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UK Begins Formal Process of Leaving EU; Trump to Undo Obama-Era Climate Policies; Love for All, Hatred for None

Aired March 31, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:00] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Here you have a president who is telling Mike Flynn and others to go out there. Make sure,

in fact, we talk about the other day with members of the administration that the president -- we've made volunteer.

This doesn't look an administration that's not doing everything it can to get to the bottom of this in the appropriate way. And I think that that is

an important distinction that has been lost on a lot of you. That every action that we have taken.

We've got up here and we've talked about Russia and the lack of a connection. We've talked about the fact that every single person who has

been briefed has come away saying none exists -- Republican, Democrat, Obama appointee, et cetera.

And yet at the end of the day, the narrative still comes to this. And now we're going to the point where we actually encouraged people to go talk to

the House and Senate Intelligence Committee and the appropriate investigators so that they can continue to get to the bottom of these



JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: And you've been watching CNN's coverage of the White House press briefing. I'm Jonathan Mann. Let's get you caught up on

the latest headlines.

And as we've just heard, former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn is offering to testify about Russia in exchange for immunity from

prosecution. His lawyer says that Flynn has a story he wants to tell, but only if he won't face prosecution. President Donald Trump tweeted support

for the move, calling the investigations into the campaign ties with Russia a witchhunt.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reaffirmed the Washington's commitment to NATO during a stop in Brussels. But the Trump administration

is pushing in on members to contribute more to maintain the alliances. During this, foreign ministers say the spending target is out of reach.

Clashes broke out in Caracas after Venezuela's Supreme Court seized power from the opposition dominated national assembly. Protesters and National

Guard members faced off outside the court building. The opposition calls the action a coup and President Nicolas Maduro's government a dictatorship.

That's your CNN "News Now." AMANPOUR is next. You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a week is a long time in politics. Major change on both sides of the Atlantic, just hours apart. Prime

Minister Theresa May signs the divorce between the UK and the EU. A confident step for sovereignty or an uncertain leap in the dark? We get

the view of one of her predecessors. The thrice-time elected Tony Blair.


TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think there is the possibility at least in my view that the British people once they start to

see the actual terms of Brexit and what it means and its consequences, that they may change their mind.


AMANPOUR: And China vows to upstage the United States on climate as President Trump this week rolls back key environmental protections with a

stroke of his pen. Industry may be celebrating, but are his people willing to go back to dirty water and foul air? We speak to one who has manned the

frontline, the former EPA chief Gina McCarthy.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

It was a momentous week for politics in Europe and in the United States. On Tuesday, President Trump signed a sweeping executive order rolling back

key environmental protections from the Obama presidency. Giving more freedom to big coal and big oil, and threatening U.S. participation in the

Paris climate accord.

And on Wednesday, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, severing Britain's ties with the EU and starting two years of negotiations

on a divorce settlement. Massive changes with massive implications on our program tonight.

First, to Europe. One of the most vocal and compelling voices against triggering Article 50 is the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He

warns that the true implications of a Brexit have yet to be understood by the British public.

Just as Prime Minister May's pen was hovering over the "Dear Europe" letter, I spoke to the former prime minister who said the British people

should get another vote once the deal is done so that they can say yey or nay to their new status.


BLAIR: The triggering of Brexit is just the formal launch of the Article 50 process. And then you go into this two-year lockdown period, but I

mean, we know what the negotiation is about. It's going to be about whether we can deliver a relationship out of Europe, which is the

government has said its aim is to deliver it with exactly the same benefits as the relationship we have now. I personally think they're going to find

that extremely difficult, very challenging, and you know, I think there is the possibility at least in my view that the British people once they start

to see the actual terms of Brexit and what it means, and its consequences, that they may change their mind.

[14:05:00] And I think if they do, it's open to them to change their mind, because right now we know we've decided to leave but we don't yet know the

terms of exit.

AMANPOUR: You've described some of these populist movements, the backlash against the establishment and globalization as a pitting of open versus

closed. And you talked about, you know, all of the last decades were about liberalizing trade and now it's going to be about trying to roll that back.

Tell me about how that's going to look.

