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A World View On Trump's Speech; Trump Changes Tone, But Will It Last?; Trump Calls For Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Plan; NYT: Russia Looks To Exploit Trump White House; Trump: U.S. "Willing To Find New Friends"; Yemen Raid Widow Attends Trump Speech; New Trump Travel Ban Delayed Following Speech; Former National Security Staffer On Why She Quit; Donald Trump Condemns Kansas Shooting In Speech; Brexit Bill Defeated In British House Of Lords; Yale Historian On The Threat Of Tyranny; Historian Discusses Rise of Populism And Far-Right; Protecting Democracies From Totalitarianism; The Congresswomen Wore White. Aired 2:00-2:30 p.m. ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: 5:00 p.m. Eastern in the SITUATION ROOM. For international viewers "AMANPOUR" is next, for our

viewers in North America "NEWSROOM" with Brianna Keilar starts right now.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN AMANPOUR HOST: Dissecting Donald Trump's first speech to Congress, disciplined, upbeat defying expectations. Was it a

Presidential pivot or one time performance? I'm joined by the former Republican Party Adviser and Presidential Candidate Evan McMullen.

Plus, she was a Muslim woman in Trump's White House, why she left after just eight days? Rumana Ahmed joins me from Washington. And we get a

world view on Trump's speech with Yale University Historian and Bestselling Author Timothy Snyder.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Pivot or performance, Donald Trump is getting high

praise for a more optimistic Presidential tone in his first speech to Congress last night. A far cry from the "carnage" he portrayed in that

inaugural address.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our children will grow up in a nation of miracles, when we fulfill this vision, when we

celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American greatness began. The time for small

thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us.


AMANPOUR: Critics are asking, will the President himself end trivial fights, arguments about crowd sizes, lies about votes, and twitter name

calling have been the hallmarks of his first 40 days. Now the tone did change last night, but what of the substance? Many of the ideas he

presented are still radical and others like on infrastructure spending hit a brick wall of republican orthodoxy. Evan McMullen was a lifelong

republican before he became an independent to run for president against Donald Trump. He's also worked for years as a CIA operative and he joins

me now from Washington. Mr. McMullen, welcome to the program. We did - Mr. McMullen, welcome to the program. We did actually speak one day before

the election. What do you make of last night's speech and how long do you think it will last?

EVAN MCMULLEN, Well, it was certainly a departure from the tone that we've heard from President Trump in the first 30 days of his Presidency and even

he the morning of the speech. So yesterday morning gave himself an A on substance or A in terms of what he's accomplished. But a C or a C minus in

his communication of what those - of his goals and his achievements.

So what we saw in this speech was a pivot perhaps in communication and messaging. We'll see if it was just a performance or a pivot. But I think

he and his team are learning that they can keep the substance of their vision, their nationalistic, nativist, populist vision for the country the

same while communicating it in a way that's more agreeable or easier to accept for most Americans. And I think that's what we saw last night.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you about one of his key pledges, and it was about infrastructure. We'll play that a little bit and we'll talk about it.


TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding, I'll be asking congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in

infrastructure of the United States finance through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs.


AMANPOUR: So Paul Ryan seated behind him did clap politely, but what do you think this - you know, deficit hawk is likely to make about? Will

President Trump get his way with his own republican party?

MCMULLEN: Well, I think that's a great question and we'll have to see how it plays out. But of course, a trillion dollar infrastructure program

along with all of the other spending that he wants to do without a credible way to pay for these things, at a time when we have a $20 trillion national

debt is a very difficult thing for fiscal conservatives who are concerned about our situation here in the United States fiscally to go along with.

So I think he may face challenges there.

But I have to tell you, Christiane, so much is changing in our political paradigm here in the United States, that it is possible that Paul Ryan and

other republicans will go along with this. I think it's a mistake, but it is possible that they will go along with him. I think that there are

greater concerns even than this based on what we heard last night and what we've heard from Trump previously though, dealing with his desire to align

with Russia, his desire to depart from the values based leadership and foreign policy that we've had over time. I think these things are truly

the troubling - the most troubling concern.

[14:05:19] AMANPOUR: Well, you mentioned Russia and I do actually would like to put to you a little bit of the speech where he didn't specifically

mention Russia, but people thought he was talking about it. Let's have a listen.



TRUMP: America is willing to find new friends and to forge new partnerships where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability,

not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found.


AMANPOUR: So Mr. McMullen, I want to ask you about that but particularly in light of what the New York Times has been reporting today. Basically an

article entitled Russia looks to Exploit White House Turbulence and quoting a Russian journalist who says "they, the Kremlin, think he's unstable but

he can be manipulated. That he's authoritarian and the person without a team." You know, even Putin sort of now thinking that he won't get such a

good deal from Trump and figuring out how to try to destabilize the western liberal order in other ways. What do you make of all of that?

