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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Trump Reacts to Hitler Comparisons; Writers, Publishers Hunted in Bangladesh; The Iranian President's Right-Hand Man; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 9, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: joining the show live, the Iranian president's right-hand man on his country's new missile

tests while in London, trying to drum up post-sanctions trade.

Also ahead, as Trump wins big again, can anything stop him bagging the Republican ticket?

A word of warning from the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACOB WEISBERG, SLATE GROUP: He wants strength, any strength, dictatorial strength, abusive strength and has contempt for people who are simply weak,

who are victims, who are poor, who are oppressed. And you know, that's not -- those aren't Americans values. Those aren't democratic values. Those

are authoritarian instincts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

In the U.S. presidential election, despite a campaign to stop him, Donald Trump is getting closer and closer to the Republican nomination, picking up

three big wins in last night's primaries. The prospect of the business mogul actually winning the White House is becoming less of a joke with each

passing day.

And to many, including my next guest, that is deeply troubling.

Jacob Weisberg of the Slate Group has laid out "Imprint: The Alarming Signs of Donald Trump's Distinctly American Authoritarianism."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Jacob Weisberg, welcome to the program.

WEISBERG: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Let's go into Trump. Lately, we've been shocked to see him ask his supporters for pledges of allegiance, for pledges to vote for him, for

the sort of raised hands, which obviously invoke a very ugly past.

And this is what he said in response to that. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a tremendous following. We want to make America great again. It's a strong following.

I don't know about the Hitler comparison, I hadn't heard that, but it's a terrible comparison. I'm not happy about that, certainly, I don't want

that comparison.

But we have to be strong and we have to be vigilant. And people agree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEISBERG: Well, wherever Hitler comes up, the argument is preposterous and no one is saying that Trump is Hitler or even could be Hitler.

But the point is that there is an American version of authoritarianism, which doesn't come out of European fascism but which has some of the same

qualities of what we see in Hungary, in Poland now, in Turkey, certainly in Russia.

And some of the hallmarks are crack down on the press, the unwillingness to tolerate opposition, the xenophobia and nativism.

And, you know, there's a theory of American exceptionalism that says the United States isn't prone to that. That's the reference to "It Can't

Happen Here," which was a novel that Sinclair Lewis wrote in 1935, imagining fascism coming to America. But that question about whether it

could happen here is a really live one right now.

AMANPOUR: We've seen and we've heard him say he'll loosen libel laws, make it much easier to sue the press in America. He routinely has anti-press

chants that go on in his campaigns, in his rallies. He's sort of inciting the group against the press.

I mean, how is this allowed to --

(CROSSTALK)

WEISBERG: Even as a private citizen, Trump has, on the one hand, worked very hard to cultivate the press but, at the same time, sued -- very

frequently sued journalists who have written things critical of him, investigated him, written things he doesn't like.

He doesn't have a normal democratic-level tolerance for criticism. And I think that's a real concern. I think his thin skin translates into a lack

of respect for the First Amendment, for freedom of expression.

AMANPOUR: You know, I talked to Madeleine Albright yesterday and she said that, in all her travels as former secretary of state, people are asking

her, has America lost its mind?

And I just want to ask you, because, obviously, one of the main antagonists right now is Vladimir Putin. And Trump seems to think he's pretty

wonderful. And Vladimir Putin has said, you know, has sort of praised Trump for being an outstanding and talented personality. And this is how

Trump responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When people call you brilliant, it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia. He's running this country and at least he's a

leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So he's praising Vladimir Putin.

WEISBERG: Of all the things he's said that have shocked me, Christiane, I think that's one of the things that's shocked me most. And it goes right

to this point about the way he vaunts strength, any strength, dictatorial - -

[14:05:00]

WEISBERG: -- strength and has contempt for people who are simply weak, who are victims, who are poor, who are oppressed. And you know, that's not --

those aren't American values. Those aren't democratic values. Those are authoritarian instincts.

And I do think it's very ugly. I also think it's important to say here that the press' relationship with him is, in a way, symbiotic and I don't

think we can exempt CNN or any other television network from that.

Trump brings ratings. He brings coverage, he brings interest in the race. And that translates in financial terms to profits for the media. But I do

think the press has had a certain complicity in his rise.

