Return to Transcripts main page
San Diego Synagogue Shooting; Trump Expresses His Condolences To Rabbi Goldstein; Michael German, Fellow, Brenna Center for Justice, is Interviewed About Hate Crimes; Far-Right Party in Spain Win Seats; Yascha Mounk, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University, is Interviewed About Far-Right Parties; Sunrise Movement Asks Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Vote for the Green New Deal; Varshini Prakash, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sunrise Movement, is Interviewed About Climate Change; Interview With Alec Baldwin. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 29, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, CONGREGATION CHABAD OF POWAY: We need to battle darkness with light.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In California, another fatal synagogue shooting. And in Spain, a far-right party enters parliament for the first time since Franco's
Fascists. What does it all say about the global spread of populism? I'll ask a law enforcement veteran who went undercover with White extremist and
one of the leading experts on the nationalist wave.
Then young people around the world force climate change onto the agenda. I speak to Sunrise Movement co-founder, Varshini Prakash.
Plus, on being John Delorean and Donald Trump, Walter Isaacson talks to the actor and comedian Alec Baldwin.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Once again, a domestic terrorist attacks worshippers at an American synagogue. And today, his victim is being laid to rest. Lori Gilbert-Kaye
was killed at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego on Saturday. She had come to services to say memorial prayers for her mother and was
shot while trying to protect her rabbi and friend Yisroel Goldstein. Here, the rabbi, also injured in the attack, describes his own encounter with the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDSTEIN: I turn around, and I see a sight that I -- indescribable. Here is a young man standing with a rifle, pointing right at me. And I look at
him. He had sunglasses on. I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The killer is allegedly a 19-year-old White man who apparently posted plans to kill Jewish people in an open letter online. And he
references other recent attacks on places of worship, including the brutal assault on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the killing of 11
people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh six months ago.
President Trump condemned the shooting and called the Rabbi Goldstein personally to express his condolences.
But after the New Zealand attack, Trump dismissed the threat from White extremists calling them a small group of people that have very serious
problems. As a counterterrorism expert at the FBI, Michael German spent months undercover, infiltrating White supremacists and far-right
paramilitary groups. He's now a fellow at the National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.
Michael German, welcome to the program.
MICHAEL GERMAN, FELLOW, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you must have been thinking about this a lot, especially in light of your undercover work and in light of the fact that synagogues in
the United States are now being targeted. And the latest reports from the FBI are that these attacks have increased, hate crimes by about 17 percent
in the last look. And particularly against Jewish worshippers and Jewish people, it's up 58 -- it's up to 58 percent compared to about 19 percent
when it comes to anti-Islamic attacks. What is going on?
GERMAN: Well, I think the big change is the sanctioning of this violence by people in authority. And, obviously, we have President Trump, since he
was a candidate, making anti-Muslim comments, anti-immigrant comments, comments that seem to speak to this audience.
And so, when a group like this has the idea that the government is supporting what they are doing, they can be much more active, much more
public, much more violent. And so, I think that the biggest difference that we're seeing today is not just that they are getting the sanction from
the highest levels of our government but that there is a lack of police enforcement of this violence basically around --
AMANPOUR: So, Michael -- sorry to interrupt you, but that's -- you know, it's clearly an accusation and it's very controversial what you are saying.
I mean, you are accusing, as you just said, the highest level of government of sanctioning this kind of violence.
I mean, you know, you haven't heard the president say anything against the Jewish community. I understand with the travel ban and the other things
against the Islamic community and et cetera, you know, there is a lot of heated rhetoric and very heated feelings. But why do you think it is that
and not just a resurgence of anti-Semitism?
GERMAN: Well, keep in mind that according to the manifesto that was allegedly written [13:05:00] by this -- the person who attacked the
synagogue, he acknowledges that he had also attacked a mosque a month before. So, you have to understand that these groups aren't just focused
on one minority group, they are focused on any group that isn't White.
And certainly, the primary focus has long been against the Jewish populations. But since 9/11, it became much more mainstream to be able to
criticize Muslims in a way that you couldn't criticize other groups. And that eventually was picked up on by these groups, and they used that animus
to drive people towards their us versus them arguments and how they defined us became very narrow.
And when Candidate Trump started running and was clearly defining who the us was and making all others the enemy and threatening to us, what this
White supremacist community heard was that this person is supporting our way of thinking. And I don't believe that Donald Trump is a White
supremacist, but the language he was using was giving fuel to the activities these groups were involved in.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because you spent a considerable amount of time, as we've said, undercover, infiltrating some of these precise groups.
At what period was that, and how did you see them evolve? What did you learn from that period of infiltration and undercover work?
GERMAN: So, I was involved in an undercover operation targeting Neo-Nazi and White supremacist groups based in Southern California in the early 90s,
'92 to '93. And then, after the Oklahoma City bombing in '96 and '97, I was undercover with militia groups in the Pacific Northwest.
And what I learned going into the White supremacist group is that their philosophies and ideologies and sometimes theologies aren't some strange
creation that is not common to our history, you know. In fact, White supremacy has been a large part of the European colonization of the world,
including the U.S. and just -- you know, the theories and religious interpretations justified slavery, they justified genocides, they justified
later Jim Crow, they justified all kinds of discriminatory actions against non-White peoples. And those ideas were pushed to the margin through the
civil rights movement, but they never actually went away.
