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The Russia investigation and the Comey firing; Kushner's sister sells US citizenship; Is Venezuela on the brink of collapse?; Discussion with Bruce Feiler

Aired May 14, 2017 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I am Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.

We'll begin today's show with the extraordinary events in Washington this week. The director of the FBI, the man in charge of getting to the bottom of Russian collusion in the American election fired. Is this a new Watergate?

We'll bring you the latest news and the best analysis on this unraveling tale.




ZAKARIA: Also, Jared Kushner's sister was in Beijing last weekend, selling a path to American citizenship for wealthy Chinese. The real scandal is it's perfectly legal.

Meanwhile, once the richest country in Latin America, Venezuela is on the brink of collapse or civil war. How did this happen? We'll tell you.

But first, here's my take. As regular viewers know, I have tried to evaluate Donald Trump's presidency fairly. I praised him when he has appointed competent people to high office, and he has, and expressed support for his policies when they seem serious and sensible, even though this has drawn criticism from some quarters.

But there has always been another aspect of this presidency, lurking beneath the surface, sometimes erupting into full view as it did this week.

Donald Trump, in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions, poses a danger to American democracy. What makes the American system of government distinctive is not how democratic it is, but rather the opposite.

American democracy has a series of checks intended to prevent the accumulation and abuse of power by any one person or group. But there is one gaping hole in this system, the president.

During his famous interviews with David Frost in 1977, Richard Nixon made a statement regarding Watergate that has been mockingly quoted ever since.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


ZAKARIA: In fact, Nixon was a smart lawyer and a close student of the American Constitution. He was basically right. The president, in effect, sits above the law. The Justice Department, after all, works for him.

And as Trump told "The New York Times" regarding separating himself from his business empire, the law is totally on my side, meaning the president can't have a conflict of interest. Most lawyers say Trump is right. The rules don't really apply to the president.

There is just one real check on the present, impeachment. And it is political, not legal. Since Trump's own party controls both chambers of Congress, there has been little resistance to him there.

So far, it appears that the Republican Party is losing any resemblance to a traditional Western political party, instead simply turning into something more commonly found in the developing world, a platform to support the ego appetites and interests of one man and his family.

There are other less potent checks on the power of the president. Some are structural, others simply a matter of morality or precedent. Trump has sought to destroy almost every one of these, both before the election and now in the White House.

This week, he summarily dismissed FBI Director James Comey reportedly over his investigation of Russian collusion in the American election. If true, the firing would be a shattering blow.

The non-partisan agencies of the executive branch are jewels of the modern American system. They were not always impartial and they are certainly not perfect, but in recent decades they have acquired a well-deserved reputation.

When I traveled from Eastern Europe to China to Latin America, democratic reformers tell me that they look to these agencies as models when trying to strengthen the rule of law in their own countries.

There are only two forces left that can place some constraints on Donald Trump - the courts and the media. And he has relentlessly attacked both. Every time a court has ruled against one of his executive orders, the president has ridiculed the decision or demean the judges involved. That leaves the media. Trump has gone at them, at us, like no president before - smearing news organizations, attacking individual journalists, and threatening to strip legal protections guaranteed to a free press.

We will survive, but we must recognize the stakes. The media must cover the administration's policies fairly, but it also must never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system, that they are aberrations and they cannot become the new norms.

[10:05:17] That way, after Trump, the country will not start the next presidency with tattered standards and sunken expectations. Our task is quite simply to keep alive the spirit of American democracy.

For more, go to and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

Let's get right to it with today's terrific panel. Joining us from D.C. are Michael Hayden, who was the director of both the NSA and the CIA. He is now a principal at The Chertoff Group.

James Woolsey, who is also a past director of the CIA, he had been an advisor to the Trump campaign and the transition team, but he quit before the inauguration.

Here with me in New York, Cristina Rodriguez is a professor at Yale Law School and specializes in constitutional law.

And Timothy Naftali is a CNN presidential historian. He is a past director of the Richard Nixon Library.

Mike Hayden, let me start with you. You said, on seeing the events of this week, that it reminded you of Nicaragua or it made you think that America was turning into Nicaragua. What did you mean?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: By that, Fareed, I meant that the president was going beyond those normal restraints that you referred to. He was within his technical legal authority to fire Jim Comey, but the motivation was questionable.

