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Death of a Terrorist Leader; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dies in U.S. Raid; Rukmini Callimachi, Correspondent, The New York Times, is Interviewed About Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; Impeachment Proceeding in Washington Gaining Momentum; Frank Luntz, Pollster and Republican Strategist, and Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), Former U.S. House Representative, are Interviewed About Trump's Impeachment. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 28, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Baghdadi and the thugs who follow him were responsible for some of the most brutal atrocities of our time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Does the killing of ISIS commander, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leave ISIS on its knees or inspire it to lash out around the world? We're joined
by the award-winning reporter, Rukmini Callimachi.
Then, success against that enemy on the battlefield while bracing against domestic opponents at home. Democratic congresswoman, Elizabeth Holtzman,
played a major role in the Watergate probe. She joins me with Republican strategist, Frank Luntz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARTI SHAHANI, AUTHOR, "HERE WE ARE: AMERICAN DREAMS, AMERICAN NIGHTMARES": No matter what happened to her husband, she can tell her daughter, Aarti,
be grateful for the life you have because it is much better than anything you would have had back there, trust me, I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Journalist, Aarti Shahani, shares the tortious tale of her family's immigration to America.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi rose from a fervent religious student to rule the brutal self-declared caliphate of ISIS, overseeing medieval style
punishments, ordering barbaric executions including of journalists such as James Foley and destroying important parts of the region and the world's
Now, the 48-year-old ISIS leader is no more. Killed in a U.S. raid which was named after Kayla Mueller, an American woman who he reportedly raped.
In a press conference today, defense secretary, Mark Esper, said that the raid should serve as a warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESPER: Baghdadi's death will not rid the world of terrorism or end the ongoing conflict in Syria, but it will certainly send a message to those
who would question America's resolve and provide a warning to terrorists who think that they can hide.
The United States, more than any other nation in the world, possesses the power and the will to hunt to the ends of the earth those who wish to bring
harm upon the American people. Saturday's operation is just one example of the incredible determination and great skill of the United States military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
In addition to Baghdadi, a joint U.S.-Kurdish raid reportedly also killed an ISIS spokesman who reportedly should have succeeded the ISIS leader.
Now, that the leadership has been decapitated, will ISIS struggle to replace the man who led them and was their public face and what does it
mean for the fight against the terrorist organization?
Joining me now to answer those questions is the award-winning journalist, Rukmini Callimachi. She collected more than 1,000 ISIS internal documents
when she was embedded with the Iraqi military between 2016 and '17. And her detailed obituary of Baghdadi for the "New York Times" saw her visit
the village where he was born and visit the first mosque that he attended. Joining us now from Bucharest, Romania.
Welcome to the program, Rukmini Callimachi.
RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you for having me, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So, you have made it your -- essentially, your career's work to document in forensic detail Baghdadi and how he ran the caliphate. And you
have brought us so much information. Tell me what surprised you or what didn't in the fact that he was caught now and that he is no longer?
CALLIMACHI: In a way, I'm not surprised. I was alerted to the fact that the U.S. knew his whereabouts as early as July. We have two sources at
the" New York Times" who have confirmed that the U.S. had identified his location in Idlib as far back as 3 1/2 months ago.
The question was, when the raid was going to take place. And what we have learned is that the raid was rushed as a result of the chaos that is now
engulfing Northern Syria as a result of President Trump's decision to allow Turkey to invade that area.
AMANPOUR: Rukmini, let me just dive down into that a little bit then. Clearly, the Pentagon -- I mean, if you at the "New York Times" knew where
he was, obviously, the U.S. military knew where he was and the Syrian Kurds presumably knew where he was. Why would they have unsettled the terrain,
so to speak, and potentially risk this meticulous operation to get him?
CALLIMACHI: What I was told is that back in July when they identified the location in this corner of Idlib where they believed that he was, it was
considered too unsafe for U.S. forces to go in. It is now clear why. This is an area that is known for being ruled by rebel groups that are
affiliated with [14:05:00] al-Qaeda. It is also an area that is under (INAUDIBLE) and Syrian air space, and that makes it difficult for the U.S.
to go in.
I believe, from speaking to sources, that the reason that they went ahead with the raid now is that as the U.S. pulls out of this area of
Northeastern Syria, it's going to be increasingly more difficult to have eyes on the ground, to have what they called HUMINT, human intelligence on
the ground, as well as to have the drone footage and the overhead surveillance that allows these kind of raids too take place.
AMANPOUR: Rukmini, given everything you discovered and all the people you interviewed about Baghdadi and knowing his character and the arc of his
rise, essentially, from kind of a shy boy, as we understand, then, you know, arrested by the United States in the aftermath of the Iraq war, put
into an American prison and there he became very harshly radicalized against the U.S. and against the world.
Does it -- do you understand and did you expect him to kill himself or did you think that he would never give himself up willingly and also, allegedly
he killed three of his children?
CALLIMACHI: The pattern that we have seen with members of ISIS, we saw this in Mosul as well as in Raqqah, is that even women were wearing suicide
belts, and in certain occasions, they would detonate those as coalition forces came in.
For that reason, I think it makes sense that Baghdadi did what he did. The fact that he took three of his children with him could be seen as an act of
cowardice, it could be seen also, and I believe it will be seen by his follower, as an act of his commitment to this path that he was on.