BLAIR: Well, I think in the context of Brexit, it's got a specific problem. I mean, normally if you're negotiating trade, you're negotiating

to liberalized trade. So supposing we leave the European Union, then we negotiated free trade agreement with the United States, that's all going to

be about how we liberalize trade between the U.S. and the UK.

What is unique about this Brexit negotiation, not just in its complexity but in its purpose, is it's going to be a de-liberalizing measure. In

other words, we're going to be working out how we unravel what our integrated trading relationships that have grown up over four decades. So

I think that in itself is going to be really difficult. But more generally, the one thing that is absolutely and abundantly clear is that

protectionism is bad for the world economy and greater amounts of trade between nations is a good thing.

So I'm not saying there aren't issues around fair trade versus free trade and so on and so forth, and that relationship, you know, is a very familiar

argument. So there's no -- there's no harm in analyzing whether a particular trading arrangements are working well or not working well, but

in general terms, there's no question at all protectionism is bad. Isolationism is in my view impossible in a world of interdependence. And

on immigration, yes, there have got to be strong rules on immigration, and particularly today in Europe, there are big security worries about

immigration. But migration as a whole is an inevitable consequence of globalization. And immigration, if handled correctly, brings enormous

benefits to a country. Has done to the U.S., has certainly done to the UK.

AMANPOUR: Are you shocked by the backlash to that kind of politics that you are articulating right now? And how would you articulate the good news

story about globalization and immigration to parts of apparently what are very angry electorates?

BLAIR: I'm not particularity shocked by it. I mean, I think the chief characteristic of today's world is the scale scope in speed of change.

That process of accelerating change is going to cause the boundaries between race and culture in nation to calm down and it's going to mean job

displacement. But that is often through technology as much as through trade. And this process of migration has been going on a long time and

will continue frankly in the world.

What it does mean, however, is that those of us who believe in the open approach have got to be ultra sensitive to its displacement and to the

anxieties that it causes.

So right now, in my view, the biggest cause of anxiety over immigration in Europe is not really immigration within the European Union, it's when

people come in from a different culture into Europe and people are worried about issues of integration and of security and that gets bound up with the

immigration question.

So, you know, my view is, you will only defeat this populism from a renewed center ground in politics, and that center ground has to be holding firm to

the benefits of globalization, but willing to act effectively in order to mitigate the risks and its anxieties amongst the people.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Blair, thank you very much indeed.

BLAIR: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And there was some interesting pictures making the rounds on social media to commemorate Article 50. Like this re-imagining of a famous

Bangsi image which went viral. And this farewell from the president of the European Council.


DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: What can I add to this? We already miss you. Thank you and goodbye.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, the one issue that most young voters all around the world really care about is climate. And this week, U.S.

President Donald Trump overturned Obama's clean power plan. So what will that do to our planet and will it really bring back those promised jobs to

the U.S. coal industry? We'll find out, next.


[14:16:50] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Despite a mounting crisis about his Russia connections, President Trump is still aiming at key Obama legislation. Having failed to dislodge Obama's

health care law, this week the target was the environment.

The president has signed a sweeping new executive order to undo Obama's clean power plan, which underpins U.S. participation in the Paris Climate

Accords. And Trump signed that order at the environmental protection agency, which is run by Scott Pruitt, who is a climate skeptic.

Even after his confirmation, he had this to say when asked if carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change.


SCOTT PRUITT, SECRETARY, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: No, I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very

challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So, no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the

global warming that we see.


AMANPOUR: Firmly bucking the scientific consensus then.

Gina McCarthy served as the EPA chief under President Obama and she joined me from Harvard University to put all of this in perspective.


AMANPOUR: Gina, welcome to the program.

Can I get your initial reaction to what President Trump is doing right now, which is apparently signing this executive order to counter what, after

all, were executive orders by President Obama?

GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER CHIEF, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Well, let me just give you a little bit of dose of reality about this executive order.

It is embarrassing. You know, as somebody who has represented this country internationally, it sends a horrible signal.

But, frankly, in the United States, who have mayors, states utilities investing heavily in clean energy, because it's fiscally responsible to do

this. That is where all the money and investment is going.

So despite what this executive order says the clean energy train in the U.S. has left the station and it is not going to return.

Now, secondly, you have to recognize that 70 percent of the people in the United States know that climate change has happened and is happening. And

they want us to actually have strict standards on utilities for carbon pollution. So this is not going to be popular.

