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Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus At CPAC; Grannies In Schools; Iraqi Forces Retakes Mosul Airport. Aired 2:00-2:30 p.m. ET

Aired February 23, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: conservative -- represents the type of judge that has the vision of Donald Trump and it

fulfills the promise that he made to all of you and to all Americans across the country. Second thing, deregulation, what hasn't been talked about a

lot is that President Trump signed an order that puts in place a constant deregulatory form within the federal government. And what it says is, for

every regulation presented for passage that Cabinet secretary has to identify two that person would eliminate. And that's a big deal.


PRIEBUS: And then lastly, immigration; protecting the sovereignty of the United States, putting a wall on the southern border, making sure that

criminals are not part of our process. These are all things that 80 percent of Americans agree with and these are all things that President

Trump is doing within 30 days.



STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I think the -- I think the same thing. I think if you look at the lines of work, I kind of break it

down into three verticals of three buckets. The first is kind of national security and sovereignty, and that's your intelligence, the Defense

Department, Homeland Security.

The second line of work is what I refer to as economic nationalism, and that is Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Steven Mnuchin at Treasury, Lighthizer at

Trade, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller, these people that are rethinking how we're going to reconstruct the -- our trade arrangements around the world.

The third, broadly, line of work is what is deconstruction of the administrative state. And if you ...


BANNON: So I think -- I think - I think the three most important things -- I think one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history was his

immediate withdrawal from TPP. That got us out of a -- got us out of a trade deal and let our sovereignty come back to ourselves, the people, the

mainstream media don't get this, but we're already working in consultation with the Hill. People are starting to think through a whole raft of

amazing and innovative, bilateral relationships -- bilateral trading relationships with people that will reposition America in the world as a --

as a fair trading nation and start to bring jobs, high value-added manufacturing jobs, back to the United States of America.

On the -- on the - on the national security part, it was certainly the first -- I think the first two E.O.s that you start to see implemented here

of the last couple of days under General Kelly. And that is, the rule of law is going to exist when you talk about our sovereignty and you talk

about immigration. General Kelly and Attorney General Sessions are adamant -- you know, that and you're going to start to see I think with the defense

budget, we're going to talk about next week when we took -- bring the budget out and also with certain things about the plan on ISIS and what

General Mattis and these guys think I think you'll start to see the other part of that.

But the third, this regulation.


BANNON: In every business leader we've had in, is saying not just taxes, but it is -- it is also the regulation. I think the consistent, if you

look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason, and that is the deconstruction, the way the progressive left runs, is if they can't

get it passed, they're just going to put in some sort of regulation in a -- in an agency. That's all going to be deconstructed, and I think that

that's why this regulatory thing is so important.

SCHLAPP: We had Dr. Larry Arnn on the stage earlier today. And he brought up the fact that we're promulgating more laws and regulations than we ever

had before. And most of that are from these independent agencies that are just on autopilot. You guys can stop that.

And also, coming from the federal bunch as conservatives, we know that a lot of times we fight out the political wars over issues we care about, and

then all of a sudden, liberals on the bench like a lightning bolt out of the sky just change things.

And so, what you guys are saying about changing that order is amazing. You know, we all -- we all consume a lot of news; we watch and read a lot of

things. There's been a great democratization in news. People get their news now from literally hundreds and thousands of sites.

What would each of you say, what is the -- there's all these polls that are being put out again, is Donald Trump doing a good job, is Donald Trump

doing a bad job. I know what you all think. We've been hearing it all all day.

What is it that they keep getting wrong and do you think it ever gets fixed? What does the media keep getting wrong about this Trump phenomena

and what's happening out there in the country? Is there any hope that this changes?

PRIEBUS: I think there is hope that it's going to change. I mean, we sit here every day, and the president pumps out all of this work and the

executive orders and the punching through of the promises that he made to the American people.

So, we're hoping that the media would catch up eventually. But we're so conditioned to it, I'm personally so conditioned to hearing about why

President Trump isn't going to win the election. Why one -- why a controversy in the primary is going to take down President Trump. I lived

through it, as chairman of the party. And it really hit me because it was maybe the summer of 2015, and you remember, the media was constantly

pounding President Trump. And the polling kept getting better and better and better, for President Trump.

[14:04:58] But it was when I went home and got out of this town. And I went back to Kenosha, and I talked to my neighbor, and I said, "Bob, what

do you think?" And he goes, "Man, I really love that Trump."


PRIEBUS: And I said, "Sandy, what do you think?" She says, "I'm -- we're for Trump."

And it was, as you all lived through it, too, because you all had different people you were for, but you kept running into your neighbors and you kept

running into people that you know. And what did they kept telling you? They kept telling you, "Trump, Trump, Trump." And so ...

AUDIENCE: Trump, Trump, Trump .

