Return to Transcripts main page

CNN'S AMANPOUR

Interview with John Hickenlooper; Interview with Don McCullen; Interview with Khadija Ismayilova. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired May 26, 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]

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight: Trump seals his deal, winning enough votes to secure the Republican nomination. I speak to a man often

trumpeted as to be in the running for Hillary Clinton's V.P., the Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper.

Plus: jailed on trumped-up charges and now free to fight to clear her name. We hear from the Azerbaijan journalist, Khadija Ismayilova.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHADIJA ISMAYILOVA, JOURNALIST: It feels great to be in freedom. It feels great to be with family, to be with friends and to be back to the work, to

my work. So it's -- I'm feeling great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And life through the lens: the extraordinary career of the renowned war photographer, Don McCullen.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

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

The world is watching and, quote, "for good reason," says President Obama as the United States presidential race shows no sign of calming down the

rancor and Donald Trump hits the magic number needed to clinch the Republican nomination.

At the G7 summit in Japan today, Obama noted his fellow world leaders are worried about this nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're rattled by him and for good reason because a lot of the proposals that he's made

display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And Trump drew more tweets and headlines after taking to a late night comedy show to take a dig at Hillary Clinton by challenging her

challenge, Bernie Sanders, to a debate. Like most things Trump, though, it's TBD whether he will stick to that script or do another U-turn.

And as the Democratic candidates prepare for the upcoming critical California primary, new polling put Sanders and Clinton in a dead heat. The

U.S. state of Colorado is known as a swing state in this presidential race, meaning neither party can claim it as a shoo-in.

And John Hickenlooper is the state's Democrat governor. He has just written an unusually frank memoir for a politician and given it the droll

title, "The Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics."

In fact, here he is behind me, hoisting a cold brew with President Obama at some point. And there he is in front of me, joining me from the Mile High

City known as Denver.

Governor Hickenlooper, welcome to the program.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, GOVERNOR OF COLORADO: Good evening, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: We're going to get to your book in a second and the frankness in which you talk about your life.

But first, the unusual Republican nominee for president of your country today has clinched the Republican nomination.

What are your thoughts, particularly in light of what President Obama has heard and is saying on the road at the G7 summit?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I can only agree with the president. I -- you know, business and government, both international governments and business, want

a measure of predictability. And, for capital spending, businesses want to know -- I mean, almost always capital spending diminishes in six months

before a presidential election because they want more certainty.

Well, Donald Trump continues to show that he'll think one thing one moment and another thing the next. There is almost no predictability and no

certainty that he is going to continue down one path or another.

AMANPOUR: I guess you are in the camp of not thinking that he is fit to be the leader of the U.S. and therefore the leader of the world.

I mean, that is what many Democrats are saying and including the president.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I look at a big part -- I mean, the President of the United States is, not just in this country but looked up to by children of

the world, especially the United States.

He is the most modeled person. Young children model their behavior on who the president is. And I think by almost any measure Donald Trump is a

bully, he's a kind of a blowhard.

I am not sure that is the person we want as a model for our children as they are trying to discover their own personality, their own identity.

AMANPOUR: What about Hillary Clinton?

I mean, I believe you're a supporter. She is locked in a battle to the end, really, with her Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, and is causing the

Democratic establishment a lot of heartache because they want to see her -- and they believe she will get the nomination -- they want to see now turn

her political fire on Donald Trump.

Where do you --

[14:05:00]

AMANPOUR: -- stand on this?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that Bernie Sanders has earned the right. I mean, he has helped crystallize many issues in this country that people

were talking about but hadn't been put into sharp focus. And he gets to determine how far he's going to go and if he wants to right to the

convention, he's earned that right.

And I have every faith that he will come around, if he is not successful, which I do not think he will be, he'll support Hillary. And I think he is a

-- he recognizes the stakes involved. And I think his campaign has helped make Hillary a stronger candidate. I think she has grown as a person, which

is unusual but also very good in a in a campaign like this.

AMANPOUR: So you don't have a fear that it could be some kind of Nader- like spoiler, which people believe denied Al Gore the presidency in 2000.

And do you also believe that his young voters, many of whom are saying they will stay at home, sit on their hands rather than vote for Hillary,

can be brought around, as you say?

HICKENLOOPER: I think the young voters, especially in contrast to Donald Trump, are going to look at Hillary as someone who may be not as flashy and

flamboyant but someone who gets the job done.

She shares many of Bernie Sanders' goals but she has more -- she is more incremental in how she is going to try and achieve them and has certainly a

great deal of experience in successfully achieving those kinds of goals.

I think the young people are going to around and embrace her enthusiastically. I have every confidence.

