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British People To Face General Election In Five Weeks; Russia Interfering On Brexit; George Osborne, Former U.K. Chancellor Of The Exchequer, Is Interviewed About Brexit; Toxic Smog In New Delhi Prevents Planes From Flying; Climate Crisis Too Big Even For California To Tackle; California Fires Under Control; Eleni Kounalakis, California Lieutenant Governor, Is Interviewed About Climate Change; Freestyle Love Supreme. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 5, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This conservative government has Brexit ready to go and to vote very for us is the best way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Boris Johnson's big gamble. Britain's foreign finance minister, George Osborne, joins us to make sense of having an election in the midst
of a Brexit mess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're better than this. We're more capable than this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Fire and fury, California leads on climate. So, what happens when even it can't handle this emergency? I asked the states lieutenant
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on, Verizon? Call it up. They ain't doing nothing. Pick up my phone, it gets to buzzing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Hip-hop on Broadway. Hari Sreenivasan talks to a trio at the heart of the famous improv rap group, Free Style Love Supreme.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The prevailing wisdom during any election season is that if the economy is good, then the party in power should stay in power. But in the United
States and here in the United Kingdom, people are asking, how good is it?
A stronger economy was, of course, one of the populist's biggest promises back in 2016. Bu in the United States, fears are bubbling of a possible
looming recession. And here in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's claims of the U.K.'s expected economic dominance after Brexit were
retracted by the newspaper that published his column.
In just five weeks' time, the British people face a general election. And, once again, tackle the bedeviling issue of how or even if the country
should leave the European Union. Three-and-a-half years on from the referendum, this is a nation that's fatigued over the issue as it is
George Osborne was chancellor of the exchequer when Britain narrowly voted for Brexit. He served under Prime Minister David Cameron, who brought the
referendum in the first place. Osbourne is now editor of the "Evening Standard" newspaper, which is now pro Remain. And he is joining me now in
Welcome to the program.
GEORGE OSBORNE, FORMER U.K. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: It's good to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, is this as big a mess as we all think? Certainly, people around the world still can't get their heads around what Brexit means and
whether an election will sort it out.
OSBORNE: Well, it's a big mess because Brexit is tearing up Britain's economic and security and environmental and social arrangements of the last
50 years and not being clear about what you are replacing it with.
I think you could argue that all the parliamentary votes that people around the world might have seen are really a way the country pausing to think
about whether this is the right step. So, you could argue, in a very British way, that the checks and balances have worked and this election, in
a sense, forcing the country to confront the issue again.
AMANPOUR: When we talk about the economy, I just said and you obviously know, that the pro-Boris Johnson paper, "The Daily Telegraph," which is a
Tore-backing paper, had to retract and correct all sorts of big flamboyant promises and predictions he made. I mean, we're going to be the strongest
economy in the western hemisphere.
What do you think? I mean, you are the former chancellor of the Exchequer. Where is the economy and what -- where do those promises sort of land?
OSBORNE: Well, there is no doubt that the British economy would be stronger if the country hadn't voted to leave because --
AMANPOUR: Hadn't voted? But he is saying it will be if it --
OSBORNE: Yes. I mean, if the country had voted to leave, our GDP would be higher, the value of the currency would be higher. And the act of that
vote has cast a poll over the U.K. and investment has somewhat stalled.
Now, of course, it depends a lot how you leave the E.U and it depends how close you are with the E.U. once you've left. Is it, you know, just a
political exit but you stay closely aligned economically? In which case, the damage would be much less than a really shock departure from our
nearest trading partners.
And at the moment, the worlds, the international investing committee, people who bet on the British currency, people who buy property in this
country, they're all waiting to see because we haven't fundamentally resolved that question three-and-a-half years after that vote.
AMANPOUR: And actually, in these three-and-a-half years, all those stakeholders that you're just talking about have voted basically no because
there isn't as much investment, there isn't as much property being bought. The currency, as you've said, has fallen. What might turn it around?
OSBORNE: Well, I think people want some certainty. And then you can make some clearer decisions going forward. I mean, the currency dropped a lot
three years ago and that absorbed a lot of the shock of the result of that referendum.
I think now, people want to know, well, what is the long-term relationship with our big near neighbors like Franc and Germany and Belgium and the
like? And if the view is it's going to be a distant one, it's going to be the same relationship that we have, let's say, with Brazil or Thailand or,
you know, important countries, but not ones that we are very close to, then [13:05:00] I think The people around the world to (INAUDIBLE) will mark the
U.K. down again.
If we remain very close and these things are still up for grabs in British politics, such as being in the Customs Union, being in the single market,
then you're still in the economic arrangements of the E.U and people will mark the U.K. up.
If the country votes to stays in, and that -- we can come onto that, that may well be an option in the next few months, then, of course, the country
will be marked up again because people would have confidence of Britain's economic competitiveness and close trading relationship with our neighbors
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, what do you think this election will resolve? I mean, you know, you're a former Tory chancellor of the Exchequer. You have
been an MP for a long time. You are no longer. Now, you're listening to the voice of the people more, I guess, as an editor-in-chief of the
"Evening Standard." So, you are hearing a lot, perhaps, more than you did when you were in cabinet, in office. What do you think the result is going
to look like?
OSBORNE: Well, the truth is, I don't know. And if I don't know, that's because lots of people who follow politics very closely, have been involved
like I have, you know, think this is a very, very uncertain lecture. And what that means is, it's a big gamble. Boris Johnson has taken a very big
Some say he had no choice, because he was essentially in that situation where he couldn't govern. In our situation, you need a majority in
Parliament. He didn't have that majority. But it's a big risk. And, you know, people assuming that he will walk it I think are making, you know,
very generous assumption.