SCHLAPP: So tomorrow, OK? Just be patient.

PRIEBUS: I knew, and so it was back then, my family and my sister, who's a doctor out in San Diego. And it just kept -- everyone around me -- that

nothing -- it was impenetrable. Because it goes back to what I said before, which is that the country was hungry for something far more -- far

bigger than one story or one-off issue. It was something that people wanted in this country, that was real, and some of those are going to

change the direction that we were heading. And it was President Trump, that was the answer.

BANNON: The reason Reince and I are good partners is that we can disagree. It's not only not going to get better. It's going to get worse every day.



BANNON: And here's why. By the way, the internal logic makes sense. They're corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed --

adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. President Trump really laid this out, as Reince said, many years ago at

CPAC. It's really CPAC that really originally gave him the springboard. It's the first time at Breitbart we start seeing him, and see -- saw how

people, you know, his speech has resonated with people.

And then he would go out to these smaller town halls later and really he got traction with the same message he's bringing today. Here's the only --

here's why it's going to get worse, because he's going to continue to press his agenda. And as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get

better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every

day -- every day, it is going to be a fight. And that is what I'm proudest about Donald Trump. All the opportunities he had to waiver off this; all

the people who have come to him and said, "Oh, you've got to moderate." Every day in the Oval Office, he tells Reince and I, "I committed this to

the American people; I promised this when I ran; and I'm going to deliver on this."


SCHLAPP: How novel. How interesting. I remember I was being asked by some reporters - they're like why is Trump doing X, Y or Z? And I said,

because he said he would do it on the campaign trail. It's really not that complicated, is it?

But no, there are -- there are...


SCHLAPP: OK, I like that one. There are some -- there are some parts of this, though, that are fitful. The American Conservative Union which puts

on CPAC was created after Barry Goldwater lost in 1964, in an effort to take all different kinds of voices from the right in the conservative

movement and bring them together.

So there is this question. There are those folks that consider themselves, you know, classical liberals or conservatives or Reagan conservatives.

There are other folks that consider themselves libertarians. There are other folks that are part of this new Trump movement. And Trump brought a

lot of new people. There's probably in this -- people in this crowd that wouldn't have been in this crowd before.

So there's a lot of diversity here. We all know it when we're at the bar at the end of the day. And can this Trump movement be combined with what's

happening at CPAC and other conservative movements for 50 years? Can this be brought together? And is -- this is going to save the country?


PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, it has to, and we have to stick together as a team. I think that what you've got is an incredible opportunity. We've

got an incredible opportunity to use this victory that President Trump and all of us, and you, and everyone that made this happen, put together. And

work together, continue to communicate.

It's very similar -- some of the core principles of President Trump are very similar to those of Ronald Reagan. When you look at peace through

strength and building up the military, I mean, how many times have you heard President Trump said, "I'm going to build up the military; I'm going

to take care of the vets; I'm going to make sure that we don't have a Navy that's decimated, and planes that are nowhere to be found."

Peace through strength, deregulation. You think about the economy, the economic boom that was created. And some of it is going to take a little

time, I mean, to get the jobs back; to get more money in people's pockets. Those things are going to happen.

And in the meantime, we have to stick together and make sure that we've got President Trump for eight years. And he's somebody that we know that we

can -- we're going to be very proud of as these things get done. But it's going to take all of us working together to make it happen.

[14:09:58] BANNON: You know, I've said - I've said that there's a new political order that's being formed out of this, and it's still being

formed. But if you look at the wide degree of opinions in this room -- whether you're a populist; whether you're a limited government

conservative; whether you're libertarian; whether you're an economic nationalist; we have wide and sometimes divergent opinions. But I think we

-- the center core of what we believe, that we're a nation with an economy, not an economy just in some global marketplace with open borders, but we

are a nation with a culture and a -- and a reason for being. And I think that's what unites us, and I think that that is what's going to unite this

movement going forward. President Trump tomorrow is coming, I think, really to express his appreciation.

SCHLAPP: Absolutely. The vice president's coming tonight.

BANNON: The vice president is coming tonight, and the reason is he understands in CPAC there are many, many, many voices, but he's here to say

appreciation and hope - and to drive this movement forward. This is really where he got his launch, you know, with his ideas in the conservative


SCHLAPP: Absolutely.

BANNON: What seven, six years ago -- five years ago, and he wanted to show his appreciation.

We're at the top of the first inning of this. And it's going to take just as much fight, just as much focus and just as much determination. And that

one thing I'd like to leave you guys today with is that, we want you to have our back. But more importantly ...


BANNON: We -- by the way, President Trump -- we never doubted that for a second, but also and more importantly, hold us accountable. Hold us

accountable to what we promised, hold us accountable for delivering on what we promised.

