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President-Elect Trump Visits the White House; Former U.S. Defense Secretary on Trump Win; Digging up a Painful Past
Aired November 10, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:26] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, the handover begins, Donald Trump makes his first visit to the White House as president-elect
after vowing to make America both greater and safer. How? And what will he deliver?
I asked former C.I.A. director and defense secretary Leon Panetta.
And later, business and bands. My conversation with Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan.
Good evening and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The president and president-elect, how quickly the unimaginable can become the norm. Barack Obama welcomed Donald Trump to the White House for an
introductory look before Trump defies expectations and actually becomes commander-in-chief in January.
The two men spoke for 90 minutes without any staff present. It was the first time they had met face-to-face. After a bitter campaign with both
men trading insults, Obama told Trump this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Most of all, I want to emphasize to you Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do
everything we can to help you succeed, because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: You explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets and some of the, some of
the really great things that have been achieved.
So Mr. President, it was a great honor being with you and I look forward to being with you many, many more times in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So the peaceful transfer of power goes forward. But many Americans are not so resigned. At least not quite yet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(PROTESTOR CHANTING NOT MY PRESIDENT)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tens of thousands took to the streets last night in at least 25 cities across the country, converging on Trump-owned properties. Trump has
spoken by phone with leaders from China and Japan to Mexico, the United Kingdom and many, many more. And already his campaign statements have made
for some awkward conversations.
Having told Japan and South Korea to pay up more for American military support or lose it. Now, he reportedly reassured the South Korean
President that American backing, quote, "Will not waver."
The chairman of Germany's foreign affairs committee said today that we have no idea what this American president is going to do, when this voice of
anger will become the most powerful man in the world, whether he knows his allies and friends. How he's going to approach Vladimir Putin? An
authoritarian ruler. How he's going to act when it comes to the question of nuclear armament?
All of these questions are completely open. Well, to discuss those very questions and that uncertainty is Leon Panetta. The former U.S. defense
secretary and the former C.I.A. director.
AMANPOUR: Today Trump spoke to the -- we'll get to that in a second.
Welcome. Welcome, Secretary Panetta. So as I said and as you just heard, there is a lot --
LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Christiane, nice to be with you.
AMANPOUR: On this very, very important day, there is a lot of uncertainty. You heard what the German foreign affairs committee chief said that we just
don't know what is going to be, or who is the Trump who ends up on inauguration day, going to be. What would you say today?
PANETTA: Well, I think there's a lot of truth to that concern, because we really don't know which President Trump is going to show up in the Oval
Office. Is it the campaigner who said a lot of irresponsible statements about the world and made some, some comments that reflected a lack of
understanding about the complexities in today's world?
Or is it going to be the President-elect Trump, who election night spoke about unity and today in the meeting with the president, appeared to be
much more willing to work with those who better understand what's going on in the world?
Right now we just don't know, which President Trump is going to appear.
AMANPOUR: Just as we're talking, we're showing some video that was taken about five minutes ago, Donald Trump, his wife Melania, the vice president-
elect and the speaker of the House at Capitol Hill.
To that end, before we go deep into foreign policy, let me ask you about domestic policy. You were chief-of-staff, you were C.I.A. director and you
were defense secretary. What do you think is going to happen next? Is it a Republican president with a Republican Congress that's going to be able
to essentially rail through any policies that they desire, or do you believe given the acrimony between Donald Trump as candidate and the
Republican establishment, including Speaker Ryan, is there going to be revenge fight? Is there going to be sort of an accounting domestically?
What do you foresee in that regard?
PANETTA: Well, the first priority for the new president is really the ability to break the gridlock in Washington and to be able to govern in our
democracy. That's going to be essential.
The second important thing is to obviously exert world leadership in a very troubled world. With regards to the first element of governing, the bottom
line here is that we're not sure whether Donald Trump is really a Republican. He took on the Republican establishment. A lot of Republicans
walked away from him during the campaign. He obviously has angered the Democratic side of the House as well and of the Congress.
So there is a chance here again, for someone to like Trump, to develop a coalition, a working coalition of both Democrats and Republicans, to be
able to govern. He's going to need that. Because otherwise if he moves forward with whatever he proposes, he could run into serious problems. Not
only with the Republican majorities, but also with the Democrats as well. So he has got to build a working coalition, probably closer to the center,
if he's going to be able to govern.