He's a good campaigner. He's a good politician. He's charismatic. But at the same time, the Conservative Party that he leads is repelling a lot of
urban professional younger voters, voters whom I think are minorities, voters in cities like London who, frankly, want a more open
internationalist socially liberal Conservative movement. And, you know, they're not getting that at the moment.
In a way, Brexit divided the country that was already, like many political systems, divided on economic class on a kind of cultural --
OSBORNE: -- axis as well between the sort of open and closed world. And it's not unlike, of course, what has happened in the United States, you
know, where you found the centre-right party, the Republican Party, ending up, representing former industrial towns that used to be Democrat and the
Democrats representing, you know, progressive forward-looking, well, you know, economically more active places that used to be Republican.
So, you are getting a similar kind of segmentation going on here and a big churn and people don't know how that's going to play out in terms of the
actual seats won in this politics.
AMANPOUR: And people are getting very nervous about what the politicians are promising them, as they always are. But in this case, for instance,
Boris Johnson and the Brexiteers, essentially, staked everything just about on these great new bilateral deals that they would make after Brexit,
including, number one, with the United States of America.
Well, this weekend, Donald Trump, the president, had a phone call with Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, the man who brought us Brexit,
essentially, who now has a radio program. And he poured cold water over that issue. I'm just going to it and then we can talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're far and away the largest economy in the world and we want to do trade with the U.K. and they want to do trade
with us. And to be honest with you, this deal, under certain aspects of the deal, you can't do it. You can't do it. You can't trade. I mean, we
can't make a trade deal with the U.K. and we can be -- because I think we can do many times the numbers that we're doing right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that raises so many questions.
OSBORNE: Well, we got to start with, that's a radio phone-in program.
OSBORNE: And the president of the United States has called in to take part in a discussion about British politics. I mean, I remember when Barack
Obama came to Downing Street and I was there.
AMANPOUR: On your behalf.
OSBORNE: There was a discussion about whether he should say anything about Brexit. He did say something about Britain being at the back of a queue
for trade deals. There was outrage that an American president had expressed any kind of opinion on British politics.
And here you have President Trump phoning in on a radio talk show and sounding off about who he think should lead the country and what the nature
of trade deals will be going forward, whether he -- you know, he suggested there that Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson should get together. I mean,
like the rest of the world, I guess, and like the citizens of the United States, we're getting used to a president who does not abide by any of the
rules that we got used to.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But I mean, I got from that, I translated from that, Britain would be at the back of the queue again. I mean, he did not sound
like, you know, what Boris Johnson has told the British public will happen, that we're going to be at the front of the queue, we're going to get a
great deal and it's going to be quick. None of that was said.
OSBORNE: I think there will -- it will be many, many years, if [13:10:00] ever, before there was a trade deal with the United States. Not because we
don't have a lot of cultural and economic affinity with the United States, not because we don't do a lot of business with the United States already,
it's just that the mechanics of a trade deal beg the question, what are we going to buy from the United States that we don't currently buy?
And then you get into all sorts of controversial questions in this country about agricultural produce, hormone-injected beef. And critically, in this
election, whether on public healthcare system, the National Health Service, the NHS, is going to be opened to U.S. companies bidding for pharma
contracts and the like.
And that has proved to be a chink, a door, a little light door through which the Labour Party led by an unreconstructed Marxist, which, by the
way, is also part of the election mess here, has started to push through and raise concerns amongst the British people about that.
AMANPOUR: So, that is really interesting because you are talking about Jeremy Corbyn and people are equally nervous about him, including his view
on Brexit, not to mention the anti-Semitism around the party that, of course, many Labour politicians to leave the party and, of course, many
Conservative Tory politicians have left the party.
So, just quickly on the health issue. We saw in the mid-terms in the United States that the winning issue was health, to a great extent, not the
fearmongering politics, not personality politics, but it was health. Do you think that could be the same here in Britain? I mean, could Labour run
a successful campaign based on an issue, like health, like the National Health Service, that is so dear to so many people?
OSBORNE: Well, the general election is not a referendum. It's not a yes or no question. And Boris Johnson and the Conservatives want this just to
be about Brexit. But of course, it's about many other things, including the National Health Service, which is always a big election issue in
And it's also not just the simple contest between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, who both, you know, appeal to some voters but repel others. There
are other participants in this election, minor parties like the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalist who are expected to do well. And
that's why this result is so difficult to predict because there are so many moving parts.
You could get, you know, I think, the sort of central expectation is that Boris Johnson probably wins with a small majority and stays in office,
although, it doesn't necessarily result Brexit. But there are many other outcomes where he can't form a government and there is a kind of a rainbow
alliance, in which Jeremy Corbyn, you know, would be the first Marxist prime minister Britain's ever had, finds himself in office supported by
So, it's a real kaleidoscope. And right in the heart of this are a lot of politically homeless people, millions of people, moderate people on the
left who don't want a Marxist, Liberal Tories who want a socially progressive internationalist pro-European Conservative movement and haven't
And where those politically homeless people go, whether they're scared back into their camps, if you like, or push back into their camps, or whether
they find a new home is one of the really interesting features of this election.
AMANPOUR: The greatest grandee to leave your party, the Tory Party, is one of your predecessors, Philip Hammond, who was chancellor of the Exchequer.
