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Operation Freedom, The Beginning of the Final Phase in Venezuela; Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Supports Juan Guaido; Carlos Vecchio, Venezuelan Opposition Leader's U.S. Envoy, is Interviewed About the Situation in Venezuela; NRA Faces Financial Investigation; Robert Draper, Writer-at-large, New York Times Magazine, and Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action, are Interviewed About the NRA. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 30, 2019 - 13:00:00   ET



[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

Declaring Operation Freedom under way. The man recognized by the United States and dozens of countries around the world as legitimate leader of

Venezuela says the Maduro dictatorship is ending.

Then the NRA in unfamiliar territory. The seemingly invincible gun lobby faces its biggest test ever. I speak to Robert Draper of "The New York

Times" and Shannon Watts who founded "Moms Demand Action."

Plus, what it took to build The Shed. Our Hari Sreenivasan speaks to the Liz Diller, one of the architects behind New York's highly anticipated new

art center.

Welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Venezuela's Juan Guaido says the time has come for Nicolas Maduro's reign to end. And Maduro's government says that an attempted coup is under way.

In an early morning video posted to his Twitter account, the National Assembly leader appeared alongside men dressed in military uniform and

declared the beginning of the final phase of Operation Freedom. And later, he spoke at a rally.


JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): For many years we've talked to the Armed Forces. And today, it is clear to us that

the Armed Forces are with the Venezuelan people and not with the dictator.


AMANPOUR: But the leader of the Armed Forces, the country's defense minister then appeared on camera to pledge loyalty to Maduro, who himself

had tweeted, "Nerves of steel. We will win."

Guaido declared himself president in January, as government corruption and mismanagement worsen the rampant inflation on food and medical shortages.

He was swiftly recognized as the country's legitimate leader by the United States, neighboring Columbia and dozens of other countries.

But the two sides have been locked in a power struggle ever since. Our team on the ground has heard shots fired near a Caracas military base where

Guaido called on his supporters to gather today. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo voiced support for Guaido today, tweeting, "The interim

president, Juan Guaido, has announced the start of Operation Libertad. The U.S. government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for

freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated."

Now, Carlos Vecchio is Guaido's representative in the United States and he's trying to make clear that this is not a coup, but he says it's a

process led by the people and their civilian leaders. And he is joining me now from Washington.

Mr. Vecchio, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: OK. So, first and foremost, let's get this terminology dealt with because, you know, the word coup, attempted coup is being used to

describe what's going on. Why is it that you are not using that term?

VECCHIO: Because, I mean, this is a process activated by the interim president of Venezuela, the constitutional president of Venezuela who is

requesting to the Venezuelan people to demonstrate on the streets peacefully to restore democracy and also, requesting to the army force to

support the people and to implement fully our constitution.

So, this is a movement led by the civilian who is interim president of Venezuela. And what he is trying to do is to restore democracy and the

constitution. So, this cannot be a coup. So, the coup has been implemented by Maduro who is holding the power without legitimacy. So,

that is why we are requesting the support of the army forces and also from the international community to help us to recover our democracy.

AMANPOUR: What particular help do you want right now? Because we're going to discuss the business of the military forces in Venezuela, but just do

you want right now? What are you asking for?

VECCHIO: Basically, we want to put an end of the usurpation of power. It is the only way, Christiane, to resolve our humanitarian crisis in order to

set a transitional government and then hold free and fair elections. That's what we want, this is our agenda and that's why we are pushing our

military to support us. And also, the international community has been supporting the Venezuelan people in order to recover our democracy. So,

that's what we have been asking.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to get a little more detail in a moment. But first, I need to ask you about the Armed Forces. Because on the one hand, you all

and certainly Juan Guaido is saying that the Armed Forces are supporting the people. But on the other hand, Maduro has sent out his [13:05:00]

military leadership, defense minister and others in their uniforms. And this is what the defense minister said.


VLADIMIR PADRINO, VENEZUELAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): He's a savage opposition. He's an opposition that have no sense of homeland. It

is against democracy. And they want to win the respect of the Armed Forces. Stop fooling around.


AMANPOUR: Well, basically that's the defense minister saying it's a savage operation and they are anti-Democrats. We have also seen at least one

piece of imagery of a tank seemed to be moving towards people on the streets. So, it doesn't look as if you've got the military or at least the

leadership of the military on your side. How are you going to resolve this issue?

VECCHIO: Well, what you have seen is only a declare -- a statement from the privileged elite of the army force. We have the support of the middle

and lower ranks and that's why we have been asking the support of that institution.

And of course, they haven't shown all of the images across the country. We have been demonstrating across the country, also getting support of some of

the militaries who are in different part of Venezuela.

And also, let me give you just a clear sign. Leopoldo Lopez was under house arrest. He was surrounded by loyal forces of Maduro. And now, he is

on the streets joining with Juan Guaido, the interim president of Venezuela, demonstrating peacefully and claiming for our rights in order to

restore democracy.

