Return to Transcripts main page
2020 Republican National Convention; Trump Challenges Validity of Mail-In Ballots; Trump Announces Potential Treatment Called Convalescent Plasma Therapy; Interview With Dr. Paul Offit, Professor of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Alexei Navalny's Test Shows That He Was Poisoned; Protests in Wisconsin After Jacob Blake's Death; Interview With Fmr. State Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D-HI); Interview With Author Afua Hirsch. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 24, 2020 - 14: 00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This convention will come to order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Republicans enter stage right. As their convention gets underway, we ask, what is President Trump's second term agenda?
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Africa, one of the fastest growing regions in the world
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An African renaissance following the footsteps of British journalist, Afua Hirsch, as she rediscovers the continent though culture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. STATE REP. BETH FUKUMOTO (D-HI): Your family members ask you later, how could you have supported that? And that regret is not a fun thing to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The Hawaiian Republican who turned on her party. Beth Fukumoto tells our Michel Martin her regrets and her red lines.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It is the Republicans' turn this week to make their case to the American voters. Kicking off their slimmed-down convention in Charlotte, North
Carolina. In a twist, President Trump is speaking every night of the week. As he accepted his party's nomination, the president once again challenged
the validity of the upcoming election and mail-in ballots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They're going to mail out 80 million ballots. It's impossible. They have no idea. Who is mailing them? Mostly
Democrat states and Democrat governors. Well, supposing they don't mail them to Republican neighborhoods? That means they're not going to get them,
so they're going to complain and the election is going to be over, then they're going to complain and they'll say, oh, well, we didn't get it, no
big deal. In the meantime, you might lose the election. This is the greatest scam in the history of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Of course, we're going to dig into that with our first guest tonight because there actually is no evidence of widescale fraud when it
comes to mail ballots. But also, interestingly, the Republican National Committee has decided not to draft a party platform this election cycle,
and instead, to "enthusiastically support the president's America First agenda."
So, what can the U.S. expect from four more years of Trump? I'm joined now by Scott Jennings in Louisville, Kentucky. He's a former special assistant
to President George W. Bush and a Republican strategist.
Welcome back to the program, Scott Jennings.
Let's take the first things first. Yet again the president, at his own convention in front of presumably his own voters, is casting aspersions on
what might be the main way to cast your ballot this election cycle. Why would he keep doing that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, he has a healthy skepticism of what some Democrats say they want to do, which is have universal mail-in
balloting which is actually different than absentee balloting, which is how a lot of people are going to wind up casting their ballots, and in fact,
how he and members of his family have cast their ballots.
I think where the lines get blurred here is that Republicans culturally have been sort of an election day party. There's states out West where
that's not true, but by and large, it's been an election day party day, they like to vote on election day. They haven't embraced early voting. They
haven't embraced mail-in voting the way Democrats have. And there are also views on the Republican side that some Democrats want to go to a huge mail-
in system where everyone gets a ballot whether you request it or not.
So, there's -- I think there's a lot of different strains of this topic that get conflated with each other. My advice to the president would be,
look, a lot of states that don't normally do this are going to wind up doing it more than usual, and you need every vote you can get. So, don't
talk your own people out of voting however they can.
AMANPOUR: You know what, I was just going to ask you that and you just answered the question. It does seem counterintuitive for his own voters,
much less the others. So, can I just ask you another thing, because this is something others are worried about. Do you think, based on what he says,
that if he loses and is not re-elected or if there is a gap between election night and however long it takes to finally tally the whole result,
are you concerned that he would not leave office, that he would not leave the White House?
JENNINGS: No, I'm not concerned about that one bit. I think we'll have an orderly transition of power just the way we always have in the United
States, and I think people who are asserting this have been asserting a lot of things about him for the duration of his presidency, and I just -- I
find this to be highly unlikely and implausible.
I am worried, though, you do raise the specter of us not knowing on election night who the president is. I think that's incredibly likely
because if you do have a lot of mail-in ballots, and it takes some time to count these things, we may have a lag period. Of course, we had one back in
2000, my first election back in the Bush v. Gore election. So, I do think we could have a lag. But no, I think we'll have a president and everything
will proceed as normal.
AMANPOUR: OK, well, that's good. And to be fair, you know, it's him himself, it's not anybody else. He's the one who has kind of not answered
the question when he's asked directly. So, let's move on.
Are you surprised and what does it mean that the Republican National Committee has decided not to have an actual platform? Let me just read
something from a Republican. She used to work for Senator Cruz. Now, of course, she's opposed to Trump. But she said, serious question. Should we
even call this a Republican Convention if there is no GOP platform? Isn't that the entire point of a convention, to come together on a policy agenda
to unify the party? What are we even doing here?
What are they doing there if there is no platform, and have you ever seen this before?
JENNINGS: I haven't, and I actually disagree with the Republican National Committee's decision not to do a platform. Even though I know platforms
sort of seem old-fashioned, it does give you a unifying set of things to say, you know, progressively, here's what -- you know, forward looking,
here's what we're for, here's why you should be part of our party.
Now, the Republicans did sort of say they endorsed the Trump agenda and the Trump campaign people put out yesterday sort of his second term agenda,
here are the things I want to accomplish. So, they're not devoid of having a policy discussion based on what the Trump campaign wants. But I do think
parties should put out platforms. I think people should pro-actively be actively be able to look and see broadly where a party starts. I don't
think they have to be super detailed, but I think a statement of principles and values would be useful.