MCMULLEN: Well, I don't take any of that at face value, I have to say. They interceded in our election to influence it on behalf of Donald Trump.

All of our intelligence, our top intelligence agencies have confirmed this, we'll learn more I think over time. But to a degree, I think this is the -

this is the Kremlin distancing themselves from that. It is to their advantage to do that because then it takes less pressure and less heat off

of Donald Trump who is facing enormous challenges with the media and a variety of investigations going on in the media, in government related to

his campaigns and his own contacts with the Russians. So I just don't take any of that at face value. What we can trust is what Russia does, and what

Russia does is undermine democracy in Europe and in the United States. And it is something that it should be of the most - highest concern to us in

Europe and here in at home - here in my home in the United States.

So one thing, you know, he said close to that clip that you played, was that he has no - he's not the leader of the world, he's the leader of the

United States, and that we respect other country's ability to chart their own course and their sovereignty. Of course, if you take that at face

value, that's good and true but the reality is that those are the talking points of Vladimir Putin and other authoritarians around the world who want

America to abandon freedom, abandon the cause of liberty. And that is what Donald Trump was speaking to. And my greatest concern in all of this is

that under Donald Trump's leadership, America will no longer be a voice for freedom in the world and that I think is very dangerous.

AMANPOUR: So finally, you know, I take on board what you're just saying but he did pledge again to go after ISIS and he actually paid tribute to

the widow of a Navy Seal who was killed in one of the recent attacks, right?. He has only order for an attack in Yemen. We're not going to play

the sound bite because everybody has seen it, but it was the emotional high point of the evening when the widow stood up. My question to you is this,

Donald Trump and his supporters say that was an amazing, you know, attack. You've got a lot of intelligence, but there's a lot of dispute about that.

What can you tell us about that raid on Yemen, and how worth it was it?

MCMULLEN: Well, frankly, it's hard to say without having your own eyes on the information, the Intel that was gathered from the raid. I take the

military's description of the raid and its benefit at face value. I think they probably did gain some valuable intelligence there. But the main

point is just that it is perfectly OK and should always happen that we conduct reviews of military and intelligence operations that don't go well

or that go well. I mean, Donald Trump is pushed against criticism of those activities and you know, there has to be that review. It's a normal thing.

But I will add my voice of appreciation to the special operator who lost his life in that raid, many others have done the same.

AMANPOUR: All right. Evan McMullen, thank you so much for joining us with that dissection of the speech last night. And we're going to dig down on

more of it.

A senior administration official tells CNN that the positive reaction to Trump's speech has led him to delay signing an amended, a new Muslim nation

travel ban, which was originally planned for today. The previous executive order bans citizens from seven Muslim countries for 120 days and it banned

all Syrian refugees indefinitely.

[14:10:00] Now, we do not know what a new one would look like or when it's coming, but all of this prompted my next guest to quit her job in the Trump

administration after just eight days. Rumana Ahmed was former Senior Adviser to the Deputy National Security Adviser. And she joins me now from

Washington. Welcome to the program Ms Ahmed. Can I ask you just to tell me your story for our audience. You're at the NSC, really important job,

and you left eight days into the Trump administration.

RUMANA AHMED, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR BEN RHODES: Absolutely. So, as anyone knows, you know, during a political

campaign a lot of rhetoric is used, a lot of promises are made, and in this one particularly, the fear of politics and a lack of access to factual

information was utilized to win votes. That being said, when any President comes into the Oval Office beginning day one, you have to take into

consideration the realities, and the realities are the impact on real lives. But also take into consideration the evidence that you're provided

and the expertise of those around you. So keeping all that in mind is why I had chosen to stay is because no matter the politics, the purpose of

government is to be of the people by the people and for the people.

AMANPOUR: So what caused you to change? I mean, what made it untenable for you?

AHMED: So, the Muslim ban was one of many things that might have - it was the final straw. However, I do want to emphasize that in my five and a

half years working there, majority of my work was engaging communities across the board to ensure that their voices were heard throughout the

decision-making process. And all of that being undermined and the fact that many of us who are working there were being excluded from the

decision-making process and the conversations taking place, really led up to a multitude of decisions of why I felt the need to leave. And now, in

my job which I was passionate about, I happen to be Muslim American, which is why yes, the Muslim ban on the seven Muslim majority countries -


AHMED: - you know, pulled a different trigger for me.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, I'm guessing that you're the only Muslim American in the NSC and you've come from - you described a friendlier

environment under the Obama administration because there are Donald Trump's key advisers and strategists who have essentially declared a new war on

Islam, whether it's Bannon, whether it's (INAUDIBLE), whether it's Miller, did that manifest itself, were people unfriendly to you?

