Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Military Adviser on War Against ISIS; Trevor Noah on the Republican National Convention

Aired July 18, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:20] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, from the Republican National Convention in Ohio, the most controversial presidential primary

campaign reaches a climax after turning politics on its head.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This convention will come to order.


AMANPOUR: Soon, will Donald Trump be able to unite the party around him or destroy it? My interview with his national security adviser Gen. Michael


Also ahead, late night comedian Trevor Noah on Trump and the best medicine for what seems to be ailing this world.


TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: We cannot forget how to laugh because once you forget that, you only remember how to cry.


AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program.

I'm Christiane Amanpour in Cleveland, Ohio at the 2016 Republican convention. And I was down on the floor to see the last minute preparation

for the most unconventional ever to be taking place.


AMANPOUR (on-camera): When Donald Trump announced his candidacy more than a year ago, by in large, it was considered a bit of a joke. But this week,

here in this convention hall, on that stage, Donald Trump will be formally nominated as the Republican candidate for president of the United States.

It is a controversial candidacy and this is one of the more controversial conventions in modern history.

Most of the major Republican figures, the grandees of boycotting. President Bush 1 and 2, they won't be here. The last major Republican

candidate for presidency, Mitt Romney and John McCain, they won't be here. Indeed, some Republican senators are saying they are either mowing the lawn

or they are going fishing.

Now, of course, the congressional leaders will be here. And don't forget, Donald Trump won more than 13 million votes in this primary season. It is

the most of any recent Republican race.

This candidacy and this convention have attracted unprecedented media attention from here in the United States and from around the world. People

expect protest. They expect a certain amount of turmoil and chaos.

What we also know is that all of this is happening at a time of incredible international and domestic challenges. Indeed, the theme of this first

night of the Republican convention is keeping America safe.


AMANPOUR: So the convention is now officially under way. But with ISIS and Nice, Turkey and Syria, just some of the crisis on the next president's

agenda, I spoke to Gen. Michael Flynn, who is now advising Trump on national security. Having served as President Obama's director of Defense

Intelligence Agency.

He is the highest ranking military intelligence official in the United States.



AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.

FLYNN: Thank you for having me, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: I mean, here is the noise of the Republican convention.

FLYNN: It's very exciting.

AMANPOUR: First and foremost, as a military man, as the former defense intelligence agency chief, why are you supporting the controversial

candidacy of Donald Trump?

There you are. I'm throwing at you.

FLYNN: Yes, sure. So a year ago, a little less than a year ago, Donald Trump reached out to me and asked me for some advice. And I was already

providing advice to any other candidate that was asking, so -- and I actually had provided advice to five candidates.

When I met Donald Trump, I found him to be very, very serious about the idea of him being the president of the United States, and also he was very

serious about the direction that the country was going.

AMANPOUR: What specifically touched the cord with you of all the challenges, externally.

FLYNN: I -- to me, I just saw him as a really high quality leader. He approaches problems vastly differently. And I think that there's an

intellect in his decision-making skills and abilities are really much different.

I like those. I appreciate those.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you specially about ISIS and the challenges, because last night on "60 Minutes" Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence had

an interview. And he said that he would declare war on ISIS.

So I'd like to play a little bit of that and then ask you about it.

Let's play a little bit of it.


LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES ANCHOR: You said you would declare war against ISIS. What exactly --


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is war. By the way, it is war.

[14:05:05] STAHL: But does that -- when you said declare war, do you want to send American troops in there? Is that what you mean?

TRUMP: Look, we have people that hate us. We have people that want to wipe us out. We're going to declare war against ISIS. We have to wipe out

ISIS. These are people that --

STAHL: With troops on the ground?

TRUMP: I am going to have very few troops on the ground. We are going to have unbelievable intelligence, which we need, which right now we don't

have. We don't have the people over there. We are going to use air power --

STAHL: You want to send Americans --

TRUMP: Excuse me. And we're going to have surrounding states and very importantly get NATO involved because we support NATO far more than we

should, frankly, because you have a lot of countries that are not doing what they're supposed to be doing.


AMANPOUR: You know, war against ISIS, but not sending in ground troops. How is that different to what we have now, and what would you do?

FLYNN: Yes, first of all, I have provided Donald Trump a copy of my book "The Field of Fight." And in it, I walk through how to win. And one of

the most important things that we have to be able to do is attack the doctrines of this ideology and we have to create what I describe as new

21st century alliances.

And those alliances, part of those alliances, is the Muslim world and the leaders in the world. We have to call them out and take them the task for

what they already know. These guys know -- and you know many of them. They know that they have a problem inside.

