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Key Leadership Jobs Unfilled in Trump White House; Bill O'Reilly Forced Out at "Fox News"; Chechnya Targets Gay Men. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, as tensions with North Korea and Iran ratchet up, how is President Trump's unpredictability
playing out on the world stage. I asked the former NSA and CIA director, General Michael Hayden.
Also ahead, "Fox News" fires its biggest name following a string of sexual harassment allegations. We look at the significance of Bill O'Reilly's
downfall as the network comes under increased scrutiny over its treatment of women.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour from in London.
From North Korea and Iran, to Syria and Russia, these are challenges in Donald Trump's entree even before reaching 100 days in office. And as if
the world wasn't throwing up enough crises, the Trump administration's response has come under intense scrutiny. Criticized for only complicating
an already complicated situation.
For instance, the debacle over the U.S. aircraft carrier that's meant to be deterring North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Trump's first few months
have shown surprise and confusion with flip-flops on China, NATO and Syria.
My next guest is in a unique position to talk about the impact and the implications of all of this.
Retired General Michael Hayden has straddled the highest levels of America's security and intelligence agencies as former directors of both
the CIA and the NSA, and he joins me live right now from New York.
AMANPOUR: General Hayden, welcome to the program.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Let me first take your take on the -- I called it a debacle. Really, America's allies are confused, perplexed, some in the adversarial
camp are ridiculing the whole, you know, positioning and messaging about the aircraft carrier "USS Carl Vinson."
Tell me, what is your take on it? In other words, how could that have happened in a bureaucracy like the Pentagon?
HAYDEN: Well, Christiane, I guess the real answer is, it's really hard for me to explain how that could have happened certainly with the bureaucracies
of which I was a part.
Now, look, if you look at the overall Korean policy, I get it. I think I have a good idea as to what the administration's trying to do. It's hard,
but I think I can be broadly supportive and we can talk about that in a minute.
But with regard to this very specific thing about the "Vinson" battle group being held up by the president himself as a sign of his toughness, and then
the battle group going in a completely different direct, that's a symptom of something broader, I think, Christiane. And that's a symptom of the
people tight in around the president.
I call family and friends who are really into the decision making process being disconnected from the broader government which exists only to serve
them. So this is, I think, a very important process foul, one that has to be remedied very, very quickly. But it is symptomatic of an approach to
government that smacks up the way a family business used to be run.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's interesting you say that about a family business. But can I ask you, does it also smack of the problem with hiring people,
you know, between the secretary of defense and the president? I mean we've heard lots of complaints that mid level really, really important positions
across the national security architecture are still empty.
HAYDEN: It's absolutely right. So you've got the tight circle of family and friends. I think you really have a very powerful group in the next
concentric circle out -- McMaster, Mattis, Kelly, Tillerson, Pompeo. But then you've got no one below them in most of those departments that are
filling the important deputy under assistant and deputy assistant secretary positions. They are the kind of connective tissue, Christiane, that you
are suggesting. The people who are on the phone all the time with the NSC staff so that an unforced error like what happened with the "Vinson" battle
group just can't happen because the communications are so robust.
AMANPOUR: And without wanting to pile on, but I mean it leaves us no option, I want to play you a sound bite that President Trump talked about
so-called an armada and he said even more. And I want to get your reaction to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more
powerful than the aircraft carrier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, setting aside what we've just talked about, that he was wrong about the "Vinson," our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon has been
reporting that it is unprecedented for a president, a commander-in-chief, to tell the world secrets about America's nuclear submarines and their
Give me an idea of how dangerous that is.
HAYDEN: Well, I don't know how dangerous it is. You're absolutely right. We don't normally talk about it. But I think just as a general rule and
approach to all of this, you would not send a battle group out there with its cruisers and its destroyers without some underwater protection as well.
It's just a given.
But it's underwater and hidden and unseen, and therefore unspoken about routinely. So it was just a striking comment on the part of the president.
And this one, Christiane, I just chock up to his inexperience in terms of talking about these matters.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, if that inexperience in that regard, how do you assess the actual substance? For instance, North Korea. Let's face it.
This is a massive problem. They actually have nuclear weapons. They're testing ballistic missiles, even intercontinental ballistic missiles that
could reach the United States.