GERMAN: And this history informs what's going on now. And --
AMANPOUR: Well, let me -- sorry -- drill down on some of these figures because the Anti-Defamation League says that, you know, between 2009 and
2018, 73 percent of extremist killings in the United States were carried out by White supremacists. And, yet, the FBI says that only 900 of its
5,000 opened investigations into terrorism are focused on domestic terrorists.
You said at the beginning there's a problem with law enforcement in this particular area of domestic terrorism, the White supremacist. Why is that?
Why do we see these figures of disparity here?
GERMAN: Well, keep in mind, the 900 domestic terrorism cases don't all involve far-right militants. That includes environmentalists, the FBI
starting in 2004 said ecoterrorism was the number one threat, it involves numerous other groups. So, we don't know directly how many of those cases
are actually focused on far-right violence. But we know that by policy, the justice department deprioritizes far-right violence the way that --
AMANPOUR: And why is that?
GERMAN: It's a matter of policy.
AMANPOUR: But why?
GERMAN: And something they could change tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: But why?
GERMAN: Your guess is as good as mine. Your guess is as good as mine. And it's recent, right? In the 1990s, I worked my undercover cases off the
Joint Terrorism Task Forces. There was nobody at the Justice Department, nobody at the FBI who were claiming we didn't have federal laws that
justified our investigations. This is a recent argument that the Justice Department has been making that they don't have enough domestic terrorism
So, we put out a report at the Brennan Center last year that shows there are actually 52 -- well, 51 federal laws of terrorism and 52nd law banning
material support toward the commission of any of those acts of terrorism. Plus, there are five federal hate crime statutes. Plus, there are all
kinds of organized crime statutes that are often used against any racist group that's involved in this kind of violence.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you this though.
GERMAN: So, (INAUDIBLE) authority.
AMANPOUR: Because what's really -- it looks like -- to just follow up on what you're saying, there's been a political pushback. In 2009, the
Department of Homeland Security wrote a report [13:10:00] outlining the resurgence of extremism in America. And it was leaked apparently,
according to a senior analyst, to conservative media, "Republican lawmakers demanded the report be rescinded due to its use of the term right-wing
So, there was a political pushback even against the term. Is that something you know about, you can corroborate?
GERMAN: Yes, that's certainly was a problem. Now, I worked at the ACLU at the time, and I criticized that report as well because it was very over
broad in the way it describes the groups and the way it made a causal connection between people with ideas we don't like and people who were
committing violence where that connection is not really based in empirical studies.
But it is definitely true that this is a political issue. I mean, why the FBI would claim ecoterrorism was number the one threat when there isn't a
single homicide related to the environmentalist movement in the last 20 years, certainly, and as far as I have looked back, it's hard to find any.
So, this is a political calculation the Justice Department has made that we can deprioritize far-right violence.
And part of the way they do that is by -- you know, Congress has done its job. It passed a definition of domestic terrorism that is very simple and
easy to apply when describing these cases and prioritizing them. The problem is the Justice Department doesn't follow that definition and
instead has created its own. And they call most of the far-right violence hate crimes, which is fine because hate crimes also come with severe
The problem is the Justice Department defers investigation and prosecution of these crimes to state and local law enforcement. And only 12 percent of
law enforcement agencies across the country actually report hate crimes. So, there's this broad gap where we don't even know the number of homicides
committed by far-right militants because nobody collects that data.
And groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center and some academic groups try to go out and collect this information,
but they're reliant on law enforcement identifying these crimes as bias crimes and they're dependent on the media of covering them because they are
hard to -- it's hard to go to every courtroom in the United States and to look at every case. Not to mention, half of the violent crime in the
United States isn't solved. That includes 40 percent of the homicides.
And, you know, when we're looking at this violence, it's important to keep in mind, this is a tiny fraction of the violence that the Americans suffer
every year. So, we have to put it in context and understand it as part of a larger problem of violence in this country, and I think that's the key.
The first part of how we start addressing it.
And the second part is understanding that the victims of this violence are who need support, right? Most hate crimes laws, most terrorism laws are
extraordinarily punitive. You know, decades in prison, death penalty involved in these things where, if we understand that the injury is against
the community and start to choose to use restorative justice measures that are about bringing our communities together, that will have a better long-
term outcome for security in the United States.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's certainly troubling. We'll keep an eye on it. Michael German, thank you so much indeed for joining us on this issue.
GERMAN: Thank you.
Now, where do these actions fit in, if at all, with recent waves of nationalism and populist parties in Europe? Is this phenomenon still on
the rise, or is it playing itself out?
In Spain this weekend, parliamentary elections saw a far-right party win seats for the very first time since the fall of the fascist dictator
Francisco Franco in 1975. The extreme nationalist Vox Party, that is Latin for voice, fell a bit short though of predictions but still managed 10
percent of the vote.
The centre-left Socialist Worker's Party, a mainstream one, won most seats. It made a stronger showing than usual. But with no outright majority, it
will have to find coalition partners. So, what should we take away from these results? The political scientist, Yascha Mounk, writes often about
populism and democracy and he's joining us from Baltimore where he is associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International
Studies. Yascha Mounk, welcome back to the program.
