Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Takes "America First" To Davos; The Journalist Who Broke The Larry Nassar Story. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 26, 2018 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, Trump unveils his America first vision at Davos. Is he the most anticipated speaker there?
Well, the French president is a strong second, with his globalist vision. Which will prevail? We get perspective from both sides of the Atlanta with
Sylvie Kauffmann, French journalist, and Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Plus, the local news reporter who exposed one of the biggest scandals in US sports history. Tim Evans on being the only journalist to interview the
disgraced gym team doctor, Larry Nassar.
Good evening, everyone, welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. Now, if it wasn't extraordinary enough to see President Trump
onstage at the heart of the global elite that he says he disdains, well, then there unprecedented Trumpists heralding his presence amongst them
truly was extraordinary.
With that, President Trump launched into a fairly conciliatory address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he put his pro-
business salesman hat on, but he also told the gathering that he wanted to be a team player.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other
countries should put their country first also.
But America first does not mean America alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Trump added that America is open for business and he touted the booming US stock market and his reforms slashing corporate taxes. Davos
And if Friday Trump's day, earlier the floor belonged to French President Emmanuel Macron who urged the west to pushback against protectionism and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: In terms of trade, we're moving back again to what strategies which are based on non-cooperation, greater
protection, fragmentation of what WTO has done in the past and we're undoing what globalization has been able to achieve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, two very different visions competing at the world's biggest globalist gathering, a year after the populist wave that brought Donald
Trump to power.
Joining me now to discuss this from Davos is the editorial director of France's leading newspaper, "Le Monde", Sylvie Kauffmann. And from New
York, Richard Haas, who's president of the Council on Foreign Relations and also author of "A World in Disarray."
Welcome to you both. Let me begin by asking you Sylvie because I believe you were in the room when President Trump spoke. How did his speech go
down and was he more friendly than perhaps you might have expected?
SYLVIE KAUFFMANN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "LE MONDE": Yes. I mean, he was reasonably friendly. He didn't get the same reception, though, as other
leaders who spoke earlier this week.
I think the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a standing ovation. French President Emmanuel Macron did get a standing ovation. I'm sorry to
say President Trump did not receive this afternoon.
So, I think his speech came across fairly well because, as you said, it was a conciliatory tone, but, I mean, if you look at the substance, and I can
assure you that here in Davos people do look at the substance, there was nothing new.
AMANPOUR: Richard Haas, did you see anything new or different or a different sort of capturing engagement with the world?
RICHARD HAAS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The short answer is no. The emphasis on America first not being America alone wasn't the first
time we've heard that.
Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, put an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" more than half a year ago making that
argument. It's not terribly persuasive because what the president didn't do was articulate a vision of how the United States would interact with,
much less lead, the world and he ignored a whole raft of issues.
What you essentially heard was a speech of a victory lap, a kind of boosterism about the robust strength of the American economy in the wake of
deregulation and tax cuts, but I didn't hear a connection essentially between America's economic success in any sense of what our role would be
in leading or shaping the world.
[14:05:14] AMANPOUR: And what did you make of - everybody sort of breathing a sigh of relief that actually a trade war hasn't happened yet,
but there still are bits of red meat thrown out in that direction and they were again today. What did you make of that, Richard?
HAAS: Well, again, the slight cheese there, Christiane, was the idea that even though TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the United States
pulled out of, I think, in the third day of Mr. Trump's presidency, even though if he normally describes it as a terrible agreement, he didn't use
that word today and he left open a crack that just maybe, if things can change enough, the United States would join it.
So, he didn't announce trade, as he often has, on the campaign trail or in the Oval Office. But there, we'll just have to see.
Again, it was a conciliatory speech, as you said. It didn't provoke, but there wasn't anything really in terms of substance.
For example, what sorts of changes would the United States need to see to stay in NAFTA or to reenter TPP. That's the sort of thing, I think, we're
going to need to look for down the road.
AMANPOUR: Sylvie, you were there and I was actually startled when he indicated, as Richard just said, that maybe there's a window open possibly
to rejoining TPP.
I mean, just a few days ago, we saw 11 nations create their own TPP without the United States.
KAUFFMANN: Yes. I think that's one of the main points of his decision to come here, which surprised a lot of people. I think he has a sense that
the leadership is going away from America, and that's not good, including for his audience at home.
So, it's just the 11 countries agreeing together and making a partnership, a treaty, a trade treaty together without the America. OK, America left,
and so no problem. We'll deal the 11 of us together. That's humiliating in a way.
So, he keeps the door open, and I don't think that's new actually, but the door is open on his own terms. That means, if the treaty itself is
changed, then America will join it. I mean, that's a strange conception of multilateralism in my view.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you to put on your French hat now and talk about your own president. I mean, you also wrote this week in "The New York
Times" what a difference a year makes.