Is the substance of the policy there for you to behold? Do you know what the policy towards North Korea is and is it workable?
HAYDEN: So I think I know what the policy is. I have more difficulty, Christiane, putting this piece of policy into a broader global view. And I
think that's causing unease with you, with me and a whole bunch of other folks who are trying to see where are the Americans going globally.
Specifically on this question, Christiane, here's how I view the problem and I think the administration is looking at it in the same way.
Within our current definition of acceptable risk, the North Koreans, as you suggest, are going to be able to reach the Pacific northwest of the United
States with a nuclear weapon within three, four, or five years. And if you don't want that to happen, what you then have to do is to redefine what it
is you think of as acceptable risk.
And I think that's exactly what the Trump administration is trying to signal now with the head fake of the "Vinson" going into the east sea, it
will get there eventually.
The language, we've seen Vice President Pence use, the language we've seen the president use. I think this is a clear signal that we are willing to
embrace more risk to prevent what up until now appears to have been inevitable.
And one final point, Christiane. All this chest-thumping on our part is probably less designed to influence the North Koreans than it is designed
to influence the Chinese who do not want us disturbing the equilibrium in that part of the world. So maybe we can use this as a lever against them
to get them to do more.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me move on then to what Secretary Tillerson said last night at a press conference. First and foremost, the state department just
24 hours earlier had signed off on the regular sort of inspection of the Iran nuclear deal and they have given it sort of a clean bill of health.
In other words that Iran was abiding by its obligations under the nuclear deal. Then Tillerson said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran. It only delays their goal of becoming a
nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, yikes. What are we meant to believe? Is it working? Are they going to walk away from it? Is there -- are they going to make,
you know, perfect be the enemy of the good? What do you think?
HAYDEN: So, number one, the one sentence in what the secretary of state pointed out that really jumped out at me and I found very discomforting was
the equation of the Iranians and the North Koreans. So let's put that aside. I would not have created that equation.
I think what's going on here, Christiane, is quite surprisingly, candidate Trump was one of the Republican candidates who never said he would rip up
the nuclear deal. And I think what we're seeing here is a reluctance acceptance of the deal as the deal, that 10-year period where the Iranians
really are stopped from doing some things they would otherwise like to do.
And I think what the administration is focused on, and I think Secretary Tillerson began to suggest this yesterday, is what happens after ten years
when these limitations age off. And frankly, Iran is very likely to end up as an industrial strength nuclear power, never more than a few weeks away
from fissile material and enough fissile material for a bomb.
[14:10:10] So he's accepting the current package. He's worried about what happens afterwards. He's setting the groundwork to talk to our friends
about that period. And then I think most importantly, Christiane, he's turning American attention to all of the other things the Iranians are
doing in the region -- Syria, Iraq, Yemen, straits of Hormuz, Persian Gulf, which I personally think we should have been pushing back on. But it
appears as if the Obama administration was reluctant to do so for fear of jeopardizing that ten-year deal.
I think he's signalling, we don't have that fear, we're going to step up and push back against the Iranians. We're going to hold them accountable
for all this other stuff, even if we're not going to rip up the ten-year deal.
AMANPOUR: And I have to get to you say this in five seconds. Your assessment of a global foreign policy coming out of the White House. Is
HAYDEN: I don't see one yet. H.R. McMaster has hired a very bright woman to write the U.S. national security strategy. It is a tough job. I did it
twice for George H.W. Bush, but I was building on precedent, an historic consensus. It's really going to be interesting to see what an America
first national security strategy looks like when you've got to write it down.
AMANPOUR: So interesting. General Hayden, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
AMANPOUR: And it is always amazing to find the light moments amid these dark crises. Satellites which are keeping a close eye on North Korea's
nuclear program spotted three volleyball games under way at one of their nuclear test sites. North Korea, watchers say, it could be a sign that the
nuclear site is in stand-by mode giving workers a break to play ball.
A break up when we come back. America's most powerful conservative news man, Bill O'Reilly, is finally dropped by "Fox News" after allegations of
sexual harassment and big payoffs.
Is this really a breakthrough for women in the workplace? We'll find out next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And with apologies for the quality of my voice tonight.
After more than two decades as the face of "Fox News," Bill O'Reilly is out, despite being possibly the most powerful and highest paid conservative
newsman in America. "Fox" caved to financial pressure it seems as advertisers fled his show under a hail of sexual harassment claims.
