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Crisis Trump Created for Funding Border Wall; Trump Might Declare National Emergency to Get Wall Funding; Barry Jenkins Adapts "If Beale Street Could Talk" Novel. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 9, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Trump makes his case for a border wall, Democrats say is full of holes. And the impact of the shutdown mounts, what are the National Security
facts? Former Defense Secretary and Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel tells me.
Plus, in tumultuous times, America through the updated lens of the great James Baldwin. I speak with Oscar winning director, Barry Jenkins, about
adapting "If Beale Street Could Talk."
And a new voice for that endangered species, the political center. Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy on why now is the right time to
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Security at a prominent airport in Southern California is deteriorating thanks to the government shutdown, that is what's in an internal e-mail by
an official at the Transportation Security Administration. Publicly, the TSA insists that security is strong but hundreds of screeners across the
country who are not getting paid are simply calling in sick, and that is just a small piece of the very real crisis that critics say the president
himself created to get funding for his border wall. And no solution appears in sight.
And today, the president hinted again that he might, in fact, declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and get funding for that wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're all working together. I really believe the Democrats and the Republicans are working together. I think
that something will happen, I hope. Otherwise, we'll go about it in a different manner. And I don't think we'll have to do that but you never
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Democrat Nancy Pelosi, now speaker of the House of Representatives, continues to stand her ground. And here's what she said
last night after the president's address from the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S HOUSE SPEAKER: The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat. They are humanitarian challenge, a
challenge that President Trump's own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.
And the fact is, President Trump must stop holding American people hostage, must stop manufacturing crisis and must reopen the government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But the government is shut, it is the second longest shut down in history and it comes amid two other escalating crises. In Syria, the
president's pledge to immediately withdraw American troops is on hold as his own administration and a key ally, Turkey, squabble over this move.
Add to all of this, is being revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller believes that former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, shared private
campaign data and discussed Ukraine policy with someone closely linked to Russian intelligence.
So, what are we to make of all of this and what are the facts? As a former Republican senator and as defense secretary under the Democratic President
Obama, Chuck Hagel has just about seen it all and he's joining me now from Washington.
Secretary Hagel, welcome to the program.
CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's start with what the president has mooted, yet again, today after not saying it in his Oval Office address, he's saying,
"Well, maybe it's going to be necessary for me to try other means such as declaring a state of national emergency to get that money." What do you
think the odds of that are and what will actually that mean?
HAGEL: Well, first, the odds are not very good that he will get that money for all the reasons I think most people understand.
The presidency, the executive office is but one, three co-equal branches of government. All money is appropriated first through the Congress. And I
think it's been pretty -- made pretty clear by the Democratic leaders and some Republicans, by the way, in the House and Senate that they want to
open the government first, which is the responsible thing to do, and then deal with this issue second.
This is another example I fear of Mr. Trump's continued way to govern distort, distract, divide, that's dangerously irresponsible at a time in
the world -- when the world is so off balance and so combustible and volatile. So, where this goes, I don't know.
Christiane, I was secretary of defense the last time we had a government shutdown, 19 days. It has consequences, ramifications everywhere that
ripple through our country, people, economy. And it's a very dangerous thing to do.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you because clearly the president has talked about it and he said, "I was -- I would declare, you know, an emergency if
I can't get a deal with people who are being unreasonable." So, he's obviously saying that the Democrats are being unreasonable and if you can
get them to, you know, cave to his demands, he'll do the other thing. And he said he'll get it from the military.
So, as a former defense secretary, what indeed -- what impact will that have to take that money away from the military?
HAGEL: Well, legally he cannot do that, Christiane. That money was appropriated for very specific reasons. First, to the Defense Department
budget. He can't do that without authorization from the Congress, which I doubt he will get.
He's playing a dangerous game here. I don't think he can win this game. The smart thing, responsible thing to do is to open up our government, quit
holding our government and our people hostage and all the consequences flowing from that and then pursue some kind of a compromise as we go
forward. That's the way we do things in a democracy. This is not a one- way street, it's not a one man show, which I don't think the president has quite understood.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me let me ask you because as a former Republican senator, what would you say to the Republican leadership in the Senate
right now, Senator Mitch McConnell for instance? You know, you see a mounting number of Republicans in the House and the Senate sort of breaking
away or voicing concern about this continued shutdown. You know, what should -- what would you do? What would you advise the leadership of the
Republicans to do?
HAGEL: I would advise to say to Mitch McConnell, who I know very well, Mitch, let's understand what we're dealing with here. First, why would we
hold hostage the government of the United States and put everyone through pain needlessly with significant adverse consequences that ripple through
Second, let's take a mature look at the issues on border security. Border security is essential, of course it is, it's critical. No one denies that.
But border security is only one part of immigration reform. It's starts with a pathway towards citizenship. It's a many dimension.
