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Former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, Must Testify in Impeachment Hearings; Americans Stand Firm on Their Original Views on Impeachment; Jenna Ellis, Senior Legal Adviser, Trump 2020 Campaign, is Interviewed About the Impeachment Hearings; "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump," a New Book by Neal Katyal; Neal Katyal, Author, "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump," is interviewed About the Impeachment Hearings; Dangerous Times Calls for Dangerous Women; Pat Mitchell, Author, "Becoming a Dangerous Woman," is Interviewed About Her New Book. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 26, 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)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all needs to be laid in the American people need to hear the full story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Despite public impeachment hearings, American's views on the matter hold steady. We hear the case for the president from his 2020 legal
advisor, Jenna Ellis, and the case against him from the former U.S. solicitor general, Neal Katyal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT MITCHELL, AUTHOR, "BECOMING A DANGEROUS WOMAN": Power unused is power abused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Pat Mitchell's call to action. The former head of CNN and PBS opens up about her rise in media and why she now calls herself a dangerous
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he under arrest?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back in the car. You're going to jail too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Emmy-award winning writer, Lena Waithe, brings viewers on a tragic car ride in her new film "Queen and Slim."
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
President Trump joins millions of Americans heading out for the Thanksgiving holidays. But first, he gets to pardon a turkey while his
Justice Department fights off another legal challenge. That former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, must testify before Congress about the Mueller
"Presidents are not kings," the judge wrote, punching a whole in the administration's broad claims of immunity. Now, remember, this is about
the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference, but it might have an impact on the current impeachment inquiry into Ukraine.
Despite two weeks of public hearings into that on Capitol Hill, a new CNN poll shows that Americans are holding firm to their original views on
impeachment. In other words, there has been no change in public opinions since October. Half of Americans still say that Trump should be impeached
and removed from office, while 43 percent still say he should not.
In a moment, we hear the case for impeachment from former acting U.S. solicitor general, Neal Katayl. But first, we hear a defense from Trump
2020 legal adviser and constitutional lawyer, Jenna Ellis. And she's joining us from Washington.
Jenna, welcome to the program.
JENNA ELLIS, SENIOR LEGAL ADVISER, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, as I just summed up, we're going to hear an opposing view. But first and foremost, I want to get your view as to what is your best
case, in other words, Trump's best case against impeachment.
ELLIS: Yes. Well, the classic burden shifting to even think that the president really needs a defense because the Democrats have to prove their
case. Anyone who comes forward with articles of impeachment have to show what we call in the law a prima facie case. They have to fulfill that
burden that whatever the charges are in the articles of impeachment, they have sufficient evidence to move forward with a trial.
A lot of the American public simply believe that impeachment is a purely political process. It's actually not. Jurisdiction is given to the House
in order to look at the articles of impeachment and then it moves forward to a trial in the Senate, but that's only a jurisdictional question. It
still has to work in tandem and not inconsistent with Article II Section IV, which lays out either treason, bribery or other high crimes and
And so, the conduct the House impeachment inquiry was looking into with President Trump, we heard from a lot of witnesses who really didn't witness
anything and the very key questions when witnesses who were actually on the July 25th phone call with Ukraine, they said no to bribery, no to any sort
of criminal conduct.
And so, the Democrats here have not proved their case. They are saying that this is purely political and that's the only reason they're moving
forward. And a United States sitting president cannot be impeached simply because an opposition party is in the majority and wants to oust him from
ELLIS: That is completely against what the framers designed in the U.S. constitution when they allowed for impeachment of a sitting president.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take your points point by point. Not all of them, obviously, but the last couple that you made. On bribery, as you
mentioned, you did hear one Trump appointee, I mean, it's his guy. It's, you know, a billionaire donor, Ambassador Sondland, who out loud said there
was a quid pro quo. And then you heard others --
ELLIS: He said in his opinion.
AMANPOUR: -- backing that up. So, I just want to ask you -- no, I'm giving you this chance to tell us. The Democrats, the opposition, claim
that a quid pro quo is obviously something that's given in return for something, another way to say bribery. And you've mentioned the word, you
know, being crucial here. But they define it referenced in the constitution as "soliciting a benefit to influence an official act."
The benefit in this case, they say, dirt on his 2020 political opponent is tied to official acts. One would be the White House visit, the other would
be holding up or conditioning the hundreds of millions of dollars in military [13:05:00] aid to Ukraine. Do you accept that interpretation?
ELLIS: No. And I don't think that that's -- there was no quid pro quo. And, again, Ambassador Sondland and others they said that that was simply
their opinion and their speculation as far as what happened. But the two people on the phone call, President Trump and President Zelensky, both said
that there was no pressure and that they -- and Ukraine didn't even know that there was a temporary hold on aid.
The United States president had the ability to set foreign policy and Ukraine is the third most corrupt country in the world. To make sure it
goes through the vetting process -- ultimately, aid was released with no conditions and the president invited Zelensky to the White House three
separate times with no conditions attached. So, there's nothing quid, there's no pro, there's quo.
So, here, there is absolutely nothing that the Democrats can show in order to fulfill, again, their prime fascia case. And so, this is something that
is absolutely just being hyped up in the media and the Democrats are pulling, they're showing focus groups to just try to see what the American
people want and would recognize in terms of what polls better.
And so, this is not actually a legal case and let's not legitimize it as that, this is simply about the Democrats going after the 2020 election and
trying to scare you and me from voting for President Trump. That's what they're after.
AMANPOUR: Jenna, obviously, it's not strictly a legal case, it's a political case. That is exactly what impeachment is about. It goes
through the Congress.
But in this case, it's very partisan, as we know, and you know that you say there was no quid, no pro, no, whatever, or quo. However, the president's
own words, you know, were a favor. Could you do us a favor? And there were more than two people on the call, many of them who've testified in
front of Congress that they strongly believed that there was a quid pro quo.
