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Trump's Ghostwriter Reveals What Drives the President. Interview with M-16's John Sawers. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 21, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight as President Trump racks up some end of year victories, what does the man who helped put him on the map have to
say? Tony Schwartz co-author of The Art of the Deal joins me live. Plus, new year new world order. My conversation about this Trump affect world
wide with the former head of British Intelligence, MI6.
Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. It's hard to believe that it's been just a year since President
Trump took office. Much ink has been spilled these past 11 months trying to analyze what drives Trump. Long before he was even a twinkle in Republican
eyes; the writer Tony Schwartz was commissioned by the young brash real estate developer to write his first book.
He spent 18 months with Donald Trump. The Art of the Deal became a best seller and defined Trump's image. And Tony Schwartz joins me now from New
York. Tony Schwartz welcome to the program.
TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR, THE ART OF THE DEAL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you what you think as you sit there sort of taking in this year. Did you ever think the man would be president and did
you ever think this is how the year would end, with this legislation victory after all the ups and downs?
SCHWARTZ: So, two questions you've asked. The first one is no, I never imagined that he would be President and was inconceivable to me even up to
7:30 the night of the election. So, that's a simple answer. In terms of how the year is ending, this has been a year of so much pain for me and for
most Americans that one more horrible event now, I'm not enormously surprised.
AMANPOUR: So you say so much pain, I mean your old editor has called you Dr. Frankenstein for putting Donald Trump on the map, but why so much pain?
It was a best seller. You defined an image and a legacy.
SCHWARTZ: Well, I mean it's in some sense it's self evident. This is a man who I think is putting the future of civilization at stake. He is a danger
to the Republic and I knew deep in my heart that that's exactly what he would be if he were to ever become President. And I was not responsible for
it, but I was one of the people who definitely influenced his rise, his celebrity so I have spent a long time - the first 30 years after I wrote
the book just trying not to talk about it.
And then once he started to run for election, I felt my penance would be to talk and to anyone that wanted to interview about what I knew about this
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you now. Again, 11 months on and there is a major victory. I mean, there hasn't been this kind of tax reform in 30 odd
years since Reagan and even Democrats were saying there needs to be tax reform. Now there's a lot of debate as to whether this actually helps those
who he's promised to help, the left behind.
But beyond that, I just want to ask you to listen to a selection of praise and sound bytes from his Vice President and other members of the party as
they signed this and as they were welcoming this tax bill.
SCHWARTZ: Do I have to?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for seeing through the course of this year an agenda that truly is restoring this country.
ORRIN HATCH, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: Mr. President I have to say that you're living up to everything I thought you would. You're one heck of a
PAUL RYAN, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without
exquisite presidential leadership. Mr. President, thank you.
DIANE BLACK, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Thank you President Trump for allowing us to have you as our President and to make American great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I see a skeptical look in your eyes Mr. Schwartz, why so?
SCHWARTZ: Well, it makes me want to vomit, literally. Those sound like toadies in a banana republic. Particularly, Pence and this is in no way a
victory for the American people. It's a victory for a tiny percentage of people who need no tax cuts, billionaires and 80 - 90 percent or - I don't
know the exact number of the tax cuts go to the richest - the richest Americans and the biggest corporations. I mean it's an assault on
democracy, it only increases the very think that got Trump elected which was the inequality.
I always have felt that Trump would betray those who voted against - voted for him and that's exactly what he's done.
AMANPOUR: OK, well let's see how it plays out because the conservative policy, as you know, is that there is these tax breaks for those who can
create jobs and that hopefully will trickle down. As you say, we'll wait to see whether that indeed happens where the wages and jobs, et cetera,
increase. But I do actually want to ask -
SCWARTZ: Listen, we're at virtually full employment, so.
SCWARTZ: You know, the idea that it will create more jobs is kind of irrelevant but go.
AMANPOUR: All right. I will say also that the conservative newspapers here, let's say the FT which is a financial newspaper has in fact called it a
high stakes republican wager on exactly what they're promising and hope. So, yes, many even in the conservative ranks believe that it is a big
But if it pays off, it pays off. But what I want to ask you is this. You know, playing off those sound bytes and what you said about it. You
actually spent 18 months following him around. Did you notice his subordinates treating him in this yes, sir sort of manner? Is that what
happened all his career all his life? Is that what he expects?
SCWARTZ: Well, it's complicated. On the one hand he did not brook dissent even back 30 years ago when he was a 35 year old, you know, middle level
real estate developer in New York. On the other hand, he was a more relaxed human being.
The stakes were lower, he was getting the kind of attention that he actually wanted and people called him Donald. Nobody calls him Donald
anymore. I do. But nobody in his world calls him Donald.
AMANPOUR: Do you talk to him?
SCWARTZ: Power, you know, power corrupts. I don't talk to him anymore but I refer to him as Donald.