So, I disagree with this decision. I know they're saying it's because of COVID and the trunk aided nature of the convention is why they had to do
it, but I don't personally think it would have been that hard to pull together a good set of conservative principles and values around which all
Republicans could unify. So, will it make a difference in the outcome of the election? Probably not, but I don't like to see parties get weakened, I
like stronger parties, and I think when you don't write a platform, it weakens your party.
AMANPOUR: Let's just play what President Trump said to his own favorite chronicler. I mean, this is at Fox News, which are his people. So, it's
nobody else, it's Fox News. When he was asked by Sean Hannity about his priorities for a second term. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: What are your top priority items for a second term?
TRUMP: Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than
experience, I've always said that. But the word experience is a very important word, it's a very important meaning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, people were not particularly impressed by that, as you probably will remember. I mean, they thought that was a bit of a hedge, a
dodge, it wasn't saying what your actual priorities are. So, I want to ask you, as the president goes into this, you know, few days, as they're making
their case to the country, what do you think is the single strongest -- or what do you expect him to say?
JENNINGS: I expect him to focus on two main issues, public safety and the economy and all under the umbrella of making America normal again, getting
America back to normal. It was in the document they released yesterday about his second term priorities. I think they sense finally that that's
all anybody in the United States wants to do, is get their life back to normal. And if that means going to work, taking your kids to school,
enjoying the things that you normally enjoy, that's what folks are wanting. They're wanting to know that their government is pulling all the levers
that it can pull to get life back to normal following the coronavirus. So, I think that's what I would expect him to talk about.
That clip you played, by the way, was a few weeks ago. It was one of the most painful clips of the Trump re-election campaign, and it didn't happen
once, it actually happened twice. There was another interview in which he gave a very similar convoluted answer. This week, he cannot do it a third
time. He has to unequivocally state why I am running and what the next four years will look like.
The good news is the American people, I think, actually, I think, still trust him more than Biden on the issue of the economy, which is still a
huge issue. And public safety now, according to some surveys, are creeping up the list, and I think he could have an advantage there. Those are the
two things I look for this week.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm really glad that you validated me playing that clip, because it was a shock to a lot of people, and you've just confirmed that.
JENNINGS: Yes. It was not good.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you Joe Biden. Of course, when you look at the polls, actually more people think that, you know, his strongest suit is the
economy and stronger than what they say Biden is. But, anyway, I want to talk about promises and experience. He talks about experience.
So, he pledged in 2016 to grow the economy by 4 percent a year. You remember that, right? The economy grew, in fact, an average of 2.5 percent
a year, the longest and biggest was 3 percent, but then, of course, it fell in 2019. And now, because of COVID it's in a recession. The deficit as
well. The deficit is larger in each of Trump's first three years than it was in 2016, according to the census bureau. Companies like Apple, he said,
will start, you know, coming back to the U.S. to make their products, but in reality, they actually continue to do that stuff in China. So, what is
he going to run on? I mean, the things that he promised didn't actually come through.
JENNINGS: Well, first of all, I think that there is an old piece of political wisdom that he should apply, and that's to under promise and
overdeliver instead of overpromise and under underdeliver. And I think, you know, it's -- you know, he was an inexperienced candidate and they did
that. And so, what happen happened.
I do think that most people believe the economy, before coronavirus, was humming along just fine. And remember, in the United States, wages were up.
We had the lowest unemployment rate in history for African-Americans and Hispanics. We had more job openings in the United States than people
actually looking for work. I mean, the economy was red hot, nobody disputes that. And so, I think that's why he still retains an edge on that issue.
So, I think, ultimately, he's going to be running on something very simple which is, I did it once and I'll do it again, versus Joe Biden who's going
to end up raising your taxes and going back to the old way of slow growth under the Obama years, which was the slowest economic recovery since World
War II. So, I expect that's the contrast they're going to try to draw. And look, he's got a foundation for it. People think he's still better than
Biden on the economy even after all that's happened during the coronavirus.
AMANPOUR: Yes. To be fair, the Obama administration came in after a massive crash and put it back on track and got almost full employment back,
which stuck until coronavirus. I want to ask you this because you are really into numbers and polls and what actually the data says. Headline on
"538" today, no sitting president was as far behind as Trump going into a national convention. Does that worry you and -- yes, does that worry you?
JENNINGS: Yes, of course. I mean, anybody sitting in the position he's in, Donald Trump, I mean, today, should be worried. Now, it is true, he could
lose the popular vote in this election by more than he lost it last time. Maybe he could lose it by, some analysts think, up to 500 million votes and
still win the electoral college. But there is no doubt he's losing, and he's losing because, I think, frankly, the gender gap. You know, he does OK
with men, he does really well with white men, but among all women, which the last time I check, makes up more than half the country, he is down, you
know, in the high 50s to the upper 30s. I mean, as he call it 60-40 among women. That is really hard to imagine winning an election if you're losing
So, it strikes me that one of the things they have to work on relentlessly is not just messaging on issues but messaging in a way that would recover
some of the women that went with him in '16, that moved away from the Republicans in 2018, he needs to bring them home. I don't -- I'm not under
any illusion, he's going to get him all back. But if he got back a few of them, you know, some percentage of the folks that have migrated away, it
would certainly make for a closer race.
