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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Looking at Trump's Impeachment Through the Lens of History; Secular India Gets A Dose Of Sectarianism; Mashi Alinejad On Whether Iran Can Keep The Protests Down; How Activism In Exile Reverberates At Home; Married Couples Shares 2019 Nobel Prize In Economics; Nobel- Winning Couple On How To Solve Poverty. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 22, 2019 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:25]

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Today on the show.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we have a vote coming.

ZAKARIA: A remarkable day in America.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Article one is adopted.

ZAKARIA: For only the third time in history, a president of the United States is impeached. How does this one differ? And how does it look to historians? I will talk to Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali and Annette Gordon-Reed.

And Iran has weathered what some have called its most significant protest since 1979. But have the protesters been silenced for good? I'll talk to the Iranian activists in exile, Masih Alinejad.

Also a good news story for this holiday season. This husband and wife won the Nobel Prize in economics together. And their ground-breaking work is on alleviating poverty. Will extreme poverty soon become a thing of the past? Stay tuned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: But first, here's my take. Impeachment is big news. Justifiably so. But the battle cries around it have drowned out another momentous event with important lessons for the 2020 campaign.

Last week's seismic British elections. The simplest way to understand the U.K. results is to look at one fact. Even though the conservatives ended up with their largest majority in parliament since 1987, the overall vote for the party went up from 2017 by just one percentage point. The Labour Party, however, dropped from 2017 by eight points. A collapse of historic proportions. Labour ended up with its fewest seats in 84 years.

There are several reasons for Labour's collapse. The party was led by Jeremy Corbyn who was a dower, uncharismatic radical and has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism. His opponent, Boris Johnson, is colorful and lively, having been a popular mayor of London. But Johnson's victory was bathed by more than personality. It had to do with two strategic decisions that were risky but paid off.

Johnson clarified and simplified the election, making it a referendum on Brexit. He pushed his party of moderates on this issue and said to the public, vote Tory to get Brexit done. Three words. Labour's position on Brexit was by contrast totally muddled. In politics a simple, clear message will always trump a complex murky one. Remember build the wall? Three words.

Johnson's second strategic decision was to shift the Conservative Party's positions on economic policy. Under David Cameron and Theresa May, the Tories had been cutting spending through a sweeping swept of austerity measures. Johnson junked all that, promising to increase government spending on everything from the national health service to schools to potholes.

That second bet worked spectacularly. The Conservatives won over large swaths of the working class. Voters who might have shared the Tories' skepticism about Europe but who could never vote for a party whose economic message was resolutely free market. In 2016 Trump similarly campaigned as an economic populist, embracing left-wing positions on trade, Social Security, and Medicare.

He was able to gain working class votes in Democratic states while keeping traditional Republican voters with him. The Trump Republican Party is now a coalition of free market types and working-class populist. As the tension between the two groups but polarization and party loyalty as so great that there appears to be little danger that traditional Republicans will abandon Trump for a Democrat.

Now, the Democrats have a larger base than Britain's Labour Party. But because of the electoral college, they face the same vulnerability, losing socially conservative working-class voters in a number of crucial states, and they're doing little to address this vulnerability. Democrats keep arguing over economic policy, lurching ever left-wing. But the public is largely supportive of the party's existing positions on these issues -- allow people to buy into Medicare, fix America's infrastructure, tax the rich a bit more, increase the minimum wage.

[10:05:06]

The party's Achille's heel is immigration. Half of the Democratic candidates have said they want to decriminalize illegal border crossings and even more want to give undocumented immigrants free health care. Large majority of the country disagrees with these policies and you can expect Trump to turn this into a wedge issue.

The irony thus is that the Republican Party like the Tories has become ideologically a bigger tent party while the Democrats historically defined as a large coalition are ideologically narrow on the issues that might well define the 2020 election.

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

February 24th, 1868, Andrew Johnson. December 19th, 1998, Bill Clinton. December 18th, 2019, Donald Trump. These are the three impeachments of American presidents.

