUR: No, no. But 100 Russian troops were transported there.
KOSACHEV: We have our military cooperation with Venezuela. And for that reason, sometimes we do send military planes to this country the same way
Americans do all over the world, and it’s not a big sensation.
We do not take a position whether a certain government in a certain country is intitled to stay in power or has to resign, and this is the major reason
between our approach and the approach of the United States of America, they take this position, they say openly, “Look, this government deserves to
stay alive, to stay in power, and their government has to resign,” and this is — can definitely strongest possible difference between the approach of
Russia and the approach of the United States of America.
We protect the sovereignty of any country and the right of these people — of the people of this country to determine its own fate. That’s it. And
this, it goes for Syria, it goes for Ukraine, it goes for Venezuela, it goes for any other country in the world.
AMANPOUR: Senator Konstantin Kosachev, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
KOSACHEV: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, let’s get some reaction. As Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, it was up to Janet Napolitano to keep America’s
election safe. She says that if one thing is clear from what we know of the Mueller report, is that Russian interference was pervasive in the 2016
election. But will the 2020 be any more secure? That is just one focus of Napolitano’s new book. It’s called “How Safe Are We?” Homeland Security
Since 9/11,” and she is joining me now from New York.
Welcome to the program, Secretary Napolitano.
JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess I just want to ask you first to react to the Russian view at a very high level, Senator Kosachev, talking about what we know of
the Mueller report to an extent saying that he hadn’t — you know, wasn’t surprised because they always said there was never any conspiracy. Just
what is your reaction to the reaction over there?
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, I think it’s very clear both from Mueller and from the intelligence agencies of the United States and their combined
efforts that Russia was all over our 2016 presidential election. They were hacking the Clinton campaign and releasing e-mails from the Clinton
campaign, they were putting false and misleading stories on the social media, all in an effort to help, now, President Trump.
Whether there was an active conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians in order to do that, Mueller has concluded, no, that there was
not. But I also think Mueller is very clear and the Barr letter that transmits his opinion of the Mueller report very clear that the Russians
were actively interfering. And I think the real question is what is the United States doing to prepare for the 2020 election and it prevents such
interference from happening again.
AMANPOUR: Well, that was going to be my next question. Do you have any inside knowledge or outside knowledge of what is being done in a technical
and, you know, very important way to protect the integrity of the next elections?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I think several things need to be being done. One is, elections in the United States are controlled by local authorities, county
recorder’s, state secretaries of state, by way of example. I think the Federal government through the Department of Homeland Security ought to be
convening all of those leaders into one place and agreeing upon a national set of standards that will govern the actual machinery of elections so that
we have confidence that the integrity of the election is not affected.
And then secondly, I think that we need much greater cooperation with — particularly the large social media platforms, the Facebook’s, the Twitters
of the world, to unmask some of the — those who are putting false advertisements, false stories, et cetera, on social media.
AMANPOUR: This all, I suppose, is part of the whole sort of rubric of cyber terrorism, cyber security or insecurity. And you, in your book, have
talked about, you know, basically what the government is not doing right now in terms of cyber security comparing it to what happened in the
response to terrorism before 9/11. You’re writing, once again, and no one is connecting the dots.
Again, I know you’ve sort of answered part of this, but are there any dots that are being connected in the aftermath in this issue of the cyber-attack
on the elections?
NAPOLITANO: You know, I’m no longer privy to what is going on in the secret spaces of the Federal government. But from what I can tell from an
outside perspective, I’m not seeing that kind of leadership, I’m not seeing the president and the secretary of Homeland Security out there saying, “We
have a top priority here, we’re going to convene all the relevant cabinet agencies, all the relevant state authorities, we’re going to make sure the
2020 election is not susceptible to the kind of interference we saw in 2016.”
AMANPOUR: You fear a cyber-attack on the horizon, I mean, that the next round of attack on America will be the cyber version of 9/11, if I could
put it that way.
NAPOLITANO: I think that’s right. And, you know, harken back to the time before the attack of 9/11 when there were lots of red flags, they were not
connected. And then, when you review the 9/11 commission report, that was a commission that was convened to analyze why those attacks were allowed if
— to happen.
