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Interview with Woman who was Forces to Delay Treatment for Miscarriage Marlena Stell; Interview with Planned Parenthood Great Plains CEO and President Emily Wales; Interview with "They Want To Kill Americans" Author and Terror Asymmetrics Project Executive Director Malcolm Nance; Interview "Invisible Storm" Author Jason Kander; Interview with Bomba Estereo Founder Simon Mejia. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 21, 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 SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello everyone and welcome to "Amanpour". Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: My body. My choice. My body.
GOLODRYGA: Life in America after Roe V. Wade was overturned. We look at what that actually means for women across the country.
I speak to Marlena Stell about her miscarriage nightmare in Texas. And Emily Wales of Planned Parenthood. Then --
MALCOLM NANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT AND AUTHOR, "THEY WANT TO KILL AMERICANS": This November will be the defining moment
whether the America Experiment ends in practice, not in theory.
GOLODRYGA: The threat of domestic extremism becomes even more present. Counterterrorism expert, Malcolm Nance, warns Michel Martin about the real
risks it poses to American democracy.
Plus, he was a rising star in the Democratic Party before his PTSD caught up with him. Now, Jason Kander is sharing it all in his new memoir,
invisible storm. He joins the show.
And finally, paying homage to mother Earth as extreme weather wages around the world. My conversation with Simone Mejia of Columbia's Bomba Estereo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the president is experiencing very mild symptoms
and taking Paxlovid, that's Pfizer's antiviral drug. This is the first time that Biden, who is 79 years old, has tested positive for the virus. He is
vaccinated and twice boosted, but at a higher risk due to his age. And following the announcement, the president, himself, tweeted this picture
saying, folks, I'm doing great. We, of course, will continue to follow this story, and we wish the president a speedy recovery.
We turn now to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier this month, overturning the constitutional right to abortion. Just weeks later, it's
already starting to have a real impact across the country. Millions of women in Red States are contending with new restrictions, many of which are
being challenged in courts. Internet searches for abortion pills have skyrocketed. And some shocking cases have emerged, like the one of a 10-
year-old rape victim who had to cross State lines in order to have a safe and legal abortion after she couldn't get one in Ohio where there is a full
Confusion surrounding new laws has led to some patients being denied much- needed health care including my first guest. Marlena Stell suffered a miscarriage late last year but was denied the abortion she needed to remove
the fetus because she lives in Texas. Doctors pointing her to the State's six-week ban. An excruciating reality that could become far more frequent
after the overturning of Roe V. Wade. And Marlena joins me now from Houston.
Marlena, thank you so much for joining us and for opening up about your tragic experience. First and foremost, why did you think it was important
to come out and speak about something that is such a private matter, typically for families?
MARLENA STELL, WAS FORCED TO DELAY TREATMENT FOR MISCARRIAGE: I just wanted to be a voice for so many women who I feel like are going through
the same situation that I was. And I just hate to think that other women would go through something so painful of having to fight for care, for
something that shouldn't have to be a fight.
GOLODRYGA: So, for those at home who are listening and saying, wait a -- this doesn't have anything to do with abortion, explain why it does.
Because in your case, you were trying to get pregnant, you wanted a second child. You eventually did get pregnant, and unfortunately, a few weeks
later, you learn that you were miscarrying. That the baby was not viable. Typically, in a situation like that, a woman has one of two choices, either
the baby just passes through the system or there's a DNR, a procedure in which the fetal tissue, the remaining fetal tissue is taken out of the
women's uterus. You were anticipating that you would be receiving and undergoing a DNR. And what happened when you went to the doctor requesting
STELL: So, I knew as soon as I had a miscarriage, I wanted a DNC. I've had a miscarriage in the past, in 2018, and my body did not actually expel. So,
I already knew, kind of, what to expect. I asked my doctor right away. I'd like to have a DNC because I know my past experience. I feel like that's
the safest option for me to be in a hospital with doctors present, just in case something goes wrong. And the first words that came out of my OB's
mouth was because of this law, I cannot provide you any care. We need you to go get another ultrasound somewhere else.
So, it became a battle of having to go get multiple ultrasounds to even prove that I had indeed miscarried. And then having to come back and beg
for DNC. I still was denied one. And in the end, I had to go to an abortion clinic to get one because I could not get one at a hospital.
GOLODRYGA: How long did it take you until you finally did get that DNC?
STELL: Two weeks.
GOLODRYGA: So, for two weeks, you not only had to carry the weight of knowing that you did not have a viable fetus.
GOLODRYGA: But you were also carrying that fetus in you which could be very harmful to you physically.
GOLODRYGA: Talk about that time period, and what the doctor said to you about why you needed to keep waiting.
STELL: I -- it was such a stressful time, not only physically but emotionally, of just walking around, not being able to move past the loss
for a baby that I did want. And I was told by doctors that they can't intervene at all until I get, you know, multiple ultrasounds, which I did.
It all takes time of just waiting. Waiting to get in for an ultrasound, waiting for those results to get back to my doctor.
And once they did get the results, they still said, well, we can't provide a DNC. We will, you know, upon the second ultrasound, we will give you a
medication that you can take instead. And I did not feel comfortable taking that at home. And this still, even just getting that medication, this was
nine, almost 10 days after I found out that I had miscarried. So, I still had waited that long.
GOLODRYGA: Did --
STELL: It's quite the process.