AMANPOUR: Governor, I want to get to your book because it is interesting and you do really lay out there a lot of other issues. You say you are not

trying to pretend life is perfect. You admit to first smoking pot at 16, attempting to grow marijuana outside your bedroom window.

You took your mother to see an X-rated movie. We all remember that, "Deep Throat." You were arrested at one point for drinking and driving.

It's an unusual career path to become governor of a key state and also to be named often as a potential vice presidential candidate for Hillary

Clinton.

Why did you put all that out there?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think one of the reasons I ran for mayor in 2003 -- and I was almost 50 years old -- people have given up on government. So

many people -- and part of it is politicians aren't authentic. They try to give a smooth, polished persona.

I wanted people to see the warts and all of my life and all the mistakes -- I admit it, all the dumb things I did when I was young because hopefully we

all did those dumb things and hopefully we all grew from making those mistakes.

I wanted -- you know, I wanted the public to see, A, that a nerd, you know, a nerd like myself could get involved and be involved in helping solve big

problems. In many ways, it's a call to action for nerds everywhere --

AMANPOUR: Well --

HICKENLOOPER: -- to get involved, do what you can.

AMANPOUR: -- let me ask you what this self-proclaimed nerd managed to achieve. You had a horrific shooting in Aurora, in Colorado. And you

sought to toughen the gun laws.

How did you do it?

It must have been really difficult.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, this is a Western state and, you know, to have universal background checks, we had to go and get -- and get facts. And

this was in 2013. We went back and looked at 2012. We got to roughly half the gun purchases.

And people said it doesn't work. Well, in 2012, getting to only 50 percent of the gun purchases, 38 people convicted of homicide tried to buy a gun

and we stopped them; 133 people convicted of sexual assault.

The Republicans said that, you know, crooks aren't stupid. They won't get a background check when they try to buy a gun. Well, it turns out, the

crooks are stupid and 420 people, when they came to pick up their gun, we arrested them for an outstanding warrant for a violent crime.

So we really had to get the facts out there. But still, bitter, bitter fights.

AMANPOUR: And just to ask you as we have our final moments together here, I've said that you been named many times as a potential vice presidential

candidate for Hillary Clinton.

How much do you read into that?

And would you accept if asked?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think it is a -- A, I think she and her team are very focused on Senator Sanders right now. And I think the list of

potential V.P. candidates is probably a very long list. I think I'm pretty down towards the bottom.

And certainly putting out a book where I give such detail about my youthful indiscretions probably did not help.

You know, if asked, I think any person would -- I mean, if your country asks you to serve at that level, you have to give it real consideration. I

think you would feel called.

But right now I am focused -- I'm the governor of one of the most beautiful states in the world. And we're doing some great things. So I love my job.

I am happy right where I am.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about governing because clearly, you know, you talk about authenticity.

[14:10:00]

AMANPOUR: People want to see something a little different from their politicians. We've seen this erosion of respect for institutions, that so

badly have institutions been bludgeoned, that nobody has much confidence in them anymore.

How do you put that genie back into the bottle?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think partly is government and our institutions have to be more responsive and more transparent. And we have to hold ourselves

accountable when we screw up and make a mistake. We've got to explain why we did and how we're going to fix the problems that exist and, again, make

sure that we hold ourselves accountable.

I think it is going to be a long process because you're right. People have lost their belief in government. But more and more, all over the

world, democracies are based on people getting the facts and being responsible and believing in their government.

If they stop believing, then we create a foundation for despots and tyrants to take over.

AMANPOUR: Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, thank you so much indeed for joining us on this night.

And coming up, we see the world's chaos through the eyes and the lens of a groundbreaking photographer. At 80, there is no slowing Don McCullen down.

That's next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Few people have witnessed more suffering and hardship in our world than my next guest. For six decades, photographer Don McCullen has traveled the

globe, capturing some of the most iconic images of our time, from the Vietnam War to the Cuban missile crisis to Northern Ireland. And he has

just returned from Syria.

Now in his 80s, McCullen has been named this year's Photo London Master of Photography. And Hamiltons gallery here in London is showing an exhibition

of his work. He told me about his amazing career and why he no longer wants to be known as a war photographer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Don McCullen, welcome to our studio.

DON MCCULLIN, PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: This is a picture of Palmyra.

Why did you want to go back into this really dangerous war zone?

MCCULLIN: Oh, I didn't consider the danger, even though when you drive to Palmyra, the ISIS are only 6 or 7 km from the main road and they

occasionally cut the road. Naturally, I did not want to be kneeling in the jumpsuit as a television kind of image of me being beheaded.

But it is in my blood. It is what I have done for the last 60 years.

AMANPOUR: And you have done it better than almost anybody and obviously one of the most iconic pictures that you have taken of war, among the many

wars you have covered, is the soldier's stare in Vietnam. And that is that picture there.