AMANPOUR: All right.
SCWARTZ: The last time I talked to him was the day actually that he got nominated for president at the Republican Convention in a piece about my
views had just - was just about to come out in the New Yorker and he called to tell me - by himself, that I had been disloyal.
AMANPOUR: All right.
SCWARTZ: Donald Trump's idea of loyalty is your loyal to him not he's loyal to you.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm going to, you know, try to drill down a little bit more because obviously there are lots of complaints but let me just ask you
to comment on this. You know, it's often been said and I'm reading from a British columnist who's been exploring the idea of the politicians who've
led the populous way whether it's Brexit or in the United States.
"It's often said that today's politicians have no experience outside politics but they do. Bush, Jr. ran a baseball club. Boris Johnson wrote
funny columns and Trump played a successful businessman on television. Along the way they learned a skill their predecessors mostly lacked
performing on mass media. That you have to hand him."
SCHWARTZ: I do. I mean it's inarguable that enough people have been mesmerized by his TV presence though the majority of Americans voted
against him. A very high percentage of people chose to vote for somebody who had no real credentials to run for president other than being a reality
So, yes, he has been able to exploit that medium - this medium that we're on right now very, very effectively. No question.
AMANPOUR: And, furthermore, this led to populism which led to a sort of denial of experts and again this says, "Populism polarized. So the new
government selected people for their loyalty to the cores." We've just spoken about loyalty in the Trump era. What are your predictions for the
next year of the presidency? How do you think this is going to roll out and roll on through 2018?
SCHWARTZ: Well, I have believed for quite some time and continue to believe, I'm a little bit of a lone wolf on this, but that Trump will not
be president by the - during - at some point during 2018. I thought actually that it would end sooner. I think that the primary reason is that
Mueller will indict him for at a minimum of obstruction of justice.
But I think it'll turn out that the array of charges that they bring against him will be enormous. So, my actually belief is that he won't last.
In the meantime, people will continue to stream out of the White House and he'll have to find other people to replace them at a time when it's very
dangerous to do so given all the law suits - I mean all the legal actions that are potentially pending against him.
But I don't see this as a hopeful period. I'm holding my breath in some sense that a catastrophe doesn't happen until that presidency can end.
Obviously I feel like that's a strong opinion I'm sharing.
AMANPOUR: It is obviously a strong opinion, and some people might say you're in the minority when it comes to the indictment issue that you're
talking about. But again, we will wait to see how that plays out. I want to ask you -
AMANPOUR: - finally, are there any redeeming qualities that you as the definer of Donald Trump, as the promoter of Donald Trump for better or for
well - ill as far as you're concerned, are there any redeeming qualities? Any thing you like about him?
SCHWARTZ: I mean there were some very modest qualities that I found reasonably appealing when he was 35 years old and I first met him. He could
be fun. He could be - he could wink his eye at his own self aggrandizement. That's long gone. The only quality that remains - and I wouldn't call it a
virtue, but it's clearly effective - is relentlessness. He will huff, and he will puff, and he will huff, and he will puff, and he will eventually
blow you down. And the reason he'll blow you down and the greatest fear I have is that he makes you numb because he never stops coming at you.
AMANPOUR: All right. Tony Schwartz, author of Art of the Deal - co-author. Thank you so much for joining us.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And almost a year since the inauguration of President Trump. The plant is transforming in other ways with the American superpowers slowly
retreating from global leadership, at least that's what a lot of world leaders are saying.
The vacuum is creating a new world order. And I just sat down with the former Head of British Intelligence, the former MI6 Chief, John Sawers. He
has also been British Ambassador to Egypt and he was based in New York as Ambassador to the United Nations. So I asked him about the looming
challenges of 2018 and also about what went right this year.
John Sawers, welcome to the program.
JOHN SAWERS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you as we close out this year what you think are the biggest threats or the biggest challenges, and I want to be a little
provocative because you said in Hertzeliya, Israel, no less, that you thought one really had to take into account the challenges posed by
President Trump, and specifically you said that the biggest threat to the world as you see it is how we all adjust to the progressive withdrawal of
responsible, American leadership. That's - I mean you think Trump is the biggest threat to the world?
SAWERS: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that President Trump is bringing a new approach to America's role in the world. He has said himself he "wants
to put America first," and most American presidents for the last 70 odd years have seen America's role as the stabilizer of the international
system, as the guarantor of peace and stability and, as far as possible, open markets, and that's what we used to call American exceptionalism -
that America was exceptional because it wasn't simply pursing its national interest.
We now have in America which is primarily, in fact overwhelmingly, pursing its national interest. And so it's the end of American exceptionalism. Now,
other countries have to adapt to that.
AMANPOUR: OK, so if you're an American or if you're any national, or Britain in Brexit Britain, you would say to yourself, "what is wrong with
that?" Surely, that is better for me, citizen of the United States.
