Return to Transcripts main page
Interview With John Brennan, Former CIA Director; 13 Armed White Supremacists Charged with Domestic Terrorism; Governor Whitmer Blames Trump for Encouraging Extremist Groups; Interview With Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General; Energy Debate; Interview With Larry Wilmore. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 9, 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)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The fact that you have somebody in the White House whose behavior, whose actions are again, you know, suspect even
more so because of medication, I do think that's a national security issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: At a time of escalating global security risk, is there a real threat to America inside the White House? I speak with former CIA director,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This cannot stand and we have to call it out for what it is, it is domestic terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The plot against Michigan by armed white supremacists, the state attorney general brings us the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY WILMORE, HOST, "WILMORE": I've always thought the duty of the police is to serve and protect. But it seems like the duty of the unions is to
serve and protect the police more than people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A comic take on the most serious topics with satirist and late- night host again, Larry Wilmore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden will not band fracking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our Walter Isaacson drills down on fracking. A massive issue in the crucial State of Pennsylvania with the global energy expert, Daniel
And finally --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is unbelievable. Talk about the most exciting point in time in your life is a Nobel peace prize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: We celebrate well-earned recognition for the U.N.'s World Food Programme.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The fire hose of things that make you wonder continues today as Donald Trump pulls out all the stops to rescue his campaign with concerning and
often contradictory outburst. Again, today, he's called for his attorney general, William Barr, to indict his political nemesis including Barack
Obama and Joe Biden. He's called the FBI director disappointing for refusing to amplify his disinformation about mail-in voting, teased a rapid
return to campaign rally in violation of public health guidelines and still his situation is unknown, and he's also proposed a reality show where he
gets tested for COVID on Fox News.
Trump's key Senate ally, Mitch McConnell admits that he refused to visit the White House for months for fear of coronavirus infection. While the
house speaker, Nancy Pelosi, says the president is currently living in "an altered reality" and she wants Congress to examine the 25th Amendment and
whether the president is "mentally or physically" fit for office.
How has it come to this in the United States of America? Well, the former CIA director, John Brennan, says adversaries around the world have their
intelligence systems cranked up on high to gauge the disruption out of this White House, but he also says Trump himself is a home-grown threat. Over
nearly 30 years at CIA, Brennan has been at the heart of America's most important security events from the September 11th attacks to the Bin Laden
raid to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
His new book is called "Undaunted: My Fight Against America's Enemies at Home and Abroad."
John Brennan, welcome to the program.
You know, I don't like to ask you this question because some people might think it's just way off into the weird zone. But given the increasing
perhaps erratic behavior from inside the White House, given what the house speaker has said about the 25th Amendment, if you were the CIA official or
the top intelligence official for another government and they asked you to assess right now the president of the United States of America, what would
you tell your president?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, Christiane, I would say that Donald Trump has a natural proclivity even before he was felled by COVID
and is taking these medications, a national tendency to be rather impulsive as well as, you know, reaction -- reacting very quickly to events. And
these medications and the COVID, I think, may intensify these types of inclinations on his part.
So, I would be telling a foreign leader to be watchful for any type of erratic moves that Trump might make both domestically as well as
internationally, particularly on the eve of an election that by most polls indicate that he's going to go down in defeat. So, again, I would be
looking for things that Trump might try to do to advance his prospects but that also might provide opportunities for foreign actors to take advantage
of the disruption and preoccupation that Trump has right now on his health and the campaign.
AMANPOUR: Have you, in your experience, known of an acting sitting world leader who is ill with a disease called COVID in this case and who is on
medications? Now, we don't know the full extent because we're not getting the full report from the doctors. His own White House doctor says this and
that, but we don't know the full picture. What happens when the leader of a nation, particularly a superpower like the United States, is in this state?
BRENNAN: Well, I think it raises questions in the minds of our partners and allies as well as in the minds of our adversaries because clearly a
president of the United States has enormous power over the U.S. government, the U.S. military and the rest of the institutions of governance. And so,
if that person at the helm of our government or at the helm of any other government is not up to full capacity in terms of being able to react and
respond in a timely and appropriate fashion, it does raise questions about the judgment that is going to be exercised by something coming out of the
And so, I do think that the world right now is watching, you know, what's happening in the United States. I think everybody is hoping that Donald
Trump is going to have a full and speedy recovery. But, again, his tendency to do things on his own terms by himself, this may be aggravated by the
wide reports about the effects of steroids and other medications that he is taking.
AMANPOUR: You obviously worked for President Obama as CIA director. You were also his homeland security adviser at the White House before that. So,
you know, you have no love for President Trump as you've outlined for last four years. But you did brief him between his election and inauguration,
just a few months or in the months after the election. What did you -- how did you find him then compared to what you're seeing unfold now?
BRENNAN: Well, as you note, Christiane, in my memoir I talk about the one and only meeting and briefing I had for Donald Trump, which was in early
January of 2017, which was to tell Trump and his incoming senior national security team what we knew about Russian interference in the election. And
I had worked for six presidents during my career, three Democrats and three Republicans, and all of them impressed me with the seriousness with which
they approached their responsibilities and their intellectual curiosity to try to understand what the facts were about what they were facing.
