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Trump's Defense of Putin Rattles Europe Nerves; Le Pen Campaign Shows Similarities to Trump; Israel's Netanyahu Meets Britain's PM May in London; Americans in Nashville Welcomes Iraqi-Kurdish Family. Aired 11- 11:30p ET

Aired February 6, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Donald Trump defends NATO shortly after his defense of President Putin in a TV interview, which

rattled nerves in the United States and Europe. Where the French election is ramping up, what a cozy relationship means for a continent in political


French journalist Christine Ockrent and the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt join the program.

The Israeli Prime Minister in London urging the UK to follow Trump in imposing new sanctions against Iran. We speak to the former ambassador

Daniel Taub.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christian Amanpour in London. The new world order.

Well, just moments ago, President Trump speaking in Florida has said we strongly support NATO. His strongest words in that regard since the


Now, president Trump also appears to be drawing a moral equivalence between America and Russia in his most revealing comments yet on President Putin.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Will I get along with him, I have no idea. It's possible I won't.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: He's a killer, though. Putin's a killer.

TRUMP: There are a lot of killers. We got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?


AMANPOUR: Now the condemnation from the Kremlin was predictable and angry demand for an apology from the "Fox News" interview. But fellow

Republicans swiftly rounded on Trump. The Senate Majority Leader saying this to CNN.


MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine and messed around in our elections. Now I don't

think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way with United States does.


AMANPOUR: And here in Europe, too, president Trump's comments fall on nervous ears, from the Netherlands, to Germany, to France. Concerns are

high about Russian meddling in upcoming elections fuelled by a desire to weaken the EU, the western alliances and the projection of U.S. power.

In France, the Far Right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is an unabashed admirer of both Presidents Putin and Trump. She launched her

campaign this weekend painting France just as Trump portrayed America, as a bleak, besieged, wreck of a landscape. And then Le Pen upped the ante,

warning darkly of two totalitarianism as she put it, Islamism and globalization. That she said wanted to, quote, "Bring France to its



MARINE LE PEN, PRESIDENT, FRENCH NATIONAL FRONT (through translator): Against these two totalitarianisms, which threaten our liberty and our

country. We don't have any time left to keep on indulging ourselves in being naively optimistic.


AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, in the same city, the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron launched his campaign with crowds reported to be much more than


Joining me now to unpack all of this, here in the studio, Carl Built, the former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister and from Paris,

journalist and writer Christine Ockrent.

Welcome to you both.

I want to go to you, Christine, because that is where the presidential campaigns have been launched. What is your feeling right now? Does Marine

Le Pen stand a chance particularly since Francois Fillon appears to be so badly wounded?

CHRISTINE OCKRENT, FRENCH JOURNALIST: Well, indeed, Francois Fillon is wounded, but he gave this very afternoon a press conference to reassure his

constituency that he stays firm in the race and that he apologizes to the French. His behavior was not proper, although, it's not illegal, he said.

And he still the conservative candidate.

So that is not good news for Marine Le Pen, because of course the expectation on her side was that if Fillon was to actually get out of the

race, French portion of the conservative voters would have gone to her.

So I think she's still very high in the polls as you know. She's as high as 25 percent. At the same time, our system is such that I don't believe

that she can make it for the second round. Because whoever will be confronting her, either Fillon or Macron, who is the current phenomenon in

this incredible campaign, will defeat her because you will have as indeed happened before in France, a majority of people who will say no, we can't

have the far right of the elite.

[23:05:00] AMANPOUR: All right. OK. We're going to dig deeper into that for a moment.

But let me turn to Carl Bildt, because to me just ahead of her launching her campaign, she sort of laid out her manifesto, including to basically

get out of the EU is what it really means and out of the Euro and out of NATO she said.

Listen to what she said and we'll talk about it.


LE PEN (through translator): When I am president, I will organize a referendum in the six months following my election. I will use this six

months to negotiate with the EU for the return to four types of sovereignty that are necessary.

If I can recover this sovereignty, and I think Europe will change completely. It will change radically, and if I cannot get the sovereignty

back, then I will ask the French people to leave the EU.


AMANPOUR: So Carl Bildt, EU under threat from Brexit, obviously, from Trump who has supported the future break up of the EU.

Do you think that this is possible that it could break up? I mean, the weight of the sort of the anti-EU forces?