What they criticized in the end was a failure of imagination, a failure to sink of what would happen if indeed commercial airliners were weaponized
and flown into iconic buildings like the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. I think we need as a pre-9/11 type approach to cyber. We have
all the red flags in the world. We have repeated attacks, hacks and the like.
we need to come together and — as a government and with the private sector, which controls most of the critical infrastructure of the United
States. We need to up our game, we need to have standards that people adhere to, that they’re incentivized to adhere to, we need to have a way of
communicating better with the American people, what each individual’s responsibility is in this arena.
The cyber world is inordinately complicated. It’s international in scope, it’s not just U.S. issue. But there’s much more that can be done on —
within the United States in this area.
AMANPOUR: Regarding your old department, I mean, it’s still there, but you’re the former secretary, the Homeland Security, you have accused
President Trump and the administration of committing Homeland Security malpractice. You’re basically saying in your book that the administration
aggressively refuses to recognize threats that are real and certain, coupled with an equally aggressive effort to divert public attention and
government resources towards issues that are less lethal but more potent politically.
We’ve talked now about some of the holes in the cyber area. But what was specific issues do you mean in terms of more potent politically?
NAPOLITANO: Well, I’m speaking there specifically about focusing public attention on the southwest border and the construction of a wall.
Now, as you know, I was the governor of Arizona before I became the secretary, and I spent most of my adult life in Arizona, which is a border
state. I grew up in New Mexico, which is another border state. I know that border very, very well.
And I will tell you that in my judgment, the border is an issue to be managed but it is not in crisis and building a wall, a physical structure,
will not solve whatever issues there are at the border. It’s a symbol, it’s not a strategy.
Strategy involves manpower and technology, it involves improving operations at the actual ports of entry which transmit thousands of trucks and cars on
a daily basis. You know, the border between the United States and Mexico is just about the most heavily trafficked land border in the world. It
needs to be a 21st century border, but that doesn’t mean a wall.
AMANPOUR: And this week, the House is scheduled to vote to override the president’s veto on the state of emergency. I think you pretty much
answered that you probably think that’s the right way to go. But how do you assess your successor’s reaction and implementation of the zero-
Again, you do talk about it in the book and it has really shaken the United States and the rest of the world watching those horrendous months when
children were physically separated and we still know that so many are separated and may never find their parents again, at least, not in the
NAPOLITANO: That’s right. And, you know, that policy was so inconsistent with U.S. values and so unnecessary. It emanated from then Attorney
General Sessions announcing zero-tolerance, meaning that anyone coming across the border illegally would be criminally prosecuted. Whereas
before, they were kept in civil deportation proceedings.
Once you put them in the criminal side, you cannot keep children with them in the same facilities. That’s what required the separation families and
children. Then the children go into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.
I actually wonder whether the attorney general, at that time, recognized how the border operates, that there are actually three Federal agencies
involved and that policy would, by necessity, result in families with children being separated. There seem to be no pre-planning for how to
reunite families and children pursuant to that policy. So, again, an instance of malpractice.
AMANPOUR: Let me turn to the rise of White nationalism. I mean, we’re seeing it troublingly, you know, raise its ugly head all over. The latest
was in this horrible slaughter of Muslims in mosques in New Zealand.
I just want to go back to when you were secretary of Homeland Security. When you ran the department, there was a huge right-wing backlash against
Homeland Security report. A report on homegrown extremism, largely because your report it turns out rightly pointed out that returning military
veterans may be targeted for recruitment by extremists.
At the time, I guess the political pressure was so heavy that you actually shut down the work related to this activity, and I wonder whether you think
now, given the fact that you’ve kind of been proven right and that report was proven, you regret having caved to that pressure and stopped that
NAPOLITANO: Well, we didn’t stop that activity. What we did do was withdraw the report to be written. It was interpreted by some of our
national veterans’ groups as being anti-veteran. And of course, the Department of Homeland Security were pro-veteran, a large part of the
workforce at the Department of Homeland Security are veterans. We’re active supporters of the military.