I don't mean that the motivation was in question. We know why he did it. It was the Russian investigation, but that motivation is very questionable. And then, he did it in the most thuggish manner. He used the power of his office to publicly humiliate Jim Comey, a public servant. I think a lot of people in the American government, Fareed, senior leadership in what I call the permanent government is going to school on that sequence of events.

ZAKARIA: Mike, let me ask you about that because you were the head of two agencies that have often been non-partisan, particularly the NSA, and you were not yourself a political appointee to that. And so, in many ways, you are like Jim Comey. You are one of these guys who came up through the career bureaucracy. What I was even more troubled by was the way Trump seems to have

invited Comey to dinner and essentially had a conversation, in which he was looking for a pledge of personal loyalty in return for some kind of quid pro quo, looking for assurances that he was personally not being investigated.

Did that strike you as very unusual?

HAYDEN: It's incredibly unusual, Fareed. First of all, it transgresses those political protocols that you referred to in your opening. But, frankly, it's not good for the president.

The head of FBI, the head of CIA, they're in those jobs not to be loyal to the president, but to serve him, to tell him the truth. And when the president requires this loyalty oath, it makes it harder for them to go into the Oval and tell him what - we in the intelligence community refer to as - the unpleasant fact.

Now, look, it's always hard to go in there and tell a president something that cuts across his narrative, his politics or his policy. It's always a bit of a heavy lift. But President Trump, because of the events of this past week, has made that incredibly more difficult.

It's not that Mike Pompeo or Dan Coats won't have courage and go in there and tell them the truth. They will. But, Fareed, even in normal circumstances, the body of evidence that you would require to go in there to tell the president something incredibly unpleasant was always pretty high. The stack needed to be like this.

Now, I'm afraid we've made the requirement for that stack to be like that. And the bottom line for that is the president isn't going to get the kind of warning that he needs to be successful and to develop wise policy.

This has incredible costs in many dimensions.

ZAKARIA: Jim Woolsey, do you think this is as consequential as Michael Hayden is describing it?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it's a very important series of events. I do think that the FBI had gotten off into giving press conferences with some frequency, in that he headed not the federal bureau of public information, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And I'm not used to seeing - either in my CIA job or otherwise, seeing FBI directors giving lots of press conference.

[10:10:13] So, this is strange situation and he felt it was necessary for him to do that, given the circumstances he was in each time, but it I think was a slippery slope.

As far as loyalty is concerned, as senior government officials, our loyalty ought to be to the constitution and we're not in medieval England. People aren't trying to stage coups and so forth or Nicaragua.

So, I think a perfectly appropriate answer to the question, are you loyal to me is certainly as long as you are within the operating room that you are given by the constitution, Mr. President.

But I find this whole thing, this whole week to be really troubling for sort of inchoate ways and inchoate reasons. I think it's going to be very hard to find a good FBI director, who is willing to operate under the circumstances that we've seen this week.

ZAKARIA: Cristina, we know that what the president did was illegal. What I'm wondering is, is what Jeff Sessions did legal? Sessions explicitly, essentially as a condition of accepting the Attorney General slot, told Congress that he would recuse himself from anything related to Russia.

Clearly, the Jim Comey firing by the president's own telling was related to Russia. Can he be in some way - is he in violation of the law.

CRISTINA RODRIGUEZ, PROFESSOR, YALE LAW SCHOOL: So, I think if he were to have made his judgment about recommending the hiring of Comey, motivated by wanting to obstruct the Russia investigation, in clear violation of his recusal, that would be an ethics violation and potentially a violation of Department of Justice rules.

And the remedy for that would be removal from office. That, of course, would require a Congress willing to impeach him or a president willing to fire him. Neither of those things seems to be the case.

But the question is what exactly did Jeff Sessions know about the rationale for firing Jim Comey? And so, it's imperative that we understand the scope of those conversations to know whether he behaved ethically or not.