SCHLAPP: Let me just ask as we -- as we close this out. It's time for -- you know, you guys have been so kind of kumbaya here, it's kind of time for

a little bit of a group hug.


Let me ask you -- OK, I'm sorry I'm going to do the Barbara Walter's thing for those of you who remember Barbara Walters. Let me ask you, what do you

-- you've worked really closely with Steve?


SCHLAPP: You say your offices -- I know what two offices they are, they are really close to each other. What do you like the most about him?


SCHLAPP: Hold on, let him think.

PRIEBUS: I love - I love how many collars he wears, interesting look.


PRIEBUS: One thing, we're different, but where we're very similar is that I think that he is very dogged in making sure that every day the promises

that President Trump has made are the promises that we're working on every day, number one.

Number two, he's incredibly loyal. And number three, which I think is a really important quality as we were working together to see to it that

President Trump's vision is enacted is that, he's extremely consistent.

That, as you can imagine, there are many things hitting the president's ear and desk every day. Different things that come to the president that want

to move him off of his agenda, and Steve is very consistent and very loyal to the agenda, and is a presence that I think is very important to have in

the White House and I consider him .


PRIEBUS: But -- and secondly -- and a very dear friend -- a very dear friend and someone that we -- that I work with every second of the day and

actually we cherish -- I cherish his friendship.

BANNON: Yes, you know, I can run a little hot on occasions.


BANNON: And Reince is indefatigable. I mean, it's low key, but it's determination. The thing I respect most and the only way this thing works

is Reince is always kind of steady, he's got Katie and some other people around him, it's very steady.

But his job is, by far, one of the toughest jobs I've ever seen in my life. To make it run every day and to make the trains and you only see the

surface. What's going on underneath it, planning what's three weeks down the road to the -- to the degree that we're planning it, of all these E.O.s

and legislation and -- you know, whether it's the tax reform bill, Reince is indefatigable in saying, we've got to drive this forward, we've got to

drive this forward.

And I think it's one of the reasons we have such a -- and by the way, this started back in August when we had this campaign where we were outgunned,

out manned, you know, outspent. And it was because President Trump had a message, he had this charisma and he had people like here at CPAC and we

just put our heads down and that's where -- and Reince has been unwavering since the very first moment I met him.

SCHLAPP: Well, it's a great honor to have you both here. I think -- I think the best thing we could do is to let these two guys get back to work,

what do you think?

PRIEBUS: That's right.

SCHLAPP: Thanks for being here.

PRIEBUS: Thank you, Matt.



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN AMANPOUR HOST: You have been watching Reince Priebu, the White House Chief of Staff, and Steve Martin, President Trump's

Chief Strategist talk to the CPAP conference in Washington. And in a moment, we're going to drill down further.

[14:14:54] Tonight, who has the ear of President Trump, the Chief Strategist Steve Bannon or the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus? The sparring

pair have just spoken at a big conservative conference near Washington. Can the U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Mexico, build bridges across

Trump's wall and his deport to Mexico plan? The Former President Felipe Calderon joins us live. And the battle for ISIS stronghold, Mosul. Fast

and furious, Iraqi Forces recapture the airport.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. We have just been listening and hearing from the Senior White

House Adviser, Steve Bannon or as the critics call him, President Bannon, speaking at CPAC, the annual gathering of the conservative movement in

Washington D.C.

Bannon spoke alongside his colleague, the Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, hoping to crush rumors of palace intrigue inside the Trump team.

Washington Post reporter David Weigel is on site at CPAC in Washington and he joins us right now.

David, let me get your immediate take because Reince Priebus is as always, slightly calmer, but talked about 40 years of change being ushered in with

the new Supreme Court. And Bannon was his usual pugilistic pugnacious self, which frankly, what I considered a disgusting attack on the press

once again. What do you see as coming out of that on stage meeting there?

DAVID WEIGEL, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Well, what was new to CPAC, at least new from the main stage, as a place that's supposed to cohere a

conservative movement, was Bannon's attack on globalists.

This is a not very secret code word that he uses to attack to (INAUDIBLE) international trade of liberal consensus around the world. And that

encompasses everything for the one freer immigration policy to freer trade deals.

So that, I felt was actually more important than a lot of the other verbiage you heard who has, kind of, a right hook, left hook deal for

Reince Priebus kept saying things that movement conservatives wanted to hear. Bannon kept promising the things that the nationalists who don't

normally republican voted for Trump wanted to hear.

AMANPOUR: David, he did actually call the media, the corporatist, globalists media, and he also suggested -


AMANPOUR: -- that there is a big fight ahead inside the country. I mean, there was no sense that this administration was actually going to, at least

in Bannon's view, going to try to knit the country back together again because he said it's going to get worse, it's going to be a battle. If you

think that they are going to let you take back your country without a fight, you're wrong. So what is he laying out there?