One of the times that we missed was we should have embraced President El- Sisi in Egypt when he gave this great speech, very intellectually, courageous speech at the Al-Azhar Mosque back a year and a half ago.

AMANPOUR: But to the point of what Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" was trying to talk to Donald -- is it troops, how do you beat ISIS?


FLYNN: Everybody is trying to get how many troops do we need on the ground.

AMANPOUR: General -


AMANPOUR: Or do we need any or not?


FLYNN: What I would say tell you is that we have to stop -- the United States has to stop being the best enemies in the world by telegraphing

everything that we are going to do.

I do -- strategically, we must discredit this ideology. Right now, our president does not -- he can't even, he gets -- it's like an anxiety attack

for him to say radical Islam. Why?

I mean, everybody in our intelligence system and a lot of people in our military that are fighting this guy to include myself for nearly five

years. I mean, this is what it is. This is a -- it's a very cancerous form. I mean, it's barbaric and the whole of the Muslim world knows it,

but they need help.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you this? You're obviously not going to go into detail here about troops and the actually methodology. So let me ask you

quickly about torture and water boarding.

Obviously, this is controversial. The United States does not torture. And yet, Donald Trump has again double down on the idea of water boarding. He

said it in the "60 Minutes" interview. He talks about doing unpalatable things after the Ankara -- rather the Istanbul attack.

Can you accept that? As a military man, do you expect a military under a Donald Trump president to follow those orders?

FLYNN: Here is what I expect. I expect, and this is something that you learn as a young officer that the best plan gives you the most options at

the last possible minute.

And if you have a threat to our country, to United States of America that would kill not 3,000 in two hours like we did with a couple of planes, but

maybe 30,000 or 3 million, then you must have the options that are legal and ready, effectively available.

AMANPOUR: But torture isn't.

FLYNN: Torture is not. Yes, it's not.

AMANPOUR: So that would be bad.

FLYNN: What did he say? What did he say?

AMANPOUR: Well, he's talked about unpalatable measures.

FLYNN: He's talked about options. What Donald Trump has talked about --


AMANPOUR: No, no, he went a bit further. And he did talk, again, about (INAUDIBLE). It's just a simple thing to accept a military under a

President Trump to follow those what would be illegal orders?

FLYNN: Yes. What I believe Donald Trump would do is he would follow the guidance and advice that he would get. That's the one thing why -- that is

why I have been attracted to him.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to go into the personality of Donald Trump? You say that you admire him as a leader. You know, we see huge billboards here

as we come in saying, don't believe the liberal media. OK. That's a point of view.

FLYNN: Right.

AMANPOUR: But in this case, it's many conservative media, many conservative pundits, many conservative politicians --


FLYNN: All egos. They've got to get over their egos.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, some people say he has a huge ego. So I would like to ask you to react to the following.

FLYNN: Those are political egos, which is much different.

AMANPOUR: All right. Tony Schwartz who ghost wrote "The Art of the Deal," Donald Trump's famous book have said several things. He said Donald

Trump's ideology and his personality that he is worried about.

And he said that, "Look, I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear code, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end

of civilization."

What's your reaction to that? Would you trust on Trump with the nuclear code?

[14:10:08] FLYNN: I've been involved with nuclear planning as the head of intelligence years ago even before my last assignment. We operated

exercises all the time. I don't have any problems with that.

Who am I concerned about giving really sensitive information to? Hillary Clinton. I mean, she has demonstrated that she cannot be trusted with

highly sensitive information, Christiane.

And so I don't have any problems. In my conversations, he's a great listener. He asked very tough questions. He is very thoughtful and his

instincts about people, his judgment about people and his willingness to allow the right people to make decisions based on what is best, I think,

are just high qualities that I see in him that I find refreshing.

AMANPOUR: He believes that America is a failing country. That its military is a failing military. That we're like a third world country here

and sort of the sky is falling.

Many, you know, conservative newspapers are saying no, it's not true. America has the strongest economy, the strongest military. You know,

you're a military man.


AMANPOUR: Is there a little too much about that doom and gloom pessimism about America?

FLYNN: No, we have a break down in the rule of law in this country. The principle strategic advantage that we have in this country is the rule of

law above and beyond all other countries in the world and we have been to nearly every one of them.

So the rule of law is super, super important. The rest of the world looks at us and goes, oh my God, we love the law, the frame that you have and

right now we have a break down at why.

Why? What is happening in this country? And I also believe, all this party labelling, you know, Republican, conservative, Democrat, liberal, to

me that's out the window. That is out the window. You can -- you know, somebody can label me --


AMANPOUR: Because you're a Democrat supporting a Republican.