AMANPOUR: Now you know many of the sort of grandees of the Republican Party, whether it's in foreign policy establishment or other areas of
government, simply abandoned him as a candidate. And there are certain names that have been floated by his own campaign as to who might be in
power or in positions of power, people like General Michael Flynn, people like Rudy Giuliani, people like Newt Gingrich.
How important is it, who is around him, and do you think that the Republican hierarchy or the creme de la creme of the Republican Party will
come back to him if asked?
PANETTA: Well, if President-elect Trump is smart, he will really try to reach out to Republicans who have good credentials on foreign policy
issues. A lot of them walked away from him during the campaign. There were, of course, a lot of the establishment Republicans who walked away
from him as well. But if he is serious about trying to unify the country, then I think it's really important for him to reach out and try to get the
best talent available to be able to support his administration.
Every president needs good people in cabinet positions, good people in the White House staff. Who are willing to work with the president, advise the
president and try to provide the best possible counsel that a president can receive. This is a complex world. It's a troubled world.
It's a complex world here in the United States in terms of dealing with a lot of domestic issues. If he's going to be president of the United
States, and he has that awesome responsibility on his shoulders now, then the smartest thing he could do is to reach out for the smartest people, the
most experienced people to try to help him in governing this country.
AMANPOUR: What worries you the most in terms of foreign policy? You know, I said you've been defense secretary, C.I.A. director, also chief-of -staff
to President Clinton.
Russia has been a very troubling and vexing relationship for the United States. And as you know, we talked about this before, we talked when
Donald Trump appeared to invite Russian hacking into the Democratic system, and into Hillary Clinton's emails, and into the U.S. infrastructure, we
know that there's a sort of rapprochement, a cozying up, a mutual admiration of society between Putin and Trump.
Tell us today what that means for the future and what a president of the United States has to do to keep America safe on that stand.
[14:10:00] PANETTA: Well, it's very important for president-elect to look at the problems in the world today. And there are a number of flash
points, as you know, throughout the world -- terrorism, situation in the Middle East, the problems with Iran, the problems with North Korea, the
problems with China, but also the problems with Russia.
We clearly have entered a kind of new chapter in the cold war in dealing with the President Putin. And the real question is going to be, will a new
president capitulate to Putin? Will a new president draw the lines on Putin and on Russia? Will a new president operate and be able to deal with
him from strength? Or will that president deal with him from weakness? Those are the issues.
If you're going to deal with Putin and, you know, we know, we know Putin. We understand who he is. He is somebody you can deal with, but the only
way you deal with Putin is from strength. You cannot deal with him from weakness. So the real question with a new president is whether or not --
you know, he made some comments about his relationship with Russia.
In the end, the question is going to be, how does a new president protect our national security interests in the world? And to protect our national
security interests in the world, this president is going to have to take a strong stand with regards to our dealings with Russia. It's not to say we
can't work out agreements, it's not to say that we can't reconcile some of our differences, we should try to do that.
But, in the end, that will only happen if the president-elect is strong, and indicates that there are lines that the Russians should not be able to
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, also, because President Obama came in, in part as a sort of a backlash against some of the extreme policies, including war,
including torture, waterboarding of the Bush years. And now Donald Trump on the campaign trail has said the following about let's say enhanced
Let's play this and I'm going to ask you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're fighting on a different level, folks. And we have to be tough and we have to be smart, and we have to be in some cases pretty
vicious, to be honest with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, he's said before, waterboarding is peanuts compared to many alternatives. Fight fire with fire. Do you expect that
the establishment is going to allow this kind of policy to re-enter America and will officials in America be beholden to follow those policies if
ordered to do so?
PANETTA: Well, the issue isn't whether the establishment will let him do it. The issue is whether the constitution of the United States will let
him do it.
The question is going to be if he decides and hopefully he will not decide to do this to somehow restore torture to the process of interrogation. Can
he get a legal opinion from the Justice Department that will support that? Because if the Justice Department says that that approach to interrogation
violates our constitution, then he's going to have a very difficult time in forcing that approach within our country, and frankly will create a
So rather than have a new president suddenly engage in developing constitutional crises in our country, I think it would be far better for
him to abide by our constitution, put in place those values that are important to the United States of America, not only here, but in the rest
of the world as well.
AMANPOUR: As we're talking, Donald Trump, his vice president, his wife along with Senator Mitch McConnell in Congress. We're showing live
pictures as we discuss that very important issue.