In fact, 70 percent trumps this president's popularity rating by twice.


MCCARTHY: And the third issue is that you have to recognize that clean energy, getting where we are today, took eight years of hard work. This

executive order will not undo this with the stroke of a pen. It's going to take concerted effort right now. Major rules are in the courts. They're

in the court of public opinion, and we expect them to stay there and be successful.

AMANPOUR: Can I then put this to you. No less than the EPA administrator under two Republican presidents, Nixon and Reagan, not exactly touchy-feely

environmentalists, had this to say in "The New York Times" just in the last couple of weeks.

He basically said, "Voters may have supported Donald J. Trump believing his campaign rhetoric about the EPA. But they don't want their kids choking on

polluted air or drinking tainted water anymore than Hillary Clinton voters. And as soon as the agency stops doing its job, they're going to be up in


I guess you would agree with that, but my question is, is this something that, under the weight of public opinion, could be dropped by the Trump

White House, just as Obamacare, you know, repeal has failed so far in Congress?

MCCARTHY: Absolutely. We think this is a point in time when the American public has to speak up and remind the president who he is working for.

He's working for Democrats and Republicans who care, not just about the health of their children, but the future of this planet, as well.

This is about the United States maintaining its international leadership, which we have always have done in investing and innovating, so we become

the clean energy leaders in the world. That's what President Obama recognized. And frankly, every president that has challenged EPA and its

mission has learned the wrath of the American public when they go in the wrong direction.

Nobody wants to look backwards at the pollution that we eliminated and invited back again. We want to look to the future. That's what the

American people expect in their leader.

AMANPOUR: So, of course, the people who voted for President Trump and many, many businesses are simply thrilled, because they believe what the

administration is saying, in that, a, this is going to be much better for business, cutting back on regulations is better for business and it's way

too expensive and job costly to put in all these environmental protections.

What do you say to that? That this move in other words is going to bring back coal-fired plants and bring back jobs to America.

MCCARTHY: Let me just make two points. Number one, since the EPA has been on board looking at air pollution, it's been reduced by 70 percent while

our GDP has tripled.

We know in the United States that our strong economy is built on a strong foundation of environmental protection. We will not give up our ability to

breathe clean air to get new jobs. We don't have to. Why should we? We never have.

But, secondly, if this was simply a signal to the coal mining industry over in West Virginia, then the president should stop sending false signals,

because the coal right now in the United States, while it will be with us for a while, it is simply not marketable and competitive when compared with

inexpensive natural gas in the advent of really great renewable energy.

So instead of giving them signals, maybe some resources there to look at their economic future and invest in it would be a better thing to do for

those communities moving forward, so they're not left behind. But believe me, clean energy is here today and it is going to be the future of this

country, no matter what the president signed today.

AMANPOUR: And perhaps important to say, energy economists are saying that even if we did see an increase in coal production, we could see a decrease

in coal jobs, since the mines that are staying open are using more mechanization, they're not hiring people.

So it's very important to actually describe what actually is going on. But I want to ask you to react to the following. This is President Obama from

June of 2013 talking about his climate executive orders and legislation.

Listen for a moment.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a president, as a father, and as an American, I'm here to say we need to act. But this is a

challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock.


AMANPOUR: So Ms. McCarthy, then we flip to just last week, where we have the following statement from the White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.

Listen to this.


[14:10:00] MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the president was fairly

straightforward. We're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.


AMANPOUR: So they are basically saying you're out there on your own, you climate tree huggers. We're not spending any more money. And by the way,

the very real fact is that they have cut back -- I think they're projecting a 31 percent EPA budget cut. So even if it's not popular in the country,

there's not going to be any money to do the things that you think should be continued to be done.

MCCARTHY: Well, just like the executive order, the president's budget is just a kick-off, it's not the endgame. And while we all really would like

this presidency to move forward on climate, there's a significant challenge with rolling back all of the work that we have done over the past eight


And remember, the United States still cares about its environment and we certainly care about our planet and our obligations to other countries to

work with them. So while it's a very disappointing time in the United States, I am not -- I am convinced, I should say, that there is hope for

continued progress.

[14:20:20] And if you look at how well we have done to move clean energy, you will see that states are already achieving the reductions that our

clean power plan was anticipating for 2022. So we are ahead of the game.