Donald Trump didn't give me that impression at all. He seemed to be deflecting during that briefing and pointing fingers at China. It could
have been China, he said, several times. And so, I didn't have a sense that he wanted to understand what the Russians were doing and capable of doing,
and I didn't have any sense that he was going to try to stop them from repeating their interference in subsequent elections.
And ever since he's been inaugurated, I have -- my views about Donald Trump's incompetence, quite frankly, as well as his inability to assume the
office and the duties of the presidency have been reinforced. I think he has demonstrated time and again that he continues to pursue policies and
take actions that are going to help him personally and politically, and there are things that he is doing that, you know, I can have policy
differences with him and I wouldn't be speaking out as forcefully as I have.
The fact though that he relies so heavily on dishonesty, deceit and misrepresenting the facts and COVID pandemic is the most recent example of
his refusing to be clear and honest with the American people and with the world community. And so, I just think that he doesn't bring the necessary
integrity and honesty and seriousness to that position that I witnessed in all the other presidents from both parties that I served.
AMANPOUR: You wrote also in your book and we all remember actually that quite early on President Trump reacted to some of your criticism by trying
to yank your security clearance, which is unheard of for a former CIA director. It didn't actually happen even though he wanted it. But
nonetheless, and you mentioned your memoir, which we've already talked about, they refused, the current CIA refused to allow you access to your
own notes, apparently breaking precedent for former CIA directors in order for you to refresh your memory and write the full details in your memoir.
Do you think Gina Haspel, the current CIA director, is an independent analyst for intelligence for the president and for the United States?
BRENNAN: I have every confidence that Gina Haspel is telling it straight to the White House, to Donald Trump and to others. You know, she is a
professional intelligence officer with decades of experience. And I don't blame the CIA or Gina for denying me access to my classified records
because they received a directive from Donald Trump prohibiting the Intelligence Community and CIA from sharing anything classified with me.
All CIA directors retain their clearance for the benefit of the government so if the current CIA workforce or director has any questions about matters
overseas or my impressions of foreign leaders or my foreign counterparts on why we did certain things during my tenure, they could quickly and easily
talk to me at a classified level about this, but Donald Trump who tends to be a very vindictive and petty individual, when he realized he had no legal
basis to yank my clearances, he decided he would issue this personal directive prohibiting the agency from sharing classified information with
AMANPOUR: What would you have told him if you could about the leadership of Saudi Arabia? You have spent, you know, a long time there as an
official. You knew several of the rulers there, and, of course, President Trump has a unique relationship with the current crown prince known as MBS.
How do you analyze what's happening in Saudi Arabia and whether that relationship is good for America, particularly in light of the terrible
thing that happened to our friend, Jamal Khashoggi?
BRENNAN: Well, I think the U.S.-Saudi relationship is a very important one and needs to continue because of geostrategic U.S. national security
interests as well as energy issues. But what I would be telling Donald Trump, as I've told other presidents, is that as important as that
relationship is we have to hold the Saudis as well as others to account for any types of human rights atrocities or oppression of individual freedoms
that we continue to see exist in these authoritarian regimes.
And unfortunately, Donald Trump and Jared Kushner and the White House have given Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince, who is the de facto ruler,
given him a pass for that horrific murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. And I would be -- if I were in position right now, I would be
working with my Saudi counterparts to, again, hold them to account and make sure that that would never happen again. And, unfortunately, Mohammed
Salman, who has enacted some very positive reforms inside of Saudi Arabia is a quintessential authoritarian leader.
And he has killed, he has incarcerated, he has oppressed many Saudis including activists and women activists in the kingdom with widespread
reports of maltreatment, and this is something that, unfortunately, Donald Trump has turned a blind eye to because when he was asked, I think by
George Stephanopoulos, about why, he basically responded money. Donald Trump sees life and the world through a prism of dollar signs, and there's
a way to maintain a good solid relationship with Saudi Arabia but not, not ignore what I think are fundamental U.S. responsibilities to hold these
leaders and other countries to account.
AMANPOUR: In a word, do you think he believes what the CIA concluded that Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?
BRENNAN: I think he does. I think it is beyond question, and having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for over five years, I know that that murder
would not have been carried out unless it was authorized by the highest authority, and I do not believe King Salman would ever do anything like
that, but Crown Prince Mohammed Salman, he is the one who controls the intelligence and security services. And so, I believe that Donald Trump
recognizes that a lot of these authoritarian leaders do bad things but he's willing not just to tolerate and accept it, but also, through his words and
actions, he's encouraging them to continue along these paths.