AMANPOUR: So, we sort of started by asking a question, does this actually decapitate this movement, this terrorist organization or does it pave the
way for some kind of, you know, resumption of an underground insurgent, movement that is nonetheless lethal and that can continue without their
CALLIMACHI: Look, on the one hand, I don't want to minimize what has happened. I think that this is a very big deal for ISIS. It is a very big
blow to them and I would consider the death of Baghdadi to be the biggest news in terms of the death of a terror leader since the death of bin Laden.
I think you will have the same style of ramifications for ISIS.
But that said, ISIS has now -- this is a group that implanted itself in Iraq after the American-led invasion. And since 2003, 2004, they have now
gone through three leaders. And with each -- with the decapitation of each leader, what we have seen is that the group reconstituted itself and, in
fact, grew ever stronger.
In 2011, when U.S. forces were pulling out of Iraq, this is a group believed to have less than 700 fighters. Now, today, after the loss of all
of its territory in Iraq and Syria, after all of the air strikes, after the ground troops, after the artillery fire, after the war that we have seen
for the past five years, the Pentagon estimates that the group, just in Iraq and Syria, still has 18,000 members. 18,000. So, more than 18 times
what they had in 2011. That gives you a sense, I think, of the scope of this group.
AMANPOUR: Give us a sense then of who this man was. I sort of briefly skirted over, you know, the main points of his rise, but you've documented
it. Where did he come from? And he also took the nom de guerre which is very much about the Prophet Muhammad and about the tribe that he comes from
and the whole caliphate, the idea of that. Explain how he came from the humble beginnings to where he ended up.
CALLIMACHI: So, a couple of points. I traveled to the village of al-Jelom (ph). This is the village where Baghdadi was born. Most people know
Baghdadi, those who have studied him, as somebody who grew up in Samarra, that is true, but his origins are in a village several hours away from
Samarra, deep inside what is called the Sunni triangle in Iraq, this is a Sunni area.
What is interesting about the village of al-Jelom (ph) it that al-Jelom (ph) is the home of something called the Badri tribe in Iraq. And the
Badri tribe traces its lineage, its ancestry to the Qureshi tribe from Saudi Arabia, from the Gulf, and that is the tribe of the prophet,
This is a key detail about Baghdadi because according to their reading of scripture, the only people -- the only person that can be eligible to be a
caliph of a so-called caliphate is somebody who can trace a lineage going all the way back to the prophet's tribe and his family.
In Baghdadi's case, they [14:10:00] claim that his lineage goes all the way back to Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet.
I had always been skeptical of this particular story about Baghdadi. But, in fact, it turns out to be true. I went and spoke to the village chief of
al-Jelom, I went and spoke to various village elders there, and indeed, it appears that his family traces that lineage.
Now, regarding his own path, he came from a humble Sunni family. But very early on, what is clear in Baghdadi's teenage years, in his adolescence, is
both that he had a spiritual gift, and I don't say this lightly. This is a man who was extremely brutal, who was a mass murderer. But according to
the people who knew him in his childhood and in his teenage years, he really was religious. He found his home in the mosque in Samarra.
At the same time, this was a person who, as a teenager, began reproaching others around him what he saw, what he perceived to be violations of
Islamic law. He got into a big fight with his next-door neighbor who was a dear childhood friend of his over the fact that his neighbor was
(INAUDIBLE) because he found out to be an Islamic.
So, he positions himself, before he even reaches adulthood, as somebody who sees it as his right, his duty, to police the way other people around him
practice their faith. And I think that that is interesting in light of what he ended up becoming.
AMANPOUR: And he alienated people like that.
CALLIMACHI: He alienated a lot of people. When he was in his early 20s, he became the coach of a youth soccer team in Samarra. And I spoke to some
of the players on this team. One of whom ended up dropping out of this team because he said that even though Baghdadi was a great coach, he really
enjoy the physical aspect of being coached by him, he was a good player, he said that, at the end of every practice, Baghdadi would pass out pamphlets
preaching the tenets of Wahhabi Islam.
CALLIMACHI: Which as you know, is a very -- extremely conservative form of Islam. And this young player told me that as a teenager, he brought this
pamphlet home, his parents were very disturbed by it and they ask for him to drop out because they didn't see it as proper that on -- in a youth
soccer team, that the coach should be trying to speak of matters of faith.
AMANPOUR: You know, you trace his rise, essentially, from the end of the 2003 Iraq war when all the -- a lot of disaffected Saddam henchmen who were
laid off, or not even henchmen, military and others, you know, started the insurgency against him. And Baghdadi was able to get in to that partly
radicalized by having been arrested by the United States and kept for many months in a prison there.
One of the most interesting things that you uncovered in your reporting was precisely how ISIS made all its hundreds of millions of dollars. People
just couldn't figure out how it happened. And you forensically documented it.
Tell us how ISIS became not just a caliphate with territory, which outdid obviously al-Qaeda, it never had territory, but how it was so rich and
CALLIMACHI: You know, people ask me this question and I ask them back, how does Great Britain make money? How does the United States make money? How
does the European Union make money? And the answer is that these counties have a diversified portfolio of different types of commerce as well as a
taxed based. They have a population who is taxed and they have a population that performs different businesses, and those businesses are
In Mosul, on the very day that Mosul fell and was liberated from ISIS, I found the briefcase of an ISIS ameer who turned out to be the senior
accountant for Nineveh Province, which is the province where Mosul is located, in their agriculture department.