AMANPOUR: So, just explain to me then because Lopez has said, "I was liberated by this armed movement, by this people's movement with the Armed

Forces, working together in the phase which is ending the usurpation." And I know you used that word to describe the Maduro regime, the usurpers.

How did he get out? And he was the leader of the party. He was the leader of Juan Guaido's party. Now that he is out, who is the leader?

VECCHIO: No, Juan Guaido is the interim president of Venezuela and Leopoldo Lopez is supporting Juan Guaido as the interim president of

Venezuela. And all of the Democratic society is backing Juan Guaido. So, we -- the majority of Venezuelans are looking for a change and that change

will come. I mean, nobody will be able to stop it. We have been on the street for the last three months and we will continue demonstrating

peacefully until we achieve democracy.

Just let me add something else. I mean, this is not a single event. This is a process which is in progress right now and you will see more in the

hours and days to come. So, we need to keep the people on the streets, we need to keep calling to the military force to support us and also the

international community to increase all the pressure right now in order to force Maduro to facilitate this transition.

AMANPOUR: Had there been any negotiations? You know, I erroneously said that there were tanks on the streets, those were not tanks, they are

military vehicles, to an extent, sort of troop carriers. He hasn't unleashed the big guns.

You are saying that you have the lower ranks and the middle ranks. He obviously has the top ranks. How is this going to be resolved? I mean,

might there be fighting in the streets? What do you want this middle rank military people to do?

VECCHIO: We will continue, Christiane, on the streets, demonstrating peacefully.


VECCHIO: Increasing that pressure across the country. We will use the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution to move

forward for a transition. And also, we are requesting to the international community to increase that pressure as well. That will force for a

transition in Venezuela in order to put an end of the usurpation of power and as I said, you know, said in this transitional government to call for a

free and fair election soon.

AMANPOUR: So, tell me, you know, you are the representative of Juan Guaido, the interim leader, what went into his calculations? What are you

all deciding? Because this was clearly quite planned. It was an early morning message that this is what's going to happen now, this is a new

phase. And then the U.S. started tweeting, secretary of state, the defense secretary, our John Bolton, the national security adviser, all supporting

what they call Operation Freedom and Operation Libertad. What exactly is the plan now and how did you, you know, come to this moment today?

VECCHIO: Again, we need to increase the pressure from these three different levels that I just explained.


VECCHIO: From the streets peacefully, from the National Assembly, from the international community. And we are getting the support not only from the

U.S., also from the main country from Latin America and some from Europe.

And just to be very clear, this is a movement led by [13:10:00] Venezuelans, led by the interim president of Venezuela. So, the people who

are on the street are putting their lives at risk as, you know, Juan Guaido is doing and Leopoldo Lopez as well.

So, we have been asking the international community to support the people of Venezuela, to defend the Venezuelan rights and also, to protect them in

a certain way. So, this is a movement led by us.

AMANPOUR: You might be aware of a Reuters report, which is talking about a fairly infamous man in the United States by Erik Prince who started this

mercenary operation called Blackwater. He happens to be the brother of the current education secretary, Betsy DeVos. And the Reuters report suggests

that he is in talks with the United States and with the people on the ground in Venezuela to potentially offer mercenaries to the Guaido side, to

your side, military mercenaries. Is that what you need? Is that what you are asking for?

VECCHIO: No, no. Not at all. We have not discussed that point. And I have been so clear, and you have seen that in the last three months, we

have been just demonstrating peacefully in Venezuela, claiming for our rights and just getting the support of our army force. And that's what we

want and that's what we have been doing in the last three months.

AMANPOUR: And what can you tell me about other nationals or nations forces there? I mean, there was a story that Russian forces had been dropped.

The Russians saying, "No. This was a legitimate rotation of our troops. Everybody -- well, our personnel, everybody knows we have very tight ties

with President Maduro." Are there any foreign forces in there helping the other side?

VECCHIO: Well, we have been very clear with the Russians. I mean, this is a problem that has to be resolved by Venezuelans and they cannot be part of

the conflict. And they choose to remove all of the military officer that they have in Venezuela. And our military institution would put order

inside of our country. Because at the end of the day, we will end the usurpation of power and we will conquer our country again.

AMANPOUR: I guess, you know, today, Guaido said, "The moment is now. This is the moment to do what we are doing." But to be frank, this has been

going on for several months now with a gradual sort of appearance on the stage of this what you -- you know, peaceful movement to take back the

reins of power and take back democracy and the constitution.

But the thing is, it hasn't reached a tipping point. There are many of your supporters who are saying that it is either now or never. When you go

out and you make these declarations, it has to succeed or else the opposite is failure and people will get fed up. Why do you think there hasn't been

an overwhelming momentum? Why haven't enough people come out on the streets or enough military defected to your side?