GOLODRYGA: Did the doctors, or anybody you were consulting with point to these laws as specifically as to why they were hesitant to provide a -- you
with that DNC?
STELL: That was the first thing that came out of her mouth was after I had the miscarriage, she -- I asked to have the DNC and she said because of the
law, the heartbeat bill that had just passed right around that time that I had miscarried. That they can't intervene until they have second
ultrasounds. And my takeaway from that was that they were trying to protect themselves from liability by having multiple proofs. I basically had to
prove somewhere else that I did indeed miscarry before I could get intervention.
GOLODRYGA: So, because of legal threats that they, perhaps, maybe facing, you then were facing the possibility of becoming sterile, of developing an
infection, it can cause sepsis, having the remaining tissue -- dead fetus's tissue in your body for so long. Did your health, did your own personal
well-being come up in conversation with the doctors?
STELL: It didn't. And I was having pain, I was calling my doctor multiple times after getting the second ultrasound trying to get in with him
because, again, it just takes time to get that proof to them. But my health was not coming up at all. I think it was just -- they were worried about
their own liability, which I do understand where they're coming from. They put themselves at risk.
So, I wasn't mad. I was just scared and very frustrated. That became such a process just to try to get something that I should've gotten right away and
not have to beg for.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and -- you know, in the year 2022, you know, my team and I were just talking about all the medical advancements that are available.
And the fact that you have to go through this process for two weeks just because there is some question as to whether this could have legal
implications now is just mindboggling.
You and your husband, unfortunately, do not, or at least for now, have put off trying to have another child. What was it like to finally come to that
decision? And is it because of what you experienced in the State you happen to live in?
STELL: Yes, it's a gut-wrenching decision because, you know, we obviously -- I have a two-year-old daughter, I would love to provide a sibling for,
but my husband and I had to have the tough conversation of, either we have to move out of Texas or if we stay. We just don't feel comfortable of me
getting pregnant again because I am high risk. I know my chances of having another miscarriage are high.
And I don't want to get in that situation again where I have to fight to get a DNC, but instead, something go bad. I get infection or something
happens to me. And my ultimate goal is being here for my two-year-old daughter, like, she comes first. And I have to do what's best for my family
and make sure that my daughter has her mother around.
GOLODRYGA: Clearly, that was a very difficult decision for you to make. Unfortunately, you do have a two-year-old daughter who can look up to you.
And acknowledge that -- how outspoken you have been on this and how strong you have been on, like we said at the beginning, an issue that is typically
one that's very private amongst households. Thank you, so much Marlena Stell for coming forward and speaking with us. We appreciate it.
STELL: Thanks for the opportunity to tell my story.
GOLODRYGA: So, listening to that is Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Planes which provides reproductive health care for
many across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
Thank you so much for joining us. Let me first get you to react to what you just heard there from Marlena. It was so hard to even say goodbye to her
seeing how emotional she was at the end. This isn't the first time that she's come forward and told her story. She felt like it was important that
the people hear the impact that these new laws have on women like her. How do you respond to that?
EMILY WALES, CEO AND PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD GREAT PLANES: Absolutely. Hearing that story, it's devastating. And it should never be
true in a modern society that you have patients who absolutely can get safe care, and are turned away because of fears of liability, or now, felony
convictions in some of the States.
You know, before we lost access to care in Oklahoma. We were actually providing care to many, many people from Texas who are coming across State
lines because Texas had a six-week abortion ban in effect for months before Roe fell. And we heard from patients again and again who said, I talked to
my provider who said they would love for me to get care locally, but they are scared, or they don't understand the law, and I had to cross State
And now what we're seeing, of course, is that crisis is spreading. Because now, Oklahomans have no local access to care. People in Arkansas and
Missouri, they are all having to leave the State if they can get care. And having a patient who is brave enough to share just how traumatic it is is
really remarkable, because people are dealing with this every single day.
GOLODRYGA: And you can understand how emotionally scarring it is for these families and these women to come forward, like Marlena. You know, we've
been talking about, sort of, the unintended consequences of what happens when Roe was overturned. And this has to deal with women wanting to go or
having to go to their doctors for a DNC while they're miscarrying or ectopic pregnancies. This opens the door to so many secondary issues that
come to the forefront in light of this new ruling.
Talk about what you're seeing on the ground there, and the numbers behind these incidents, again, of unintended consequences stemming from this
WALES: The amount of confusion in the States we serve is incredibly high. Every single day we're hearing from patients who either haven't realized
that abortion is totally inaccessible in the States where they live now. And they're still calling and saying, can I get into Little Rock? Can I
come to Oklahoma City? And we have to explain, no, we don't have rights since a month ago. You're going to have to leave the State.
But we've also got situations, like Marlena's, happening, (INAUDIBLE) level where we're hearing from partner organizations or providers asking us
whether we think care is legal, or how likely it is that they'll be arrested for providing critical care. You know, one of the hospital systems
in the Kansas City area briefly stopped providing emergency contraception because they didn't know for sure if it violated the State's trigger ban
that took effect right after Roe fell. And we have advocated and explained contraception is legal, but people are scared and that's understandable.
GOLODRYGA: Well, it's understandable because it led to the House now having to just, moments ago, codified to protect contraception rights for -
- contraceptive rights for Americans here because of these questions and confusion that you say about now following this new ruling.