In 2005 the Senate passed an immigration reform bill, it was my bill. It was the Hagel-Martinez Compromise. We got 65 votes, bipartisan votes. The
House would never take it up, so it died. No conference. But border security, how do we defend our border all the different variations of that
of that issue need to be explored maturely. Let's all get together and do what's right for this country. That's what I would say to the leader.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I want to get into the debate on immigration reform in a moment. But first, to the actual physical act of border security. This
is what the president said today from the Oval Office. This is what he said about walls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We got to get the politics out of this and go back to common sense. You know, they say it's a medieval solution, a wall, that's true. It's
medieval because it worked then and it works even better now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you know, he has a lot of supporters, the president. He has a base who believes in him, he has a solid 38, 39, 40
percent of the American people still behind him and that's what he believes. What are the facts on the wall? Where do the illegal immigrants
come from? Where do the drugs and the smugglers and things like that come from?
HAGEL: Well, you look at that 2,000 miles southern border we have, a wall is not the answer or a large fence for all 2,000 miles of it. I mean,
there are states' rights issues, property rights issues, geography issues that get in the way of all that.
So, partly, a fence which we have down there, by the way, Bush supported it, Obama supported it. So, we have miles and miles of fencing and have
some walls. So, that's part of it. But there are other dimensions to it.
Illegal drugs, where do they come from? Where do the problems come from and coming across our border? Illegal drugs come more from commercial
exchanges hidden in trucks that come across that border illegally, by the way, and through the seas, through monitoring on our coast. We can't -- we
only get about 25 percent of the illegal drugs that come in, we think, by boat.
So, it isn't all the southern border. The northern border has also some issues about who illegally comes in there. But the numbers most recently
provided by the State Department show the numbers aren't anywhere near what the president is talking about as to people coming into this country and
illegal problems of drugs and so on.
A lot of the problem that we have are the 11 or 12 million immigrants in this country who do not have a status, who never went back to their country
after their visas were up. That's where most of the issue is with the 11 or 12 million.
AMANPOUR: And actually, I heard something extraordinary today that a lot of the so-called illegal immigration is from overstaying visas. And one
congressman told the British outlet today that most of those who overstay are Canadians coming from the north and not from the -- from others from
But let me ask you this, look, many people believe that what President Trump is doing is all politics and all reacting to his base. But equally,
others believe that this issue of immigration is a deeply held personal conviction of his and of the people who he surrounded himself with, that
they would like to go back to the halcyon days of America, majority wide, you know, the halcyon days when there wasn't so many foreign-born Americans
in the country.
And that this is actually just a precursor to restricting not illegal immigration only but legal migration. Do you believe that to be, you know,
what's really behind this?
HAGEL: Well, I think that's a part of what's behind this because there are a lot of people in this country who believe what you said. But the reality
is, the demographics in this country are moving in a direction by 2045 certainly by 2050, White Caucasians in this country will be in the
minority. That's just a reality.
And the immigrant population coming in from all over the world for 250 years of American history has enhanced America, it's made us all stronger.
In fact, we've all come into America that way. We're here because of that. I don't think we should fight that, I think we should welcome that.
Certainly, it needs to be done legally, certainly our borders need to be protected and secured. That's not an issue. The president distorts that
all the time and he just figures they are just not true. And when you do that, then the substance and the center piece of the issue gets lost
because people veer off into the other directions that they chase things that just aren't real and aren't true.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's look further afield. Again, as former defense secretary, you had to deal with all sorts of issues including, obviously,
Syria. What do you make of this sort of back and forth sort of whiplashy Syria policy that's gone around for the last several days? First, the
president, you know, announces that troops will immediately come home, then there's a huge backlash, bipartisan, and it sort of graduated, then it'll
be within, you know, 120 days and now, it will be conditions based.
Just where do you stand on this issue right now?
HAGEL: Well, first of all, I think the president really doesn't understand foreign policy, how it's made, interests, consequences, allies. And I
think the proof of that is certainly in whatever his so-called Syrian policy is, confusing at best, certainly chaotic, dangerous especially in a
chaotic part of the world.
When you make a decision like he did initially and you make that decision via Twitter, you do not consult your National Security Council, your
experts, you don't consult allies, the consequences of that decision are astounding as he has found out the last two weeks. Timing of it was
We've got to find ways to find diplomatic solutions and work toward strategic objectives. Using your military isn't going to fix that. We
found that out after 18 years in Afghanistan, 15 years in Iraq. And unless you work toward that with allies, with the nations that are there, it will
be a failure. He doesn't understand any of that. So, he's had to retreat in that disastrous meeting -- meetings that the National Security Council
adviser, Bolton, had in Turkey were embarrassing for America, Erdogan scolded him, Erdogan wouldn't even talk to him, he was saying -- Bolton was
saying things that Turkey must do in order for us to leave.
Well, and America says, "Well, a country must do this before we leave somewhere," you've got to be very careful. That certainly smacks of
arrogance and other dimensions of a foreign policy that you do not want to have.