SAWERS: I'm not saying it's necessarily right or wrong. I regret it because I think America was a really respected, powerful, admired nation, and
American values were emulated and aspired to around the world. I think we're -
AMANPOUR: And did it get stopped there?
SAWERS: I think we're coming to the end of the period. I think what we now see is America acting like a powerful nation state pursing its own national
interest, and that's America's choice, and president elect - President Trump was elected by the American people in part because of the new
approach that he has put forward.
AMANPOUR: So let's move that on because we're speaking now a few days after President Trump unveiled his new National Security strategy, and that
focused quite heavily on a little bit of what you're saying in that President Trump and his administration believes that the three decade
holiday from superpower rivalry with the collapse of the Soviet Union and all that is actually going to come back on the table.
How do you read that? Is that China, Russia, the United States all rivals now in seeking out the kind of stuff that we saw in the Cold War time?
SAWERS: I think there's something to this analysis. I wrote it myself in an article in the Financial Times about this a few months ago that the world
is developing in a way in which China and the United States are going to be the two crucial global powers and they're going to have to operate
alongside one another. We're not in a world which is dominated by the United States and its allies. And others like Russia and China are on the
You now have a world where China and the United States have to engage with one another and resolve and address international issues whether it's ones
of peace less debility or about trade or climate change. Have to address these issues together. Russia, of course, is an assertive military power.
Other countries like India, China, India, Japan, Europe, Britain, are significant economic powers.
But the three major ones China, United States and Russia are going to be operating more like traditional major powers adjusting with one another,
incorporating in certain areas and confronting each other in other areas. That's a that's a different sort of world than what we've lived in for the
last 70 years.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCOR: Because do we want to live in a China led world?
SAWERS: No. We much rather live in an America led world. But I think the reality is that China's economy and purchasing powered terms(ph) is already
gracing the United States.
AMANPOUR: And it's massive infrastructure program in investment all over, beyond its region even.
SAWERS: I think that China has a strategy for the 21st century. And that strategy is to become the leading global power in the Arasian continent.
It's Bellsom(ph) Road initiative is a fantastic economic opportunity for countries effected but it has a global strategy behind it.
And the United States can't just wish this away or contain(ph) pretend it can remain the global dominant power. It's a new reality that China and the
United States are co-global powers and they have to find a way to coexist and to solve together global problems rather than constantly butting up
against each other and confronting each other.
AMANPOUR: So China was quite put out when this national security document was released. President Trump actually spoke very moderately and with
moderation when he delivered the the the I don't know, the executive summery. But the actual 55 pages contain some very harsh language about
The strategic competitor taking America for a ride you know having an unfair economic program. If you were China, what would you be thinking,
particularly at a time when America wants you to help you know tame North Korea?
SAWERS: Well, first of all, I think China sees the Trump presidency as actually more of an opportunity than a threat. I think they believe that
they can deal with President Trump and know how to play him. And that this is a big strategic opportunity for China to displace a lot of American
power and influence around the world.
For example, if you go to European capitals, you ask what's most important to them; they'll say international trading system. We agree with China on
that. We're worried about the American position. They'll say the international rules based order where Americas is is moving away from that.
They'll say climate change where Americas standing away from the international consensus and China is also the consensus. Now I'm not saying
that Europe has more in common with China than it does with America, but when you look at a few crucial policies of the Chinese leadership and the
American administration, I see Europe's policies are closer to Chinas than they are to Americas. And that's wrong, that's something that has to be
SAWERS: Well, I think it's really about America recognizing what the long term global interest is. It can't be right that America's pursuing some
bilateral trade balances around the world. With, and not looking at its global trade balances. It's already given China a massive boost by
withdrawing from the Trans Pacific partnership.
AMANPOUR: The President believes that gives America a massive boost.
SAWERS: Well, he's he's pretty much alone in international opinion in thing that because the certainly the other nations involved see us as a huge
advantage for China that that the United States has just given them.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you because the big looming threat presumably you would agree is North Korea? I mean, that is probably going to be our 2018.
It's going to be consumed by North Korea.
SAWERS: I think it is the most dangerous, combustible, crisis we have to manage.
AMANPOUR: So, I wonder what you make of reports that have come out today since there's been some meetings and Rex Tillerson has been talking about.
Apparently, the United States and China have started to have contingency talks, military to military, apparently they took place in Washington last
month about how they would jointly deal with a potential conflict or collapse of North Korea.
And Rex Tillerson has talked about it. Apparently, they have said that they have assured the Chinese that they would never, if ever they landed forces
in North Korea, ever occupy North Korea. They would retreat back thousand to thirty eighth apparel. This is amazing detail that's coming out.
