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Trump Banking on Identity Politics to Define Re-Election Campaign; Trump Denies His Tweets Were Racist; Kris Kobach (R-KS), Senatorial Candidate, is Interviewed About President Trump; Forcing People to Prove Citizenship in Order to Vote; Cecillia Wang, ACLU Deputy Legal Director, is Interviewed About Citizenship Questions; 20th Death Anniversary of John F. Kennedy Jr.; Steven Gillon, Author, "America's Reluctant Prince," and Carole Radziwill, Widow of JFK Jr.'s Best Friend/Cousin, are Interviewed About John F. Kennedy Jr. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 16, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Trump doubles down on his racist tweets. I'm joined by supporter and hardline immigration advocate, Kris Kobach, the Republican
running for Senate in Kansas. Then reaction from the ACLU with Cecillia Wang.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN GILLON: It's only been now, as I go through this process, that I'm rediscovering him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Twenty years since John Kennedy Jr. was killed in a plane crash, I speak to a historian, Steven Gillon, about his new film "America's
Reluctant Prince" and to Carole Radziwill, John's close friend and relative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUJEKO HOCKLEY: In the historical moment that we're living through, we found artists incredibly interested in looking at the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Co-creator of the Whitney Museum, Rujeko Hockley, brings us up- to-date with the contemporary art scene.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
President Trump is clearly banking on identity politics to define his re- election campaign. From his racist attack on four congressmen to raids on undocumented migrants to an unprecedented and restrictive new asylum
policy. The president, in a tweet today, denied that his attacks over the weekend were racist. But here's what he had to say yesterday in the Rose
Garden about all of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that White nationalist groups are finding common cause with you
on that point?
TRUMP: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me. And all I'm saying, if they want to leave, they can leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But bone of the four American congresswomen ever said they wanted to leave the United States. One of the president's steadfast
supporters is Kris Kobach, the Kansas politician's hardline views on immigration and so-called voter fraud have endeared him to the president,
made him extremely influential in the Republican Party and put him up for consideration for several top jobs in the administration.
The "New York Times" editorial board calls him "A Master Purveyor of Trumpism," and he proudly declares himself to be the American Civil
Liberties Union worst nightmare. And he's joining me now from Kansas City.
Kris Kobach, welcome to the program.
KRIS KOBACH (R-KS), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, that is, you know, quite a resume, I've sort of read out. Let's dig down. First and foremost, let us talk about the real story
that's dominating the headlines not only in the United States but abroad, and that is those tweets described as racist that the president made. How
do you describe them?
KOBACH: Well, let me just say one point of context to put this into perspective here for our viewers who might not be seeing the president's
tweets all the time. The president is a master of using Twitter to provoke his opponents into making mistakes. And I think he succeeded in that
because when the four members of Congress had their nationally televised press conference yesterday, they effectively became the four most prominent
spokes people for the Democratic Party and they, of course, are very far to the left, on the left -- the radical left end of the Democratic Party.
And as long as they are speaking on behalf of the party, Republicans are winning and Republican poll numbers will go up in places as far as Kansas.
AMANPOUR: All right.
KOBACH: The president achieved what he wanted to achieve with those tweets.
AMANPOUR: All right. So, you're putting it in purely, you know, poll numbers and political terms. But other members, including Republicans, not
many have come out against it, but an increasing number. I spoke to Congressman Will Hurd, the only Black Republican congressman, and this is
what he told me yesterday about the comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): I think those tweets are racist and xenophobic. They're also inaccurate, right. The four women he is referring to are
actually citizens of the United States. Three of the four were born here. It's also behavior that is unbecoming of the leader of the free world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's what he said, racist. I'm trying to figure out whether you think so beyond what you think as a political ploy by the
KOBACH: Sure. So, the problem with Twitter is that with 140 characters, it's so short that many tweets are open to -- they're ambiguous. They're
open to different interpretations. When I read the president's tweet in which he said, "They should go back to the crime-infested places from which
they came," I thought, "Oh, he means, AOC, go back to the Bronx. He means Tlaib, go back to Detroit. And so on, crime-infested cities and, you know,
fix your own cities which are run by Democrats then come to Washington and tell us how to run the United States." That's how I interpreted it.
And that's how a lot of people interpreted it when you say, "Go back to where you came from." They were born in the United States, three of the
four of them. And so, I don't think he was saying [13:05:00] anything about foreign countries.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, you are, obviously, very, very proficient at defending the president. I mean, nobody can mistake his tweets. They have been
dominating the world since about 2015, when he started running for president.
And of course, in their press conference, the members who he attacked basically said that -- a number of things. That this is the kind of
conversation that appeals to White nationalists, it's the agenda of the White nationalists. One of them said, "It's the president's way of
deflecting his inability to explain his own programs and his own policies."
That is an issue, right, and they're saying, "Don't be deflected from the real facts," like this immigration that's going on now right now. You're a
defender of these hardline immigration politics. How can you defend, for instance, the latest, the unprecedented asylum regulation that is going
into effect today?
KOBACH: Well, first of all, I would disagree with you that it's unprecedented. The what asylum rule is, is essentially that if you travel
-- you're coming from a country where you claim, you know, you're being persecuted, which is the basis of an asylum claim, right, and you travel
through a safe country for thousands of miles and don't claim asylum in that safe country. Then you arrive at the United States, your asylum claim
should be viewed skeptically.
And I say that's not unprecedented because the United States and Canada have had what's called a safe third-country agreement for many years, which
is exactly that. You can't travel through one safe country and then claim asylum in the second one saying, "Oh, yes. I was fleeing persecution."