AMANPOUR: Let's get back to the domestic issue, obviously, this huge attention around the election and some of President Trump's, I don't know,
behavior right now. So, he has been very angry with, you know, here to (INAUDIBLE), his ally, Bill Barr, the attorney general, and he's also
apparently angry with Mike Pompeo, two of his main administration allis right now, about -- in terms of Barr, you know, he's calling for the
indictment, as we said, of various enemies that he thinks he has, Barack Obama, Joe Biden. Let's just play a little bit of a soundbite and I want
you to react to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Unless Bill Barr indicts these people for crimes, the greatest political crime in the history of our country, then
we're going to get little satisfaction unless I win and we'll just have to go because I won't forgot it, but these people should be indicted. This was
the greatest political crime in the history of our country, and that includes Obama and it includes Biden. These are people that spied on my
campaign, and we have everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, I don't know what you make of that, but I also -- I would like to know what you make of that, but also what you think might
happen in the election, let's say it's contested, let's say it's close. Where do you think this is going to all end up? I don't mean who is going
to win it, but what happens if it goes against President Trump?
BRENNAN: First of all, I think what Donald Trump was saying reflects the extent of his desperation to try to use whatever tactic and to put whatever
pressure on government officials to advance the interest of his campaign. It is clear that he is operating just the way autocrats and dictators
around the world have, which is to exploit and control and manipulate the instruments of government, whether it be intelligence security services,
judicial systems, denigrating the media. I mean, this is so typical of Donald Trump and other autocrats.
I do think that this is a very unsettled time, not just between now and the U.S. election but also between now and the inauguration, the next 100 days,
because a president of the United States has enormous, enormous powers, and if they exercise them in a wantonly craven way, they can do great damage,
and could I see that Donald Trump is going to pull out all the stops between now and election day to try to secure or to steal an election
But I believe that, based on the polls and what I sense, that there's going to be a resounding defeat of Donald Trump come the November election. But
then what does he do as a lame duck? Is he going to do some things both on domestic and the international stage that will make it much more difficult
for Joe Biden to assume the office of the presidency? Who knows what Donald Trump is capable of. Even Donald Trump, I think, at this point doesn't know
what he's going to do but I think the track record has demonstrated that he will do whatever he can to advance his own personal interests as well as to
exact revenge on those that he considers his enemies.
AMANPOUR: Such as yourself?
BRENNAN: Yes. I have been included in some of his tweets and his comments. He points to me and my fellow intelligence and, you know, law enforcement
seniors, Jim Comey, Jim Clapper and others, that we should be called, you know, in front of a court and indicted. I am ready to talk to any
investigative effort as well as any member or committee of Congress and to explain exactly what we did as part of that investigation into Russian
interference in the 2016 election.
So, I'm hoping that people like a special prosecutor that has been appointed, John Durham, to look at the origins of that investigation will
maintain their professional integrity and to do what is right and not to bow to any intimidation tactics that either Donald Trump or William Barr
AMANPOUR: The president was railing against that today. John Brennan, former CIA director, author of "Undaunted," thank you very much indeed for
Now, as we learn from a whistle-blower inside the administration, the two security topics this president never wants to discuss are Russian political
interference, as you just heard, and the white supremacist threat. That threat became alarmingly real yesterday when 13 people were charged in an
alleged domestic terror plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer.
Michigan became a hotbed of right-wing extremism in the coronavirus lockdown after President Trump's infamous liberate Michigan tweet. Governor
Whitmer blames President Trump for encouraging the extremist groups. As Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel, was key in the state and
investigation into the kidnap plot, and she is joining us now.
Welcome to the program.
I just wonder, first and foremost, whether, you know, you've heard about -- you must have done the arrest by the FBI of another alleged white
supremacist, and this time in Maryland, on a firearms charge. What does that say to you in terms of the extent of this issue that you're facing in
DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, we've known for a long time that these groups are not just in the State of Michigan. This is not just a
Michigan problem. This is an American problem at this point. So, these groups operate, there's a large network of them who hold extreme ideologies
and operate across state lines, and, you know, the goal -- the ultimate goal, for instance, of the Boogaloo movement is really a civil war. It's to
overthrow the government and they thrive on the civil unrest that we're seeing right now as a result of the COVID epidemic, as a result of the
Black Lives Matter protests and really because of the chaos and anarchy that is inspired each and every day by the president of the United States.
AMANPOUR: So, the boogaloo reference is to the Maryland person who was arrested and, in your state, it's Wolverine Watchmen who have been --
members have been arrested and charged with domestic terrorism. Can you give me the latest on the investigation? How many of them? What were they -
- I mean, you say make a civil war, overthrow the government, what were they exactly planning to do? We hear that there was an IED in fact found
that, you know, one of them had. I mean, that's serious.
NESSEL: Well, there were a number of allegations in this case. Not just to kidnap, put on trial and then execute Governor Whitmer, but in addition to
that, you know, there was planning involved in terms of taking over the Michigan State Capitol building and possibly blowing it up or, you know,
committing mass murder inside the Capitol building while the legislature was in session. There was talk about executing a number of law enforcement
officials and actually an effort to locate where law enforcement officials lived to do that, and then also threats against other government officials.
So, I mean, there were a number of different considerations in process. The plot that seemed to take on the -- that was most aggressive, I will say,
and had the most planning and training involved did involve this plot involving Governor Whitmer. But, you know, these groups have been active
for a number of years, but I will say that in recent years, and when I say that, I mean, specifically since President Trump has taken office, you
know, we have seen an exponential growth in the number of groups and also in membership.