SAWERS: Well, but it's very important that it happens. One of my concerns in the last six month has been that thinking in Washington is going down a
path which says containments in North Korea is not actually realistic or desirable for America. Either they have to back down and agree an a
negotiated deal or we'll have to confront North Korea, they'll have to be a day of reckoning.
Which is a euphemism for a military strike. Where as in Beijing, my sense is being that they don't really believe that the American's are serious
about a military strike. They think this is a bluff to tell - to get them to take - tougher sanctions against North Korea. I think that mix match of
expectation is really dangerous because you could then have a situation where America launches a strike.
And China doesn't - is not - just not ready for it. So in this dangerous situation of course we must all press the North Korean's to get into a
negotiation. Which means they stop short of having a ability to land a nuclear weapon on the continental United States. And I think it's unlikely
they agree to that.
SAWERS: Unlikely that they will back down. So it's ever more important that China and the United States are involved in an intense discussion, not just
of things that could go right, like a diplomatic negotiation. But things that could go wrong and where China and the United States will be
militarily present in the same theater.
And they are both desperate to avoid a repeat of the 1950's where they ended up in direct confrontation of each other.
KENNEDY: And so with - (Hsammid Masa)(ph) the national security advisor this week saying that we are committed to a resolution of this crisis but
he would not say that they were committed to a peaceful resolution. You've been at the table in the run up to the Iraq war and other such
negotiations. How do you stop this getting to an Iraq war situation? And getting to a negotiated settlement?
Can you see the parameters of a diplomatic resolution to this crisis?
SAWERS: I think there are a number of ways it can be resolved. Short of a military confrontation. And I don't believe that on North Korea in 2017, we
are in the position say we were in Iraq in 2002. In 2002 America was set on an invasion of Iraq it was just a question of how and when.
That's not the case with North Korea.
KENNEDY: Well, you have 30 seconds to tell us what is going right in the world.
SAWERS: I think there are a number of important parts of the world where we're seeing progress. In Saudi Arabia we've got a new leader who is
bringing about much needed reform and is trying to address the problem of Islamic extremism. That's really important. He's made some mistakes in the
region but none the less I think - having a new direction of reform is important.
I think in South Africa we just seen a new - very much more modern minded business friendly leader, elected as head of the ANC. I think we can rest
on Africa's decline. In Argentina a country that's been admired in - in populism and under performance. We've had a leader in place now for over
two years who's taking Argentina in a new and more dynamic direction.
Now these aren't global powers but there important regional countries. Taking there people down the road. For example, in Indonesia was going down
15 years ago. For major strategic- major regional powers to be turning a corner and becoming more democratic, more market oriented, delivering goods
for their own people. That's good for global peace and security.
KENNEDY: So Britain was a major power. I mean know matter how you look at it's always punching above it's weight and was very much important at any
table whether it's NATO the UN, where ever it might be. Brexit? Well my country is going through a difficult period. I think Brexit is a mistake, I
think us leaving the European Union is a backwards step for the United Kingdom.
But it looks as though it's going to happen. And we're going to have to address the economic impact of that and impact it has on our standing in
the world. Both of which least term, will be negative.
I don't think it's impossible. We went through a difficult period in the 60's and 70's and we recovered. We had a dynamic economy we had powerful
global leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. And we invested in our military and in our intelligence, in our diplomacy and in our
You've got to have a powerful economy, respected leaders and the means that make an influence in the world in order to be a recognized power. We're
going through a difficult period. I think we can recover as a country and I think our partnership with America and the American people will survive the
arrival of new politics represented by President Trump and represented by Brexit.
KENNEDY: And the special relationship. How does that survive? Given the Britain first tweets, given the kind of war of words he's having with the
mayor of London? And an unpopular president over see's plans potentially to come to Britain in the new year, according to the White House. How do you
think he'll be received on the streets? In White Hall? At the palace?
SAWYER: It's really important that American and British leaders talk to one another regularly. Not just on the phone that American and British leaders
talk to one another regularly. Not just on the phone but face to face and visit each other countries.
AMANPOUR: Of course.
SCHWARTZ: President Trump because he's a controversial figure won't be universally welcomed. But I think its right that he should come and it's
right that he should hear it first hand some of the criticism from America's closest ally about reasons why we have concerns about the
direction of America.
So he should come. The relationship should be close. In my time at the UN as ambassador abroad, as a policy director, as a chief of intelligence I
had my most intense exchanges with my American counterparts. And we had some of our biggest disagreements with America. Working with alleys,
fighting alongside alleys is a difficult business.
But the debt of that relationship the cultural affinity we have for one another, the approach we take to - to intelligence and evidence based
solutions to the common values we have I think will prevail.
AMANPOUR: And that is a good note to end on. Tom Schwartz thanks very much.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: My tour of global hot spots with the former head of Mi 6 just this week. And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always
listen to our pod cast and see us on-line at amanpour.com. And follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and good bye from London.