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New Travel Ban Executive Order Coming; Special Report from Jordan Refugee Camp; Trump's Friend on the President's Mindset. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 20, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, ban from the United States. A special report on Syrian refugees. I speak to one family in
Jordan which may be among the last to get asylum in American.
And we hear from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States is based on diversity and opportunity and chance and that's what these people want.
And I think that we need to see them as part of what does make America great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, we talked to one of President Trump's close friend after senior administration officials traveled to Europe on a mission to
calm nervous allies.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Donald Trump's immigration policy has caused chaos, confusion and concern. And now he's promising to announce a new version of the travel ban. So
many questions, so few answers. Details are not official yet, but one thing is for sure, the blanket ban on Syrian refugees will remain in place.
In a moment, my interview on this policy with the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. But, first, this special report from the biggest
Syrian refugee camp. It's in Zaatari in Jordan.
There I found the vetting is heavy and far from wanting to move to America, many told me they would really rather just go back home to Syria.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Walk into this registration center at the U.N. refugee agency in Amman and suddenly something about this millennium's
desperate refugee story speaks to the last millenniums.
Ellis Island, circa 1900. That was the story gateway to America. Here some 1,000 refugees a day come dressed in their best hoping to find their
own gateway to somewhere.
Mindful of the Trump administration's efforts to ban Syrian refugees, the UNHCR Paul Stromberg tells me vetting here is about as extreme as it gets.
PAUL STROMBERG, UNHCR: It involves many different agencies in the U.S., different security databases, several different interface interviews over a
period that can last up to two years, biometric verification at different state of the process. It's basically the hardest way to get to the U.S.
Globally, less than one percent of refugees are accepted.
AMANPOUR: That's tiny.
STROMBERG: That is.
AMANPOUR: A quick walkthrough reveals endless interview rooms, waiting rooms, biometric testing areas creating unprecedented and vast databank.
In this game of human lottery, the weakest often wins.
A father moves his face in close for the mandatory iris scan and he tells us the family fled war and home in Damascus 2013. Mother Um Ali says her
very young children have been traumatized.
UM ALI, SYRIAN REFUGEE (through translator): At first, we were moving from place to place for fear of the bombings. Nowhere was safe for us and the
children suffered. They were in constant fear. And whenever they heard a noise, they hid. They started to have some sort of post-traumatic stress.
AMANPOUR: Civilians started to pour out of Syria six years ago and now more than half a million live here. And a new type of refugee camp has
This is Zaatari. A sprawling refugee city of 80,000 that has morphed from tents and tough polling to fix abodes with electricity. Most of this
camp's inhabitants fled when the war erupted in Daraa and many don't want to move any further away, just in case.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Imagine living in this camp and knowing that home is 20 kilometers away across the Syrian border. The last big refugee
resettlement saw one in every four families asked didn't want to go to the West. The truth is, these people are not clamoring to come over to our
homelands. All they want to do is go back to their own.
(voice-over): Which may explain why this family looks sad and afraid when we meet them just hours before they are due to take off for America.
Oh, look at all the suitcases. Um Mohammed (ph) shows me the last minute chaos of packing for her first ever flight and a whole new life. All their
worldly possessions carefully picked out and parcelled into eight suitcases, one for each family member.
[14:05:10] I ask her husband Abu Mohammed how he feels about traveling all the way from Aleppo to America. It's taken them more than a year of
vetting and paperwork.
(on-camera): Are you excited about going to America?
ABU MOHAMMED, SYRIAN REFUGEE (through translator): For sure.
AMANPOUR: What are you hoping for?
MOHAMMED (through translator): Life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our house was burned and my in- laws house was also destroyed.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): This family got their ticket to the USA because they too were considered vulnerable. Their oldest lost his hearing when
they fled the bombing and now his speaking is impaired, too.
(on-camera): Have you heard the news from America that the president wanted to say no to Syria refugees and that, you know, there's a lot of
problems with immigration?
MOHAMMED (through translator): I feel that Donald Trump had a bad picture about Muslims in general, but the American people are much wiser and know
that not all Muslims are the same. And they also know that we can live together in peace and harmony. I don't know where he got this image about
AMANPOUR: Do you know what you're going to -- do you have any idea what will happen when you put your feet on American soil?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I have no idea.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Outside, dusk is falling and they must now say their final farewells and board this bus to the airport. As hard as life
has been as a refugee here, they've made friends and they have a sense that they are all in this together.
Now they have no idea what awaits them at the end of their very long journey. This must be the biggest trek of Abu Ismael's (ph) long life, a
grandfather taking his family clear across the world.