ZAKARIA: Tim Naftali, what does this tell us about the way this president operates? Because one of the things I'm struck by is there's a kind of impulsiveness and rage and it does remind one of Nixon on the tapes.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, we'll find out what actions the president has actually engaged in. But what's clear from social media, in a way that would not of been possible in 1973, is that Trump has a Nixonian temperament. He rages. He feels that he's the victim. He has a sense of enemies about him.

And Richard Nixon staff recognized that in him. It's very interesting when you look at the Haldeman Diaries because, at one point, early on in the administration, President Nixon wanted to wiretap every subcabinet official linked to the National Security Council. Every single one. Haldeman didn't do it.

In fact, in the diary that night, he wrote, there are times when I am just going to have to protect the president from himself. I'm just not going to do what he says.

And when you look at the pattern of Nixon's rhetoric on the tapes and his actions, you see that his staff perhaps only implemented a quarter of the very terrible things he ordered. That's because he had a strong staff. Now, a quarter was too much. Ultimately, the whole thing ends badly.

But what's clear is that Bob Haldeman - H.R. Bob Haldeman, his chief of staff, was very strong. You look at the Trump administration and you ask yourself, are any internal checks and balances there? Is Reince Priebus strong enough to say to Mr. Trump - President Trump, 'no, sir, that would be terrible.'

Last week, one got the sense that there aren't any checks because a Bob Haldeman would've told Donald Trump, 'sir, do not fire Comey this way.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating. When we come back, we will dig into the heart of all of this, which is the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 elections. What do we now know? When we come back.


[10:18:53] ZAKARIA: And we're back with Michael Hayden, James Woolsey, Cristina Rodriguez and Tim Naftali.

Michael Hayden, looking at the way in which this Russia investigation is unfolding, the president has now fired, it seems about this issue, Sally Yates, he has now five James Comey, there was the attempt to get Devin Nunes to essentially tilt the investigation in its direction.

What do you think of all that? Is that just smoke or do you think there's fire?

HAYDEN: Fareed, I actually put myself in the position of a foreign intelligence chief when thinking about that recently. And my answer would be along the lines you just suggested. Mr. Prime Minister, in response to your question, it appears as if the administration is doing everything it can to either slow or discredit the various investigations with regard to Russian interference in the American presidential election.

So, I think that's a fair assessment as to what's going on here. Fareed, I really dislike special structures, special prosecutors, independent efforts and so on. They go too long, too deep, too broad. They cost too much. You lose control. They lose purpose.

[10:20:09] But I have to tell you, after the events of the past week, I really have an open mind now as to whether or not we need some sort of extraordinary structure, not just so we can get to the criminal resolution, was there or was there not a crime, but so that the American people fully understand the totality of what happened here.

ZAKARIA: Jim Woolsey, what do you think? When you were at the CIA, you were watching the Russians. You think there's something here.

WOOLSEY: I think there is a lot here. The Russians are never not interfering with other countries' political parties and elections. They've interfered a lot with the Social Democrats in Germany, for example.

They call it framing, the same kind of connotation that it has in American English. And they do their very best to undermine groups and individuals that they think are a threat to them or doing things that they don't want to see done and they do everything they can to build up the reputations and history and past of individuals that they want to support.

Ion Mihai Pacepa was the head of Romanian intelligence. He defected in 1979. He is the most senior defector we've got from the Eastern Bloc in the Cold War. Pacepa says that there are more people involved in this kind of activity, framing, disinformation and so forth in the Russian government than are involved in the Armed Forces.

They are never not doing what they're being charged with.

ZAKARIA: Tim Naftali, does it seem to you that, on the other side, that the Trump campaign officials might've been involved?

NAFTALI: Well, I'll put it to you this way. Russians always seek access to newly elected presidents. Bobby Kennedy was visited by a double-headed Russian. We know he's from KGB because I saw the KGB record. Bobby Kennedy handled this man very well.

The Russians wanted a summit with the newly elected John F. Kennedy. He put them to one side, said please wait for the inauguration. We'll talk about that later.

I don't think the people around Trump had that sophistication. I think the Russians put pressure on them. I think the Russians took advantage of them. We saw how the Russians played us for fools by tweeting those pictures of the meeting with President Trump.