AMANPOUR: And do you think the whole -- you know, you remember in mid- lockdown when Governor Whitmer was trying to, you know, save people's lives and ordered the lockdown, President Trump tweeted liberate Michigan and
then we saw the famous, you know, sort of gathering of armed people at statehouse. Do you think that that has something, some timing in terms of
NESSEL: Oh, absolutely. I think that actually that incident where we know some of these defendants were actually at the event, and if you look at
photographs, for instance, of armed gunmen with, you know, assault weapons that are hovering over the State Senate as they are deliberating and voting
on matters, those are some of the defendants in this case, and we know that they used that event and other protests against the government and
specifically against the governor's orders as recruiting stations for their organization.
So, when you have a situation like that and, for instance, the president of the United States then saying to our governor that she ought to sit down
and negotiate with these individuals because they are "very fine people," of course, that encourages them, it insights them and it provides them with
a layer of legitimacy that they absolutely don't deserve and I think which is incredibly harmful.
AMANPOUR: Attorney General, I want to ask you about the overall government administration help that you might expect, for instance, from the Justice
Department, which oversees the FBI, et cetera. During the summer, the current attorney general was questioned in front of Congress. Here's a clip
about -- of what he said related to this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Are you aware that these protesters called for the governor to be lynched, shot and beheaded?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No.
JAYAPAL: Major protests in Michigan near the attorney general and you didn't know that the protesters called for the governor to be lynched, shot
JAYAPAL: So obviously you couldn't be concerned about that.
BARR: Well, there are a lot of protests around the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I wonder who you make of that in light of what you've uncovered but also a lot of protests. Is he equating violent white supremacists as
you've arrested with what? I mean, what do you make of that?
NESSEL: Well, it's very disappointing and here's why. You know, obviously the FBI were largely involved in this investigation. And by the way, I give
them great credit. Some incredibly brave individuals who have worked on these matters, you know, and, of course, the U.S. attorney's offices for
both the eastern and western district were also involved in this. And as you well know, those are overseen by the Department of Justice and their
boss is William Barr.
So, it's very hard for me to understand how these investigations could be ongoing into specifically threats to the governor of the State of Michigan
and yet, for our United States attorney general to swear under oath that he knew nothing about them. I mean, is it possible? I suppose so. I suppose
it's possible that he knew nothing about it, but it's hard for me to explain that statement and how it doesn't constitute perjury.
AMANPOUR: And very briefly, because we're running out of time. For the election, you know the president is calling for "poll watchers" on the
other side. Others are calling for people to come and reassure voters, the NAACP and others in various different states. Do you think now that you
know so much about these supremacists that have been arrested on alleged terrorism charges, are you concerned that they might, I don't know,
intervene in some way if there's a disputed election given all the chatter that's going around to denigrate the integrity of the election?
NESSEL: Well, we've been looking at that for weeks and weeks at this point, and we really have been gaming out every possible scenario that
would involve any kind of disruption of the election or to the integrity of the election, and that's one of them. So, we've been working with our law
enforcement partners, with the Michigan State Police and at the county sheriffs as well as the municipal police departments so that we can be
certain that there will be no disruptions at the polls or in the tabulations of the ballots, and we're actually working with all of the
social media platforms.
So, we are in constant contact with Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Google so that if they see anything at all on their platforms, they
immediately would alert us so that we could know and we could alert our partners in law enforcement so that there are no threats at the polls, no
type of voter suppression or intimidation of voters of any kind. So, we're prepared for that scenario.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right. Thank you for the update, Attorney General Nessel, thank you very much indeed.
And now, we're going to switch tone a little bit because if there's one thing we need to get through 2020, perhaps it's laughter, which is also a
very effective way to get under the skin of the high and mighty. Cue, the Emmy award winning producer and comedian, Larry Wilmore. The former "Daily
Show"correspondent is returning to late-night with "Wilmore," a new series on NBC streaming service, Peacock. And Larry Wilmore joins me now from
Welcome to the program, Larry Wilmore.
How are you? I was a guest on one of your programs in full disclosure that was in fact, as you know, as you obviously know, it was cancelled. It's not
LARRY WILMORE, HOST, "WILMORE": No, it was not.
AMANPOUR: What made you come back? What was -- I just had to do full disclosure there.
WILMORE: How dare the world even think that my show could have been cancelled because you were on it? You were fantastic.
AMANPOUR: Now, why are you back? Why are you back?
WILMORE: Well, it's interesting. I was having a conversation with Dan Shear, who leads Peacock, and I've been working with NBC Universal this
past year developing shows. You know, Christiane, it was in the wake of all the George Floyd that were going on and just all the energy that was in the
air. This summer is like no summer I've ever seen in a long time. And Dan approached me about possibly using the Peacock platform to maybe just try
to have a conversation with America, really kind of started that simple, and we started talking about it and thought, you know, maybe this is a good
time to come back and get in front of the camera and talk about some of these issues that are really have been kind of tough for us to talk about,
which, as you remember, I covered a lot on my show back then. So, you know, I like talking about (INAUDIBLE) which is fun. But I just think that they
are important, you know.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, and you styled yourself before even your first show when you were on "The Daily Show," you were known as the black
correspondent for "The Daily Show."