AMANPOUR: So --
HAGEL: So, I think it's just dangerous, confusing and they have got to understand, they've got to find ways with allies to deal with these big
AMANPOUR: To be fair, it appears that John Bolton was trying to make sure, and correct me if I'm wrong, by reading the Riot Act to Turkey that they
didn't go in and slaughter the Turkish -- or rather the Kurdish forces who have been America's strongest allies in the fight against ISIS on the
ground. But as you say, Erdogan doesn't like to be told anything by anyone and this is what he said, "We cannot accept the comments made by Bolton in
Israel. Bolton has made a serious mistake and whoever thinks like this has also make -- made a mistake. We will not compromise."
So, that brings up a whole load of things that you touched on, this administration's policy and its relationship with its allies. What do you
make of America's -- the status of America's global leadership right now?
HAGEL: Well, the status of American global leadership now is really nowhere. We have retreated and especially the commentary the president of
the United States has had over his first two years in office, this America first, he gives a speech to the United Nations, America first. "You're all
free loaders," he says to NATO, to our allies. "I'm going to revisit all of our alliance relationships, our trade relationships, you've all taken
advantage of us." It's a unilateralism in a multilateral world that is very, very dangerous.
On Turkey, your points about Erdogan, I last talked with Erdogan when I was secretary of defense in the fall of 2014. I've known him since 2002 when I
first met him, when he first justice development party swept into power. And he said to me then, he has said this constantly, "We believe the Kurds
are our number one threat."
Now, you can disbelieve that, you can tell him they're not your number one threat, it's ISIS, however way you want to do it, but that is Turkey's
evaluation. So, what you have to do is work with Turkey to find ways around that so that you can protect the Kurds and you can accomplish the
things you need to accomplish.
AMANPOUR: All right. Let me on then, to be absolutely, you know, spot on on this debate, the Obama administration did not acquit itself heroically
of over Syria, you were a defense secretary in that administration. And as you very well know, there was a point, let's say, 2012 or whatever, where
the facts on the ground could have been changed and Russia and Iran would not have been the dominant power leading to Assad's almost total victory,
those are the facts. And your administration did not do what it could have done.
So, I want to ask you this at this point, a senior commander told me at the time, you know, why would it not have been in America's strategic interest
in the -- at that time, to take out these people who could have fought with them or for them, take them next door into Jordan, train them up, not for
six days or six weeks but six months and send them back to do this work? Your administration didn't do it, big mistake, right. And here we are all
these years later.
HAGEL: Yes, it was a mistake. I think it was a big mistake. I think it was the biggest foreign policy mistake of the Obama administration. We met
for many months on this and had a decision agreed to it to, which the president had ordered a strike and then pulled it down.
I think when we did that, that's signaled the Russia and other nations that, first of all, the president of the United States word is no good, and
that's always dangerous. But that signaled to the Russians, you can have Syria, and it was dangerous.
And matter of fact, when I left the Pentagon in February 2015, one of the differences I had with the administration was over Syria. I'd written a
memo, which the "New York Times" got ahold of, a memo that Kerry and Susan Rice and others in the ministration saying, "We don't have a clear Syrian
policy." I was being hammered on it by our NATO allies, by our Middle East allies, "What is your policy? What are you going to do? What are you
trying to do?" We just didn't have one.
So, you're right, I think was a fundamental mistake.
AMANPOUR: And I guess the question therefore, is you just say, you know, that Russia could have it. Well, now President Trump has said, "Well, Iran
can have Syria. We don't want to, we don't need it." And the bottom line is, and I'll read you these stats, that, you know, 48 percent of Americans
support withdrawing from Syria, 33 percent oppose it, 56 percent of Americans support bringing home half troops from Afghanistan, only 26
percent oppose. So, in that regard, the president has the people behind him.
HAGEL: Well, that's right. And it's a pretty basic equation here, Christiane. Americans do not, will not support long wars, long drawn out
wars, especially in a place like the Middle East that I don't think has ever been as unstable and volatile and combustible as it is now. So -- and
Afghanistan is close by, 18 years in Afghanistan. Afghanistan's worse off today than it's ever been.
The mistake that Trump has made, in my opinion, is right when we're trying to work on a diplomatic solution, when we have a diplomatic representatives
meeting with the Taliban and others to try to find a diplomatic solution, then he talks about withdrawing troops, pulling troops out. That's not the
time to talk about troop withdrawal.
So, I think Americans are just fed up with it all. I think that's reflected in the Congress, a lot of Democrats and Republicans feel the same
way. But I think Trump makes it worse by the timing and not giving the diplomatic effort and putting that investment to try to find that solution.
It will be an imperfect solution. I don't think we want to balkanize Syria, I don't think we want to balkanized Middle East where the boundaries
just don't matter and you have a little of this, a little of this, a little of this, that's what's dangerous.