While I hate to lose time and commitment, we will still be able to catch up and we will do our job with the rest of the international community to

tackle the challenge of climate.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you that, because are you worried that America could fall behind China, for instance? Our David McKenzie has just written

-- produce a very good report from there showing how the Chinese are investing hundreds of billions into their clean energy technology, and the

government is really facing up to the challenge now.

And also, what does it say about America's commitment to the Paris Climate Accords?

MCCARTHY: Yes. Well, I mean, a Paris Accord wasn't mentioned in this executive order, so we will see what the president has to say about that.

But I will say that what this recognizes is that this administration is out of touch with the will of this people. And what they need to understand is

that this executive order is going to go exactly the same as his interest in health care. He was out of touch there, as well.

And what President Obama made very clear that while climate change is a terrible challenge, that we all need to face, it is an opportunity as well

for jobs, because in the U.S., jobs in the solar industry are growing at 12 plus times more than the rest of the economy. We know where the future is.

And we know the United States has an opportunity to become stronger if they maintain their leadership in a low carbon future. It's an opportunity for

investment, for innovation and for continued leadership.

The disappointing thing is that this president has decided to cede that to other countries and countries like China are ready to jump on it. So if he

cares about the U.S. economy and he doesn't give a damn about its climate, we still can move together in the same way and invest in the energy of the


AMANPOUR: All right. Gina McCarthy, that upbeat assessment. Thank you very much. President Obama's EPA chief.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And China is looking to make hay out of Trump's step backwards, seeking to raise its global profile and influence as a climate leader.

After a break, this week's seven days to the minute after the deadly Westminster attack, police and faith leaders and ordinary citizens came

back to remember the dead and the wounded.

And next, we imagine real healing. Remember "Islam Understood?," the Canadian project that saw young Muslims go door-to-door answering questions

about their faith? Well, this week they came here to London. We'll have that story, next.


[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, it is sobering to think that just last week, the UK parliament that was teeming with Brexit activity was

the scene of a crime, but this week, it was a sea and a scene of unity as the metropolitan police remembered their brave colleague who was killed in

the line of duty and faith leaders came out to say, again, not in my name.

And ordinary citizens mourned three of their own who are mowed down on the bridge. They did it in silence and with flowers. And some wore T-shirts

designed to reach out and help understand.

We spoke to organizers Ayesha Malik and Safwan Choudhry, who are Ahmadiyya Muslims whose motto is "Love for all, hatred for none."

Actually, Saffron and his friends started the "I am a Muslim, ask me anything campaign" in Canada.


SAFWAN CHOUDHRY, SPOKESMAN, AHMADIYYA MUSLIMS: To see this horrible attack take place at a time where I was coming to London to attend a peace

symposium was really heartbreaking, to land here and see all the union jacks were lowered was quite saddening.

AMANPOUR (on-camera): And here, like you have in Canada, you have your faithful here, in their blue T-shirt saying "I'm a Muslim, ask me


Why? Why do you feel the need?

AYESHA MALIK, AHMADIYYA MUSLIM UK: I think, Christiane, there's always a silver lining, right? I spoke of the horror we felt. But we also saw

amazing humanity, and the MP that tried to resuscitate the injured policeman.

So there was humanity at every step. It is our principle to have sympathy for the whole of mankind. And I think our motto, which is here on the

banner today is a simple one, which is "Love for all, hatred for none." And I think in times of adversity, we want to show our solidarity. And the

"I am a Muslim campaign" is just to show people that here we are, we are Muslims, but we are like you. And we want you to know that Islam is about

love and compassion and not acts of terror.

AMANPOUR: When the residents find a bunch of people in T-shirts saying "I'm a Muslim, ask me anything," what do they do? Do they laugh? Do they

says what are you doing here? Do they actually ask you important questions?

CHOUDHRYL: Well, just a moment ago, a lady was here today said, can I hold your hand? And I think that was a very powerful symbol.

MALIK: Yes, yes, exactly.

CHOUDHRY It shows the humanity of who we are, and that is why I mentioned that in Islam, we're taught service to mankind as part of your faith, and

we're here to show precisely that.


AMANPOUR: Such an important message for these times. And that is 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.