AHMED: Well, personally, I just clarify that. There might have been other Muslim-Americans in the National Security Council that definitely were

under the previous administration, look again I was aware and I think all of us were aware of some of the views of these senior advisers. Well,

actually, we didn't even know before the election that they would be senior advisers, but yes, into week one realizing that some of the individuals who

were adamant about pitching the Islam - pitching the Islam in the west against each other and being against diversity, you know, were in the

senior roles was definitely concerning. And to see that a lot that as what was driving a lot of these policies, you know, it did initiate my decision

to leave. However, you know, it did not - it did not have anyone treat me differently or poorly or rudely. That definitely did not happen. But

again, you know, it was the broader impact that I was seeing of what was taking in place that initiated my decision to leave.

AMANPOUR: So, do you think the President when he started his speech last night by deploring the attacks on the Jewish Community Centers and the

cemeteries and also condemning a shooting in Kansas City, I think it was, did that go far enough?

AHMED: Well, that was important and definitely it's not enough. The fact that hundreds - I'm sorry, almost a hundred Jewish Community Centers have

received bomb threats, Jewish cemeteries vandalized and mosques have been set on fire at an alarming rate, it's not enough and in fact these are acts

of terrorism. These are organized efforts to intimidate the targeted communities and speaking of mosques being set on fire, this administration

has yet to publicly speak out against and condemn the rise in hate crimes against the Muslim-American community effectively condoning it by staying

silent. And you know, the last point that I want to make that is even though he referenced the Kansas shooting by not acknowledging the fact that

the suspect said that he attacked the Indian man killing one of them because he thought they were Iranian, it actually defeats the entire

purpose of even mentioning it in the first place. A President, any President given that every word they say and every call to action they make

matters and just as previous Presidents like Bush and Obama, it's important for this President to firmly state that no person in the - in the U.S.

should ever be targeted for who they are, what they look like or how they worship. It's also important for him to use this opportunity to lift up

some positive examples that are taking place right now showing unity such as -

[14:15:02] AMANPOUR: OK.

AHMED: - communities coming together to rebuild mosques, to rebuild the vandalized cemeteries.

AMANPOUR: All right.

AHMED: And calling every American including his supporters to do the same.

AMANPOUR: Rumana Ahmed, thank you very much. Indeed, of course, we'll be watching the atmosphere and the specifics when a new executive order on

that ban comes out, if and when it does.


AMANPOUR: Now, some breaking news just in from here in London, where the British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit Bill has suffered its first

defeat. The House of Lords voting in favor of an amendment that would protect the rights of E.U. nationals in the U.K. The bill needs to be

passed before the U.K. officially starts the process of leaving the E.U. And it now bounces back to the House of Commons for further consideration.

Now, of course, Brexit was the beginning of the populist surge we're now seeing all over the globe. And we dig deeper into that surge with Yale

historian and author Timothy Snyder next.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our program. While the U.K. and U.S. grapple with new political landscapes at home, far-right leaders hoping to

capitalize on the mood declaring the birth of a new world order all over Europe as French and Dutch voters prepare to go to the polls.

And as we navigate these turbulent times, our next guest argues that we must look to history to understand the challenges of today. Timothy Snyder

is a Yale historian and an expert on Eastern Europe and the Second World War. He joins us now to discuss the rise of populism, the risk of tyranny,

and how we can defend our democracies from a growing authoritarian threat. Timothy Snyder, welcome to the program. So that --


AMANPOUR: What I've just laid out, what if anything about President Trump's speech last night laid any of your fears or triggered alarm bells?

SNYDER: It didn't - it didn't lay any fears to rest. The main concern about Mr. Trump is that he does not respect traditional American

institutions, checks and balances, the rule of law, the Judiciary Congress. His entire style in the content of essentially every speech has been rather

in authoritarian tone. And when we evaluate the speeches, we also have to remember that most of the things he says are just emotional baits and


So before we evaluate them, he needs to give us some reason to think that the things he say --says actually describe reality. There's no reason to

think that so far.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting you say that, I didn't bring it out with our previous guest but there was a whole lot of fact-checking after the

speech. And a huge segment of America portrayed in ways that don't actually exactly exist, whether it's the immigration problem, the drug

problem, the crime problem or whatever else. But I want to ask you because, you know, his own advisers talk about economic nationalism, you

hear Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader in France talk about economic populism. You hear Steve Bannon talking about destroying the

administrative state. You know, these are all interlinked movements. What actually do you think it means? What will the result of these words and

clarion calls be?