AMANPOUR: I guess the question is, what does this say about the American people, about the voters, who are seeing all this, hearing all this and

still turning out and putting him over the top in these primaries?

WEISBERG: Trump is a demagogue and he's an opportunistic demagogue. And he's a very effective media manipulator. And essentially, what he's done

in this campaign is said, I'm going to give the people what I think they want. And I'm going to give it to them more directly and more

entertainingly than any other politician would ever be willing to give it to them.

So I think he's pandering in a way that is not in any way his invention but goes beyond boundaries that have been generally observed, including in the

Republican Party, about the acceptability of nativism, of racism, of xenophobia.

I think in a lot of ways, the Republican Party, even as it moved very far to the Right in recent years, policed itself fairly effectively around

bigotry. And I think Trump said, those rules don't apply to me and he's now reaping the benefit of being much more explicit in his expression of

bigoted ideas.

AMANPOUR: Are you willing to say at this point whether that will take him all the way to the White House?

WEISBERG: I think you can't dismiss the risk. If I had to bet, I would bet against Trump becoming president but not with a great deal of

confidence. And if it's 60-40 against Trump in terms of the likelihood, that is a tremendous risk for American society and American democracy to be

taking.

AMANPOUR: Jacob Weisberg, thank you very much for joining us.

WEISBERG: Thank you, Christiane.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: The press is under threat all over the world, including in so- called democracies, from Russia to Turkey to Bangladesh, where writers and publishers are murdered simply for having a voice, as our Ivan Watson found

out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a year since Rafida Ahmed and her husband left their home in the U.S.

to visit the country of their birth. What was supposed to be a happy homecoming to Bangladesh instead ended with a savage murder.

WATSON: Did anybody suggest that you should watch your back while you were in Bangladesh?

RAFIDA AHMED, ATTACK SURVIVOR: Everybody did. Our mistake, we did not take it seriously.

WATSON (voice-over): By day, Ahmed's husband, Avijit Roy, worked at a telecommunications company in Georgia. But at night he wrote constantly,

publishing at least eight books in Bengali and running a website that frequently challenged organized religion, much to the anger of some

Islamist extremists.

WATSON: His last blog post here?

AHMED: Yes.

WATSON: Where he quotes Salman Rushdie, calling religion "a medieval form of unreason."

WATSON (voice-over): On the night of February 26th, as the couple left the annual book fair in the Bangladeshi capital, several men armed with

machetes pounced.

WATSON: What do you remember of the attack?

AHMED: Nothing.

WATSON: Nothing?

AHMED: Absolutely nothing.

WATSON (voice-over): It was a vicious assault. Roy was killed and Ahmed barely survived.

AHMED: I had four stabs, machete stabs, on my head.

WATSON: Why do you think these people attacked you?

AHMED: We have got to a point where criticizing Islam is becoming a very big crime or a sin in Bangladesh.

WATSON (voice-over): Bangladesh is a majority Muslim country, with a constitution that embraces secular principles.

But in the months after Avijit Roy's murder, unknown attackers carried out four similar machete murders of secular writers and publishers.

Police in Bangladesh insist they now have the situation under control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation has become safer now.

WATSON (voice-over): Police have paraded several suspects in public. Officials linked the murders of atheist writers and a recent series of

attacks on Hindu, Christian and Shiite communities to homegrown Islamist radical groups.

Twenty-eight-year-old writer Maruf Rasul says he's been subject to regular threats.

MARUF RASUL, SECULARIST WRITER: I have the right to ask question about anything whether it is religion, it is --

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RASUL: -- any establishment, anything, I have the right to ask the question. I have the right to express my thoughts. If you don't like it,

don't read it.

WATSON (voice-over): As for the case of Avijit Roy, a year after his death, there have been arrests but no convictions. Police say his murder

is still under investigation.

His widow says she's working to help other Bangladeshi writers escape to foreign countries. She accuses the Bangladeshi government of not doing

enough to crack down on Islamist extremists.

AHMED: The impunity has gotten to a point that they know they can get away with anything.

WATSON (voice-over): Echoes of the violence in Bangladesh.

WATSON: So this is your study?

AHMED: Yes.

WATSON (voice-over): -- are still being felt a world away in this quiet Atlanta suburb.

AHMED: I try not to come here.

WATSON: It's just too painful?

AHMED: Yes.