So, yes, he's in a tough spot. I wouldn't count him out yet because of the public safety issues and some strong cultural undercurrents that are going
on in the country right now. It's hard, I think, for pollsters to measure exactly how people were feeling about that. But, yes, he is down with a
path forward but certainly down and I would be worried if I were running the campaign.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting. And we'll obviously all be glued to the convention. Scott Jennings, thank you very much, indeed.
Now, one of President Trump's top campaign promises, as we've been talking, is tackling coronavirus. It's something everybody wants, of course. On
Sunday, the president announced some emergency authorizations of a potential treatment called convalescent plasma therapy. And I'm joined now
by Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Welcome back to the program, Dr. Offit.
You heard the president on Sunday, last night, what the president was saying about that, and he says it again in his appearance in North
Carolina. Just tell me what you think about the idea of this convalescent plasma therapy, and, you know, the emergency use authorization of it.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, certainly we've been using convalescent plasma since
diphtheria antitoxin the late 1800. So, there's plenty of experience with convalescent plasma. And it makes sense actually that if you have very high
tighters (ph) of neutralizing antibodies in plasma and you give it early enough an infection when the virus replication is still an important part
of the disease process that it could, is some extent, work.
Now, it's not going to be a wonder drug but I think it could be another sort of part armamentarium along with others remdesivir, dexamethasone and
others. The problem is, is that the studies that have been soi far haven't shown that. You know, it's hard to do those studies and control for those
studies. You want to make sure when you do those studies that the only variable is receipt of convalescent plasma so that those two groups are all
alike in all other aspects in terms of how sick they are, in terms of whether they received other drugs, so you can isolate the effect of that
variable, and it just hasn't been done.
So, I think what happened then, within the past week, is people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins from NIH said the data aren't there.
And so, we think that the FDA should not approve this through EUA, and that's where things stood until last night, when Donald Trump stood up and
said, this is a breakthrough product and we're going to do it.
And so, when Stephen Heim (ph) got up there and then said he's going to give FDA approval, you wonder whether there were data we haven't seen. What
there a new study that showed that, in fact, it did work, and there wasn't. So, really, what's happened, I think, is just the FDA, it appears, have
gotten bullied into doing something that at least initially they didn't want to do.
AMANPOUR: Let me just play this little bit of what he said, not last night but today, as he made an appearance at the convention, the slimmed-down
sort of convention in North Carolina. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yesterday, convalescent plasma, you saw remdesivir, you'll soon see vaccines pouring out years ahead of what they would have been under a more
traditional -- let's use that term because it's nicer -- a more traditional administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, look, he's talking about, you know, pumping this out years ahead of a more traditional administration. But what does that mean? I
mean, he's saying he's giving it all, he wants it out there whether it's a vaccine or convalescent plasma. You've talked about the substance of it,
but what about the fast tracking of it?
OFFIT: Well, to be honest with you, I think the typical time it takes to make a vaccine is 15 to 20 years, but vaccines usually aren't made like
this one in the midst of the pandemic where more than a hundred companies are trying to make it and billions and billions of dollars are poured into
trying to make it. So, we only had the virus, you know, within the past year, and I think it is likely that by the beginning of next year we will
have a vaccine, because basically we've taken the risk out of it for pharmaceutical companies. We said, we'll pay for phase 3 trials, meaning
the big prospect of placebo-controlled trials, we'll pay for manufacturing even though we don't know whether it's going to work or safe. That's all
fine, as long as you finish the phase 3 trials.
As long as you do the trials that were recommended by the National Institutes of Health, which are roughly 30,000-person trials of, let's say,
20,000 people get a vaccine, 10,000 get placebo. Let those trials go to completion so you can have an adequate safety profile and have
statistically robust efficacy data so you can say this works and is safe. What I worry about is inherent in what he says in that clip, is that he may
not care as to whether or not we get to the end of that trial because it's unlikely those trials will be finished by November 3rd, election day, and
that he would sort of reach his hand into warp speed, pull out a couple of vaccines and say, we're going to approve this in much the way that had
happened with hydroxychloroquine and frankly happened yesterday with plasma, expect here the stakes are much bigger.
Because the vaccines that are initially coming out have no commercial experience. Meaning, they've never -- those strategies have never been used
to make vaccines before and people are already a little skittish about these vaccines. And I think if you put them out before they're ready to be
put out, then I think that you'll make people even have less confidence in the vaccines.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and probably confidence is a really important thing, obviously, because you're going to want and need people to have a vaccine
when one is out. You mentioned, you know, hydroxychloroquine. That was taken off, wasn't it, afterwards? The FDA just took that off after it was
shown to not actually work despite the hype.
Can I ask you, because you've probably been reading the reports in the papers? The White House is now denying what the FT has been reporting, and
that -- we're talking about a vaccine that may be fast tracked under this emergency authorization before the election. Do you know anything about
that, and I mean, are you picking up any sense of that? As I say, one of the officials at the White House is denying that that would happen.
OFFIT: Well, I hope it doesn't happen, but certainly one isn't comforted by the tweet that Donald Trump put out a couple days ago when he sounded
like he was trying to force the FDA into putting out a vaccine before it had been adequately tested. Basically, he made the FDA a villain by saying,
you know, the FDA is standing in the way of getting adequate numbers of peoples for these trials and we need to push it along and move it along
faster. I hope the Financial Times article is wrong, but I do worry about some of the things that Donald Trump says that it might not be wrong.