WEIGEL: Well, he's laying out something that's similar to what Pat Buchanan, Adviser to Nixon in the 1960s, which is that, if you break the

country in half and your piece is bigger, you win. That is Steve Bannon's philosophy. And again, unique in this country because you can win the

presidency with the minority of the popular vote, which Trump did. And so, he is making very little appeal to anyone who did not vote for Donald


The idea being that that base is going to turn out regularly enough to re- elect him by any margin. And the lesson of the election for them, you don't need to win two thirds of the vote to take power, you need to win 46

percent and have Republicans in office to get almost everything you want. It's a - it is a very minimal strategy that does feed on division. But for

-- unlike Barack Obama, division is not a problem for the way Trump and Bannon view this job.

Division in the country means that Republicans, conservatives are united against a common cultural enemy and one, that can be the media, for a while

it was Hillary Clinton, and one day it might be something else. The media is the target right now. The globalist media expands into enemies, I

think, you can always say enemies, foreign and domestic from the Bannon perspective, from media here to anyone in the world who wants us to trade.

AMANPOUR: Yes. You mentioned foreign and obviously, people around the world are watching, because many people are asking first, who is actually

Donald Trump's main, sort of, ear -- who has his ear? Is it Bannon or is it Priebus? And Bannon actually did say that, you know, the biggest issue,

he thought for the world was, you know, implementing what he called a nationalist economic agenda, and the most significant thing was pulling out

of the TPP.

He didn't say much and ordered Priebus about the Europeans or anything else. But what message do you think the world gets from what Bannon said

about that?

[14:19:49] WEIGEL: Well, it's been pretty consistent with the way Bannon has acted as a - even in his own regard, it's diplomat, and the way he's

talked about Europeans. If you read Breitbart News, which is the site he ran until he joined the Trump campaign, it's always seen, not a -- not the

Republican Party that deserves -- that needs to take power in this country. A conservative movement allied with Nigel Farage does in Britain, what

Marine Le Pen does in France, a nationalist politics.

And Reince Priebus' answers are similar to the answers that Paul Ryan gives when he's asked about some of these policies. It's basically the old

Republican Party lost to Barack Obama with a more expansive, traditionally conservative vision. This Republican Party won an election and you heard

Reince Priebus talked about neighbors who were impressed by Trump. Honestly, that does a lot of the work of papering over whether his policy

is right or wrong.

The fact that average people who were not voting Republican, chose it in the last election, so they're bringing a lot of voters in the Republican

Party, is their view again, even though it's not larger than the Republican coalition that won 20 years ago. It's smaller than that, but the fact that

it won this election means, we're going to keep moving forward, we, being the administration with Bannon's idea of what the Republicanism is, not

Paul Ryan, not anybody else.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's the next question, obviously, because again, around the world, people want to know, you know, who is giving Donald Trump the

most important advice because people here around the world see various tweeds, they hear certain things coming out of the White House. Then, they

have, sort of, a parade of Secretaries of State Defense, the Vice President, others, coming to, sort of, you know, re-trade a more

traditionalist foreign policy.

But what do you think? I mean, is it going to be in reversion to traditionalist some of Trump's friends say or is it going to be this very,

you know, as I said, pugnacious, our way or the highway retrenchment ala Bannon.

WEIGEL: I think the retrenchment ala Bannon but also ala Trump. He's often accused of adopting whatever politics he needs at that moment. I

think in some social issues, certainly, he moved from being pro-choice, pro-abortion rights to pro-life or against abortion rights, but only in

terms of how he views the world, it's been very consistent from what Donald Trump was just kind of, weighing in on politics in the 80s, as a


He thinks there is a zero-sum game happening across the world at any given moment, trade that benefits Japan has trade that hurts America and Steve

Bannon has added to that -- to that idea of how international economies work and America's role in it add to that, I think, a sense that America

should close its borders; that there is a threat -- existential threat posed by immigration, posed by Islam in this country.

All of that added together. So politically, it combines, I think, the way you see some right-wing populist movements in Europe. It combines the

people who always vote Republican in this country with people who might just only agree with the trade part of this or only agree that immigration

is changing their cities or changing their towns too much. It is a politics of addition of different, I think, phobias starting with the

America's place in the world, continuing with the threat that they see as immigrants and everything else I'm discussing, coming to America. And it

is a very productive strategy. But for now, they see it is working.

AMANPOUR: All right, David Weigel of the Washington Post, battling down the hatches that certainly one of the messages we got today. Thank you so


And as you were talking about immigration, of course, this comes as Trump's latest foreign policy confrontation comes to a head. The Secretary of

State Rex Tillerson and the Secretary of Homeland Security John Kennedy Kelly are in Mexico City, and they've just both spoken publicly.

They're meeting with their Mexican counterparts and with President Enrique Pena Nieto, who, as you remember, cancelled a trip to Washington last month

after an escalating spat with President Trump over that promised border wall.