It is a stunning turn of events for the king of conservative cable that was put in motion by "The New York Times" less than three weeks ago. Breaking
the news of multi-million dollar payouts to several women.
So, it is now two down. Similar allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power were leveled at O'Reilly's boss, Roger Ailes, the head of "Fox
News" leading to his hasty departure with a hefty golden handshake nine months ago. Both Ailes and O'Reilly deny all the allegations.
Now Letitia James is a public advocate for New York City and formerly an assistant attorney general and public defender. Margaret Sullivan is a
media columnist for "The Washington Post," formerly of the "New York Times," and they both join me live now.
[14:15:00] Welcome to the program. Again, apologize for the old voice, but this is a really important moment on the media landscape, and also for zero
tolerance and all of that.
Can I just ask you first, Letitia, as a public defender, as an elected official in New York, and obviously having to deal with the rights of
women, are you thrilled with this move? Is this really a victory for zero tolerance?
LETITIA JAMES, PUBLIC ADVOCATE FOR NEW YORK CITY: So it's a step in the right direction, but I'm not celebrating because the climate -- the hostile
climate that exists at "Fox News" continues. And there needs to be top to bottom investigation and they need to reform their practice because before
Bill O'Reilly, there was Roger Ailes. And there are a number of individuals obviously who have indicated to me that there is a hostile
climate at "Fox News" and it needs to be addressed and it needs to be reformed.
They need more transparency. They need a process. They need due process. They need oversight. Women who work at "Fox News" should not have to be
afraid of going to work each and every day worrying about whether or not they're going to be victimized by someone on "Fox News."
Bill Reilly was the big fish, but the reality is that the climate, the hostile climate continues at "Fox News." So this is not over.
And as a public advocate of the city of New York, I've asked SEC to continue to do an investigation or to conduct an investigation as to
whether or not "Fox News" files false reports indicating that a payout, the settlements were reported as income. And also as the public advocate of
the city of New York, I've asked the human rights commission to do study, to make -- to do an investigation, an independent investigation as to
whether or not sexual harassment and "Fox News" really represents a hostile climate and a hostile climate for women of color and for women in general.
AMANPOUR: Margaret, as a journalist here, as the ombudsman, what do you make of what happened, of what Letitia is saying, and is this really about
women and their rights and the abuse of power? Or did "Fox" make a financial choice given the billions of dollars of advertising that was
MARGARET SULLIVAN, MEDIA COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think it's both of those things. Certainly the financial component is a major
one, and this was by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, a very pragmatic decision. Partly because dozens of advertisers had fled. Partly because
there's a potential deal with Sky TV in Great Britain that the Murdochs would like to make.
It was scuttled once before because of the phone hacking scandal and I don't want to see that happen again. But at the same time, I do think that
this is a positive thing for the women inside "Fox" and for women who work at all kinds of places, media companies and elsewhere.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you both to weigh in? I'll ask you first from the newsroom point of view, Margaret, people have known this for a long, long
time. People who worked inside "Fox."
Fox has had an intimidating influence on much of the non-conservative world. They hold themselves up as the arbiters of everything that's right
and moral and political.
How did this last for so long? I mean we're talking decades, allegedly. How did this last for so long? They deny it. Both Ailes and O'Reilly deny
it. But clearly the complainants have been talking for a while.
SULLIVAN: Well, it took concentrated media attention to really bust it open, and it also took a lawsuit filed last summer by Gretchen Carlson,
another "Fox" host, to light the fuse.
And it was -- so it came -- there was a combination of events that built on each other when "Fox," you know, seeing what was going on with Ailes, hired
an internal investigator, a well-regarded law firm in New York, to dig deep and they clearly came up with some damaging things. That's when Roger
Ailes left. And that in fact led to this point.
But I think while Ailes was there, the culture at "Fox" was very, very protective of people who were engaging in this kind of very scurrilous
Letitia, I want to ask you -- I just want to ask you a bit of the political impact, because really "Fox" and O'Reilly really came to massive prominence
around 9/11. That major shock to America and to the world when America was struck by an act of war. And they perpetrated all sorts of fallacies.