AMANPOUR: Well, of course, you know, everybody is quite desperate to have something, obviously. But I want to ask you also about what's being learned
more and more about the virus. The news today that the first confirmed case of somebody being reinfected, I think the first time was in March or April,
and the second time in August. On the one hand, reinfected, so what does that mean about antibodies? On the other hand, experts are saying it's
actually good news because his case of reinfection -- and this is in Hong Kong -- is much less severe than his first case. Soi, tell me how you
analyze that fact.
OFFIT: Right, that was good news. I mean, he was infected and had -- initially in March and had sort of high fever and chills and headaches and
muscle pains, and then he got better, completely better. Then five months later, he had another infection which was asymptomatic. He had no symptoms.
That's great. That's what you want from a vaccine, that's what you want to hear from a natural infection.
I mean, you know, I was involved in the creation of one vaccine, the rotavirus vaccine, but the best news we had was when we saw the natural
infection could at least reduce the incense (ph) of moderate to severe disease associated with reinfection. I think it's too high of a bar to
expect that you wouldn't have, say, asymptomatic reinfection or even mild symptoms with reinfection. But what you want to do, either with natural
infection or with the vaccination, is keep people out of the hospital and keep them from dying. And so, that was very good news, actually, that case.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder whether you're seeing that, you know, around. I mean, you know, I kind of want to know what keeps you up at night, because
everybody is so concerned about, you know, these spikes, these waves in various different parts, obviously, of the United States, which has still
got the worst number of cases and more spikes. But are they less serious cases?
OFFIT: Well, I'll tell you what keeps me up at night. What keeps me up at night is I think that we need to get control of this pandemic so we can get
our lives back. I think there are two ways to getting control of it and both of them are going to be needing to operate for a while. One is
hygienic measures. You know, testing, contact tracing, wear masks, social distance, wash hands. We haven't been great of that in the United States.
We have 4 percent of the world's population in 20 percent of the world's deaths. We haven't been good at that.
The second thing is a vaccine. We need a safe and effective vaccine or vaccines, and I think we can do that. I think the administration should be
applauded actually for moving as quickly as we move, but don't curtail phase 3 trials. Don't short-circuit them. We need to prove that this
vaccine or these vaccines are safe and that they work before we put them out there.
And if we shake confidence, then we have really messed up a really important arm we have in trying to get this virus under control, and I
certainly hope the administration doesn't do that, but I think they could. I think they have the potential to do that, which would be disastrous.
AMANPOUR: And as you say, the biggest effort now is in trying to educate the public of just how to behave as this continues, and also how to take a
vaccine should one soon be approved.
Dr. Offit, thank you so much, indeed.
And we turn now to a developing story about Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, who fell critically ill on a flight back to Moscow
last week. Doctors at the Berlin Hospital, where he was airlifted, says their test indicate that yes, indeed, he was poisoned, contradicting
earlier findings of the Russian doctors who said Navalny's illness was a result of "a metabolic disorder." The substance used to poison Navalny has
not been identified yet.
The German government agrees with its doctors, saying it is fairly likely that Navalny was poisoned and the German government says that he will,
therefore, need special protection as he continues his treatment in their country. Navalny is still in an artificial coma, but his doctors say there
is "currently no acute danger to his life."
Now, we turn to the issue of racism and the global uprising against this injustice, which obviously is also playing into the American election. This
weekend, protests erupted in Wisconsin after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot multiple times in the back by police. My next guest is no stranger to
the toxic and lethal legacy of racism. Afua Hirsh is a prominent British writer, a frequent commentator. And in her book "British," she laid out
consequences of Britain denying its imperial past.
And her latest BBC series is called "African Renaissance" and she's turning her gaze to that continent, its art, its history and its liberation
culture. Here's a clip from the trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AFUA HIRSCH, WRITER, JOURNALIST AND BROADCASTER: I'm looking at how three very different countries, Ethiopia, Senegal and Kenya emerged from the
shadow of the empire in the 20th century and are thriving in the 21st.
These African countries are reasserting their identity, gaining new recognition for their role as cultural powerhouses. I'm interested in how
that's happened and how the struggles for liberation in the past have helped shape today's African renaissance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, back in London, Afua Hirsch joins me now.
Welcome back to the program, Afua.
You, obviously, I assume, couldn't have known about the post-George Floyd, the Black Lives Movement as you were making that. And you look very, very
carefully at three countries, I think it's Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal. I wonder what your conclusion is. Because one of your focal points is, what
if Africa had not been colonized? What would it look like? What would it be like today?
HIRSCH: I think the reason that this feels so prescient, Christiane, and you're right, I couldn't have known the exact content when I started
working on it two years ago, is that there are -- on the African continent, a whole generation, actually, generations of intellectuals, artists and
creatives who were addressing the problems that we're facing today. They were addressing the question of what it meant for black people around the
world if the African continent wasn't thriving. And they tried to create a sense of unity and a road map and a plan for black people everywhere to
have control of their own destiny, which related to Africa.
And I really wanted to revisit these African countries and find out what they had to tell us, because I think so often, we don't connect with the
liberation struggles against colonialism of the early 20th century and there's so much resonance with today. Ethiopia in particular is a country I
looked at last week, and you can view all of these on iPair (ph) online, as a country that never had European colonization in the same way as the rest
of the African continent. And as a result, there is a cultural confidence in having their own particular type of religion, their own alphabet, even
their own system of time and date that has never been influenced by Western Eurocentric norms.