Can I get you to respond to what the president of Texas Right to Life said about this issue? And he said I have seen reports of doctors being
confused. But that is a failure of our medical associations to provide clear guidance. What is your reaction to that sort of, you know, not
pitting the blame on the legislators who are writing these laws, but on the doctors who are really there, you know, providing these services and
clearly, not knowing exactly what they can and can't do legally?
WALES: The problem, of course, is that legislators are trying to regulate an area where they don't have expertise. We've seen it in Missouri where
legislators attempted to ban certain types of contraception from the Medicaid program previously because they don't understand how it works. And
at the end of the day, the fear of these providers have is very real and very understandable. If you are caught between, I have a patient here who
need critical care, but I'm supposed to go look at a statute and determine whether it legally complies, or if I'm wrong, I could be put in prison and
face a felony conviction. I understand why providers are seeking guidance and clarification.
The health care system is designed to regulate itself. But government has interfered directly between a patient and their provider. And that's why we
have this problem. Not because a provider fears, those are real.
GOLODRYGA: So, let's turn to the intended consequences of overturning Roe. It's just been a little over a month now. What are you seeing there on the
ground in those States that you oversee for women who, at one point, if maybe they could cross the State line, seeking an abortion, no longer have
WALES: Our States are dramatically different in many ways. In Missouri, we had already lost care over more than half the State because of restrictions
we couldn't comply with. So, there, the day the decision came down, we actually didn't have many changes. We continued to tell patients you've got
to get out if you can afford to do so.
In Oklahoma, three bans passed last year that blocked care. So, we had patients who are already scrambling to go farther. And in Little Rock, we
already had 80 patients. In the State of Arkansas, we had to say, immediately, you've got to leave. You've got to plan. Some of those
patients are able to find care in neighboring States like Illinois or New Mexico. But many of the patients whom we say, this is going to be a 10 or
12-hour drive. There is not an option. They're trying to figure out what to do with childcare and work. And they cannot get out of their States to get
GOLODRYGA: And finally, you know, we should note that the majority of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are not abortion-related. They're
women's health in general. I'm just curious, are you seeing a decline in the number of women who are coming for checkups or for guidance or for
counseling at all? And is that concerning if, in fact, you are seeing that decline?
WALES: Right now, we are actually seeing the opposite. So, we have more patients than usual who are asking for long-term contraception. The fear
we're seeing is that people expect contraception will be out loud or that legislatures at the local level will attempt to block access to that care.
So, we have patients coming looking for IUDs or implants because they're nervous they'll lose that access in the future.
But we are being flooded with calls. And in Kansas, which is our only State that still has abortion access in our region, you know, we have a vote in
less than two weeks that could remove protections for abortion care. And we're doing all we can to explain to Kansans, this is what a crisis looks
like. If you look at neighboring States, you will see questions and confusion and they have an opportunity to continue care. But the confusion
is across the region right now.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, I believe that vote in Kansas is August 2nd. As you've made clear, a lot of confusion there for millions of women. Thank you so
much, Emily Wales. We really appreciate you coming on for us. Thank you.
WALES: Sure. Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, the January 6th hearings have thrown up some explosive evidence of Donald Trump's efforts to subvert democracy. And we've heard a
lot about the role of far-right extremist groups and their links to the former president. A new book by a counterterrorism expert, Malcolm Nance,
delves into this growing threat. He is the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project. And Malcolm joined Michel Martin to talk about far-
right ideologies. And also, his own experience fighting in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Bianna. Malcolm Nance, thank you so much for joining us.
MALCOLM NANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT AND AUTHOR, "THEY WANT TO KILL AMERICANS": It is my pleasure to be here.
MARTIN: The title of your book is, "They Want to Kill Americans: The Militias, Terrorists, and Deranged Ideology of the Trump Insurgency". Who's
NANCE: They are your neighbors. They are the people you would never suspect. They are the people who may keep their political opinions to
themselves for the most part. Who may just come out and do your plumbing or your tax returns, or maybe your, you know, open heart surgeon. They are a
collective of people that believe in one overriding ideology in America. And that is, that the trends towards diversity, equality, common decency
should be ended in order to give the -- what they view as the beleaguered white society in the United States. An opportunity to maintain supremacy
over the other 60 to 65 percent of Americans.
And now, it's moved to the point where, as we saw prior to January 6th, where they're more than willing to take up arms. And then throughout the
tremor of 2020, the people that you saw coming out with the arms protesting were no longer the individual malicious, like the three percenters or the
Oath Keepers, the Boogaloo Boys, the Proud Boys. Oh, no. For every one of them, there were nine average Trump voters who were as frustrated and
believed that their country was under attack. Their version of America was under attack. And they were showing up at these protests armed as well.
They got it into their heads that America was crumbling and they started bringing out weapons.
So, for every militia person, there are more Americans who take part in this -- the insurrection, good example, that you would never imagine going
out there and being proud of tearing down the fabric of American society.
MARTIN: So, as we are speaking now, the last scheduled hearing of the January 6th Investigative Committee is scheduled to meet. Do you feel that
anything has been accomplished by these hearings?
NANCE: Well, they have certainly made an accurate and commendable public record. The problem is, we have a governmental system right now that is so
institutionalized, as we said it back as an institution. And I'm speaking of you, the Justice Department, that what should have been emergency,
emergency investigations into a conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States should have already been out bringing people in before
grand juries and issuing indictments.