My issue is, I don't know whether the Trump inner circle were dunces or devils, whether they understood they were colluding or whether they were so excited that a foreign, important power that the president or president to be liked that they just dealt with the Russians.

So, what I'm waiting to see is the extent to which the Trump campaign understood that the Russians were wanting to play them.

ZAKARIA: And, of course, there is the original puzzle in all of this, which was why did Donald Trump fall in love with the Russians.

Cristina, the legal issue. Can we appoint - can Congress appoint a special prosecutor, an independent counsel of the kind that Michael Hayden was talking about?

RODRIGUEZ: So, Congress can't appoint a special prosecutor. It would have to come from the attorney general or, in this case, the deputy attorney general because Jeff Sessions has recused or some other official in the Department of Justice because the power to prosecute is an executive power, and so it has to be supervised by the executive branch.

Congress, of course, can conduct its own investigations. In many ways, it would be further reaching than the investigation of a special counsel with a particular remit. In addition to that, Congress could do something like revive the

independent counsel statute that lapsed in 1999, which created the kind of structures that ensured independence in appointing an independent counsel, which also included the authority of Congress to request a special counsel.

That statute is highly controversial and it lapsed for a reason, some of the reasons that Michael gave in his commentary, and so that that's going to transpire. But it's important to understand that we can have investigations on two tracks here.

If there's a Department of Justice investigation through an independent special counsel appointed by the deputy attorney general and congressional investigations.

ZAKARIA: We come back to the problem, right, which is that either Trump is effectively investigating himself through the Justice Department or you're reliant on Congress, which is currently controlled in both the House and the Senate by the Republican Party to investigate.

RODRIGUEZ: That is the problem. And that's why it's imperative for Democrats to continue to press the issue and for the media to continue to press the issue because it is possible that public pressure could result in the appointment of some kind of investigative authority that would hamstring the president or tie the president's hands.

But it's going to require a great deal of pressure because the normal institutions are in the hands of the president's party.

ZAKARIA: Jim, 20 seconds, do you think that the public pressure had something to do with the way the Watergate hearings went, though, of course, that was a Democratic House and Senate?

[10:25:06] WOOLSEY: I think it was the fact that Alexander Butterfield announced to the world that there was a taping system because, before that, it was just John Dean's word against Richard Nixon's word. Once you had tapes, you could actually find out the truth.

So, perhaps, we should hope that Trump has tapes.

ZAKARIA: And, in fact, before Butterfield, Trump had enough votes to survive impeachment even in a Democratic-controlled Senate.

WOOLSEY: There's no question that without those tapes - without those tapes, Nixon, I think, would have finished the second term.

ZAKARIA: On that note, we are going to come back and we're going to talk about Jared Kushner's sister, the Kushner companies selling American citizenships. The scandal is it's perfectly legal.


ZAKARIA: Now, for our What in the World segment. For sale, American citizenship. That was part of the sales pitch last weekend from the sister of Jared Kushner, presidential senior advisor and the son-in- law of Donald Trump.

The message at that now infamous presentation at the Ritz-Carlton in Beijing was clear. In return for a half-million-dollar investment in a yet-to-be-built Kushner company's luxury complex in New Jersey, Chinese investors would get a fast track to US citizenship.

Kushner's sister apologized for dropping her brother's name during her presentation, but she did not apologize for dangling the path to US citizenship because that part is actually perfectly legal.

It's part of an almost 30-year-old visa program called EB-5. If after two years, an EB-5 visa holding foreign investor can prove he or she put $500,000 into a rural area or an area of high unemployment and created ten American jobs, he or she is issued a Green Card. That means permanent residency status, which after five years turns into citizenship pretty easily.

If you don't want to make your investment in an area that particularly needs jobs, well, it will just cost you $1 million.

The US is not alone in selling residency. That's according to separate research from the IMF and Allison Christians at McGill University.

Do you want the French equivalent of a Green Card? It's $10 million and a two-month wait. The Swiss require an annual donation of about $150,000 and it will take ten or more years to become a citizen.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, you need only invest $400,000 in real estate to get a passport in as little as three months and you don't even have to live there.

But if you're looking for a real bargain, Paraguay may be just for you. Getting permanent residency status there will set you back just $5,200. And in three years, you can become a citizen.