So, this new rule is essentially an expression of that view. That you -- and similarly, we have another issue where our asylum system is being
abused in the United States where someone comes across into the country illegally, they live illegally in the United States for months or years,
and then when they finally are caught, they say, "Oh, I'm here to claim asylum."
Well, if you're here to claim asylum you should go to the United States government immediately at a port of entry or at a U.S. embassy and claim
asylum like it's done around the rest of the world. And so, these are not radical. These are not unprecedented. These are the way the asylum
policies work on most countries in the world.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, they're basically saying you can't when you come to the U.S. any more on the southern border, claim asylum. I know what
you're saying. But it looks like it's kind of a non-starter anyway because neither Guatemala nor Mexico nor some of this through countries plan to
agree with that. I mean, there are negotiates but they have come to nothing.
KOBACH: And I would agree with you, if you're suggesting that the -- to really succeed in stopping the abuse of our asylum system, the United
States does need Mexico to agree to a third-country agreement like we have with Canada, a safe third-country agreement. That would solve the problem
of people falsely claiming asylum.
And as I'm sure you're aware, you know, asylum is very important. There are many, many people around the world who have a valid basis of asylum
because they're being persecuted for their race, for their membership in a political party, or whatever. But when people expand the definition, an
asylum means anybody who comes from an impoverish place, you can claim asylum or anybody who comes from a place where there is crime can claim
asylum, then that just blows the doors off the whole system and real asylum applicants get lost in this massive surge of people abusing the asylum
AMANPOUR: Kris Kobach, I want to ask you about, you know, the strength of your -- well, the strength of your influence on the president and his
policies. Because I'm mindful of how a lot of policies that you've espoused, frankly, have kind of amounted to sort of a hill of beans because
a lot of them have been dismissed.
The commission on voter fraud was disbanded after it failed to find any significant voter fraud. You were vice chair of it. You know, you lost to
a Democrat when you ran for governor in the midterms in 2018 in a state, Kansas, that the president won 56 percent to 36 percent. You helped write
Arizona's extremely controversial immigration law, which has now been dismantled in a legal settlement. And you're considered toxic to many in
the Republican Party.
Listen to what the National Republican Senatorial Committee just last year, "Kris Kobach ran and lost to a Democrat. Now, he wants to do the same and
simultaneously put President Trump's presidency and Senate majority at risk." So, you want to run for Senate. I guess what I'm asking you is,
what is the secret plan here? Because if everything you've touched is pretty much been failed or challenged in the courts, what are you doing?
What are you tapping into here?
KOBACH: Well, Christiane, I'm grateful that your program has a long interview format so that I can answer the charges you've made just now. So
let's go --
AMANPOUR: They're not charges, they're just facts.
KOBACH: No, they're not facts. You said that the Arizona immigration law, which I helped draft, lost in the United States Supreme Court.
AMANPOUR: No, [13:10:00] I didn't. I said it dismantled most of the law in a legal settlement.
KOBACH: No, it wasn't dismantled. The United States Supreme Court approved it, the central portion of the law, which was the -- allowing law
enforcement officers to ask a person if they're in the United States legally -- illegally if they appear to be so. It was not dismantled. It's
still the law in Arizona. The second point -- or the first point you made is the presidential commission on election integrity. It was not
dismantled after failing to find --
AMANPOUR: Disbanded after it failed to find any significance. Yes.
KOBACH: OK. Well, let's point out what it did find. Approximately 2,000 cases of guilty convictions for voter fraud since the year 2000. It also
found more than 20,000 cases of people double voting in the -- I believe in the 2016 election or might have been the 2014 election. We started
presenting all this information.
The reason it was disbanded there were an unprecedented number of lawsuits, about a dozen of them, filed against this commission. And in these
lawsuits, the attorneys for the other side, the ACLU and company were asking for so many documents, so much discovery that our staff on the
commission had to spend all of its time dealing with the lawsuits.
So, they -- the other side succeeded in grinding the commission to a stop with lawsuits. It had nothing to do with failure to find voter fraud. We
were recovering voter fraud at every single turn but the lawsuit succeeded. And now, let's go to your last charge that you made and that is --
AMANPOUR: No, no. I didn't make a charge. I'm quoting from people in the Republican Party who said that you are toxic.
KOBACH: OK. But you said --
AMANPOUR: And I want to know what is the secret sauce?
KOBACH: OK. Well, that --
AMANPOUR: Because clearly, there's some agenda, and I'm trying to figure out what it is, if it's not winning court cases, if it's not --
AMANPOUR: -- winning the governor's race, what is it?
KOBACH: We won that court case. Again, we won that court case. But let's talk about the governor's race. What many people outside of Kansas don't
realize is that governors' races and Senate races in Kansas are very different, and the history is really quite astounding.
Since 1932, Kansas has never -- Republicans in Kansas have never lost a U.S. Senate race. It's the longest winning streak of any state. But in
the governor's race, they're almost really close. And since 1954 -- I'm sorry, since 1964 it has been alternating, Republican, Democrat,
Republican, Democrat for 54 years. And so, the same person can do really well in a Senate race but really poorly in a governor's race.
Let's take the last example we have empirically, that's Sam Brownback. In his last race for governor, he barely squeaked by with a victory with just
over 3 percent, 3.5 percent. But when he last ran for the U.S. Senate, he had a 42 percent margin of victory.
And there's -- so there's a long history in Kansas of governor's races are always close. But I've won two out of three statewide races. The U.S.