The urgency of the defense of American democracy went out the window with the appointment of Merrick Garland. And I know he's going to get a lot of
grief, but we find out from reporting from MSNBC in the last day that he sent a memo saying that very thing. He will not carry out investigations as
elections are coming in. That means you have stopped the wheels of American justice. You have stopped it out of deference to people that tried to
overthrow the American government.
I mean, there is a time, OK, to go get a sip of water during a gun battle, OK. But you don't go out and say you're going on a vacation to Acapulco
during a war. So, this is what is happening. And I can only say from what I see. If there are lawyers at justice who are neck deep and going out and
running secret grand juries, then this is the tightest ship in the history of the United States over the Justice Department.
I don't believe that for one second. None of the American public who are watching this believes this for one second. Donald Trump committed crimes.
His staff committed grievous crimes, which amount to sedition. And to a certain extent, if there had ever been a third party involved, it would've
been treason. But there weren't. They just tried to overthrow the government. There is a reason we had those laws in place at the end of the
MARTIN: So, how worried are you though? I mean, just to be as blunt as you can be, and you are very blunt.
NANCE: I am.
MARTIN: How worried are you that our democratic institutions are going to hold?
NANCE: Oh, I'm thoroughly convinced that we are quite possibly on the last leg of the America Experiment. Now, I've said that before. I said that in
the runoff to 2020. And it was true at the time. If we had lost in 2020, the presidential election or the House of the Senate. Good, God. I just
can't imagine where we'd be.
Look at this movement over the last year to codify into law, taking away the right to vote from blacks, women, liberals, all over the United States
because they imagined, they imagined that their power was being eroded by Donald Trump not being appointed president of the United States. We are in
the last inning. And we're just lucky that we had an extra inning in 2020.
This November, if there is not a coalition of independents who love America, the we, the real people. People like me. I'm from Philadelphia. I
am a strict originalist about what they wrote down at 5th and Chestnut Street, I do not like the idea of people thinking America belongs to any
one person or group. I've read the words. I know what the America Experiment truly is. It's a republic if we can keep it as my fellow citizen
Benjamin Franklin said.
My problem is, these people don't seem to understand that our republic is a democracy in which the rights of the minority are protected. They view this
as a dictatorship that will give them what they want. And if they don't get what they want, they will dismantle the rest. This November will be the
defining moment whether the America Experiment ends in practice, not in theory.
MARTIN: It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of people who are storming the Capitol were white and were white males. But it is also a fact
that Donald Trump received a larger percentage of the African-American vote and Latina vote that he had in the prior election. And I'm just curious
what you make of that.
NANCE: Following the siege of the Capitol, and I watched almost -- I was watching in real-time. I had six people -- six-man team watching this
thing. 40,000 people descended on that building. I am certain there weren't a dozen black people out of that 40,000. I am certain of it.
Look, two or three or 12 African-Americans speaking for Donald Trump, whether it's Kanye West or his spokesman, spokeswoman, they do not
represent 42 million African-Americans. We vote as a block because we understand we don't vote against our own interests. We don't vote for our
MARTIN: Why do you think -- what do you think is his enduring appeal? Especially to people who you would think understand the benefits of a
rules-based international order and not an international order that is subject to the whims of an autocrat? The least, the last, and the loss did
not charter planes to go to the Capitol. You see them saying, they didn't charter buses to go to the Capitol. They didn't pay four blocks of hotel
rooms, you know. And yet there is a significant version of corporate America that continues to support him, his ideology, and the people who
continue to uphold his ideology. And I'm just interested in your take on that.
NANCE: When I think about the definition of the word, fascism, as coined by Benito Mussolini, it's a dictatorship of the corporate right in which
the corporations, the rich, the upper middle class, the wealthy gained benefits by using the lower class to create a political system in which
decisions are made at the top. You see it in Russia today, which is an oligarch. No oligarch is allowed to exist or be rich in that country unless
Vladimir Putin, the dictator, allows it.
So, I think in the United States, it's opportunism, it's greed, it's the people who believe that Donald Trump is rich, even though he's not. It's
the people who believe that the trappings of wealth and, you know, riches are something they could glam onto. And maybe, I can -- you know, when --
I've heard people say, if you join, you know, these blacks for Trump group, which is almost 100 percent white, OK, you are the only black in a sea of
I think it's Dr. Cornel -- Professor Cornel West who called it the only Tom syndrome. If you're the only one in the room you're approved of, and you're
not like the other 42 million horrible black people who take all of our money. And there are opportunities for you, individually.
But then again, I also caution -- and in the period of the slave catchers. The slave catchers always bought a slave with them to go out into the woods
and catch other slaves by promising them food. And then they end up in the clutches of the authorities.
Trump uses these individuals, the Kanye West's, who no one takes seriously. To shave off votes. To go out and to mobilize a branch of the African-
American society that might not vote. But might vote if they see somebody who's out there driving around in a Bentley. I don't know.
It's not as appealing to listen to Zora Neale Hurston or, you know, Neil deGrasse Tyson with their true ingrained intellect. Then they hear Kanye
West talk about how he loves Donald Trump. 42 million of us get what that means, but there's always one or two who will see it as an opportunity.
MARTIN: You have spent much of the last year with Ukraine. And I think maybe people might be interested to know why you made the decision to go?
NANCE: Well, it was an easy decision to make. I mean, I spent a month in the prewar analyzing the Russian order of battle. Determining how they
would invade. Where they would invade? And just by fluke, I flew out on one of the last jets from the country because I had a family matter to attend
to. And by the time I had landed in Dublin, you know, Putin was finishing his speech and was launching the blitz on the nation. They destroyed the
airport we flew out of. So, you know, I was just lucky.