YASCHA MOUNK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Thank you so much for having me on, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: I wonder what you -- because you've been saying this a lot, what's going to in Europe, but obviously what's happening in the United
States as well, in a slightly different way. But what do you make of what happened in Spain over the weekend, and does it have sort of lessons or
predictors for what might happen in some of these other countries with far- right parties?
MOUNK: Yes, absolutely. I think the first very important lesson from the election in Spain is simply that no country is safe from the rise of
populism and no country is safe [13:15:00] from the rise of far-right populism.
I grew up in Germany. And when I was traveling in the country in the fall of 2016, I spoke to a number of senior politicians who said, "Even for the
Alternative for Germany is doing very well in polls right now, I can't imagine that they will ever be in the Bundestag because our history has
made us immune from those far-right parties." And the Spanish elites thought very much the same thing, because of the recent history of fascist
rule in the country, because of the pride and having tradition to democracy, it just wasn't imaginable an urbanely (ph) far-right country --
far-right party would gain a real foothold in the political system.
Well, unfortunately, the AfD did gain a large number of seats in the German Bundestag a couple of years ago. And now, Vox has gained a large number of
seats in the Cortes Generales in Madrid.
So, I think the first important lesson is simply that this kind of far- right populism can break through anywhere. No country is immune from it.
AMANPOUR: But put it in perspective because, you know, we started by saying it fell slightly short of some of the predictions with the exit
polls. It hasn't done as well, but is it still a threat, do you think, and what are its main politics, its main plank?
MOUNK: Well, its main plank is to make Spain great again, which is a phrase, obviously, borrowed from the American president, Donald Trump, but
perhaps refer (ph) even within sinister (ph) residents in a country where General Franco did rule less than 50 years ago.
It is anti-immigrant. For immigration, it's less of an issue in Spain because the country has had a little less immigration than many other
European countries. It is quite hard-core on gender issues. It is very upset about some of the social transformations and greater gender rights,
greater LGBTQ rights but (ph) for country has embraced in the last few years, and it is interestingly quite neoliberal on the economy.
So, unlike some other populist parties across Europe that essentially want to form of wealth estate chauvinism where you expand the wealth estate but
only for the true "real citizens" of the country. Vox actually wants a pretty hard-core neoliberal set of economic policies.
Is it dangerous? Well, I think first of all, it is dangerous that a nostalgia for the past, including a soft paddling at best of the fascist
past now has an institutionalized voice in Spain. The mainstream centre- right party, the Partido Popular, had always embraced some of those voters without ever letting them run the show. The fact they have to now compete
with Vox is likely to lead to an even greater move toward populist modes, towards populist politics among the centre-right in Spain. As we've
already seen in countries like Austria, for example, and that's quite concerning for the years to come.
AMANPOUR: So, just to link it back to the United States. Obviously, Make Spain Great Again, as you pointed out, is a direct, you know, transplant
from the United States. But also, Steve Bannon who is sort of credited with being the super nationalist, the super populist disruptor, has met
with a lot of these groups in Europe, including Vox. Why is -- explain the linkage and what sense it makes for American parties to be aligned or to
try to support these kinds of parties in Europe.
MOUNK: Yes. So, first of all, I think it's important not to exaggerate the role that Steve Bannon plays in all of this. He goes around to all
these countries and meets with all of these people. And certainly, it's interesting to see whom he endorses. And he very strongly endorsed the Vox
Party in Spain, which gives you a sense of the ideological profile.
I don't know how personally influential Steve Bannon was on the Vox Party in Spain or how important he is in this whole story. Rather, it seems to
me to be a story of ideological convergence. I think that there is a similar rebellion going on in North America and in Western Europe against
immigration, against social liberalization, against a greater role of women in society, against the LGBTQ rights. And the different movements that
embrace that brand of politics naturally have a lot in common.
So, you know, they might meet every now and again. They might enjoy the publicity that comes with mutually endorsing each other and so on. But I
think essentially it is a parallel reaction to similar underlying drivers in society.
AMANPOUR: Let's just talk about a couple of issues that have come up recently. You used to talk, certainly, in your book, you talked about how
young, you know, people in the United States and elsewhere are sort of nostalgic for a "strong man" president or leader.
And there's been just a recent report in the U.K. by the Hansard Society this year about attitudes toward democracy, with 72 percent saying the
system of government needs quite a lot or a great deal of improvement, 54 [13:20:00] says Britain needs a strong leader willing to break the rules
and 47 percent feel they have no influence at all over national decision making. Do you see that sort of gaining traction or is that sort of the
height of the populist wave?
MOUNK: Well, I think that's always difficult to know. It's the same in the stock market. You can see that a stock has risen and risen and risen,
that might predict that it's going to continue to rise or you may be looking at its peak. I don't think anybody quite knows.
I fear that populism is going to continue to grow because it is reacting to a set of underlying drivers. Changing demographics, the changing role of
different minorities in society. But also, economic stagnation and a sense that governments no longer deliver for ordinary people. And combined with
the rise of social media, which makes it easy for (INAUDIBLE) voices to gain a real foothold in politics, I think that makes a very dangerous
cocktail, and that's not about to change.