FLYNN: They can label me whatever they want. It is out the window. There is a shift going on in the world and actually that shift has occurred

probably over the last 20 or 25 years, and I don't think that people are paying enough attention to it. And to me that is driving a lot of people

in this country to look at a guy like Donald Trump and say, God, he offers leadership that we're looking for because right now we're not getting that.

AMANPOUR: General Flynn, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

FLYNN: Thanks.


FLYNN: You bet.

AMANPOUR: When we come back, time for a little laughter with so much pump and pageantry, the political conventions are easy picking for America's

late night comedians.

Stephen Colbert snuck in and stole the spotlight last night.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: It is my honor to hereby launch and begin the 2016 Republican National Hungry for Power Games!

I know I'm not supposed to be up here, neither is Donald Trump.



AMANPOUR: And coming up, I speak to one of America's most irreverent comedian, "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah. It's next.


[14:00:23] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now, this is tipped to be one of the most unusual Republican conventions ever. Now, at least for who is boycotting and who is showing up.

Of course, the late-night comedians are coming. This is catnip for them, but not for all the reasons you may be thinking. As I learned from South

African-born Trevor Noah, the host of "The Daily Show".


AMANPOUR: Trevor Noah, welcome to the program.

NOAH: Thank you so much for having me.

AMANPOUR: Have you ever seen anything like it? I mean, you come from South Africa. You've been doing this gig, American politics for the last

year and a half or so. How does this stack up for you?

NOAH: Well, I mean, the convention is not the craziest thing. You know, you see political conventions in different countries. South Africa has

something similar where the party gets together and, you know, people discuss and vote for the leader. But I guess the rhetoric and the emotion

that is around this election, I genuinely have never seen before.

AMANPOUR: What is it particularly that you haven't seen before? And what is the most surprising?

NOAH: I think one of the biggest things is the fact that Donald Trump has hijacked a political party. I have never seen that happen. I have never

seen somebody take a party from other people and then force them to come to their own event and, I guess, ratify that decision. Come out and say, yes,

we're making this official. We choose you. They can't even say it.

AMANPOUR: I mean, look, this one is notable. You're absolutely right. For the number of grandees who are not coming, no former presidents.

NOAH: Yes.

AMANPOUR: No former Republican nominees. Very few, if any, of his challengers during the campaign. He did get 13 million votes in the

primary season.

NOAH: He did.

AMANPOUR: Apparently, a record. What shall we take from that?

NOAH: I think the fact that populist politics is really growing in the world. The fact that people are afraid for different reasons and that's

the time when I think demagogues like Donald Trump can take the most advantage.

Because what you do is when people are afraid, you jump out. And you go, I can assuage your fears. I have the solutions. Nobody has a solution to

what is happening in the world right now, would it be terrorism, the shrinking middle class. Nobody has solution on hand.

Refugees as well. Everyone has to think of the variety it affects. Donald Trump says there's one solution and I will give it to you. And that seems

more confident. And there are people out there who are going, you know what, I'm going to vote for that because he seems sure.

AMANPOUR: There's been a lot of controversy about his candidacy. The press is being accused of not holding him to account sufficiently.

I mean, the thing is nothing seems to have dented him.

NOAH: Well, how do you dent something that is in of itself a giant dent? That's the problem. Everyone is trying to shame Donald Trump, and he is


I realize that one day what Donald Trump does that nobody before him has done is he goes in head first. You say, here is a statement, here is a

controversy and he says I will give you another one, and I will give you another one, and I will give you another one. He gives you so many.

AMANPOUR: He doubles down?

NOAH: Yes, that you can't -- think about it. His tax returns were the biggest news. No one talks about that anymore. The wall has just become

accepted as a policy position. We're no longer having conversations about his charities that he hasn't given money to and where the money is from the

fundraisers, because he is just taking us to the next thing.

Now we're talking about Pence. We haven't even completed any of the things that Donald Trump has done before. So what he does is he is not afraid.

Doubling down is an understatement. Gross understatement. He's quadrupled down. He is quintuple down. He is everything down.

AMANPOUR: So what are you doing here? Because you are the only late night show in America who's actually coming to Cleveland and you're going to be

live both here and at the Democratic convention the following week.

What do you hope to be able to do? And how are they, by the way, receiving you? I mean, you have pretty much been spiking them and all politicians

for the last several years.

NOAH: Well, you know, what's funny is when you bump into Republicans, I have never seen people be more underhanded, or like give you more

compliments on the sly than I have here where people go, good job, good job with what you're doing. I mean, I can't say this in public, but thank you.