After all these years and knowing what an impact that one image had during the war, what does that image say to you today?

MCCULLIN: Well, first of all, let me be perfectly honest. I am sick and tired of looking at it, really, because what it does, it cancels out every

other thing you have done that came before it. Many of my pictures before, particularly this battle in Vietnam during the Tet offensive, I've got some

really powerful pictures of sacrifice by the American soldiers dying.

Not only the American soldiers but pictures of the Vietnamese who also paid an enormous price to eventually acquire their freedom.

AMANPOUR: You talk about the Vietnamese. Very few people, very few Westerners anyway, talk about the Vietnamese and all the great war

photography was mostly the American soldiers and Marines.

But you felt very deeply about the huge cost of life on the other side.

MCCULLIN: As in all the wars Ive covered. I've --

[14:15:00]

-- actually had a much greater concern about civilians because they're always the last people to know what is going to be for them. And,

secondly, they have no one to help them when it does hit them. You know, where is the military? You've always got, as you can see in this

photograph, people who are going to carry you away, to medevac you away to safety and medicine.

But the civilians, you see them totally lost and dumped and forgotten.

AMANPOUR: You were shocked when you got there and saw what real war is. We're going back decades now.

MCCULLIN: Yes. When I mean when I saw the price of war which is totally acceptable and the pain and the suffering and the horrendous wounds and

then I, of course, eventually got around to seeing massacres and murders in front of me, things I couldn't stop.

AMANPOUR: And things you couldn't get rid of.

Do these things still stay with you, the images, the thoughts, the feelings?

MCCULLIN: I managed to chase away a lot of them over the years. There are one or two that still remain and I've tried to cure my kind of -- my bad --

my dark periods. I've never really sought any help because I thought -- so I'll deal with it myself. And I do that by doing -- I photographed the

English landscape where I live in Somerset.

AMANPOUR: It is, I mean, the polar opposite to what we just saw.

How did you fall into that?

And what has it done for your soul?

MCCULLIN: Well, you know, over the years, because I was married and my first wife died very young and, you know, my father died when I was young,

I am not without my own, you know, my own list or category of, you know, sad moments in my life. And so -- and I thought that by standing in the

landscape, which is ever shrinking, the landscape in England is under huge threat, you know, development and solar panels and windmills, all the

things I really hate, i thought to myself, this could almost be another war in itself, the war of conservation, of the landscape.

AMANPOUR: And there was I, thinking that you got solace from the beauty and the light. But for you, it's just another battlefront.

MCCULLIN: Well, I did get solace from the beginning but then I started thinking there must be a better purpose, me doing this. Even though it was

giving me great joy and helping to cleanse my dark side, I started to turn it into a kind of struggle, you know, and putting all the economic factors

involved and mixing it all up.

And then, of course, I started getting angry once again. So it wasn't doing me any good in the end.

So.

AMANPOUR: How dark was your dark side?

MCCULLIN: If you came away from some of the earlier tragedies of the Biafran War and some of the wars in Africa and the AIDS things I

photographed, there wasn't enough darkness you could describe even. I would -- you know, I would walk into a school in Biafra and I would see 800

children dying.

And as soon as they saw the white man coming, you could -- you could -- you know, see. They thought there was some hope at the end of the tunnel.

And what did I bring them?

I brought them two Nikon cameras around my neck and I saw these children dropping down and dying in front of me. And, you know, we live in a world

now where the media isn't that particularly interested in the real tragedy in our lives. They --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: You feel that?

MCCULLIN: I'm convinced it is, yes, and it's also.

You've only got to look at your newspapers today. And all you see is what I personally would describe as narcissism, really.

AMANPOUR: You started in Finsbury in London.

MCCULLIN: Yes.

AMANPOUR: How old were you when you first took up a camera and took these pictures?

MCCULLIN: These are the boys I went to school with actually.

AMANPOUR: Really?

MCCULLIN: Yes, they're --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: They were a -- they were a gang, right?

MCCULLIN: They were a gang of boys I went --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCULLIN: -- they're called "The Guvnors."

I took this in 1958, actually. But in that time in London, particularly in the London area, it was a very tribal area, you know. You wouldn't go

there. They wouldn't come here.

The interesting thing about this picture, everybody mentions it, is the fact they're all wearing suits and ties, which is almost absurd, really.

The boy with the cigarette in his mouth later spent several years in prison for armed robbery.

So, I mean, I could have been one of those boys.

And it was amazing to think that the day I took that picture, my whole life changed. I didn't seek to become a photographer. It seems as if it

sought me out.