Senate races are a different story. We could go into the details of why they're so close, if you want to. But the notion that because you lose a
Senate race -- a governor's race in Kansas, that has a bearing on the Senate race is empirically false.
AMANPOUR: OK. But I'm trying to figure out, the underlying premise of my question is, what are you trying to achieve in the United States, in other
parts of the country? Even though -- I mean, let's face it, you were a big advocate and a big supporter of adding the citizenship question to the
census next year. You've discussed it with President Trump and the White House has now abandoned that because it's, you know, stymied by the Supreme
Court. So, I guess what I'm saying is, where do you hope that your agenda, your influence will land? What is the big picture here for you?
KOBACH: OK. Sure. OK. So, as you may know, I was a professor of constitutional law for 15 years in the Kansas City area. One of the things
that I think most Americans watching the local process would agree on is that we are at a national kind of turning point, a crossroads. The left in
America is advocating for policies that can be fairly described as socialist, universal basic income, et cetera.
I, as someone who studied constitutional law my entire life and taught it would say that those policies are against the United States constitution.
So, the first reason I'm running is to defend the United States constitution against those policies, to scrutinize judges very carefully in
a way that maybe members of the Senate who don't have that legal or constitutional background can do, that's number one.
Secondly is our immigration policy. So, it's important, I think, to have someone in the Senate who actually is an expert and has litigated these
policies through the Courts of Appeals of the United States and bring that expertise to the Senate.
And then let's use the specific example you just brought up, the citizenship question on the census. The citizenship question, are you a
United States citizen has been asked in one form or another in every census but one from 1820 to the year 2000. And it is a very basic question that
most civilized nations ask in their census, most modern nations ask in their census, are you a citizen? Indeed, the United Kingdom asks that very
And it's, of course, essential to know how many citizens you have. And here's one of the most important reason why. Let's imagine you live in the
United States and you're a citizen and you live in a district where [13:15:00] there are 700,000 citizens. I live in a district where there
are only 350,000 citizens. Your vote -- my vote counts twice as much as your vote. And the Supreme Court of the United States has said for the
past half century that you can't have unequal district sizes because that means one person's vote is heavier than another and it offends the
principle of one person one vote. That's why you need to know the number of citizens because only citizens can vote.
And there's another reason we need to know. In the 14th Amendment, Section 2, it actually requires the United States to know how many citizens we have
in case any vote is -- any state is depriving citizens of the right to vote. The remedy in article -- in the 14th Amendment, Section 2, it says
you have to know how many citizens there are.
So, not only is it a good idea and consistent with international standards to ask, are you a citizen, it's constitutionally required under the 14th
AMANPOUR: OK. Kris Kobach, we're going to follow that up. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.
Now, as we said, Kris Kobach does boast about being the ACLU's worst nightmare. In the past the ACLU has blocked Kobach-inspired legislation in
the courts, most recently successfully suing the State of Kansas to defeat the law, a law, forcing people to prove their citizenship in order to vote,
as we've just been talking about.
So, joining me now is Cecillia Wang, a deputy director of the ACLU and she comes to us from San Francisco.
So, can we first, Cecillia, welcome to the program, take that constitutional point that Kris Kobach was making, that it is not unusual in
advanced democracies, including the United Kingdom, to ask a citizenship question in order to vote and for other administrative reasons.
CECILLIA WANG, ACLU DEPUTY LEGAL DIRECTOR: Well, Christiane, on this subject, the Supreme Court of the United States has spoken and they ruled
against President Trump's decision through Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, to add a question about citizenship to the United States census.
It's actually not true that we've been asking about citizenship in the census since time in memorial as Kris Kobach falsely said. The United
States hasn't asked the question for decades in the census because it was proven by the Census Bureau's data scientists themselves that asking the
question on the official decennial census would in fact suppress the count of all people living in the United States and disproportionately would
affect Latino-Americans and other people of color.
So, the Supreme Court said, and ruled officially, that the decision by the Trump administration to add that question was based on a pretextual false
reason that they wanted to support the Voting Rights Act and that, in fact, that was not the true reason and they have sent the case back. And as you
know, President Trump finally backed down and said, "We're going to go ahead and print the census questionnaire without this question."
AMANPOUR: Right. Yes. And I did put that to Kris Kobach as well. Now, I think you, the ACLU, brought this case. I mean, you are the ones who
brought this case to the Supreme Court and blocked that for the moment.
But you mentioned about some of the issues and I wanted to read this to Kris Kobach, I didn't have quite enough time, about all of this. You know,
it now comes to light that the sort of the intellectual god father of this citizenship census question precisely wanted that because he knew it would
help Republicans. The White House had claimed that it wanted this information because it was enforced civil rights.
But here is what Thomas B. Hofeller who is now deceased and a Republican strategist said, he argued that new proposed voting maps for Texas would
"be advantageous" to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites.
I would assume you agree with the premise, which is why you're trying to block it. But the question I was trying to ask Kris Kobach and now I want
to ask you is, what kind of influence nationwide do these attempts have, whether they're blocked or not?
WANG: Well, Christiane, I think that the sad truth is that President Trump's policies, many of which, as you said, Kris Kobach has masterminded,
are inflicting enormous damage on American communities. They're divisive. They're trying to take the United States back to a pre-civil rights era
time when we didn't have civil rights protections, when we had explicit quotas that were intended to maintain a certain racial mix in the United
And now, with President Trump's half dozen anti-asylum measures, including yesterday's announcement about a rule that would basically block asylum
claims at the U.S./Mexico border from people of all nationalities who are seeking refuge from persecution in the United States, all of these policies
are trying to take us backward. In the case of the asylum policies, pre- World War II era policies where the civilized nations of the world did not recognize that we have an obligation as receiving countries to take people
who are fleeing from [13:20:00] persecution.