And finally before I let you go, and obviously there are many, many issues around the world to go into detail with. But, you know, President Obama
said that he was unfit for office. You, when we last talked, said that he was temperamentally and experientially unfit.
Have you changed your mind?
PANETTA: You know, I'm prepared to accept the vote of the American people who elected Donald Trump as our president-elect. The people have spoken.
And now the question will be whether the president-elect is going to be somebody who is responsible and provides clear leadership for this country
or whether he engages in some of the crazy policies that he talked about during the campaign.
[14:15:00] So I, I am hopeful right now based on his election night statement, based on his meetings with the president, that he understands
the awesome responsibility he has as president-elect of the United States. And that he'll be more the businessman Trump than the candidate Trump. And
if that is the case, then I think there's some hope that ultimately we will be able to deal with the kind of issues, both at home and abroad, that
confront this country.
AMANPOUR: Leon Panetta, thank you very much again for joining us and we hope to continue our conversations on this issue with you going forward.
Thank you so much indeed.
AMANPOUR: And, today, Donald Trump spoke to the British prime minister. Among many of the leaders he's been talking to, Theresa May, did speak to
him for the first time since his victory. And he invited her to the White House.
Meantime, one of those flying out to congratulate Donald Trump immediately is Nigel Farage, who campaigned for Brexit and apparently inspired Trump's
But in a radio interview en route to America, Farage engaged in some unseemly banter about Trump's lewd reputation with woman and his first
possible meeting with May.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIGEL FARAGE, U.K. INDEPENDENT PARTY LEADER: Come and schmooze Theresa, don't touch her for goodness sake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if he does, only in an affectionate way.
FARAGE: Well, if it comes to that, I could be there as the responsible adult, couldn't I? Make sure that everything's OK.
FARAGE: I'll give him a long British etiquette.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There's no full-on lip-kissing, it's on the cheeks, tell him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Nigel Farage in some radio banter.
Coming up, we dig in to the nitty-gritty of Donald Trump's policy proposals, that's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
From vowing to a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, or calling for surveillance on Mosque in the U.S., Donald Trump's pledge to make
America great again including all kinds of sweeping statements against the Muslim community.
And after what was probably the most divisive campaign in U.S. history, he's promised to be a president for all Americans and to unite the country.
So how are Muslim-Americans reacting to his win? And can he really fulfil his promises.
Joining me now to discuss this from Washington is the British journalist and al Jazeera TV host Mehdi Hasan.
AMANPOUR: Well, Mehdi, thanks for joining us again. And we really do want to dig down into this.
What do you make of his victory for your community in the U.S.? Or the Muslim-American community.
MEHDI HASAN, AL JAZEERA TV HOST: I think his victory is worrying for a lot of minority communities, not just Muslim-American communities. I think
minorities across the board are very skeptical about a President Trump. Very worried about President Trump there. Probably concern that these two
months normalization going on around a President Trump now, that he's won, a lot of people just want to kind of look forward and forget about some of
the stuff that he said and did over the past 18 months and over the past of his life.
I mean, Christiane, when you have a candidate elected to office who runs an openly racist campaign, you have to ask the question how much racism is
there left in the United States of America.
[14:20:05] AMANPOUR: Well, can I just ask you because you use the word normalization and you did put out a few tweets today on that regard.
"Easier for white male journos in U.S. to now "mainstream" Trump and give him "normal" coverage, given they weren't direct victims of his abuse."
And you also said about President Obama, "Understandable but deeply complacent statement from Obama. Sorry but this is not business as usual.
This is not a normal result."
On the other hand, you have also said and others have noticed that the statement on banning Muslims from the U.S. disappeared from his Web site by
election day morning.
HASAN: Christiane, I mean, look, he gave a speech with an author cue on Tuesday night. And he -- yes, his Web site finally got rid of the most
offensive proposal of all banning a quarter of humanities in the United States. But, you know, that's a very low bar and I worry we set a very low
bar for Donald Trump throughout this campaign, the media in particular.
And now as president, we shouldn't carry on holding that low bar. This is a guy who smeared women and Muslims and Latinos and the disabled and Jews
and African-Americans and Native Americans. And yes these are groups, many of these groups are not well represented amongst political and media
elites. And therefore political and media elites, it's much easier for them to move on and say, OK, you know, business as usual.
I hear some of the coverage of his meeting with Obama today. You know, people are comparing it to LBJ handing over to Nixon, or George W. Bush
handing over to Obama.