VECCHIO: Again, this is an ongoing process, Christiane. I mean, we have been doing this since January. They have been in power for 20 years. So,

we have been taking, you know, clear steps forward. I mean, you couldn't imagine two months ago that I could be here, you know, sitting and talking

with you as an ambassador. You would have imagined that now Venezuela has a new president called Juan Guaido who is getting the support of more than

54 countries across the globe.

So, we have been moving forward. And you have seen also massive demonstrations across the country in the last month. So, we are in the

right track. I think Venezuela is ready for a change, that we are in a irreversible process of change and that we will conquer democracy again.

So, we are fully confident that we are just moving in the right direction.

AMANPOUR: And finally, do you have any avenues of discussion or any kind of negotiations with Maduro or with his regime?

VECCHIO: The only negotiation that we could have is just the exit of Maduro. The day and the hour and how. That's the only thing that we need

to negotiate with Maduro.

AMANPOUR: So, the answer is no, there is no talks with his side at all?


AMANPOUR: All right. Carlos Vecchio, thank you so much indeed for joining us today from Washington. We continue to watch this very important process

play out in Venezuela.

Now, while that uprising continues there, a different struggle over guns plays out in the United States, it is for power and survival at the NRA,

the behemoth gun lobby. Its most famous representative is Wayne LaPierre and he has been reelected as chief executive after fighting off an

insurgency from Oliver North of Iran-Contra infamy (ph) who ultimately resigned as the group's president.

On top of that, the NRA faces a financial investigation by the New York attorney general, [13:15:00] which could threaten the group's existence.

Now, Robert Draper has reported on the NRA for "The New York Times" magazine and Shannon Watts is the founder of "Moms Demand Action," this, of

course, is for gun sense and safety in the United States and both join me now.

Welcome to the program to you both.


AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you first, Shannon, because you represent, you know, people, moms, obviously, and people who have lost people to the

terrible use of weapons. What do you feel about this moment, just at a gut level, at a level of emotion at this moment where the NRA seems to be

facing something different?

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: You know, it is very rewarding to watch their house of cards fall because this is an organization, and I

don't mean the members, because a vast majority of the members of the NRA actually supports stronger gun laws. It is the leadership that has become

so radicalized and really supports an agenda of guns for anyone, anywhere, anytime, no questions asked.

And we took it upon ourselves as an organization about six years ago to shine a flashlight under the refrigerator and force the cockroaches to run

out. And what we are seeing is the result of that. We are seeing that the NRA is really a faltering business, it is not a gun rights organization and

it is run by unscrupulous executives with dwindling profits. And the fact they are under investigation on so many fronts, I think is been longtime


AMANPOUR: So, Robert Draper, I mean, that's quite a lot of colorful, you know, sort of describing the situation, particularly the cockroaches and

the dwindling business. You have written a lot of about them and you have called them in the past the most fearsome lobbying group in the history of

the Unites States. Do you also see a toppling organization or is that overegging the pie right now?

DRAPER: Well, what I certainly see is an organization that is in a lot of financial jeopardy. And underlying this backbiting is in fact the reality

that for all of their pugnacity, the NRA is deeply in debt, it is in debt because it has been spending money externally that it doesn't have, such as

in the 2016 election when it devoted over $50 million to the election of (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump.

It has also been spending money internally. It has been bled from within by unscrupulous vendors who have been paid retainers of $30,000 a month for

doing basically nothing. And in the meantime, it is facing, as mentioned, these legal challenges from the State of New York over its tax-exempt

status. This in turn has led to these personnel squabbles into leadership squabbles, metastasizing into the force resignation of President Oliver

North the other day.

And North has been identified with Ackerman McQueen, which is this PR group based in Oklahoma that has really been the unseen power of the NRA, where

the seen power is Wayne LaPierre who has been there since the 1970s. It has, in fact, not been since the 1970s that we have seen so much strive

breakout into the open as we are seeing now.

AMANPOUR: Look, I want to get to the financials and before we get to sort of the personnel shakeup there. You were talking about the financial sort

of dwindling of their -- of the company there. The tax-exempt organization filings, the most recent years available show combined losses of nearly $64

million. And the income from membership dues plunging about $35 million in 2017.

I mean, I guess to both of you, first you, Robert, because you have been examining this aspect of it, why do you think that is happening?

DRAPER: Well, there are a few reasons. I mean, one of them is, and I think I'm about to steal Shannon's thunder here, is that I think that for

many NRA members, the organization has become too extreme and it has caused the diminishing and the ranks even as the NRA has tried to promote its

membership largely through fear, through marketing fear campaigns.

They've, as a result, had to double the membership dues -- or not double, but increase their membership dues twice over last year, which is just

something they haven't done in a very, very long time. But it also (INAUDIBLE) itself as well to demographic changes in America, that there's

less gun use for recreation than there has been in the past. That's just sort of owing to the increasing urbanization of America and the declining

of rural pastimes as a result.