WILMORE: No, no, no. I was the senior black correspondent, Christiane. I have to correct you there.
WILMORE: Senior black correspondent.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I know. Those titles make a difference.
AMANPOUR: Listen, when your show was cancelled, sorry again to raise it.
AMANPOUR: "The Guardian" wrote that Larry Wilmore's show was a victim of our reluctance to discuss race. So, is that reluctance gone away in the
wake of George Floyd's tragic killing?
WILMORE: I think it's still difficult if we're going to be honest about it, and I think it always has been difficult because we're dealing with an
issue of an injury that has been put upon a people by the same people that lived here. So, of course, it's not going to be comfortable.
If we were talking about, you know, this -- you know, some people in Europe did this to black people in America it would be different, but you know
what it is, Christiane, it's like we're having that uncomfortable Thanksgiving conversation with our family about these issues. We're an
American family, and this issue, it affects all of us differently and different ways, we come at it from different stand points.
So, the difficulty is in being able to talk about it without feeling like we're being attacked or feeling like, you know, somebody is necessary to
blame right now. This is something we all have to get through, you know.
AMANPOUR: Well, one of those Thanksgiving discussions presumably is about police, obviously. I mean, it's a big --
AMANPOUR: -- front and center. And you address that with one of your guests in one of the recent episodes, which I saw and we've got a little
clip. So I want to play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILMORE: Why do you think America doesn't quite understand the relationship that we have with the police?
BOMANI JONES: The biggest issue is not really a matter that people can't understand it, it's that people are really trained to believe that empathy
towards black people is not what they are supposed to do.
WILMORE: And even within our community it's not always clear where people stand. In polling black, people often express disgust for police racism but
actually support for more police.
JONES: I don't think on the ground the majority of people want there to be no police. They would just like police not to get away with killing them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's the sports journalist, Bomani Jones.
AMANPOUR: But you're talking about that, you're talking about turnout and particularly black turnout in the election. You're talking about real
issues. I mean, how much -- I said it's about laughter and comedy, but how much of the comedy late-night are you doing?
WILMORE: Well, I'm not approaching it from that standpoint because I didn't want to compete in that atmosphere. So, we're not doing the show as
if we're showing you what happened during the week and we're reacting to it with jokes.
I though, let's do a different approach because, first of all, we're in a streaming platform and we're not sure how this type of show even works on a
streaming platform, how people are going to react to it. So, Christiane, I thought it would be important if I just present these issues and when we
get into a conversation, I'll find the humor from different angles and that kind of stuff as opposed to the president said this, and here's my joke,
you know. It's more like, well, let's talk about this and the humor will come out, you know, almost like I'm sitting in the barber shop talking with
my friends and that sort of thing.
AMANPOUR: So, you said, you know, discussing the election, you said, this time you're not deciding who will run America for the next four years.
You're deciding if America will even be here in the next four years.
And I was really interested in the episode in which you talked about -- or maybe it was with Bomani or somebody else -- about black voter turnout.
And, you know...
AMANPOUR: ... your guest was a little bit, well, hang on a second, they are saying we should turn out for the Democrats. When are the Democrats
going to turn out and show up for us?
AMANPOUR: And you know that in 2016 was the lowest black turnout. So what do you think? Will there be turnout? Are black leaders, like cultural
leaders who you have on, urging that?
WILMORE: It really is a tough issue, and that was the conversation that I had with Charlamagne tha God, who has been talking about these issues.
Here's the thing, Christiane. I believe that -- I call them cynical elections, when somebody is running against something. They're very -- I
believe they are very hard to win.
The Democratic Party right now is kind of running against Trump, and I think, if you're going to win, you can't just run against something. You
also have to run for something.
And I -- and it felt like, when Biden surged ahead when all the black people in South Carolina came out, that seemed to me to be an against-Trump
movement, as opposed to Biden was really connecting. There's nothing wrong with that. It could win, but it makes me very concerned, like, if that's a
winning strategy, because I know for a fact that a lot of the people who voted for Trump, they weren't just voting against Hillary.
They were voting for something. They felt that Trump was speaking to them. Whether I agree with it or disagree with it, it's an observation that I
So, I kind of look at things from that standpoint. What are people voting for? Because think about this, Christiane. It's a pandemic year. That's no
joke. Over 200,000 people have died. I'm scared. People are frightened.
I'm very concerned about the safety of the voting process. If you're going to go out and stand in line for hours during a pandemic, are you voting for
something or are you voting against something? And what's going to animate you to stay out there and stick with it, you know?
Like, that, to me, is one of those underlying issues that we haven't really talked about a lot. Christiane, it's not about, is this guy going to
convince me or is this guy going to convince me? No, it's like, what team is going to convince their people to get out and really show up? And that,
to me, is going to be the deciding factor.
AMANPOUR: Well, I want to end this interview with a bit of a speech that you made -- well, the speech that you made, a clip from that, at the White
House Correspondents Dinner...
AMANPOUR: ... when President Obama was in office.
AMANPOUR: No, because you were really emotional about it, and it takes you back all these years...