And he was kicked out. And he has said he's not even going to contest his seat in the next election because he, in conscience, cannot run as a
Conservative, nor does he want to run against a Conservative as an independent.
Just talk to me a little bit. Because, you know, your government, David Cameron, who brought the referendum that everybody thinks was the worst
decision in modern British politics and you were the chancellor of the Exchequer. I know you didn't -- tell me, you didn't agree with having a
OSBORNE: No, I was against having a referendum. But --
AMANPOUR: But you --
OSBORNE: -- I was a part of the government that held that referendum.
AMANPOUR: Could you -- in retrospect, could you have, I don't know, worked harder to make sure that referendum didn't happen?
OSBORNE: Actually, you know, I think about that all the time. I don't think it would have made any difference if I had resigned. I was against
AMANPOUR: No, no, stop them from having the referendum?
OSBORNE: No, I know. I mean, the Conservative movement had got it into its head that the best thing to do is to ask the people about Europe only
because it was itself divided and didn't have an answer. I think the much more -- you know, that, of course, has been very damaging. But the
departure today of Philip Hammond who was my successor as chancellor --
AMANPOUR: And a former foreign minister.
OSBORNE: Former foreign minister. Ken Clark who was a minster under Margaret Thatcher, also chancellor Exchequer, these two, you know, big
figures in the Tory movement in this country have been pushed out. And it's pretty extraordinary that, you know, if the Conservative Party
abandons that centrist tradition then it's really, I think, confining itself to the political margins, and will pay an electoral price probably
in part of this election, but certainly in the future.
There are many good friends of mine still in the Conservative Party and the government, but they need to remember how we used to [13:15:00] win, and we
used to win by being in the center, by being for everyone, for being socially progressive and internationalist. And the Conservative movement
here is in danger forgetting that.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And both, as you said, the left and the right have been pushed to the extremes. Do you think, and I think the rest of the world
wants to know, that there is any chance that Brexit might not happen. Boris Johnson has already failed in his promises to the people. He said,
I'll die in a ditch rather than not have it happen the 31st of October. Well, it hasn't happened.
Will it for sure happen January 31st, which is the next deadline? And could there be another referendum that could change the vote?
OSBORNE: Yes, I think it's fairly likely there can be another referendum, in a way because the political system, again, can't agree on Europe and
we've revisited the reasons why we had a referendum in the first place.
So, we've had many missed deadlines, many absolute do or die promises that they wouldn't be missed and we're now heading into an election where if
there's any outcome other than a clear majority for Boris Johnson, I think we're into a second referendum early in the New Year.
And that's going to be close as well, because the country hasn't hugely changed from the country it was three-and-a-half years ago, but that
contest was closed. And in this contest, perhaps with more young people taking part in the contest, you could see the resolve going other way.
AMANPOUR: In the United States you've seen how many, many members of the president's party, the Republican Party, are just simply retiring, not
running in 2020, either for -- you know, either House of Congress.
Here, we've seen an alarming number of people, mostly women, deciding not to contest their seats, not to run in this next election, stepping down,
because of the toxic environment. I mean, it just seems there is a toxic political environment, certainly here. On the Brexit issue, there has been
a lot of verbal abuse, a lot of, you know, MPs, you know, misogynistic, sexist and very ugly stuff and have had to have protection, et cetera. I
mean, what can you say about that? I mean, do you think that's going to change any time soon even with the new election?
Do you think that's going to change any time soon even with a new election? That toxicity?
OSBORNE: Look, the country is very divided. British politics has always been very robust, as anyone who's ever seen (INAUDIBLE) discussion on
television will know, but it's got much more toxic. Social media has fueled that.
I think we don't know yet whether this is a sort of passing phase as social media disrupts politics around the world and then people kind of adjust to
the new communication medium, just as they had during the past, adjusted to the television and the radio and the printing press hundreds of years ago,
you know, all of this is actually a more permanent state affairs.
I'm more optimistic that main stream forces, moderate forces will harness this new technology and find a way to promote e their causes. At the
moment, however, that's a hope rather than -- you know, I can't point to hard evidence of it. And hopefully, you know, it becomes an environment in
which women feel much more comfortable going into politics and remaining in politics. Good news is, they are actually got a few good women standing
now, new women standing for Parliament, and I hope they get elected.
AMANPOUR: You just talked about evidence. One of the -- I don't know whether you saw this poll this week, it was done for Bristol University,
which said that the majority of a group of levers, who they decided to talk to, simply do not believe the experts on the economy.
So, you start by saying the evidence shoes that the economy will be significantly worse after Brexit or in a Brexit situation. And levers
don't believe it. They don't believe the experts. And you remember during the campaign, one of the main Brexiteers said, people have had enough of
experts. That seems to have trickled down and stuck with the levers.
How worrying is that, that people don't -- and again, we see that in the United States as well, on many issues, depending on what part of the
political spectrum you are, you just don't believe the facts and you think they're just politicized.
OSBORNE: You know, I think that's been a general feature. I think, again, it's social media. You know, in an age when everyone watched network
television, you know, and the whole nation gathered around the television set, you know, then there was sort of trusted reporters who told you the
facts, you know, that was easier to control.
Now, people get their news from many different forces. But I would say there is a bit of a fight back coming. It's interesting, for example,
today, the Conservatives doctored a breakfast television interview from one of the Labour spokesmen, they wouldn't call out on it. And, you know,
they're having to retreat later today. The Labour Party has found itself in similar trouble.