I wanted to put this week's events in a historical context. Joining me to do that are three historians who have studied presidents who have been impeached or almost impeached. Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor of American legal history at Harvard Law School and the author of many books, the most pertinent one is simply called "Andrew Johnson."

Tim Naftali was the director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. Today he's a professor at NYU and a CNN presidential historian. And John Meacham is a historian, biographer and a contributing editor at "TIME." He's written the introduction to a new book called "The Impeachment Report" that details the House Intelligence Committee's investigation that led in part to this impeachment.

Tim, when we look at impeachment, we sort of think it doesn't seem to be working right now. But then when you go back and think about, you know, the Clinton, Andrew Johnson, it's always seemed somewhat messy, even broken. Why?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it's very hard to impeach a president. The gold standard I think for an impeachment process is what happened in 1974. And there you had clear and convincing evidence of the president's involvement in a criminal conspiracy. In addition, you had a lot of evidence about the president's abuse of power and even then, the Republican leadership was putting pressure on Republicans on the Judiciary Committee not to vote against the president.

One of the differences today is that in addition to those historical obstacles to impeachment and removal, we have a -- we have for the first time in history two parties sharing control of Congress. Never -- it's never happened before in an impeachment crisis. In every previous impeachment crisis the same party has controlled both Houses of Congress. That's one reason why we've never seen the House retain the articles of impeachment to put pressure on the Senate to determine the rules of the trial. Because --

ZAKARIA: Right. And Nixon, it was both Houses were Democratic and Clinton both Houses were Republican. And in Andrew Johnson, both Houses were one party.

NAFTALI: One party. National Union, however you want to describe it. So this kind of political gamesmanship has never had to happen before. And as Americans we like to play political games. Sadly, even in impeachment crises. So that's something new, and that's a wrinkle to add even more room for politics in this case.

ZAKARIA: Annette, when we look at the Andrew Johnson trial, it -- I mean, Andrew Johnson was a terrible guy.

ANNETTE GORDON-REED, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND HISTORY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Well, yes.

ZAKARIA: Vicious, racist, but what he was impeached for is now generally seen as, you know, not right. I mean, he was basically impeached for firing his own secretary of Defense, something presidents are allowed to do. How to think about that impeachment -- was it a mistake? Was it a process gone awry?

GORDON-REED: Well, I don't think it was a mistake. We look at the Tenure of Office Act, which is the violation of that that prompted the impeachment. But there were other things. He was a recalcitrant president. He was in fact not executing the laws. He was, as you said, a vicious racist. His whole purpose was to make -- he said that this is a white man's government and as long as I'm president, it's going to be a white man's government.

So all of the things that he was doing in opposition to so-called radical Republicans was in service of that ideal. I mean, the Tenure of Office Act eventually was declared unconstitutional, but it was a law at the time and he broke it. And it was definitely the ultimate partisan kind of thing but even from the very, very beginning, Alexander Hamilton suggested or knew that this would be a political process, and that partisanship should be -- would enter into it, but the hope was that the Senate, the body that was supposed to be the higher chamber, would be measured, and you know, sort of measured and actually have the country's best interest at heart in actually dealing with the matter.

[10:10:14]

So the Johnson one was a tricky one. After civil war, after the death of a president, it was a unique kind of time. And it separates it from where we are right now.

ZAKARIA: Jon Meacham, when we look at it now, it seems obvious that you're going to have these parties that are going to line up with their president or against. But in a way, impeachment was set up by founders who really didn't think we would have a party system. I mean, you wrote this (INAUDIBLE) biography of Jefferson when the party system sort of begins to emerge. Does having political parties make a kind of impartial impeachment process impossible?

JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, "THE SOUL OF AMERICA": Well, it's never going to be impartial because it's a human undertaking. I think that's one of the things we have to remember is the founders were attempting as Woodrow Wilson once observed to create a kind of Newtonian system of government. There will be a music of the spheres. There would be this harmonious whole.