At the same time, it's absolutely possible that people will start to look at some of these populist movements and governments and say, "I'm not sure
quite sure about (INAUDIBLE) either." And, of course, you may see the rejuvenation of some mainstream parties. In that sense, the Spanish
election, I think, had one good piece of news, which is that the centre- left, sensible PSOE that has given real benefits to ordinary citizens, including a rise in living standards, that had strong red young candidate
who is quite competent, managed to increase its result, gained nearly 30 percent of the vote. So, it's definitely possible that we may be at the
height of this trend, but I wouldn't jump to that conclusion quite yet.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, certainly it was interesting to see what you've just pointed out about that centre-left party. We're just going to put up
a map of the sort of share of populist parties around 20 -- since 2017, to just ask you the upcoming European elections are going to be quite
significant, aren't they? Well, what do you expect to be the picture? Would it be much the same as the one we're seeing now? I know you can't
see it but there's quite a big share of populist parties, you know, in all these European countries. Do you think it's going to get more acute with
these elections at the end of May?
MOUNK: Yes. Look, populism is still something that we think of as this marginal force, as this insurgent force but it's now one of the absolutely
dominant political forces across the world. I just arrived this morning in Baltimore from Brazil which now has a populist government as do three of
the largest democracies in the world.
And I traveled recently across some of that map from (INAUDIBLE) in the north of Poland to Trieste in Italy along the lines of the old iron
curtain, never leaving a country that is ruled why populists, through Poland and Hungary to Austria and Italy. So, this is a very important
political force in Europe now. And so, it will gain a lot of support in the European parliament elections as well.
The estimates vary. I think about one-third of the vote is likely to go to populist parties. That's in line with recent elections at the national
level. And that certainly will allow populists on the right to be a very important road block to sensible governance and the European Union level
and to the very real reforms that the E.U. definitely needs.
I would like to emphasize though that it's sort of odd that normally media outlets have ignored European parliamentary elections, they've seemed
completely irrelevant. That underestimated how important the European parliament has become. I slightly feel that this year we are throwing all
of our attention too strongly on the European parliament elections because even though the parliament is certainly important, the national level
remains the most important in Europe.
AMANPOUR: Right. Yes.
MOUNK: And probably the most important election that we have coming up is in Poland this fall in which the opposition will try to displace the
government that is attacking democratic institutions in very, very acute ways. And if that government is re-elected, I fear that we will have a
rise in dictatorship in the heart of Europe in Warsaw just as we already do in Hungary, for example.
AMANPOUR: It's really so interestingly important to keep our eye on. Yascha Mounk, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, one issue that is set to be key in upcoming elections around the world is climate. In the last few months, we've seen more and more young people
take to the streets demanding that politicians sit up and take notice of the climate crisis. One such group in the United States is the Sunrise
Movement. The youth-led initiative has been working to put pressure on elected officials since they formed in 2017.
And a breakthrough came for them in November 200 activists occupied the incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office [13:25:00] a week after the midterm
election. And they were paid a visit by their ally, freshman Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In February, they again took their demands right to the door of another Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, asking her to vote in favor of the
Green New Deal. This is how the senator responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing. You come in here and you say it has to be my way or the
highway. I don't respond to that. I've gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality. And I know what I'm doing.
So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Joining me now is the 26-year-old co-founder and director of the Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash.
Welcome to the program.
VARSHINI PRAKASH, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SUNRISE MOVEMENT: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, you must feel pretty energized right now because we've had such a spotlight on, for instance, Extinction Rebellion for the last two
weeks here in London, there's been the Greta Thunberg, you know, movement, there's just much now really focusing on the kind of things you've been
calling for. Do you feel this is a tipping point movement and moment?
PRAKASH: Absolutely. I do. I mean, it has been incredible. We have been on this road to the Green New Deal tour right now. I am actually in
California. Senator Feinstein and also Nancy Pelosi's state at the moment.
Just yesterday, we met with dozens of people in Paradise, California, a place that has been reduced to rubble and metal and melted plastic because
of the fires of last year. If you can imagine, people were quite literally fleeing with fires on both sides in their car, their cars melting from the
heat as they were trying to get to sanctuary and they could not get out of the car because of the danger of the fire.
So, it's a place that is ground zero for climate change, and we are seeing that in the midst of that young people are recognizing the political
failures of our politicians over the last 30 years and stepping up to take action.
AMANPOUR: I just want to go back to your own personal story because I think your grandparents were affected very, very traumatically by climate
change in India, right?
PRAKASH: Yes. So, my family is from Southern India. They weren't directly impacted by the floods. But a few years ago, there were these
terrible monsoon seasons that went all throughout Southern India and I saw these images of people walking miles to sanctuary in chest deep water,
seeing how people in my community who looked like me, families and friends lost electricity for weeks, weren't able to have food or water.
And it just sort of made me realize that this crisis is not 30, 40, 50 years in the future like they say. It's impacting people in this moment.