And I think the thing that Kris Kobach and President Trump and there alike are really missing is that people who come to the United States as refugees
or as immigrants are future Americans and contribute to the richness of our country, our diversities, our strength. And I think that the majority of
Americans believe that and understand it. And I think that's why ultimately their policies will fail.
We watched Mr. Kobach through many of his past policies on both immigration and the voting rights of U.S. citizens, they've damaged American
communities, but ultimately, were ruled illegal and unconstitutional or contrary to laws passed by Congress.
AMANPOUR: Well --
WANG: In the meantime, they're inflicting great pain on American communities. And especially, these days, on American children who look at
what President Trump tweeted at our four members of Congress, all women of color, saying, "Go back where you came from." We all know exactly what
that means. All of us, people of color, in the United States have known since childhood what "go back where you come from means." And that's
hurting people in our country.
But, ultimately, I think his policies will fail and we' will prevail in challenging them in court and ultimately, in winning over the vast majority
of American people who believe in diversity, who believe in a fair immigration policies and who believe in the right to vote and to be
AMANPOUR: Well, this is the case, though, I also made to Kris Kobach, that -- and I introduced this program with it, that clearly it seems that
President Trump is doubling down on identity politics as a defining issue for his re-election campaign.
I know you're monitoring this asylum policy and you're legally challenging it, but they must believe despite the, you know, unprecedented nature of
it, in both U.S. and international law, that there must be a loophole like the attorney general said in an official statement just last week or this
week, "The rule is a lawful exercise of authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum. The U.S. is a generous country but it's
been completely overwhelmed by the burdens associated of apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of aliens along the southern border."
Is there a loophole? How confident are you of what you say that this will be knocked down?
WANG: Well, we are very confident that like all of his prevention anti- asylum policies, including the use of immigration jails to deter asylum seekers unilaterally trying to change the asylum standards that have been
established by the Board of Immigration Appeals in the United States. Family separation, tearing -- literally tearing babies out of their parents
arms simply for coming to the United States. To use their right under U.S. law and international law to seek asylum. All of those policies we have
successfully challenged in the U.S. courts.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
WANG: And I think that the question you're posing is a good one. I think, ultimately, in addition to the courts striking down these policies and laws
put out there by the Trump administration, we're going to see the proof is in the pudding, the American people don't want to go backwards to pre-civil
rights era, pre-World War II era where we really don't have the rule of law, and I think we'll see that in the end. The fairer and better values
of American justice and equality and opportunity are going to prevail.
AMANPOUR: Cecillia Wang, thank you so much indeed for joining me on this very, very important issue.
And now, we want to reflect on America's golden past. Fifty years ago, today, Apollo 11 blasted off. This fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's
moon shot promise just seven years earlier, to beat the Soviets on to the surface of the moon.
But for the Kennedy family, today is also a day of tragedy because 20 years ago, the Kennedy heir, John Jr, his wife, Carolyn, and her sister Lauren
were killed when the single engine plane, Kennedy was piloting, crashed into the ocean off Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
To mark this anniversary, Historian Steven Gillon is trying to find the real man and the promise that he might have held beneath that glittering
exterior. In his new book, "America's Reluctant Prince" and a new documentary called "JFK Jr. The final year," he joins me along with Carole
Radziwill to talk about it, also in the film, whose late husband, Anthony, was not just John's cousin but his best friend.
Steve, Carole, welcome to the program.
STEVEN GILLON, AUTHOR, "AMERICA'S RELUCTANT PRINCE": Nice to be with you.
CAROLE RADZIWILL, WIDOW OF JFK JR.'S BEST FRIEND/COUSIN: Nice to be here.
AMANPOUR: Steve, listen, what did you think? What was the value added beyond the 20th anniversary that you thought [13:25:00] you needed to and
could bring to this story that is obviously been told endlessly?
GILLON: Well, like many of his friends, I protected John's privacy while he was alive. And as a historian and also his friend, I feel it's my
responsibility now to preserve his legacy.
What I -- I want people to know that John, who I know. I don't want John to be remembered as hunk flunk, sort of the sexiest man alive. The John
who I knew and Carole knew and you knew was a much more complicated figure than that.
And I -- you know, one of the threads that runs through the book is this idea that John was really two people. That he was just John, you know, a
typical privileged member of his generation, but he had a role to play his entire life and that was as John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. One -- a lot of
the book -- the book focuses on is the challenges that John faced and how he dealt with that.
And in the end, I think, in order to understand John and understand his character, you have to understand how he dealt with that burden and how he
dealt with such enormous grace.
AMANPOUR: Carole, look, Steve mentioned we're all friends, we were long- time friends, we still are, friends of John. I was too. And we were there together with him and Anthony and Carolyn on that last weekend of his life,
the actual last weekend he spent in Martha's Vineyard.
RADZIWILL: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: And your closeness was really bound, also, with the fact that you were married to his best friend and cousin on his mother's side. He
wasn't a Kennedy. And that last weekend, it was very clear that Anthony, your husband, was dying of cancer. It sort of tragedy upon tragedy upon
tragedy. Give me the personal story of how Anthony processed his death and how John was processing losing this close friend.
RADZIWILL: You know, I think John -- Anthony was a very stoic, as you know, person. He was not one to let this cancer interfere with his life.
It was until that last year, and specifically that summer, where it was very, very clear that he was not likely going to make it to the end of the
summer. And I think John took -- John -- it was harder for John to process that.