But within three or four days, I was hearing from my friends who were telling me they were going to dock on the battlefield. And you hear
somebody say that. You hear President Zelenskyy appeal for help. I could not stand by. With my experience in the military, in the intelligence
community, and not assist my friends, I went, I joined the international legion, and I'm on the battlefront. I am active in intelligence operations.
And letting Russia have exactly what they deserve.
MARTIN: How do you assess the state of the conflict so far?
NANCE: Well, first off, let's take the law -- let's take the view that we're at right now. Russia is losing this war. They are losing it. They had
three combined armed armies wiped off the face of the Earth between February 24th and the beginning of May. They lost the entirety of the north
of -- northern combat forces in Russia.
And this runaround to try to incrementally take back the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk by marching artillery forward and not moving forward with tanks
will only get them so far. They are losing their capacity to have any combat power.
For those of you who are historians, you are looking at the Battle of the Ardennes in 1944, the Battles of the Bulge in reverse. The Ukrainians
traded territory for Russian lives, and they are going to get it back, because Russia will have nothing to resist with. Especially if they get the
multiple rocket launch systems and the HIMARS multiple rocket launch systems, which has already changed the nature of the entire war.
If they were to go from eight to 50, this war would be over by September, to where Russia could not resist an offensive punch. And I suspect that
they will get back Kherson, may retake all of Donetsk and Luhansk.
MARTIN: Do you feel confident that Ukraine will prevail?
NANCE: Without any question. I'm on the battlefield. I see -- I have a long line of battlefront with nothing but Russians in front of me, and
we're holding it. But Russia has nothing to punch with. They are bringing up men older than me with tanks twice as old as me out on the battlefield,
and they are -- they have no logistics training.
Their ammunition dumps are blowing up. Their men do not want to be in Ukraine. They don't want to fight. And they are up against an army. And let
me tell you about the Ukrainians, they like to fight and they are taking this to Russia. And they will fight and they will retake their land. That
is a guarantee.
MARTIN: Does the Western support for Ukraine give you any encouragement? I'm kind of looping back to where we started our conversation.
MARTIN: Does the fact that sort of Western democracies have rallied to the support of Ukraine give you any hope that the anti-democratic forces that
you have been cautioning against for so many years now, that the West is -- that they are in -- that they are being challenged?
NANCE: Democracy is on the move again, finally. I mean, it looked like it was completely retrenched in the Trump years, you know. But now, we find
the actions of autocrats is breaking, right? They don't have a hold on the United States, it's 10 U.S., but they don't have a hold on the United
The we're sending over there are critical. The problem is we're not sending them fast enough. We know with the urgency that we need. If I were the
president of the United States I would say, 50 HIMARS, 50 multiple rocket launch systems, all the rockets that they could use, give it to them now.
Politics be damned. End this war.
And it's not just about, you know, one weapon system. The combination that we have sent over there now, the Ukrainians are ready to attack. It's just
that we need to make sure that the Russians in their trenches do not raise their heads, do not go to their artillery systems, and only start thinking
about getting in those trucks and running back to the Russian boarder.
MARTIN: So, before we let you go, you've given us a lot to think about, what is your message to Americans? What should -- those who share your
concern about the fragility of these institutions, of democratic institutions, what is your message to them?
NANCE: You know, I try to end my books on a very positive note, quoting the finding fathers. And I couldn't find it in me in this last book to do
that. I couldn't find it in me. But let me go back to a previous book.
I grew up in Philadelphia. I later in life ran into Washington Square, which was an old African American cemetery, right behind Independence Hall.
And it is also the location of the first two of the unknown soldiers. They were like, you know, 1,200 dead American service members from the
Continental Army buried there, right under the park. And across the inscription above Washington had led me to where I am in the intelligence
world now. And it says, liberty is a light from which many men have died in darkness.
We do not have to give up on what America is. These people in the Trump world need to ask themselves, are they true patriots? Are they sunshine
patriots? As Thomas Paine put them. Are they the real winter soldiers who will stay for the hard slog of making American better, or are they ready to
throw it away? I will stand against them if it comes to that. I will stand against them in protest. I will stand against them in work. I will stand
against them in deed if I have to. To correct them, to understand that we will not go down in darkness through some mad king's idea of what he thinks
America is, one of the most ignorant people to have ever hold office in the United States and that their guns mean nothing, all right, to the words of
our founding fathers.
I was just in Philadelphia, I saw the -- you know, I always visit the Liberty Bell, I bought a new copy of "Common Sense," you know, because
George Washington had all his officers reading. You should re-commit yourself to the love of America, true America. America way. The black guy
next to you in the battlefield is the truest ally that you have. The woman on the heavy machine gun is the person who will die for you. It is not
about color. It is about creed. The creed to defend what we have built.
The motto of the U.SA army is, this will defend. And that is what all of us need to commit ourselves to, to defending what is true and right, and
breaking this fever of our neighbors that have been misguided by Donald Trump.
MARTIN: Malcolm Nance, thank you for speaking with us today.
NANCE: It is my pleasure, truly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Malcolm Nance making a passionate case there.