And I think that there is so much that we as black people in the diaspora, as everyone who cares about racial justice, can take from the ideas and the
innovation that has happened on the African continent. And I really wanted to show that in all of its richness and glory.
AMANPOUR: Well, Ethiopia is the first one, and it's really interesting, because you start, practically, in London where you grew up, Wimbledon
outside of the capital, and you as a child, as a young person there, noticed that there were statues and busts, or at least one, of the Haile
Selassie. And tell me what it was doing there and how that, you know, sort of motivated your interest.
HIRSCH: Well, it's a really fascinating story, that when Haile Selassie was deposed from his reign in Ethiopia by an Italian invasion, he sought
refuge with an Italian count who had this stately home in Wimbledon where I grew up. And the only thing that remains of that history now is this bust,
which actually sadly has been destroyed since I made this program by vandals. And that's a whole other story. But growing up for me in a place
that was very white and regarded as essentially English, here was just a little clue to the fact that the histories of African countries and the
history of Britain are so intertwined. And I think the way history has been rewritten by colonial powers has tended to downgrade stories of Africa as
if they are a kind of niche issue over there, when, in actual fact, they are foundational to our understanding of culture, race, all the issues in
our society that we're constantly questioning.
Half of their origins in the African continent and the same is true of the U.S. And I think until we start to engage in that history and that culture
in its true form, we're really missing a dimension in our own analysis of what's happening in contemporary societies right now.
AMANPOUR: And I'm sure everyone who is into music knows that Haile Selassie for an extraordinary reason that he could never figure out was
considered sort of, you know, the black god for Rastafarian, for, you know, Bob Marley, for all that generation of musicians.
But I do want to ask you this, because, you know, when the world looks at Africa, let's say Ethiopia, in the last 20 to 30 years, it's been famine,
it's been, you know, disaster. And yet, you go back to the battle in 1896, the Battle of Adwa, when the Italians were actually trying to gain a
foothold and have an empire in Africa as well. And the Ethiopians beat them back. How significant was that beyond just that battle and that victory?
HIRSCH: It was a huge moment, I think, in the global black consciousness that existed then. It certainly informed the contemporary identity of many
Ethiopians who tell me that that is really at the center of their pride.
And I think many of us -- and I include myself -- who have grown up with Western education have been told that African societies were primitive and
never stood a chance against the might of European civilization.
And in actual fact, there are so many examples of genius and brave resistance that was actually successful in many instances. And I think that
this isn't to create a propaganda, kind of Wakanda version of history, in which black people always win, but it's really to educate people into
understanding that the narrative we have is a specifically colonial project that was meant to show white superiority.
And until you start engaging with these histories that tell a very different version of the story, whether that's the Battle of Ashanti the
British or Adwa against the Italians, many Africans on the African continent, they have a very different sense of their own history and
And I think many of us in the diaspora can gain a lot of strength and inspiration from that.
AMANPOUR: Afua, it might not be Wakanda, but you also have a really important story about Christianity in Ethiopia, because they were an
ancient form of Christianity, I think in the fourth century already.
And what was it like when Victorian era missionaries came and try to tell them about Christianity?
HIRSCH: I mean, it's profoundly surreal to go and see these incredible third, fourth world century churches in the mountains in Ethiopia.
And on the walls, there are these murals of black Jesus, black Mary. They're not trying to make a political statement. It was just very obvious
to fourth century Ethiopian that Jesus and Mary and all of the disciples were black, because that's how they depicted them.
And the idea that this place that was a religious center on a par with Jerusalem, Constantinople, one of the great religious capitals of the world
in human history, had to tolerate all of these European missionaries, in the era of empire building, come and trying to civilize them into
And this was a time when Europe was still in the Dark Ages. So I think that many people don't realize that countries like Ethiopia have practiced these
global religions way before anyone in Europe knew about them, and that it's one of many things that they had, literature, art, that was incredibly
sophisticated, long before that kind of sophistication existed in many parts of Europe.
So I think that, again, the colonial gaze has just made us quite blind to the truth and, actually, the nuance and the fascinating stories that exist
in these histories.
And it's always a challenge to tell them because I think I'm not -- also not trying to just negate the colonial gaze. I'm not interested in it. I
think I want to hear Africans speaking for themselves about their own identities and their own creativity. And that's what I really hope will
come across in this series, that you can also hear that, see that for yourself.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and you do. In Kenya and in Senegal, the other two countries you profile, there's a lot of focus on music and on how the music
of Africa, frankly, has been so important not just there, but in the rest of the world.
In Senegal -- we're going to play a little clip. You talk to a griot, which is a traditional musician. And they have this history of storytelling. And
he talks to you about what that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A griot is a messenger. We are historian, and we keep story and we tell story.
So many people forgot their past, where they come from. And the griot always have this with them. The griot is here to tell you who you are.
HIRSCH: How did you become a griot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I become a griot because my dad is a griot. So that's how you become griot.
HIRSCH: How did your dad become a griot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He become a griot because his dad is a griot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's so cute because it really does show sort of the adherence to this generational culture, talent and special place in society.
And I just wondered how you heard from people in all the three countries about what music, culture, art means in terms of not just creativity and
the arts, but in terms of liberation, in terms of, you know, culture and politics as well.