This week, President Trump is coming to Davos in flesh and bone to explain America first agenda, but you said he will not be the only star.
President Emmanuel Macron who defeated Miss Le Penn, the right-winger who President Trump supported, will have spoken offering a countermodel to the
West. Tell us about that vision. And is it a big enough countermodel?
KAUFFMANN: Well, I think what was interesting this week in Davos, apart from this afternoon's speech, was on Wednesday we had a full pack of
European leaders taking the floor and putting out a vision, a common vision of Europe's role in the world.
And Macron was the last one to speak on Wednesday, but Angela Merkel came before him on the same day and Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni also did.
And they were all on the same message. Europe is back. Europe has to be strong. And if there are gaps to fill on the global scene, Europe will
fill it. We'll fill them.
So, part of it is a bit of wishful thinking at the moment because Europe is not yet the global actor that Emmanuel Macron would like it to be. But
that's where you see the two diverging visions.
President Trump's vision of America first is America retreating to its borders and Emmanuel Macron's vision and the other European leaders' vision
is of a Europe expanding.
AMANPOUR: But can I ask you why you think that President Trump actually seems to have developed a good relationship with President Macron?
Perhaps, it's Macron who has cultivated. But you heard that he will be the first invitee to a state visit under President Trump's administration. How
do you account to that, Richard?
HAAS: Well, clearly, President Macron has gone out of his way to cultivate that relationship. And I think almost like the prime minister of Canada
and others, he's avoided issues that he knows would be difficult.
Christiane, if I can just return to something Sylvie said, Europe has plenty of vision. The problem is it simply doesn't have the capacity to
play an enormous or even large global role.
[14:10:07] United States has the capacity. The problem is that, under Donald Trump, it no longer has the vision. And that's the reason that it's
hard to come out of Davos or anything else with optimism because I simply don't see the United States playing its traditional role. I don't see
Europe or anyone else able to fill its shoes. And that's why it's hard to be optimistic about the evolution of what to expect around the world and
over the next three years or, for that matter, beyond that.
AMANPOUR: And just to follow-up briefly with you, Sylvie, how do you account for President Macron really trying to draw President Trump? And we
understand he's the one who convinced President Trump to come to Davos. He is going to get a state visit, the first state visit, to the Trump
KAUFFMANN: I think it's very important. One word can explain this. It's terrorism.
Now, as he says, he's a very frank and open guy, I think, with Trump and they have this warm relationship. I don't know how warm it is, but I think
it's a fairly good business relationship. And Macron does acknowledge that they have disagreements, that they have - like on climate - actually on
climate change, actually another word which was not uttered by the president - the American president this afternoon on a different range of
But he has his priorities and I think terrorism is one priority.
AMANPOUR: So, given that, Richard Haas, and sort of the broader foreign policy and peacemaking sphere, what was your reaction as a former State
Department official, if nothing else, to President Trump yesterday essentially, basically, taking Jerusalem off the table, saying that, that's
it, goodbye, the most important thing in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is no longer up for any discussion?
HAAS: Oh, it compounded the problem that he began by having the unilateral American declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. United States can
say Jerusalem's off the table, but saying it doesn't make it so. It's too central to the peace process. It was meant to be dealt with at the end,
not at the beginning, certainly not in isolation.
So, again, the danger is there won't be a peace process because of this. And then, I think, again, the ability of the United States to play its
traditional role because of this policy change has been cast in doubt.
And cutting off aid to Palestinians maybe a sanction that makes some people in the White House feel better, but it is always possible, Christiane, as
you know as well as anyone, for bad situations to become worse. And it may just be that we're on the verge of seeing the bad situation that is the
Middle East become even worse.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, this from the man who said he wanted to make the deal of the century. And already, the Palestinians are saying, no
Jerusalem, no peace deal, no Americans at the negotiating table.
HAAS: Well, again, we've put into doubt our own bona fides about this. That's coming back to our previous conversation, the Europeans cannot
substitute for the United States. They don't have the sort of relationship with Israel.
But what we've now seen is the emergence of an extraordinarily one-sided American approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And I believe it won't
work and the danger in drift. It's not just bad for the Palestinians. But those who want to see Israel remain a Jewish democratic peaceful prosperous
state, they too have to understand that drift potentially puts that in doubt as well.
AMANPOUR: And just to go back to you, Sylvie, on a much more sort of European, but global problem, do you believe that this year is now seeing
the tail end of populism? I think that was his theme at Davos as well?