But I think most of all, that they have simply been -- they have allowed kind of these cancers to grow from inside, that they have allowed people

who have been charging tons of money to the NRA to take advantage of the fact the NRA is not a transparent organization, likes to keep its books

close to its vest. And I think that transparency or lack of transparency [13:20:00], rather, has come back to hurt them.

AMANPOUR: So, Shannon, pick up where Robert has just dropped off because, you know, it is about the -- you say, the younger members, it's about them,

you know, seeing the landscape around them and, as you say, sort of potentially separating from their leadership. How do you see it in your

organization, you know, "Moms Demand Action"? And why now since you have been working at this since Sandy Hook, which happened in 2013 and there was

so much disappointment then at the power still of the NRA and the inability of the Senate, for instance, to pass even background checks at the time?

WATTS: Well, when you look at the Congress that we had in place after Sandy Hook happened, they were very beholden to the gun lobby. So, this is

work. Grassroots activism is a marathon, not a sprint. And so, we have been spending the last six years really going toe-to-toe with the NRA, and

it was much a David versus Goliath story.

However, in the mid-term elections, we actually not only out maneuvered the NRA, we outspent them. And as a result, we won very big in mid-term

elections all across the country. We flipped the makeup of seven state legislatures. We've already gone into many of those and passed stronger

gun laws.

Last year was best year we'd ever had. We passed stronger gun laws in 20 states, nine of which were signed into law by Republicans. And a poll out

by CNN today shows that among Democratic voters, gun safety is the number three issue when they go to the polls in 2020.

So, not only is the NRA in the hot seat, but finally there's an equal opposition that has been challenging them and that is also part of the

problems they are suffering.

AMANPOUR: I mean, and just to go back to how you are building what I think you have all described as sort of the architecture and the infrastructure

of change, you know, getting to the heart of politics of it since it was really tough at the top levels of Congress to meet the NRA head on.

How have you done it? What was the sort of tipping point that turned you to more grassroots politics?

WATTS: Well, when I started "Moms Demand Action," I really thought we would immediately pass federal legislation in the wake of Sandy Hook. The

Manchin-Toomey Bill was the first to come up, which would have closed the background check loophole on every gun sale in America. It failed by just

a handful of votes in the Senate. None of the Democratic senators who voted against that bill are still in office. When you have friends like

the NRA, who needs enemies?

And so, we realized that Congress wasn't necessarily where this work would begin, it would be where it ended. And so, we immediately pivoted and

started working in the statehouses and in board rooms and getting influencers to support us. Much like the marriage equality fight. And

that is work that a while, it can take several election cycles and we are finally seeing the rewards of that.

You know, we have hundreds of thousands of volunteers on the ground all across the country. We are not only the largest gun violence prevention

organization, we're one of the largest grassroots movements in the country. And finally, mostly women are organized around this issue in America and it

is making a real difference.

AMANPOUR: Robert Draper, I see can you nodding your head in some of what Shannon is saying in terms of the architecture of this fight, you know,

this counter fight against the NRA. Do you think the leadership, this sort of elderly aging leadership gets it, gets that there are a whole new

demographic coming up that has different views about some aspects of gun ownership and gun usage in America?

DRAPER: If they get it, they are not showing it. And I suspect they actually don't get it. They realize there are problems, that they have

created a monster and then so doing it kind of painted themselves into a corner by saying over and over that people like Barack Obama and Hillary

Clinton are going to take your guns away from you and that our culture is dangerous than ever before and everybody needs to arm themselves and defend

themselves. Then, they have removed themselves from any table of compromise and resulted in them being extreme.

Now, there's something else I was -- actually, what I was nodding my head about was that underlying the resistance to groups that -- such as

Shannon's has been the belief among the members of Congress that well, the most fearsome organization -- lobbying organization in America is the NRA.

That certainly was true, but that was more true perceptually than it was in terms of their actual strength.

No one knows how many people are actually in their organization. They appear to have, you know, a strong grassroots lobbying effort but it is not

unassailably strong one.

And in the meantime, now that we're seeing these financial difficulties rise to the surface, it kind of begs the question, can they be that

fearsome when they have so little money and when there is so much internal strive?

Congress has always been kind of a lagging indicator to public opinion and it may well be that Congress will be the last to discover. But

nonetheless, it was just beginning to discover that the NRA is not quite to be feared as it was before.

AMANPOUR: Well, it has a very, very [13:25:00] powerful patron and backer and supporter and that is Donald Trump. And in relation to the current

sort of in-fighting and certainly, the New York attorney general's reported probe into their financials, he tweeted about the NRA, "Must get its act

together quickly. Stop the internal fighting and get back to greatness fast."