You know, you'll never get rid of ISIS, for example, or al Qaeda or half a dozen other terrorist groups with that kind of a world.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And it's important to note that ISIS is not fully defeated, it's definitely on the back foot. But the Pentagon even just
said that it is not defeated and it could come back.
Well, Senator Hagel, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
HAGEL: Well, it's always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
Now, with all this turmoil, sometimes it's best to zoom in, all the way in on love. And who better to tell that tale than the novelist, James
Baldwin, whose exceptional work perfectly captured and critique the America of his times, those with the 1950s, the 60s, the 70s. But sadly, it is all
still very relevant today. And the director, Barry Jenkins, who won an Academy Award for his film "Moonlight" has just adapted Baldwin's novel,
"If Beale Street Could Talk," for the big screen and is considered another major Oscar contender. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLEMAN DOMINGO, ACTOR: These are our children and we got to set them free.
REGINA KING, ACTRESS: A little bit of love is what brought you here. You need to get (INAUDIBLE) love this far or panic now (ph). Trust it all the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Barry Jenkins joins me now from New York.
Welcome to the program.
BARRY JENKINS, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK": Thank you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, look, we just showed a bit of the trailer, but even in the trailer you can see a sort of an exceptional lens on Black experience in
America, there's so much joy that you focus on, there's love that you focus on, there's a certain naive tale (ph) that you focus on. What was it that
made you want to adapt this particular Baldwin novel?
JENKINS: Yes. For me, you know, I've always been a really big fan and Myer or of James Baldwin's work. Mr. Baldwin had quite a few voices he
wrote in, but to those voices in particular that always stood out to me was the one voice that was obsessed with romance, romanticism, interpersonal
relationships. And the other voice that was just as obsessed and passionate about pointing out systemic injustice.
JENKINS: And I felt like in this book, (INAUDIBLE) could talk, those two voices were perfectly fused in the story Tish and Fonny.
AMANPOUR: I mean, they really are perfectly fused. So, Tish is the young girl, she's 19. Fonny is her boyfriend. They've known each other, you
know, from when they were little, little children and they grew up into this really deep and sweet and wonderful love. And then he gets framed for
a rape that he didn't do, that his family is trying to get him out of jail for.
But here's this moment, we want to play a fairly lengthy clip of Tish's family telling Fonny's family that she's actually pregnant. Let's just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The child that's coming, it's your grandchild
AUNJANUE ELLIS, ACTRESS: I don't understand you
KING: It's your grandchild. What difference does it make how he gets here? The child ain't got nothing to do with that. Ain't none of us got
nothing to do with that.
ELLIS: That child, that child, that child, that child.
KING: Take your -- with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is such a remarkable scene and such a remarkable event for a family to stick up so dramatically for their unwed pregnant daughter and to
kick the other one out of the house. Tell me what you were saying about the African-American family in that scene?
JENKINS: You know, Fonny (ph), you know, has taken directly from the source material. So, Mr. Baldwin brings these two families together in the
novel and I felt like that scene was so powerful on the page that it will be just as powerful on screen.
You know, I think for me, it was a few different things. One of particular is, you know, we have eight, you know, Black adults, you know, sitting in a
living room confronted with the same situation, and we assume that Black people are a monolith and they all think the same way in respond to the
same stimulus and the same way.
But I think in the sequence, we see these two families, you know, were from the same place and the same time, take very different approaches to how to
deal with the situation and the circumstance. And, you know, for me, as a director, you know, I love getting into the nuance of interpersonal
relationships and I think Regina King in that clip and Aunjanue Ellis just do such a great job as two Black mothers, you know, responding in very
different ways but have to say as much about themselves as people, as adults, to the situation in front of them.
AMANPOUR: And Regina King, we've already pointed out, did win a Golden Globe as best supporting actress in that drama, and remarkable and her
speech was remarkable too. She actually said something. I think she said that as a producer, she would -- oh, gosh. I'm going to get it all wrong
here. She says that, "In the next two years, everything that I produce I'm making a vow that it's going to be tough to make sure that everything I
produce is 50 percent women. And I just challenge anyone out there who's in a position of power to do the same."
I mean, you know, taking on the whole issue of women in film today obviously in the post #MeToo environment as well. What do you make of that
challenge? Is that something that you would take up?
JENKINS: Yes, yes. Company, Pastel, agrees with Regina's mandate and we have undertaken it ourselves. You know, when we make a path (INAUDIBLE)
will be going audience, you know, they make a path to population. In a Sundance, it's -- there's a film festival this year, they'll make up half
the directors in competition and yet they somehow end up making up only 4 percent of studio directors. So, how do we get the 4 percent to 8 percent
to 12 percent, it's by creating mandates like Regina stated.
You know, Ava DuVernay who won -- was the first woman to win -- the first Black woman to win the directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival, she
started a show on "OWN" called "Queen Sugar" and she made the mandate that every director of that series would be a woman. And what's happened is the
woman who directed on "Queen Sugar" have not gone on to direct episodes of other television shows and created their own television shows.