And what I learned from what briefcase is just how much money ISIS was making from the taxation of very basic things. In that briefcase, there
were receipts totaling $19 million of finances, just from things like the sale of barley, the sale of wheat, the sale of flour, the sale of sheep's
If you look at the geography and you do some simple math and multiply how much that means for the area that they had in their control, remember ISIS,
at one point, had one-third of Iraq and a good portion of Syria, they were making hundreds of millions of dollars from taxation alone. And what is
interesting about this were finance, is -- of financing, is unlike the oil wells, which could be bomb, unlike the antiquities trade, which can be
policed as it enters the European Union and other places, you cannot take out that [14:15:00] political financial base for ISIS without removing ISIS
from the territory they control.
Why? Because you can't just bomb the people, you can't actually -- under international norms, you can't just bomb an area. It was the people that
were their riches. And as a result, this is why I think this group was able to keep on making money hand over fist until they were physically
removed from the last little stretch of territory that they held.
AMANPOUR: Yet, of course, we do know that human rights groups, and we have to say this, say that many ordinary civilians were bombed during the allied
attempt to destroy ISIS.
But I want to ask you, what do you think might be found and what more in terms of information might be gleaned? Because the chairman of the joint
chiefs this afternoon said that there has -- they have found hardware and all sorts of other things. I'm going to play this sound and see what you
expect to come out of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: There was material taken away. I don't want to characterize exactly what or how much
yet until it gets exploited properly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what about the prisoners? You took some. How many and in whose custody are they in now?
MILLEY: They are in our custody and they are at a secure facility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can tell us how many?
MILLEY: There were two adult males taken off the objective alive and they are in our custody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, what do you expect? What do you think they found and what about the prisoners?
CALLIMACHI: So, I think that the most important thing that can be answered through the cache of documents that officials are indicating they found in
this location is who Baghdadi's inner circle is. Because even though this was the most famous terrorist in the world when he was killed a couple days
ago, we have so little visibility into the people that are right below him. We don't know who his senior aides are beyond Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, who
was possibly also killed in a strike in recent days.
We don't know who his number two is. We don't know who his number three is. There is speculation about that. So, I think that the succession
issue might be answered through the documentation that is found there.
Interestingly, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who used to be known by (INAUDIBLE) Abu Dua, first came to the attention of authorities in Iraq and in the
United States after the former leader of ISIS, then known as the Islamic State of Iraq, was killed. And in that place, they found documents that
included a roster of personnel. And on that personnel roster, they first saw his name Abu Dua.
So, I think that the succession issue is key here.
AMANPOUR: And succession happens in many ways. I mean, there's the former, what you say, but then there's the -- those who are inspired and
those who will come out of the woodwork.
Correspondent Arwa Damon, a few ago, was at the al-Hawl Camp. And as you know, the whole controversy over ISIS families and what to do about them
and the children who want to come back and the widows who want to come back, many of them to the West. This is what some of them said to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Many of the women here don't know where their husbands and teenage sons are. They tell us quite
openly they are teaching their children to hate the infidels who imprisoned and killed their fathers and brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If the prisoners aren't released, the hatred will grow. The biggest ISIS cell will be the women.
If the men aren't released, I will go crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, just speak to us about what might happen, Baghdadi or not, to all those people who are, you know, potential recruits for the future?
CALLIMACHI: It is really a problem in the making. And what is frustrating for me to see is that it seems that the lessons of history have just not
been learned. Camp Bucca, which was the camp that Baghdadi himself was in, was believed to have acted as an incubator of this terrorist group. Why?
Because these people, who were radicalized, were held together, they were able to hatch plans, they were able to (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: We may just have lost Rukmini Callimachi from the studio in Bucharest in Romania. But clearly, what she was saying was that ISIS got
radicalized in American prison camps in Iraq, Camp Bucca particularly. And now, you've got all their widows and the people who have been capture and
the children in camps in Syria and what might happen to them. In any event, we will continue to follow this in the days and weeks that come.
But the success of the raid on Baghdadi is a much needed win for the president. And the White House is wasting no time capitalizing on it. In
a press conference announcing the demise of the ISIS leader, President Trump went on [14:20:00] into graphic detail about the terrorist's last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: He died after running into a dead end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. He died like a
dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying. Crying, whimpering, screaming bringing three kids with him to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Trump has recently endured withering criticism of his abandonment of the Syrian Kurds whose intelligence was crucial to finding
Baghdadi. At the same time impeachment proceedings in Washington are gaining momentum. So, what happens on this homeland battlefield?
Joining me now is pollster and Republican strategist, Frank Luntz, and Elizabeth Holtzman, former congresswomen who recommended articles of
impeachment for President Richard Nixon when she sat on the Watergate era Judiciary Committee.
Welcome both of you to the program.
Can I just start by asking you how you believe the Baghdadi capture and kill, rather, will affect the current political dynamic in Washington, if
Frank Luntz, let me ask you from the perspective of the White House and the Republicans, what you think.
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let me be clear, I do not represent the Republicans. I'm a pollster, focus group moderate.