What do you make of why he is choosing to weigh in and what that -- what affect that will have? I mean -- yes. Go ahead.

DRAPER: Well -- yes. Sure. Let's stipulate that when the president of the United States, he have not so well oiled machine, is actually saying to

another organization stop the in-fighting and then get your act together, you know, there must really be trouble. And -- but I think that these

troubles actually do speak a real consternation on the part of the president who believes that the gun lobby is very much a part of its base,

that this cannot -- that there has to be unity on this front.

I think that Trump and his son, Donald Junior, have been close to Wayne Lapierre in the past. I think -- I don't know whether they have had any

association with Oliver North, but probably had been, you know, operating under the assumption that the NRA did not have its own kind of deep state.

That is to say, people who are on the inside, spending lots and lots of money in trying to keep things the way they are. Now that things have

broken out into the open, it doesn't surprise me that the president who has relied very much on the advocacy of the NRA is disturbed that the NRA can't

hold itself together.

AMANPOUR: And, Shannon, in terms of the political power and the shape of the landscape in the United States now, I mean, just to repeat some of the

things that you were alluding to, you know, the states have acted more than three times -- enacted more than three times as many gun control measures

in 2018 as they did in 2017, you know, in a major shift as well. Gun control groups outspent the NRA in the midterm-term election. And then,

you know, there were all these really close races and Democrats won all eight against people who got, as you said, you know, high marks from the


And some Republican senators, powerful people, Senator Marco Rubio and others, are also coming to the table, right, to an extent.

WATTS: That's right. And we're seeing this be a bipartisan issue now. We are seeing Republicans like John Kasich, Bill Weld, the governor of

Maryland, come out in support of stronger gun laws regardless of what the president or gun lobby feels.

And it is also important to remember how playing defense matters. So, we stop 90 percent of all the bad NRA supported bills that go through state

houses like arming teachers, guns on college campuses, something called permitless carry. But really and very importantly, Donald Trump was the

president for the first two years with the Republican Congress and they were not able to pass the NRA's priority legislation, which was something

called conceal carry reciprocity and deregulation silencers.

Those are bills that should have sailed straight through given the fact that the NRA gave more than $30 million to the Donald Trump's campaign, one

of the largest outside donors. And they still were not able to get their legislation through. So, I think that also shows their true weakening

power of the gun lobby in this country

AMANPOUR: Just for the heck of it, to go back to a little bit of history and remind people how the NRA sort of become such a public face and such a

public institution, I just want to play this ad that Charlton Heston was fronting back during the -- you know, during the 90s. Let's just play



CHARLTON HESTON, THEN-NRA PRESIDENT: As we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away. I want to say those fighting

words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed and especially for you, Mr. Gore. From my cold, dead hands.


AMANPOUR: Well, that was clearly the convention, the Republican convention in 2000. It does seem like it's really shifted a huge amount since then.

DRAPER: Yes. I mean, it is worth remembering the National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 to teach union soldiers after the Civil War

how to hunt. And it was basically a gentlemen's hunting organization all the way up until 1960s when the Gun Control Act that passed that got more

people in the more sort of hardline Second Amendment types aggravated. And as a result of that, they created in the 1970s the lobbying arm of the NRA.

And since then, the NRA has started to tilt more and more towards what we saw there in the 2000 convention with Charlton Heston. This kind of

absolutist over my dead body from my cold, dead hands organization.

It's nonetheless the case that until fairly recently, until around the time basically the Manchin Toomey Bill. The NRA had always kind of been in the

room forging compromises. It had supported Democrats as well as Republicans and did not have this kind of slippery slope attitude that it

has developed.

I think really mainly because that's the way its raised funds by convincing would-be members that you need to join our organization and support us,

otherwise, you know, the feds are going to come and steal your guns away from you. That, in turn, has fed a climate in which there is no room for

compromise. And as I say, I think that it has really put the organization in a box from which it is having a lot of trouble exiting.

AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether, perhaps, this sort of in-fighting at the top, is reflective of the pressures that they are facing on the ground.

And I just want to raise this both to you Shannon and Robert. Per the "New Yorker" on Friday, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that Wayne LaPierre

had told the group's board that Oliver North was threatening to release a letter containing "a devastating account of our financial status, sexual

harassment charges against a staff member, accusations of wardrobe expenses, and excessive staff travel expenses."

I mean Shannon, when you hear this, I mean that is firstly pretty serious. What do you think?

WATTS: Well, I think the members are going to show their displeasure. We are already seeing open letters to the NRA from various esteemed members,

former employees. We've heard even board members are upset by the mismanagement of Wayne LaPierre and how he's managed the organization and

the misspending that has run rampant.

They basically have given sweetheart deals to friends, family, and favored vendors to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. So we are just

starting to see the skeletons kind of emerge from the closet. And all of that will be made much worse by the A.G.'s investigation in New York.