But nonetheless, the report was attacked on that basis and withdrawn. But the important point is that the report was present (ph) and we have
unfortunately seen the continuation and the rise of extreme right ring — you know, right-wing extremism, right-wing White nationalism in the United
AMANPOUR: I just wonder because one of the former intelligence analysts, Daryl Johnson, has said the work related to this right-wing extremism was
halted, law enforcement training also stopped and he says, “My unit was disbanded. One by one, my team of analysts left for other employment.”
I mean, again, in this hyper partisan world that we live in, what lessons are there when it comes to really important issues of domestic security and
politics when one rubs up against the other?
NAPOLITANO: Yes. I think, first of all, the unit was reorganized, it was not eliminated. The work still continued. But regardless, I think the
whole episode in 2009 with that report illustrates what happens when politics and real security issues rub up against each other.
And in my view, Homeland Security of any department ought to be done on a bipartisan or indeed nonpartisan way. That is a difficult standard to
achieve. But in the end, the concern is the safety of the American people and that is something we all should be concerned with.
AMANPOUR: Former Secretary Janet Napolitano, the book is “How Safe Are We,” thank you so much for joining us.
And in a moment, we’ll unravel the partisan rift hanging over U.S.-Israeli ties. But first, let us take a step back and dig deep into what’s dividing
Republican Strategist, Frank Luntz, has been a gauging the nation’s political polarization for decades. Once described as the Nostradamus of
pollsters, he is best known for pioneering political focus groups. He says these conversations are a painful wakeup call now to the toxicity of the
red versus blue rhetoric. He tells our Walter Isaacson that he’s given up hope of a really united America.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALTER ISAACSON: Frank, thank you so much for being with us.
LUNTZ: Thank you.
ISAACSON: Why are we so polarized now?
LUNTZ: It’s because we speak to be heard rather than speaking to learn or listening to learn. I think that for so many people for so long they had
no voice, that the elites, people like you and me, we had a place where we could put out our information, television, newspapers, media, anywhere, but
there’s — the vast majority of Americans wanted to be heard, they were frustrated, they felt forgotten and left behind.
And with the current political environment, they now have the chance to be heard. The problem is we’re not learning anything, we’re not growing,
we’re not seeing life in all the its greatness. All we are doing is finding ways to demonize each other or worse, to humanize each other or to
be the worst of all, which is to denounce each other, the D words, and we’re all doing it, on the right, on the left, in the media, in culture and
Any time you put a camera in front of you, watch the language that’s being used and it is so ugly and so polarizing. And I’ll tell you now because
you and I have known each other for a while, not only has it never been this bad, but the America that you knew and the America that you celebrate
in and the great books that you wrote and — of these great people, that’s not the country we are right now. And it’s not — it is not that we’re
heading in that direction, Walter, I’m telling you, we’re here.
If you heard what I hear, if you went to these sessions that I moderates and listen to people unedited, unfettered, it makes you want to cry.
ISAACSON: You watch people just erupt against each other. In fact, can we show a clip.
ISAACSON: Yes, let’s go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. There’s no problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it’s not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right — no. Right there. Your attitude is the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My attitude?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t want somebody telling me that my schools have to have prayer in schools.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did not before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They did not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I said was prayer in school. All I said was God chooses the color of our skin. That’s all I said. Now, if you don’t
believe that —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you don’t believe —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — then who’s making the choice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if you don’t believe in God?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who’s making the calls?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should because you’re trying to enforce it on everybody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’re making a lot of gross assumptions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m not making —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gross assumptions. You are making –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m looking at my spans who signed anti-LGBT in Indiana. So what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rest my case. It all comes down to listening and look at what the other person has to say. Open up your ears and not your
mouth and listen to what other people have to say. Then weigh what’s going on. They call liars. They all lie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think — OK, then what do you think —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody says about you being progressive and brutal and all this stuff but you support — how condescending was Obama? I can’t
stand to watch that guy. He just looked down on top of everybody. Trump will get down in the dirt and work with you. Obama had never done that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you want respect but you have a president who takes on women, minorities, everything but —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you know why he won the election? And he won and you guys can’t handle that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: Stop — my parents — when I was a kid, I used to hear in Hebrew school sheket bevakashah which is basically, shut up and listen, don’t
disrupt the class. You saw that. You saw the anger.