But I guess I'm trying to ask you, also, about how you're going to lay out this defense or how his side will lay out on your defense on this other
issue that you mentioned, there's a heart of it, which is high crimes and misdemeanors.
So, let me, again, you know, quote one, you know, of the president's key allies. "The business of high crimes and misdemeanors," this is Mike
Pence. He was a Congressman in 2008. "The business of high crimes and misdemeanors goes to the question of whether or not the person serving as
of the United States put their own interests ahead of public service."
Now, others, and including my guest following you, believes that in saying, I would like you to do us a favor, though, he did put his own interests,
i.e., hurting his political rival above the public interest. Does not the Pence rule, as we just read out, apply in this case to the president? I
mean, Pence is his vice president.
ELLIS: Well, first I want to clarify, this is not just a political process. We don't have impeachment simply so that the opposition majority
party in the House can oust a sitting president to manipulate the constitution into whatever definition of high crimes and misdemeanors they
prefer. This is not a completely political process, and we see that in the constitutional convention and the debates that happened in the legislative
history we have.
But to your point, if this were something that the president had actually done, if he had done something that was an impeachable offense, we would be
having a very different conversation. But asking an ally to look into the potential corruption of a former sitting vice president, that goes directly
to the heart of something that the Unites States' president should be concerned with. Why aren't we concerned about potential corruption of Joe
Biden? And that is an absolutely legitimate request.
And again, there was nothing that was attached to it. There was no discussion on the phone call. As President Trump has said, it was a
perfect phone call. There was no discussion about the aid. President Zelensky, who -- he was one of the two parties to the phone call. Well,
yes, there were some people listening in. I mention there were only two people on the phone call, meaning only two parties to the conversation.
They are the two that matter, President Trump and President Zelensky.
When President Zelensky is saying he didn't know that foreign aid was being held, then that shows that there is nothing that is in exchange for
something else. And it has to be a corrupt exchange for something else. The United States can ask our allies look into corruption. And we also,
the United States president, can set foreign policy in determining whether or not the aid is given. Those are two completely separate contemplations
that the sitting U.S. president can certainly -- it certainly has the authority to do.
AMANPOUR: I mean, just a few of your key points there. I mean, look, it has to be clear that there is absolutely zero evidence anywhere, any time,
that Vice President Biden had any queries about corruption against him. So, that is a new introduction into this process. But I just want to play
ELLIS: That's only because -- well, want to say this, that's only because the GOP minority did not get any of their witnesses and any of their
subpoenas. And so, there was no due process during the House subpoena [13:10:00] -- during the House --
AMANPOUR: Are you suggesting that President Trump's defense will rest on actual factual knowledge and suspicion of corruption by Vice President
Biden? Is a that what you're suggesting? Because that's a whole new kind of worms.
ELLIS: I'm suggesting that there needs to be -- that's not a new can of worms. I think that that was contextually very essential to understanding
the nature of the July 25th phone call. You have to take everything in context.
When you look at what is actually happening and you look at the transcript, you have to take it in context. And what the Democrats tried to do and
what Adam Schiff tried to do by shutting down all of the GOP requests is to isolate that and manipulate it into his preferred narrative. I mean, he
even showed that when he read a fictitious transcript like theater in the opening of this.
They know that if there is any sort of context given and if the GOP is actually allowed to call their witnesses and show the context, then the
American people would understand precisely what happened and that does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
AMANPOUR: Just very quickly. As you know, it's the White House who is stonewalling and also the State Department and other institutions on terms
of handing out -- handing over, all sorts of documents, not to mention witnesses. I just wonder whether you think or you would advise, as a
constitutional lawyer, Don McGahn testifying, as the judge herself said should happen today.
ELLIS: Well, Don McGahn and that whole testimony is completely separate to the impeachment inquiry. And we have to understand that privilege and
attorney/client privilege and certainly White House council privilege and executive privilege are hallmarks of the American system to make sure that
there is a safeguard in place to make sure that the president or any client can have a conversation that is open with his council without fear of that
being disclosed only for privacy reasons.
I myself am an attorney. I've had many, many clients and being able to confer with them and make sure that they know that privilege is attached is
very important. It's not to withhold or hide critical information. It's to make sure that attorneys can do their job.
ELLIS: So, McGahn is a very separate issue. But that's why President Trump has been saying with the Senate trial, if the Democrats want to move
forward with this sham, they have no basis whatsoever for articles of impeachment. But if they decide to manipulate the process and move
forward, he's saying for a Senate trial, bring it on. Because he will then get robust due process and be completely exonerated.
AMANPOUR: Before I move on, and I have to move on, I need to play you this back and forth that Senator John Kennedy has gone through, as you know, to
Chris Wallace at "Fox News." He categorically basically said that it was Ukraine interfering and not Russia, as all America's intelligence agencies
have discovered that it was Russia in the 2016 election. And now, a couple of days later, he has retracted that. Let's just play his retraction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Chris is right. I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to
hack the DNC computer. I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jenna, does that change? I mean, does that sort of pull the rug under some of your feet. Because you've been basically saying the defense
on the Republican side has been that it was Ukraine who did it and that's why the president was justified in doing what the Republican -- Democrat
say is a quid pro quo.
ELLIS: I have said no such thing about the 2016 election. And if you're trying to do kind of the got-cha moment of saying that Senator Kennedy
actually did a retraction --
AMANPOUR: No, no. Jenna. No, Jenna. I'm giving you an importuning --
ELLIS: No. What I'm saying --
AMANPOUR: -- to say that your Republicans on the --
ELLIS: Please let me finish.
AMANPOUR: -- intelligence committee have used that over and over again. I'm merely saying as a defense of the president, does that change that
ELLIS: As a defense of the president, my consistent defense and the White House's consistent defense has been that President Trump did absolutely
nothing wrong. And with Ukraine being the third most corrupt country in the world, with a brand new president who President Trump hadn't interacted
with before, we don't know his views and policies to temporarily hold aid from being dispersed was purely squarely within a reasonable action of the
president, and purely within the scope of his power.