CARL BILDT, FORMER SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, it could, but I don't think it will. I even suspect that what we're going to see, I think it's

too early to tell, but I think they are the first signs of sort of an anti- Trump, anti-Brexit phenomenon among the European electorates, because they've seen Trump. They don't particularly like it. They've seen Brexit.

They don't particularly like it.

Do they really want to go down the Trump and the Brexit road? I'm not quite certain that is that attractive proposition among the European

electorates now. It might have been better six months ago. It's better then.

AMANPOUR: Well, you must be glad that Donald Trump -- no, which we've just heard speaking, we're just going to throw to a bite. It is actually

important. He's been denigrating NATO throughout his campaign and now this is what he said just moments ago.


TRUMP: We strongly support NATO. We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance,

which many of them have not been doing.


AMANPOUR: That's good news, right? I mean, the president of the United States is now basically committed to NATO.

BILDT: That is good news. And what we have seen during the last week, you've seen a reassurance towards East Asia by Secretary of Defense Mattis.

I think there's going to be reassurance towards to Europe next week with the vice president and others, and I think this message will be repeated.

They know that what the president have said, it created a lot of uncertainty, a lot of nervousness in East Asia, in Europe and they are now

trying to reassure. Then sort of remains to be seen what this means, but it's better that he have said it than just repeating that NATO is obsolete

and other things that we've heard.

AMANPOUR: Christine, I want to play for you a small bit of an interview I did with Marine Le Pen because she's obviously -- it was a very dark

picture that she painted yesterday when she launched her campaign. And she really took a leaf out of the Trump book, and she's very, very obviously

anti-immigration, and this is what she has said about the influence of Islam on French -- on France.


LE PEN: Women's rights are losing ground as more Islamic fundamentalists come into our countries. There have been more rapes in countries that have

welcomed illegal refugees. This is a fact. Women are afraid.


AMANPOUR: Christine, how much does that resonate? She has the same kind of demographic makeup in terms of supporters that Trump does.

How much does this resonate with her voters?

OCKRENT: Well, I mean, that's basically, you know, the core of her arguments. And as you very well pointed out in the interview you did, the

rest of it is full of crap, and especially her economic program, which is full of contradictions. So the racist attacks against Muslim have been her

trademark from the beginning.

That being said, what is true in France as, by the way, it is in the U.S., is that the latest terrorist attacks, not the very last one that the

Louvre, by that Egyptian fellow who refuses to talk for the time being but most of the terrorists have been a way French citizens.

And so when Marine Le Pen actually divides her usual tune about immigration, again, it's -- it's an alternative fact, as some people would

say today in Washington.

AMANPOUR: All right.

OCKRENT: It is not basically true. The fact remains, of course, that we, in France, we have a very important Muslim population, much bigger, of

course, than in the U.S.

[23:10:10] AMANPOUR: Right, indeed, you do, by some accounts about 10 percent.

Can I ask you, though, Carl, because while many people in the world believe that this radical Islamism is a big existential threat as she said, others

believe that President Putin's intentions to denigrate democracy, to sort of rip up or damage the alliances and all the rest of it is a much bigger


Marine Le Pen appears to be very much in Putin's sort of political pocket, so to speak. I asked her about Ukraine and Crimea, and this is how she put



LE PEN (through translator): There was a coup de etat. There was an agreement among different nations and the next day this agreement was

broken. And some people took power.

AMANPOUR: After the invasion and the annexation. Yes.

LE PEN (through translator): No invasion of Crimea.

AMANPOUR: They annexed Crimea. It was part of Ukraine and French were part of the deal that guarantee the independence of Ukraine in 1994. It's

really important because it's the fundamentals of international law.

LE PEN (through translator): Crimea was Russian. It has always been Russian.


AMANPOUR: So that is a version of history that is the Kremlin version of history.

BILDT: Totally. Totally. Yes.

AMANPOUR: So even President Trump's administration says we are not lifting sanctions until Crimea is handed back to Ukraine.

How worrying is it that if a Marie Le Pen becomes president that the Russian agenda will be, you know, will be spread around?

BILDT: Well, I sincerely hope that we will not have to come to that, particularly if it continuous here. But it's worth noting that what she's

saying is totally 100 percent Kremlin lie and is factually incorrect.