24 hours later, here they are in Chicago, tired and rumpled but together. Trying out a new word for their new world.
While back at the camp, an amazing phenomenon. The triumph of hope over reason. Every day Syrians try to voluntarily head back across the border.
If only Bashar al-Assad and his barrel bombs would let them.
AMANPOUR: And more of my reports from Jordan all this week on the program.
Now the former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is one of the most vocal critics of President Trump's ban on immigrants and refugees. An
immigrant herself, she told me the executive order was quote, "a gift to ISIS."
She also has just returned from the Munich Security Conference, where NATO allies were carefully dissecting Trump's foreign policy statements. And we
talked about all of that.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Albright, welcome to the program.
ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Potentially they are going to refine this ban. They are going to allow green card holders in. They are going to allow people who are
already, you know, in the air to land and be admitted if they've got the right papers.
Where is this going to lead to? None of these countries that have been ban have committed any terrorism against the United States, certainly not since
What do the people of the United States need to know about what's going on? They think this is to make them feel safer?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that the important part here is that these are people that have suffered tremendously, that have suffered for their own
freedom and for having a better life. I think it's outrageous to decide that we would not take them.
You were in Jordan. I really do think Jordan is a frontline state. They have hundreds of thousands of refugees and we should be taking more because
it's the right thing to do. The humanitarian thing to do. It would be good for our diversity. And the way that the ban was set up before, it was
a gift to ISIL.
AMANPOUR: So you think it actually could harm America's security?
ALBRIGHT: Definitely. And a group of us that were involved in national security issues made that point clear when the first ban came out that it
was actually bad. It also hurt our troops in Iraq, for instance, where some of the people that have been helping us there, interpreters and
others, would feel that they were being discriminated against and also a propaganda gift, and also, Christiane, we have been able to share
intelligence with a lot of these countries. And I think so in every way, this was a very bad idea. And I hope that if there is another one ban,
that it is done in a way that is not so unfair and so totally un-American.
AMANPOUR: You yourself have been a refugee. You tweeted not long ago when this ban was first imposed.
"I was raised Catholic, became Episcopalian and found out later my family was Jewish. I stand ready to register as Muslim in solidarity."
Should there, though, be more vetting?
[14:10:00] ALBRIGHT: First of all the vetting, frankly, is very deep at this point where the number of different steps length is more than 20
I do think that it is the responsibility of any leader to make sure that his or her country is secure, but that is one thing. And another is to
decide that there's a group of people without ever having shown that they had any bad ideas about the United States or were terrorists to all of a
sudden decide that they couldn't come in because they were a particular religion. That is totally un-American.
So, yes, vetting. It is the appropriate thing, but it has to be done in a fair way. It can't be discriminatory and it can't be really in a way that
undermines the diversity of America, which is what has made America great.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, it's been about four weeks since the inauguration. And many people overseas view turmoil as it comes out of Washington. You
have come from the very famous Munich Security Conference. I was there too. You must have talked to a lot of, you know, current leaders, former
leaders such as yourself.
What kind of sense did you get from them? Were they reassured by General Mattis, by Vice President Pence?
ALBRIGHT: The Thing that I found there, Christiane, was some confusion, frankly. It hasn't been that in the past, the United States and our
truthfulness has been a question. It is mostly been about what role the United States plays in the world.
What I got a sense there this time, people want to believe Vice President Pence and Secretary Mattis and they were assured by the words. The
question now are the actions and to what extent does the president really agree with them and what is going to happen.
So there was somewhat an unsteady state, a little bit of confusion, a general sense of not understanding what's happening in the United States.
And if you think about the Munich Security Conference as some way to kind of renew our vows, people are a little unclear about the trust aspect of
AMANPOUR: What concerns you the most about this new administration and foreign policy? Is it the Middle East? Is it NATO? Is it Russia?
ALBRIGHT: Pretty much everything does in terms of national security policy because there has not been a consistency in it and kind of a lack of
recognition of the importance of our relationships abroad.
And that the United States is a country that wants peace and stability, that requires having some kind of decision-making system that allows our
decisions to be made properly at home with consultation, with understanding of the role Congress plays, the role that the media plays in all of this.
And therefore a message that does not look consistent is what worries me.
I do think that this is an incredibly complicated time and requires a sophistication and understanding of what American national interests are
and how they jive with those of other countries. I am worried about what Russia is up to.