AMANPOUR: ... perhaps to see what might -- what was possible. I'm going to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILMORE: A black man was thought, by his mere color, not good enough to lead a football team.
And now to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WILMORE: ... words alone do me no justice.
So, Mr. President, I'm going to keep it 100. Yo, Barry, you did it, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
WILMORE: You did it.
Thank you very much! Good night!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, bleeped, but the president was very, very excited about it.
AMANPOUR: Do you still have hope? Do you -- can you remember that feeling? Do you think it will come back?
WILMORE: I do.
And thank you so much for playing the first part of that, because a lot of people heard the last part of it. I actually got very emotional when I was
writing that. It makes me emotional to think about that, because I'm the same age as the president.
WILMORE: And I remember, we have lived in that time.
It meant so much to be able to witness that in real time, the fact that that happened for us.
I do think that I am a positive person. I try to be. I do have hope for that type of feeling in our country. It's very tough in a year like 2020
to, as Obama said, keep hope alive. But that energy still exists here.
Let's -- I want to keep rooting for it to come up. I'll criticize, too, but I'm always rooting for that type of spirit and American energy to rise up.
So, fingers crossed.
AMANPOUR: Right. Good. Good. Use that late-night speech as space to do that.
Larry Wilmore, great to talk to you again.
WILMORE: Thank you so much, always.
AMANPOUR: Now, the upcoming election will also decide how America responds to the climate crisis.
The issues of fracking, emissions and energy demand preoccupy our national guest.
He's Daniel Yergin. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning author and energy expert. And he served as an adviser in the last four administrations. His latest
book, "The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations," looks at just how it shape America's position in the world.
And here he is talking to our Walter Isaacson about all of this and the most promising new solutions out there.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Dan Yergin, welcome to the show.
DANIEL YERGIN, AUTHOR, "THE NEW MAP": Thank you. Glad to be with you.
ISAACSON: Before we get to the politics of the moment, explain to me what the shale oil revolution is all about and how it's impacted our country.
YERGIN: Walter, you are a student of entrepreneurs and stubborn people who make things happen. And the shale revolution is congruent with that
There was one person in particular who was just convinced for 18 years that you could do this, and people thought it was a crazy, said, you're wasting
your money, said, it's my money. It was a public company. But he controlled it, and finally had a breakthrough in the period -- 1998 to 2003 is when it
happened, and it really built together two technologies, because petroleum textbooks had said that this was possible, that you couldn't get oil and
gas out of this very dense rock called shale.
It turns out you can. And then, with the other technology, which depends on advanced computer capabilities, basically, you can drill horizontally two
miles under the Earth. Those two things are the two technologies that brought shale together and turned this area of Texas and New Mexico into --
called the Permian into the great rival of the largest oil field in Saudi Arabia.
ISAACSON: You wrote a wonderful book call "The Prize," which talked about America's dependence on oil.
Suddenly, things changed with the shale oil revolution. How has that created what you call the new map of energy?
YERGIN: It's turned things around 180 degrees, where the U.S. used to really worry about energy dependence, importing 60 percent of its oil,
today, the United States is the world's largest producer of oil. And that's changed economics. It's changed psychology.
And it's had a big impact on international relations as well.
ISAACSON: You talk about LNG, meaning liquefied natural gas.
Does that help the United States export its newfound shale gas?
YERGIN: Well, certainly, this is -- our trade balance would be hundreds of billions of dollars higher -- our imbalance, rather, negative balance, were
it not for the shift away from being an importer, and, indeed, to becoming an exporter.
And you can see, in Asia, even with the tensions with China right now, China is a significant importer of energy from the United States. It's part
of the trade deal that was negotiated at the end of last year.
ISAACSON: What do you think a Biden energy policy would be for this new map?
YERGIN: I think the Biden energy policy will first and foremost be, as in his $2 trillion climate plan, focused on climate, on moving towards lower
carbon, a whole host of different measures.
At the same time, I think we heard him say, I will not ban fracking. In fact, he said, I repeat, I will not ban fracking. And I think it's a
recognition this is a big industry that, before COVID, employed over 12 million people in the United States. And it's a big -- it's a big economic
And he's a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recognizing that it also has global political impact.
ISAACSON: And what would a Trump second administration energy policy look like to you? And how would it check out geopolitically?
YERGIN: Well, I think it would be pretty much like the first Trump administration energy policy, which is focused on the continued development
And in "The New Map," I point out that Donald Trump has become the world's leading, number one LNG salesman, as he's gone around the world telling
other leaders that they should buy natural gas from the United States, not from other people, including not from Russia.
ISAACSON: In your book, you describe all the innovations that led to unconventional extraction of natural gas and then oil, known as fracking.
Is it really dangerous, the way people say?
YERGIN: Walter, if it was really dangerous, we wouldn't be -- produced 13 million barrels a day of oil in this United States in February of this
I was on the commission, worked with the Obama administration when they reviewed the environmental questions around shale. Shale is an industrial
activity. The production of it, it needs to be regulated properly. And it appears, every day, that it's -- it is indeed regulated and we're producing
So I think that there's an emotion around it. But, in fact, the reality of it is, it's an industrial activity that continues and works. If it was a
big environmental problem, you would hear a lot more about it, other than just that it's a big environmental problem. You would see, hear specifics.