And clearly, they have the aptitude, they have the talent but they did not have the access. And I think Regina's mandate is about creating the access
because the people are there.
AMANPOUR: And even obviously Frances McDormand when she won her last Oscar talked about inclusion mandate. So, you're getting a lot of support from a
lot of corners. And I wonder whether you think this explosion and diversity is real and it's here to stay.
You know, you mentioned Ava DuVernay, "A Wrinkle in Time," Spike Lee, of course, " Blackkklansman," Steve McQueen's, "Widows, Boots Riley, "Sorry To
bother, Ryan Coogler, "Black Panther," all these films making so many waves over the last year or so.
JENKINS: Yes. I think it I think it takes a multi-pronged approach and I think also we have to look at things over the duration of time. You know,
we've had these moments of diversity and inclusion that have popped up over the course of the last few decades but they're reduced to moments, you
know, they're not an actual process. And so, I think right now we're trying to build a process. That's why I use Ava's a perfect example.
[13:30:0] That show Queen Sugar is now in its third season. So I believe that's about 30 episodes in television directed by women. Typically, women
are 10 percent I want to say are television directors.
And so I think by creating a fertile ground where these directors who have typically been excluded from the process can be included to prove that they
can do the same work as their counterparts. I think that's the way we have continual progress that becomes a direction, not necessarily a destination.
And we've seen that happen in the U.S. with voters' rights laws which we assume we didn't need after around 2000, 2001. And now very quickly we
realize that taking some of those laws, those legislations off the books have had very adverse effects, particularly in the American South.
AMANPOUR: You know, Barry, I mean it is almost extraordinary for us to be able to compute that this -- well, I mean, you know, you yourself talk
about a really unpleasant racial epithet being hurled at you or you heard it being discussed about you even at the very height of your Moonlight
success. There you were, an Oscar-winning director and you yourself had to, you know -- well, you were insulted.
JENKINS: Yes. It's just -- it's a reality of life. I mean look, now 90 percent or 99 percent of the American population going around hurling
racial slurs, no, of course not. But I do think these things still occur.
And if they can occur to someone like me in a situation that it did, I can imagine what happens to someone who's working a shift at McDonald's or to a
woman who is making her way into a 400 to 500 company. How do you rise through the ranks when there's so much of this passive aggression hurled
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you also about the topic. You've talked a lot about women but also you take on black rather male masculinity. You did it --
well, black male masculinity frankly. You did it in Moonlight, a young gay man, boy growing up. The mother was a crack addict. It's the first time
that character has been so portrayed.
And again here in If Beale Street Could Talk, the quintessential love and goodness that the male character Fonny displayed even as he was being
railroaded, framed for this crime that he did not commit. These are very special portrayals.
JENKINS: I just happened to have the honor of adapting really amazing writers. Tarell Alvin McCraney who wrote the play that Moonlight is based
on MacArthur Genius and James Baldwin is a genius, period. So in a way, I'm kind of cheating.
But I think that both between myself and the actors, we're looking to just basically reflect the world that we see. Black men have innocence and
tenderness in their hearts but we rarely see that innocence and tenderness rendered in mass media.
So I think for us when we're making these films, it's just about reflecting the characters that we see in our everyday lives. Brian Tyree Henry,
Estefan James, a very warm, very just amazing young men. I think they bring part of themselves to these roles.
And you're absolutely right. Part of what I love about this job is going to be up to me to show all the multitude of blackness. I mean working from
this book by James Baldwin which does contain multitudes, we can speak to both the light and the darkness of this particular aspect of the black
AMANPOUR: Look -- I mean look you're being modest in a way. I mean, yes, you are standing on the shoulders of these great writers but you -- it's
your choice to make these films and particularly to make them in the cinematography the way you do, the cinematic way you show the characters.
You have them look straight into the lens. Describe the choices you make when you actually say shoot.
JENKINS: Yes. Part of it for me is I think literature is a very powerful tool. When you read a book, everything's activated. The author describes
the smell, the synesthesia, you intellectually reflect what that smells like in your head. The author describes a dialogue and you hear that in
your head. Everything's activated.
I think watching a film can be a passive experience until you have to look someone directly in the eye. If you very rarely do those moments when
people are talking, sometimes the actor and the character just feels and become one.
And at that point, I want the audience to, as I say, walk a mile in the main character's shoes. One of the actors in this film, Kiki Layne who
plays the main character, it's her first time in a feature film and she described it as a very uncomfortable process. Actually, it's what I'm
doing right now, look at the (INAUDIBLE) [13:35:00] because acting is giving and receiving.
And typically, in a scene, one actor gives, the other actor receives and they give back. But when we were doing this director camera moments, the
actor was looking directly into the camera and nothing's being given back until the audience is sitting in the auditorium. Now, the actor is giving
and the audience member is directly receiving. And I have to believe that they then give something back.