Anthony -- if Anthony was in denial about the end of his disease, John definitely was. And that summer, he was coming around, I think, with the
help of Carolyn because she was really helping him see that this was an important time to really come to terms with Anthony's pending death. And,
as you know, that last weekend, we were all at the beach. And if you didn't know it, you would have thought we were just, you know, a bunch of
friends having a good time at the beach. We did our best to make it fun.
I remember Carolyn and John were so happy that you guys were coming down that weekend because, again, it was like life and it was distractions and -
- but John was taking it really hard. And he had actually started writing Anthony's eulogy that week.
RADZIWILL: That he would call me every day that week and say -- you know, tell me stories and get ideas and, you know, it's just the irony of John
dying before Anthony and Anthony having to witness that, it was just unbearable.
AMANPOUR: And Anthony having to try to deliver a eulogy which eventually was a reading that he managed to read.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I remember it very, very well. But, also, Steve, from the point of view of even considering what he might do with his future. And
that came, obviously, with all the sort of glitter and the darkness of being a Kennedy and being the son of an assassinated president and an
assassinated uncle who was Senator Kennedy. And I guess I want to play this because it just struck me when Larry King interviewed John, close to
that last year, and asked him about his fears for his security. And look how he phrased it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Do you ever fear your own health?
JOHN KENNEDY JR.: My own health? Sure.
KING: Yes. There are nuts in this country.
KENNEDY JR.: No. I don't feel it. I mean, no.
KING: How many do you -- Kennedys must think about it. How can they not think about it, any Kennedy in public life or not?
KENNEDY JR.: But I mean, it's not something that it's sort of like walking around wondering for you're going to be struck by lightning. It's kind of
-- it's just not something you keep in the forefront of your mind.
KING: But it might affect decision-making, like going politics, right?
KENNEDY JR.: Right. But it doesn't.
KING: You seem not to (INAUDIBLE) there in. But it would -- in other words, if you went in or thought about going in, the thought of being
harmed by going in would not enter into you?
KENNEDY JR.: That wouldn't be one of the considerations, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I have to say, knowing John, looking at that, listening to that, it's just really hard to take, but you know, bravo for Larry King for
asking it because it is the question that most people want to know.
So Steve, what do you know about whether he really was going to move from being editor of "George" magazine or the founder of "George" magazine,
which was, as we know, trailing off, he was trying to save it, in fact, that very last weekend of his life. I know he was going off to try to get
some more advertisement and more funding for it. But always still thinking about the next step.
STEVEN M. GILLON, AUTHOR, "AMERICA'S RELUCTANT PRINCE": That's right. So John, you know, I titled the book, "America's Reluctant Prince," because I
think for his entire life, everyone expected John to go into politics and recreate Camelot. And John was reluctant to assume that role.
But it was clear to me in those last couple of years that he was -- what he came to recognize is that he had DNA in his blood. I remember one night,
we had dinner, and he had spent the day -- it was during the winter -- and he had spent the day ice skating with minority kids in Harlem, and he was
telling me how they clung to him.
And he said -- he said, "You know, what those kids need is hope. They need to know that tomorrow is going to be better than today." And he paused for
a while. And he said, "I can do that. I can give them that hope."
So, that's when I saw that John was recognizing he wanted to go into politics. And then he was looking for the opportunity. He passed on the
Senate race in 2000 that Hillary Clinton eventually got into and won. And he was eyeing the Governor's race for New York.
One of last one conversations he had on the Thursday night, before he died with a friend was talking about -- we were all talking about strategy about
running for Governor. So John, clearly at this point, was going to -- he wanted to make that move.
AMANPOUR: Carole, you know, Steve just said, John said, "I can do that. I can bring these people hope." And I do think he really saw himself as that
kind of guy, and it links also to what you say and what we saw his relationship with Anthony. That he thought he could fix it for Anthony,
CAROLE RADZIWILL, WIDOW OF JFK, JR.'S BEST FRIEND AND COUSIN: Yes. Yes, yes, very much so. And I think he would come in with the grand gesture,
you know, he was the one that found the doctor at the NIH who was the best of the best. And we had, we know -- it sounds crazy, we had a few really
good years down the NIH where, you know, he was beating the cancer.
And, you know, that was John's role and I think it became increasingly difficult for him as Anthony in the last year, got sicker and sicker and
sicker. And he wasn't able to, like figure out how he was going to fix this. And in fact, he came to the realization that he couldn't fix it.
And you know, that was real -- that was a real difficult time for John and -- but he, you know, he was a hopeful guy. When people die young, you
mourn what was but you also mourn, what could have been and there was just so much life left to live.
And, you know, it was -- I think back at that time, you know, now, I think back with joy, having known them and being part of their lives for the
short time that it was, but yes, there's a real sadness about what could have been.
AMANPOUR: I feel the same. I remember every time I used to ask him about his future ambitions, he would swat me away, "Oh, come on. Don't talk
about that now."
But the reason I bring that up is because actually, in your documentary, you do interview President Clinton, who was President, and you had to order
the Coast Guard to search for him and who insisted that the Coast Guard remain out there until they recovered the bodies even beyond what might be
a normal search rescue.
And he said that, you know, these families have the right to recover their loved ones. And this family has given everything to this country. But
talk to me, Steve, and a little bit Carole, as well about what Clinton said about his political analysis and his ability -- Clinton could see there was
GILLON: That's right. I mean, John -- listen, John had a gift. You know, one story I remember, we were in a bar one time and there is a guy who came
up and stood in front of John and said, "I loved your father. I loved your father." And he hugged him and he walked away, comes back 20 minutes
later, and he is dragging his wife behind, and he says, "Marilyn, I want you to beat my good friend, John Kennedy." And John reaches out and he
says, "Hi, Marilyn, I've heard so much about you. I'm glad I finally got to meet you."