And we're seeing that not only in India but we see it all across the domestic United States with the fires, but also the hurricanes that have
devastated Maria -- that have devastated Puerto Rico like Hurricane Maria, 3,000 people who have perished who still lack access to clean water and
So, we're really seeing the impacts all over. And that -- those floods in India were -- was one of the key moments that made me step up and want to
create Sunrise Movement to form a political vehicle for the millions of young people who are terrified right now about what our future holds.
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, the young people are showing all us previous generations up by their dedication and their activism and their single-
minded political endeavors here. But what is exactly -- I mean, can you actually say what the Green New Deal is? Because, yes, it does sound very
FDR and it's not a new term, other groups and people have used that in the past. But there are many people who criticize it. You just saw Dianne
Feinstein, you've heard Nancy Pelosi, because they say it's a bit wooly, it doesn't have specific economic proposals or parameters. What exactly is it
as you see it?
PRAKASH: Right. Well, I think before we get to the policies, we've got to get crystal clear on the vision and the goals. And the Green New Deal
resolution put forward by Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey earlier this year did exactly that. And it calls for a ten-year economic mobilization
at a scale that we haven't seen since perhaps World War II in America. It calls for getting America off fossil fuels and stopping climate change.
The creation of -- of -- of massive labor force, tens of millions of good, high paying jobs in the process and the virtual elimination of poverty as
well. So it's -- it's -- it's a program that really aims to tackle and address getting to climate action through achieving racial and economic
equality injustice as well.
AMANPOUR: OK. So look, I mean these are all major issues that especially young people are, again, really on the sharp edge of all of this. You know
Not just climate but as you just mentioned; gender, sexuality; all of the issues that are really, really important. But again, just -- I'm just
trying to figure out because some of the old gray beards and the people who have been at this for the longest like James Hansen was on a panel with you
just recently on Al Jazeera (ph).
And he sort of poured cold water of the idea of the Green New Deal. Let me just -- let me just play this.
JAMES HANSEN, FORMER NASA SCIENTIST: The Green New Deal as they've defined it is nonsense. We need a real deal which understands how economics works
and what we need to do in order to move off of fossil fuels.
AMANPOUR: So I mean there you were in that picture with him. I mean what was it like to have him say that it's nonsense? And again, do you feel
some kind of pressure to articulate something much more focused?
PRAKASH: Yes. Yes, I -- I will admit I felt my breath catch at that moment. And I -- and I felt this huge disappointment to see somebody who,
you know, I had looked up to who had provided the first testament to Congress in 1988 about the crisis come out and call the greatest hope that
my generation has right now to stop the climate crisis nonsense and sort of repeat conservative talking points about it.
So what I'll say is -- is this Green New Deal has given young Americans so much hope. We support it in majorities and even conservative republicans
agree that their own party is hugely out of line with what the rest of the world and really the rest of the public believes we need to do about this
I think that the policy specifics are coming. There are a number of Senators and Congress people more broadly working on this. We are also
seeing that presidential candidates are starting to roll out their policies and that -- that climate change will be a central conversation to the 2020
election debates in the election cycle.
But I think it's well on its way and we have to start with a vision of where we're going and what this resolution has provided is saying that the
last 30 years of incrementalist polices of weak tea policies and -- and tepid proposals are not enough to -- to prevent millions of lives being
lost to pollution and to climate crisis.
AMANPOUR: You know you mentioned that it's become a central plank of certainly the next presidential election, the democratic candidates. Beto
O'Rourke today unveiled a $5 trillion plan in which to have zero climate -- you know zero emissions by 2050 (ph). That's zero (ph).
You've seen here in the U.K., the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn is pushing a vote this week to decide to declare climate emergency following
these extinction rebellions.
And even the leader of -- of Scotland, the first administer Nichola Sturgeon is talking about a client emergency. I mean that's a lot of -- a
lot of traction that you all have gained in a -- in a fairly short time.
PRAKASH: Yes, exactly. And we have seen an eruption in the United States as well. Just in the last six months Sunrise Movement went from having
just 20 local chapters to having over 200 in almost every single one of the states of United -- of the U.S.
We have seen thousands of people take action. We have seen dozens of politicians co-sponsor this resolution by Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey.
We have seen a majority of presidential -- democratic presidential contenders campaigning and championing a Green New Deal and -- and further
more we are seeing that -- this -- people are really gearing up to make this a decisive issue every single day on the campaign trail.
So I'm infinitely hopeful. I think there are a lot of people who are organizing actively on the ground and mobilizing actively on the ground
AMANPOUR: I mean Varshini, I wonder whether you heard Michael German, former FBI saying that not so long ago eco-terrorism was considered a big
domestic terrorism threat in the United States. I mean we have come a long way since those days.
PRAKASH: We have. And I mean -- if you look at it, even the Department of Defense agrees that the number one issue, the greatest national security
threat right now is climate change.
So if we actually want to protect our nation, if we want to protect the world from engaging in war from falling into chaos and violence, the
greatest thing right now to do would be to embrace the Green New Deal and launch into this economic mobilization program over the next 10 years.
AMANPOUR: All right. OK. Thank you so much, indeed, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement for joining us. And next, we turn to our guest, the
award-winning actor Alec Baldwin. In the past three years he's become an even more familiar face by impersonating President Trump on Saturday Night
Live. Baldwin's latest role is another larger than life character. "Framing John DeLorean" tells the story of the car executive best known for
making the famous time-traveling vehicle in "Back to the Future".