Early on in this election contest, there seems to be more aggressive fact- checking going on by our domestic broadcasters. And that's already, to -- from what I can see, beginning to temper the behavior of the politicians
and make it more difficult for them just to, you know, ignore the noise and go on repeating their message.
AMANPOUR: And as a former chancellor and, you know, somebody who is right in the heart of power, do you think this country is doing a good enough job
of protecting itself from the kind of foreign interference that did happen during Brexit and obviously happened in the 2016 U.S. election?
OSBORNE: Well, there is, at the moment, a suppressed report, suppressed because it was due to be published before the Parliament broke for
election, and it hasn't been, on Russian interference in the referendum campaign in 2016 in the U.K., if you are familiar to U.S. listeners and
viewers. It was clearly not on the scale that the U.S. experience.
But you have to ask yourself the basic question, which is, why would the Russian government want a leave vote in a referendum? You know, the simple
reason, because they want to break up the ties of the West. They want --
AMANPOUR: And weaken Britain.
OSBORNE: Break up the alliance that holds Britain to the European Union as well as to our key allies like the United States. You know, they want to -
- you know, our opponents want disruption. And whether or not it made any difference, personally I suspect it probably didn't affect the outcome,
nevertheless, you have to ask yourself, why was the motive there? And that's a clue to the course that the country has embarked upon but may yet
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting. So much at stake. George Osborne, former chancellor, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
OSBORNE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And next, we turn to this -- from this man-made political crisis to a man-made environmental crisis. President Trump's former pledge to
withdraw from the most ambitious climate accord to-date, the Paris Agreement, comes at a time when we can see environmental emergencies right
in front of our face.
New Delhi residents are breathing in their straight 10th day of dangerous pollution levels. At one point, the smog was so thick that even planes
couldn't fly. And across the world in California, raging fires burned nearly 100,000 acres and forced thousands to flee their homes.
California is a leader when it comes to climate policy. But is the climate crisis too big even for California to tackle?
Eleni Kounalakis, is the state's lieutenant governor. And she joins me now from San Diego.
Lieutenant Governor, welcome to the program.
ELENI KOUNALAKIS, CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Thank you very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just get the breaking news to begin with. Can you give us the state of play? Has California brought these terrible fires
under control now?
KOUNALAKIS: So, currently, we are in a situation where the recent fire outbreaks are primarily under control. But the last few weeks have been
very tough. Hundreds of thousands of acres burned. A great deal of loss of property. We've lost, unfortunately, three lives. And so, we're back
at the preparedness stage, getting ready for what comes next.
AMANPOUR: So, what does come next? Because, you know, you have obviously seen that the president of the United States has basically been criticizing
the state firefighting prowess, if you like, complaining about how it happens all the time and how you always come running to the federal
government for help and money.
What help are you getting from the federal government and how do you respond to those complaints from President Trump?
KOUNALAKIS: So, why don't we maybe unpack this from the beginning? Because it's very clear to us here in California that what we're
confronting is the effects of climate change. Our rains are starting later and later, which means that through the summer months when everything dries
out, we're not getting those fall rains in order to wet it down. And so. fires are a fact of life.
In the last 10 days alone, CAL FIRE put out about 2,000 fires. So, they happen. The question is, how do you put them out before they become
massive events? And because there is so much hot weather, the rains aren't coming. We have all this dry fuel and then what we get are the fires start
and the winds are blowing. And this combination of factors is what has created a circumstance where we're experiencing the worst fires that we
ever have in California history.
Ten of the 20 most devastating fires in California history have happened since 2009. So, it's these new factors that are a result of climate change
that we're contending with and they're very, very challenging. The name of the game is finding the fires early, detecting them early, when we can
still put them out. Because once they have hit a tipping point where they are so big, they are so massive, they are traveling at speeds of one
football field per second, it's much, much more difficult to be able bring them under control.
So, that's sort of the state of play and we are addressing it in a multitude of different fashions.
AMANPOUR: Well, so let me ask you, because have you said something that to the average lay person sounds reasonable, get to the fire soon, not later.
What is preventing you from doing that?
KOUNALAKIS: Well, again, there were parts of California, in Southern California, traditionally we had these Santa Ana winds. So, we knew that
the possibility of a fire igniting and becoming a massive event was very high.
What we have now is all over the state. We have these new conditions. And so, doing a better job at predicting where the possibility of a major event
happening will occur is something we're doing and then deploying more fire trucks, more firefighters early is also part of the planning.
New technologies are emerging very quickly. We're testing new technology in the fields. We're doing things that we've never done before using
satellite technology, better camera technology to detect them. And then, again, having this forward deployment of equipment to be able to get on it
as soon as they break out.
But again, we haven't had to prepare in this kind of a robust way in the past because we didn't have these conditions, a very dry grasslands and dry
forests, coupled with these winds that really are almost apocalyptic.
Just to give you an example, the reports from the firefighters who have been fighting fires in these, you know, recent seasons, they are
astonished. The fires are so hot that they create their own weather patterns within them. And these things called fire tornadoes that had
never been seen before that are so hot and travel so quickly that really there is no way to stop them. And so, the key is stopping them early,
detecting and stopping them early, and we're doing a lot more to be able to do that.
AMANPOUR: Before I move on to some of the specifics and some of the potential solutions, I just want to ask you to comment, again, on how much
help you need from the federal government, despite what the president says. It appears that the federal government owns at least half, if not more, of
the forest land. And, therefore, has a responsibility. Is that not the case?