And for me, it was just John had it. It was in his DNA. He had those instincts like he dissected that situation. And he said to me later, he
said, "This guy had told his wife that he was close to my family. So what did I do wrong? I made two people very happy tonight."
AMANPOUR: Carole, John obviously embodied so many people's hopes and expectations. And none of us really knew what he was going to do next.
But we all have a good idea that that was going to be in his future, like it or not, and he probably would have been very good at it.
But I find it interesting that in a way, his closest cousin was not a Kennedy cousin. It was a Bouvier cousin, it was the cousin of this, you
know, the son of the sister of his mother.
And we see these pictures of them together and the endless pranks they played, and I was, you know, privy and witness to many of them.
RADZIWILL: You were part of that.
[13:35:35] RADZIWILL: You know, I think Anthony and John had a bond that was really unbreakable, because their mothers were very close, you know,
and they really grew up as a family. John didn't have a brother, Anthony didn't have a brother.
You know, I think Jackie kept John away from the larger Kennedy family. I think she preferred that he stayed close with Anthony and they were really
a foursome, John and his sister, and Anthony and his sister.
And I think Anthony was the one person John, you know, implicitly trusted, because he knew that Anthony knew everything. And that kind of -- and when
you're with John, you know, when you're someone like John, who the whole world thinks they know, to have that one person that really knows who he is
and knows what he has been through and grew up with him as a child and a teenager in early adulthood. It was something very special
I don't think -- you know, I agree with Steve. I think he would have made a great politician certainly now and the culture that we're living in now,
because he was so grounded. He always had a lot of charisma.
He would walk into a room and I'm sure you saw the same Christiane, you did. He would introduce himself to everyone. Hi, my name is John Kennedy.
Everyone in the world knew who he was, and their faces would be like, I know, but he was so down to earth and, and self-effacing. I think it's
really -- really a shame for the country.
GILLON: And he was so decent, and such a kind and generous human being. And, you know, we see John is this Adonis on these magazine covers and
stuff, but the two of you knew him far better I did
But there was the John that you knew, and I knew was just so decent. He was just a really good human being.
AMANPOUR: I think that's really true and what really, I have to say broke my heart because I never saw him acting out or getting publicly enraged
with the paparazzi, but you have a clip in the movie where the camera is obviously pointing down, and John is challenging.
But it's heartbreaking, he says, "You won't let me live my life. You're harassing my girlfriend who is sitting alone on a beach. You've got
cameras in her face. It's dangerous. Why are you doing that?" But I was really heartbroken because he really -- you could feel the pain of that
So I guess Carol to you final word, because everybody wants to know this and you were the closest to the couple. What was their relationship at the
RADZIWILL: You know, I mean, that summer was difficult for all of us. I mean, I don't ever sugarcoat it. I think that they were struggling with a
lot of serious life and death issues. I think Carolyn was trying to get John to really understand that Anthony was going to die. I think that was
-- there was a lot of pressure, which was basically a young marriage.
And they were struggling. I mean, if there was a time, it would be like you know, all these rumors and conjecture and innuendo and gossip about the
state of their marriage and that they were filing for divorce. I don't believe any of it.
I believe that they were having a really hard time and in my version of the truth that you know, once Anthony passed I think we all kind of just
breathed for a moment and just -- I think for sure that they would have figured it out and they loved each other and they really had each other's
You know, Carolyn was tough on John, but he needed that and they weren't -- they had a real love for each other. They had that from the very
AMANPOUR: They did.
RADZIWILL: They are really did.
AMANPOUR: It was it was obvious. It's really nice to have these memories and to dig a little deeper. Thank you so much, Carole Radziwill and Steve
Gillon, thank you very much.
RADZIWILL: Thank you.
GILLON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And you can watch that documentary on A&E. Now, our next guest is the co-curator of the most important contemporary art collection in
America, the 2019 Whitney Art Museum Biennial in New York City. It is an unmissable event in the creatives' calendar, and Rujeko Hockley gave our
Alicia Menendez, a sneak peek.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, PBS HOST: You're a curator at the Whitney Museum. You're tapped to co-curate the prestigious 2019 Whitney Biennial with Jane
Panetta. For someone who doesn't know who is not in the art world, what is the Biennial? Why is it so important?
RUJEKO HOCKLEY, CO-CURATOR, WHITNEY ART MUSEUM BIENNIAL 2019: The Biennial is the longest running survey of American Art in the world, and it has been
running since 1932. And it is cited at the Whitney Museum.
So it's unique in that it has this very long history, and also that it is associated specifically with one museum. And, you know, wherever the
Whitney is, whether we are uptown, or whether we're downtown now, that is where the Biennial happens.
Additionally, it happens every two years, and it has kind of developed a reputation of being where you go to look to see what's happening in
American art. And so where you kind of maybe go to discover new names, new people, kind of new ideas.
So this idea that it's a snapshot every two years of what's happening in contemporary art, I think is what gives it its charge and what gives it its
MENENDEZ: So what will be the snapshot this year? What is the state of American art?
HOCKLEY: Well, the state of American Art, I think, is really multifarious. There is no -- what we found -- Jane and I, in our research is that there
isn't any one particular thing that artists are doing. And this is probably always been true, but I think we found it even to an even greater
What I will say though, is that in the historical moment that we're living through, we found artists incredibly interested in looking at the past not
as a way of kind of hiding in the past, but actually is a way of thinking productively and generatively and forward thinking about what we can take
from the past, used in our current moment, used to reframe our current moment and then project forward into the future.