But ultimately, what this speaks to us a real weakening of the NRA because of internal forces, because of external forces. This is certainly not the

position they want to be going into 2020 elections in. And we're going to see real dissent.

The other piece that we've heard is that members dislike the fact that the NRA has moved from talking about guns and gun rights to really just

fomenting Donald Trump's agenda and talking about the wall and different things that are not having anything to do with guns.

And so as the NRA parts ways with Ackerman McQueen, which it sounds like they will. That is the organization that is in charge of NRA TV and it

hires many and pays for many of its spokespeople.

The question is will the NRA finally moderate or will they continue to double down? And that will be something really fascinating to watch.

AMANPOUR: And yet of course, despite all of this, Wayne LaPierre who's been at the top for such a long time was reelected. Robert Draper, the

leadership isn't really changing despite the fact that Oliver North after one year was ousted.

DRAPER: Right. Sure. And the skeptic in me is very, very suspicious of Oliver North's genuine outrage over Wayne LaPierre having a $200,000 a year

wardrobe. I suspect that because of all the financial improprieties uncovered by the New Yorker in its recent story that there was a lot of

finger pointing as to who exactly is to blame.

Oliver North was being bankrolled by Ackerman McQueen. So was Dana Loesch and others in NRA TV. So presumably, there has been a kind of fissure

between LaPierre who was once close with Ackerman McQueen and those people who are financially beholden to Ackerman McQueen.

And I think there are a lot of well, you know, I'm not responsible for this or that vendor contract. And it was easy for Oliver North to make that


On the other hand, he has now been replaced by an NRA board member, Carolyn Meadows who is completely non-celebrity, completely non-controversial. And

it is clear right now that the NRA wants to go to ground again, wants to get out of the headlines and basically regroup.

AMANPOUR: So let's just quickly talk about the New York attorney general's investigation into the tax-exempt status is what the reporting is saying.

What -- how existential a threat [13:35:00] would that be to its survival or to its strength, its power?

DRAPER: Right. That's the right word to use. Because I mean, after all, it is designated as a non-profit. And it could lose its tax-exempt status

if it is determined that basically money from the NRA Foundation, which is the non-profit, is being funneled into political programs which would cause

it to lose its non-profit status.

And there are the so-called murder insurance program that has been promulgated by the NRA that the New York State attorney general's office

has been going after, also could create problems as well. So yes, I mean if it loses its tax-exempt status, then the NRA will really cease to exist.

AMANPOUR: OK. And now, as if Russia is not involved in so many other issues of American life, there are all these allegations that it is also

involved in this instance as well. You know, 2016 campaign, Russian money into NRA and all the rest of it.

But we have a particular conviction of Maria Butina who everybody remembers. She pleaded guilty to conspiring with a Russian official to

infiltrate the NRA and other conservative groups.

How big a deal is that for allegations of being linked to the Russian mob, et cetera? How big a deal is that for I guess the way Americans would

regard the proprietary of this group, the NRA?

DRAPER: Well, it is difficult to say. I mean because there are a lot of dots that either -- that may or may not be connectible.

Back since the summer of 2016, I was hearing reports from people about this that there had been contacts between the Russians and the NRA. Perhaps

even the press allegations that the NRA was somehow -- that money was being funneled, Russian money through the NRA and laundered by them. All of this

unsupported by evidence at least thus far.

It is clear though that there have been contacts between the Trump campaign, the NRA, and Russia. And that Maria is one of the individuals

who has apparently been an intermediary for this. And whether it adds up to anything more than yet another unconnectable dot just remains to be


AMANPOUR: All right. So much more to talk about. But Robert Draper and Shannon Watts, thank you so much indeed for joining us on this important



Next, in the heart of the city, a highly touted new building project has ended with a grand unveiling. That's New York City. Liz Diller is an

award-winning architect and co-founder of Diller Scofidio and Renfro and her studio is behind some of the world's most iconic building project

including The High Line in New York and the ongoing renovation of The Museum of Modern Art.

She's been speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan about her latest project known as The Shed. It's a public art center and colossal work of engineering

with a whole section that can be moved around on wheels.

HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth Diller, thanks for joining us. First, let's talk about your most recent piece, The Shed, in New York City.

What is it?

ELIZABETH DILLER, CO-FOUNDER, DILLER SCOFIDIO and RENFRO: The Shed is a brand new cultural institution, that shows the visual and performing arts

under one roof and it's all new commission programming. It sits on Hudson Yards adjacent to The High Line.

SREENIVASAN: So did you come up with this idea?

DILLER: So the idea sprang from a request for proposals from the city and it was in 2008, it was when the economy was tanking and it was really

improbable to imagine a new cultural facility in New York. And so we thought, "Well, what does New York need that it actually doesn't have?"