And now, Trump has upped the ante, announcing a crackdown on old documented immigrants at home, undocumented immigrants, which could mean a huge

increase in those deported to Mexico.

That, plus threats to renegotiate NAFTA are not going down well South of the border at all, where there's a rising sense of indignation and

defiance. President Trump met with the Secretary of State just before Tillerson left for Mexico.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I said, that's going to be a tough trip because we have to be treated fairly by Mexico. That's going to be a

tough trip.

But he's over there with General Kelly, who's been unbelievable at the border. You see what's happening at the border. All of a sudden, for the

first time, we're getting gang members out, we're getting drug lords out, we're getting really bad dudes out of this country.


AMANPOUR: Well, we've actually had no reports of any of that happening yet because the ink is barely dry on the order. Felipe Calderon is a former

President of Mexico, and he joins me now from Mexico City.

Mr. President, thank you for joining us. Let me just ask you how you think the meeting today is going down in Mexico. How will really Mr. Tillerson

be received, given all of this hype that is following him to Mexico?

[14:25:04] FELIPE CALDERON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: But definitely, it's going to be a tough meeting, and I hope that the decision could be to

understand what exactly Mexico means for the United States.

In terms of the issue, they are going to talk. Mexico means a lot for the United States in terms of national security, means a lot in terms of

fighting organized crime, narco traffic. And means a lot in a lot of issues that the American economy needs to support. So, I hope that our

representatives could be able to put on the table, a comprehensive visions of the bilateral relationship.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to dig down deeper into that in a second. But first, I want to ask you, because obviously, there are all these new policies that

have been announced and unveiled. What will Mexico say and actually do when it's asked to take, you know, deported immigrants, if that comes, as

President - as President Trump has suggested and the Homeland Security Chief has suggested, you know, I believe, General Kelly, what will Mexico

say to taking Central Americans, for instance?

CALDERON: Mexico must reject such unilateral decisions. I know I realized that the American government has the right to define its own public policy

related for instance, in terms of immigration enforcement of the law. However, such a massive measure, deported people towards Mexico is

unacceptable, because it's going to create a (INAUDIBLE) crisis in my country that is not going to be good for anyone, not for Mexico, neither

for the United States.

We need to think about mechanism that we can put in place in order to establish all -- more order in such social and economic phenomenon which is

immigration. But let me tell you Christiane, that the net rate of immigration of Mexican workers to the United States went to zero in 2010

and currently is negative. So the problem is not a net flow of Mexican workers to the United States.

Now, I know that a lot of people that are illegal there and the American government has the right to enforce the law, but it is better for both and

it's important to create the mechanism to adapt all those real workers to the American economy, because there are some sectors, for instance,

agricultural sector in the U.S., in which 65 percent of the workers are in the field, cropping and all day, they all are deported. The American

economy would suffer a lot and the same to several sectors and manufacturing services and tourism and several more.

AMANPOUR: But Mr. President, Donald Trump and his team seemed to have a real bee under their bonnet about Mexico, and you have actually, you know,

written recently, that President Trump has shown a special interest in "abusively hitting Mexico, knowing that there is a huge asymmetry between

our countries."

So, what leverage do you have, I know you've talked about security cooperation and all these other things and economic strands that are - that

are linked, of course, but what leverage do you really have and how can you stop the president doing what he says he's going to do unilaterally, if he

wants to?

CALDERON: Well, at first, we need to explain to the world that he's a bully. He is bothering out because his performance, it's about a bully

thing. And the way (INAUDIBLE) need to stop such performances put in the table all the instrument of Mexico actually has.

Some of those instruments is, for instance, the United States could not take for granted my country in terms for later but for instance, sharing

intelligence, National Security of the American people realize a lot in the corporation of the Mexican side, that is one instrument.

Second, narco traffic and organized crime for instance, President Trump, again, is coming back to the old speech blaming Mexico about what is

actually an American problem because we are not the largest consumer country in the world about narcotics. And Mexico, it's key issue for

America in order to fix that problem.

But, if the United States don't want to be like corporate relations or cooperative relationship between both countries, we don't need - we are not

obligated to cooperate with United States in any of those issues, and the same with immigration itself.

The problem, as I've already say, is not with Mexican workers. Now, is with Central American workers coming through Mexico to the U.S. And again,

if United States wants to fight that, needs Mexico cooperating. Well, we don't see a more comparative attitude coming from the American government,

we don't need to cooperate. And yes, we can lose a lot, but the American can lose a lot and they need to understand, don't take Mexico for granted.

[14:30:17] AMANPOUR: You did also say and you've recently written that in your own words, "Sabotaging Mexico's economy will not contribute to

regional development." I mean, I think you're suggesting that if Donald Trump wants to renegotiate NAFTA, or do things that might hurt your

economy, that would act as a push factor rather than the opposite. In other words, more Mexicans would want to go into the U.S. looking for jobs.