Often wealthy individuals become citizens of these countries to facilitate visa-free travel. In some cases, there are potential tax benefits. And countries like selling citizenship and residency because it's an easy way to generate income.

For example, the sale of citizenship provided St. Kitts and Nevis with 25 percent of its GDP in 2013. Here in the United States, between 2012 and 2013, about 11,000 EB-5 recipients contributed roughly $5.8 billion for domestic projects. That's real money, but comes to a tiny 0.02 percent of US GDP for those years.

The program has been accused of being susceptible to fraud and abuse with little oversight. The GAO expressed concerns. And a recent article in Vox points to several scandals, including one involving the former deputy secretary of homeland security, who helped well- connected people such as Anthony Rodham, the brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, secured financing for certain projects.

In addition, a recent editorial in "The Washington Post" charges that the actual number of jobs attributable to the EB-5 program is low and that big-city developers benefit most from the program. In effect, developers like the Kushner Company can get investments offering very low rates of return because the investors are getting something they care even more about, US citizenship.

The government is in effect financing private real estate developers. In rare bipartisan unity, both Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Charles Grassley jointly introduced legislation in January in the Senate to terminate the EB-5 program.

However, President Trump recently signed a bill to extend that program through the end of September. Now, I'm all in favor of attracting foreign investment and generating jobs in the US, but better to do it through wise tax and regulatory policy that makes the country friendly for business rather than through the sale of something that should be more precious - the right to be an American citizen.

Next on GPS. In the midst of chaos and rioting, a moment of magic. What is going on in Venezuela and why? We'll explain when we come back.


[10:37:54] ZAKARIA: A lone violinist stands amidst Molotov cocktails and tear gas canisters this week in Caracas, Venezuela. Violent unrest has rocked this country for weeks as protestors call for the release of political prisoners and a solution to a massive food and medical shortage.

Today, more than a quarter of Venezuela's people are out of work, more than 80 percent now live in poverty. All this in a country with some of the largest oil reserves in the world.

How did this happen? We have without Shannon O'Neil, a senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. And Moises Naim was Venezuela's trade minister. He is now a distinguished fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and is the author of The End of Power. Welcome both.

Shannon, how did we get to this point? Why does it seem like the country is really on the verge of some kind of collapse?

SHANNON O'NEIL, SENIOR FELLOW FOR LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, we've seen over the last 18, almost 20 years the Chavista's and the Chavis come from Hugo Chavez. He was president for many years. And then, when he passed away, Maduro stepped in.

And Chavez really left Maduro four legacies. He left a legacy of incredible corruption. So, there are estimates of $60 billion being stolen from government coffers and taken abroad or elsewhere.

He left very insecurity, so rising homicide rates, thefts, burglaries, all of that happening, and so a very dangerous place.

He left very weak institutions and even a parallel state. So, you have pots of money that are outside of control of the legislature, other parts of the government, and you even have militias that are controlled by the president, loyal to the Chavista party.

And then finally, he left a legacy of a very changed economy and one very dependent on oil. Almost nothing else is made there. And also incredibly indebted. So, when oil prices were sky-high, he not only spent all that money, but he also racked up incredible debts around the world.

And that's what Maduro is trying to deal with.

ZAKARIA: And, Moises, the other peculiar thing here is the influence that Cuba has had on Venezuela. Explain that. Here, you have one of the - the last place Cuba seems to have influenced in the world is in Venezuela.

[10:40:01] MOISES NAIM, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Well, it all started with a very strong human relationship between Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. They became very close.

Fidel Castro persuaded Chavez that he needed his support, his advice, especially in terms of his own personal security, in ensuring how to manage the military and ensuring how to use selective repression to stop the opposition - contain the opposition from becoming too strong.

And also policies. He recommended policies that Chavez wholeheartedly adopted and that is - the result is now here.

So, Fidel Castro not only crippled the Cuban economy, but he also managed to cripple the Venezuelan economy through its influence through Chavez first and now through Maduro.

ZAKARIA: And, Moises, why did these policies - why are these policies being - why were they still popular? These are policies pretty discredited in the rest of Latin America, which has rejected this kind of statist populism.