HIRSCH: Well, in Senegal, which is the country whose episode is on air today, and you heard there from Diablo Sisoko (ph), who's a wonderful griot
I think the main thing that I took -- and I learned so much making this -- is that I think we often try and perceive this kind of dichotomy between
tradition and modernity in African countries and these very ancient cultures and civilization, as if there's a conflict between the two.
And, actually, he's a great example of how this generation of African artists are constantly reinterpreting tradition, and that's how tradition
and culture on the African continent always worked.
It's always evolved. It's always adapted. It's always been reinterpreted. It's always been innovative. And that really is informing understandings of
identity, versions of blackness that have huge power across the world.
And, again, I think that tapping into that is something really profound that we can all learn from, just how these ancient inheritances kind of
inform our every day and bring so much richness and wisdom and innovation to the way we live, whether it's music, politics, or culture, because
there's no divergence between the two.
In a country like Senegal, art is not an elite pursuit for people who have money to go to the theater or gallery. It's something that people consume
and inhale, along with their everyday life. And I find that really inspiring.
AMANPOUR: So, back to us in the West, you know, trying to deal with this, you know, injustice in the post-George Floyd era, you were featured and you
have written in the U.K. September issue of "Vogue."
It's all about activism, this issue, and you were one of the faces of hope. You wrote for the magazine, and you said: "We had our sweltering summer of
legitimate discontent. The autumn starts now."
We mentioned the latest shooting in the United States, this gentleman in Wisconsin shot in the back. You're such an activist. And you keep your
finger on the pulse here. Has there been anything major, concrete to have come out of all these hundreds of thousands of people who've been marching
for justice, the pledges that have been made?
What are you looking at? What are you looking for?
HIRSCH: I'm very clear that I'm looking for something that is able to sustain the energy and activism that I think we have all passionately
participated in into some kind of lasting institutional, structural change, because that's what hasn't happened.
We're building on the gains. It was Martin Luther King I quoted in that piece from the "Vogue" article you just read then. We're standing on the
movements and the activism of generations past. But we need to be able to translate that into something that has meaningful structural consequences.
I know there are lots of conversations in the U.S. and the U.K., other European countries around what that will look like. But I think that, as
long as people follow because on that, and are not willing to tolerate protests and marches and activism, as if it's a moment, as long as we can
keep demanding change and refusing to tolerate the status quo, then I think that we will start to find a way.
But, Christiane, I think there's this hunger for a movement to be organized with the figureheads and to have a name and kind of a registration.
HIRSCH: And if you look at the history of black liberation -- and this pertains to the African continent as much as to the U.S. -- there has never
been a leader who has been allowed to live who offered a genuinely revolutionary version of the future.
Every time you have a movement that's organized around an identifiable person, that person has been assassinated. You look at Kwame Nkrumah, you
look at Patrice Lumumba, you look at Martin Luther King, you look at Malcolm X, so many others, so many, that I think, actually, the fragmented
nature of this moment is a powerful thing.
And so while it may be frustrating that you can't point to that one person, I think that there's strength in the ways in which it has become filtered
into an organic grassroots movement.
So, as long as we can keep the energy and the strategizing going, then I think change has to come.
AMANPOUR: Afua Hirsch, thank you so much.
And as we said, with the Republican Convention in the spotlight this week, we now turn to a former member of the party who simply had had enough.
Beth Fukumoto served in the Hawaii House of Representatives for three terms. But the party forced her resignation after she publicly denounced
President Trump's policies and his rhetoric. She is now openly acknowledging what she calls her political failings and is now a Democrat.
Here she is talking with our Michel Martin about the racism she endured and what led to her resignation.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Beth Fukumoto, thank you so much for talking with us.
FMR. STATE REP. BETH FUKUMOTO (D-HI): Of course. Thank you.
MARTIN: You served three terms in the Hawaii House of Representatives. You rose to minority leader. You were one of the youngest people ever in a
leadership position like that. So, you were clearly on the rise there before all the events took place that we're now going to talk about.
But I was just wondering if you wouldn't mind taking us back to why you were attracted to the Republican Party to begin with.
well, I think, for context, I was -- it was 2008 when I was graduating from my master's program, and went back to Hawaii because of the recession, and
found a job working in the legislature. And I found a job working with the Republicans in the legislature.
And I think what I saw -- my state had been Democratically controlled since 1954. And so most of the policies that were in place were all Democratic
policies, or at least they have had the ability to implement their policies since 1954.
And I felt like, as somebody who was watching my community really suffer from the recession, and just economically, nobody was being able to build
wealth, people were having trouble having a place to live, it -- our cost of living was just skyrocketing.
And I didn't feel like the legislation was taking that seriously enough. And as somebody that was newly out of graduate school, and didn't have much
of a political background, the natural conclusion for me was that it must be that those principles didn't work.
So perhaps we should try Republican principles, and specifically things like being more careful with money, being cautious with government
spending, not overtaxing people. All of that really appealed to me at the time, from the world view that I had.
MARTIN: Well, in fact, you were one of the standard-bearers, as I recall.
MARTIN: I mean, that was this initiative that was announced by the then chairman of the Republican National Committee, a multimillion-dollar
initiative to kind of recruit, train and support diverse candidates across the country, particularly at the state and local level, as I recall.
And weren't you one of the people who were selected to kind of roll that out?