Rocked by scandal, his company ultimately went bust, though. He joined our Walter Isaacson to talk about the biopic, how he gets in character to play
President Trump, and why he's considered running to replace him.
WALTER ISAACSON, JOURNALIST, CNN: Alec, welcome to the show.
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Thank you, Walter.
ISAACSON: Hey, opening Tribeca Film Festival with a John DeLorean sort of combination doc and film. Do you like John DeLorean as a character? I
mean, he sort of fits into your style.
BALDWIN: Oh, no.
ISAACSON: That was a compliment.
BALDWIN: Oh no. OK. Well I'll try to find a way to take it as a compliment. I'll work on that. But the -- well you know, years ago when
there was a -- I'm not going to say a fever, but there was more of a -- of a fizz to doing a DeLorean film, he called me. I got a call from John
DeLorean and he said, Alec, with that Michigan accent of his, he said, Alec, I'd like you to play me in the film. And I said, oh my god, that
would be great. And he was living -- I think actually he had been put out of his New Jersey -- his Bedminster estate, which is now Trump's golf
That was -- that was DeLorean's home. And he was evicted from there because of his financial reversals, and he was -- wound up living in some
other home near there. But I spoke to him on the phone about me playing him in a movie which never came about, and now this came. And I think that
I was intrigued by the hybrid of the doc footage and re-enactment footage, and I think that in terms of creating the character, it wasn't easy.
Because to do DeLorean, who's taller than me, leaner than me, there was a prosthetic makeup job that might have taken three hours, which we couldn't
afford that time-wise. So we came up with something with the best makeup artists that I know, who are also very quick, which are the Saturday Night
ISAACSON: When I first saw some clips of this, I saw John DeLorean unveil the car and it took me awhile to realize it was you. Let's -- let's look
at a clip of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I know that we may be the new boy on the block, but I also know that on this, the bicentennial of the American Revolution, we can start
making our version of the American dream a reality. Allow me to introduce the first incarnation in the evolution of my dream, our first vehicle, code
named the DMC 12, the DeLorean motor car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I love movies because there's so much practicality involved, so in order to have everything work in that shot, we had two men crouched down
on the floor of the car who opened the gull wing doors on -- on cue. And Morena Baccarin who plays Christina Ferrare, his wife at the time, is
fantastic in the movie and she's a wonderful actress and Josh Charles is playing the other part.
ISAACSON: And he has an incredibly driven character, he had cocaine problems, everything else. When you do a biopic like that, do you see how
the personality all weaves together and it's sort of all part of one guy?
BALDWIN: DeLorean's story is difficult to me to grasp because it's kind of an unresolved story. DeLorean himself, he never actually came clean about
why he did some of the things he did. He was a kind of a very furtive and very kind of a cagey animal who evaded prosecution for the -- he beat the
system in the -- in the -- in the cocaine charge. I think he was somebody who had a -- just an almost paralyzing allergy to failure. There was no
way he was going to fail. So to go and get the funds from selling drugs and -- and the other crimes he committed -- because there's a lot of things
about DeLorean people don't know, other things that were kind of larcenous or exploitative of people.
ISAACSON: So the crimes, in a way, explain what they were, were somewhat part and parcel of his personality.
[13:40:00] BALDWIN: Well I guess a jury eventually -- if I have it right, a jury eventually saw that -- or recognized that DeLorean was entrapped to
-- in a drug deal. And they went and got all this cocaine, they were going to move and access money to help bail out the failing project. Now the
project -- if the story is told properly, the project, what he wanted to do, there was a lot of good things about that car company. He was going to
-- they were creating jobs in Ireland and they were going to manufacture a car. One of the things that was the most surprising to me was how anemic
the car actually was as a sports car. They were in a hurry to get this thing -- once they got the money and had delivery dates and stuff like that
(ph) -- it's a business with a timeline, they didn't have time to put the right engine in the car.
So if I'm not mistaken, they got a six-cylinder lotus (ph) that fit the body. They did it backwards. They did the body first and the engine after
that. And the car was like a -- power-wise, was -- I mean, it wasn't a golf cart but it was not much more. It was just a little bit more than
that. And many people thought that the car, like DeLorean himself, looked beautiful on the outside and was very insubstantial on the inside.
ISAACSON: When I watch you do John DeLorean, I think of you really getting into character. And the one, of course, that you do now when you're so
into the character is Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So I'm basically taking military money so I can has wall. So I'm going to sign these papers for emergency and then I'll immediately be sued
and the ruling will not go in my favor and then I end up in the Supreme Court, and then I'll call my buddy Kavanaugh and I'll say it's time to
repay the Donnie and he'll say new phone, who dis?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ISAACSON: When you get into Donald Trump, I mean, do you still enjoy it? Because it's -- it's so fresh every time you're on Saturday Night Live
BALDWIN: Well you know, you have a -- it's such a dichotomy, the people's response. I mean, I have people -- the majority of people who will meet me
are very kind and they say, I love what you're doing and they walk up and whisper to me and they're very polite and say thank you so much for helping
us get through this nightmare and so forth, and then there's people, typically online, who are far away, who say, you know, you suck and you're
the worst impersonator I've ever seen in my life and what have you. But truly, I thought -- the -- the thing about the cold opening on the show,
which you are literally firing a cannon.