And whether or not other people who came and testified disagreed with his foreign policy decisions --
ELLIS: -- that is not an impeachable offense. The Democrats have absolutely nothing. And playing a clip, just showing a retraction of
Senator Kennedy has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of this case.
AMANPOUR: Jenna Ellis, thank you very much.
And now, for an opposing view, we turn to the renowned legal expert, Neal Katya, former acting U.S. solicitor general. And he has argued in the
Supreme Court nearly 40 times, and he's just written a new book. And what is it called, "Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump, " joining me now.
Neal Katyal, you just heard what is [13:15:00] likely to be the president's defense, that neither bribery has been proved, neither high crimes nor
misdemeanors, and this call was a perfect call, according to the president and his defenders. What would your comeback to that be based on facts?
NEAL KATYAL, AUTHOR, "IMPEACH: THE CASE AGAINST DONALD TRUMP": So, heavens me, if that's what we just heard as the defense of President Trump, I think
he's in serious trouble. And I wrote the book to explain why because it's a simple, just 150-page book, which explains what Trump did and why it is
so bad. And it begins with the notion of what's impeachment about, it's about when the president puts his personal interest above those of the
American people, that Pence standard that you're referring to. And then you ask --
AMANPOUR: That was important, it was, the Pence? That he could say, oh, that was in 2008 and I don't believe that anymore.
KATYAL: Exactly. And then you ask yourself, and I think Jenna should ask herself this question, if President Obama did all of this, would you be
saying all this legal gobbledygook about burden shifting and this and that? Heck no. There's no way the American people would stand for it if it were
-- if it was a president of the other party.
So, I think everyone's got to just to ask, this about the rule of law and we're going to have different presidents. And if we say this is OK, I need
a favor, though, in holding up aid and asking a foreign government to get dirt on your political rival, that's cheating in an election. That's
quintessentially what impeachment is about.
And, you know, she says, oh, there are no first-hand witnesses to it. Well, first of all, President Trump's own guys, like Ambassador Sondland,
did say this is what happened. But to the extent there aren't those firsthand witnesses is because of a simple reason, the president has issued
an unprecedented gag order barring every executive branch employee from going and testifying or giving documents, r e-mails or anything. He looks
like he has something to hide.
AMANPOUR: In that case, do you believe -- oh, there are a couple of questions that you brought up and that Jenna brought up. Number one, this
is not -- she believes this is a legal process and not entirely a political process. What do you think?
KATYAL: A hundred percent right. And, you know, the one thing I agree with her, she said you can't impeach a president simply because the
opposition party wants to oust them.
AMANPOUR: Right. Precisely.
KATYAL: I would be the first person to say absolutely not. Our founders would be, as well. If she thinks that's what this is about, I think she's
living in some alternative fact and reality.
AMANPOUR: But interestingly, you said what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot and if you did this or didn't or did do this now, what would
it mean for President (INAUDIBLE)? It's exactly what President Trump has said, if we allow this to happen to me, what will it mean for presidents
down the line. This could just open a whole can of worms.
KATYAL: Yes. I mean, God, you know, presidents won't be able to go and get secret help from foreign governments to help them in their reelection
campaigns. You know, yes, the president's hands will be tied in that specific way and I think every American should want that.
AMANPOUR: You've laid out whole treaties on this, and we'll come to the specifics in a moment. But I want to ask about today's news and whether
you think that it will have any impact, and that is the judge who, as we've just said, ruled that the president is not a king and that his counsel, his
special counsel, Don McGahn, stated simply the primary takeaway for the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not
kings. That was commentary around her ruling that the president's personal -- or lawyer, Don McGahn, should testify before the House.
KATYAL: Right. I think there's two implications. Number one, is it's a rejection of the Trump manifesto that because he's president, he has
absolute power, he can't be indicted, he can't be investigated, evidence can't be turned over. This judge, Judge Jackson, very respected judge,
said absolutely no (INAUDIBLE) 120-page opinion.
And then the second thing is, is it does say that his former employees, like McGahn, have to come and testify, and that may yield more information.
And again, I totally disagree with your guest, Jenna, a moment ago she was talking about the attorney/client privilege and that this is about the need
for attorneys to be able to talk to their clients. She should know there is no attorney/client privilege for government lawyers.
I've worked in the government. I think everyone in the government understands that. So, that's completely off base. What the president was
saying is, because I'm president, I have a special privilege and none of my advisers can say anything to a court or to the Congress, and that is
AMANPOUR: And what do you say to people who say the Democrats and their supporters are never Trumpers and that they're partisan and this is
entirely partisan? You yourself have argued many cases, as I said before, the Supreme Court. You've been a legal adviser and argued a court for the
Democratically led House of Representatives when it came to the census.
Give us an idea. Because I noticed that the State Department officials, a professional career foreign service went out of their way to say that, you
know, they serve without fear nor favor every -- you know, any president.
KATYAL: Absolutely. If this were a case, because of politics, I would be the first person to say, we can't [13:20:00] do this. That's not
appropriate. That's for the ballot box. That's for 2020. What this is about is a president who's really trampled on our notions of the rule of
law. And I'm someone who supported the president on some stuff, much to the consternation of my party, for example, coming out for Neal Gorsuch
right away and testifying for him.
I'm not someone who just thinks --
AMANPOUR: That was the president's first appointee to the Supreme Court.
KATYAL: To the Supreme Court. I'm not someone who reflexively thinks, oh, Democrats are right or Republicans are wrong every time. But this is one
we can't think of this politically because we're going to have future presidents. And the yardstick we use here, the rules we lay down here will
set the course of conduct for future presidents.