And those aren’t kids. Those aren’t young adults. They’re people older than us. These are people in their 70s. And if they behave that way, then
don’t you think that people in their 40s are going to follow them, and people in their teens are going to follow those? My God.
ISAACSON: But do you think that focus groups and the micro-targeting and whatever have helped, and you have been in the lead of that, have helped
polarize our society?
LUNTZ: The purpose of the focus group is to bring attention to what people think and feel. It’s to give them a voice for three hours and then put
them on television. I know you’ve got another one there and the one you’re about to pull up is one of the coolest of all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I respect everybody’s point of view. But not to get into arguments, I usually like to stay with people who have more or less
the same point of view as I do.
LUNTZ: Is that healthy, though?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. In 2018, it is because any time I disagree with somebody, I notice they make enemies with me. They don’t talk to me
anymore. It’s not me not talking to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: That’s a first generation — that whole group were first-generation immigrants from countries all across the globe. And they were the most
hopeful and they were the most optimistic.
And they — if they were right here right now, and I’d love to bring their opinions to your viewers, they would tell you that America is still a great
country. That America still offers the opportunity and the hope and the dreams of change and improvement, of making a better life.
That is still there. And they would criticize all the meanness and bitterness that people have. But you only get that from an outsider.
You don’t get that, if this is how you’ve grown up, you compare the way we are today to the way we were 20 or 30 years ago. So to finish your point,
it’s a fair point. I thought that the purpose of these focus groups and sessions was to explain the anger, was to explain the frustration.
What it ended up doing, unfortunately, tragically, is feeding it. When these people behaving that way on television, they start to behave that way
themselves and I hate that.
ISAACSON: What about the media and the filter bubble we have where we’re going to our corner of the blogosphere or our end of the talk radio dialer
or a cable news channel?
LUNTZ: So in the studies that I’ve done, I’ve realized this is really tragic that we now get our news to affirm us rather than inform us. If you
tell me you read “The Wall Street Journal” first, I’m going to assume that you’re on the right side of the spectrum. If you read “The New York Times”
first, I’m going to assume you’re on the left side.
And I’m going to be right 70 or 75 percent of the time. There are liberals who read “The Journal”. There are Conservatives who read “The Times”. But
we’re not crossing paths anymore. We’re not collecting the same information anymore.
CNN, very few Republicans watch CNN. Very few Democrats watch “Fox”. It shouldn’t be that way. And the more polarized our media, the more likely
that the public itself becomes more polarized.
ISAACSON: Do you think perhaps this polarized discourse is because the stakes are very high and there is a reason people are mad?
LUNTZ: That’s the excuse I’ve gotten but we’ve always had a way. Look, we had this in, say 1848 to 1859 and we know what happened in
this country and so many people died. We had the same thing globally in 1936 to 1939. They didn’t figure it out and tens of millions of people
The stakes are no less high now than they were in 1816 and they were in 1939. And I know how it works out, because I read too much, because I
learn too much. I know what happens. I’ve read the end of the book.
When you read the end of 1984, what has he done? He’s given up. That’s how he lived. He gave up. I don’t know — I wasn’t raised — I don’t know
any other way but to fight it and I’m so tired now.
Come with me. Just come to these groups, listen to Americans, and it’s painful now. It really is.
ISAACSON: But you know, we came through 1939. We came through 1968.
LUNTZ: Your family —
ISAACSON: We came through the Civil War.
LUNTZ: Your family — Bobby Kennedy did not. Martin Luther King did not. How many people were killed in 1968? It was the worst year of our time.
And I think 2020 could be 1968 all over Again.
ISAACSON: But America’s political system has always so far had a gyroscope —
LUNTZ: So far.
ISAACSON: — and righted itself.
LUNTZ: Is Britain still the great power it was? Is France still the great power? Portugal used to have the most incredible Navy. It’s meaningless
today with all due respect to the Portuguese.
Russia had this most amazing empire that’s come and gone. How many empires, the Egyptians, the Romans, how many empires have come and gone?
And I really don’t want to be around to see the end of mine.
ISAACSON: You talk about some of the really tough times. And one of the things that happened in each time was the emergence of a new movement.
Sometimes a new party. Sometimes, whether it be Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln or in some ways a new deal coalition comes on.
