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Interview with Constitutional and First Amendment Attorney Floyd Abrams; Interview with Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy Hamid Khalafallah; Interview with "Transatlantic" Screenwriter Anna Winger; Interview with Journalist Mike Giglio. Aired 1:00-2p ET

Aired April 19, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


JOHN POULOS, CEO, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: This was not the case of a media company pursuing the truth and making a mistake. They knew.


AMANPOUR: The price of willful lies. Is a $787 million check enough to restore faith in U.S. democracy? America's preeminent First Amendment

lawyer, Floyd Abrams, weighs in on Fox's huge defamation settlement.

Also, ahead, the struggle between two warring generals plunges Sudan deeper into chaos, derailing its dreams of democracy.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump speaking even more openly in the terms and frames of the militant right and militant groups.


AMANPOUR: -- coded message. Hari Sreenivasan asked the journalist Mike Giglio, why Donald Trump is launching his reelection campaign in a place

synonymous with extremism.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where news of the Fox settlement has made headlines.

Telling lies about the 2020 election has cost Fox nearly $800 million. It was a stunning 11th hour settlement. Just as opening arguments were set to

start, Fox choosing to cut a huge check rather than face a jury for knowingly lying about the Dominion Voting machine company and the 2020 U.S.

presidential election

Dominion CEO John Poulos says it is a big step forward for democracy.

JOHN POULOS, CEO, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: The fact is that they published falsehoods about us, and it wasn't just once or twice, it wasn't just on

one day or two days, it was 20 statements made over two and a half months, and this was not the case of a media company pursuing the truth and making

a mistake, they knew.

And at the end of the day, the court system really is about accountability. We feel we got it.


AMANPOUR: But, and here's the rub, Fox does not have to admit on its air that it defamed Dominion Voting Systems. After the deal was done, Rupert

Murdoch's right-wing network said simply that it acknowledges the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false, adding,

apparently without irony that this settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.

Despite it being the largest ever known defamation settlement by a media company, will the huge price tag change Fox News? What are the other

lawsuits hanging over Fox? And how do you quantify the harm done to American democracy now and in the future?

Floyd Abrams is the duayen (ph) in the First Amendment law in America, and he's joining me now from New York. Floyd Abrams. It's great to have you on

on this day to take us through this.

So, from your perspective, you know, essentially defending the media, is this a case where justice has been done, do you think?

FLOYD ABRAMS, CONSTITUTIONAL AND FIRST AMENDMENT ATTORNEY: I think justice has been done in the broadest monetary sense that we've ever seen, really

in any libel case in American history. Whether justice has been done in the sense that the lesson that Fox News and perhaps others will learn is to be

not only more careful, but simply not to engage in the sort of false editorializing and putting people on who lie.

You know, I can't say I'm that optimistic that that will change much, but I think it's at least a waving red flag.

AMANPOUR: What do you make of the fact that -- and how did Fox get away with or is this de rigueur (ph) for settlement, not having to apologize on

air for its defamation? And also, as you noted in its statement, it said that -- I believe it said, it acknowledges that the judge found certain

statements about Dominion to be forced.

Well, the judge said every single statement that Fox News reported about Dominion and the election was false.


ABRAMS: That's what the judge said. That is what is obviously true. The judge's written opinion made that very clear. In fact, he used capital

letters. It is crystal clear. He said that all the statements about Dominion were false. And so, they were.

AMANPOUR: It seems like a massive game of chicken was being played. I mean, right down to the to the last second, the jury had been seated, the

opening arguments were due to start, you know, there had been this delay the day before. Well, you know this the procedure. What do you think was

happening behind the scenes?

ABRAMS: Talking or talking about talking. Both sides had an interest in disposing of the case. Fox's interest is obvious because it would have been

at least in the broad public opinion ruinous in terms of how people -- not the Fox viewers, but how more people viewed Fox as a propaganda outfit. So,

there was a lot of reason for them to settle.

The other reason was, I think they probably would have lost even though we have a legal system, which is very sort of loaded purposely in favor of

free speech, which makes it very hard to win a libel case like this, but this one was a very strong case.

And then looking back on it, certainly, it's not surprising that Fox would make every effort to somehow put this behind it.