There aren't very many.
ISAACSON: Joe Biden has said that he would continue the practice of fracking. Is that a good idea? Is fracking a good thing?
YERGIN: Well, I think that it's become a very emotional term. And I think a lot of the emotion that was around it is still there, and you hear it in
the campaign, is not very connected to the actual activity, but, rather, it's become more of a bumper sticker.
If you -- quote -- "ban fracking," if you really severely restricted it, it would really be an import-more-oil policy, because that would be the
consequence, because there are 280 million cars in the United States that run on -- most of them run on gasoline, almost all of them.
ISAACSON: But the concerns about water contamination, methane that make people oppose fracking, what are your thoughts on that?
YERGIN: I think the water contamination issue has been pretty much dealt with. And over the last 10 years, we have had very few instances of that.
I think methane is a big question. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas. And I think there is a drive, and I will -- I think there will be an
intensified drive to control methane emissions. And I would put that as a real priority.
ISAACSON: But could fracking and nuclear help solve the climate crisis?
YERGIN: I think fracking deals with a here and now, the 280 million cars in the United States. You need natural gas, actually, now to balance out
wind and solar, when they're not operating.
Nuclear could be -- a new generation of nuclear could be a very significant advance in terms of zero carbon production. And that's why I think you see
so much activity around it.
ISAACSON: The Green New Deal that's been proposed by some in the Democratic Party is something that Joe Biden has said is not doable and
he's not fully in favor of now.
Do you think the Green New Deal is a feasible plan?
YERGIN: Well, no, I think that, if you look at our economy today, 80 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels, under 4 percent comes from
I think, directionally, we're going to move towards a lower and lower carbon future. But it takes a big time. We have a big, complex economy, and
you can't change -- you can't change it overnight. There are jobs. There's just the way society operates.
But I think, directionally, we're going there, but I agree with Joe Biden that trying to achieve these goals by 2030 is highly impractical. And the
resources aren't there.
And one of the things, Walter, that people don't even look at is, if you want to build wind and solar and make all these changes, what kind of new
supply chains do you need? Seventy percent of solar panels come from China itself. And another 10 percent come from Chinese companies and other and
So, you don't turn a ship as large as our economy or the global economy in 10 years.
ISAACSON: What is the most promising new energy technology then?
YERGIN: I think the thing that's -- one thing that's critical in the future are batteries, and battery costs are coming down, because, if you
can store wind and solar, which are called intermittent, because they depend upon the wind blowing, the sun shining, if you can store it, then
that would certainly accelerate the role of renewables.
I think a second thing that's part of it is what's called carbon capture, which means capturing basically the carbon that is produced in using oil
and gas and coal, but particularly oil and gas, and capturing it, changing it into -- sequestering it in some way.
I think those are kind of the top -- among the top technologies. I think another one that's out there that's getting a lot of attention right now
is, can we use hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas in heating and electric generation?
Wind and solar, as businesses, Walter, are 50 years old, the modern wind and solar industry. It was only 10 years ago that we started to see them
really become mature. And I talked -- we talked about shale revolution. There's also a solar revolution. Solar costs have come down a lot.
So, innovation -- I mean, you are focused on innovation technology. You know that it doesn't happen quickly, and it often takes different things
coming together to give a result.
ISAACSON: How has Russian President Vladimir Putin used energy, and especially energy pipelines, to assert his own geopolitical desires?
YERGIN: Certainly, Russia's restoration as a great power, which has been one of Putin's great ambitions, is very much tied in with the fact that
it's an energy superpower.
He once said: I don't regard -- I don't want to use the word superpower, because it sounds too much like a cold war. But now, of course, we see
signs of new cold wars.
And I think that he has gained influence and power from it. Sometimes, it can be overstated. I mean, first, it's very important to him in terms of
revenues. But it can be overstated, because people worry about, is Europe using Russian gas? It uses a fair amount of Russian gas. But Europe also
has a lot of other choices, gas from other countries, LNG again, liquefied natural gas, imported from Qatar, Australia or the United States.
So, Europe has a lot more flexibility. But where energy really shows up is in this growing alliance and alignment between Russia and China. And once
upon a time, the relationship between Russia, the Soviet Union, and China was based upon Marx and Lenin.
To a significant degree today, it's based upon oil and gas.
ISAACSON: And Russia and China have created a pipeline that will tie them together even more closely, right?
YERGIN: Yes, it was just around the same time that the United States put sanctions on this Russian pipeline that would run under the Baltic Sea from
Russia to Germany called Nord Stream II.
Within weeks of that, Putin and Xi Jinping had this very complex ceremony in which they pulled the switch, gave the command, as they said, to start
the flow of Russian gas from Russia to China. And the pipeline has a name that sends a big message. It's called Power of Siberia.
ISAACSON: In your book, you have a wonderful scene where Russian President Putin is yelling at you about American shale, oil and fracking, because he
feels it's going to undermine his foreign policy. Describe that to us.