And along those lines, questions relating to racial justice to questions of gender, questions of class, questions of access, these are things that
artists are really thinking about, and we found kind of all over the country, people were interested in thinking about these question and their
MENENDEZ: You said in your research for the Biennial, what does that research look like?
HOCKLEY: It involves a lot of traveling, a lot of notes and lists on my phone. Jane, and I spent about 14 weeks on the road, cumulatively,
fortunately, not consecutively. And we did over 300 studio visits in approximately 25 different locations.
So it involves a huge amount of travel, and a huge amount of kind of synthesizing information and generating lists, going on studio visits kind
of checking back in and kind of -- it's a really an iterative process.
MENENDEZ: You were in Puerto Rico and Houston. Did you see -- has there been a resurgence of art that was tied to Hurricane Maria? Like, is there
a post Hurricane Maria art scene?
HOCKLEY: There is one artist in the Biennial -- there are several artists in the Biennial, I should say who are from Puerto Rico. But one artist in
particular, Daniel Lind-Ramos, he has a piece called "Maria, Maria." And it is a kind of direct reference to the hurricane. But it's at the same
time a dual reference to the hurricane as well as the Virgin Mary.
And so kind of toggling between those two things and those two references. But yes, absolutely.
MENENDEZ: The Biennial would not be the Biennial without its critics.
HOCKLEY: Obviously not.
MENENDEZ: Among them, this year, those who argue that you've played it safe.
MENENDEZ: What do you say to that?
HOCKLEY: You know, I think that there's a certain expectation around radicality and I say, radicality kind of in the air quotes, because, for
me, and I think for many of the artists in the exhibition, the idea that, you know, everything, fell off a cliff and went to hell because Trump got
elected is really laughable.
You know, I think if you're a student of American history, tell me a time when things have not been crazy and specifically tell me a time when things
have not been crazy for people of color, for women, for people who are quote, unquote, "minorities" and outside of the mainstream for whatever
And so I think, for me that the idea that we would somehow kind of have this incendiary Biennial that would respond to this new context feels
disingenuous, because that's not -- this is kind of have a piece with yes, some things are heightened and are incredibly intense and different.
But it is also of a piece with our history and kind of I think that's something that has fallen out, sometimes in the way we think about our
moment and the way we certainly think about an exhibition like the Biennial.
MENENDEZ: You also have one artist who dropped out in protest because the Museum Vice Chairman, who is the Chief Executive of a company at the
manufactures equipment, which includes body armor, which they sell to military and law enforcement agencies. What happens when the institution
becomes part of the controversy?
HOCKLEY: Well, I mean, we're -- it's happening. We're seeing it play out right now, and I think these are also larger questions.
You know, it's not -- the Whitney is kind of certainly right now under kind of specific scrutiny around this issue, but these are issues relating to
institutions in general. I think that we have been really lucky in that the Biennial has -- one artist did drop out, Michael Rakowitz. And, of
course, that was his decision.
[13:45:18] HOCKLEY: But otherwise, the Biennial has really maintained and we've -- Jane and I have really been able to keep the Biennial together and
keep the artists kind of focused and keep ourselves focused on the task at hand, which is really our exhibition that we've been working on for almost
two years. But it raises a lot of interesting questions.
MENENDEZ: Who is the Biennial for?
HOCKLEY: The Biennial is for the artist on some fundamental level, and I think that Jane and I felt that and feel that very strongly that the
Biennial, you know, is about them.
But outside of that, the Biennial is for the public. The Biennial is for the thousands and thousands of people that come to the Whitney every week.
And in this case, we're open over the summer, which is really exciting. It's kind of our highest visitorship moments in the year.
And I think it's interesting, because we now have a huge numbers of tourists coming to the Whitney compared to when we were uptown. And so I
think very much about like, what are we telling people who maybe aren't from here about the United States? About American art?
MENENDEZ: Three quarters of the participants this year, under the age of 40, only five have ever exhibited at a Whitney Biennial before. Was this
deliberate to showcase hot new young talent?
HOCKLEY: It was deliberate in some ways, but not so much for that reason. It was deliberate, because I think as we did our traveling around the
country, what we heard kind of over and over and over again was the kind of relentless pressure that is placed on artists, specifically in this
And so whether people were talking about having to move studios multiple times because affordable studio space is really not a thing, frankly, or
they are having to move apartments because affordable housing is also not exactly a thing, or they were talking about debt accrued to do MFA
programs, because for the same reason.
We were just over and over hearing that there's -- this was a really difficult time in many ways to be a young artist. And that, of course, the
same economic pressures were having knock on effects on smaller and mid- sized galleries, which historically would have supported an artist at a younger, earlier stage in their career.
And so I think we just felt, given that the Biennial is this big platform, given that it has kind of such weight in the world that it felt really
meaningful and critical, actually, to open it up to as many voices as we could and to really think about new voices, specifically.
MENENDEZ: Talk to me a little bit more about that, though. I mean, I think there, there's always been this mystique of the starving artist and
this idea that I mean, of course, there's going to be an economic challenge. You've chosen to become an artist as opposed to it actually
interfacing with larger structural questions of affordability.
HOCKLEY: Well, I mean, I think you just hit the nail on the head, because I think it actually does interface with larger structural questions,
because the mystique of being a starving artist is, you know, it's just that, it's fantasy.