CALDERON: Definitely. We need to explain that to the voters and the constituents of the Republicans Party, and the voters for Donald Trump

himself. The more employees, Donald Trump, the more jobs Trump destroys in Mexico, the more immigration the American will receive. That's a fact.

It's 101 of the economy. We have a very complimentary and successful complimentary economies. We are growing together, trade is growing

together, creating million jobs in both sides of the border, creating prosperity both sides of the border. He wants to stop the trade between

Mexico and the United States. The American society and his borders are going to suffer a lot. And they, the American society, needs to realize

that. We need to say that to them.

AMANPOUR: Former President Calderon, thank you so much for joining us from Mexico City tonight.

And after a break, ramping up the fight against ISIS in Mosul. Two and a half years after the Iraqi army abandoned the place to them. It is now

proving it can be a source of pride not humiliation for its country.

So, is this the beginning of the end for ISIS? I would ask the U.K. commander on the ground, next.


[14:35:00] AMANPOUR: Iraqi forces are pressing their offensive against the ISIS stronghold in Western Mosul. And today, they quickly captured Mosul

airport. They are heavily supported by U.S. and British forces.

And a similar attack is underway in Syria. Helping local forces retake Raqqa from ISIS. And now, the U.S. commander for the Middle East says,

"U.S. needs to maintain momentum and perhaps even send in more of its own troops to Syria to support the effort with things like long-range artillery

and attack helicopters.

Now, the fight to retake the heavily populated western part of Mosul is a fierce one. And joining me now from Baghdad is Major General Rupert Jones.

He's Deputy Commander for Operation Inherent Resolve, as that offensive is known.

General Jones, welcome to the program. Thanks so much for being with us. I know it's late there, but can you give us the status of the airport? Is

it actually completely and officially now within, you know, liberated forces hands?

RUPERT JONES, OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE DEPUTY COMMANDER: Well, good afternoon, and thank you very much for having me on the program.

As you say, the Iraqis have made a really great start to the operation to liberate West Mosul. Today was day five. It's been a really good day.

And as you say, the Iraqis are on the airfield. You know, it looks recently well-secured, but it's, I think, you know, we should just be a

little bit patient. It will really be for the Iraqis to say for certain once they're confident they're holding it.

But across the frontage, Iraqis have made really, really positive progress today. And what they're doing very, very effectively is presenting the

enemy with multiple dilemmas, that ISIS had just not able to deal with.

AMANPOUR: Well, you say not able to deal with, but you're also saying that perhaps they haven't fully secured the airport. What are they -- what are

they getting back from ISIS in terms of pushback?

JONES: Well, the way the Iraqis operate very effectively is they curb a piece of ground, they consolidate, and then they do what they call "back

clear". So they go back on themselves and make sure there's no enemy hiding away in tunnels and buildings, and that's what they'll need to do at

the airport. So their only - they're at the airport, it looks like they're holding the airport. But they'll want to go back and make sure that

there's no enemy hiding, who can oppose a threat to them.

AMANPOUR: And can I ask you because, of course, you know, throughout this offensive, we started -- as you know of course better than I in October to

get past -- get back Eastern Mosul. A huge concern around the world and in Iraq for all the civilians there.

We saw that Eastern Mosul was taken pretty much without too much harm to the civilians, what is the status of Western Mosul? Is it more difficult

to take it back and try to spare the civilians? Is it going to -- you know, what do you expect them to have to suffer during this liberation?

JONES: Yes, I mean, I think is one of the things that characterizes this battle. You know, the reality is that ISIS are using the population Mosul

as hostages. That makes the job very difficult for the Iraqi security forces. But there's one thing that's really characterized the liberation

of the east was the consideration for the civilians that was displayed by everyone in Iraqi system from Prime Minister al-Abadi down to the troops on

the ground.

And that's what we're seeing again in the west, it means the Iraqis need to be very deliberate in their clearance. We would expect from that point of

view, the west to be a little bit trickier than the east. The west is where the old townies, the streets are tight, the alleyways -- it will be

difficult to clear through. But what the Iraqis have demonstrated is that absolute consideration for civilian lives in complete contrast, of course,

to ISIS who do continued display of brutality and a complete absence of humanity.

AMANPOUR: One of the other troubling sort of characteristic as some of these previous attempts to liberate is when, you know, local, you know,

forces backed by let's say Iranian-backed groups and others. They have actually shown some rather fierce, you know, revenge against some of those

who they're going after. Is there any risk of that happening this time?

[14:40:02] JONES: Look, I think what we saw in east and what we're seeing in the west, is the Iraqi security forces are operating very well together.