And so now passive empathy has been turned and mutated into active empathy, whether you give it to yourself or your audience member. I don't care who
you give it to, I just want that direct engagement. That's why we do these moments.
AMANPOUR: And I mean on a larger level, is that what you're trying to build, this engagement between different elements of society at a time when
everything is so polarized, not to mention the injuring racism?
JENKINS: I do believe so. And I think it was one of the main reasons why I gravitated towards this book. If I was to go to a desert island, I won't
take any of the films I've made with me because it's not about me. I think a film is meant to be shared.
And I also feel like too in this novel, Mr. Baldwin is unpacking so many things. And I think he's implicating all of us in a certain way. Fonny is
falsely accused of a crime he did not commit but he's not falsely accused of anything.
He shows up in a police lineup and he's placed in a police lineup by an officer who's decided to manipulate the system. Because of that, the
actual victim in the story has been disenfranchised and the truth or justice is not what's at stake. It's not what the system is trying to
So I think in that way, Mr. Baldwin points out so many of these things. Making the film, I'm hoping that we can just raise a mirror to show how the
systems we've chosen to engage in, whether through elections or whether it's through the way we vote. All these things in a certain way, if
they're not serving us, who are they serving? And I think ultimately, we're all being disenfranchised on some level.
AMANPOUR: I couldn't believe it when I read that you wrote both Moonlight and If Beale Street in a six-week period while you were in Europe. That's
JENKINS: You know I've tried to replicate it. And for me now it is unbelievable because I can't conjure that magic again. But I was at a
point in my life where I hadn't done very much. It had been a while since I've been creatively activated.
And emulating James Baldwin, I decided to go to Europe. And somehow over the course of six weeks, I wrote the first draft of Moonlight and this
adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk.
Now, I didn't have the rights to the novel when I adapted it. I don't recommend that. But sometimes you have to put good energy into the world
and then the world response.
AMANPOUR: How did they respond? And I've only got a few seconds. How long did it take you to get the rights?
JENKINS: About four years.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, good luck. As I said, it's a contender for all the awards. Well done at the Golden Globes. And we'll keep watching
your work. Thank you, Barry.
And just a quick note. Tomorrow, I'll be speaking to another celebrated director and that is Spike Lee. His new film BlacKkKlansman is based on
the incredible true story of how a black police officer infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. That is tomorrow.
But first, our next guest perfectly illustrates the American dream. Stephanie Murphy was brought to the United States as a baby when her family
fled Communist-controlled Vietnam.
In 2016, she became the first Vietnamese-American Congresswoman paving the way for diversity for the new generation of the Democratic Party. As she
enters her second term, she told our Michel Martin that the U.S. Mexico border should only be one factor in the conversation about immigration.
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D), FLORIDA: Thank you so much for having me on, Michel.
MARTIN: I'd like to talk a little bit about your personal story if it's OK. I understand that you came to the U.S. when you were just 6-months old
with your parents that you had to be rescued at sea. And I just wondered, obviously, you were a baby and you were too little to remember it, but I do
wonder what if anything your parents told you about that journey.
MURPHY: Well, in the aftermath of the end of the Vietnam War, my parents were persecuted by the Vietnamese government because they had been
affiliated with the U.S. military, as well as with the South Vietnamese government. And they just didn't think that they could raise a baby and an
8-year-old boy in this country where they wanted for us freedoms and opportunities and they feared for their lives.
So they got on a boat in the dead of night and escaped Vietnam by sea. And when we got to international waters, we ran out of fuel. And while we were
dangerously adrift, a U.S. Navy ship responded to our S.O.S. call and refueled and resupplied us enabling us to make it to a Malaysian refugee
And from there, a Lutheran church in Virginia sponsored my family's passage to the United States where eventually we became proud American citizens.
MARTIN: What effect, if anything, you think that that -- your origin story as an American, if you don't mind my [13:40:00] calling it that, what
effect do you think that that had on you?
MURPHY: Certainly my experience, my family's experience, the ability to receive both power and generosity that defines America has shaped my life.
And it makes me deeply patriotic and deeply grateful to this country.
It's the reason why after 9/11, I left my private sector job and went to work at the Department of Defense. And I think it's also the reason why in
2016 where I -- when I saw this country heading in a direction that I didn't recognize, rhetoric that didn't comport with the America I knew, I
left my private sector job again and decided to run for public office.
MARTIN: What was your eureka moment in 2016 when you said not just, you know what, somebody needs to do something about this but it's got to be me,
I'm the one who's got to do something about this. What was that like? What was that moment for you?
MURPHY: That moment -- you know, 2016, there were so much hateful rhetoric in this country and government didn't seem to be serving the people
anymore. And I was uncomfortable with it and -- but it was really the -- on June 12 of 2016, when a gunman walked into a nightclub in my community
and took the lives of 49 innocent civilians that I decided something had to be done.