And when it comes to issues of impeachment, this is one of the cases where you are supposed to put aside your partisanship and do what is right for
your country. So, I do not speak for the administration or for the president. For the American people, this ongoing conflict has had a
negative impact on our sense of security and safety.
In polling that we've done, over 80 percent of Americans think that the world will be -- is less safe today than it was 10 years ago, and a similar
amount think the world will be less safe going forward. This killing will have a positive impact on the public psyche. But I don't believe within a
week or 10 days it will have any impact on whether the public is supporting or opposing an impeachment investigation.
AMANPOUR: That is really interesting. Elizabeth Holtzman, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the politics right the now around impeachment, how
do you feel? Do you feel similar to Frank Luntz about the sort of bounce that the president might get from this very important raid?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN (D-NY), FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: I agree with him. I think for the moment, the American people, or most of them, are
probably very pleased and proud with the performance in the U.S. military and with the elimination of this avowed enemy.
On the other hand, we have business to take care of and the American people understand that with regard to the president of the United States should be
removed from office. That is a very grave matter. And the question of whether he abused the powers of his office is something that Americans will
focus on, are focusing on. Glad to see that good things can happen, but there are more fundamental issues that have to be dealt with and will be
dealt with in the normal course. It may give him a slight bump. I'm not a pollster. But I think up in the long run it won't affect anything. That
will be the facts that are brought forward that will make the difference for the American people.
AMANPOUR: So, let me continue with you for a moment, Elizabeth Holtzman. Do you think that the president is on his way out? I mean, what do you
think? You have sat there on the Judiciary Committee, you helped draft the articles of impeachment against President Nixon. What is your timeline, if
you have one, your crystal ball tell you about how this is going for the president?
HOLTZMAN: Well, let me say a few things. When we started out in Watergate, when the House Judiciary Committee started the impeachment
proceedings, we didn't know anything. We had no polling data, we didn't know what the constitutional language meant, what is a high crime and
misdemeanor, there hasn't been a presidential impeachment in 100 years. We were starting from scratch.
We didn't know. We didn't whether there were votes House Judiciary Committee, even though the Democrats were in control. We didn't know
whether we had enough votes in the House, nobody even thought about the Senate.
The fact of the matter is we proceeded in a methodical, careful way, getting evidence together, collecting it, analyzing it, debating it. And
in the end, the evidence was overwhelming. We didn't know at the beginning what would happen. We didn't know that there would be a smoking gun tape.
We didn't know that Richard Nixon would resign. That is why it is very hard to predict.
You can't say automatically, well, there are no votes in the Senate, the president can't possibly -- wouldn't get convicted in the Senate. As I
said in Watergate, we never got to the Senate. In Watergate, we just had to make the case.
And what I'm seeing now from perspective of Watergate, which is, you know, over 40 years ago, is that the evidence is being methodically brought
forward and is very serious and damaging information. It is sad as an American to see [14:25:00] that. I don't want to see an American president
engage in these kinds of abuses of power.
But what sounds now very familiar to me is the gradual and inexorable accumulation of evidence, fact by fact, bit by bit, corroboration by
corroboration, day after day. And ultimately, it is that kind of accumulation of evidence, a solid case and a very serious case, that could
persuade, and we see it is beginning to persuade the American people, that he needs to be removed from office. And that could make a huge difference.
AMANPOUR: So, let me turn to you then, Frank Luntz. Because the smoking gun tape in the Watergate area -- sorry, era then led to the president
stepping down some four days later. And not only did it not get to the Senate, and obviously, there wasn't an impeachment in the House, he
Given -- I know you say you're not working for them, but you are close to Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, they to need messaging, they are
sort of trying to gather in the White House some kind of, if not a war room, a defense message. And as Elizabeth Holtzman said, and you must be
looking at as well, polls are moving against the president in this regard.
Do you think the president is the type of person who would resign if there is even more evidence that comes forward and what do you think is going on
as they view the polls?
LUNTZ: Well, let's discuss where the public stands right now. And you've got over 70 percent of Americans who do not understand why these hearings
by the House Democrats are being held in private. So, other members, even members of Congress are not allowed to attend. The public essentially,
strongly, overwhelmingly believes in the right to know, and they are being denied this.
Second, is the public saw that there was -- the Democrats were saying there is collusion, there is collusion with the Russians, and it was never
proven. There are accusations of it. It was said repeatedly. But in the end, they did not conclude that this absolutely happened. So, we don't
know what the facts will be.
And third, because this is so serious, the public really wants and they expect the truth, the facts and most importantly, accountability. And so,
on both sides, on Republicans and Democrats, it is absolutely incumbent on them for the American people that they get those three attributes, those
three values, and they are not convinced they're getting them from either side right now.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I take what you are saying in that the massive lack of trust in institutions and everything that is bedeviling, not just the
American public space, but the British public station, basically everywhere.
But let us take -- you know, let's go methodically. I mean, you are a pollster, Frank, and the latest CNN poll shows that 51 percent of voters'
nationwide support impeaching and removing Trump from office compared to 44 percent who disagree. Obviously, in swing states, only 43 percent of
voters say they want to impeach Trump, while 53 percent say they don't. So, that is for the latest polls that, at least, CNN is involved in.
On the issue of secrecy, that is a little bit of a red herring and a strawman, isn't it? Because as we've been told, at least 48 members of the
Republican Party in the House have access to these hearings. And in pre- impeachment, pre-the formal declaration, these are not unusual hearings to be having.