When, in fact, this is a more Darwinian system. It's a struggle of all against all. And you hope we evolved. We hope we progress. Jury is still out on that. But it's a -- the tension within the republican, lower case R, structure was present from the beginning. Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, I don't think would have foreseen the absolute nature of this party structure, but they fully understood faction, they fully understood that there would be coalitions of interest that would fight against each other.

What they hoped for by dividing sovereignty so definitively and we're seeing it right now, they borrowed back from -- there was an Aristotelian line of thought, they took it more directly from Montesquieu, Madison had made a study of Montesquieu at Princeton and then later at Montpelier in the months before the Constitutional Convention. And what they saw was that we had to make things incredibly difficult to do because we were as human beings more likely to do the wrong thing than the right thing.

And the fruits of that system, however frustrating they might be to one side or the other at a given moment, is something we're seeing right now.

ZAKARIA: You know, Tim, you mentioned something that basically most of the processes have been seen as tarnished except Nixon's, but you pointed out clear and convincing evidence is what did it until the tapes. Until people knew that they had on record the voice of the president actually speaking of a criminal conspiracy. Republicans were not willing to vote against Nixon.

NAFTALI: No.

ZAKARIA: It was really the tapes that did it.

NAFTALI: It's the -- it's -- actually without the tapes, you wouldn't even have had an impeachment process. One thing to keep in mind is that people talked about impeachment after the Senate Watergate hearings. And by the way, to remind everyone, the Senate Watergate hearings gave you John Dean's testimony that says the president at the very least learned about criminal conspiracy in 1973. He learned that the president had a taping system. He learned more about the dirty tricks.

You learned that there was a stench rising from the administration. Even after that, Democrats didn't want it, the leadership didn't want an impeachment process. It's when Nixon fires the special prosecutor to prevent access to his tapes that not only Democrats but Republicans say we at least have to start an inquiry, an impeachment inquiry.

I believe without the tapes, Richard Nixon, A, would never have been impeached, the process wouldn't have started, and B, he never would have left office before the end of his term. That sets a very high bar for how you impeach someone using a broad theory of impeachment.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, more on impeachment. Jon Meacham has some startling statistics on how it actually isn't that risky to be courageous.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:17:46]

ZAKARIA: And we are back talking about impeachment and its legacy in American history with Annette Gordon-Reed, Tim Naftali, and Jon Meacham.

Annette, when you look at the impeachment today, does it seem to you that it is deeply more partisan than before? That there is something special and different this time?

GORDON-REED: Well, other than what was said before about the fact that you have two different parties who are involved in this process, the partisan -- Johnson time was incredibly partisan. We had just come off a civil war. 700,000 people had died in a battle about a vision of America. And so this was a very partisan time, and people saw this as a matter of life and death to figure out how you were going to bring four million African-Americans into citizenship.

So it was a very, very partisan time. This is different because of social media, the development of a -- the strong development of a party system that takes in people through social media. It's just a different technology of all of it is different. But I think the passions and the partisanship were there in all of the ones that we've seen.

ZAKARIA: I'm often struck by how -- some of the heroes of the Watergate hearing, Sam Ervin for example, and these are all basically southern segregationists.

GORDON-REED: Yes, absolutely. And they become heroes. I was down in Texas as a kid watching this with my grandparents and that voice and that -- the accent sort of signals one particular thing. We were kind of on his side because he actually was a person who saw himself as upholding the Constitution. You know, despite how -- whatever he felt about Nixon, he believed in the process.

ZAKARIA: Jon, you have something interesting you were telling me about the idea of Republicans, for example, finding the courage to put country above party. That historically when people have -- when senators, congressmen have put country above party, they have not paid the political price that many people think they -- that they feared they would.

MEACHAM: It's remarkable when you look at the data on the high- profile votes really beginning in the modern era which I would date from '64 and '65, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration Act of 1965.