Do you think there can be a realignment or even a third-party in American politics that says we’re about to go off a cliff, let’s get sensible?
LUNTZ: You just described Howard Schultz. This is a guy who grew up in abject poverty, who grew up hungry. You’d think he’d be a hero of the
Democratic Party, that he struggled, he succeeded, and then he gave that success to others.
He gave his people health care long before Walmart ever did. He gave his people the ability to buy into the company long before most Wall Street
companies ever did. He’s now providing an education benefit before anyone is. He gave back and he was decimated by them.
How are you supposed to challenge this when the very people who should be applauding your success are the ones yelling at you. In America, it was
never evil to be successful as long as you gave back to your community.
And now you have kids who scream and protest at him, “You billionaire, go back to Davos.” This man has done more for the people who work for him
than any other employer. And he is a billionaire and he’s successful and he has given back. And yet he is screamed at wherever he goes, he’s
Now, I have no faith because someone like that should have that capability. There are people in the Democratic Party, Mitch Landrieu, one of the best
mayors ever in this country. I’m praying that he runs for office because, at the same token, he takes on the Confederate Statues because they are
offensive. And he says to the Teachers Unions, you have failed our education system when they turned into charter schools.
People like Michael Bennet who’s — I don’t know whether he runs. He’s willing to challenge the president’s budget, Obama’s budget because he
configured too much of the deficit to the debt at the very moment that he’s chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. These are the
people with guts.
Tim Scott from South Carolina who has a heart as big as this entire studio. And cannot say a negative word because he thinks it’s wrong. It is not
just part of him, but it’s not who he believes we should be. Or Ben Sasse who has an intellectual approach.
There are amazing people out there. But I think the system will break all of them.
ISAACSON: But let me ask you, suppose you had a pragmatic Democrat, one who said, I’m going to try to work and get things done. Take Mitch
Landrieu, take Michael Bennett, two you’ve mentioned. How would you have them run? Could they possibly win?
LUNTZ: We actually had one. His name is John McCain and he wanted to choose Joe Lieberman. What an amazing thing that would have been, McCain-
Lieberman. And you know what happened. You may even have written about what happened.
McCain was destroyed. They told him it will block your nomination if you do this. But we were even more hyped up. We were even
more partisan today.
And you can’t wish — I wish for them to have the courage of their convictions, but I do not wish them to destroy their lives. It’s not right
for us to push them into that.
ISAACSON: You’ve been so pessimistic. First of all, why don’t you then just walk away from it all? Or secondly, could you find a new purpose in
how you could direct your political talent to do something different?
LUNTZ: I have a purpose and it is the next generation. I’m teaching at NYU Abu Dhabi. Not NYU, but NYU Abu Dhabi, the most global campus on the
face of the earth.
I’m taking 17 students on a 10-day trip to London, Paris, and Brussels at the exact moment of Brexit. Last year, I took them to San Francisco, Los
Angeles, Washington, and New York and introduced them to conflicts in America.
The only hope that I have, the reason why I do keep going is because that campus is the most global on the face of the earth. And every day they
solve problems. Every day they address conflicts.
The Russian student’s best friend is Ukrainian and they’re roommates. You have Jewish students who have close relationships with Palestinians and
other Arabs. You have Chinese students who are close, incredible friends with countries that they have invaded in my lifetime. That’s the solution.
Our only hope, our only hope is that we teach children to love, not hate. Is that we teach them not tolerance, because that’s the lowest level, that
we teach them respect and civility and decency. And that we do it not just in America but on a global scale.
If we can wring out this hate in that generation, this world survives and America prospers.
ISAACSON: Frank, thank you for being with us.
LUNTZ: I apologize but thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And that was a really fascinating conversation. It’s rare to see such long-time stakeholders admit so little faith and so much despair
in the system.
And now we shift to a different topic that’s been dividing Americans as we look at the political bromance between President Trump and the Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This week, the president has been giving the prime minister a boost ahead of his elections next month.
The most controversial boost was the signing of a proclamation formally recognizing Israel’s 1981 unilateral annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights.
But as the bond between them tightens, there is growing criticism in America of the actions of the Netanyahu government.