Nobody says, "Oh, you know what I want to live in precarity for the rest of my life. I want to get to be 65 years old and have no pension, because
there's no safety net built into the society that I live in."
And I often say like we think of -- people often ask artists to do things for free. But you would never ask your doctor to see you for free, you
know, you would never ask your teacher to teach your children for free. Also, a poorly compensated field.
And so I think there's this idea that artists -- that it's not a job, that it's like some sort of -- that it doesn't have the same weight and that the
people who do that don't have the same needs, don't have bills, don't have you know, groceries to buy, don't have ailing parents et cetera.
So that we think of artists, sometimes in this fantasy category of people who don't have all the same issues and problems and pressures that the rest
of us have, when in fact, they have all of those, and if we think about our culture more broadly, artists really drive the conversation, not just in
the art world, but we think about movies, we think about novels, we think about, certainly museums and art, but we think about advertising.
We think about kind of -- all of these things, creative people, often artists are the people who are driving them and we don't think about them
as people who necessarily need to be supported.
MENENDEZ: Tell me that some of the artists you are most excited about?
HOCKLEY: Well, there's 75 artists in the Biennial, so I love them all equally.
MENENDEZ: No favorite children.
HOCKLEY: For the record, no favorite children. But I think that there's a couple of really incredible moments in the Biennial and some incredible
artists that really push themselves in specific ways. I think everybody did.
But for example, Nicole Eisenman, who is actually one of the artists who has been in the Biennial before and this is her third Biennial. But she
had this idea for a really amazing and elaborate sculptural installation on one of our terraces. And she really was committed to doing it and really
wanted to do it. And so the invitation kind of became about that specific project.
[13:50:25] HOCKLEY: The piece is called "Procession" and it's on our sixth floor terrace, and it's a series of figurative sculptures, although kind of
not exactly one to one with people, but recognizable as people moving across the terrorists kind of from right to left.
And also, Nicole's work is really known for having a lot of humor and so this piece is no different. There's a lot of kind of tongue in cheek
references. Kind of not winking in terms of exclusionary, but just like not take ourselves too seriously. But at the same time, there's a real
charge to the work, there's a real kind of politic to the work.
Another artist is Alexandra Bell. And Alexandra Bell is an artist based here in New York who has a series of screen prints in the Biennial, 20
screen prints that look at the Central Park 5. And of course, this is kind of in the news right now, with when they see us, it's also -- it's the 30th
Anniversary of their case.
Alex has made a piece that looks actually at how the case was represented in the media. So rather than looking at exactly what happened, she has
really isolated various pages from specifically "The New York Daily News," and the kind of tracked over time from the April 1989 onwards, the ways in
which these young boys were talked about in the media.
And she uses different strategies such as kind of highlighting and kind of actually blocking out -- text blocking out images, she used to train
journalists. So she came to art kind of sideways thinking about actually media as a person who was trained to produce media.
So I think it's a work that's incredibly timely, for obvious reasons. But it's also a work that makes bigger -- causes us to think in a more broad
way and in a bigger way about the world that we live in and the information that we're receiving.
And if there's anything in the exhibition that I feel like does really connect squarely to this moment, and to kind of a potential radicality or
kind of referendum on where we are right now, I think it is this idea of like looking and kind of thinking and not kind of making quick
The kind of hot takes, the kind of like people responding to things without even really thinking through what they're saying. I think we see that so
much. And we're certainly seeing that in our media escape right now.
MENENDEZ: How about Brendan Fernandes as the master in form.
HOCKLEY: That is another kind of really special piece --
MENENDEZ: I have questions about it.
HOCKLEY: Oh, please ask away. Brendan is an artist based in Chicago and he is somebody who was trained as a ballet dancer in his early life and
then moved into being a fine artist. And this is kind of one of the first times that we've really seen him bringing those two sides of his practice
together, those two sides of his training.
So the installation exists on the fifth floor of the Whitney as a sculptural installation, a really beautiful kind of poetic installation,
but it also exists as a site for performance.
So something that was really important to us in doing the Biennial was thinking about the space and role of performance and thinking about how to
bring performance into something like a Biennial, which isn't always a perfect fit. It can be difficult for various reasons.
And so Brendan's installation is one of the few that really is doing both. It exists as an object, as a sculpture. It also exists as a performance
three times a week.
MENENDEZ: How long are those ballerinas holding their positions for? That's my question.
HOCKLEY: I mean, they do three one-hour performances. They get breaks in between. But I mean, they're all professional dancers. They are all
trained dancers. And so I think that's part of what Brendan was really interested in the piece is kind of unpacking some of that rigor and that
discipline of ballet, but also the kind of way in which the discipline and rigor can even veer into a sort of masochism.
MENENDEZ: You grew up in the D.C. area. You have access to the Smithsonian. How does having that type of access to museums shape your
understanding of art?
HOCKLEY: Deeply and completely. I think that it is not an accident that I spent kind of my very early childhood years in a city that had completely
free museums, not just museums, zoo, planetarium, art museums, science museums, natural history museums, that all of these spaces were available
to us specifically, us meaning myself and my parents, an immigrant family who came to United States, for my mother to go to graduate school in
Washington and would not necessarily have had the means to do that, would not actually have been able to bring their child to all these museums
literally on a weekly basis.
And so it for me, it was incredibly formative and I still -- you know, I think about it a lot and what it means, how we kind of open as I said
previously, how do we open up our institutions to as many people as possible? Because it can be transformative.
MENENDEZ: Thank you so much.
HOCKLEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And the Whitney Biennial is open until September 22nd. But that's it for now. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.