HAAS: I don't think so, I'm afraid. I think populism is still alive - very much alive. And I think the European leaders are extremely well aware
of these and this is both Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron address this threat in their speeches this week.
They know that this is a big danger in European politics and engaging in world politics.
AMANPOUR: Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director at "Le Monde" and Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, thank you for joining
me this evening.
KAUFFMANN: Thank you.
HAAS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, you may have missed President Trump taking another dig at the so-called fake news. He was booed in the room when he said, but
perhaps he was feeling the pressure of the latest allegations that he tried to have the Russia special counsel Robert Mueller fired. Of course,
President Trump denies that.
But back in the United States, the press practice is taking a well-deserved victory lap after one newspaper exposed the Larry Nassar sexual abuse
scandal that continues to rock the world of sport.
[14:15:04] Today, the US Olympic Committee is giving the USA gymnastics board an ultimatum. Resign or lose your status.
Nassar's horrific acts of sexual abuse as doctor to young female gymnasts went on in secret for years until the combination of brave women and truth-
digging journalists broke the story wide open.
And as the lead prosecutor said during sentencing, thank, God, we have these journalists and that they expose the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA POVILAITIS, MICHIGAN ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: The final takeaway is that we as a society need investigative journalists more than ever.
What finally started this reckoning and ended this decades-long cycle of abuse was investigative reporting.
Without that first "Indianapolis Star" story in August of 2016, without the story where Rachael came forward publicly shortly thereafter, he would
still be practicing medicine, treating athletes and abusing kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And with me now is one of those investigative journalists who broke the story. Tim Evans with the "Indianapolis Star", which is part of
the "USA Today Network", he is the only one to have interviewed Larry Nassar himself and he joins me now.
Welcome to the program, Tim.
TIM EVANS, REPORTER, "INDIANAPOLIS STAR": Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: I honestly have to say from the bottom of my heart, congratulations! You've done an amazing job for just those people who were
so victimized, but also holding up what we in the press do.
So, how did you feel as you listened to the sentencing and you heard the assistant attorney general praise you?
EVANS: It's very humbling, a little embarrassing. But, no, it was really about - the amazing thing was giving some voice and helping those women get
some justice and also to start their healing.
And it's a proud moment for me as a journalist and for journalism, as you mentioned, with the fake news and the beating the press is taking here in
America. It's a reminder that there is a lot of good work being done and it's not just on the coast. Lots of newspapers are really investing in
investigative journalism. And it's a great time.
AMANPOUR: That's right. And there you are in the heartland. So, tell us how this first came to you. you spent about a year-and-a-half doggedly at
this story. How did this avalanche, how did these floodgates open?
EVANS: It started out, myself and colleagues, Mark Alesia and Marisa Kwiatkowski, spent about six months investigating sex abuse in gymnastics
and the hierarchy of USA gymnastics, how they handled complaints and the responses when athletes told them that they've been molested by coaches.
And our first story ran on August 4, 2016, the eve of the Rio Olympics. That same day, we received an email from Rachael Denhollander, a former
club gymnast, she reached out and said she didn't know if we would be interested, but she had a story she'd like to share with us.
It didn't involve coaches which we were focusing on at the time, but involved Dr. Nassar. And Dr. Nassar wasn't even on our radar at that time,
but we quickly followed up with her, and that's how it all got off the ground.
AMANPOUR: Well, I just want to say - this very, very affecting piece of her own testimony during the sentencing process, this is Rachael
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER, SEXUALLY ABUSED BY LARRY NASSAR: Very meticulously groomed me for the purpose of exploiting me for his sexual gain. He
penetrated me. He groped me. He fondled me. And then, he whispered questions about how it felt. He engaged in degrading and humiliating sex
acts without my consent or permission. And Larry enjoyed it. Larry sought out and took pleasure in little girls and women being sexually injured and
violated because he liked it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's still so hard to listen to it and I can see your own face reacting to that. You actually manage to get the only interview with Larry
Nassar. How did that come about? How did he even talk to with these allegations that you were presenting him with?
EVANS: Well, our team kind of divided up the reporting process. And Mark and Marisa both were dealing with the survivors and my job was to look into
the medical aspects and what Dr. Nassar was accused of doing and then reach out for an interview.
It was one of those things. I sent an email. I didn't expect a response, but I got to work the next morning. I had two emails from Dr. Nassar. The
first one said he was sorry that the women had misinterpreted his medical procedures and he'd like to meet with me the following morning.
About an hour later, I got another email from him that said his wife had urged him to talk to his lawyer first. So, I responded to that one with my
cell phone number and a little later his lawyer called me.
[14:20:08] And he wanted to know about the allegations we had and also wanted to talk about setting up a meeting, an interview.
AMANPOUR: And what did he say when you presented to him with these allegations?