But he fiercely criticized those who challenge some aspects of support for the Israeli government. In an address to the American Israeli Public
Affairs Committee, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Those who seek to defame this great organization, APAC, those who seek to undermine American support for
Israel, they must be confronted. Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of Israel’s government.
That happens every five minutes. They do something else. They spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But support for his government from America’s Jewish community is flagging, and we’re going to look into the why’s and wherefores of this
with the author and a Deputy Washington Editor at “The New York Times,” Jonathan Weisman. He joins us from Washington, in fact.
Welcome to the program, Jonathan.
JONATHAN WEISMAN, DEPUTY WASHINGTON EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So let’s just start with this controversial move by President Trump to sign off on the — accepting the annexation of the Golan Heights.
Why — I mean it’s obviously a problem in international law, the U.N. doesn’t recognize this move and doesn’t recognize Israel’s ownership of the
What, though, does it mean in terms of what you’re talking about and what seems to be rising? The sort of growing schism between American Jews and
Israeli Jews and criticisms of this Netanyahu government, per se?
WEISMAN: Well, let’s look at the response. I mean after President Trump recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel, a very senior Israeli
official said that if he can recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, he’ll recognize other occupied territories as parts of Israel.
There will be a ripple effect. And that ripple effect, once again, is going to further what is developing into a rift between American
Jews and Israeli Jews. I mean remember, there’s obviously multiplicity of opinions in American Jewry and Israeli Jewry.
But the majority of American Jews are not fond of President Trump. And the majority of Israeli Jews really like President Trump. Right there is how
this rift is really manifesting itself politically now.
AMANPOUR: And before we go into that rift, because it is very important obviously, politically and in every other way, just quickly touch on that
issue of annexing other parts of the region. Clearly, the Palestinians are concerned that this precedent would lead them to worry that President Trump
might approve annexation of a certain part of the West Bank, the occupied West Bank.
I guess all of that obviously is important because it’s meant to be resolved in a peace settlement between the two sides. This schism that
you’re talking about and all the politics around it, does that make peace more or less likely? And particularly, the sort of peace bond between
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu that we keep believing is going to be unveiled at any time soon?
WEISMAN: Well, I think the schism that we’re talking about is, in part, because there is no sense that there is any real opportunity for peace,
that there really is any pressure on the Israelis to come to the table with the Palestinians and for the Palestinians to come to the table with Israel
But for so many young Jews, we’ve been — they’ve been talked to about a two-state solution, about eventually giving Palestinians a land that they
can call their own. But, in fact, they have seen no movement toward this at all.
And the talk of a two-state solution, the talk of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians feels now just farfetched. It’s like a big
AMANPOUR: And getting back to the politics and what you said about how American Jews feel about Trump versus Israeli Jews feeling about Trump,
clearly, I don’t know whether you would agree, but many believe that this recent visit and what President Trump has done regarding Golan and other
things is designed to give Benjamin Netanyahu a boost in the elections which are happening next month.
And also, as we know, this is happening as the attorney general of Israel say he plans to indict Netanyahu in multiple corruption cases. And J
Street, which is the other Jewish group in the United States, sort of not APAC, but J Street says it has made clear that their joint embrace of
“demagogic ethnonationalism stands in direct contradiction to the shared democratic values that have long been at the heart of the U.S.-Israel
relationship. Trump is obviously seeking to hand Netanyahu an electoral boost and to pander to his own right-wing base.”
And this is at a time when even APAC criticized Netanyahu last month for allying himself with the extreme right party known as Jewish Power. I mean
— I don’t know. Unpickle that. It is very complex.
WEISMAN: It is complex, but, you know, it’s not that complex. I mean the fact of the matter is that there is a rising kind of ethnonationalism kind
of intolerant authoritarian streak that is emerging from Warsaw to Washington. From Budapest to Brasilia and, in fact, in Jerusalem.
I mean this kind of national sentiment is the mark of a new generation of leadership right now all over the world. And Netanyahu, who is, on one
hand, the head of the Jewish State is also aligned with this movement.