KOUNALAKIS: That's right. So, we have about 33 million acres of forests in California. We are a large forested area. For your viewers in London,
that's over 13 million hectares. And more than half of it is owned by the federal government. So, we certainly rely on the federal government to do
its part in forest thinning and in managing these lands in a way that will help us to prevent major outbreaks.
They have been cutting their funding for forest management. So, we have stepped in to do a lot of that work for them. The rhetoric coming out of
Washington, though, goes way beyond just this kind of technical assistance.
As you noted, the United States has now provided this official notification to the United Nations of withdrawing out of Paris Accord. California is
staying in the Paris Accord. California's investment both in our forward- leaning regulation to require automobiles to reduce their emissions over time, the standards that we've set, to the investment in our universities,
to find ways to capture carbon back out of the air, carbon sequestration technology. These things are happening in California in a very aggressive
way. And we're not financial to stop with that work.
And, frankly, it's at odds with Donald Trump's vision around climate change, which, as we know, is nothing less than denial. And so, this has
created a very unhelpful level of friction. But California is not going to back down in our efforts to combat climate change. And we certainly hope
that the federal government will continue to do its job because this is a vital and important part of the United States of America.
AMANPOUR: So, Lieutenant Governor, there have been some pretty apocalyptic headlines. "California will never stop burning" says "The Washington Post"
or, "Has the climate crisis made California too dangerous to live in?" That's "The Guardian" newspaper here in the United Kingdom and, obviously,
it's in the United States as well.
And I spoke to Robert Reich, you know, he's obviously the former labor secretary. He has a huge public policy brief and he's at university there
in California. And he talked about the fundamental issues that need to be addressed? Let's just play the soundbite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: California has been part of the American dream for 150 years in terms of freedom to do whatever you want.
And as a result, California is emblematic of many of the largest problems America has, in terms of widening inequality, unaffordable housing, a
crisis that is not just the utility prices, but it's a crisis of failure to manage climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean obviously, there is a lot in there, Lieutenant Governor, but there are a few things. I mean we've already said you are a climate
You have just been telling us that you are staying in the Climate Accord and you have so much invested in trying to manage this. And yet, it's not
And part of it they say, the critics and the people who are looking, is the American dream, the private terrain and the hinterlands and all this forest
land and the failure to build dense urban housing close to public transport and the like. I mean almost like the whole sort of California dream needs
KOUNALAKIS: So there is a lot to unpack there. But let me just say this. California's the fifth largest
economy in the world.
It's a place where a family like mine, my grandmother in Greece never learned to read, never learned to write. My father came to work as a farm
worker in California and I was able to be the first of my family to go and graduate from a four-year university, become an ambassador and the first
woman lieutenant governor of California.
We do have this extraordinary pathway of the American dream, the California dream that exists here in our state. And is it under threat with
wildfires? Yes, but this is a new threat and we are putting everything we have at contending with it and being able to, if not prevent the fires,
because they're going to continue to break out, if not make it rain or make it stop blowing, because we know that's very hard to do.
We are putting everything we have into detecting them early and being able to put them out before they cause a devastating effect. And I'm very
optimistic that we have the capabilities to address it.
Let me just also say that we are -- as Professor Reich said, we are a bit of a victim of our own success. People come from around the world to
California and that has impacted our -- put pressure on housing.
We do have challenges here managing corporations, because so many corporations locate here and want to have operations here. So, it's --
these are the kind of challenge that come from growth and success.
And what we also have in Sacramento, you know, your last speaker talked about a toxic political environment. We see that in Washington, D.C. That
is not the way things are in California.
We have an incredible environment of elected leaders working together to address these challenges. And, you know, we have a new governor, Gavin
Newsom in California, who is working very well with our legislature. Our legislature by and large is productive.
And so we have the tools to address these challenges and we will continue to do so. So for all of your watchers around the world, who still want to
look to California as that light of progressive leadership that we are, let me assure you that California is still going strong and will continue to do
AMANPOUR: I do actually just want to ask you, because you before you entered politics, you know, you were very much involved in the business of
building and infrastructure. And you've heard what your own utility has said and has taken some blame for some of these fires.
PG&E said that there are probably going to be blackouts for the next decade at least. So just to push you a little bit further on the kind of building
of affordable housing that actually needs to happen and whether the state needs to, you know, try to get away from this sort of frontiers living if
you like that requires cars, you know, pollutes the air and potentially has to send out utility cables that could be dangerous in the hinterlands.
KOUNALAKIS: So I'm here in San Diego right now. And back in 2007, San Diego experienced devastating wildfires.
The San Diego Gas and Electric Company took action and what they did is they didn't just harden their grid. Meaning making it less likely that
there would be sparks or you know the use of wooden poles, that kind of thing. But they also segmented their grid.
And what they did is they figured out how to compartmentalize pieces of it so that they could use the tool and power shutoffs, which is a very
powerful tool in preventing fires during times when the winds are blowing and then grass is dry.
But to do it in a way that will have the least impacts on the people who need electricity in their homes. PG&E has not done this. And they are
squarely to blame for the fact that they have mismanaged their grid over many, many years.
They're in bankruptcy right now. The state has been working -- and again we have new leadership in Sacramento that's been very, very focused on
this, working very diligently to make sure that as PG&E works to whatever the future of that company is, that they are held accountable to do the
same kinds of things that San Diego Gas and Electric has done in order to reduce the likelihood of the utility caused fires.
And the state is on it. So, again, I think another example where we are not in gridlock here, we are very much working collaboratively to identify
where the problems are and to fix them.
AMANPOUR: All right. Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, thank you so much indeed for joining me.