AMANPOUR: But the thing is, that rules have been laid down. This is the fourth time this kind of process is going on, Andrew Johnson, we had, you
know, Nixon, Clinton, and now Trump. And it boils down to, I guess, you tell me, how one interprets and what the standard is for high crimes and
So, to that end, let me play from Republican congressman, William Hurd, what he has heard and said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILLIAM HURD (R-TX): An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear and unambiguous, and it's not something to be rushed
or taken lightly. I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion. I also reject the notion that holding the
view means supporting all the foreign policy choices that we have been hearing about over these last few weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, he's not always a reflexive pro-Trumper, but he -- this is what he's saying. And today, that seems to be what all the
Republicans are saying in Congress.
KATYAL: I think that we haven't had the trial yet. So, to say, oh, we haven't heard this evidence, is really putting the cart before the horse.
And this thing is moving --
AMANPOUR: But you have. You've heard a lot of evidence. What other evidence is there?
KATYAL: Oh, I certainly think that the evidence is there and the book makes the case that just the July 25th transcript alone is enough to
impeach. But I agree that members of Congress haven't all focused on this yet. That's what the whole point of the trial is. When those senators
take their oath, they have to swear a special impeachment oath to listen to all of the evidence.
And when you listen to the evidence, when you read the transcript, when you listen to the witnesses and the witnesses that may come before the Senate
that we still haven't heard from because of the president's gag order, I do think that all of that is moving in the same direction.
The whistleblower's report hasn't been disproven in any capacity. And indeed, the case against the president from witness after witness, and that
includes, by the way, a bunch of Republican witnesses. So, you know, and the president's own administration people, his own appointees, they're
putting the knife in the president's back. So, time will tell. We're very early in this. We're only in chapter one.
AMANPOUR: And, obviously, I think you're referring to particularly Gordon Sondland who basically said, everybody was in the loop. We did this at the
president's directive. But who do you think could come forth? Because everybody who defied the president to come and testify before Congress and
agreed to the subpoenas have already been heard. The others are not accepting.
KATYAL: So far --
AMANPOUR: Or haven't been called.
KATYAL: But they could be called in the Senate and then it will be up to the chief justice to rule on that. But they will have to -- the House
prosecutors will have the subpoena power in the Senate and we could hear from John Bolton, the national security advisor, we could hear from
Secretary of State Pompeo, from acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. And most interestingly, from the president himself. He's kind of indicated he
wants to testify. I know, so far, he's been afraid of telling the truth to the American people. But if he's so sure, this call is perfect and
beautiful. Let him tell the American people that.
AMANPOUR: What about the last time this -- well, the Nixon period, where the Senate hearings, basically, the committee said that they would -- they
threatened people who didn't come to the subpoena to testify with jail. And then President Nixon said, well, you know, we're not going to claim
executive privilege. Could something like that happen in this case?
KATYAL: Yes. I'm so glad you raised this. I wrote in the "New York Times" op-ed about this last week. President Nixon said, I'm not going
have my witnesses come, any executive branch employees. And you're right. What happened is the House said, OK, then we're going to start jailing
those witnesses. And that led the president to back down.
This president, so far, is out Nixon-ing Nixon. He's doing something -- he's stonewalling even beyond the high-water mark up until now, which was
AMANPOUR: I just would like to play a little bit of -- it's old now and people have seen it, but I just want to get your take on it. This was an
exchange between "ABC's" George Stephanopoulos and President Trump about elections and the integrity of elections. Not only do we have this but
we're going into another election with, you know, the hows and wherefores of the previous one still not being fully, you know, prevented for the next
time. So, let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, "ABC NEWS": Your campaign this time are foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on
opponents, should they accept it or call the [13:25:00] FBI?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If
somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?
TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I would take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, to be fair, he said you listen and you call the FBI. Is there something terribly wrong with that? Trump is not a politician. He's
KATYAL: I think there's something so deeply wrong with that. At this point, he's the president of the United States. And to do that, I think --
and the reason I use this -- that exact quote in the book and start a chapter that way, because it illustrates, I think, the fallacy what the
Republican argument which is wait for the 2020 election.
That's like saying, OK, Christiane, you and I are playing a game of monopoly and I'm accused of cheating. And my solution is oh, OK, let's
resolve whether or not I cheated by playing another game of monopoly. That makes no sense.
Now, I've served twice in the government. I can tell you if some foreign dirt was offered to me, the first thing you do is say, I'll call you right
back, you hang up and you call the FBI right away. You don't invite it. And this president invited it, not just in that interview, but also with
respect to China more recently. He was asked, hey, did I do -- you do anything wrong with Ukraine? No, I did nothing wrong. I would do the same
thing with China. I hope China has dirt on the Bidens. That can't be a responsible way for a president of the United States or, indeed, a low-
level government official to behave. Americans deserve better than that.
AMANPOUR: Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general, thank you so much for joining us.
KATYAL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, polarization in our politics, tribalism in our societies, these are challenging times, maybe even dangerous times. And that calls
for dangerous women, so says media legend, Pat Mitchell. She rose through the media ranks to become head of CNN productions and then the first female
president for PBS. A lifelong advocate for women and girl. She launched "TEDWomen" in 2010. And she revealed her latest title with a speech this
year at the University of Miami.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT MITCHELL, AUTHOR, "BECOMING A DANGEROUS WOMAN": Along with all of the things that were read about what I've done in my life, I think there's
something else that you should know. I've become a dangerous woman. And I'm here today to inspire you to become dangerous too. Why? Because we're
living in dangerous times and such times call on us to be bolder, more daring, braver in our solutions and responses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the new book is called "Dangerous -- Becoming a Dangerous Woman." And Pat Mitchell is joining me here.
Good to see you.
MITCHELL: Always good to see you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Let's figure out how you came to that title. I know that -- I mean, you said it. You've laid it out. It's a brilliant title. But does
it come with a certain -- can anybody be a dangerous woman or do you have to have lived a bit?
MITCHELL: Well, I think anyone can be. But I must say declaring myself a dangerous woman even at nearly 77 still feels a bit dangerous. But It also
feels right. I feel that we are maybe, especially women over 50, but not exclusively, we are well prepared for this. We are better resourced,
better connected, we're living longer and healthier, we're not retiring, we're rewiring. And look at what we are going in the world, we're
literally redefining what age, leadership and risk-taking can look like.