EVANS: Well, initially, the attorney spoke on Dr. Nassar's behalf initially and he denied the allegations. That attorney left Dr. Nassar not
long after our interview and I don't believe he knew the whole story. I think his denials were based on Dr. Nassar's story to him.
But about four days later, I drove to Grand Rapids, Michigan from Indianapolis and met with Dr. Nassar and his attorney in the attorney's
office in Grand Rapids and we were together for about 30 to 45 minutes.
As interviews go, it wasn't that productive for us, but it was very interesting. And looking back now, it's surreal.
AMANPOUR: And you describe him as arrogant. And you also describe him as -- faced with a question, he would stammer. His eyes fluttered. The kind
of nonverbal cues, I look for during contentious interviews.
EVANS: Yes. It was very interesting because there were two kind of Dr. Nassar's there. When he was in control, when he was directing the
narrative, he is very confident, he was arrogant and to the kind of point that a layman couldn't understand the nuances of his medical procedures.
And he actually - before we started the on-the-record interview, he wanted to show me some videos of him performing what he said was the procedure
that was misunderstood on the young girls. And the video was - it made me uncomfortable to watch him as he had a young girl laying prone on a table
and he was massaging her buttocks. He was working his hands down deep into her crotch.
That particular video did not show any penetration and I think that's what he was hoping that I would come away believing that you could see why these
girls might misunderstand it. It was kind of his pitch. But I have to get in there close, but I would never penetrate them.
AMANPOUR: And then, of course, it turned out that, in fact, that's exactly what he was doing. And you received a huge ton of pressure to stop your
reporting, right? Who were the people who were trying to stop you? What was their defense?
EVANS: Well, it was amazing. We had a high bar. Once we found out about Dr. Nassar, we did a background on him. We couldn't find any criminal
history. We couldn't find any medical complaints. We couldn't find any lawsuits, no malpractice history.
People in the gymnastics community, which is very close said, he's untouchable. You'll never get him. And then, he also had a legion of
supporters. And even after we exposed his crimes, we were beaten up for weeks and months in emails and phone calls, accused of making things up to
sell newspapers that we were misunderstanding and we were smearing this man and his family.
The tide didn't turn until the FBI went to his house and found 37,000 images of child pornography. At that point, his support began to dwindle.
AMANPOUR: What kept you going? Was there ever a moment when you or your editors, the senior staff at the paper thought, well, are we on the right
EVANS: Well, there was great concern as there is in any kind of investigation, but, again, we were working - looking at a man who was an
icon, kind of a God in the sport. He was a medical professional.
We were very worried that somehow this would get twisted into a debate over medical procedures and medical terminology and that the real root of this
story, the sexual abuse of these young women, would get lost in some sort of arcane debate about medical procedures.
And that was a high bar and we really worked hard to get to that point. We felt so confident, though, in the veracity of the stories that the young
women who had come to us.
Rachael Denhollander had her medical records. She had had just all kinds of documents. So, again, we came off feeling very good about her.
And also, I'd spoken to medical professionals. And there were many things about Dr. Nassar's performance of this procedure that were far, far outside
of a standard procedure.
He didn't wear gloves. He didn't use lubricant. He didn't tell these young ladies in advance that he was going to be penetrating them. He
didn't - often didn't have an adult in the room when he had a minor in there. And all those things are outside the acceptable practice.
So, going into this interview with him, I had a good handle on what he was doing and how he was performing it and how that didn't fit with the medical
AMANPOUR: Well, it was amazing that you and your team actually listened to these women who'd been trying, these young girls, to raise the alarm for so
long and it got to this point and the man is behind bars for the rest of his life. As the judge said, I have signed your death warrant.
What did you think - just reflect on fake news when you realize what you've done for the truth.
[14:25:00] AMANPOUR: Look, I think it's easy for people - we're so divided here in America. If you read something you don't agree with, it suddenly
becomes fake news.
And also, the newspaper industry is in an influx in America. There are fewer journalists. But it's just a sign that old-fashioned, in-depth
investigative reporting, the thing that brought me into journalism, growing up during the Watergate era, there's still a value in it.
Our company, Gannett, the "USA Today Network" puts a premium on investigative journalism. And this just shows we can make a difference.
The most rewarding thing of this whole experience has been to see those women have a voice in court, to see them start to heal. People hadn't
listened to them. People hadn't believed them.
And the fact that we were willing to listen and they were willing to share their stories with strangers, with an old white guy telling me there were
secrets in the world, that's humbling.
And, again, I think that's a tribute to what we could do if we do journalism right.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Tim Evans, real journalism. Congratulations to you and your team. And thank you so much for being with us.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me
on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.