So -- I mean, is the public being deliberately, you know, having the wool pulled over their eyes and obfuscated over these issues? I mean, process
taking precedence over substance?
LUNTZ: No, because why should these be in secret? We watched the Watergate hearings play out. And by the way, I own an impeachment ticket.
They -- he was going to be impeached 13 days later. And I have an original ticket from the House of Representatives, and that teaches us something.
That you have a process, as the congresswoman mentions, very accurately and very correctly, there is no reason to have these behind closed doors. Let
the public see what is happening. Let them watch the interviews.
I would hope that the congresswoman -- and I know where she stands, but more information is better than less, more truth is better less, more facts
are better than less. Let's allow this to unfold in front of the public so that they can make up their own minds.
AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Holtzman, I know you will want to weigh in on this. But I would like just to state, I spoke to former Senator and former
secretary of state, John Kerry, who said that this is a lie, this idea that Republicans are not allowed in and this officegating (ph) about what's
public and what's not.
And furthermore, he said about the evidence that has come forth so far, it is very damning even compared to what evidence came forth about Nixon in
Watergate. Let's just play this and then I'm going to get your take on what Frank Luntz has just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They saw the politicization, the weaponization of American aid, and they're now reporting on it, but I
think, you know, you have to let the Committee pull together all the ends of that and I'm - you know, I'm not going to say today what the conclusion
has to be, but I am going to say today that the evidence is powerful, some of it more powerful already than what we saw in the impeachment of Richard
And once more, the evidence at this point in time certainly merits the inquiry that is taking place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So Elizabeth Holtzman, the weaponization of aid, that refers to the so-called quid pro quo for Ukraine. Tell me from your perspective,
what about what Frank Luntz is saying about the transparency issue and what about the evidence issue?
HOLTZMAN: OK, I think Frank is absolutely right in the sense that he understands and I understand that the American people do not like secrecy.
It's just something that gets our hair standing up on edge. We don't like it.
But that said, the fact of the matter - let's go back to Watergate and the impeachment inquiry by the House Judiciary Committee. All of our basic
work, all of our hearings, all of our listening to witnesses was done behind closed doors. Why was that the case? In part because they were
afraid of grandstanding because when you hear a little bit of the evidence, you don't get a whole picture and people jump on this fact or that fact.
And so, nobody complained about it, and actually the Watergate proceedings, the House Judiciary proceedings are really the gold standard in American
history in terms of the quality and the fairness of the impeachment inquiry. So that's really important. Let's just not get hung up over the
issue of behind closed doors.
I do think that ultimately the Intelligence Committee and the other two committees that are meeting will have to produce this evidence in public
view because there's no way and it should never happen that the evidence should be kept in secret, but the evidence gathering process does not have
to be in public.
We have grand juries. They are secret. A lot of people don't like grand juries for that reason, too, but I don't think we should get caught up over
that. There's no way - and Frank, I can guarantee you this - that the evidence will not be made public. It has to be made public. I would
oppose it if it's not made public. No American should except that, but the evidence gathering can be done in an orderly way at this point.
Secondly with regard to the -
LUNTZ: Can I -
HOLTZMAN: -- level of evidence, I think it's huge that we have right now, and who knows where this will lead. We don't know. For example, that tape
- the tape of the - or the whatever transcript they have that's now been hidden in the White House, who knows whether that'll be made public. That
could be devastating. We have all kinds of evidence that's not being brought forward and witnesses who have been told not to show up.
This is a big cover up. Why is there a cover up? If they had nothing to hide, they'd be coming forward and telling their story. They have a lot to
hide, and that's something that can be - the American people can draw an inference from. There's a cover up going on, and they can understand that.
AMANPOUR: So Frank Luntz -
LUNTZ: OK, just (ph) -
AMANPOUR: -- Donald Trump himself -
LUNTZ: I just want to respond.
AMANPOUR: -- admits he made this call, and the evidence from Bill Taylor, his own Ambassador to Ukraine, is quite damning. I mean, it is quite
damning. He talks about, you know, everything being dependent on the announcement, including security assistance. I mean, you've seen the
evidence. It's quite damning and he calls it a quid pro quo. What were you going to say about that, Frank?
LUNTZ: I was going to say that we heard exactly the same thing, exactly the same words over collusion with Russia. It was the same media reports,
the same hysteria, the same language on that, and the evidence just wasn't there. And I'm very nervous. There's a reason why the media has the
lowest credibility rating it has ever had. There's a reason why no one trusts Congress anymore, and there's a reason why we they have the
strongest economy in 50 years and the president's approval rating is still stuck in the 40s.
All of us - literally all of us are responsible for this. The language that we use, how we set these things up, the president was absolutely
convicted before proven innocent on collusion and now we're going through the same thing here. I just wish we all would back off a little bit. The
public is yelling at us don't do it this time. Don't do it this way.
If the president needs to be held accountable, do it. If he committed a crime, show it, but to say that absolutely everything is done and -- and we
got an open and shut case, they said the same thing with collusion, with Russia and it didn't happen.
LUNTZ: Please, let's not make the same mistake again.