Now, we head all the way back over to the East Coast, for a little spontaneity on Broadway, where a troop of musicians and performers are
taking the theater world by storm with their new show Freestyle Love Supreme.
A meeting point between rap and improv. Every day is different as the show is pinned on suggestions from the audience. It's a passion project years
in the making by among others the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now, our Hari Sreenivasan sat down with three of the cast members.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What is Freestyle Love Supreme?
CHRIS SULLIVAN, CAST MEMBER, FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME: Freestyle Love Supreme is a group on stage making up words and stories on the spot. I am
a beat boxer. We have three lyricists generally and two piano players generally.
I say generally because now we are sort of a squad. It's kind of like a Wu Tang Clan of group mixed with the comedy and improv stylings of who's line
is it anyway?
SREENIVASAN: And this has been going on. You've been a part of this for a long time. This is something that -- 2004?
SREENIVASAN: And how did it start?
SULLIVAN: So way back in the day in the Drama of book shop in the basement, there was a company called Backhouse Productions. And that
company was run by Anthony Veneziale and Tommy Kail who are now also part of the show.
So they were workshopping in the heights, which has gone on Broadway and tour and Lin-Manuel was the writer of that show and Chris Jackson was in
that show. While they were in these rehearsal processes, in between rehearsals and during breaks of rehearsals, Anthony, being the person that
he is, was, would get them together around the piano and freestyle and have fun. And then it was only a matter of time when they decided to put it in
front of people.
SREENIVASAN: And how did you get introduced to this idea and these group of people?
UTKARSH AMBUDKAR, CAST MEMBER, FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME: I was at NYU and I was doing rap battles. I was like taking the serious rapper route and
going to these freestyle open mic nights at this place with ill spoken Freestyle Mondays. Shock knows it well.
We've spent sort of years as a part of that community as well. I was also I've gone through the BFA program at NYU. And I was doing my first
professional job outside of college. It was called History of the Word. Doesn't matter.
The history of that (inaudible) has gone on to have success on Broadway as well. And he was like you have to meet these guys that kind of do -- you
are funny, but then you're super serious when you rap and they are kind of doing something I think that can fit both of your worlds together.
So then I met these guys and do sort of like -- Lin and I started rapping. And we were like two pups from the same litter.
We literally were just like how do you do the same thing that I do in such a different way but kindred spirits and we sort of added pieces to the
group. There was a huge need for women's voices in the group and her niece and Karen Malady, Kaiser Rose, and they've just enhanced and grown the, our
The point of view that the group has is so diverse and powerful in that way, which is really special.
SREENIVASAN: You see you are the longest serving member. Clearly, all the way since September, you have been a part of this.
ANEESA FOLDS, CAST MEMBER, FRESSTYLE LOVE SUPREME: September 13th. We've set our rehearsals September 2nd I think, yes.
SREENIVASAN: So what is -- for someone watching that doesn't know anything about, what it is to freestyle rap? What is it that you're doing? How is
it that you are able to make at that very moment with a word or two a whole story?
FOLDS: You know, coming into this process, it was really intimidating. But once you get on stage, you just go. Everything in your head that says
you can't do this, everything that makes you nervous, it quiets all of that because you don't have time to think about it.
We get these words from the audience and we have what, few seconds, to trigger whatever that opens up in our minds and then we just go.
SREENIVASAN: So somebody who thinks about a Broadway show, they think about the script, there's a rehearsal, there's a process. What you are
doing every night is literally nothing like the night before.
You have totally different sets of stories, you have different, perhaps mix of cast members. How do you rehearse for something that is completely
FOLDS: Additionally, in a Broadway setting, you have a month of rehearsals.
FOLDS: So when I first found out I was doing this, I was like it's going to be great. We'll start in August.
No. We had a week of rehearsal. And yes, it was very much just going over the structure of the show and having people in the room, the audience which
they're a huge part of it, give us the ideas to just run it and get the reps and that's how you learn. And you just have to be thrown into it
really to figure it out.
AMBUDKAR: Yes, you are really drilling, rehearsing, and repeating a spirit and a philosophy of how you play, like how we play together on stage.
Like, obviously, you need a basic skill set. Like Nees and some of us are stronger in different areas, like Nees can sing her whole body off, her
lower half all the way off.
And you know like Shock is obviously our backbone, he's our drummer. My job is to rap essentially and to tell stories.
But within that is a spirit of intense listening, straight like full support for one another. The idea of -- if I pass Nees an idea or vice-
versa, we're picking it up and we're running with it.
We're constantly listening to the audience and what's happening. So many of the things that make our show great aren't suggestions the audience
gives, it's reactions.
SREENIVASAN: So if I gave you guys words, random words, could you do something? I mean would that be too difficult?
SULLIVAN: I think --
SREENIVASAN: Are you feeling it?
SULLIVAN: That's kind of what we do.
AMBUDKAR: Nearly impossible. We can do it.
SREENIVASAN: All right. So, I know one person on Twitter or Facebook said telemarketer was one of the words that they said. And I would say maybe
mayonnaise. What is hard to -- and what's my control room saying? Brexit.
AMBUDKAR: Those three words. When the control room gets to you. As they keep going.
SREENIVASAN: Keep adding?
AMBUDKAR: Yes, if you'd like. If you want.
AMBUDKAR: What's going on, Verizon? Calling up, they doing nothing. Pick up my phone, it gets to buzzing, telemarketer. Wait, that's my cousin.
Why are you talking from Mississippi, bro? That's a great American accent.
You want to take Brexit nex?