And the answer is some place that actually houses all of the creative disciplines in one place, that's purpose built for flexibility and that's

design for the future that we can't imagine. The building has some unusual features.

SREENIVASAN: Yes. So tell us a little bit about those features.

DILLER: So the main organization of the building is it's a fixed structure with multiple levels of which three are very tall floors for galleries and

performing arts spaces, that is a theater and two galleries that are stacked. And on top of the fix building there is a telescoping outer shell

that basically slides out onto an open space to the east. And when it does so it encloses and shelters a very, very large space that can be heated and

cooled, it can be an interior space. In fact, doubling the original footprint.

So we're able to put on very large installations, very large theatrical productions, all sorts of events. And when we don't need those events, we

don't have to heat or cool the space, we simply roll it back, nested back on the fixed building and it's quite modest and it opens up a big public

space right next to it that could also be used for cultural programming.

SREENIVASAN: What's structurally difficult about designing something like that?

DILLER: Well, it's hard to move an 8 million pound building, so we worked with a team of engineers and actually the structural principle is very,

very simple. It's based on crane technology that you see at shipping ports and it's an industrial system that basically runs on steel tracks with

steel wheels and the motors are at the very top of the building and it's just a rack and pinion system which has mechanical advantage.

So when it moves, the movement is silent. It takes only five-minutes to open and/or close the building and it runs on a horsepower of one Prius


SREENIVASAN: You can move an 8 million pound building with a tiny Toyota Prius engine or the equivalent of?

DILLER: Yes, exactly.


DILLER: From an engineering standpoint, it's extremely smart, sustainable, quiet and operationally very, very easy to do.

SREENIVASAN: It's also adjacent to The High Line, which is for people who don't know the conversion of an elevated rail track, into a walkway, into a

park, into a public space. Now, you're also behind that. How does that connect to The Shed?

DILLER: We made up an urban park out of it and it's been really quite the rage, so very, very popular in New York. There's been a viral effect all

over the world. There are high lines all over the place and it's led to a tremendous amount of transformation in what we call the far Westside

Chelsea and Meatpacking District.

[00:44:56] And this transformation ultimately also incorporated the rail yards, which had previously not been built on. So the opportunity to do

The Shed is directly linked to the success of The High Line and that whole transformation of the Westside.

SREENIVASAN: Why do you think people are connected to it? I mean especially with these spin-offs around the world, what is it about walking

just this other elevation that connects with people?

DILLER: I think there are multiple things, one is that you're walking 25 feet off the ground and you can walk for a mile and a half without stopping

for a light or a car to go by, so you have this wonderful promenade. You also see New York in a very different way, not the postcard views, not the

very polished beautiful things and typical sights.

You see a kind of subconscious of New York. It was never really meant to be seen. You see these chimney stacks. You see alleys. You see solid

brick buildings. You see laundry drape from people's windows. It's just a different side of New York that we don't typically see.

But I think that there's one thing that people maybe don't think about, but that really resonates with me about The High Line. Basically you can only

do two things; you can you can walk and you can sit. So basically it's a place for doing nothing and in a city where everybody is productive all of

the time, whether they're working or working out, burning calories or shopping or on their devices, they're always doing something.

And The High Line gives you a kind of license to really do nothing and take that kind of parenthetical moment in the day and just be there and look at

other people and just hang out.

SREENIVASAN: I mean in a way that's not necessarily that when you look at your body of work, you don't design that many spaces for doing nothing,

you're also doing a lot of spaces that have a function in mind when you're crafting them. So is there a through line if we look back through all of

your work? Is there a connective tissue?

DILLER: I think that there are several strands maybe. One is a preoccupation with vision and the culture of vision, which incorporates all

sorts of things like spectatorship and exhibitionism and voyeurism and just interest in optics and a kind of preoccupation and a kind of critique maybe

with a preoccupation of vision as a master sense. So that's one of the through lines.

Another one is a kind of desire to democratize space, an interest in publicness, and even on private property to always carve out space. And as

our cities are getting progressively privatized, architects really have to be on the warpath here to protect space and make sure there's enough for

the public.

SREENIVASAN: You're also part of a couple of projects in Hudson Yards, it's a multibillion-dollar endeavor. The concern has been some of these

types of projects are serving to make neighborhoods more elite. How does that square with what you're just saying is your interest in trying to make

sure that there are public spaces preserved?

DILLER: Yes. I think that the city was very, very smart in organizing the open space and making sure that there was enough open space, public space

open to the sky on Hudson Yards because it was privately developed. And they were extra smart in identifying that parcel that would always belong

to the city on which The Shed stands.

So that is while it's physically within the four corner of Hudson Yards, it's actually New York City property and will always be, that's the first

thing. Before any design takes place, it's just making sure that that's protected for public and cultural use.

SREENIVASAN: I also wanted to ask you about the project you just finished up in Moscow, what was the intent? What was the outcome?