[14:19:5] SNYDER: I want to say - I want to say one word about the truth. Because the truth - the truth is really important, without truth there's no

trust; without trust, there's no rule of law; without rule of law, there's no - there's no democracy. And sketchiness about the truth is actually one

thing that holds all of these populist movements together. The move that they are making is to say, "Let's disregard the basic historical fact that

democracy and prosperity have only been possible in larger institutions like the European Union, like the Transatlantic relationship, and let's

imagine a path that never existed in which countries alone were prosperous and democratic. That past doesn't exist. And this is the commonalty

between whether it's America first here or whether it's France or whether it's - whether it's Brexit.

AMANPOUR: So, you have said that one needs to look to history. Let me just quote something from your book, you know, "The European history of the

20th century shows us the societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse." Expand on that for this moment. I guess I'm asking, do you

really feel that an era of tyranny, not just authoritarianism, but tyranny is possible and that democracy is genuinely at risk right now?

SNYDER: In America, we have two basic problems, the first is that we're exceptionalists. We think that things that happen elsewhere can't happen

here, and I'm trying to inject a note of humility by saying that we're not actually wiser than other people, and what we ought to be doing is learning

the lessons of democratic failures in other places at time - in times.

Our other problem is that since 1989, we declared that history was over and therefore we've forgotten a lot of the important things that we used to

know about the decline and fall of democracy and about the rise of tyranny.

So, if you're asking me personally, yes, I do think that history is open. I do think American institutions can decline and collapse slowly or

quickly. And I do think that now is the time when Americans should be doing their part to own their institutions and to own their freedom to make

sure that it doesn't happen here.

AMANPOUR: So, the two-part question to that, do you feel that the pushback that we've seen on the streets, in the courts, in the press in the United

States since the election rises to that bar that you're saying, Americans need to own their civil society and their democracy. And by the same

token, how does Europe, which as you've said for 70 years, has brokered peace and democracy, how does it withstand this assault right now?

SNYDER: There's a big common problem, which is the globalization really does produce inequality, and the - unfortunately, the only way to handle

that inequality is together. So, when populists pull people apart, that's going to make problems worse. When American populists end the welfare

state, that's going to make problems worse. Americans reactions thus far have been very positive and quicker than I would have expected.

Nevertheless, I would say that the vast majority of the American population doesn't take into account that history is open, that the bandwidth with of

historical possibility is open, and that our institutions really can be lost.

That's why it's important for us to bring back the history of fascism, authoritarianism and communism, not because those exact things will happen

again, but because we have to be open to possibility and be prepared to do more than we're doing now.

AMANPOUR: And when you look to the future, what do you think is going to happen reading your tea leaves in these French Elections and Dutch

Elections? I mean, these are going to be the next big tests.

SNYDER: Yes. I - well, I think that everything is going to continue to go the wrong way for about another year and a half or so. And then I imagine

there's going to be a political realignment, both in Europe and the United States. I think - I think the two party set up, the right-left setup is

slowly going to break down into something just more like pro and anti- authoritarian, or to put in different way, the people who are openly for authoritarianism on both sides of the Atlantic are going to start saying

so, and the people who are against it, whether they're liberal or conservative, whatever it might be traditionally, we're going to have to

line up against it.

I think we're looking at a moment of political realignment, it's not that the European Union or America are ever going to be the same again. Whether

we all drift towards kleptocracy, authoritarianism, populism, or whether we all find a new way to assert the legitimacy of the rule of law and regain

cooperation, prosperity, that's what's up to us.

AMANPOUR: Timothy Snyder, fascinating, thank you so much indeed.

And commentators say Trump's daughter, Ivanka heavily influenced the passages last night about paid family leave. And next, we imagine the

congress women who wore white, sending their own sartorial signals at last night's speech to congress.


[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, President Trump defied expectations on Tuesday night, receiving positive reviews for his first

address to a joint session of congress. But there was still opposition, it was firm for this controversial president, and tonight, we imagine a world

where protest comes in all shapes and sizes, but just one shade, that was white.

Last night, many of the democratic congresswomen who boycotted Trump's inauguration and plenty of others turned up for the speech clothed all in

white, the color of America's suffrage movement. To highlight the long fight for women's right and shed light on where the struggle still needs to


Trump did last night make a point of addressing women's issues, promising his administration will provide paid family leave for new parents and also

invest in women's health. Something that some argue is a little at odds with pledges to defund Planned Parenthood. If only these things were as

simple as black and white.

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

Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.