So, I wrote the book, not only to recall the struggles and the challenges that still exist, but to point to the rollbacks on the rights and freedoms
that many of us spent our lives fighting for. And to change that, to shift the direction, to change the power paradigm that got us into these
dangerous times, I believe we do have to be braver, bolder with, take bigger risk, and, yes, be dangerous.
AMANPOUR: So, how did it even come to you? I mean, where did that line come from? What were you -- what was happening?
MITCHELL: You know, I'm really not sure about that. I was sitting in a circle of very impressive leaders and everyone was introducing themselves.
Have you been in that moment where they say, you've got 30 seconds or three lines to say who you are? And I had no title, for the first time in my
life. I wasn't running anything. I didn't have an organization. And I kept thinking, how am I going to explain why I'm here in this circle of
activists and leaders.
And suddenly, when it came my turn, I heard myself standing and say, I'm Pat Mitchell and I'm a dangerous woman.
I think, though, it came from the way I have been feeling watching your program today and every day, which is, there's so much affirmation around
us that we are living in dangerous times. And how do we get beyond them? How do we shift this direction to better times?
We can't do it the way we have done it before. We can't be complacent. We can't feel safe. We can't accept the status quo.
AMANPOUR: And why women?
I'm interested in this, because you're not just saying this as a throwaway line or as just a nice title for the book. You obviously have a view from
all your activism, being, as I said, the president of CNN Productions, the first female president, CEO of PBS and the Paley Media Center.
I mean, you have walked the walk, plus all your activism around the world. What do you think that dangerous women bring that dangerous men might not?
MITCHELL: Along with using media, as you have done, in every way I could elevate women's stories and ideas and challenges, I have also worked all
over the world with women.
And, recently, I have really observed a phenomenon that I do believe will lead us out of these dangerous times. I have been convening women leaders
from across political differences, across borders, religions, cultures, and watching them problem-solve together.
Now, I'm not saying only women can do this, because, like you, I have seen women in war zones and at peace negotiations. And I don't...
AMANPOUR: But it's interesting, because, in peace negotiations, it is often women, whether it's the Northern Ireland, whether it's Liberia,
whether it's the Oslo peace process, wherever it is, there is actually a quantifiable female factor.
And I observed this as a reporter and documentary filmmaker back in the late '80s in exactly those conflicts and others following -- I wish I had
known more about how you would do it later, Christiane.
But in those conflict zones, I observed women looking beyond the differences and saying, on these things, we can connect, caring about our
families, our husbands, our work, our future, and claiming it, even if it meant forcing themselves onto the table of negotiations.
Actually, women in every room where decisions are made about our lives and our bodies is absolutely essential. And we can see what happens when we
are not, and not just women, but communities of color, marginalized communities, who are the most impacted by these dangerous times.
AMANPOUR: And I have just been -- just coincidentally, been talking to some -- because, again, age does come into it. And I think that's part of
what liberates you to be dangerous and take risks, as you said.
So just on the show on different issues -- and I think she's one of your mentors and heroes as well, is Jane Fonda. And I talked to her recently,
for instance, about why she has thrown herself out of her comfortable place in California for several months to come and really get with the climate
protesters, and even to the point of arrests.
This is what she said to me:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE FONDA, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: I think that what the students are doing is so inspiring. I you can't help but want to say, yes, we grandmothers, we
older people are going to stand next to you, lock arms and try to create a future for you that is livable.
I'm going to be -- I'm going to be arrested the day I turn 82. And I'm doing it because I want stand with those young people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So -- and she was arrested and she has been several times.
AMANPOUR: But the interesting bridge between generations that she's making...
MITCHELL: You know, actually, Jane was the first to say that women over 50 were not only the fastest growing population, but had the potential for
being the most powerful population, was her word.
And I just take that one step further and say we can be the most powerful population by being the most dangerous population.
AMANPOUR: OK. And to that point, three American women, as we see on the debate stage every time there is one, between 55 and 70 years old, are
leading presidential candidates, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren.
You have got Christine Lagarde, who's gone from heading the IMF, the first female, age 63, now president of the European Central Bank. New European
Commission president for the first time is a woman, Ursula von der Leyen, from -- former defense secretary from Germany. She's 61.
And, of course, the U.S. speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is 79 and in the fight of her life right now, whether she was a man or a woman.
So, it is interesting, because you're saying as well that the new women in Washington have an opportunity to redefine what power looks like.
AMANPOUR: And there's a record number who've run and won election.
MITCHELL: I'm so glad you pointed to those outstanding examples of women on the dangerous side of 50.
But I don't believe dangerous and becoming dangerous is limited to an age, because, all across the age spectrum, from the teens that have inspired
Jane and so many of us...
AMANPOUR: I mean, let's say Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, for instance, teenagers.
MITCHELL: Greta, yes.
And to the elders like Mary Robinson and others who are stepping up and still leading movements, we're seeing that, that being dangerous, making a
difference, taking risks is not related to age. It's related to our determination to make a difference by being in the world.
AMANPOUR: OK, so that's probably true. But everybody internalizes it in a different way. It is probably not related to age, but perhaps we don't
have the ability to understand that until we get to a certain age.
To that end, I recently talked to Annette Bening, and she had a thought about that too. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNETTE BENING, ACTRESS: I feel more liberated as I get older. It's one of the great gifts. Nobody told me about that.
There's a whole industry built around us not wanting to accept getting older, a large industry. And so we're all sort of inculcated with that
sort of point of view.
But, in fact, as one gets older, I feel freer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, again, as she said, who knew? I never knew that. If I'd known that when I was much younger, it would have been helpful.
MITCHELL: It was a tough thing for me to get to that place where I didn't care what other people thought or said.