FUKUMOTO: Yes, I think one of the first events that I did -- it was, I think, the first event I did at the RNC was this announcement that we were
going to be putting money into state level races, specifically to get women and other candidates, specifically people of color to have backing, so that
they could run for office, so they can achieve -- we could achieve a better balance and more diversity amongst even our candidates.
MARTIN: So, what happened for you. When did you start to feel disaffected? When did you start to feel, well, maybe this isn't what I thought it was?
FUKUMOTO: There were multiple things going on, right?
You definitely -- I knew that a lot of -- at least some portion of the party was only doing this because they wanted to be able to win. And I
thought that, as long as that coincided with what I actually wanted, which was more diversity on our tickets, then it was fine. We could work
together. We could move forward.
I think what -- that was something I thought was going to be OK with me and, over time, realized that it wasn't going to be. Part of it was that I
was in this position where I should have been able to set policy. I should have been able to set the vision. And I was to a certain extent in Hawaii.
But what I noticed fairly quickly, especially as Donald Trump and -- I guess as Donald Trump started to pick up speed, what I realized very
quickly is, I was only valued in the party, and my diverse face, if you will, was only valuable as long as that's all it was.
And if I had different opinions, if I wanted to voice something else, then quickly people didn't want me on the stage anymore.
MARTIN: Well, give an example of that. How did that become clear to you?
FUKUMOTO: So, I think the example would be when I started talking about Donald -- specifically, Donald Trump in December of 2015 was the first
interview that I did, saying that I thought that the comments that he made about Japanese-American internment were appalling and didn't have any place
in the Republican Party.
That, to me, should have been a perfectly good message, given that we were trying to make this new party. That's what we said we were trying to do.
So, when I realized that -- first of all, when Donald Trump started talking about the Muslim registry, I started to get very concerned, started to talk
to other Republicans who were much less concerned, and many of them said, this is not something that's ever going to happen, he's just using it as
rhetoric, and brushed it off.
And then when I tried to talk to RNC and say, this is impacting the message we're putting out, it's the exact opposite of all the things you told me to
say, let me talk about it, they basically said, we don't want to talk about this, because it's not in the news cycle.
And so, for me, I started speaking out then, and then quickly, within a few months, there was a complaint against me. A few months later, I said the
same things again at the state convention, and was booed for 15 minutes. But I just really thought we needed to talk about this, because it was so
different than what we said we were doing, that we needed to at least acknowledge what had gone wrong.
MARTIN: You were actually removed from your leadership position.
FUKUMOTO: That's right.
MARTIN: Is that you -- that's right after you appeared at the Women's March...
MARTIN: ... which followed the inauguration of President Trump. And you spoke at that event, and then what happened after that?
And so, at this event, I -- what I said was that I thought that you people watched -- that kids specifically watched a bully win the White House and
that we needed to show those kids that love and kindness and respect still matter, and that that's going to win in the end.
Those remarks were not welcome in the Republican Party. And I realized very, very quickly that, now that he was the president, that they were
going to act fast.
And so, within 24 hours, people were again calling for my resignation. My caucus had sort of brought me in and said, we will keep you as leader if
you promise not to speak ill of the president anymore for the remainder of his term, which I think, for me, that was sort of the final, final thing
that made me realize this is not something I could continue to be a part of.
MARTIN: You finally resigned. I mean, you resigned your seat or you just resigned from that leadership position?
FUKUMOTO: To clarify, I did not resign from the leadership position. I resigned from the party.
What I did -- the leadership position, in that meeting, what I had said to them, they asked me to resign because they didn't want it to be sort of a
media spectacle. And what I had said to them is, if they wanted to do this, they were going to have to do it in public, and they are going to have to
take it out on the floor, because I just feel like people need to be braver.
And if they wanted to make that decision, I didn't want to let them hide it. And so that -- they took me out on the floor. They removed me as
leader, and I resigned from the party. I had done so just before that, knowing what was coming.
MARTIN: You posted your resignation letter. And you said that -- let me just read a little bit of it.
You said that: "Since becoming a member eight years ago, I have suggested our local party should reflect our uniquely diverse community. I believed
that, if I was committed to this cause, I could help attract more people to the party. But a little more than a year ago, my fellow caucus members told
me, we are the party of Middle America. I don't care if the demographics don't fit. And he declared that Republicans are the national majority. It's
our responsibility to represent Middle American values here in Hawaii," to sort of your point.
And you said that: "It was in that moment I was finally able to identify the colonial mind-set I had unknowingly run up against for years."
And no -- which is remarkable, because as you point out, no ethnic group in Hawaii is a majority. I mean, Hawaii is the kind of model for what America
FUKUMOTO: I think that Hawaii absolutely as a model for the way the country -- the direction the country is going, when people feel like
they're getting boxed into a corner.
They're used to being the majority -- or at least used to having more power, and they're starting to see it erode. Then what sometimes comes back
at you is -- the vitriol that comes back is intense. And it intensifies the harder -- the harder they feel their lives get.
And I think what -- in Hawaii, what had happened is, for so long, there's a specific group of people -- within the Hawaii Republican Party, for so
long, there had been a specific group of people that saw themselves getting -- saw their power getting smaller and smaller, and Donald Trump gave them
the hope that they were going to have power again.
MARTIN: You said, in part, that you joined the Republican Party in part because of policies. You felt that the policies that the Democratic Party
was espousing there were ill-suited to the needs of the state.