AMANPOUR: And why do you think then Dominion settled? You know -- yes. Why?

ABRAMS: Well, you know, Dominion is a business. I mean, Dominion's business is not litigation, but to make itself whole again. No one's ever

won or obtained an amount like this. If there's anything that can be gained by a libel case in the sense that the public, to the extent of public

followed this, the public would know that that Fox had urged or really worse than urged purposely put false information on the air, Dominion has

done that, whether the Fox viewers will view Fox any less cordially and in terms of inviting it into their home, I rather doubt it.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about some of the tweets from Andrew Neil, who used to be an insider. You know, he ran Murdoch's "Sunday Times" here in

the U.K., he ran on "Sky News" at one point. And I spoke to him yesterday right as we thought this trial was going ahead. After the settlement, he

tweeted that it doesn't end there for Rupert Murdoch. Another voting machine companies, Smartmatic is suing for $2.7 billion with perhaps even a

stronger case. Plus, his shareholders could sue him, or Fox, the parent company, for diminishing their assets. One already has. And he goes on to

say, but it's already cost far, far more than the U.K. hacking scandal. With much more financial exposure still to come. Will strengthen that part

of the Murdoch family which wants to dump Fox News.

What do you make of that? Do you think that -- yes, go ahead.

ABRAMS: No, I was going to say, I think that's quite a prescient observation. It's all the things on that list of statements I think you're

accurate. Yes, there certainly will be litigation by shareholder of Fox. And yes, certainly in terms of Fox's reputation and whether people at Fox

on the financial side will really want to continue with Fox News, that's a harder one.

Certainly, Fox News is by far the best-known Fox product, whether Fox -- whether the people who run Fox will have found this all so distasteful that

they'll even think about divesting itself from Fox News is a question I don't think anybody has any idea about.

AMANPOUR: Let's ask the bigger question, and, Floyd Abrams, you've been in the middle of this for decades, you know, a free and independent press in a

democratic country is a major and important pillar of a functioning democracy. Do you think this trial has made that more likely, unless -- or,

do we think that Fox and the, you know, attendant even further right-wing conspiracy theorists and all the others, will continue to get up to

mischief with their so-called reporting or commentating on the upcoming elections?


ABRAMS: Yes. Look, my judgment, my guess is that Fox will not change much. My guess would be that yes, they'll send instructions down, you know, don't

do this sort of thing again. We don't need this trouble and this enormous amount of money being paid out.

But in terms of whether Fox will change, what I'll call janitorial policy, will move at all towards the center or even to caring more about avoiding

the correct charge of propaganda, one can't tell. My guess is, I'm afraid, no.

AMANPOUR: You say the correct charge of propaganda, that's interesting. Dominion lawyer, Justin Nelson, after the settlement, said this to CNN.

Take a listen.


JUSTIN NELSON, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS LEAD COUNSEL: I do hope that this really does send a message that it is so, so important to tell the truth.

And that if you don't tell the truth, lies have consequences. And I think this is what it established and that is why there is accountability today.

There's accountability to Dominion and there's accountability to democracy.


AMANPOUR: So, Floyd Abrams, we discussed a little. But the other side of that question is how does this, in the bigger picture, potentially change

the decades old "New York Times" versus Sullivan of 1964, which established a very, very high bar for libel and defamation. It's almost impossible for

media companies to lose in these cases. Do you think in the future, either the Supreme Court or elsewhere, that law that, precedent will be changed?

ABRAMS: Well, first, I don't think it will be changed because of the result, the settlement in this case. As for whether it will be changed

because we've had a change of membership on our Supreme Court, that is more possible now than it had been in the past. Two members of the court have

already in writing, urged that it be changed and there's reason to think that there are more that would be.

If I had to guess, I would say it will not change in the foreseeable future. I don't think that five of our nine Supreme Court justices are

going to be prepared to say that this precedent from 1964, which, certainly in general, has served us well as a freedom protecting body of law, I don't

think that they're going to be five votes. But I maybe, as they say, whistling dixie.