[10:20:02]

If you look at Republicans who voted for Medicare and Medicaid, if you look at southern Democrats like, you mentioned, in the ethos of Ervin from North Carolina. If you look at the southern Democrats who voted for the Civil Rights Act, you see that those who sought reelection tend to win almost universally. And then you would say well, but that means they preemptively retire or there's some other factor. Actually no. That the political science on this is pretty clear.

The Republicans who voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2003, 2004 -- 2002, 2003, all won reelection. Republicans who voted for the assault weapons ban, who voted for the Brady Bill, won reelection. And so there's a piece of conventional wisdom which is if you cross the aisle, you're politically dead.

One of the things we have to look at is, are there actually facts to support that? Now, I've never run for office, I've never faced voters so it's easy for me to say. But when you look back at the people who decided to defy their party's basic conventional wisdom, you find that their political futures were not automatically pushed to the side.

ZAKARIA: One of the things that I wonder, Tim, about all this is, you know, you have this extraordinary (INAUDIBLE) administration officials, Trump's own officials, saying look, we were pressuring the Ukrainian government, we were trying to get this quid pro quo, which seems to me pretty compelling. I mean, otherwise, they were all simultaneously deluded. I mean, you know, you have dozens of American officials trying to press the Ukrainian government, then, you know, the Republican defense as I understand this was all a misunderstanding. Trump never wanted this. But it is about Ukraine. I mean, is that part of the problem here?

NAFTALI: Well, two things. First of all, this is the first time we've had an impeachment based on misconduct in foreign policy. Foreign policy is a very esoteric part of our government. Most Americans are understandably don't have time to think about foreign policy and if they do it's in a very emotional way, they think about security. Will we be attacked?

This was not an issue about Russia or Ukraine attacking the United States. There's a second issue here, which is that you have two theories of impeachment. One is the broad theory which is an understanding of a threat to our constitutional system which does not necessarily involve a violation of the law. And a very narrow theory which is that presidents should not be removed except for criminal violations, bribery and treason being two of them.

The argument in this time is the same as the second article against Nixon, it's an abuse of power. That's a broad theory of impeachment. Making that argument on foreign policy to which most Americans don't have an emotional attachment is really hard. That's not to say you shouldn't make it. There's a constitutional obligation on the part of the article one institution Congress to defend the constitutional system, but it's much harder when it's on the basis of an abuse of power connected to foreign policy.

ZAKARIA: Makes a lot of sense. Thank you all. Fascinating conversation.

Next on GPS, which do you think will have a bigger effect on Donald Trump's chances for reelection. Impeachment or the state of the economy on Election Day? Stay tuned and we will explore the great power of the wallet in elections around the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:27:49]

ZAKARIA: Now for our "What in the World" segment. For everyone breathlessly following the Democratic primary, I have some potentially deflating news. If the economy holds up through next year, a number of forecasting models that have worked well historically project that President Trump will be reelected. The reason is simple. Americans usually vote on the economy and the American economy is doing well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People are making money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But let me show you an important exception to the economy rule. India. In the second quarter of this fiscal year GDP growth slowed to just 4.5 percent, the lowest in more than six years. Consumer spending has fallen dramatically. But as the Carnegie Endowment's Milan Vaishnav writes in "Foreign Affairs," something strange has accompanied these trends.

Even as the economy has turned down, Modi, the prime minister, remains popular. He sailed to a second term in May with an even bigger mandate than the one he garnered five years earlier. Opinion polls show that his approval ratings today continue to be high.

There are a number of reasons why voters might not be inclined to punish Modi for the economy. Perhaps they understand that India's economic problems predate him. But the question remains, how does he remain so popular as the economy keeps faltering?

Ruchir Sharma notes in his book, "Democracy on the Road," unlike Americans, Indians don't primarily vote based on the economy. He finds that from 1990 to 2019, 32 Indian state leaders had delivered economic growth of 8 percent or more in their first terms but 53 percent of the time they lost their reelection bid. That's because the economy gets dwarfed among a raft of other concerns, perhaps most prominently culture and identity.