I mean, I grew up in the rural South, where girls were encouraged to talk less, smile more. So getting to the place where I actually thought I could
say what I really felt and really believed was a long journey.
I'm just encouraging women. And I'm seeing girls embrace that much earlier now, which is why I'm hopeful, by the way, that we will move out of these
AMANPOUR: And there really is a battle to be fought, because there's a new book out on a completely different issue on economics called "The Invisible
Woman," which basically says that almost all the metrics that we all use, men, women, children, are built around men's reactions to certain things,
way back when, many years ago, even the temperature of corporate buildings.
MITCHELL: Right, and boardrooms.
AMANPOUR: And boardrooms.
MITCHELL: Always cold in boardrooms.
I mean, so there's a -- I mean, this still a societal structural norm to bust.
MITCHELL: But that -- we won't bust that by just knowing that it's not right. It hasn't gotten us to a very good place, and when the research
says very clearly that, if you make those boardrooms and the management and the companies and the government more fairly representative of the people
that you're serving, the results are good.
I mean, you get better bottom lines, better governance, happier customers and citizens. And that is where women can, as I like to say, play the
women's card. Play the race card. Advocate for every perspective, insight, idea and innovation that we can get into a room that is going to
shape a better policy, help us claim our power, and move out of it, use it and share it.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Pat Mitchell, thank you so much for being here.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now from one dangerous woman to another.
Lena Waithe is an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter. Her first feature film, "Queen & Slim," follows a black couple after an awkward first date ends in
On the way home following a routine traffic stop, the situation escalates, and a white police officer ends up dead. With the couple on the run from
the law, the story explores themes of trauma, freedom, legacy, and hope.
Our Alison Stewart sat down with Lena Waithe to talk about it.
ALISON STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lena, welcome.
LENA WAITHE, SCREENWRITER/PRODUCER/ACTRESS: Thank you for having me.
STEWART: So, this film, what was it about putting this couple on a first date? What was it about that being a first date allowed you to develop the
WAITHE: Well, that was sort of the initial idea. That wasn't me. James Frey was like a man and woman -- black man, black woman on a first date.
They're on the way home, and they get pulled over by a police officer.
So that part was sort of already baked in. And it just sort of, I think, adds to the cinematic elements of it, because it just makes it a more
If you're pitching story, yes, it would be cool if they were a couple, but then we're sort of having to catch up to them in terms of their language,
in terms of their history. Them being -- them not knowing each other allows the audience to get to know them as they get to know each other. So
it just makes for a much more interesting experience.
STEWART: And the date didn't go well, which is really interesting...
WAITHE: It doesn't go bad, doesn't go great.
STEWART: Yes, well enough.
WAITHE: It's sort of in the middle.
STEWART: Yes, well enough.
WAITHE: And that was the thing that James also said too.
He was like, it's not great, it's not horrible, somewhere in the middle, which I thought was also interesting, so you wouldn't know, like, would
they have seen each other again? Is this getting better, things -- as they start to warm up to each other in the car, white supremacy hits.
STEWART: So it's a routine police stop. I have been in a car when a white guy is driving and been stopped by the cops. I have been in a car when a
black man has been driving and stopped by the cops.
STEWART: Two very different experiences.
WAITHE: Very different, yes.
STEWART: We all know the experiences, sadly, from the news, Philando Castile, Walter Scott.
Did you draw from any personal experiences when you were writing that scene?
WAITHE: I haven't had a violent experience with the police, but I have been pulled over before.
But I don't drink. I have never had a speeding ticket. So I shouldn't be nervous when I get pulled over by a police officer. But there's just an
innate fear that happens if you're a person of color that gets pulled over by the police.
I think not just black people, I think if you're Latino, I think if you're maybe Native American, any person that is not white, I think you kind of
have a little bit more nerves when get pulled over, because you don't know how it could end. It could be life or death.
STEWART: In writing the character of the police officer, who is played by Sturgill Simpson, who is a great musician, great country singer.
WAITHE: Yes. Yes.
STEWART: He is so clearly evil. He's abominable. Was...
WAITHE: I don't know that's true.
STEWART: Oh, you don't think so?
WAITHE: No. No.
I think that it's important that, when he gets in the car -- and this is on the page -- that you see a picture of his family on the dashboard when he
gets in his cop car. He has a wife waiting for him. He has two kids waiting for him when he gets home.
He's not a monster. He's a person that's doing his job. He's a person that may have preconceived notions about people of color, possibly. And
there's also a point in which he may feel disrespected.
But there's a -- but Daniel and I had a conversation recently where he said, sometimes, a black person respecting himself can come off as
disrespect to a white person unintentionally, even if it doesn't mean to be.
So what I found was that it's not about hero or villain. It's a moment. It's a moment of, oh, so you don't respect my authority? So you don't
acknowledge that I'm a police officer? So you don't acknowledge that you're a civilian? You don't have the power in this scenario. I'm armed.
You are not.
He's also technically outnumbered, even though it's two against -- neither one of these people have a gun. He technically feels like he is in danger.
When she gets out of the car, she says, I'm reaching for cell phone. He doesn't -- he can either trust that. What if it's a lie? What if she's
not reaching for a cell phone?
STEWART: He has a position of power, though.
STEWART: He has the position of power.
STEWART: My point is why I thought...
WAITHE: He says, get back in the car. She doesn't.
You know what I'm saying? It's like -- so, to me, that scene -- and I wrote a bunch of times -- was to make sure that the audience could say,
well, huh, OK, I get that. Wait. I don't -- I kind of see why he does that. I kind of see why she wants to record it. It's all those things.
Like -- and it's all happening very fast. That's the other thing too. Things happen so quickly. You're just sort of going off of instinct. So
there are no heroes and villains in the movie, I feel.
STEWART: You know what? Let's take a look at the clip.
WAITHE: Let's do it, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "QUEEN & SLIM")
DANIEL KALUUYA, ACTOR: Could you please hurry up?
STURGILL SIMPSON, ACTOR: What did you say?