I mean, what's happening here was -- she was right, there was an agreement. But the one who didn't honor it was President Yanukovych, who fled the

country, deserted his own country because he was afraid in fact of democracy.

And then, of course, invasions first in Crimea and then the attempt to unravel entire Ukraine. And this is very important, because these two are

key issues of European security.

If we were to tolerate this, Russia doing this against Ukraine, then shall we tolerate Serbs doing it against Bosnia? Should we tolerate it against

Sweden doing it against, I don't know, we have no intention. But anyhow the unravelling of the European order is something that is serious. And

France with its own history should know the importance of these issues.

AMANPOUR: It's really a dramatic time.

Can I ask you, Christine, last question as quick as you can? How powerful is Macron? We said that his crowds in Lyon were about triple those of,

according to reports anyway, of Le Pen's Yesterday.

Can he actually do it? He's untested, he has no party and he hasn't run before.

OCKRENT: That's true, but this presidential campaign has actually destroyed all the rules of political science that we believed in for

decades. So it's a total unknown but Macron is a very gifted, talented, skilled politician. He has become one. And his argument is that in

France, we are fed up with these artificial division between the right and the left. So let's have a sort of national team and let's get the country

out of trouble.

And so far he has managed to stir up emotion. And not only among the young people, but he's managed to stir up people who actually believe that maybe

politics can be useful again to change the current situation.

You know, another two and a half months to go until the first part of the presidential elections, but Macron's performance so far is just remarkable.

AMANPOUR: It really is fascinating. And, of course, Carl, you'll appreciate he's very pro-EU, he's very centrist.

BILDT: Yes. And you notice the flags. I mean, I don't know if it's very usual to have the European flags at French political rallies.

AMANPOUR: Not very usual.

BILDT: Not very usual, but he has it, and there are quite a number of them, and he campaigned successfully also in a very, very pro-European


AMANPOUR: Carl Bildt, Christine Ockrent, thank you so much for joining us tonight. Fascinating times.

So as insurgency rocks the world, Britannia still rules the wave.

Queen Elizabeth the II has become the first monarch to reign for 65 years here. Today marks her sapphire jubilee. Lots of pomp and circumstance.

The bells of Westminster Abbey, gun salutes at the tower of London and across the nation.

And next, the British Prime Minister Theresa May meets the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Downing Street. He wants her to get tougher

on Iran. We'll take a closer look -- next.


[23:16:50] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

And Donald Trump has been addressing U.S. military commanders in Florida and he made his strongest comment yet pro-NATO. He said we strongly

support NATO. That is a very important message that will be poured over here in Europe and around the world after of course during the campaign

saying that it was obsolete.

Now Trump's style of being unpredictable may sit well with his voters, but how are America's closest allies reacting?

Today, the leaders of Britain and Israel held their first face-to-face talks as they look to strengthen ties and find favor in this new era of


Arriving in London, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of his number one concern, Iran.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it

threatens the West and threatens the world. And it offers provocation after provocation. That's why I welcome President Trump's insistence on

new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations.


AMANPOUR: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May also raised the issue of Israel's recent settlement building as well as talking of the need for

stability in the region.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Syria and Iran and the whole question of the future of the Middle East. And certainly we remain committed to a

two-state solution as the best way of brokering stability and peace.


AMANPOUR: Daniel Taub was Israel's ambassador to the UK until 2015 and he is joining us now from Jerusalem.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. Good to see you.


AMANPOUR: Your prime minister is here, and I think everybody right now is trying to figure out what actually are the foreign policy positions of the

Trump administration on key issues.

For instance, Donald Trump did say recently that he thought it was better and it would be more helpful if Israel did not build settlements on the

West Bank.

How is the government going to deal with that having thought that he would give them a cart blanche?

TAUB: I think it's actually very interesting, but the prime minister is -- Prime Minister Netanyahu is speaking to Theresa May because she was

actually quite clear on this issue. She has been recently, which is Britain has a clear position in relation to settlements but her main point

is we can't treat those as though it's the main issue in the region.

It's a much broader range of issues that we have to address. And so while I imagine the issue did come up in the discussions today, I certainly don't

think it was the centerpiece of the discussions because there are many far more urgent and important things that they properly had to address.

AMANPOUR: Such as Iran. I mean, they both talked about that. Obviously Prime Minister Netanyahu is very concern about that.