I think that what is something that is very troubling are the actions that Russia is taking in central and Eastern Europe, and even in the
Scandinavian countries, kind of buzzing planes and then obviously, what role they had in terms of the election. What are the Russians up to? I
hope very much that there are investigations of that. And I do think that the Trump -- I hope that the Trump administration will in fact develop a
rational decision-making program because in fact it is necessary for the peace and stability of the world. So I'm hoping for the best.
AMANPOUR: Secretary Tillerson has sort of been -- people say quiet, sort of out of the loop -- I don't know, who is sort of absent on the job and
apparently a lot of pressure on State Department officials as well.
ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, it's one of the all time great jobs, but what you really need is a department that is fully staffed and working with
you. There is no such thing as being a solo act.
The cabinet has been kind of slow in putting its act together. And I think that this is one of the problems now for Secretary Tillerson who is already
traveling but does not yet have his full as we call it, building is not fully staffed yet.
AMANPOUR: Former Secretary of State, thank you very much indeed.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And as you heard, Albright has just come from the Munich Security Conference, where Trump's Russian relations were under the
So now we take a moment on the program to mark the death of the Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin. He has died suddenly in New York, a
day before he turned 65.
Churkin was an accomplished diplomat, always sparring ferociously and humorously with fellow Security Council members. He was an ardent defender
of Russia's foreign policy, even at its most controversial such and throughout the Syrian war.
He served as U.N. envoy for 11 years. And you can go online to watch my interview with Vitaly Churkin on Amanpour.com.
After a break, it is no secret that Donald Trump adversaries at home and abroad are up in arms about his style and his substance. But what about
his friends? I asked a long-time friend of the president to reveal the man behind the bluster. That is next.
[14:16:52] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
As members of Donald Trump's cabinet travel the world to reassure allies, the president is traveling back to some nostalgia, the days of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm here because I want to be among my friends and among the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that was a massive campaign style rally this week in friendly Florida. He was back to basics at the White House, too, with his 75-minute
press conference last week sparring with the press like the early days.
It comes on the tail end of course of a bruising first month as president. Now for some insight into his thinking, I'm joined from Boynton Beach,
Florida, by the president's long time friend Christopher Ruddy. He's CEO of "Newsmax Media," which own several conservative news outlets.
AMANPOUR: So first and foremost, welcome to the program, Mr. Ruddy.
CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: Thank you for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So the world wants to know because there does appear to be quite a lot of confusion. I want to know from your perspective, what you think
the president needs to do better in order to be better understood and in order to be less of a confusing signal sent around the world about
intentions and policy statements?
RUDDY: Well, first of all, I think the media needs to do a better job of giving him better, fairer presentation about -- what he's about and what
he's trying to do. I just listen to the Madeleine Albright.
I mean, I think I have great respect for Secretary Albright. I've met her a few times. I'm a friend of Bill Clinton's, but I think she does a great
disservice by saying she puts the world in panic mode essentially by the things she said.
Let's remember, I've known Donald Trump for 20 years. He's run a lot of businesses. He has always picked great people. All of his companies.
There's very little staff overturn. Things work right.
He came into this government as the first non-politician or general in the history of the country. He is learning politics very quickly. But if you
look at his cabinet, they are A plus.
Rex Tillerson, A plus. General Mattis, I know you know him, A plus. Wilbur Ross, great friend of mine, A plus. And all -- most of his picks.
He's learning the ropes very quickly, but look what he's done foreign policy wise.
He quickly -- he has signed under the One China policy. He's backed up South Korea and confirmed our support there. Grew our relations with Japan
beyond Obama did initially. Re-supported and reaffirmed support of NATO. Warned Israel about not going through about settlements. Won't move the
embassy right now. Warned Iran about breaking the agreement. And he's extending an olive branch without giving anything away to Putin and that's
just in the first 30 days. So I think he's going to be a lot more traditional than people think.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a very important point. And I know you said you felt Madeleine Albright put the panic mode button on, but she's just
reflecting what others there are saying. And they have been very, very confused and concerned.
[14:20:00] So let me ask you because what you said is very interesting. The fact that he's going to be a more traditional president in terms of
foreign policy than his own tweets and his own initial as you know disruptive statements suggested.
So what do you think is afoot here?
RUDDY: Well, I was with him for two hours on Saturday night, and I have never seen a more relaxed and more in command. He's very happy with the
government he's forming. And I think he has a very good sense of where he wants to go.
He was a showbiz guy for 15 years. Had a hit show for a long time. So he's a little bit -- and he's also still in campaign mode. It was a brutal
campaign for over a year. And he's a little angry and I think you're seeing some of that in the tweets, but things are caught -- you know, the
administration is starting to realize they are actually in governing mode. I think you're going to see more and more with the selection of the next
national security adviser, more gravitas, more confidence coming in some of his dispositions.