For instance, that, you know, they tweeted, for instance, one of them, we went into Iraq because radical Islamists killed 3,000 of ours and Saddam
financed it. And they kept putting on things about, quote, "The connection between 9/11 and Iraq."
I mean this actually had a political impact.
SULLIVAN: It did have a political impact on our country. And, again, it led way to the election of President Donald Trump. And what we are seeing
in New York and all across this country is that they have unleashed hate, hate against immigrants, hate against people of color and hate against
And so this hostile environment, this climate that existed at "Fox News" was pervasive. And Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes were predators and they
preyed upon women, and it was allowed to exist because the Murdochs basically exercised a business judgment and they valued their bottom line
over the human dignity of women. They debase women. They demeaned women. They devalued women.
And as a result of that, as a result of the "New York Times" and as a result of the litigation, and as a result of the groundswell from women
from the ground up here in New York City, we brought them down. And we brought them down with our pocketbooks and it was really the power of
And, unfortunately, that is why they decided to part ways with the alleged moral voice of America.
AMANPOUR: And you say you have -- you've asked for also some investigations into some of the surrounding issues. What do you think,
Letitia, of the payoffs that have been reported both to Roger Ailes and now to Bill O'Reilly? Multi-million dollar payoffs.
JAMES: I'm a trustee on the Nicer's Board, which represents all of the employees, the retirees of New York City. And as a trustee on the Nicer's
board, I have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that any investments that we make are in order to the benefit of shareholders.
And so we have invested in "Fox News" and if you look at the reports that were filed within S.E.C., they indicate that in fact the payouts, the
settlements were reported as income. That's basically false and deceptive business practices. And they failed to materially disclose the risk
associated with investing in "Fox News."
And as a result of that, S.E.C. should fine "Fox News" because it's a clear violation, because it represents a deceptive business practice. In
addition to that, the human rights commission in New York City has jurisdiction over sexual harassment in the city and the climate that
continues to exist again puts women in harm's way at "Fox News."
AMANPOUR: And finally to you, Margaret, what about the hypocrisy involved here? I mean "Fox," and particularly O'Reilly, have positioned themselves
as moral arbiters, as cultural warriors. They've even taken God on their side.
Bill O'Reilly, there's a big picture of him meeting the pope at the Vatican. There's also books denouncing political correctness. You know,
preaching his own beliefs and moral compass.
Why didn't journalists pick up on this earlier? There was a sense of fear around in the journalistic establishment about taking them on. Why then
and why not now?
SULLIVAN: well, you know, some of this material had come out in the past, but I think it took a critical mass after Carlson sued, all these women
began to come forward and there was a strength in numbers that could not be ignored. And in addition, the financial results which, as you say, were
probably the most important causation here.
So I think, you know, there was a moment in time when it really all came together. And you're right, it came very late, and in the meantime, they
were allowed to lecture the rest of the country about their values and it is hypocrisy.
AMANPOUR: All right, Margaret Sullivan, Letitia James, thank you both very much for joining me.
SULLIVAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, imagine being rounded up and tortured simply because you exist. The staggering reports of Chechnya's war on its
own gay population. That's next.
[14:26:16] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we imagine a new terror descending on Chechnya. The mainly Muslim Russian Republic has long
discriminated against its gay community. Now their horrific plight has gotten even worse.
There are reports of hundreds of gay men being rounded up into detention centers and kept in appalling conditions. Chechen men told our Matthew
Chance about the torture they suffered while inside these centers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They started beating me with their fists and feet. They wanted to get names of my gay friends from me. Then
they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers in my ears to electrocute me. They've got special equipment which is very powerful.
When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: For these men, there is no safe haven. Released back to their families after being ousted is its own death sentence in the repressive
Chechen Republic because many feared being murdered in so-called honor killings.
This week, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley denounced the behavior saying, if true, this violation of human rights cannot be ignored.
Now such accusations in Chechnya have been rigorously denied. They're not denying the attack on gay people, no. The Russian-backed Chechen
leadership is outraged at the suggestion that gay people even exist in the republic. And now the Russian newspaper which uncovered this abuse is
terrified of repercussions.
And just before we say good-bye, we want to show you this shot from Venezuela. An anonymous protester versus a national guard armored vehicle.
Who she is and what happened to her after the captured moment remains a mystery? Sometimes it takes just one person to demonstrate a whole load of
And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online @Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.