AMANPOUR: Let us go back to one of your very, very early pictures, the picture of these boys with their little cameras, on an outing outside

Buckingham Palace. This is innocence. This is a completely different humanity than you found there in Vietnam.

MCCULLIN: What was sweet about it was there -- all of them got these little plastic cameras and it's their sandals, which no boy of that age

would wear today. And above all, those terrible trousers, which I used to wear as well.

So everything about this picture is a sweetness, really. And I took this in 1961, I think, and little did I realize what was going to come after the

--

[14:20:00]

MCCULLIN: -- my pictures turned from sweetness to tragedy.

AMANPOUR: Just a year later, you took this picture. It was during the Cuban missile crisis. It really is stunning. I mean, I don't know, the

power of one man or one person to protest.

MCCULLIN: Well, he was protesting, I suppose, against the American blockade. I mean, he was -- we were all alarmed. You know, we were

looking at World War III.

AMANPOUR: Is there an image that you're most proud of or that you love the most?

You said you hated the one that has become iconic but is there something that you love equally?

MCCULLIN: Well, I love the contribution that I'm making towards the English landscape. I don't want to leave this world with the wrong

reputation. I want to leave behind -- I want people to think, well, he tried. He tried to do this, he tried to do that.

But the war thing, I am not proud of it. And the laurels that have come with it sit very uneasily upon my head. I have prizes that are in my

garden shed. I find it difficult to feel rewarded at the cost of other people suffering.

It's uncomfortable.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I understand what you're saying. I would just simply say, in response, that because you showed people suffering, it made a difference

and perhaps helped end or change certain realities on the ground.

MCCULLIN: I wish I could agree with you because I feel -- and this is very sincere on my part -- I feel I haven't made any change or difference.

Every year there is a new terrible conflict.

AMANPOUR: But imagine if people like you weren't there, it would be much worse.

MCCULLIN: If we -- if we hide things and we don't bring them out in the open, we will never know. And if we don't know, it means that people will

go on suffering. It's not right.

AMANPOUR: It's not right. Don McCullen, thank you very much indeed.

And when we come back, another journalist struggling to break free, jailed for trying to expose the truth, now free at last. Investigative journalist

Khadija Ismayilova speaks to me from Azerbaijan. That's next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine fighting a world of injustice. The award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was finally freed

yesterday after being detained on trumped-up charges in Azerbaijan.

It is not the first time she has been targeted by the government. Previously they hid a camera in her bedroom and blackmailed her with sex

tapes. But on the eve of her 40th birthday, Khadija tells me she had been expecting to celebrate behind bars.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Khadija, welcome to our program.

ISMAYILOVA: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: It is great to see you out, to see you free, to see you talking. And I want to know, first and foremost, how you feel.

ISMAYILOVA: Well, it feels great to be in freedom. It feels great to be with family, to be --

[14:25:00]

ISMAYILOVA: -- with friends and to be back to the work, to my work. So it's -- I'm feeling great.

AMANPOUR: Was it scary?

Take me, if you can, inside jail and to that moment when you knew you were going to be spending what you thought were years in jail.

ISMAYILOVA: I tried to keep my spirit high. I tried to concentrate on what I will do further. So what I did, I started studying Spanish. I

translated a book. I've been writing articles and smuggling them when I could.

So that's what I was doing. And if you are not concentrating on difficulties of prison life, then it passes easy.

AMANPOUR: You did face trumped-up charges. Nonetheless, you spent a lot of time of your life in prison.

Would you do the same thing again?

In other words, have you been -- have you been intimidated to pull back in your journalism going forward?

Or will you keep doing investigative work and the kind of work that you're known for?

ISMAYILOVA: Well, absolutely I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't refrain from journalism. I would do my job as I have been doing and even more.

I wouldn't agree to stop my job in return for freedom.

AMANPOUR: And you are going to turn 40 on Friday. Firstly, happy birthday and did you ever see -- think you would see your birthday and freedom?

ISMAYILOVA: No, I actually asked my family to bring me two cakes to celebrate it prison.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Whatever happens tomorrow, it's going to be better.

ISMAYILOVA: Well, whatever happens tomorrow is definitely better. Well, I am aware that a lot of people were going to celebrate my birthday. And

I actually didn't like my birthday before I got imprisoned. I like them now. I like my birthday now.

So it is good to be in freedom. It's good to enjoy being among family. It is good to be among friends and it's great.

AMANPOUR: Ah, I'm so happy. We're very happy to hear you so happy and still determined to continue your important work. And we're pleased that

after all of this, you're free.

Khadija Ismayilova, so good to welcome you from Baku in Azerbaijan.

ISMAYILOVA: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And her next stop is the European Court of Human Rights, because she wants to get the remaining two of four false charges dropped.

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

END