Returning now to someone who President Obama once saw as the future the Democratic Party. Jason Kander went from being an intelligence officer in
Afghanistan after 9/11 to politics. Winning election to Missouri State House of Representatives in 2008, and later, as secretary of state. He was
flying high, but PTSD and suicidal thoughts haunted him for years. And in the end, he gave up or at least put on pause his political ambitions in
order to save his own life.
He says he wrote "Invisible Storm: A Soldier's Memoir of Politics and PTSD" because it is the book he would've wanted to read 14 years ago. And Jason
is joining me now to talk about it.
Jason, welcome to the program. Great to have you on. Thank you so much for writing such an honest and raw personal account of your life story. It was
an easy read. It was a compelling. I read it in one day. I recommend everyone read the book.
Let's talk about the title, "Invisible Storm: A Soldier's Memoir of Politics and PTSD." I read and saw in an interview that you said you don't
like reading political memoirs. You don't -- you didn't want to write a political memoir. You call yourself, and refer to yourself, as a soldier
and not a politician. I'm curious, why is that? Why do you see yourself as a soldier first?
JASON KANDER, AUTHOR, "INVISIBLE STORM": Well, first of all, Bianna, thank you for having me and thank you for reading the book.
And I would say that this. It was kind of a two-part answer to that question. First, I see myself as a soldier because, you know, really, that
was a transition I made in my life when I was in law school and I started to train for the military. I went from seeing myself as somebody who is an
aspiring lawyer and a politician, who is also doing army training too, you know, after becoming a soldier, and seeing myself as a soldier who also
practiced some law, ran for an office. It's just sort of who I am.
When I look in the mirror, that's what I see. I feel like I am connected to the army, even though I'm out of the army in the same way that I'm from
Kansas City, in the same way that I'm married to my wife Diana. It's just - - you know, that's my identity. That's how I see myself.
And as to why, you know, I find political memoirs boring, mostly because they're usually pretty boring. I mean, mostly a political memoir is like a
long political ad, most of the time. Now, I have some good friends who have written some very good political memories that I have read, but I'll be
honest, mostly read them because they're my good friends.
It's not a genre I usually read because I feel like it is sort of usually, hey, here is a package product of the version of me that I am offering to
you the world that I would like to vote for me. And I get it, that's important for people to do. But I didn't want to write that because what I
wanted to write was, as you said, the book that I needed 14 years ago when I came home from Afghanistan and doing that meant that I needed to present
a fully rounded view of what I've gone through, and who I am. And that meant not always presenting myself in the best possible light, which,
obviously, would be kind of the antithesis of the usual political memoir.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Was it cathartic for you in a way to write all of this down as painful as it may have also been to reflect some of these darker
KANDER: Yes. I found it very useful. I found it at times very difficult, obviously, but I found it very useful because it allowed me to kind of look
back and help myself really understands exactly what my journey has been, what my story is and connect a lot of the pieces, as you, know from reading
the book, that, you know, my great uncle, when he read it, he said that it reads less like a memoir and more like a mystery, a mystery novel, because
it's like that third act, as I go into therapy, the reader has all these reveals about the papers I had and where they came from, just in the same
way that at that part -- at that moment in the story, at that moment in my life, I was getting all these in twice M. Night Shyamalan level twist
reveals about why I had done certain things, as I learned more about my brain.
GOLODRYGA: Let's unpack more about your trajectory and your rise in politics, your meteoric rise, really. In September 2018, you were a leading
contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Cruising to victory to run for the Kansas City mayoral race. And by October, you basically unloaded at
You left, dropped out of the race, you stopped hiding from yourself and the world what you would have been experiencing for the past 11 years, and that
is admitting that you had PTSD. What ultimately drove you to that decision?
KANDER: Yes. I mean, it was somewhat gradual in the sense that I had been getting worse for almost 11 years. And now, it was getting worse faster and
that concerned me.
And for me, it was the moment when I realized, OK, I have PTSD and it's time for me to address this, was I called the Veterans Crisis line. And I
called the Veterans Crisis line thinking, you know, they're probably going to tell me, hey, what you did, your service, it doesn't qualify for this.
You know, you keep this line clear.
Like, it turns out, that's how most veterans feel when they're in a crisis, because we've been taught that what we did was no big deal. We were taught
that for a reason. Because if you believe what you're doing is a no big deal, you can keep doing it, frightening or difficult things. But nobody
turned that off for me.
So, once I was in civilian life, I still believed that what I had done was no big deal. So, it couldn't be PTSD. So, it got to the point where I just
run out of ideas. I was increasingly having suicidal thoughts, and I knew that I didn't want to want to die. And so, I said, I want to try something
So, I called the Veterans Crisis line. And one of the first questions with a woman on the other end of the phone asked me was whether I had thoughts
of hurting myself. I said, yes. That was the first person I had ever said that too other than my wife. I got very emotional at that point. And then,
she asked me some questions about my service.
And at some point, during the call, I realized that I didn't sound any different to her, based on the tone of her voice, I didn't sound any
different to her than anybody else she had dealt with on that job. And that forced me to a realization, which was that, I wasn't any different than any
of the other veterans that I knew who had experience this sort of thing.
KANDER: So, then, I went and I actually Googled post-traumatic stress, which I had done many times, but I had always done it in order to allow
myself to sort of read it in a way where I try to distinguish my own symptoms from them. I was looking for a way to say, that's not what I'm
experiencing. This was the first time I read it with a really open mind. In doing that, it was like someone had written it about me.
And I remember, that night, I got very emotional. And I said two things to my wife. I said, all this time, it's been over a decade, and I'm just now
figuring out that I got hurt over there and I hadn't known that.