And that is where Modi, a self-avowed Hindu nationalist, has proved an extremely effective leader. He's pursued the politics and policies of unmistakable sectarianism. Legendary or notorious for having presided over the state government of Gujarat when it experienced a wave of massive anti-Muslim riots, massacres and problems, he has never apologized for those events.

[10:30:00]

On the eve of the last election, Modi seized on an act of terror to accuse the opposition of being Pro-Pakistan, a charge which he had to know would rouse Anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. The latest is the Citizenship Amendment Act, which critics say violates the secular nature of India's constitution by specifying for the first time a religious basis for granting citizenship to migrants.

Though this policy was pushed through in his second term, Modi was never shy about signaling his intent. His reelection was at least in part a mandate for his party's cultural agenda. So focus on that agenda while bad for India's foundational principle of diversity might be good for Modi as a politician. And that might be true for more than just India. After all, Donald Trump ran the last time around by sounding the alarm against Mexicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They're bringing drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The Chinese.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The China Islamic radical terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: He made the image where from many voters culture Trump's economics. Next on GPS, last month Iran saw what some called it's most significant protests since the 1979 revolution that toppled the show. What happened to the protests? Where did the protesters go? Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Iran's President Rouhani announced earlier this week that his nation was testing new advanced centrifuges that would allow it to enrich Uranium at a faster pace. This is yet another step away from the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

But Iran is not only at odds with the outside world, it's facing considerable internal dissent. Last month protests all over the country constituted what "The New York Times" called its worst unrest since the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah.

[10:35:00]

ZAKARIA: But the crackdown against the protest was also historic in its force. A U.S. official says as many as 1,000 people may have died. What is next for the opposition? Let me bring in Mashi Alinejad an Iranian Activist in exile. Mashi, one of the things you've been able to do is get a lot of the videos that people were sending out even though there were internet bans and such. So from what you can tell from those internet recordings, what is going on now?

MASHI ALINEJAD, AUTHOR, "THE WIND IN MY HAIR": You know I have to say the level of crackdown was unbelievable. So that's why the government actually managed to push people back home, but trust me, they are preparing to get back to the street, because the anger is there.

You know, in three days, only three days, massacre happened. So that is why people right now, they got back home. But they are angry. They are fed up with this government. The main thing that I am hearing from people, especially on being in touch with the family of those people who lost their beloved one, the family of the prisoners, they are looking for an occasion to get back to the street. ZAKARIA: This - the Islamic group public has been very clever in using a mixture of patronage and repression, and has been able to survive. Do you think it will be able to survive these protests?

ALINEJAD: I don't think so. Let me just give you an example. A young woman sent me a video in the middle of crackdown. She was filming two people got killed in front of her eyes. And she was talking on the video saying that I cannot believe it myself that they are killing people. She got back home. She sent me the video, and what she said to me, it's your answer.

She said that Mashi, I'm going to go back to the street again. I don't understand why I'm fearless. The reason is this because I saw the fear in the eyes of the security forces. So for 40 years we the people of Iran have been scared of them. Now they are scared of the people.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about your own movement and your own story. You have - you started a movement.

ALINEJAD: Sure. The movement that I have started was about compulsory Hijab. A lot of people say why? There are so many bigger problems? Why you care so much about small piece of cloth? I want to say that compulsory Hijab forced Hijab; it's the main pillar of religious dictatorship.

Compulsory Hijab, it's something that the government used to control the whole society. When I move - when I started the movement, myself freedom and White Wednesday's campaign, I didn't know. I didn't actually expect that it is going to go beyond compulsory Hijab. In Iran protests I was receiving videos from women who were actually before joining White Wednesday's movement.

ZAKARIA: What a White Wednesdays, explain?