And when I found that the representative from my community had taken a check from the NRA just two days after the nightclub shooting, I decided to
launch a long-shot campaign against this 24-year Republican incumbent. I - - a lot of people told me that I was crazy but I think there's a fine line between brave and crazy.
MARTIN: You know it's funny because a lot of people say that your campaign in 2016 was something of the template for a number of the women who ran in
2018. So what do you think were the factors that led to your victory?
MURPHY: I think that it was a template because it opened the party's eyes to the idea that you could get somebody who had never run for public office
before but who had made commitments in their life to serving their communities and had rich life experience to bring to the job and came at it
with an authentic voice.
And I was really grateful to see how many women they recruited for the 2018 and how many of them have become victorious and will be joining -- and have
joined me here in Congress.
MARTIN: And now you are the head of something called the Blue Dog Coalition. You're one of the co-chairs but you are the leader of this.
Could you just describe what this is for people who don't know? Because I think a lot of people think of the blue dogs as being southern way
conservative men who are trying to preserve a certain place in the Democratic Party. So what does the Blue Dog stand for now?
MURPHY: Blue Dogs have changed over the years and this certainly isn't your 1990s Blue Dogs anymore and it's not your 2006 Blue Dogs either. We -
- even though our caucus has changed over the years, we are still unified behind two principles. And the first one is fiscal responsibility. And
the second one is a strong national security.
And I think at this moment in time where we see $20 trillion debt and fiscal irresponsibility by the Republicans, there's a real place for
Democratic voices to make sure that we are keeping our fiscal house in order so that we're not mortgaging the future of our kids and that we
aren't undermining our national security or our promise to our seniors.
And then on the national security front, coming out of the executive office, we see a lot of haphazard and often hasty national security policy,
as well as trade policy and foreign policy. And it's a moment for Congress I believe to exercise its Article One authorities as a co-equal branch of
government and begin to check some of these behaviors to ensure that we are safe here at home and that we are strong abroad.
MARTIN: So fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense. Let's drill down. What does that actually mean in the current environment?
MURPHY: Right now, the interest payment to the debt is three -- the third largest payment. That undermines our ability to invest in our national
security. It undermines our ability to fulfill our promises to our seniors. It undermines our ability to invest in our infrastructure and all
of these things that are so important in this country.
And so we need to make sure that we're taking care of that, lest it really creates a future that's unstable for this country. And a strong national
security is a smart and strong national security where we partner with our allies and we make sure that we're not emboldening our adversaries.
Unfortunately, a lot of the actions that you're seeing out of the White House these days are alienating our allies and emboldening our adversaries.
MARTIN: So let's focus a little bit on domestic policy in part because many of the people in the [13:45:00] freshmen class who have joined your
ranks are people -- a lot of people who've gotten a lot of attention are people who are validly -- well, they'll say that they're socialist, that
they believe in what they say are very different things.
They believe in different taxation policies. They believe in investments, in things like services, health care, infrastructure. How are you going to
work with this group?
MURPHY: Let me first say that I think one of the strongest points about the Democratic caucus is that we're a broad tent caucus. We have lots of
diverse ideas and passionate individuals and that makes for a better caucus, better debate on the issues, and for a better country.
I'm focused on making sure that in this divided government where we have a Republican-held Senate and a Republican White House that we advance
policies that can address the issues that are facing my constituents today.
The cost of health care, the rising cost of housing, and education. All of these things that we advance legislation that addresses those issues today.
We're a nation of laws. And the only things that really matter are the ideas that actually become law.
MARTIN: OK. But one of your colleagues, one of the colleagues that's gotten a great deal of attention, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says that she
believes in higher marginal tax rates on the highest income citizens, the highest income taxpayers.
Now, let's sort of just -- let's just establish this fact that there are a lot of people who are distorting what that means for their own political
purposes. But as a small business person yourself, you perfectly well know what that means.
It doesn't mean taxing the highest -- it doesn't mean taxing every dollar at the highest tax rate. But it does mean taxing the highest taxpayers at
a higher marginal rate. Is that something that you consider?
MURPHY: I think that it's really important that all of these voices are heard. And certainly her voice is an important voice but it's one of many
of the Democratic caucus. And what the tax rates should be is a debate that we should have.
But I know for certain that the Republican tax cut that gave tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and to the largest corporations and blew a giant
hole in our debt was the wrong approach. And so I'm looking forward to working together with my colleagues, both within my caucus and as well as
across the aisle to figure out what is the right level of ensuring that we have revenues that will allow us to make the outlays that are so incredibly
important to the future of this country.
MARTIN: Is it true also you invented a -- and hold a patent for a design of -- let me get this right, softball pants. Is that right or baseball
pants? Is that true that you designed them and hold a patent for them?