NAIM: Yes. Ideological necrophilia, Fareed. Necrophilia is passionate love for cadavers that some human beings have. It's a perversion. But it happens in politics, in which politicians around the world, we have seem them embrace with passionate laws ideas that have been tried and tested elsewhere before or even tested in their own countries and they always end in tears.

But they have this appeal because they offer shortcuts, they offer the promise, a lot of very, very good things that people believe them and they end up in very bad shape as a nation. And that is exactly what happened in Venezuela.

Chavez embraced all kinds of very bad ideas that the country had tried before and the result has always been the same - poverty, inequality, corruption.

ZAKARIA: Shannon, what is the prognosis going forward? Can there be a dialogue between the opposition and the government that solves this or is Venezuela really becoming the kind of next Zimbabwe? O'NEIL: That is the real question. There is a dialogue - they was a triad of dialogue, which actually Pope Francis was pushing that failed last - over the holidays and in December. There's a push again to begin the dialogue.

But it's very hard to imagine how this works because there are members of the Maduro government, who not only have put in policies, as Moises says, that are causing inequality and poverty, but many of them are involved in intense corruption. There is evidence, from the Department of Justice in the United States, also involved in narco- trafficking and other types of activities.

So, this is a zero-sum game for these people. If there's a change of government, a transition, they'll end up if not in a Venezuelan jail, perhaps a US jail. So, I think there's a real challenge there to come up with some sort of dialogue.

The other option is - one is a Zimbabwe where there's a regime years from now still there. The other is a collapse. That could come because of an economic default. That could become because of chaos in the streets. That could come if the military is called out to repress these protests and it decides not to do so.

But all of that is very opaque whether any of that occurs.

ZAKARIA: Moises, final thought, what is your prognosis? What happens?

NAIM: Before it gets better, it's going to get much worse and it's a very sad situation that shouldn't have been this way, but sadly that's what we have now.

ZAKARIA: Fascinating, depressing conversation. Thank you both.

Up next, something to cheer you up, Mother's Day weekend in the United States and scores of other nations, a timely reminder about the first mother. All about Eve when we come back.

[10:47:58] ZAKARIA: Eve. According to the Bible, she was the first woman formed, in one version of the story, from Adam's rib. She went on to become the first mother. So, I thought it was fitting on this Mother's Day in much of the world to bring on Bruce Feiler, who has written a terrific new book, The First Love Story: Adam, Eve and Us. Welcome back to the show.

BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, THE FIRST LOVE STORY: ADAM, EVE AND US: Thank you. Nice to be with you again.

ZAKARIA: So, this is about that love story, but in the course of that love story, it begets the first child.

FEILER: Yes, exactly.

ZAKARIA: But is her role as the first mother significant?

FEILER: Well, in some ways, it's the main goal of the story. The first commandment is not the Ten Commandments. That comes in the Book of Exodus. It's in the Book of Genesis where God says to them, be fruitful and multiply.

This is a story of genesis of generations. In order for the story to succeed, we need this relationship to succeed, and that's in some ways one of the great discoveries of this journey that I've been on.

So, in some ways, just to pull the lens back for a second, so I spent almost 20 years traveling around the Middle East, trying to make the stories of the past relevant to today.

And this really began around my kitchen table. I have a working Wi- Fi. I have identical twin daughters, as you know. And we're struggling like everybody else in our family to talk about the way men and women relate to each other.

And we were in the Sistine Chapel a few years ago and my kids were looking up at that image of Adam and God. And one of my daughters says, well, where am I image? And I realized, oh, my gosh, this story has been at the heart of every conversation for 3,000 years. What if I go on this journey through their lives, across time and across space and try to figure out what they can tell us today?

ZAKARIA: Is Eve a good mother? One of her kids kills the other?

FEILER: Yes, exactly. One of the things that we know is you can't blame women - the mothers for the sins of their children as we all know who are parents ourselves.

My wife who was a working woman and a mom, very active mom herself, loves what happens next in that story, right? So, you've got Cain having Abel, the story says there's a separation, but then what do Adam and Eve do? They get together and they forgive each other.