And then, later in the night, I said, I don't want to do this anymore. Meaning, I don't want to carry this around. I want to see if I can do
something about it. And that's why, a few days later, I announced to the world that I was going to pull out public life and go to the VA and get
GOLODRYGA: Yes. One of my takeaways from the book and how you describe battling with PTSD for so long was that it was almost as if you felt you
didn't deserve, as odd as that may sound, to have PTSD because of what you did or didn't do in Afghanistan. You had served there for four months. You
hadn't actually been in combat.
And so, in your mind, you felt that you had no rationale, no excuse, for feeling some of the ways you had and continuing to have these ongoing
nightmares. But as you said, you were a classic case example of what PTSD embodies. Your therapist, at the VA, Nick, called PTSD, the monster. And
you actually had access to your transcripts.
And I was struck by something from the very first day of your meeting with him. And he wrote, that completed PTSD symptom checklist and scored 72 out
of 80. A score above 38 indicates possible PTSD. What did that tell you? And what does that kind of weird validation feel like, I guess? I don't how
else to describe it.
KANDER: No, it's interesting, because it's not like a test you intend to ace. But, looking -- you know, but getting the diagnosis of PTSD was, for
me -- you know, it wasn't everything, right? I still have a lot of therapy to do. But it was validating because it just said, oh, OK. It's not your
imagination, these things that you have feeling.
And, you know, to your point, you know, I didn't regard myself as a combat veteran because I hadn't fired my weapon. And my idea of combat was, was,
you know, "Black Hawk Down" or "Band of Brothers." But what I had done is, you know, nearly every day of my deployment, I had gone outside the wire,
just me and a translator, gone to meetings with people who were, you know, often unsavory characters, knowing that it any moment we could be embarking
into a trap, having to know, you know, where the exits were, how many people between my vehicle and myself, you know, in situations where I might
have to shoot my way out.
And, you know, there's a level attention there that I had not allowed myself to see as combat. And it was, you know, one of the first days at the
VA when somebody repeated that back to me and said, OK, you are in the most dangerous place in the planet.
You were basically alone, there was nobody who knew where you, nobody was coming to save you if things went bad, and you are meeting with people who
might want to kill you. They were like, you're a combat veteran. That's combat and that's traumatic.
And it was -- you know, having someone say it back to me, a clinician, and have them validate it, was a big moment for me. And it gave me the
opportunity to give myself permission to say, OK, I did earn the idea, it's not stolen valor for me to say that this is post-traumatic stress. And now,
I can go and I can treat it. It was a lot of hard work. It wasn't easy. But getting that permission slip from myself was extremely important.
GOLODRYGA: And also, you mentioned your wife, Diana, gave her permission, in a way, to seek her own treatment. Because she, through you, had
experienced a secondary form of PTSD. And one of the most effective parts of this book is that you weave in her story, her voice, throughout the
chapters, giving her perspective of what life was like living with you and what she had been experiencing in some of the own struggles that she had
You know, I read most of the book, but I listened to some of it on Audible, and just hearing her voice was so captivating. I just want to play an
excerpt for our viewers to listen to a portion of what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANA KANDER, JASON KANDER'S WIFE: There's a reason why lifeguards, the strongest swimmers on the beach carry flotation devices. I didn't know that
when a person is drowning, you don't jump straight into the water unless you want to be swept away with them. It's better to throw them a lifeline,
give them something to grab onto and float. All too late, I realized that instead of saving him, I joined him in drowning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Jason, what was that like, to hear and read her own words? Were you aware of what she was experiencing in real-time or did you find out new
information in just putting this book together?
KANDER: I did find out some new information putting the book together. I also -- you know, we learned a lot while we were going through therapy,
because we both went through therapy. So, we would come home from therapy at night and we would just talk about what we had learned in therapy.
It was actually interestingly a lot like when we went to law school together. You know, we just came home and talked about the reading. But
now, we came home and talked about what we had learned from our therapist about our own brains.
Yes. I appreciate you bringing that up, Bianna, because Diana's portions are my favorite part of the book for a few reasons. One, you know, when
your wife is a bestselling author, it's smart to also have her write passages in your own book, it helps your book also.
Two, when you are narrator of the book and you are working very hard to only use, as the narrator, the language that was available to you at the
moment in the story, so that the reader travels with you on the journey, it means that you can't fully give the reader everything that's happening
because you're giving it to them from your perspective. So, they need the other person's perspective to understand everything that is happening.
And then, finally, because it allowed us to bring people in on what we didn't know about. And so, I went into therapy, which was the existence of
secondary post-traumatic stress, and then, it's really likely to happen.
Finally, the last thing I would add is that she -- you know, the book has jokes, and she's -- her moments in the book have a lot of levity. I
mentioned that because if I'm watching this interview, I'm going, this book seems pretty heavy. Like -- and I just want people to know, it's also
lights in some places.
GOLODRYGA: Oh, the first time I heard her voice, I mean, you had just concluded by saying it was great. I was in Afghanistan. We didn't have any
fights. It was the best part of our marriage. And she starts by saying, oh, I was so upset. I was just telling him what he wanted to hear. Trust me, we
would have had lots of fights if the situation had been otherwise.
Let me just end by asking you --
KANDER: She refers to the portions as her rebuttals in the book.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, exactly. We go into law school together. I feel like a connection to her as well. We've both Soviet, you know, immigrants to this
country. That's a different story for a different time.