WATSON (voice-over): -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And when we come back, after a break, we delve into the next phase of the West's relations with Iran, with President Rouhani's right-

hand man. He joins me live, next.

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AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

A nuclear deal signed, sanctions now lifted, Iran is open for business. And Britain is getting on board, planning its biggest-ever trade mission to

Tehran to be led by the British business secretary.

But as this special joint trade conference got underway in London, Iran's Revolutionary Guard tested ballistic missiles. And tonight the White House

says it will determine the appropriate response. And it also says Iran might launch more missiles in the coming days.

So amid an air of trade cooperation, serious political differences still remain with the West. Joining me right now is one of the few people so

close to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. He is chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian, joining me now here in the studio.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.

MOHAMMAD NAHAVANDIAN, ROUHANI CHIEF OF STAFF: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: You are here for trade and trade only.

So what do you make of this being disrupted by the breaking news of your Revolutionary Guards test-firing into long-range missiles?

Why?

Who would order that now?

NAHAVANDIAN: I think the defense programs are for defensive purposes only in Iran. And the new opportunity upon us, after this nuclear deal, is talk

about business, economic relations.

Lift of sanctions gives a very strong message to Iranian public, that those days are over and mutual interest, the world which are by strengthening

economic relations. We have had too much of politics in the past.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I understand that. And I know you all want to move forward, as was demonstrated by the massive turnout during these

parliamentary elections and the result that you got.

However, when it is photographed that these missiles are carrying letters, both in Farsi and in Hebrew, that say Israel needs to be wiped off the face

of the Earth --

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AMANPOUR: -- surely that complicates -- to say the least -- your attempts to move in a more pragmatic, normal, economic direction.

NAHAVANDIAN: I think, as we go forward, that message of constructive interaction, which was one of the three pillars of President Rouhani's

campaign when he was voted in, in presidential elections, that has been strengthened again in this recent election.

People want to have strong and close relations -- economically, politically, culturally -- with the outside world. People want to see

Iran's presence in global economy and I think that is what was achieved by nuclear deal.

AMANPOUR: So what do you, how do you read the election results?

Is it a victory?

Some results are still to come in.

But how much of a help is that going to give President Rouhani?

And will it allow him to now, unimpeded, move forward with economic reform, attract foreign investment, the key things that he wants to do?

NAHAVANDIAN: I think it was victory for all. It was for Iranian nation because it showed the very wide-range political participation by people,

showed to the world that it's the ballot box in Iran which strikes the destination for Iran.

And the results of the elections was voting for moderates from all different factions and political orientations. That means that the new

parliament will have closer cooperation with the government, to solve the serious issues of the country.

AMANPOUR: So you know, obviously, that the conservatives, the hardliners tried their damnedest to prevent this result. They didn't even let the

president's own party field any candidates. But this result came, nonetheless. The people came out to approve the president and what he's

trying to do. So they did it.

But there's already pushback from the hardliners. Apparently, your oil ministry was unable to have a conference here in order to advertise new

foreign contracts and, you know, drum up business in that regard.

There's criticism about some of the international deals with Boeing and Airbus and whoever else the president did deals with, Airbus and the

Italians.

How much resistance are you going to face?

And will it be significant resistance, in terms of just the economy?

NAHAVANDIAN: I think we are going forward. Just compare the situation that we are in now with three years ago.

Now that sanctions are lifted, the results of that is being felt in so many areas. The export of oil has gone up more than 300 barrels a day. The

transportation costs has gone down 25 percent. The access to ports (ph) in airline industry is now available.

And people start to feel that their presence in global economy is being felt more than ever.

However, in some areas, like, for example, in banking sector, that may be slower than expected.

The good thing about JCPOA is that --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Which is the nuclear deal.

NAHAVANDIAN: -- yes -- the governments, including U.S. government, committed themselves to do adequate administrative and regulatory work to

ensure the clarity and effectiveness of the lift of sanctions. That is the area that we need more work.

AMANPOUR: Are you a little worried that there may be new sanctions or pressure for more sanctions after the ballistic missile tests?

NAHAVANDIAN: No, no. That has nothing to do with JCPOA.

AMANPOUR: No, but they're separate. It's potentially a U.N. violation.