YERGIN: This -- I was at a conference. And Putin and Chancellor Merkel were together on the platform.
And I had the opportunity to ask the first question. I meant to ask him a question about, what are you going to do to diversify your economy, so
you're not so dependent on oil and gas? By accident, I mentioned that word shale. And that's when he started shouting at me in front of about 3,000
And he shouted at me, because he saw shale, U.S. shale, doing two things, one, taking market share away from Russia and Russian gas. And we have seen
that with U.S. shale going to Europe. And, secondly, I think the Russians - - and we saw this again last -- earlier this year -- the Russians do see U.S. -- the U.S. new energy position, shale, as basically an adjunct to
U.S. foreign policy, giving us the flexibility, the U.S. a flexibility it didn't have before.
Whether you backed Obama's -- President Obama's approach to Iran, President Trump's, or what might be President Biden's, it doesn't work without our
shale oil, because the Iranians said, we don't have to negotiate with you about nuclear weapons -- nuclear -- their nuclear system, their weapons and
capabilities, because you can't live without our oil.
It turned out the world canned about their oil. And part of that is because American oil replaces Iranian oil in the global market.
ISAACSON: So, are you saying that we have to keep extracting shale oil and doing fracking in order to contain both Russia and Iran?
YERGIN: Well, I think it is -- I think it is part of the portfolio of what the United States, the U.S. position in the world, to deal with other
And to use that word again, it gives us flexibility. I have also seen that it gives us a new dimension of influence. I have seen it in terms of India,
where the export of U.S. oil and the export of liquefied natural gas to India has become a very big deal in the U.S.-Indian relationship, and a
very positive in what has been previously a complex and more difficult relationship.
It's not the only element that ties the countries together. But it's something that I have personally seen with Prime Minister Modi about the
importance of this.
And I think, sometimes, in this country, we don't realize how much other countries look at the position of the United States and wish they had
ISAACSON: How will this new energy revolution affect the power balances in the Middle East and our relationship to the Middle East?
YERGIN: I think we already see how this shift in energy is changing power balances.
On the one hand, it's given the United States this opportunity to pursue, under Obama, and differently under Trump, a policy of seeking to contain
Iran's nuclear program.
It's certainly reduced our dependence on the global oil system. And I think it's also figured into the thinking of some of the key countries in that
region on the Arab side of the Persian Gulf, in terms of, well, the U.S., maybe just be, beyond Iran, not that interested in this region in the
And I think you can also see the impact of this in terms of this historic breakthrough agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with
Israel. There are many factors that went into it. One is the thought that the United States may not maintain that, its long-term interest in the
region, and that it would be, from a security point of view, those countries should look for other partners into terms of security and
And so I think that's one consequence too of this shale revolution.
ISAACSON: Your grand first book was about the origins of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Do you see the same things happening or some of the same things happening with a new cold war with China?
YERGIN: Walter, when I finished that "Shattered Peace," that first book, I never really thought I'd be writing another book about origins of the cold
-- new cold wars.
The last two years, as I finished "The New Map," I really started to feel that we're certainly headed in that direction. The Soviet-American Cold
War, a lot of it was about -- focused on nuclear weapons.
With China, it's much more complex, because we're -- and the Soviet Union was not a major factor in the global economy. We're really quite connected,
interdependent with China, as they are with us. And China is deeply embedded, of course, in the global economy.
So, it's a different kind of competition. Right now, I would say the term that get used is strategic competitors, great power rivalry. But, as -- in
just what we have seen in the last few months, that this relationship has gotten more and more difficult, more and more challenged.
And I think we could find ourselves in a different kind, a 21st century cold war. And I think how to deal with the situation and manage it is going
to be a very tough job, maybe the single most important foreign policy issue facing the United States in the years ahead.
ISAACSON: Dan Yergin, thank you so much for being with us.
YERGIN: Thank you, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, combating hunger.
This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner is the United Nations' World Food Program.
Today's announcement delighted the agency head, David Beasley, who's the former governor of South Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID BEASLEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: It is because of the WFP family. They're out there in the most difficult, complex places in
the world, whether it's war, conflict, climate extremes. It doesn't matter. They're out there. And they deserve this award.
And wow, wow, wow, wow. I can't believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The WFP has been even more desperately needed during these long months of lockdown. At the height of it, Beasley told us that he was helping another
30 million people around the world, on top of the 95 million people who need food in a normal year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEASLEY: Thank you for helping us get the message out, because the World Food Program, we're providing equipment, medical supplies all around the
world. We're not just food. We're delivering medical supplies all throughout Africa, millions of test kits, millions of professional and
personal protection equipment, millions of masks.
We are the supply chain for the humanitarian and the medical system WHO, UNICEF, around the world. And our teams are putting themselves, lives on
the line. And these supply chains are critical over the next few months, because millions could die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In addition to this deserving Nobel Peace laureate, four women picked up Nobel Prize for chemistry, physics and literature this past week,
which is important, because only 56 women have won a Nobel Prize since 1901, compared to nearly 900 men.
Come on, Nobel Committee.
That's it for now. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.