But let me just ask you, at the age of 41, I mean, it is an uphill battle, if you do decide ultimately to return to politics given everything that
you've laid out in this book. And you have said openly that any opponent would -- the first thing they would do is point to this book and say, this
man is mentally unfit to be president of the United States.
Are you willing one day to perhaps go back into politics and fulfill that goal that you had so long ago?
KANDER: Yes, maybe. You know, it's funny, I don't know if that's the answer people want, but I have arrived at a point in my life where, you
know, I am really enjoying my life right now. I refer to this part of my life as the chapter that is post-traumatic growth. And I'm having a good
time. And that means that I don't spend much time talking about the future, which I know every politician says, but for the first time in my life, I
actually mean it because I'm enjoying this period.
KANDER: So, that is to say that, you know, Diana and I have talked about it, that, you know, probably at some point, like when the kids are grown,
you know, there's a real chance that we'll decide that that's an adventure that we are interested in and that will be ready to do that for the
There's nothing about my mental fitness, in my mind, that, you know, disqualifies me from it. I mean, to be completely honest, I actually kind
of think it would be a great thing if we had more people in public office who had dealt with their own stuff. I mean, that would be a good thing.
KANDER: But the answer is, I have come to a point I've never reached my life until the last few years, which is I actually believe I've done a lot
for my country, and I didn't used to believe that. And now, I may come to a point where I have the desire to do that again. But I may also just keep
doing what I'm doing, which is serving veterans and coaching little league and playing baseball with my buddies and e-mail with my wife and my son and
my daughter. I might do that instead. We'll see.
GOLODRYGA: It doesn't sound like a bad life at all, Jason. And post- traumatic growth is a best great way to phrase it. And I'm sure this book has help so many people out there who have finally understood that what you
have been suffering is something that they have been suffering going through as well.
Jason Kander, thank you so much. We appreciate.
KANDER: Thank you, Bianna. I appreciate it very much.
GOLODRYGA: And Jason as a footnote in his book, for the U.S. Veterans Crisis line, which he mentioned in the interview, you heard him call and
say that he wanted to share it with you as well. The number is 1-800-273- 8255. That number is on your screen right now.
And finally, this week, we saw a terrifying glimpse of a world ravaged by climate change. And my next guest is trying to promote action through
music. Simon Mejia founded the Grammy nominated and multi-platinum Colombian band, Bomba Estereo. The band's music taps into the wisdom of
Colombia's indigenous heritage. Simon Mejia joins me now.
Simon, welcome to the program. You have a lot of fans here.
Let's talk about your latest project, El Duende, it speaks to Colombia's African heritage. Obviously, we know Colombia is a very diverse country. In
June, elected its first black woman vice president. Talk about why this endeavor is so important for you right now through your music?
SIMON MEJIA, FOUNDER, BOMBA ESTEREO: Well, hello, hello. And thank you for having me here.
Yes. I think it is really beautiful time for Colombia because there is hope in the air with this new government and especially with this black African
woman as a vice president. That she comes from this background of social leader and environmental leadership and the territories. So, it's really
symbolic what is happening today in Colombia, because Colombia should and should be an environmental example to the world because of what we have.
Environmentally speaking, in Colombia, the jungles and everything are really key to everything that is happening in climate change. And in
Colombia, the strongest is the environment, the jungles and the music, it's culture. And you see today, how Colombia and how Latin music is taking the
whole world. So, I think joining in both languages and trying to connect people through music with the all-environmental crisis and changing the
language to the emotional rather than the scientific language, environmentally speaking, is really key. And it's an awesome way to connect
people too, to these amazing places and cultures we have in Colombia.
GOLODRYGA: It's really a jewel in terms of environmental features. You have topography, featuring oceans, two oceans, mountains, it's just
stunning to look at and it's coming as we talk about yet, you know, more record-breaking heat and, obviously, storms at 100-year levels.
What, if anything, can your music and perhaps Colombia, now with the new leadership, what leadership role can you take and the country take as a
whole in shining a light on this very, very important subject?
MEJIA: I think it's the power of music is amazing because it connects and it breaks boundaries and language boundaries and barriers. So, having music
being involved, especially, we either come from this natural kind of paradise that is also very threatened, but coming from this place, the
strongest Colombia that has -- a part of the Amazon Jungle, the Pacific Rainforest, we have the two oceans, as you say, and everything.
So, going from these places, you kind of are connected with that natural reality and everything. And having this government that it has on top of
the agenda, the environmental protection of these territories that are key, not only key to Colombia and to America but to the whole world, having the
Amazon Jungle standing and having the Pacific Rainforests standing, its key to everything that is happening today with climate change.
So, we just try to use music, not only as entertainment but also to communicate it and connecting people to this kind of realities and showing
them how Colombia's most powerful music, that is the music that comes from African indigenous communities and folk music from Colombia is directly
related with music.
So as long as the jungles and the seas and paramos and the water are flowing in our life, the music that comes from these places, we'll also be
alive. So, that connection is really, really strong and it connects people through motions. That is what we are trying to do with music.
GOLODRYGA: I think you're doing it gracefully through music, through the storytelling, through the visuals, it's all there and it's a delight for
all of your fans around the world.
Simon Mejia, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.
MEJIA: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
GOLODRYGA: And that is it for now from us. Thank you so much for watching and goodbye from New York.