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, the public is speaking, as I said, 51 percent nationwide think that there is a problem and that he should be impeached,
but Elizabeth Holtzman, to the idea and the issue that Frank raises, very quickly, because we've got about 30 seconds, Russia, it didn't stick. This
one looks like it's going down the same road. What are the differences?
HOLTZMAN: They -- it's not going down the same road. What happened with the Mueller Report is that it was conducted in secret, there were never any
witnesses for the American people to see, there were no live evidence -- there was no live evidence. Now we have a different story.
We have witnesses who will -- who, in part, some of them have made public statements, other than -- others of them that part of their testimony has
been revealed. So, this is not a situation totally behind closed doors. The American people have a chance to see some of the evidence that's coming
forward and they will see much more of it before long.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating and so important, of course. To both of you, thank you very much for joining us.
Now, we turn to the story of one immigrant family's fight against the gaping holes in the American justice system.
Aarti Shahani was born in Morocco and came to Queens, New York with her family in the 1980s. At 16, she was visiting her father who was in New
York's infamous Rikers Island Prison. He was serving time for a crime the Shanani's say he was unwittingly involved in.
In Shahani's new memoir, "Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares, she comes to terms with the 14 year legal battle that her
family faced and the resentment that she felt at being brought to America in the first place as a child.
She spoke to our Michel Martin about how this all shaped what the American dream looked like from her perspective.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN HOST: I just think it's important for people to know that we do know each other.
AARTI SHAHANI, AUTHOR: We do, yes.
MARTIN: Because we worked together at NPR, and I have to tell you that I remember, because you covered Silicone Valley, and I remember that when you
sent an e-mail around to the staff, saying that you were taking a short leave of absence because you were going to write a book about your family.
And I thought, oh, that's interesting. And then this line comes where you say about the time my father was arrested and I went, wait, what?
I'm guessing a lot of people did not know that that part of your story.
SHAHANI: Right. I mean, you're going to right to one of the reasons that it started to feel so important to me to write this book is that, I joke,
if you heard my voice before, I'm Indian I.T. lady.
I give you the important news about Google, about Facebook, how artificial intelligence works, this information campaign's disrupting democracy, very
important stuff. But, there is real disconnect between my public voice and what's actually inside me.
And at a point that disconnect became unbearable for me and I kept feeling like, girl, you have a megaphone and you can talk to your entire country
and you're not sharing the story that's the most important to you, which is family's immigrant journey.
MARTIN: Why did you father get arrested?
SHAHANI: Yes, so my dad was a shopkeeper. He started our family business on 28th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, which was the exact same block
where earlier as an undocumented immigrant he shoveled snow for $4 an hour. We had gotten our papers and that put dad on the path towards his American
My father was a brilliant man, he spoke six languages. He was not formally educated, but he lived around the world. Anyway, he starts this store,
things seem to be going really well. Things are going so well that we move from Queens to New Jersey, which is like every immigrant parent's dream.
And one day we get a call that my father has been arrested and is at Rikers Island, which is a really horrible jail.
MARTIN: Notorious. Notorious.
SHAHANI: Notorious. Very violent. In New York City. He's been arrested and according to New York State he has sold watches and calculators to the
Cali drug cartel. And my view, in the 90s, I mean, the Cali cartel was the most notorious trafficking ring in the city. Horrific violence, dead
bodies, and so, you know, the case was .
MARTIN: So, the authorities thought he was money laundering, right? He thought he was part of their scheme to hide --
SHAHANI: Exactly. But he was --
MARTIN: -- their ill-gotten gains.
SHAHANI: -- yes. And here's -- here's like the really interesting thing about how the case work and I'll tell you about the sort of the emotional
journey about it, but just the facts of the case.
I remember the first time going into court, Michel, my father and uncle were in case together, I was a kid, I was 16-years-old, and they talked
about my dad, as well as his little brother, my uncle was helping to run the store, they talked about them as though our family business was just a
front for a cartel. It's like, you know, it just -- it didn't really make sense, because my father kept saying, I'm doing what everyone is doing.
I'm selling watches and calculators to anyone who will buy them.
We hire private defense lawyers and the private defenders say, Mr. Shahani and Mr. Shahani, listen. No one really thinks that you're cartel ring
leaders. No one things that, but they started a case and they want a conviction out of the case. Just agree to an eight month sentence.
They're offering you eight months. Take it because if you don't take it and you will go to trial, you will face the trial penalty. What's that?
Oh, if you exercise your constitutional right, you'll face a decade. You'll face longer than a decade.
So small time shop keepers, what do you want? Eight months you can get if over with or gamble? Well, the criminal justice system is not about
innocence and guilt. It's about risk and reward. And so, my parents - my father and uncle did statistically what everyone does - take the plea.
So they agree the plea bargain of eight months each. They each took the guilty plea. The prosecutor agreed to let one man go, then the other man,
serve sentences -
SHAHANI: Exactly. So our business, the so-called's cartel front, wouldn't collapse. Well, if we're drug traffickers and our businesses is a front
for a cartel and that's why these men must go away, then why are you bending over backwards to structure a plea deal so that one can stay out at
each time? Didn't quite make sense, but we got the point. The point is they wanted a conviction. The state wanted a conviction.
My uncle goes in first. He's supposed to do his time, come out. My dad will go in. Matters should be behind us. That's not what happens. The
eight month sentences ended up spiraling into a 14-year legal battle because deportation by the feds came in as a second surprise punishment.