It always ends up with you saying, live from New York, it's Saturday night and whether your co-stars are members of the company, like Kate or Beck or
they're other guest stars like Ben Stiller or De Niro and so forth, there's a pace and there's a vitality to it that doesn't necessarily allow for the
most precise Trump impersonation. What we're doing is -- is -- is a figure of Trump, we're doing like an essence of Trump. His corrupt, amoral,
Machiavellian nature is at the fore and doing a real Trump, that's for another project.
ISAACSON: Well in some ways -- I mean, you're from Long Island, you grew up in this milieu, you kind of get Trump, it seems to me. I mean, do you
feel that you really understand this guy?
BALDWIN: No, I don't. I mean, I -- I've said this before. For my podcast, I hosted an episode that we did with Michael Wolff and it was at
the crest of that "Fire and Fury" release of his book and we were at a town hall and I remember saying for the first time -- and I've said this a
couple other times -- that, you know, the presidency of the United States - - which you know better than I do. I mean, you're an historian, you know better than I do that this is a vista like no other vista in life.
You have a job of which you see the -- the -- the kind of panaplea of life, good and bad, what people are doing, including our own country, around the
world, good and bad and you meet the creme de la creme of society -- thinkers, athletes, artists, military men and women, you have a chance to
see the world in a way that -- that everybody that's had the job, this -- this seat has changed them. Except Trump. Trump is the only man in
American history that the presidency of the United States has had no effect on him whatsoever. It hasn't changed him. I thought he would change.
After he won, which was horrifying to me, because if you're a New Yorker, you're on to Trump.
He's not the host of "The Apprentice" who's fooled over all these fly-over Americans that he's this crack businessman. We kind of know he's something
else. But even so when he won, I thought to myself, he's going to change. Give it a year and we'll see a different Trump. And no. He's the same now
-- which, this is the real tragedy. He's exactly the same today as he was back in November of 2016.
ISAACSON: You just talked about the flyover Americans, though. I mean, do you -- you must understand the resentment a lot of people feel in this
BALDWIN: I do. I do.
ISAACSON: -- that leads to a Donald Trump.
BALDWIN: Well I -- when I say flyover Americans I mean that -- that's a show business term in terms of demographics and I don't mean that with any
-- in any pejorative sense. I mean, I -- I -- but I mean, I -- I live in a world where nobody watched "The Apprentice." Nobody I know in the world I
lived in in New York or L.A. or in the world I live ever (ph) watched "The Apprentice". "The Apprentice" was a tedious kind of silly show that was on
the air that was a triumph for them and for Burnett and all those people.
They made a lot of money. But the idea that you'd show an edited version of this kind of hyper stylized reality show and say that that's who that
guy is; it's -- this is acting. There was an article, which I'm sure you saw that Larissa MacFarquhar wrote in the New Yorker were all about
Kentucky and -- I think it was Kentucky or West Virginia where she went down there.
And that's what they were saying. They were saying we don't necessarily support Trump or admire Trump but we know how much you hate him, elites
(ph) -- northeaster elites in their mind. And -- and this is our chance to say F.U. to the rest of the country, which I found numbing.
ISSACSON: He has a lot of quirks in his -- the way he looks and talks and you've mastered them. I mean it is -- when you come on cold on "Saturday
Night Live," it's like you're doing John Delorean and looks just like him. Show me some of the tricks; show me how you do it. You know just what it
is that makes you able to get into it?
BALDWIN: You know what we do is a caricature. I mean it's like an Oliphant drawing. You know we don't really -- we don't really go for a --
it's like Steve Brodner, everything is an exaggeration.
But you know the thing about Trump was to just always look miserable. That was the key. You should have your face -- no matter what someone would
say. It's a beautiful day outside. Is it, is it really beautiful outside. Is it a beautiful day? Like nothing people can say that can change you
from this deep, deep, deep pit of unhappiness that I think he lives in all the time.
Because I -- because this is not going the way he imagined. How many people who've been president had been treated this way? I mean even Regan;
liberals, democrats, people who didn't agree with the -- you know they backed but they didn't say unkind things and say well he's got Alzheimer's.
You know they -- they -- they lay it off out of some respect for the office if not the man. George W. H. Bush, they started giving him a little bit
more of the business because that they -- of the illegitimacy of the election in Florida in 2000, I think fueled some of that.
But with Trump I've never seen anybody that held this office be treated the way this guy is. It's uncanny.
ISSACSON: Do you think the Democratic Party has gotten so jangled by Trump that they're in danger of fragmenting, going off the deep end, not having a
real message that appeals to the people in America about where we should go next?
BALDWIN: Well, I think Trump has had an effect on them and perhaps a little bit more than -- than your ordinary incumbent republican. But you
know I said recently on -- online; I said I'd love to run for president and I viewed beating Trump as something that was easy to do.