ALINEJAD: Yes. White Wednesdays Movement actually, it's a platform where women wear a white symbol or take off a white head scarf and walking unveiled in public which is a punishable crime. And right now there are six women received altogether 109 years' prison sentence.

ZAKARIA: Just for not wearing the Hijab.

ALINEJAD: Just for not wearing Hijab.

ZAKARIA: What's happened to your family who live in Iran?

ALINEJAD: Indeed, they had anything to keep me silent, to punish me. From the beginning they said that I was raped by three men which was a big lie, but in their mind set, it means if you're a woman and you get raped, it's your fault. Then they wanted to keep me silent. That didn't work.

Then they went after my family. They brought my sister on Iranian national television to disown me publicly. Like, I was watching 20 minute show and my sister disowned me publicly. 20 minutes on Iranian national television. They went to my mother, my 70-year-old mother who wears Hijab. You know? She has nothing to do with my campaign, but they interrogated her for two hours to keep me silent. I didn't. And then on July, the Head of Revolutionary court went on Iranian national television, a cleric, saying that any woman who sent videos to Mashi will be charged up to ten years prison.

So the government fined out that they cannot keep me silent, they went after my brother. They arrested my brother in front of his two small children. They handcuffed him, blindfolded him. It is called hostage taking because he has nothing to do with my campaign, or he was not involved in political activities.

They arrested him to punish me to break me. I don't want to keep silent. And I don't want to show them that they are going to win if they punish me my by arresting my family.

[10:40:00]

ZAKARIA: Well, you are definitely not broken. Pleasure to have you on Mashi.

ALINEJAD: Thank you so much for having me.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, a feel good story, sort of, as we enter the peak of the holiday period. The world has made great strides toward ending poverty. My next guest, a husband and wife who just won the Nobel Prize in Economics together are making even more progress possible when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 per day. I'm sure your morning coffee or tea costs considerably more than that. But there's great news on this front. In 1981, 42 percent of the world's population was living in extreme poverty. Today it is just 10 percent.

And if my next guests continue their ground breaking work, that number could get close to zero. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee are a husband and wife team they're also joint winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Economics along with Michael Kremer. We recently had a chance to talk about their prize winning work. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, pleasure to have you on.

ESTHER DUFLO, CO-AUTHOR, "GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES": Thank you.

ZAKARIA: So the first that I would ask you is what is it like to be married and simultaneously win the Nobel Economics Prize?

[10:45:00]

DUFLO: I suppose its two good things for the price of one.

ZAKARIA: But did it at the time it happened, what I noticed was there were a few headlines that said things like, and there's one that said Indian/American MIT Professor Abhijit Banerjee and wife wins the Nobel Prize. What did you think? And there were a few more like that.

DUFLO: I didn't have time to get offended because the French Press said Esther Duflo and two people including husband win the economics prize.

ZAKARIA: All right. What is fascinating about your work is that there are so many things to talk about, but I want to start by talking about the fact that you up end one of the kinds of central assumptions of economics. Economics is about economic man or woman, rational man or woman. The basic idea is we all as human beings respond to economic incentives if you pay us more money, we work. If you don't pay us we don't. And your work basically says actually, when you observe it, that's not true. Give me - expand on this?

ABHIJIT BANERJEE, Co-AUTHOR, "GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIME: Well, I mean, there are many versions of this. For example, I think the one that's politically perhaps more salient is rich people, unless you give them a huge tax breaks, they're going to take a vacation. There's absolutely no evidence for it.

It's hard to even imagine that like you know somebody like Bill Gates suddenly going on vacation. I don't think he could do it if he tried, actually. I don't think there is any evidence that corporate tax cuts are necessary to get growth or whatever the other myths that are there.

On the other end, the poor, I mean, there is this story that if you give them free money, they're going to retire. And again no evidence for it they seem to be if anything, some of the - especially in developing countries, there's evidence that if you give them money, they may be actually be cheered up and might actually work a little harder.

ZAKARIA: And one of the methods that you really pioneered is this idea of going in and observing what people do? Tinkering with some of the things you gives one - you do one thing for one group and one thing for another group? What does it reveal with in terms of this idea that we are all bound by economic incentives?

DUFLO: Yes. So one, for example, one series of experiments, not just one, but maybe a dozen experiments that revealed very much that the poor don't get discouraged from working when they receive free money is a series of cash - that they've happened now all over the world or in Latin America, even in the U.S. for a while.

So the people get some money as long as their kids go to school and they get the basic immunization and other preventive care services for their children. So one can then look at what happened to the people who get the money and the people who don't. And they are strictly equivalent because they were chosen randomly.

And across all of these experiments you never see a difference in the probabilities that people are working or in how many hours they work? If anything, whenever you see a small difference, it's actually the people who receive money work a little more. ZAKARIA: You also work in some of the poorest parts of the world. You work in a part of India that is pretty poor. What is the - is there a simple answer to the question of what does one do about that kind of extreme poverty? For a government that doesn't have the resources of the United States?

BANERJEE: Well, I think in our book we make the case that it's probably - that is exactly where you may want to go for something like universal basic income maybe kind of an ultra basic income. Not really very much, but the government's attempt to help the poor has always been a little bit colored by this idea that if you give them free money, they'll be a bunch of lazy people who will - it's just take it.

So you basically have a scheme where what happens if you have to go to work to get the money. It's not clear that that's how you help the poorest people. We worked with some women who were - who had been abandoned by their husbands, and had small children. How do they go to work? Where do the children go?

They were not using these schemes. And as a result, they were instead begging, basically. And the loss of dignity from that seems extraordinarily costly. Nobody will have to be at that - nobody needs to be begging. I think that's not - that - that I think most countries can achieve. And we should try to achieve.

ZAKARIA: You're the youngest Nobel Laureate in Economics. Were you surprised when this happened or people had been talking about it, but were you surprised when you got the call?

DUFLO: Surprised might be an understatement of the year.

[10:50:00]

DUFLO: I was flabbergasted. I was like what? I'm much too young for this.

ZAKARIA: What about you?

BANERJEE: Well, I mean, you know, I - I also thought, I was too young.

DUFLO: What is the only reason this could happen is that this is not a prize just for the three of us, the two of us and Michael Kremer but this is a prize for a whole movement of people who really have tried to go back to the field and understand the problem of the poor in detail and try out solutions without ever being too convinced that they might work in the absence of data and then move from the data to go to the next solution.

That's much broader than us. Right now, hundreds and hundreds of researchers and thousands of project, and I think that is a little bit what the Nobel Prize Committee tries to reward other than just any of us individually.

ZAKARIA: Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee pleasure to have you on.

BANERJEE: Thank you. DUFLO: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:55:00]

ZAKARIA: My book of the week is impeachment, a handbook by Charles Black. This brief book really just an essay, was written by a Law Professor during Nixon's downfall but is the best guide for the layperson mixing deep constitutional knowledge be common sense.

My favorite example of the latter is when explaining why something that is not technically a crime could still be an impeachable offense, Black explains that if the President were to move to Saudi Arabia so he could have four wives, and what it proposed to conduct the office of the Presidency by male and wireless from there this would not be a crime provided his passport were in order, but it would surely be grounds for impeachment.

Now, I want to tell you about two upcoming chances to see my documentaries on Monday. Tune into CNN at 11:00 pm eastern to see my CNN's Special Report "Presidents on trial an inside look at impeachment". It's a timely look at the historic week we just witnessed and an in depth examination of our past, Clinton, Nixon, and even Andrew Johnson.

And next Sunday viewers in the U.S. should tune into regular GPS time when you can catch my other recent special report "Scheme and Scandal inside the College Admissions Crisis". International viewers catch it at 7:00 am, 3:00 pm and 10:00 pm eastern next Sunday. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you. I'll see you in the New Year.

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