AMANPOUR: So, finally, let me ask you from your decades and decades of experience in this, what feeling do you have right now? You know, you

started many, many years ago, defending the press as well as many other, you know, corporate cases, you've taken in all the rest of it. But what's

your feeling now, looking back at history and to the future?

ABRAMS: It was very important, in my view, for Fox, in one way or the other, to lose this case. For one thing, "New York Times" versus Sullivan

is not impenetrable barrier to plaintiffs with very good cases winning. I think, as I'll bet Fox thought, that there was a very good chance Fox would

lose this case had it gone to the jury. I think it's more likely than not that that would have happened.

In terms of the impact, really, on democracy, I think we're better off for having had this case. I think it does send a message. I think it is a

warning, at least, to the sort of entities that would be prepared to engage in the worst excesses of the worst of journalism to be careful that it is

not a get out of jail free card that the Supreme Court has given, it's just very, very hard to win a libel case here, brought by a public figure, and

it should be.

AMANPOUR: A warning across the bow though, that's very important. Thank you so much indeed, Floyd Abrams.

Now, a power struggle of a different sort between two warring generals has plunged Sudan into crisis after a failed first attempt at a ceasefire. The

Sudanese army and paramilitary forces have now agreed to stop fighting for 24 hours. How long that last remains to be seen.

Half of the hospitals in the capital city, Khartoum, are now reportedly out of action. The country's medical association tells CNN that with no doctors

to tend them, the dead and the injured are being left to rot in their beds.


Residents are trapped in the middle of what is now a battlefield, and the lack of food, medical supplies and electricity is making the situation even

worse. Official estimates put the number of dead so far and nearly 300 with more than 3,000 injured.

Now, as Japan moves to evacuate its nationals, CNN has learned that the homes of U.N. staff and other international organizations have been raided

with reports of sexual assault and rape.

Hamid Khalafallah at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy is joining me now from the Sudanese capital. Welcome to the program.

Let me start by asking you, Mr. Khalafallah, how much hope you put into this notion of a 24-hour ceasefire?

HAMID KHALAFALLAH, TAHRIR INSTITUTE FOR MIDDLE EAST POLICY: Not a lot of hope, to be honest. This is the said ceasefire to be announced. The

(INAUDIBLE) said there's three hours that this file (ph) was announced, none of the forces committed to it. Yesterday evening, a 24-hour ceasefire

was announced, none of the forces committed to it.

Now, one hour ago, the new ceasefire started. So far, I can say that it has been quieted, in a way. I have been hearing less gunfire around me and so

on. But it's hard to tell that, you know, if this will continue for the next 24 hours.

Of course, leaders do not have the will actually to commit to the ceasefire. Each one of them is trying to advance a little more, have a

little more, to have more wins and before they can discuss ceasefires and potentially peace talks and so on. And also, none -- most of them don't

have full control and the identity to kind of enforce the ceasefire on the opposing and troops on ground.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Khalafallah, let me just ask you to lay out as briefly and concisely as you can for our viewers, how did it get to this? Four years

ago, there was hope after the, you know, toppling of the military dictator, Omar al-Bashir, his indictment by the ICC, then you had the parties who

agreed to a power sharing, you know, transitional body that might lead to democracy. That's what the people of Sudan wanted. What happened in the


KHALAFALLAH: Obviously, there are so many issues that led to the moment that we are in now. But they think the primary reason is that you have a

paramilitary that is very violent. However, it has had a huge political and a role -- and a big role in the Sudanese economy. And then, you have the

Sudanese army that is very poorly managed and have been poorly managed for the past 30 years ever since President Omar al-Bashir took -- became

president in 1989. So, these two very troubled institutions, the transition was always going to be fragile.

Now, this -- both institutions have found some ways to work together throughout the past four years because they would win more by working

together and tying their interests together. But it has come to a point where the security sector reform discussions, were just underway, there

were discussions about the integration of the two forces because we can't have two armies and so on.


KHALAFALLAH: And this is what led to the current moment.