KALUUYA: It's just cold.
SIMPSON: Put your hands on your head and get on the ground now.
KALUUYA: Are you serious?
SIMPSON: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
JODIE TURNER-SMITH, ACTRESS: Why is he under arrest?
SIMPSON: Get back in the car, or you're going to jail too!
TURNER-SMITH: I am an attorney. And I demand to know why this man is under arrest.
KALUUYA: Sir, sir, sir, we don't have to do this.
TURNER-SMITH: Why is he under arrest? What is your name?
SIMPSON: Get back in the car!
TURNER-SMITH: What is your badge number?
SIMPSON: I'm not going to tell you again. Get back in the car!
KALUUYA: Get back in the car. Get back in the car. We got this.
TURNER-SMITH: What is your badge number?
KALUUYA: Sir, sir, it was a turn signal. I ain't done nothing wrong.
SIMPSON: Get your hands where I can see them!
TURNER-SMITH: I'm reaching for my cell phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I'm still going with he's a bad guy.
STEWART: They go on the run, because they have lost faith in the system.
WAITHE: Right. Well, she really has.
STEWART: She truly has lost faith in the system.
WAITHE: Right. Right. Right.
STEWART: And she's trying to explain to him, you need to listen to me. I live and work in this system. I know what this can be.
STEWART: What did you want to explore about when we lose faith in systems, given our culture now?
WAITHE: Right, right.
Well, I think the system rarely works for those who are othered. The system isn't necessarily built to keep the playing field leveled. It's to
serve those who are often in power, often in the majority.
And the system doesn't have the best track record with people of color, particularly black people in this country. So it's hard to trust it. It
is hard to know that will get our proper day in court, we will get a fair trial, we will have a jury of our peers. It just -- it can be very tricky
And her being a lawyer who literally has made a living out of getting people of -- probably most people of color out of jail, off of death row,
she sees the system every day and watches it not really work in our favor very often.
STEWART: There's a lot of history in this, I think. I can tell that you spent time thinking about history of police work, history of this country.
Here's there's an Underground Railroad vibe about -- as they flee, as they go from...
WAITHE: Sure. It's the reverse slave runaway narrative. It's the reverse.
WAITHE: They go from the North to the South.
STEWART: Right, from Ohio. I was going to ask, is that why you put it in Ohio?
WAITHE: Well, I put it in Ohio because the death penalty is still legal there. It was also one of the last stops before getting to Canada on the
So there were a couple reasons why we did that. And also there was sort of the level of Americana that was there, sort of like middle-class working
folks just trying to live a very simple life.
And that's also what Slim was in my mind. And Melina was like, OK, not only did you put it there on the page, I want to shoot it there.
So we did. We went to Cleveland, and it was really cold. And we were out there in the elements. But, yes, that was a couple of reasons why I placed
it there from the start.
STEWART: I have seen other interviews. You liken the two characters Queen and Slim to Malcolm and Martin and that they shift, they evolve.
WAITHE: They kind of, yes, swap places a little bit.
STEWART: Were you thinking of those two leaders when you were writing this?
WAITHE: Absolutely, just because of what they mean to us as a community, but also how they both wanted the same thing, but had different ways on how
to get there, both valid and both extremely intelligent men, both very spiritual in different ways, but both valid, both equally important.
And I sort of wanted to also speak to the fact that we choose what kind of black person we want to be every day, right? What do you want to be? Do
you want to show up as MLK today? Do you want to show up as Malcolm X?
And, sometimes, it changes depending on the day. When you get pulled over, are you , yes, sir, no, sir? All those things, like, we have to make those
decisions. We don't get to just be ourselves. We have to make conscious decisions about how we want to show up every day.
And that was really what I wanted to show, is that Queen is very logical. She is not a believer. She believes that, in order to matter, you have to
bend the world, you have to be excellent. And, again, that's very valid, her ideology.
But I believe Slim's ideology is just as valid, to just exist in the world, to have love, to have children, to grow old, to make an honest living. I
think we sometimes devalue that way of life.
And I think I wanted to honor it a little bit.
STEWART: And as they are trying to figure out where they're going to be and how they're going to -- how they're going to get there, they are
consistently welcomed by various communities.
And they almost seem surprised, which I found interesting.
STEWART: Why did you want to have them be so surprised that they would go into a bar and the bartender be, I got you, like, I'm not going to turn you
in, you guys are safe here?
WAITHE: Yes, I mean, I think because sometimes we as black people forget how connected we are to each other.
And we sometimes don't always believe in our community. We sometimes think -- we only think as individuals at times, but the truth is, we're part of
this great big family. None of us really know who's related to who or what, because the records aren't always well-kept.
And people -- families were separated and sold. And so we have no idea who our cousins are. We have no idea who we're connected to. We have no idea
which one of our ancestors may have fallen in love with another one's ancestors. You just don't know.
So the way I look at it is, like, whether we like it or not, we're all connected, we're all family in a way.
But it also speaks to the fact that our -- the relationship between black people specifically and the police has been extremely turbulent and fraught
with anger and violence and injustice.
But, also, if you go back to the days of the civil rights movement, you see young college kids participating in sit-ins or protesting. Who's hosing
them down? Who's siccing dogs on them? Who's beating them with batons?
Not necessarily just civilians, but it's police officers. So when you're a young black kid in school, and you learn about the civil rights movement,
you see that footage, but then the next day they bring a police officer and say, this is your friend. If you ever need help, you call a police
So it's almost like a very odd thing to digest.
WAITHE: Yes, even as an adult.
STEWART: Yes. Yes.
WAITHE: You're like, huh.
So, it's so interesting about what police represent to black people. So that's why I knew the story needed to be told, because I said, if there was
a story about two black people killing a police officer, in self-defense or not, I knew that black people would really have an opinion about those
Some people would think of them as heroes. Some people would think they were crazy. Some people would think they were vigilantes. Some people
would think they'd be doing more harm than good.