FOLDS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, the trading Brexit. We got to get to stopping. We're going to exit because Europe is doing all of those things.
Yeah, my name is Aneesa. I also sing. Yeah, what is the game we're going to play. Give me a sandwich and I'll put Some mayonnaise on it.
SULLIVAN: Yeah, we've got the mayonnaise, in the middle with his head. Oh yeah, it's a mayonnaise Sammy. Oh, Shockwave with the beef Sammy, got any
more words to give to us?
SREENIVASAN: Engelbert Humperdink.
AMBUDKAR: Humperdink. Oh, that's right, my words I think I'm key role like Engelbert Humperdink. Who'sHumperdink? I run with the ink God. Me
and Shock and Aneesa I think maybe he was someone who went to Hollywood and D.A. curve. What did he do bro'? Who is Engelbert Humperdink?
FOLDS: Nataniel. Yeah. Tell me good, what's your angle. Talk about the homie and his name is Nathaniel. Yeah, I know a lot of those on my page,
looking all that and every single day.
Yeah, yeah. Do it on the spot. It's fall time and so now it's not hot. It's cold a little bit. It's a little bit chilly. UTK, tell me what you
doing with me.
AMBUDKAR: Nathaniel, I think that is the name of a cocker spaniel that I met the other day with my dog Rico. Nathaniel, cocker spaniel, manual, I
need to read it. It's a handful.
Nathaniel is a hard work to get an angle. We're in the America the star spangle or do they or is the president breaking ankle. Wait a minute. I
probably just dropped the Anvil on the whole show. What I'm doing, we're at a standstill, any more words or is this just a landfill I keep pouring
out of my mouth.
SREENIVASAN: That's good. Thank you. That is awesome.
So, OK. So, your traditional rap. So this isn't -- you didn't come through an academy to do this. This is something that you were doing when
you were a kid. Were you doing this by watching hip-hop on what MTV back when they played music or what?
AMBUDKAR: Like most hobbies or vocations, it just came about naturally for me. I just was in high school backstage at a play. This guy Rafael Nunes
picked up a guitar and I started just talking about what was going on in the room.
But when you talk about hip-hop, or at least my experience of it, let me not put a whole blanket statement. But my experience of coming up in the
early 2000s was hip-hop was ego driven, pretty masculine, and very much about self-aggrandization, right.
I'm the best. This is what I do. Nobody is better than me.
I'm going to shred an MC with all this lyrical weaponry. And then I show up to do Freestyle Love Supreme and Tommy Kail, who I credit with sort of
opening up my whole world view and my creativity. He was like, hey man, you are very, very good at talking about yourself. You are so good at
telling everyone how good you are, if you can talk about a burgundy chair with as much dexterity and specificity as you talk about yourself, I might
be interested in what you have to say.
And if you couldstart listening and supporting the people that you are with on stage so that every moment isn't about you shining. Hey, look at me
spotlight, handing, passing the ball, giving the spotlight away, sharing it. Then I'll start respecting you as an artist.
And that was a challenge that I accepted, luckily. And we're still striving to sort of reach that level of high mind sort of beautiful
symmetry and synergy that we're capable of. We had it on stage the other night.
Nees and I had our first moment of like total --
SREENIVASAN: Oh, yes?
SREENIVASAN: How do you know when that's happening?
AMBUDKAR: You can feel it.
AMBUDKAR: We can feel it. Like I threw out a suggestion. The subject was something about Egypt or something. It doesn't really matter. It's not
going to make any sense to anybody.
But like I threw out a suggestion and Nees sort of like she caught it. She understood what it was and built upon it and created a moment that sent the
audience into uproar. And we both knew that we had found something special together and the audience witnessed it happening in real time.
AMBUDKAR: And then you just sort of like pull the parachute and fly, like float away. We're done. It's almost done.
SULLIVAN: This reminds me of our director Thomas Kail uses this metaphor a lot. What we're doing on stage is a basketball game.
And everybody has their you know, there's the point guard, everybody has their different positions that they're playing. And we are constantly
playing basketball. But points happen as they peak.
So we have these moments where the flow state really hits and we know, oh, that was special. And then we kind of go back to improvising and then we
hit the really --
AMBUDKAR: Looking for those moments of transcendents. And the audience is experiencing them at the same time that we are.
SREENIVASAN: So I got to ask the universe, what happens when it's not working? Something just either you get past a bad ball or you get a weird
word? I mean I watched you -- I think the night that I was there, you had --
AMBUDKAR: He's got notes.
SREENIVASAN: Period cramps. I mean, I was first of all stoned --
SULLIVAN: As a suggestion.
SREENIVASAN: As a suggestion. Someone in the audience yelled it. And the next thing you know you picked it up and you did an amazing personal story.
I was like, wow, that is not something that I would just embrace and say, let's improv this, right. I'm sure you guys have had experiences where
you're like OK, I kind of missed --
SREENIVASAN: -- how about the nerves when you get a word that you don't know what to do with?
FOLDS: I'm scared every time. I don't say it a lot. But it goes back to we got your back.
If you mess up, if you don't have something, there is a whole group of people on stage that truly have you. So, as I said, it just saves space
and if you fall, they're going to pick you up, somebody is going to pick you up.
SULLIVAN: And making mistakes can be encouraged.
FOLDS: Yes, it's part of it.
SULLIVAN: If you are knitting a quilt and you make a mistake, you do it again. And do it again becomes a pattern, it's no longer a mistake.
SREENIVASAN: Deep thought.