AMANPOUR: So, classic power struggle with each side trying to be -- have supremacy there. So, as we know, the Arab League, western nations, of

course, the United States have all called for a ceasefire and there are attempts to try to mediate and get both sides to -- you know, to call this


We know from the former U.S. envoy to the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, this is what he said. He said that this current state was potentially

predictable. In 2021, describing his dealings then, he said, we avoided exacting consequences for repeated acts of impunity that might have

otherwise forced a change in their calculus. Instead, we reflexively appeased and accommodated the two warlords. We considered ourselves

pragmatic. Hindsight suggests wishful thinking to be a more accurate description.

Do you agree with that?

KHALAFALLAH: Definitely, I do agree with that. I think a lot of the ambitions that both leaders have now were, in so many ways, influenced and

encouraged by the political process where the international community allowed them to claim the places that they're currently claiming and to

give them that -- you know, that privilege.


Even now, in the process -- political pursue (ph) was coming to an end and all civilians in Sudan were calling for a fully civilian transitional

government, the international community kept on repeating the same thing, a civilian lead government where they are insinuating that they have still a

role for the military to play in this upcoming government.

So, even when the civilians were pushing for the military to be completely out, the international community kept on insinuating that there is room for

that. And the main, obviously, interest that the international community was, you know, looking for is security in their country and keeping the

military they thought would have preserved security and keep Sudan secure and stable. And by extension, the whole region and the Horn of Africa will

secure and stable. Now, we can see what, you know, inclusion of the military leaders in politics, what it what it needs.

AMANPOUR: So, can I ask you something about Russia's potential involvement? Do you have any reason to believe that it or its proxies there

may have had anything to do this? And I ask you because you know that Russia has been making huge inroads, the Wagner Group run by, you know,

Prigozhin, that warlord, has got his mercenaries on the ground.

A CNN investigation revealed a scheme to secretly export Sudan's gold to fund Russia's invasion of Ukraine through a U.S. sanctioned company called

Marrow Gold (ph), that was owned by the Wagner founder.

Do you have any reason to believe, you know, that that's the case? And as you know, the Russian foreign minister was in Sudan not so many months ago.

KHALAFALLAH: Well, let's say it's definitely involved in this world, in a way or another, and the involvement is real (ph), especially has always

been part of the dynamics and the complications of the Sudanese political economy and how it has been difficult to navigate. But it's not only

Russia, it's a lot of other region and neighboring countries that have been playing, in my opinion, very negative roles, supported one of these actors

called the other, I referred to the Sudanese armed forces and Iraqi support forces.

But they think there's also this problem of -- when we focus all of the attention on how this current war is a product of Russia's involvement and

so on, it uses a lot of the complexities within the Sudanese context. So, it is part of the problem. But there are so many other, you know, problem

and practice to look out.

AMANPOUR: Yes. All right. Well, listen, we really appreciate Hamid Khalafallah of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, we -- honestly,

we really appreciate you explaining some of the dynamics going on there. Awful.

It's an important day in Europe as world leaders, holocaust survivors and their families are commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto

Uprising, which was the largest Jewish revolt against the Nazis during World War II. It inspired other resistance movements across German occupied

Europe and bravery at that time is the focus of a new Netflix series, "Transatlantic," which tells the extraordinary story of the Emergency

Rescue Committee which saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis in France.

Here's a look at the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to take a stand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get away from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police are raiding the hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one here is breaking any law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are all criminal Elliot's (ph), Mr. Fry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are refugees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the difference?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have lost everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to keep moving forward. I'm doing something truly important here, maybe for the first time in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a new world. There is not stone apply.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Viva la resistance.


AMANPOUR: Anna Winger is a screenwriter and she's joining us from Berlin. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: I wonder if you realize, maybe you did, that this was going to drop just at this important anniversary and whether, you know, what's

happening today resonates with you as you watch your series go out.

WINGER: Of course. I think when you're writing about the past you're always writing about the present as well. It was very important to us,

actually, to draw certain parallels to the present.

AMANPOUR: Anna Winger, how did you find this story? I mean, it's little known to those, at least, outside of the -- you know, the -- of the sort of

central committee, so to speak, a little-known story about Varian Fry and Mary Jayne Gold, the two principles of this rescue story. How did you find

it and decide to do this?