MURPHY: That is true. And I think it's a reflection of one of the things that's great about America is that it's about innovation. So I bumped into
a problem where women's softball pants were essentially men's baseball pants shrunken and made pink. And that really doesn't accommodate for the
body shape of a woman.
And so I redesigned the pants in collaboration with my husband and we were able to secure a design patent on it. But I think that's a reflection of a
broader narrative about America where you run into a problem and then you find ways to innovate a better solution for it. And I certainly take that
approach to legislate, is trying to find innovative solutions to move this country forward.
MARTIN: But one of the reasons that I brought that up is that your story is so compelling and yet there are so many people who believe that the
system no longer works for them. But the path that you took, education, owning a small business, there are many many people in this country who
believe that those paths are either closed to them or that they don't work for them anymore. And I wonder what is your message to people who feel
that way, especially younger people.
MURPHY: Well, I think that's one of the most dangerous and destabilizing things to our democracy is when our constituents no longer believe in
government and in government's ability to serve their needs. Our democracy depends on engaged citizens. But when they become disenchanted, they tend
And that's why it's so important to engage with this next generation, to listen to the issues that uniquely affect them, and then to find ways to
create pathways so that the American dream is still achievable. And that's definitely my focus.
MARTIN: To that end, you also belong to something called the Future Forum. What do you hope to do with this group which is added to its membership in
the current Congress as well?
MURPHY: I'm really proud to be one of the co-chairs for Future Forum which is a group of 50 of the youngest members of Congress. So what we've done
is we've gone out across this country under the leadership of Eric Swalwell over the last four years and visited 50 different locations. We'll
continue to do [13:50:00] these things.
We meet young people where they are, in coffee shops, on college campuses, in their communities, and we listen to them. And then we bring their
messages back to Congress and amplify their voices and then seek to find ways to address their issues through legislation.
And one of the initiatives this Congress that Future Forum has engaged on that I'm really particularly proud of is the automatic voter registration.
We were able to get it into the HR1. What's so important about automatic voter registration is that it makes it easy for American citizens to be
registered to vote and to participate in their democracy.
And that's incredibly important that a generation that's used to instantaneous and needs met on their smartphones also expect an easier
route to being able to vote and participate in our democracy.
MARTIN: Now, you've been in Congress already as I said one term and this is your second term. I do have to ask you if you feel in any way a divide
between you and a number of your younger colleagues and some of your colleagues who have been there a while? Specifically, in the Democratic
Do you feel a divide? Do you feel is there a generation gap in the Democratic Party?
MURPHY: I think the combination of more mature voices with the younger generation voices is a good thing for our caucus and for our government.
And I also think that there are some things that are core competencies of this next generation.
They have the benefit of having grown up as digital natives. And so are -- can bring that tech fluency to a conversation into the scaffolding of what
our tech infrastructure should look like in this country. And I think that's an additive thing.
MARTIN: Well, OK. But are they listening to you is the question?
MURPHY: I think in Congress, there are 435 -- at least in the U.S. House, there are 435 distinct voices. And I think when you work hard and you're
willing to find folks across the aisle and within your caucus to advance issues, it's impossible to be ignored.
MARTIN: And finally before -- while I have you, I do want to ask you about the government shutdown. What are your constituents telling you about
MURPHY: My constituents are suffering the unnecessary political drama that the president and the Republicans have put up over a political symbol of
national security that lacks the real conversation around how we secure our borders. And so I have constituents who are worried about their next
paycheck. And it's the outmost irresponsible thing for them to be held hostage to this political brinksmanship.
MARTIN: I am curious though if you think that if you are at all concerned that you may be right on the substance but wrong on the politics. I mean
the fact is that the president's argument is simple which is border wall, good border wall equals national security.
And I wonder whether you think that the president may be wrong on the facts but he has a compelling argument for the public. And at the end of the day
that they'll blame the Democrats for keeping the government closed or not giving the president what he wants.
MURPHY: As a former national security specialist and somebody who lives in Orlando which is one of the busiest airports in the country, as well as in
the state of Florida which has thousands of miles of coastline, I understand that border security is more than just the southwest border
And so what I would like to do is for us to reopen the government, have an honest conversation about how we address border security, recognizing that
it is only one factor in an overall conversation that must be had in this country regarding comprehensive immigration reform. We need to address
this issue not just through the southwest border wall but through reform of our visa systems and through finding pathways for status, for undocumented
individuals who are currently living in the country, as well as ensuring border security all across this country.
MARTIN: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat of Florida. Congresswoman, thank you so much for talking to us. I certainly do hope
we'll talk again.
MURPHY: I look forward to it. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, as the congresswoman said, America is in urgent need of comprehension -- comprehensive immigration reform but debate on the
solution is not even started. It's far, far from sight and the shutdown does continue.
That is it for now. Remember, you can listen to our podcast at any time. You can see us online at amanpour.com and you can follow me on Facebook and
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.