SULLIVAN: It's like jazz, there are no wrong notes.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So I read that in the early parts of when this group was forming, that you were friends with Lin-Manuel. You guys were actually
when Hamilton was coming up that at some point you played Aaron Burr --
AMBUDKAR: Shock was there too in the initial stages in the band.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. And that you, what I read was that you were having some problems that kept you from being the creative person that they wanted to
take into Hamilton. What happened?
AMBUDKAR: Yes. I was just living a lifestyle that was not conducive to being in the biggest Broadway history or any show for that matter. I was -
- I'm sober now five years. But at the time I was most definitely not and there were several opportunities, that being you know the main example --
AMBUDKAR: -- that slipped by, you know, as a result of my not being able to show up. But I'll say for me, yes, Hamilton or the lack thereof in my
life is one of the greatest gifts that I've ever received.
My relationships with Tommy, with you, with all of the guys in Freestyle Love Supreme and who are in Hamilton that I was close with are stronger
than they ever were. All of my friendships across the board in life are stronger than they have ever been. My career has changed and taken on a
new perspective and focus and then new focus and joy that wasn't there before.
And I think that it is in many ways something I can look at as a major milestone of like gang homey. Like this is what you stand "to lose" but in
sort of the, within that loss, so much has been gained right from that, because I took it and sort of with a lot of help, rerouted my life and
changed the trajectory of it.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that you guys do on stage, that you all do on stage, is a story that's true. And which of these -- you have four or
five different kind of templates that you do in the program, what's the one that you like the most? What's the one that's the hardest for you if there
AMBUDKAR: We get a word in the opening which just sets up this mic check. And sometimes that verb flummoxes me.
I don't want to be here. I don't have the vocabulary for this endeavor. And it's the beginning of the show.
And then we do a game called second chance. A song called second chance where you'll tell us a story about something that happened in your life
that you wish you could take back.
And we have had, I mean, that is a precarious song because we need to take what you've done. We need to compute it. We need to do it like that. And
then we need to change the story to give you sort of a positive outcome with the hopes that you feel some catharsis and some healing.
FOLDS: But as you sing, sometimes you get a good word for a specific game and then there is another one time we did a true, where we got dichotomy
and I was like I'm not sure if I remember what this means. I might know and I looked at Anthony, we're going to switch seats, you're going to go
first. And through his -- true, he was able to give me context clues so I was able to tell a story.
Yesterday, we got your mother's laugh and I told the story about my mom and how strong she was when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia and how
she was able to just be strong and be in her room all the time and laugh through it. And you know try to tell her stories and tell her pictures, to
remind her of who she was.
It was a really tough time. But that was -- I got really choked up during that, because I haven't spoken about that in a while.
And then after the show, a young woman came up to me and told me that she and her family were going to visit this weekend, are going to visit their
grandmother who was just diagnosed with dementia and I mean what else could you ask for? You know, it's moments like that, that make it truly amazing.
SREENIVASAN: Neesa Folds, Chris Sullivan, Utkarsh Ambudkar thank you all. If you want to close us out with whatever you do.
AMBUDKAR: Oh, yes. Nees, did I mention, it's good, being on the stage with you. Remember, we don't have to rhyme, but if we want, we can spit
Betwix us is the Shock man. We're rocking right off the top. And I got to pass it back to Aneesa for you to sing and rap.
FOLDS: Yes, sitting in this burgundy chair with my hair, I was sitting with you all and I didn't have no fear. This was really cool and it
really, really rocked. Did I mention as I said before I really like your socks because they got some stripes on them? If you can zoom in and then
you could see what I'm talking about, my friends. I guess just (inaudible) do it all day.
Thanks for sharing. Yeah, we're just here to play because we're making it up. We don't really care. Sitting, in these real cool chairs. Yeah,
having a good time. Yeah, yeah. You bust a rhyme.
SREENIVASAN: I have absolutely no rhyme.
AMBUDKAR: How about socks? Your word is socks.
SREENIVASAN: Socks. I wish I had more than socks.
FOLDS: Socks. Socks.
SREENIVASAN: I wish I could escape this very moment.
AMBUDKAR: Good job. That's all it's about.
FOLDS: Talk about being on the spot.
SREENIVASAN: Thank you. No, that's not happened to me before.
AMBUDKAR: But that's exactly what it's about. I'm here, I wish I had more socks. I wish I wasn't in this moment. That's how --
SREENIVASAN: If I can make it rhyme and work with that.
AMBUDKAR: We'd have a hit Broadway show.
SREENIVASAN: There you go.
FOLDS: It's that easy.
SREENIVASAN: It's that easy.
SREENIVASAN: Thank you so much.
AMBUDKAR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: The rap stylings of our own Hari Sreenivasan there.
Now, look out for another treat coming up on the program, Actor Wendell Pierce who is now treading the boards in "Death of A Salesman" right here
on the west end. His take on Arthur Miller's timeless play and his reflections on the state of race in America. Here's a sneak peek.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDELL PIERCE, ACTOR, DEATH OF A SALESMAN: In the face of oppression, of violence, of prejudice, that there has to be something in the human spirit
that adapts, that is improvisational, that within that restriction you can find ways of freedom and being unrestricted and uninhibited.
That's the essential nature of what jazz is, right? The finite amount of notes that you have to honor that you can put them together in an infinite
amount of possibilities in the individual who plays a solo. And his solo can go or her solo can go wherever it wants to go at the same time, honor
the chords, right? And honor the framework. Ultimately, that contribution is unique to our experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But that's it for now. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.