What you're telling me is, it suggests that it really wasn't about policy at all. It's about identity. Do you think that's true?
FUKUMOTO: I think it's always been about something else.
I think one of the things, just anecdotally, from Hawaii is, I put out a lot of bills, and our caucus packages were definitely more progressive than
most Republican caucus packages would be anywhere else in the country.
But my members signed on. Those same members that supported Trump, they still signed on. And that does say to me that it's not about policy, in the
same way that we have seen Trump say that he's going to do certain things and then -- like build the wall, and then not do it, and nobody holds him
accountable, because that's not really what it was about, right?
What it is about is feeling like suddenly your identity is being recognized and put back in the place that you believe that it should be.
I think the minute people saw a window to do things differently -- so, the party was trying to be more diverse. The national party was saying, we have
to change the way we appeal to communities of color specifically, how we appeal to young people, how we appeal to women. And that was a path that
people were willing to go down if it was the only way.
And the minute Donald Trump said, no, there's this other way, people immediately went there.
And I don't remember policy being that much of a conversation point ever, really.
MARTIN: You wrote a piece for "The Washington Post" earlier this month. It was titled "I was a Republican, and I drew my red line too late. I will
answer for my choices for years to come."
What are you saying in this piece, and who are you hoping to reach with this piece?
FUKUMOTO: Yes, I think what I am saying is, I went along with the party even when I was having doubts, right?
I still played the game of, how do you stay elected and how do you how do you give the party just enough so that they will let me keep doing this
thing that I'm doing? And, to an extent, that's a game that everybody plays.
But things like I mentioned in the op-ed, I mentioned voting rights, and that I didn't fully understand that, when people were talking about voter
I.D., it wasn't hard to get an I.D. in Hawaii, so I didn't understand what that was being used to do to people in Georgia.
But I should have asked more questions. And things like that are things that I'm always going to regret. And what I know now is that you do regret
those things, those votes. And the people that I'm talking to are the people who voted for Trump the first time who are still considering doing
it again, but can look at him and say, I know that he is in not the person that's supposed to carry America forward.
I know that he doesn't represent my values. And I know I believe something different. But part of me feels like I should vote for him anyway, because
I'm a Republican and I should go along with my party.
And what I wanted those people to know is that you regret that someday. Your kids ask you that. Your family members asked you later, how could you
have supported that? And that regret is not a fun thing to live with.
MARTIN: One of the things you wrote about in your -- in your piece for "The Post" is that, when you started criticizing Donald Trump on the basis
of values, as well as policy, and tone, people kept saying things to you like -- you kept getting letters saying, like, go back to Japan.
MARTIN: And your family has been in Hawaii for, what, four generations?
FUKUMOTO: Four generations, yes, as long as my Irish family, really.
MARTIN: As well as your Irish family, yes, because you're a family of -- like most Americans, have a combined heritage.
Well, what do you think that's about?
FUKUMOTO: I think the xenophobia.
One of the things that I say often, when I went abroad, and the first time I went specifically to London, was the first time I ever felt fully
American. I have been in -- I guess, yes, I'm very much American.
But we always have those qualifiers, right? And so when I went abroad and felt people treat me as a real American was the first time I recognized
that is not how I was treated within my party or the world.
And many people have this experience. Many people have this experience in America way worse than I did. But I think switching parties and having just
that national profile for a while really showed me -- made me a target for people that genuinely don't want me here, genuinely don't want people of
They believe that to be American is to be white. And, yes, I -- the extent and the prevalence of that, and their willingness to say it out loud, and
the calls that they would make to me, and all of it just was shocking to me, yes.
MARTIN: Was there any part of you that thought that you should stay within the Republican Party to see whether you could effect change from within?
FUKUMOTO: Yes, that's part of -- part of why I stayed as long as I did.
There was a point at which -- long before Donald Trump, there was a point at which I knew that this was a 50/50 battle, that there was a chance that
the elements that would later elect Trump would take us over.
And I thought that I was sort of standing there helping to hold the line, and I was to a certain extent. And I did stay past that moment. And I
remember, as a couple of my other friends left, I remember saying to them, it's not time yet, it's not over yet.
So, once I left, it really -- there was a sense of loss. And it was sad, because I was leaving because I felt like it was over, and I had done
everything that I could to try to change it.
MARTIN: I do want to ask about something else you said in your piece.
You said that: "There are only so many ways to say I was wrong. I have exhausted them all."
Why do you think it's so important to say that you were wrong and that you're sorry? Why do you think that matters? I mean, the fact is, people do
change their minds. But you seem to feel very strongly that you feel a need to publicly account. And I just wondered why.
FUKUMOTO: Yes, I think that there can be no -- this country needs reconciliation. This country needs to be brought back together, and that
you can't do that without acknowledging that you're wrong.
It's the first step to any change. And, for me, when I see Republicans come out and suddenly change the way they're talking about diversity or suddenly
say that they're disagreeing with Trump on one particular issue, I immediately don't trust it often, because there's been no acknowledgement
And so, for me, it just feels like another way to win. It's just changing the message to win. And I think that's incredibly important for the people
who have been wronged to see us, even people like me say, I'm sorry, I know what I did. And I'm going to try to fix it.
I don't think you can move forward about it.
MARTIN: Beth Fukumoto, thank you so much for talking with us.
FUKUMOTO: Of course. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And that's it for now.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.