They're absolutely working in collaboration over different elements as Iraqi security forces are working well together. Absolutely in accordance

with Prime Minister al-Abadi's orders.

I'm not, you know - it's really been the hallmark of their success in recent times, the backend of the operation in East Mosul, and has

absolutely characterized the way they've started operations in West Mosul.

And as result of that, as you -- as you said already, they've -- they're on - they're at the airport, and critically, away to the west of the airport.

They've also now established a -- an initial foothold into the southern edge of Mosul City itself, which is -- which is a greatest - great and very

important achievement.

AMANPOUR: This obviously couldn't have happened without a huge amount of support, you know, over the last couple of years to get them back into a

fighting force, but also now. Can you explain to us exactly what U.S. Special Forces, British Special Forces, what are you doing to help this


JONES: We'll let you know that the almost of geniuses of this campaign is that it's being executed by our partners, in the case of Iraq -- by the

Iraqi Security Forces. It is their country, it's their towns, their cities that had been -- that have been taken by ISIS and it is they who are -- who

are liberating them. Our role -- we're in support. You know, the mattress by within through the Iraqi Security Forces. And that's exactly what it

is. So our role is to support. We helped train the Iraqi Security Forces prepare them for battle before they cross the line of departure.

And in the fight, we of course support them provide them with the fire support they need to fight, the airstrikes they need to help them on the

move. But beyond (INAUDIBLE) the people in the front line are clearing the towns, the cities, the streets of breaking the winter into South Mosul as

we speak on the Iraqi security forces.

AMANPOUR: OK. Let me ask you to cast your eye broader and wider to Syria. You heard what I said that the commander of forces in that region has told

reporters that they don't want to lose momentum and that the U.S. may have to, you know, put more of its own troops on the ground in Syria and tried

to ramp up the fight against ISIS in Raqqa, perhaps long-range artillery, attack helicopters, but just get out there and do it quicker and faster and

with more, you know, Weston U.S. forces. What are you hearing about that? Is that a good idea, do you think?

JONES: Well, I'll be a - I'll be a foolish commander here in Baghdad to second - to second guess that, but look, you know, it's really important

that we pressure in Syria, that we pressure in Iraq. You know, it's a - it's a front all the way between the -- between the two countries. So we -

our partner forces are closing in Raqqa, they're isolation Raqqa. And again, that operation is going really well. And as you say, you know, in

exactly the same way as we are now in Iraq, our job is to provide the necessary support to our partners.

And our partners in Syria are different than Iraqi security forces. They need slightly different support. And of course we continue to look at

exactly what forces it's appropriate to provide in Syria to ensure our partners succeed, and be quite clear, succeed, they will.

AMANPOUR: So, this is the beginning of the end, Major General Jones? Is this the beginning of the end of ISIS?

JONES: Well, you know, the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa, they - they're kind of the capitals, if you like, of the self-proclaimed caliphate. I'm

very confident those two cities are going to be liberated. Those - that will be a crushing blow on the enemy. I think what we can say is that we

are now at the beginning of the end of Isis in Mosul. But we shouldn't be under any illusions. There are tough days ahead on the streets of Mosul.

It will be a tough fight to fully liberate that city.

And indeed, once Mosul is liberated, that is most certainly not the end. That, you know, there's a long way to go end of that unit. It is a long way

to go before the government of Iraq is fully liberated, their country from the scourge that is ISIS.

AMANPOUR: Major General Rupert Jones, thank you so much for joining us.

And ahead after the next break, imagine going back to the beginning. The Indian grandmothers trying to catch up with their grandchildren in class.

It's a first. It's next.


[14:45:00] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. That conservative conference underway today outside Washington is a stage not only for

president's -- for the president's top two advisers, but for republican heavyweights including Ted Cruz and Vice President Mike Pence.

Phil Mattingly is at the conference with CNN, and he's joining me now from there. Phil, welcome to the program. For our - for our global audience,

what is the takeaway from this year's CPAC conference, and particularly, what we've all just seen, this onstage -- I don't know -- was it a love

fest, or what, between the two big dogs of the administration, Bannon and Priebus?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, everything is great. I think that was the message, Christiane, that Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus were

trying to convey right now, and with good reason. We're told from advisors inside the White House if there's a lot of dissension in the ranks,

sometimes they split with one another on perspectives and with good reason. Reince Priebus comes from the establishment side of the Republican Party,

Steve Bannon, more or less, the exact opposite of that.

I think the most interesting element of this conference, you look at what it represents, it is a conservative conference. It is not a republican

conference. This is the far right of the Republican Party. This is a conference that President Trump chose not to attend last year because he

was worried about protesters.