Obama did not run a racist, birtherist (ph) campaign against George W. Bush. Richard Nixon, for all his sins, did not run a racist, birtherist
(ph) campaign questioning the legitimacy of the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Donald Trump did. Let's not forget this stuff.
And I understand Barack Obama has to smile and take photos on the White House for the sake of the country and unity. But let's not pretend what
Donald Trump is, and what he stands for, and what he's run with.
This is a candidate who had the official endorsement of the Klu Klux Klan, a domestic hate and terror group, who is now taking over from America's
first black president. That is shocking. That requires a lot of digestion. That require as lot of analysis before we all just carry on
with business as usual.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And let me ask you, though, what does the community do in the United States now? Basically, many more Muslim-Americans came out
to vote they say. They organized themselves quite heavily in the run-up to the election. More than seven in 10 said that they would vote for Hillary
Clinton, according to the counsel on American-Islamic relations. Just 4 percent said they would vote for Trump.
But more than a million American-Muslims registered to vote in the election. A record number. So what does one take from that going forward
now that the result is in?
HASAN: Yes. I think a lot of Muslim-Americans will be disillusioned. I know a lot of friends and family who were disillusioned, that they
mobilized on this level to stand up to a candidate who is openly fear- mongering, hate-mongering about them, their beliefs, their families, their children and yet he still won.
I mean, I suppose there's silver lining from a lot -- you know, a lot of them are pointing out on various set of group with friends and family,
pointing out, well, you know, at the end of the day, most Americans did vote for Hillary Clinton. She won the popular vote. More Americans voted
for Hillary than for Donald Trump. So in that sense, all is not lost.
But I think you can understand why minority communities, not just Muslims, feel deeply let down by a lot of their fellow Americans, white Americans,
who either voted for this guy because they liked his racism or voted for this guy despite his racism, who are willing to turn a blind eye towards
AMANPOUR: Or maybe they didn't.
HASAN: And there's a real issue now.
AMANPOUR: Maybe they didn't believe it.
HASAN: Well, they couldn't say they didn't know about his racism, Christiane, sorry.
AMANPOUR: But maybe they didn't believe it. You know, one of the things that I've written and I just want to put out your tweet, you said as "Dean
of Comedy points out, imagine if Trump had won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college. Because as we know Hillary Clinton is winning the
popular vote, imagine how many rigged chants and whining we'd be hearing."
So that combined with, do you believe as many of his supporters apparently believed, that he didn't really mean what he was saying? It was sort of
like an impressionistic painting to make a point?
HASAN: It's an argument I hear a lot. It's not an argument I buy, because even before this campaign, he had a history of discriminating against black
people who tried to rent in his buildings. He made awful remarks about Native Americans. He made awful remarks about Jews, about black employees
of his. So he has a history of racial discrimination and bigotry and misogyny.
But let's say, you know, he turns out to be quote-unquote "more moderate" than the authoritarian racist campaign he ran. Even then there's no time
for complacency. Because, again, look at the people who came out and mobilized for him? Look at people like David Duke, the former KKK leader,
who says our people help him win it. You know, who feel energized, emboldened.
Christiane, we've talked so much. I've talked with you on the show about the threat of so-called domestic Islamist terrorism or the radicalization
Isn't it about time we started talking also about the radicalization of white voters, who are willing to vote for a candidate endorsed by the KKK?
About domestic far-right terrorism, when you have groups like the KKK coming out, happy, so happy that their candidate has elected to high
office. It's a real worry.
[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: Mehdi Hasan, a conversation to be continued. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, we imagine a world looking to a horrifying path. In Germany, a replica of Hitler's last stand is stirring
Is it educational or is it dangerous? We'll ask that question, next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world going underground to dig up a painful past. In Berlin, an insidious history lies underfoot. Adolf
Hitler's bunker, which is buried beneath a parking lot.
Now imagine people bringing it back with this replica of that place where he committed suicide. Details like a portrait of Frederick the Great hang
on the wall. Some are calling the exhibit a sensationalist's normalization of evil. And they fear that rebuilding the Fuhrer's bunker risks
humanizing Hitler and encouraging a fascination with fascism at a time when far-right parties are rising across Europe.
But the exhibit's creators insist that it is an intriguing lure into history so that Europe and the world may never make the same mistake again.
And that's it for our program tonight. Good-bye from London.