My uncle did not do eight months. Because of an administrative error by New York state he did two and a half years. The day he was supposed to
come home to us, I mean, we jumped hoops to get him out, the day he was supposed to come home to us, he goes missing. For four days we have no
idea where he is. The homecoming party turns into a search party.
That's when we discover that deportation is going to be a second punishment given to my family.
MARTIN: Because your parents had - your family had green cards at that point. They were citizens.
SHAHANI: Well some of us.
MARTIN: And so -
SHAHANI: My dad and uncle were lawful permanent residents, green card holders. Some of us were naturalized U.S. citizens, and that was part of
the surprise is that, you know, we thought, but wait, we're legal. What do you mean you're going to toss them out? It made no sense to me, you know,
that two men who'd served their time, who were long-term residents, who already had their papers, who had family members who were U.S. citizens
would be subject to automatic life exile, but that was the law. And I needed to tell that story.
MARTIN: I have to tell you one of the things about your book that I so love is that you're so honest about this whole range of emotions.
MARTIN: Your resentment -
MARTIN: -- and having to deal with this.
MARTIN: Your resentment that this whole situation really dominated your teenage years and your early adult years because you didn't just let it go.
You did not let it go. You basically - I don't know how to put this. You became an immigration activist. You became kind of - a jailhouse lawyer
isn't quite right, but you really educated yourself -
SHAHANI: I'll take it.
MARTIN: -- about - to master all the details -
SHAHANI: Yes, I wasn't locked up, but -
MARTIN: -- you basically marshaled their legal defense. I mean, you organized your father's legal defense basically starting when you were 16-
SHAHANI: Well, it's interesting actually, and I would say I started in earnest when I was 19. I remember the exact turning points -
SHAHANI: -- but I have to say this. You know, when I was 16 and I visited dad for the first time at Rikers and I was so ashamed of him and I'm like
how could you do this to me, I remember going to visit him with my mom and my brother, going into a huge, open air gym where you have families
visiting their loved ones, I remember looking around and just a sliver of a thought I had. The sliver I thought was where are all the white criminals?
Why don't I - New York doesn't have white criminals?
And it's not that that thought dominated. The shame dominated at the time. Over the years when the case dragged on, when eight months spiraled into
here's a surprise second punishment, when horrible things were happening in the case and sort of administrative errors were constantly, you know,
screwing us over, that shame, thankfully it shattered and just indignation rose, and that's when I got incredibly involved in advocating for my
MARTIN: Talk to me, if you would, about the shame because this is, again, something that I don't think a lot of people hear about. What was the
shame? Was it the shame of your father being locked up or was it the shame of not being this kind of model -- the model minority that we keep hearing
so much about.
SHAHANI: I think it's a dissonance that a lot of people feel in this country because there's -- you know my book it's called -- it's "Here We
Are," statement of fact, and the subheading is my thesis about America.
"American dreams, American Nightmares." I have lived the American dream and the nature of that dream is you get to walk into rooms you never knew
existed. You get topped for things that are beyond your dreams, beyond what you could imagine.
And you leap in ways that would not have happened in other places. That is the dream that I have lived in. My father lived the nightmare. Once you
are targeted, once you are tagged, you are never let out of the box that defines you. In my father's case its quote, unquote, criminal alien.
MARTIN: Why did your parents come to this country to begin with? I mean this is no easy thing. I mean you were born in Morocco and I remember at
one point in the -- in the book you talk about some of the conditions of, you know, like just saying this is your American dream to work 14 hours a
day to not be able to eat meat, to have, you know roaches crawling up your clothes.
SHAHANI: Not just on the clothes, by the way. I woke up more than once with a roach on my bare skin, I mean that was my childhood.
MARTIN: So why did they come here to begin with, with three (ph) small children?
SHAHANI: That was -- yes, you know that's actually -- it's funny because that's like an investigative aspect of this book is mom would always say we
did it for a better life for you kids.
I was working through a lot of resentment when I was writing this book. Not just resentment to my country but to my family. And I was like, mom,
we had a really crappy life. What do you mean a better life for us kids. And I was very angry when I was asking her about it.
And then she finally told me that the specific reason my parents chose to leave Morocco where I was born and my siblings were born, cross the
Atlantic, over stay Visas, be undocumented, raise three little kids that way is that she herself was fleeing a really abusive situation.
Back home in many countries many of us have what are called joint families. So the wife marries a husband and then lives with his parents and brothers.
Mom had that arrangement in Casablanca where I was born.
Turns out, and I didn't know this, that her mother-in-law, my grandma, was a really abusive woman. My grandma would throw plates at my mom if she
didn't like the food that was prepared.
She wouldn't allow my mom to open the refrigerator without permission or leave the house without permission. She wouldn't allow my parents to sleep
in the same room. This is actually a very embarrassing facts (ph) to share but my -- my father's mother made him stay in her room and made my mom
sleep in the living room.
My mom is the most resilient human being I know. I don't know anybody with more capacity and appetite for life than my mother and it was only in the
process of writing this book I learned that she actually attempted to take her life because something pretty horrific happened.
And my father finally agreed, OK, let's take the kids and go. And this is the funny thing about so many of our immigrant stories is crossing the
ocean and living in America is in some ways easier than going to try to live across the street because if you're close to your family you have to
be right there with them.