Good job. Because this is the one year where they don't support their nominee. They want the jabs. They want someone pointing that out. They

have to maintain face, though.

So what's really fun for us is we're in Cleveland. We're going to be in Cleveland. We're going to be in Philly as well. And it's just fun because

this is my first convention. This is my first opportunity to see this.

You know, normally, we are reporting on what people are reporting on. Now we get to be there. We get to experience it. We get to feel.

I was at the protest yesterday. I was just feeling the tension, you know, walking through the streets, seeing the secrete service. These are things

that are tough to, I think, relate to an audience when you are not actually there.

We are in a very, very divisive period. Not just American history, but global history at the moment.

[14:20:13] I mean, let's just take the police killings in this country. You have had a huge amount of attention because of the piece you did right

after the killings in Louisiana and Minnesota of the two black guys by white police. Let me just play a little bit.


NOAH: If your pro-"Black Lives Matter," you're assume to be antipolice, and if you're pro-police, then you surely hate black people. It seems that

it's either pro-cop and anti-black or pro-black and anti-cop when in reality you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be.


AMANPOUR: How does a satirist, a comedian like yourself dealing with the most important and heated politics of the moment. People say they've never

seen America like this. At least not for decades, right?

How do you navigate that in a responsible way while you're still trying to have laughs?

NOAH: Well, I think you -- it depends on what you're using in the last show. I come to realize more and more that the laughter is not me poking

fun or enjoying the moment. You're using the laughter as catharsis. You're using the laughter a release, because that's what laughter is.

That's what comedy is, you know.

People always ask me, how can you laugh at a time like this. I go, look, I grew up in a place where Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years, and not

only was he telling jokes in prison, he was laughing when he came out of prison. It doesn't mean that 27 years was easy. It doesn't mean that he

wasn't angry and he wasn't trying to affect change. But it also meant you can't remove that from yourself. You cannot forget how to laugh, because

once you forget that, you only remember how to cry.

And that's what you do. In terms of responsibility, it's the honesty of the situation. Sometimes there are situations that are ludicrous, you


How does a nation and a world rally around the shooting of a gorilla and the zoo changes its whole structure and says we need to look at. This

gorilla was shot. Harambe, the gorilla.

And yet with actual people that are being shot in the streets, people are going, oh, what did they do wrong and what, you know -- and maybe it's the

way they carry themselves.

That is the world we're living in? And that for me is ludicrous. It's so crazy that you have to laugh at it.

AMANPOUR: So you came here not necessarily intending to be just about American politics, but obviously the campaign has captivated everything.

What are you going to do after the election?

NOAH: I think I'm definitely intending to spread the scope of "The Daily Show." We need to look to the world. Because a lot of the time the world

can give you the answers that you need, you know.

Brexit is one of those. You know, if people were looking at Brexit, and even now if you look at the ramifications of Brexit, it can tell you a lot

about what may happen in the U.S.

You had people after Brexit going, I don't know why I voted. I thought we were voting for immigrants to leave and we wanted more jobs and the NHS are

going to spend 350 million pounds and now it looks like they're not getting that money and I really regret my decision.

And it's like, yes, that's what happens. You were uninformed. You are misinformed and now your decision is going to impact you for the rest of

your life. The same thing could happen in the United States. And so I feel like by looking at the world, you can actually know it about yourself.

AMANPOUR: Fantastic. Trevor Noah, thank you very much.

NOAH: Thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: Good luck to you.

He certainly is a great mimic. So this is just the first day of what the Republican party hopes will seal the deal for them in November. This

evening, General Michael Flynn, our guess, will occupy one of the prime time speaking spots on the stage behind me.

And next, we imagine a world of conventional pandemonium.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine the unconventional as history looms large over the Republican summit. Some worry that Cleveland 2016

could be a rerun of Chicago 1968, when this is what the Democratic convention looked like.

[14:25:16] Thousands of protestors clashing with police in a demonstration against the Vietnam War. However, for the most chaotic convention ever,

you have to go back a little further, to the Democrats again in 1954.

Back then the party went to war with itself. No less than 103 votes were taken before the convention was over. It was a record 16 days. With 60

different presidential candidates vying for delegates. Fistfights broke out inside of the arena and outside. At one point, 20,000 Ku Klux Klan

members rallied against an anti-Klan candidate. Literally, burning him in effigy.

Now the city of Cleveland has deployed a record number of please to contain the expected demonstrations and the concern that they may turn violent here

this week. Perhaps it's an understatement to say that these are challenging times and the stakes today could be higher.

That's it for our program tonight. We will be here all week. And remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and good-bye from Cleveland.