So, obviously, when he said I hope other responsible countries also impose sanctions, he was meaning Britain and the other members.

[23:20:00] What do you really think is going to happen? How is this going to play out? You're ambassador here and you know that Theresa May has

basically described Iran as a maligned influence, but calling the nuclear deal controversial but vitally important for regional security.

TAUB: Right. Well, first of all, I think it's important that we recognize that the starting point we have is a very good one because the security

cooperation, even the intelligence cooperation between the two countries is very deep, is almost transparent and that means that both countries see

these threats, particularly the Iranian threat, not just the launch of a ballistic missile capable of holding a nuclear warhead last week but just

this week, the head of the Iranian nuclear program talking about the fact that today they have 60 percent more uranium than they had at the start of

the agreement.

And in terms of what the prime minister is probably looking for from Prime Minister Theresa May, he probably remembers the fact that before the

agreement, actually one of the things that got Iranians to come to the table was actually the British insistence on sanctions.

They within Europe were actually one of the countries that was out in front establishing the sanctions regime and that is the proof of the influence

that Britain can actually have if it tries.

AMANPOUR: So what do you think will happen next? Because obviously Britain is trying to position itself as an honest broker and a bridge

between the new American administration and Europe. It has a lot to deal with because of its Brexit negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu is

headed to the White House next week.

What kind of -- what can he really materially get, do you think, out of this administration on the issues that he cares most about, on Iran and on

settlement? Because the administration is now sort of kind of clarified its position.

TAUB: Right. Well, I think, actually, probably top of the agenda of Prime Minister Netanyahu on this trade is actually to further deepen the

relationships with the United Kingdom. I mean, those are extraordinary relationships.

Theresa May started the meeting by pointing out that it's 100 years since the Balfour Declaration when Israel recognized the right of a Jewish state

in this region and so on. But during recent years, those relations have really taken off in an extraordinary way. Both in terms of trade and in

terms of security cooperation where technology is really the bedrock. And I think both countries really have an interest in deepening those relations

and as you said at the moment we're talking about an area of uncertainty.

I think Brexit opens up a lot of opportunities, but puts a lot of question marks. So I think alongside figuring out what the relationship with

America, which is the closest ally for both of those countries. They've got to be thinking long and hard about how they take the relationship

between those two countries forward.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Daniel Taub, I wish we had longer. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

TAUB: Not at all. Take care.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, with Trump's on again, off again travel ban from Muslim countries, imagine American people warmly welcoming the

refugee family that finally made it through the immigration maze. That is next.


[23:25:25] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world of good will. Americans in Nashville, Tennessee, the capital of country gave a roar of

solidarity that must have been music to the ears of an Iraqi-Kurdish family.

Like in airports across the country, ordinary Americans have been feverishly working to help visitors make it through Donald Trump's Muslim

travel ban. And they were on hand to welcome this family to America as Matthew Torres reports.


MATTHEW TORRES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It took more than a week, but Fuad Suleman and his wife and three kids have finally arrived to

Nashville International Airport, where a might outpouring of support from local leaders to strangers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are coming here for a new life and that's what we have always come here for and they deserve it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just welcome, we're glad you're here and we hope you enjoy your new life.

TORRES: Despite having a special visa to enter the U.S., the family was asked to go back to Iraq after the president's travel ban last week.

Suleman, a former interpreter for the U.S. government in Iraq had undergone two years of vetting and already sold his house. Unable to get in only

sparked outrage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't punish everybody for what somebody did.

TORRES: After a federal judge reversed the executive action and advocacy groups and government officials speaking up, Suleman and his family were

given the permission to come to Nashville.

Mayor Megan Barry, Congressman Jim Cooper and actress Connie Britton joined large crowd in welcoming them.

FUAD SULEMAN, FORMER INTERPRETER FOR U.S. IN IRAQ: The amount of support that you have showed and your open arms make this day very, very

exceptional day for me.

TORRES: Suleman says it's been a long process, but they are just ready to settle down in a city that so far welcomes them with open arms.

SULEMAN: Please allow me to thank all the people of America, all those who help me, supported me, especially my fellow Syrians --


AMANPOUR: From despair to gratitude in just a few days and activists and citizens fighting for the rights of refugees who have already undergone

extensive vetting.

Just a reminder, as you heard, it can take up to two years to get through the process.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.