Donald Trump will always say if you read his book, he admits that he sometimes overstates his position in negotiations to create a negotiating
framework and I think sometimes when he says something like the press is the enemy of the American people, he's actually in negotiation with the
press saying I don't really hate you. I just want you to know that I'm putting you in a position. I want to negotiate with you to start being a
little more fair. And so he's very savvy. It's a little counterintuitive.
AMANPOUR: Sorry. I don't mean to interrupt you.
We'll talk about the press another time because it is a whole, as he called it, a running war that we need to talk about.
But let me ask you about, you know, competence and in governing mode. One of the issues surely is there has been a sense of turmoil and by what
you're saying, I sort of read into you say there needs to be a calmer, more professional, more competent mode coming out of the White House.
And you know that of something like 700 positions that need to be filled, only in the region of 30 have even been announced, and these are ones that
need to be, you know, confirmed.
Is he falling behind? Is he well served, let's say, by Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, the people who are around him in the White House?
RUDDY: Well, I spoke with both of them at length over this weekend and I think that they are working hard. You know, the president wanted to come
and he want to pick the same old, same old people that are on in Washington, because the American people are very frustrated. And they
wanted some new leadership. He's trying to bring people in.
And I think they are in a learning curve themselves, but they are moving very quickly. So people need to give them a little time to adjust. And I
think so far the picks have been very good. Yes, they are behind in some of the picks, but it's only -- the government still runs.
Every department, as you know Christiane, has permanent civil service that run those departments. There's acting secretaries in all of each
department or under secretaries in various positions. So they will.
And every ambassador if that's not filled, there's (INAUDIBLE). So in time, all of those in the next three to six months, you'll see it evening
out. But there's so much hype that -- like you said turmoil and the press keeps on reporting the word chaos.
The U.S. government is not in chaos. It's ridiculous to make that claim. And I think when you see the president making very bold initiatives, where
he brings in the Japanese leader for the weekend or he's reaching out to Putin, I think these are signs that he does feel confident about governing.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you just a final question.
I think you were there at Mar-a-Lago and you talk about the Japanese prime minister. I think you were there when you had Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago and
people are still kind of asking, hang on a second, how does the president of the united states, the prime minister of Japan discuss a national
security potential crisis over North Korea's ballistic missiles, you know, where a whole lot of fellow club members and diners can watch them?
RUDDY: Well, this is not the first time world leaders have met in a public place to have a meeting. So, it just so happens he owns the club, but if
you look -- if you look at the photograph of the people, there were some pictures, right, and there's people standing behind them. It was an
indication like club members were overlooking their shoulders to look at the papers.
All of those people I looked in the photo, they were all security people standing behind him. It's a myth that anyone can just walk up to him in
that club. There's sort of a virtual security area around him now and only long-time friends get to see him or people that he waves over.
So it's nonsense that somehow national security matters, they denied anything really important was being discussed. But I think, you know, he's
-- he's careful about these things, but he's also on a learning curve. This is the first time he's ever been in political office and he's taking
these things -- he's serious about how things are handled. And I think you're going to see that. I don't think Abe thought there was anything
wrong that took place there.
[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: Just briefly, Mr. Ruddy, because we have to go. He hasn't asked you to work with him, has he? You're a calming influence.
RUDDY: Well, I -- you know, I have a -- I run a fairly large media company Newsmax Media so it would be hard for me to leave it. But I feel I can be
more influential and helpful to this country and to this president by speaking on shows like yours to give people the other side of the story.
You can certainly do that by downloading the Newsmax app or going online to read Newsmax. That's my commercial.
AMANPOUR: Well, we're --
RUDDY: I've learned something from Donald, right? I learned how to promote.
AMANPOUR: You obviously did. You obviously did. Anyway, we're very pleased that you came on. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.
RUDDY: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Thank you. And when we come back, imagine bringing blossoms to outer space. The sculpture breathing life into moon dust. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a flower that blooms 380,000 kilometers above the earth. That is the dream of the French sculptor
Anilore Banon, whose latest work Vitae aims to create a living flower on the moon.
Yesterday, after years of painstaking work, a smaller version of Vitae, which means life in Latin was launched into the stars to test how it will
work in microgravity aboard the International Space Station. The piece uses memory material to simulate a plant blooming. And if Banon's project
is realized, you'll be able to see it flowering on the moon with a simple telescope.
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always see us online. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.