I knew that there would be a difference of opinion. But I wanted to show that. I wanted to show how they walked around, and how some black folks
embrace them, how some black folks do not. But I did want to show that sense of community as well, because it exists.
STEWART: And there's a nuance to the police force as well in the film, which is really important to point out.
WAITHE: Absolutely, yes. For sure.
And I think it could be easily dismissed as, oh, it's an anti-cop movie. It's like, no, every single character is human.
STEWART: When you were thinking about casting, Jodie Turner-Smith is fairly unknown to everybody in the States.
STEWART: Was that intentional to make sure you had an unknown in that role, and why?
Well, because Daniel sort of cast himself in the movie, thankfully. No, he read a very early draft of it. He read it before I was able to get it to
Melina, just because of the timing. He and I had dinner. He asked what I was working on. I told him the log line. He was like, I want to read
And he wasn't angling. He wasn't like, oh, I'm looking for my next part. It was just, I just want to read what you're writing. So I was like, cool.
So he read it. And like, two days later, I got an e-mail that said, "I am Slim." And I was like, oh, man, that's really flattering. And that's
awesome. Hold on, because I got to get Melina to read it first.
And as she did. And he waited while we waited for her to read it. But she end up calling me and saying: "I want to direct this. This is my first
And I was like: "Amazing. Daniel Kaluuya wants to be Slim, by the way."
She was like: "I don't see him as Slim. I don't think of him."
I said: "Funny. I didn't think of him either."
STEWART: Because you had "Get Out" in your mind or "Black Panther"?
WAITHE: I don't know. She had "Get Out" in her mind, for sure.
I didn't mind that. I think actors can do a bunch of things. For her, it was really ingrained into her brain. And she was just like, "I don't think
that that guy is Slim."
Said: "Get it. Just sit with him."
And she did. She said, "I will give him five minutes."
So she went, sat with him. That turned into five hours. She called me and said, "I hope you still like him because I want to offer him the part."
It was like, great. So then we had our Slim. And because he is so known, Melina and I were like, we have to break an actress. We -- that was one of
our demands on our list, not just final cut, but we want to break an actress and she has to be brown-skinned.
And Donna Langley and everybody at Universal didn't even blink an eye. They were like, OK, cool. And so the hunt began.
And Carmen Cuba, our phenomenal casting director, she was in the first batch of women that came to us. And me and Melina were like, are we crazy
to feel as if we have already found our girl? Carmen was like, no. She's like, usually, the best are in the first batch. She's like, it doesn't get
better as you go.
We're like, OK. So she came in and she read with Daniel. And it was magic instantly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "QUEEN & SLIM")
TURNER-SMITH: Where are you going?
KALUUYA: I'm going to find somebody with a phone, so I can call my family.
TURNER-SMITH: If you do that, then they will know where we are.
TURNER-SMITH: What if they kill us?
KALUUYA: Don't say that!
TURNER-SMITH: There's no guarantee they won't. You're a black man that killed a cop and then took his gun.
KALUUYA: I'm not a criminal.
TURNER-SMITH: You are now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Was there something in this process that, when you made this film and you were talking to the team, that you said, you know what, this has to
happen for this film to get made? And what was something that was a hard no, like, this can't happen?
WAITHE: I didn't want to take notes from white people. And they all agreed to that. They were like, understood, that we don't want to do that.
We have to had complete autonomy. We had to have final cut on the page. And Melina had to have final cut on what was on the screen.
STEWART: What was it -- what were you -- what was the issue with notes from white people?
WAITHE: Because it's not -- this is our story. It's our story. And it's told through my lens and my voice and my pen. And we deserve that.
"Casablanca," "Gone With the Wind," and "Wizard of Oz," and -- there have been movies done in the king's English for decades. We have a broken
English too. We have a language as well, and I think it's time for folks to come hear -- hear our voice and see the world through our lens purely.
STEWART: When did you make the movie? What year?
WAITHE: This year.
STEWART: So, this year.
WAITHE: That was the other part of it. I said, we have to shoot it and release it in the same year, because I knew that this was urgent.
I said, this won't sit.
STEWART: I was going to ask, because the way things move now, the way things move in the culture...
WAITHE: Oh, yes. Yes.
STEWART: ... the movie that you wanted to make, if you took over a period time, could be a different movie by that time.
I was like, we have to drop it, because, otherwise, it'll just be too late. I was like, we have to get it out there ASAP. And people are ready for it.
They're ready for it.
And I had no idea that so many more tragedies would have happened since I finished working on the script, since we finished filming it. I always say
it's publicity we don't want, because our whole mission is to show people how human we are, so that maybe they will stop killing us.
STEWART: The idea that white supremacy has become -- for some people, I think they thought, it's all gone away.
STEWART: Like, the idea that it is so bold and bald-faced now...
WAITHE: Now. Yes, there's no hiding.
STEWART: There's some value in that, because it lets people know that this never really went away.
WAITHE: Right. Right. Right.
STEWART: Right? Do you know what I mean?
WAITHE: No, absolutely.
I think that -- I think this presidency reminded us of the country that we live in. And I think it was so shocking to some -- even some white
liberals. We were like, what? What's going on?
And it's almost like, black people -- there's that funny "SNL" skit. The black people like are surprised at the returns.
STEWART: Right. Yes.
WAITHE: They're like, yes, this is America.
That's why I love Donald Glover's song. Like, this is America. Like, this is -- it's, like, lynchings, like, racism, Jim Crow. What's more American
And I think that people are definitely letting their true colors be seen now. But, again, it's just a reminder. It's a reminder that this is a
wound that hasn't healed, and we keep ignoring it.
STEWART: Lena Waithe, it's nice to meet you.
WAITHE: Thank you. So good to meet you.
AMANPOUR: An important conversation on what it means to be American and how you want to show up when you are black or a minority.
Remember, you can always listen to us online. And you can see us whenever at Amanpour.com.
For now, thanks so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.