NAHAVANDIAN: Yes, that is a political issue. What is related to JCPOA, on one side is the commitments of Iran on technical aspects of nuclear

facilities and on 5+1 is lift of sanctions. The military issues are beyond this agreement.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Yes, I know you want to push this economic story forward, so let me ask you also about oil. You get introduced back into the international

market as oil prices plummet and as there's a major glut on the market.

Who wants oil anymore?

[14:20:00]

AMANPOUR: What are you going to do?

You want to export as much as you did before the sanctions?

And I think you want to redirect your exports towards Asia.

Is that your plan?

NAHAVANDIAN: We have made it clear to everyone that the first step Iran is going to take is to get back to its market share. Those who caused this

price decline, they are responsible for it. They have to do something to correct that. And I think that is being understand by other producers.

AMANPOUR: So where do you see your next big market?

Is it the East, Far East?

NAHAVANDIAN: We have already started exporting to Europe. And we think that the energy security Europe --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And you think that will be fine, OPEC will accommodate all of this?

NAHAVANDIAN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: You have no doubt about that?

NAHAVANDIAN: No.

AMANPOUR: And in terms of what President Rouhani wants to do, beyond reforming and opening up and attracting foreign investment, obviously, he

wants to also open up private sector in Iran, which has been heavily dominated by vested interests.

Revolutionary Guards are not just military; they're an economic power, as well as everything else. And they have had a major hold on huge segments

of the economy. They have no interest in seeing their hold busted open for competition.

That's going to be tough, isn't it?

Especially as they're launching missiles.

NAHAVANDIAN: One of the priorities in economic policy of President Rouhani's new administration has been empowerment of the private sector.

And this principle is supported by Supreme Leader in his policy, which was announced.

So by widening the area of presence for private sector and increasing the GDP, when the economy grows bigger and bigger, the private sector's draw

(ph) will be more and more.

The government has already started privatization. The problem in the practice was that in the privatization, which occurred before this

administration, part of that went to pseudo-private sector, some public organizations. But now that is being corrected.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, the people voted the president for the economics and for personal freedoms. You know, he's obviously got a major economic plan.

But he hasn't been able to implement the freedoms that people also voted for.

Will he be able to?

NAHAVANDIAN: If you compare the environment in our media, the criticism that is being done to the government is not comparable to the past. People

really practice freedom of expression of their opinion, freedom in having different organizations; NGOs are being supported.

And what President Rouhani emphasized on the rights of citizens and the rights of women, that has been followed up. And, in the future, we'll have

more on that.

AMANPOUR: Well, we'll be watching. Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

NAHAVANDIAN: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And after a break, we imagine a world where creativity is allowed to bloom. Goodbye, we say, to the man they dubbed the fifth

Beatle. That's next.

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[14:25:00]

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AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where a legendary musical innovator and producer, who started out recording the anarchic comedy of

British funny men Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and who trained as a classical musician, went on to become the fifth Beatle.

That is what Sir George Martin was affectionately called for his pivotal role in making the Fab Four a global phenomenon.

After he was asked to audition the band by impresario Brian Epstein back in 1962.

At first, Martin was disappointed with the sounds of the Liverpudlian moptops but they won him over with their charisma and he signed them up and

he recorded their breakthrough single, "Love Me Do."

(VIDEO CLIP, "LOVE ME DO")

AMANPOUR: Martin produced all their major hits and he earned their undying loyalty and affection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY, MUSICIAN: It's not very flattering to him but I keep saying he's like an old shoe. Yes, he's an old pair of shoes, you know, I

just -- I like him, I just put him on and there's no problem. Doesn't hurt. Doesn't hurt a bit, you know.

And that's the attraction of George. Plus, of course, he's a very, very good producer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Well, that was one way of putting it.

But today, drummer Ringo Starr confirmed Martin's death. He passed away Tuesday, aged 90.

Ringo said, "God bless George Martin, peace and love to his family. George will be missed."

As The Beatles developed, so did their sound and Martin's innovation. Tape loops, backwards guitar, instruments slowed down and speeded up for the

first time on albums, such as "Rubber Soul" and "Seargeant Pepper."

(MUSIC PLAYING, "A DAY IN THE LIFE")

AMANPOUR: Martin produced more than 200 Beatles' tracks from the studios of Abbey Road that have passed now into music history, of course. He won

six Grammys, an Oscar and a knighthood.

And that is it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.

END