DILLER: So Zaryadye Park was a competition, an international competition that we won and this was the time of Edward Snowden and the relationship

between the U.S. and Russia was already - it's quite complicated. People told us to not compete, not even bother because an American had no chance

of winning this competition.

[00:49:58] And we had our doubts about the government and whether we wanted to step a foot in Russia and convinced ourselves that this is a project for

the city of Moscow. So it's a 35-acre park that sits right next to the Kremlin. It's basically Moscow's equivalent to our Central Park and it was

the first time the site was liberated.

Before that the hotel Rossiya stood there and it was a Soviet-era hotel with 3,000 rooms, really crazy huge footprint of a building. And when they

raised it, the first idea was to develop it commercially and then they decided that was not a good idea that a park should be there.

So they were very inspired by The High Line and I think that was the reason for our invitation to participate in the competition. So now the park is

open for about a year and a half and the brief [00:51:02] says don't make a space where people could collect and it was very, very clearly avoiding any

kind of protest.


DILLER: Yes. And parks in Russia and particularly Moscow were all very formal axial and there are certain kinds of plants that are allowable and

usually very, very formal gardens. So our idea was to actually make a place for people to collect. We called it wild urbanism and we thought

about it as a place where, and similar to The High Line, where the paving system and the vegetation are intertwined in different ways.

This project was so embraced by the Muscovites. It was in the first month, a million people came and it's one of the great attractions right now. And

I think we got away with murder here. We made a place that was truly progressive in a government that may not have really understood entirely,

but we had a great ally with the city architect.

SREENIVASAN: You had an exhibit where there was a building on a lake and you essentially had this giant fog machine, but the fog itself was what

people were interacting with. Tell me about that.

DILLER: Yes. So our studio in, I believe, 2002 for the Swiss expo, we decided to make a structure that was inhabitable, that was out in the lake

structure there, that was a huge fog, a cloud of fog that you walked through. There's 500 foot long bridge that brought you there and then you

found yourself on something the size of a football field with no walls just a couple of platforms with four columns that went down into the lake bed.

But you were immersed in this mist and you really couldn't see more than three feet ahead of you. It was called the blur building. It became such

a hit and in Switzerland they required every student to go visit it. And because it was amorphous and you couldn't quite see, you could hear this

kind of hissing of the sand 35,000 fog nozzles and you were immersed in it and you could walk in any direction but it came to represent this certain

notion of Swiss doubt which I thought was really, really phenomenal.

SREENIVASAN: Being in Switzerland, being in the middle of --

DILLER: Being in the middle of and not knowing politically what you wanted to do, EU or not EU (inaudible), what country are you with, what language

do you speak and it was just a super interesting way of penetrating a country.

SREENIVASAN: You have been teaching at Princeton for decades and I wonder if in that time, you've seen batches of students year after year, is there

a gap between the number of women that enter the profession and the number of women who either stick with it, because it seems a male-dominated

industry at the end result regardless of who's coming in to your classroom.

DILLER: Yes. Well, it is very male-dominated and when you think about it from a cultural perspective, the association you would make with an

architect is a white male heroic figure. I mean typically that's the very successful architects of the past have sort of fallen into a certain type.

Today, people work very, very differently. There are many collaboratives. I work in a collaboration with three men and one is gay, one is black, one

is my husband and what is white, the unusual white guy in a team with a woman. Three minorities essentially.

[00:55:13] And so people work very, very differently today. In terms of women, my classes are 50% female. There's an absolute gender balance in

academia, no different than many other fields. But there's something that happens, that gap.

So women come into the workplace, there's a disparity I think in salaries still and then as women progress, some have families and need to take time

off, some officers are not that generous about giving women time off. We have maternity and paternity leave and we've always done it that way. And

we encourage women to slowly come back to the workplace.

But still even in our studio, there's not a balance, it's not the way it is in the academic context. And I think we have to just think about it a lot

and try to figure out what's really long care. A lot of people in architecture are men and women, have to dedicate tremendous hours to it.

It's a very, very hard profession. It's not one that you can just leave at five o'clock and then forget about it until nine o'clock the next morning.

SREENIVASAN: Yes. Is there a movement in the industry to address this, do you think?

DILLER: I think many firms are thinking about it.

SREENIVASAN: I mean your firm might be one because there is a woman at the leader - as you said three minorities in a way are running the firm, but

that's not necessarily the case with most successful architecture firms.

DILLER: That's exactly right. I think role models are very, very important. Seeing that other women have succeeded and some women who

really just sort of cracked that glass ceiling and make it and really transform that image of that singular figure, that singular voice. It's

strange because you think that we've gotten over that by now, but no, not quite.

SREENIVASAN: Liz Diller, thanks so much for joining us.

DILLER: Thank you. Great to be here.

AMANPOUR: And role models are always welcome. That is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online

at and you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.