That’s why you’ve seen him with Viktor Orban, the head of Hungary who just was re-elected on a fairly flagrantly anti-Semitic campaign. He has
aligned himself with Duterte in the Philippines. He’s aligned himself with Bolsonaro in Brazil.
And this is not an isolated thing. And it’s made I think a lot of American news very, very unsteady.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is actually extraordinary. It is actually extraordinary, that, because when you point out that Prime Minister
Netanyahu has aligned himself with such a government and such a party in Hungary that has run on an anti-Semitic platform or at least he’s been
accused of it, how do Israeli Jews even react to that?
WEISMAN: Well, I mean I think that there is a division. There are — I call it the Internationalist Jews and the Tribalist Jews. The
Tribalist Jews are much more focused on Israel and what is best for Israeli security. They are willing to take compromises in values or ethnics in
exchange for anything that they feel bolsters the security of the Jewish State.
But there is also, especially in the United States, a strong sense of Jewish values that feel challenged right now by the actions of the Israeli
government and the Prime Minister because Jews in America are raised on the notion that we welcome strangers, that we have our arms open.
And we look at the actions of the government of the United States and the government in Israel and see something that seems to fly in the face of
what we were always taught were Jewish values. Welcoming the stranger, for newer strangers in the Land of Egypt.
AMANPOUR: And what about now what seems to have come to roost in the Democratic Party? There is now a huge controversy over where Democrats
stand on this issue.
And, of course, it’s all about — it’s all sort of erupted since the freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar tweeted. And let’s just get to the tweet
that’s caused so much I guess controversy.
Last month, speaking in Washington, she said, “We get to be labeled in something that ends the discussion because we end up defending that and
nobody gets to have a broader debate about what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about it. I want to talk about the
political influence in this country that says it’s OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
What do you make of that? And then the subsequent — jumping on that by, obviously even by members of the Democratic Party, but the Republicans now
and President Trump saying, see, the Democrats are no friends of the Jewish community. They should come to us. He’s even used the word Jexodus.
WEISMAN: I think a lot of American Jews are very unsettled by all of these developments. And the fact that Representative Omar talked about
allegiance to a foreign power, foreign country, there’s no question that that raises these hoary myths about Jews having dual allegiances.
If she had just said support for a foreign country, it would have had a very different effect. But allegiance to a foreign country feels like an
old anti-Semitic trope about dual allegiances that Jews are always some kind of fifth column waiting to rise up against their host nation.
It’s a notion that you see in white nationalism all the time. At the same time, at the same time, I think most Jews are very uncomfortable with the
politicization of anti-Semitism.
This use by President Trump and many Republicans and some Democrats of what Omar said to try to drive a rift, a wedge between the liberal wing of the
Democratic Party and the Jewish people, it feels like anti-Semitism has become a politicized weapon and not just some — a hatred to be denounced.
AMANPOUR: Just finally, Omar has said that she’s learning the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. She also said she’s standing strong. And
she and Benjamin Netanyahu are in a bit of a sort of a Twitter war or statement war today back and forth.
But where does this end up for American Jews, for their relationship also with Israel and Israeli Jews? This is a conflict between where they —
what they’re thinking right now about all of this, as you say politicization of this whole issue. Where does it end up?
WEISMAN: Well, look, about 69 percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama’s re-election. About 72 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. And then
about 79 percent voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. The idea there is some Jexodus, some exodus of Jews from the Democratic Party
to the Republican Party at this point is farcical.
It doesn’t seem to be — it doesn’t seem to exist. We’ll see what happens in 2020. But I don’t see much evidence. I do think that the gap between
American Jewry and Israeli Jewry is only widening. I knew that that was going to — I kind of knew that that was going to happen in this
election campaign, that this election campaign in Israel might challenge Jewish sense of ethics in the United States.
And we’ve seen that when Netanyahu paired with an openly racist party in Israel. And I think that as long as the Israeli Jews and the American Jews
don’t really feel like they need each other, then I’m not sure where any impetus will come from repairing this schism.
And remember, it’s all generational. Older Jews still feel very very strongly about their support for the Jewish State. But younger Jews are
AMANPOUR: Right. We will continue to keep an eye on it. It’s really important. Thank you, Jonathan Weisman.
That’s it for our program tonight.
Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow.