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Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk; Interview with New York Times Correspondent Emily Schmall; Interview with "Bring the war Home" Author and Northwestern University Associate Professor Kathleen Belew. Interview with "Rogues" and "Empire of Pain" Author Patrick Radden Keefe. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 13, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Touchdown Tel Aviv, Biden begins his Mideast tour in Israel before his controversial visit to Saudi Arabia. What, if anything, can the
president achieve? I asked former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indica.
Then, Sri Lanka slides deeper into crisis. The president fleas, and protesters are hit with tear gas. We get the latest on the dramatic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN BELEW, AUTHOR, "BRING THE WAR HOME" AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: It's a threat that has become a clear and present
danger, not only to American citizens, but also to our country as a whole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: The rise of the far right. Historian Kathleen Belew talks to Walter Isaacson about the January 6 Hearing and the growing white power
Plus, one of the most highly regarded journalists of our time. I speak to Patrick Radden Keefe about his love of storytelling and his latest book,
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christian Amanpour.
U.S. President Joe Biden is in Israel. The 10th trip of lifetime, but the first as America's commander in chief. Donning his signature aviator
sunglasses, Biden spoke on the tarmac in Tel Aviv.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, as president, I am proud to say that our relationship with the State of Israel is deeper and stronger, in my view,
than it's ever been. And with this visit, we are strengthening our connections even further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Israel's new interim prime minister, Yair Lapid, welcomed Biden warmly, calling him one of the best friends Israel has ever known.
But the love fest between leaders surely won't continue on Friday when Biden heads to Saudi Arabia for his controversial meeting with crowned
price Mohammed bin Salman. Remember, Biden called the country a pariah for its killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights
violations. But with rising gas prices and concerns about Iran and China, the U.S. president has decided that the visit is in America's interests.
For some insight into all of this, let's bring in Martin Indyk, who served as America's ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton, and served
as a special envoy for peace under President Obama.
Welcome to the program from France, Ambassador.
So, let me begin there. Is this visit in America's interest in your opinion?
MARTIN INDYK, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Yes, very much so. The broader strategic context for this visit is that the United States is
necessarily preoccupied with an aggressive Russia in Europe and the rise in China in Asia, but it has to find a way to promote and protect interest in
the Middle East at the same time, and those interests are very clearly in oil, in the export of oil, at reasonable prices from the Middle East that
will impact the global economy and inflation in the United States, and, of course, a relationship and commitment to Israel's well-being.
And, I think, that is why the president is out there, waving the American flag and making clear that the United States, while it has priorities
elsewhere, is not turning its back on the Middle East.
GOLODRYGA: But you would agree that this trip would likely would not be happening, at least, not right now, if Russia hasn't been engaging in a war
in Ukraine, sending oil prices soaring above $100 per barrel?
INDYK: Yes. I think the trip to Israel would have happened now because it's ahead of the midterms and Israel always plays an important role in
American politics. But certainly, the visits (ph) with Saudi Arabia, we could see with the president's body language and, indeed, he's own language
that he's not exactly keen to embrace the Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. He is (INAUDIBLE) administration has said has been
responsible for the murder of the Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist.
So, he's not exactly in a priority to embrace him.
GOLODRYGA: We're having some difficulty with your video there. So, hopefully, we can continue this interview. I can hear you fine. But I just
want to let our viewers know that we are experiencing that as well. This is what happens with technology.
But on that note, when you mentioned the president's visit to Israel, listen, politically, it's the right thing to do, given all the pushback
that President Obama received for not going to Israel on his first trip to the Middle East, but this is an unusual circumstance, and that this is the
first time in decades where you have a U.S. president who's not going to Israel with his number one item being restoring the talks, the peace talks,
between Israel and Palestinians.
In fact, President Biden acknowledged as much on the tarmac today, when he pushed for the need and the desire and support for a two-state solution,
knowing, however, that that would not be the outcome. Let's listen to what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We'll discuss my continued support, even though I know it is not in the near term, a two-state solution. That remains, in my view, the best way
to ensure the future of equal measure, of freedom, prosperity, and democracy for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: So, where do things leave us now, in terms of the president of the United States acknowledging the a two-state solution is not something
that is going to happen, at least, in the short-term? We have seen history made over the past few years with the Abraham Accords and the recognition
there, and the normalization of relations between Israel and the Gulf States. But on a project that you have spent so much of your life working
on, looking for peace and searching for any opportunity to a two-state solution, where are things right now on that front?
INDYK: Well, I think the reality is exactly as the president put it. That Israel has a care type of government. It's going into another election in
November. So, it can't take critical decisions when it comes to peacemaking with the Palestinians. The Palestinians are deeply divided themselves,
between the Palestinian authority and now, Hamas, which controls part of the West Bank and Hamas controls Gaza, and they don't agree on what the
ultimate solution should be.
So, it's very hard to see how you can move forward to a peace process and negotiating process from here. The best that can be done in some
incremental steps. Some of those have been taken to improve Palestinians on the ground, but the situation is really kind of stuck, and it's been stuck
for a very long time.
The last time we had formal negotiations was when I was in charge in 2014. So, I think that in those circumstances, the best the president can do is
make sure that everybody understands that the United States is committed to a two-state solution, even though it can't be achieved now.
GOLODRYGA: There had been some hopes, perhaps, of a normalization of relations, at least, publicly of sorts or moving in that direction between
Israel and the Saudis. Obviously, we know that the two works behind the scenes for years now. But do you think that in terms of what we can expect
to see moving that relationship forward, is there anything on the horizon, especially giving that King Salman is still in the picture? Do we -- or do
you hear of talks of further normalization of relations in the immediate future between the two countries?
INDYK: I think there will be some announcements, some small steps in that direction. But I think it's important in two respects. First of all, the
broader trend, which you've referenced of Israel's growing acceptance by Sunni, Arab states. Egypt and Jordan obviously made peace some time ago.
But now, we have the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia taking steps in that direction.
As they do so, the Palestinian issue, which has been sidelined, up to now, comes back in. The Saudis have made absolutely clear that they are not
going to fully normalize with Israel without some real progress on the Palestinian front. And because the Israelis desire, deeply desire, a formal
relationship with Saudi Arabia, because its leadership with the Arab and most of the world, I think that they are going to be more amenable once we
go through these elections in Israel, to taking steps in order to achieve Saudi in full engagement.
And so, as Egypt, Jordon and Saudi Arabia, all of whom have a stake in the Palestinian issue, become more involved in the normalization process with
Israel, I think you will see that creating better conditions for moving forward eventually towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace. So, the first
steps on the Saudi level are important, but they have a broader relevance as well.
GOLODRYGA: No doubt that the largest factor here in the move towards normalization of relations between Israel and its Gulf neighbors is that of
The president today spoke with Channel 12 News in Israel about his desire to continue to pursue negotiations in returning to the JCPOA, even though
that appears to be nowhere near a place where it can be revived at this point. Here is what he said in an interview just a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, most of Israelis are opposed to a return to the Iran deal and American partners in the region seem skeptical. May I ask
you? Many Israelis wonder why you are determined to return to the deal?
BIDEN: Because the only thing worse than the reign that exist now is the Iran with nuclear weapons. And if we could return to the deal and hold them
tight, I think it was a gigantic mistake for the last president to get out of the deal. They're closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before.
It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the good force is going to stop or continue to be engaged in activities. We can act against them
and still have a deal where they curtail their nuclear program.
And so, I still think it makes sense. We'd laid it out on the table. We've made the deal. We've offered it. And it's up to Iran now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And, Martin, listen, I've heard from sources there as well that there are many Gulf State members who are sort of having buyer's remorse
for not backing the JCPOA back when President Obama initiated it for no other reason that there is no alternative. That having been said, at this
point, what is the likelihood that reviving the talks right now, and that would be a big if, would help lower and lessen the threat?
INDYK: Well, as you said, it's a big if. It's really up to Iran, they keep adding new conditions outside of the original deal, which making it more
difficult not (INAUDIBLE) to get it back on the table. But I think that what's interesting is that the Israelis have taken a kind of softer view of
its now, because the one advantage if the Iranians would've come back into the deal is that the Iranians that they have in enriched (ph) to 60
percent, which puts them a lot closer to nuclear weapons grade material, that stockpile would be shipped out as soon as they agree to come back into
agreement. And that would give everybody a breathing space and time to try to negotiate something more long-term and more meaningful in terms of
controls of Iran's nuclear ambitions. So, that's the heart.
If it doesn't happen, I'm afraid the tension is going to retch it up. And particularly concerning part is that other states in the region will start
to react, start to think about acquiring their own nuclear capabilities to counter Iran, and Israel will be under increasing pressure to take military
action to try to preempt the Iranians crossing the nuclear threshold.
So, I think, you know, the future becomes a lot more dangerous in a lot of circumstances. It's part of the reason why, I think, the United States and
President Biden is going to make clear in this trip that he is going to be standing by Israel and the Arab States in ensuring that Iran does not
acquire nuclear weapons. That the deterrent and containment message coming from the president is going to be important, because of the prospect that
Iran probably won't come back into negotiations, we're going to be entering a more dangerous period.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And it's led -- what many would have assume would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, with Israel and some of these Gulf
neighbors now even cooperating on defense infrastructure and technology as they continue to see more aggressive talk from Iran.
We know that President Putin will be traveling to Iran next week as well, and the U.S. just confirming that Iran will be selling drones. Their intel
is suggesting that Russia will be buying drones from Iran.
Let me turn to the human rights question, though, about this visit with MBS. Because there's a lot of pushbacks in the United States, and within
the president's own party on the message that this sends just a few months after calling the state a pariah for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and
they're supportive of the war in Yemen and their human rights record overall. Let me quote something that one of your former colleagues, Ben
Rhodes, just recently wrote in "The Atlantic" yesterday.
Here's what he said, while we contort ourselves to embrace the Saudi leadership in the name of shared interests, recent history should show us
that those interests are not aligned. Most profoundly, the dual existential threats of our time, the collapse of democracy and onset of climate change
require a more radical reassessment of the trade-offs that America makes and why we make them, not a reset with a fossil-fuel-rich dictator.
What is your response to that?
INDYK: Well, it will be interesting to see that the president will announce, I believe, an agreement with MBS, as you call him, the crown
prince of Saudi Arabia, for cooperation on renewable energy production. And this is a new area which the Saudis are prepared to invest a lot of money
in, partly because they know that fossil fuels are the past, not the future. And that is one way in which the United States and Saudi Arabia
working together, they're going to try to address that criticism.
But the bigger criticism is about the way in which Mohammed bin Salman treats his own people. And it's -- there are two sides to this coin. On one
hand, we've got the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the beheading of 81 Saudi dissidents more recently, and the suppression of criticism and dissent.
But on the other hand, this Saudi leader has done more for the emancipation of Saudi women than any Saudi leader in history. And it's quite
extraordinary. I was just in Riyad a couple of weeks to see women now, 35 percent of them, are in the workforce. I mean, the workforce has 35 percent
female participation, and they are out and about. They are not wearing those abayas with the -- you know, just the slip for the eyes. They are out
in restaurants. They are living on what looks like a much more normal life.
And so, how do we balance this? How do we balance our interest in the free flow of oil at reasonable prices with our values and human rights? Somehow,
the president has to walk the line. We need the Saudis to increase oil production, to bring the price down, because that is having a terrible
impact on inflation. And I think that Americans, generally, will agree that the president should be trying to do what he can to bring inflation down.
On the other hand, we need to take a clear stand against the way in which he treats some of his people some of the time. And I expect that the
president will make that clear to him.
GOLODRYGA: A big dilemma. We'll see if he that makes it clear to him on camera or off, whether there will even be a fist bump or a handshake
between these two leaders and would-be leader.
Martin Indyk, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Well, ripple effects from Ukraine are being felt across the world, from the Middle East to South Asia. Where today, a political crisis in Sri Lanka
appears to be moving towards a climax. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country for the Maldives on a military aircraft. He is expected to
formally resign today. The prime minister, now acting president, appointed a committee of military staff to restore law and order. The question now,
do these protests mark a new beginning for Sri Lanka or will more chaos ensue?
Joining me now on the phone with the latest is Emily Schmall, the South Asia Correspondent for "The New York Times."
Emily, thank you so much for joining us.
You know, we spoke with an economist there in Sri Lanka yesterday about the state of affairs. He sounded a note of optimism and seemed to suggest that
this was how democracy works. I'm just curious to get your take given the developments overnight. What is the situation on the ground there and how
clear is it as to who is actually running the country?
EMILY SCHMALL, NEW YORK TIMES CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, thank you for having me.
You know, I was just thinking as you were speaking of what one person (ph) said to me today outside of the prime minister's offices, which are overrun
by protesters. He said -- he asked me, is this democracy? He said, maybe for them, speaking of the political class that these protesters are really
trying to do away with.
So, it's very unclear actually who is in charge of Sri Lanka at the moment. The president has appointed the prime minister to act in his stead while
he's out of the country, but the protesters are not happy about this. They want the prime minister gone as well. And so, they've continued to occupy a
series of government buildings that they have been seizing in recent days of protest.
And while the newly acting president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, did give a statement today, calling for security forces to retake these buildings and
bring peace back to the streets, essentially, nothing has changed. The protesters are still out there. There are thousands of people in the
Capital of Colombo, and it's just not clear what kind of authority the acting president has.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. We see the protesters out on the street now. We do believe that the acting president, the prime minister, at this point, has the
support of the military. But in situations like these in the past, we have seen situations where the military siding needs to control law and order.
Sort of taking over.
Is there are a concern that if these protests do continue, and there is a question as to who actually is in charge of the country, that the military
could step up?
SCHMALL: Yes, it's certainly possible. Sri Lanka is a country that had nearly 30 years of civil war that ended in 2009, but there's still very
many powerful generals in the country. And they were seen as loyal to Rajapaksa. So, with the entire family now out of power, and then seeming to
bulk a little bit at the orders that the acting president gave today, it's not clear that they would necessarily follow his command.
GOLODRYGA: Emily Schmall, we will continue to cover this story. Thank you so much for being there for us and giving us the latest on what's happening
in the ground there. We appreciate it.
Well, back here in the U.S., Americans are digesting yet more new information about the events on and before the insurrection. Ryan Nobles
takes us through the January 6th Committee's latest hearing. And note, viewers should be aware, some testimony contains profane language.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The January 6th Select Committee used their seventh public hearing to build a case that
Donald Trump had a plan, to call his supporters to Washington to march on the Capitol and stand in the way of certifying the 2020 election.
One witness, Stephen Ayres, who has since pleaded guilty to entering the Capitol illegally, said he answered Trump's call.
STEPHEN AYRES, BREACHED CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6: We did not actually plan to go down there. You know, we went basically to see the stop, to steal rally
and that was it.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL) AND JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE MEMBER: So, why did you decide to march to the Capitol?
AYRES: Well, basically, you know, the president, you know, got everybody riled up and told everybody to head on down. So, we basically was just
following what he said.
NOBLES (voiceover): The Committee unveiling never seen before depositions and communications among Trump insiders, showing that the former president
ignored the advice of his own advisers and instead, leaned on the council of election deniers, like Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I'm going to categorically describe it as, you guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I put it another
way, you are a bunch of pussies, excuse the expression but that's -- I'm almost certain the word was used.
NOBLES (voiceover): The Committee arguing Trump knew he lost the election, but was driven to overturn the results anyway.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY) AND JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE MEMBER: President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Just like everyone
else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.
NOBLES (voiceover): A drive that led to a raucous meeting at the White House in the middle of December, when Trump wanted to name Attorney Sidney
Powell as special counsel in order to seize voting machines.
SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: The president said, OK, you know, I'm naming her that and I'm giving her security clearance.
NOBLES (voiceover): Former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone testifying that he was displeased to see people like Powell at Flynn in the Oval
Office, and told Trump naming Powell special counsel was a grave mistake.
PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Can the federal government seize voting machines? It's a terrible idea. That's not how we
do things in the United States. There's an illegal authority to do that. I don't think any of these people were providing the president with good
advice. And so, I didn't understand how they had gotten in.
NOBLES (voiceover): Cipollone also describing his frustration dealing people who couldn't produce any evidence for widespread voter fraud.
CIPOLLONE: I disregard, I would say, a general disregard for the important of actually backing up what you say with facts.
NOBLES (voiceover): Afterward, Trump shifting gears but not backing down from his pursuit of pushing his election lies. Tweeting the next day, an
invitation to his supporters to descend on Washington on January 6th.
REP. MURPHY: Be there, will be wild, the president wrote.
NOBLES (voiceover): The Committee also presenting a draft tweet obtained from the national archives showing Trump planned before January 6th to tell
his supporters, please arrive early, massive crowds expected, march to the capital after.
This, despite members of Trump's cabinet and inner circle testifying that they told Trump he lost the election and he should concede to Biden after
the Electoral College met in mid-December.
EUGENE SCALIA, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY: I conveyed to him that I thought that it was time for him to acknowledge that President Biden had
prevailed in the election.
CIPOLLONE: If your question is, did I believe he should concede the election at a point in time, yes, I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Ryan Nobles for that latest report.
To explore the evolution of right-wing extremist groups in America and their connection to Trump, author and historian Kathleen Belew joins Walter
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And Professor Kathleen Belew, welcome back to the show.
KATHLEEN BELEW, AUTHOR, "BRING THE WAR HOME" AND ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: So, we heard yesterday's hearings a whole about the white power movement. You wrote a book about it called "Bring the War Home." One of the
things that struck me is how the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two separate organizations, get united by Trump in this January 6th
insurrection. What did -- what struck you about that?
BELEW: It's interesting to note the way that this argument was put forth in the Committee hearings this week, because their purpose here is to
establish that Trump was the unifying figure that brought these groups into sort of common purpose on January 6th. And that his go order was sort of
the thing that tipped off the violence.
And that fits, of course, the idea that the first job of the Committee is some kind of accountability for the very near brush we had with a coup. But
the other thing to think about here is that these groups have worked together over quite a long time. So, the white power movement is a loose
social movement that has brought together a whole bunch of different ideological viewpoints on the right, from the Klan, two Skinheads, to neo-
Nazis, to parts of the militia movement, and now, to groups like Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and others that were at play on the 6th.
So, we have spent a lot of time talking about these groups as disparate, when, in fact, we should be thinking of them as a groundswell. So, this was
a very helpful thing to see during the hearings.
ISAACSON: You referred to it as a white power movement. Tell me about that terminology.
BELEW: So, white power is, first of all, what these activists called themselves during the earlier part of their history, which is what I write
about, from the late 1970s to the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1985. And the reason they use that term and the reason that I think it's a helpful term
is that it really lays bare the violent and revolutionary capacity of this movement. I think sometimes when people hear the word nationalism, as in
white nationalism, they think of sort of patriotism run amok, or the idea that there's something white about the American nation, culturally or
linguistically or historically, that should be preserved. That's not what these folks tend to be about.
The white power movement is interested in, you know, the eradication of people of color, white homeland, and possibly even a white ethnostate or
even an all-white planet achieved through profound violence and asymmetric warfare.
ISAACSON: One of the things that struck me about your book, which we heard about in yesterday's hearings too, is to what extent -- to a large extent,
the white power movement is not super nationalist, but is anti-state. They felt that the state was the enemy.
BELEW: That's right. This is one of the big unresolved conflicts in the way our founding documents are arranged. And I think I heard someone on the
radio talking about Alexander Hamilton -- or maybe this was in one of the closing statements in the hearing, talking about Alexander Hamilton and
thinking about, you know, the capacity of the government to limit the Mob, the capital M, Mob, of the people, from committing violence that might hurt
the democratic process, which is one impulse.
The other impulse that runs in our society is the capacity of the People, capital P, to limit the state. And whether the Mob is a sort of violent
body that needs to be constrained by the state, or whether the state is a tyrannical force that needs to be constrained by the people, it's one of
these contradictions that we have never fully sorted out.
And you see it come up over and over again in the history of vigilante movements in the United States as sort of an alibi for all kinds of
violence and all kinds of anti-democratic activity. And certainly, the testimony of the gentleman who was -- who had worked with the Oath Keepers,
was very clearly in line with this, talking about how the group imagined an armed revolution --
-- how they thought about creating a deck of playing cards with targets. How they thought about training and armament. The new information we're
hearing about, not only weapons but explosives and, you know, tactical gear.
All of this is in line with the paramilitary movement that has been waging war on the United States since, at least, the early 1980s, and has done so
largely unabated over time. And it's a threat that has become a clear and present danger not only to American citizens but also to our country as a
ISAACSON: Well, one of the things that I confused about this whole thing was in waging war, insurrectionists against a bad State, and then Donald
Trump, who is actually president, tells them to come and do it. Was Trump somebody who helped, sort of, alter what the ideology was of the Proud
BELEW: So, this is a tricky question. Because I think the committee has two different goals here, or at least, should have two different goals
here. One of them is accountability for the -- for Former President Trump and his administration for the events of January 6th. And the attempts to
stop the peaceful transfer of power. I think that's the first order of business, and just that is a huge Herculean effort. And has, I think,
commanded most of the attention.
But the other goal should be for us all to come away from this with a clearer view of this groundswell of white power and militant right activity
that, you know, may have for a while, united behind President Trump. But certainly, was never fully in anyone's command, and certainly did not stand
down after January 6th, but remains with us as a live and militarized presence in our society that is, even now, continuing a campaign of
intimidating school boards, trying to wage attacks on State houses, infringe into local political processes, do intimidation campaigns.
We should be thinking about the folks arrested in the U-Haul, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and the marches against pride parades, the march in Boston.
This is all rolling along at a very frenetic pace as the committee is trying to tell the story. So, the groundswell is what we have to keep in
ISAACSON: This groundswell of white nationalist armed insurrectionists in your book, it surprised me. I hadn't really known this began after Vietnam,
or should I say, America's failure in Vietnam. Why does that happen and how does that resonate today?
BELEW: You know, one of the interesting correlations in rises and falls in clan membership, which is one of the longer, sort of, histories of this
kind of an activity that we have going back to the 1860s, is that they correlate more closely with the aftermath of warfare than they do with most
other contextual factors. So, the aftermath of warfare is a better indication that there is going to be a surge in Far-right activity and
violence than poverty, or immigration, or civil rights gains, or various kinds of social unrest. Many other measures people have looked at to
determine what's going on here.
And it turns out this is not just about veterans, although veterans do bring high levels of tactical weapons expertise that really escalate the
capacity of these groups to do harm. It turns out that all of us are more available for violence in the aftermath of war. One sociologist found that
that measure cuts across gender, across age, across who did and didn't serve in combat. It's all Americans who find themselves more available for
violent reaction after warfare.
And although the global war on terror was fought by a small number of people over a very long stretch in ways that were often not visible to most
of American society, we're talking about our longest war ever. When the -- my undergraduates don't even remember a time before 9/11. They don't
So, the legacies about long engagement, I think, are with us. And there certainly powerful motivators for groups like the Oath Keepers which is
focused on the recruitment of veterans.
ISAACSON: How great is the magnitude? How worried should we be about this movement?
BELEW: I think that it is difficult to be too worried about this at present. This is -- in my view, there are two major dangers posed to
everyone in the United States right now from this movement. One of them is that groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys become a sort of
paramilitary shock force of the most extreme parts of the GOP, and lead us towards a, sort of, authoritarian politics that is enforced by violent
action, intimidation, and all of the things we would expect from reading the history of those movements.
The other is that there will be a contingent of people in those groups, like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, who are not at all interested in
the United States or gaining power as part of the GOP, but who are actually interested in overthrowing the United States and creating their own
ethnostate which is, not at all, interested in democracy or voting or freedom or any of the things I think of as patriotic.
Both of these are dangerous to our society. And I think one thing that the Committee is showing us is that the time to respond is running short.
ISAACSON: How important was Trump in all of this? One of the witnesses said, Ben is lucky. We haven't seen this before. It could've happened
before, after any one of these insurrections. And, yet it seems Trump is the person who makes it happen on January 6.
BELEW: I'm convinced that that is true from a tactical standpoint and that the go signal was Trump calling people to the Hill. I think that testimony
has shown that. I'm not sure how much he was in command of the movement and I'm not sure that we didn't already see other attempts at this.
So, I mean, most viewers might not realize that the Oklahoma City bombing was not just the work of a few disaffected madmen or a lone wolf, but part
of this very carefully organized domestic terrorist attempt to destabilize the government and bring people into the white power movement. And it
worked, by the way. The militia movement numbers rose after Oklahoma City's bombing. And, I think, future historians will find that that sort of bump
in inactivity fueled us into the way that takes us to unite the right in Charlottesville.
All of this has deep history going back decades, if not generations. We have a lot of examples of how it has worked. The other problem here is that
this is the movement that operates simultaneously above ground, where we can see it, which is the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. And also
underground, where it is much more difficult to have an in-the-moment sense of what's happening.
We get little bits of it when we read about groups like Adam Wathan (ph) or other, kind of, paramilitary strength force units. But the underground is
largely out of view. The historical archives show us that we won't have the full story about that part of it for a good long time, 10 or 20 years,
right? With the exception of moments like this committee, where we get all this information. We get people leaving the groups and talking about what
they were doing. We get lists of weapons. We get asset seizures. We get plea bargains.
So, this is our opportunity to see behind the curtain. And so far, what we're seeing is very alarming and should escalate everybody's sense of
urgency about this problem.
ISAACSON: One of the people who testified yesterday was a spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, who then quit the organization. He said he quit the
organization when he found them all standing around a store talking about how the holocaust was made up and was fake. To what extent is it more than
just white power, and to what extent is it antisemitism and other things rolled in?
BELEW: So, one of the interesting things about the white power movement is that it is an incredibly flexible, ideological group of people. So, if you
think about what has to happen in the 1980s, for instance, to put a, sort of, traditional Christian white separatist in the room with a hard-drinking
tattooed, topless skinhead. We're talking about huge, sort of, contortions to make that OK with everybody. And the thing that motivates that ability
to be flexible and bring everyone together is an intense sense of emergency that the white race is under attack and will be eradicated without swift
So, that sense of urgency is able to pull in all kinds of different social issues into one, sort of, conspiratorial, apocalyptic belief system. So,
antisemitism, in this ideology, undergirds all kinds of other issues. Whether they're interested in opposing the federal government, opposing
abortion, opposing gay rights, avoiding contact with people of color or doing violence to those communities, opposing a non-Christian people of
The other interesting thing that that witness said during the hearing was that the Oath Keepers were deliberately misrepresenting the fact that they
are a militia group. Saying that they were a veterans advocacy group. And this is all directly out of the playbook of the white power movement. I --
the one that springs to mind was David Duke saying, you know -- or folks like that saying, I'm not racist, I'm racialist. I'm not segregationist,
I'm separatist, right?
Because they're always figuring out where they can land within the realm of, sort of, public acceptability so that they can recruit and radicalize
ISAACSON: One of the odd things about the whole Oath Keeper movement is how people like General Michael Flynn suddenly got sucked into this
deranged vortex. To what extent is it affecting military people, and how do the -- how does somebody like Michael Flynn get so sucked into this?
BELEW: The short answer is that there are as many ways into this movement as there are people in the movement. There are -- people find this kind of
ideology for all kinds of reasons. Some of them are about deeply held beliefs. Some of them are about social connections and ulterior motives.
And, you know, there's all kinds of things going on. And I'm not someone who believes there's, sort of, like, a clear psychological profile. I think
it's sort of a -- like any social movement, there's a variety of things happening.
But what I will say is that it's very typical for the white power movement to target active-duty service members and veterans for recruitment, because
they want those skills that those people bring. And I will say that the Department of Defense has only, in the last two years or so, begun the
process of taking a tally of how many people have this kind of a belief system within the armed forces. But plain and simple, we don't know how big
the problem it is because nobody has been keeping an accurate count. And it's even worse than police officer record keeping because there's no
centralized record keeping there at all.
ISAACSON: President Biden announced a national response to domestic terrorism that touched on a lot of this. What's your thought about his plan
and what more do we need to be doing?
BELEW: That plan is a huge step in the right direction. As are the -- sort of, string of reports that have come from the Department of Homeland
Security and FBI, saying that this white power domestic terrorism is the biggest terrorist threat to the United States at present. This is it. This
is the big one that we need to be organizing around, and allocating resources to, and figuring out how to surveil and doing all of these
But the thing is that this movement has been on the march since the '70s. It declared war formally on the United States in 1983, and we have a few
years of will and resources, and expertise devoted to the problem. So, the question is going to be, how quickly we can catch up? How much will there
is to solve the problem? And whether it will be enough?
ISAACSON: Professor Kathleen Belew, thank you so much for joining us again.
BELEW: Thank you very much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Totally interesting conversation there.
We return now to a master storyteller. The acclaimed writer Patrick Radden Keefe. Fascinated by people behaving badly. Keefe, who wrote the award-
winning book, "Empire of Pain" on the Sackler family, has pulled together some of his greatest New Yorker pieces in a new book called, "Rogues". The
collection is getting rave reviews.
And Patrick Radden Keefe joins me now from Massachusetts. Patrick, great to have you on. I wonder if it ever gets boring to continue to have your work
so critically acclaimed time and time again. It's a very high-class problem to have.
But let's talk about this new collection of stories, essays that you've written for the "New Yorker" dating back to 2007 that you've compiled now
in "Rogues". What has drawn you throughout your career to "Rogues" and then the people who ultimately bring them down?
PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE, AUTHOR, "ROGUES" AND "EMPIRE OF PAIN": Well, I should say, first of all, thank you so much for having me on. And, you
know, it's such a solitary existence that you have working on these pieces that it's great. I love to come out and have the opportunity to talk about
them. So, it's great to be with you.
It's funny, you know, these are 12 stories that I've pulled from about a dozen years of work at the "New Yorker". And as I do each piece, I feel as
though I'm just kind of going where my interests take me. It's only in retrospect that you realize that there are these patterns, these themes I
keep coming back to. And I think part of it is I'm interested in big personalities. I'm interested in the line between what's legal and illegal.
And so, some of it is I keep telling these stories about certain types of people who threw sheer force of will managed to either live right out of
the edge of the law or sometimes quite a ways beyond it.
GOLODRYGA: Do you have a favorite among them? I'm just curious as to whether or not you put much time into how sequentially they're laid out in
the book because all of them are fascinating. You have the first piece that entails a Koch Brother, and Thomas Jefferson's would-be wine. Was it his
wine? Was it not? Wine forger there involved. We got Dutch mobsters. Which one of these is your favorite or do you have any?
KEEFE: It would be hard for me to pick just one. I mean, that story about counterfeit wine was definitely a favorite of mine because I think it's --
on the one hand it's a story about very wealthy people who have been defrauded by this con artist who basically figured out that people were
building these million-dollar wine cellars.
Accumulating all these bottles of wine and realized that it was kind of a victimless crime, in the sense that you could sell these very expensive
bottles and they wouldn't know. Which would seem difficult to relate to. You know, people spending thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a
bottle of wine. But at the same time, I think, any of us have had that experience, right, of being in a restaurant or going to a wine shop before
heading off to a dinner party. And you're going to bring a bottle and you wonder, what's the difference between a $20 bottle and a $50 bottle? Can
you really taste it?
And the fun of me -- for me with this story was getting into this and realizing that, you know, with these bottles that cost 1$4,000, $15, 000
often people were often drinking fakes very happily. They didn't know the difference.
GOLODRYGA: Well, it's interesting because as you follow this tale of a Koch Brother really wanting to get to the bottom of this story, and make
this person pay for what he had assumed early on was a fake wine collection, that he had accumulated. You know, you have him on the one
hand, but you also note in that piece that many wine collectors would rather not know if their wine was actually -- I mean, at the end of the day
it is wine. But if it's not what it was said to be and what the premium price they paid for.
KEEFE: Well, in part because it's an asset, right? So, I actually interviewed people whose job it is to come into these cellars where you've
got people who spent $4, $5, $6 million accumulating a world-class wine cellar. And there are these specialists who will come in and pick out of
the fakes. And sometimes they're saying, you've got a million dollars' worth of fake wine here.
And a number of them told me these stories about going in and doing that. And then subsequently seeing those very bottles at auction. So, rather than
be stuck with the fake, what happened is the collectors just sold them on into commerce.
GOLODRYGA: Fascinating. Also fascinating, the Dutch mobster sister story. First of all, I didn't know there was a mob scene, an underground mob scene
in the Netherlands. So, I learned something there. But talk to us about Astrid Holleeder and her story. She's a fascinating character in it of
herself without her brother being part of it here. She went into hiding after she ultimately turned on her brother who was facing jail time for
KEEFE: Yes, it's funny, you know, I had been to Amsterdam. I had been to the Netherlands. And I shared your surprise at learning that there is a
very robust black market there, that there's a criminal underground, and there was this guy, Wim Holleeder, who was the biggest gangster in
He was known by his, kind of, gangland nickname was The Nose, after his prominent nose. And for years, the authorities suspected him but they
couldn't nail him. He had gotten in trouble for kidnapping Freddy Heineken, the heir to the Heineken fortune for ransom. And they suspected him in a
bunch of murders, but they couldn't pin anything on him. And it was only when his own sister, this woman Astrid, decided to turn on him and work
with the authorities that her brother finally got nailed.
So, to me, that was interesting in a number of ways. In part, because I'm interested in sibling relationships and the bonds of the family. And Astrid
had kind of grown up in this crime family, but she became a lawyer, and she was almost like Tom Hagen in "The Godfather". She was, sort of, the in-
house criminal lawyer for her brother. But her brother was also very abusive. And so, she turned on him. And at the point where I met her, she
was living in hiding in Amsterdam. Having undertaken this pretty significant decision to turn on the most dangerous man in the country.
GOLODRYGA: We will hear from her in digitized voice version for "The New Yorker Radio Hour". Let's play it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF ASTRID HOLLEEDER, DUTCH LAWYER AND WILLEM HOLLEEDER'S SISTER: Being the person that sends him away for life, well, that's an agony every
day. If I think about the moment he must have heard that I was the one who testified against him, that must have been such a shock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: You know, what's really fascinating in these pieces and in this story, as well, Patrick, is that you were able to get these people to talk
to you. In life or death situations, clearly, as it is with Astrid. She meets you at an underground Japanese restaurant, the first time you see
her. You know, again, I mentioned how fascinating, how interesting her life is, and the fact that her daughter is a famous model. And yet they can't
really see each other because she's in hiding. What is it, do you think, about the level of trust that you're able to develop with these characters
and these people who you profile?
KEEFE: Well, I think -- I mean, the first thing I should say is often people don't talk, you know. That there are many people, including in this
book, where there are big figures who I write about, whether it's Marc Burnett, the reality TV producer who created "The Apprentice", or Steven
Cohen, the head of a hedge fund that was notorious for insider trading.
Where I go to them and I say, hey, listen. I'd really like to hear your perspective on this. And they say, I'm not going to talk to you. But what I
say in those situations is, OK. Well, I'm going to write the piece anyway. And I think that's part of it, to be honest with you. I mean, one luxury,
which is all too rare these days, that I have at "The New Yorker", is they'll let me spend five, six, eight months on a piece.
And so, that's part of my pitch to people is, I'll keep working. I'll keep coming back. I'll spend months and months and talk to everybody I can and
try and tell the story in as compassionate and comprehensive manner as I can.
GOLODRYGA: And who knows, maybe they will turn around and then ask you to ghostwrite their memoirs as El Chapo did. Talk about that phone call from
KEEFE: That was one of the weirdest experiences I ever had. I had published this big story in "The New Yorker" called "The Hunt for El
Chapo", which is in the book. It was actually the second big piece I had written about him, because I wrote an earlier cover story for the "New York
Times" magazine about the Sinaloa Cartel, his drug Cartel.
And I didn't speak to him for either of these pieces. In the first case, because he was on the run. And the second, because he was locked up in
Mexico and not talking to journalists. And then the piece came out. And I got a call from a lawyer who said he represented the Guzman family. And I
didn't what it was about. He left a voicemail for me in the office and I ran some checks and it turned out who really was who he said he was. So, I
didn't know where this was going or what their issue would be with the peace.
And when I called, he asked if I'd like to ghostwrite Chapo's memoirs. And I -- believe me, before I hung up the phone, I had said, no. On the
principle that, you know, even in the best of circumstances, it doesn't always work out between the ghostwriter and the subject. And doing that
with Chapo Guzman might be particularly risky, but it was a wild experience.
GOLODRYGA: And you also have a lawyer for a wife who, in many circumstances, I would imagine, in the El Chapo situation, has said, no.
We're drawing a line at a certain point when it comes to your safety.
KEEFE: Yes, my in-house counsel.
GOLODRYGA: Your in-house counsel.
KEEFE: Had some views on this issue.
GOLODRYGA: Can I ask you about "Empire of Pain"? Because all of these pieces that you write deal with real-life realities and suffering, in one
way, shape, or form, in "Rogues" and these dark stories. "Empire of Pain" though, in following the Sackler family and the devastating toll that their
business ultimately unleashed upon so many people in this country and around the world.
I'm just curious what your feeling was. I don't know if it's satisfaction. If it's somewhat rewarding when you see that your work really did help in
leading to them reaching a deal, a $6 billion deal for victims and survivors of the opioid epidemic ARC institutions. Many of them dropping
the family and their connection there. What was that like for you? I would imagine bittersweet. But I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
KEEFE: You know, that's right. I mean, when I started work on what became the Sackler book, initially it was a piece in "The New Yorker", it was
2016. And at that point, it was fairly well known that this company, Purdue Pharma, had helped precipitate the opioid crisis and that the company was
owned by the Sackler family. But it didn't seem to have caught up with them. There was no sense in which this was something members of that family
would -- should be forced to answer for.
And so, part of what I wanted to do with the project was just put a spotlight on them and ask some hard questions about what their involvement
had been, and what their moral responsibilities should be, and their legal responsibilities should be.
I don't know that the outcome is particularly satisfying for anyone. I think that there -- there is a real irony in seeing that the Sackler name
come down from a lot of these institutions in the sense that, this is a family that invested millions and millions of dollars and a lot of energy
over decades in putting their name up on all of these museums and so forth. But that's not going to bring anybody back. And so, I think bittersweet is
probably a good word for it. I certainly wouldn't be running any kind of victory lap because I think that, you know, we're still stuck with this
enormous national tragedy. And I think most people who take a hard look at it would say that the Sacklers have not really encountered anything
GOLODRYGA: Patrick Radden Keefe, we're going to have to leave it there. Next time, we'll talk about one of my favorite podcasts, "Wind of Change".
something you also wrote and produced. Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
And finally, Emmy nominations are out with hit series "Succession" leading the field with 25 nominations. 14 are in acting categories, breaking the
record previously held by the west wing. Brian Cox is nominated for lead actor for his portrayal of ruthless media mogul Logan Roy who spends his
time fending off his equally diabolical children to protect his media empire.
Asked if the show was a thinly disguised version of the Murdaugh (ph) family, here's his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN COX, ACTOR, "SUCCESSION": Well, I don't know. I mean, I think it's life. I think it's about your children. It's about what you want for your
children and how you want them to survive. And it's about the survival mechanism that comes in. And you're always -- I mean, I remember when my
kids, and I still got teenage kids, but I have older kids as well, that I really wanted them to get out of the house at the age of 16. To get on --
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Did you?
COX: Yes, so they can get on with their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: A bit koi with that answer there. The winners will be announced September 12th.
And that's it for now. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.