Two years ago, he was mocked when he spoke at this conference because people didn't believe he would actually run for president. This year, it

is Trump's conference. Kellyanne Conway, Christiane, another top advisor to President Trump, said that they should call it not CPAC but TPAC. And

we've seen a real kind of show of force from the Trump administration, recognizing the importance of this conference, recognizing the importance

of the conservative grassroots activists that attend this conference, and the necessity, Christiane, that those activists really start to turn out as

they look across the country and see some of the outcry to their early policies.

[14:50:00] AMANPOUR: You know, Phil, you raise a very interesting and important point about it. Being not a republican conference but a

conservative conference, and one that has a lot of far right in it, and you know, because we've all been discussing it, and Steve Bannon is the father

of this alt-right, otherwise, being described as sort of a Neo-Nazi kind of movement. How, you know, far have we come? I mean, it's really been

integrated now into the Republican Party. Is that right?

MATTINGLY: Yes, there's been a merging, no question about it. And look, Steve Bannon is trying to distance himself from the alt-right. Certainly

distance himself from any kind of strains that involve Neo-Nazism. But keep in mind, Steve Bannon wasn't even invited to CPAC last year.

Breitbart, the kind of conservative fringe news outlet that he used to run, was kind of a nemesis of the conservative groups at different points over

the last couple of years, and now, he's on stage. And I think it's an interesting thing to watch.

If you look at Reince Priebus, the establishment republican; if you look at a lot of republicans, Christiane, and I talk to regularly on Capitol Hill,

they have been scolded by Steve Bannon's news operation over the course in the last couple years. Now, he's in the White House. And I think what's

been so interesting is watching these groups kind of meld together, try to become one, and try to be a unified force here.

There's still a lot of caution, a little unsettlement, if you will, when you talk to a lot of conservatives. Is this real? Is this something we

can get behind? They like what President Trump, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, have accomplished in their first couple months. But they're not

always totally sure, not always trusting of their pathway going forward.

So this was an important moment. Getting these people that attend this conference behind this administration is crucial to their success. And

that's exactly what Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, in their little buddy- buddy comedy act that they put on today, tried to convey, I think.

AMANPOUR: You know, it may seem sort of interesting from a - from a perspective of where you are. But here, it really is quite frightening in

terms of what other people are trying to -- trying to figure out what's happening in the White House.

Who is the voice who best channels the president? Is it Steve Bannon? And if so, do his views that Europe, for instance, is a flawed institution as

he's reported to have said to a German official? And we know that Bannon is behind a lot of the populist movements that are going for election here

in Europe. That -- I mean, what do you -- what do you say to people who are watching and wonder whose advice the president is taking?

MATTINGLY: Look, there's no question about it. Steve Bannon is enormously powerful in the White House. He is somebody who President Trump channels,

I think, in his message. A lot of the messages we heard from -- on the campaign weren't necessarily traditional republican messages on things like

trade, on things like immigration on some level. Those are the messages that Steve Bannon, that Breitbart, have been pushing forward into the

Republican Party, not with the Republican Party, into the Republican Party, over the last couple of years.

I think as you know, there's a lot of concern on the international stage, there's a lot of concern, frankly, in the national security, foreign

policy, establishment here in Washington about what his involvement, what his advice means to the foreign policy of the United States going forward.

I will say, what was most interesting about Steve Bannon being on stage today, was that Steve Bannon was on stage today. You don't see him talk a

lot, and I think that adds a lot to the mystery, it adds a lot to the concern, "What does it mean going forward?"

But as you know, the call that we've reported on, that he had with the German Ambassador as Mike Pence was in Europe, talking about the importance

of E.U., the importance of NATO. There's a lot of question right now if Bannon is actually inside the room, undercutting these efforts by Secretary

Mattis, Secretary Tillerson, Vice President Mike Pence.

And the reality right now, Christiane, is at these early stages, we don't know who's winning these battles. What we do know is Steve Bannon is one

of the last voices President Trump hears before he goes out and speaks publicly. And that, I think, can say a lot, actually.

AMANPOUR: Well, Phil, you keep your head down there because that is a war zone. Steve Bannon once again launching diatribes against what he call,

"the corporatist and globalist media".

And he also talks, Phil, about a fight in America. There was no sense of trying to heal the divide between, you know, very deeply divided United


So, thank you for joining us. We'll keep drilling down on this. Thanks a lot.

And the final for tonight. Imagine your granddaughter helping you with your homework. That's right. In India, many elderly women who are not

able to go to school as children are doing so now decades later. One special school is opening up to them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every day elderly women come to a school called "Aajibaichi Shala", for the education they missed out on earlier in life.

[14:54:54] Because most girls weren't allowed to go to school, they can only dream of an education.

Unable to sign their names to important documents their whole lives, the women show off their signature with great pride today.

And for most of them, getting to attend school is one of the best parts of their day.

Though the school for grannies is only a one-year program, many of the women have plans to continue their education.


AMANPOUR: And proof positive that it is never too late to learn.

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

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.