But if you're in America you can say, it's for the kids. And here's the thing is that my mother hungered for dignity, for freedom for herself and
for her daughters; two daughters, one son. And she wanted for us to have a life that she could not have.
MARTIN: Well, what -- what was the toll on you and -- and also on your mother?
SHAHANI: I stopped going to college. I stopped going to college so I could fight to keep my father here. I will say this though, there is a lot
of pain I am recounting in this book. But something I realized while writing it is part of what fueled me in my fight is first of all, the
confidence that America has given me that we belong here.
The laws say one thing but the culture says another and that culture emboldened me to fight the way that I did. And two, I have a super loving
family. The thing is that when you're going through such tremendous ups and downs, when you're going with it -- through it with people you love and
who love you, I mean that's a blessing.
That's actually a blessing. You know this -- this book gave me a working definition of love. Everyone -- you know we think about it, it's the
greatest question on earth, what is love.
For me, love is that process when your turn toward as opposed to away from someone who is in pain. When you can do that, when you can be fearless,
when you can not worry that their crisis will hurt your life, be bold, you get some of the most joyful experiences you can every have, you know?
MARTIN: I've got to ask you about this crazy scene, it comes early in the book where you actually meet the judge who sentenced your father.
SHAHANI: During a trip to New York I would take the train out to Queens, I go to his chambers, knock on the door, he opens the door. Hadn't seen him
since I was a teenager sitting the pews, first words out of his mouth, your father and your uncle should never had taken that guilty plea, what a
And I --
SHAHANI: -- have to explain that as a journalist, oh, that would be a really interesting find. Tell me more, Judge, what do you mean? As a
daughter, I felt like the soul leapt from my body and I needed to collapse. It hurt.
MARTIN: So badly.
SHAHANI: It hurt.
MARTIN: So badly, to know that all that you went through --
SHAHANI: Yes. And, you know, he was -- it was funny, I sat --
MARTIN: Tell me why. Why shouldn't he have taken that plea?
SHAHANI: I think you can find a way that they, as small business owners, were cutting corners. You could find a reason that they should be
convicted of something, much like most small business owners and as I've come to learn as a business correspondent, big business owners.
But the judge's point was that, you guys did not play your hand right. You had so much more to bargain with than you realized and you could have done
much better than you did, you just folded way too early.
That's ultimately what he meant, and I didn't actually learn that that's what he meant that first visit to him, I was incapacitated. He told me
that, I sat on the sofa, I nodded politely with him. I wanted to get the hell out of his office. I got out of his office and I just wept.
MARTIN: What happened to your dad? You know, in the end, you were able to keep --
MARTIN: -- keep him in this country, but then -- but then what?
SHAHANI: Well, part of what I'm exploring in this book -- again, I needed to write this book to figure this out for myself was, was it worth it. Was
it worth fighting for dad? Ultimately we were able to keep him in this country. It was at a huge expense to him and to the rest of us. He'd had
multiple heart attacks. He had lost all of his teeth. We had to do multiple amputations until finally they sawed off his leg.
He was in a really deep depression. You know, I had a situation where I had life beyond this legal case. It was my first rodeo, it wasn't his
first rodeo. So, I can reflect back on this and thing, wow, what an incredible chapter in life. Amazing leadership training.
For dad, it was destruction. What happens when you derive your purpose from working and you can't work again? When your community has rejected
you, people won't return your calls, that's what my father lived and he was a good man. I mean, he was a good man.
So ultimately he was able to stay here, but I am reflecting on the cost of it.
MARTIN: I want to go back to the title of the book, "Here We Are" you're here, American Dreams, American Nightmares. What are your reflections now
about the American dream and what is the American nightmare? If you could -- if you could sum it up.
SHAHANI: Yes. Yes, I mean --
MARTIN: Does the American dream still live?
SHAHANI: Yes, it does. It definitely does.
MARTIN: After all you saw. After all the screw-ups, all the unfairness, all the bigotry, corruption --
SHAHANI: My life is proof of it. My life is proof of it. I mean, my mother reminds me this. The nightmare is what my father lived. My father,
as a migrant, having to start over each time he came into a new place, he was doomed or faded to a life of constant irrelevance. We were a low-end
globalization, not high-end globalization, low-end globalization and dad had to pay the price each and every time, especial in this country.
He told me one time I visited him in Rikers, he's like Aarti, all the things I've seen in my life I haven't even told you about, I have never
seen something as bad as this. It's the criminal justice system.
We have a mass incarceration system, we now have a mass deportation system, that I've written about that's built off of that system, one on top of the
other. That's the nightmare of this country. It's a cancer in this country that we have to get past. We have to deconstruct and build a
better system. The dream is that ability to leap and wonder into places where you didn't even think you belonged.
In most of the world people are forced to stay where they came from. OK. Very calcified social structures keep you there. My mother is the reminder
to me to be grateful because my mother, no matter what happened to her husband, I mean she was there -- she became my father's nurse because he
had fallen so ill in the process of facing these things.
No matter what happened to her husband, my father -- we had to amputate a leg. I mean he was literally decaying as this was going on. No matter
what happened to her husband, she can tell her daughter, Aarti, be grateful for the life you have here because it's much better than anything you would
have had back there. Trust me, I know.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Remember you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.