And I think that you need to have somebody come in and have a very tight message for the American people like -- like if you come into the hospital
and you break every bone in your body but you punctured an artery, we have to fix the thing that's going to kill you first and then we'll fix -- we'll
set all your bones later.
This country has to prioritize its needs and there -- let's say there's ten things you want but five things you need and we must do the five things we
need. First healthcare, immigration, education, environmental protection infrastructure.
I mean I've got my own list. But the -- but when you hear specific left leaning democratic candidates and progressive candidates talking about
these -- these buffet tables they want to set up of public policy, well that one word about how they're going to pay for it, that's what's going to
kill the party in the next election.
ISSACSON: So you seriously have thought about running. Might you actually think of doing this in the coming year?
BALDWIN: Well, I want to be very clear of it -- I mean I would love to -- well its two things; one, I would to be the president. And I think I would
be a good president because I think I get it in terms of, you know, the idea that -- that you know there's things I don't know.
Nearly all those men came into office and there's things they didn't know. I believe that there are people who are running for office that what they
have that I don't have, I can get. But what I have that they don't have, they can't get.
Which is a world view that the government has to move toward helping the greatest number of people. Now the -- do I think I would actually do it,
probably not because it's so crowded now and the media is kind of on board with -- or right away anointing.
This one sounds good, here's a poll, this one's not doing so well; the game that the media does very often, which is that -- and I think if I ran they
would kill me. They would just kill me. Even though a comedian who imitates the president just won the presidency of the Ukraine. That was
very -- that was very inspiring to me.
ISSACSON: You've had an amazingly eclectic career. And I first began -- became a fan when we were young, and I saw you play "A Street Car Named
Desire" on stage. You played, you know, Stanley Kowalski, got into that character. Tell me about the arc of your career because I think it may be
the most eclectic career ever. Things from stage plays to game shows to softball player to podcaster to author.
BALDWIN: You know, there was no plan in the sense that there's a -- there's a way you can work in this business and let's say -- it's not a
long list, but there may be three or four things which are good advice, if you want to succeed. I think one of those things -- and I even tell people
from time to time is, is don't become too politically outspoken. The people that are the biggest movie stars in the world today are people you
know nothing about their politics. It's very private. But to go and become very partisan and to go and become very vocal, attacking a president
who has the support of some significant swatch of the country is always a risk. I mean, I've actually been fired from jobs. I've lost jobs.
ISAACSON: You had the messy divorce with Kim Basinger and the fights over custody (ph).
ISAACSON: What did you learn from that?
BALDWIN: What I learned, and I've told people before, is that when you're in court, be patient to let the bitterness leak out and to ebb because if
you do what I did -- and I mentioned this in the book, which is to win a ruling, and then within months go back in and try to expand and expand your
ruling and antagonize the other side because they view -- the other party and their lawyers view it as a competition. Don't settle for the
boilerplate you get and wait. And just live with it for a year, a year and a half, two years. You're entitled to more, you know you're entitled to
more, but let the anger subside, and -- which I did not do.
I went in every three months saying, I want my rights. You know, and what you realize is you don't have any rights as far as the court is concerned.
ISAACSON: You talk about letting anger subside. Did that help you manage -- you know, you used to get in fights a whole lot, have anger problems and
stuff. Has that helped you sort of with the family calm (ph) that down now?
BALDWIN: Well you know, this thing happened with this guy in front of my building where they said that I punched this guy and what was really sad
for me was there's cameras everywhere and I guess we're about to go maybe into some civil proceeding, I don't know. Because I feel badly in the
sense that this guy's wasting his time and my time because there's cameras everywhere that dispute it. I mean, he lied to the police. If he says
that I punched him in the face, that's a lie. But what I think is important is, number one, any physical altercation that you get into with
people like that is not a good idea. But every single one of them I've had, has been with a tabloid, paparazzi media member, and there was a
I have never -- I mean, I don't think I could survive in my business. I have never had an altercation with somebody in that quadrant of the media
that wasn't provoked. If a guy's across the street with a long lens, I don't go running across the street, say hey, what are you doing. But men
who've come to my home during specific events in my life and they almost chipped my wife's teeth with a lens of a camera, you know, snapping it in
her face, anything like that where you get provoked and cross a line, you - - you lose. You're the loser.
ISAACSON: What is your aspiration? What would be the great thing you'd love to do in a few years when you're ready to do something big?
BALDWIN: Next year, in 2020, I will have done this for 40 years. Now what I want to do, I don't know. My wife and I are thinking about maybe moving
overseas for like a little holiday, like a year to live in Spain because my wife is from Spain. We have all kinds of ideas of different things we
might do because I'm 61. And I have a five-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old and 11-month-old. So I want to make the most of the time I
have left and as my friend said, when I turned 60, he said remember that you have -- you still have plenty of time, but none to waste.
ISAACSON: Alec Baldwin, wow, thanks for being with us.
BALDWIN: Yes. Yes, thank you.
ISAACSON: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And none to waste indeed. And whether he changes his mind about running for president or decides to retire into the Spanish sunshine after
such a long and illustrious career, this is surely not the last we're seeing of Alec Baldwin. And that is it for now. Remember, you can always
listen to our podcast and see us online at Amanpour.com. And follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Thanks for watching, and good-bye from London.