[10:50:01] My wife comes running in, you've got to bring in Hamilton. She talks about this moment in Hamilton where Eliza and Alexander are estranged, they lose a child, they come back together, they go to the garden, they take walks and the last song is the best song in the musical. The company sings forgiveness. Can you imagine?


FEILER: And I think that what you see here is that love is not a choice you make once. It's a choice you make over and over again. And it's that resilience, willingness to come back in the face of pain, sin, disappointment that really is the great legacy of this story.

ZAKARIA: You've traveled all over the world. And you must have noticed, as I have, that something like Mother's Day, which was a peculiar practice of really America and the Hallmark-inspired vacation - holiday, then spread, and now you can go to India and they're celebrating Mother's Day, you can go to China and they're celebrating Mother's Day.

Not everywhere, of course, but do you think it's because it's good marketing or does it speak to something?

FEILER: Well, I think all the marketing in the world can't work if it doesn't resonate. I have to say that my wife doesn't care so much about her birthday, doesn't care about Valentine's Day, this day matters.

I think that what we see now is that, as women entering the world and taking leadership positions, everything from corporate America to government to academia, but they're still insisting that this is incredibly important to mothers and, in fact, they're pausing and celebrating.

I think that what we see here in the first mother, I think, is that she has this powerful lesson to tell us about why we still need that. We still need mothers to say values are important. We still need mothers to say family is important. We still need mothers to be positive role models for our children, but to say we - in some ways, this model of trying to have it all, that is still there.

I think that, in some ways, what I'm saying with this book, is to rediscover in Eve this positive message.

ZAKARIA: Tell Linda for me, Happy Mother's Day.

FEILER: I will be happy to do that. Happy Mother's Day to everybody.

ZAKARIA: Happy Mother's Day to everyone.

Next on GPS, bedtime stories for the youngsters in your life, courtesy of the Chinese government. You have to see these videos to believe them.


ZAKARIA: 50,000 people died in Syria's civil war in 2016 according to a new report released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies this week. It brings me to my question. Where was the second most lethal conflict in 2016? Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen or Mexico? Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer.

This week's book of the week is Harold Evans' Do I Make Myself Clear? While writing well matters, Evans was recently voted the greatest newspaper editor in history, having headed the "London Times", the "Sunday Times", the "New York Daily News," in addition to "US News", "The Atlantic" and "Random House".

Now, he has distilled a life's worth of lessons, rules and anecdotes into a spirited punchy book that is itself sparklingly well-written. Read this book and you will write and think more clearly.

And now for the last look. Everybody knows children's stories like the Tortoise and the Hare, Green Eggs and Ham or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But are you familiar with the Belt and Road? Probably not. That's because it's new. Part of a series of English- language videos from China Daily, a state-run news website. "The New York Times" wrote about the effort this week. These videos, ostensibly for children, describe China's great infrastructure and diplomatic push. It's so-called One Belt, One Road initiative. That is the plan to connect China with the rest of the world with a 21st century version of the ancient Silk Road.

The videos are called Belt and Road Bedtime Stories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once upon a time, several routes led from China to Central Asia to Europe.


ZAKARIA: A father explains to his young daughter about China's infrastructure developments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: things, like highways, railways, airports and even pipelines and Internet cables.


ZAKARIA: Oh my! "China Daily" also released a musical episode about the One Belt, One Road policy.


ZAKARIA: The video explain globalization in child-friendly terms.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's China's idea that belongs to the world.


ZAKARIA: Maybe these videos aren't such a bad idea. After all bedtime stories about spending and infrastructure initiatives might just put your kids right to sleep.

The correct answer to my GPS challenge question is D. 23,000 people were killed in violence in Mexico in 2016 according to the IIS' most recent Armed Conflict Survey, which looks at active conflicts around the world.

Deaths from violence in that country jumped by nearly 23 percent between 2015 and 2016. And Mexico's drug war does not appear to be slowing down. In fact, the report notes, the first two months of this year were the most violent January and February on record.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively, while violence in Yemen resulted in 7,000 deaths last year. The good news is the number of confit fatalities around the world dropped for a second year in the row, with 10,000 fewer deaths in 2016 than the preceding year.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.