WINGER: Well, you know what's funny is there's actually a street in Potsdamer Platz here in Berlin where I live that's called Varian Fry

Strasse, and I was walking down it with my father and he told me the story. Because, he years ago, knew two of the people who were involved in the

Emergency Rescue Committee, Lisa Fittko and Albert Hirschman, both of whom are characters in the show.

AMANPOUR: And the ERC, which is profiled in the show, is the precursor to what we now have as the IRC, the International Rescue Committee. And today,

they have basically said that Fry is at the heart of their ethos, they said Varian Fry's guiding conviction that every life has dignity and is worth

saving remains the foundation of the IRC.

And I was amazed and heartened that actually, Varian Fry was a journalist who decided, you know, he saw a terrible injustice and decided to do what

he could to try to write some of it.

WINGER: Yes, that's right. I mean, he actually was in Berlin. The story really has Berlin roots because he was sent to Berlin. He was working as a

journalist here. He wrote pieces for the "New York Times" in 1935, and he was a witness to terrible violence in Berlin long before 1940, already five

years earlier. And he could see the writing on the wall, and he kind of called it early.

So, I think he was -- he took the assignment to go to Marseille and try and rescue this list of important people, the European Brain Trust, at the

time, because he really was inspired and frightened by what he saw in Berlin in 1935.

AMANPOUR: And we remember that France that -- certainly, that part of it was under the Vichy occupation and control. And as you say, the Brain

Trust, people like, you know, great artists and intellectuals, Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, they were just a few of them.

But I want to play a little clip where you see Varian Fry in the Hotel Splendide. I don't know whether that's real, but we'll get to that in a



AMANPOUR: Trying to confront a --

WINGER: It is.

AMANPOUR: Yes. OK. -- a raid by the collaborationist police at the time. Here we go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rooms at the (INAUDIBLE) hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Varian Fry. Director of the Central (INAUDIBLE) Secure. A number of guests at this hotel are under our protection. Haven't

these people have been through enough. No one hears breaking any laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're all criminal aliens, Mr. Fry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are refugees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the difference?


AMANPOUR: So, that is -- you know, that is pretty hard to watch, especially, you know, as we watch every day and we report every day on how

refugees are being treated in Europe right now. But it wasn't just the intellectuals, was it? I mean, the story is much broader than that.

WINGER: No. He was sent over with a list of 200 people. But, of course, once he got there, he realized that he needed to try and save as many

people as he could. And together with his colleagues in the Emergency Rescue Committee, the people that he met in Marseille, they managed to get

more than 2,000 people out in a little bit over a year.

AMANPOUR: Which is huge. And let's just talk a little bit about Mary Jayne Gold, right? The American heiress who says, quite frankly, that all she is

the bank. She's there. She wants to help. She has the money to pay for it. Talk about her and the presence of women, you know, who you've highlighted

as really being some of the central rescuers.

WINGER: Yes. I think it's interesting to look at the stories at the edges of the kind of traditional narrative about World War II. There was an

opportunity in crisis for women to take -- to have more agency. We were really interested in bringing some of those stories into the show around

the edges of what we know about that period of time. And Mary Jayne Gold was a great example of a woman who, you know, did everything she could.

And, you know, she says in the show, people -- many people do nothing because they think there's nothing they can do, and she did everything she

possibly could do. So, I think that women had an opportunity and, you know, there's other stories, you know, within -- the history of British

Intelligence and the history of the French resistance of women taking great agency at that time, and we really wanted to bring that into this show.


AMANPOUR: And as you were talking, we showed a picture side by side of the real Mary Jayne Gold and the Mary Jayne Gold in your show. I -- you know

you can't help but be shocked when the American consul, portrayed in your series in Marseille, says, you know, for goodness' sake, America is

neutral. We don't take a position. And we remember that terrible situation with the ship, the St. Louis who was -- which was turned around by the

U.S., by Cuba, by Canada, full of Jews trying to escape and many of them went back to their deaths.


AMANPOUR: And the horrendous nature of that and then, watching you portray and remind us of the collaboration of the French, I think is summed up in

this little clip that we're going to play right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ambitious here in Marseille. And we take the Jewish problem very seriously.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we await the day when our great country will be free of their foreign influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's only one great country in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course. Of course. I am -- I beg your pardon. (INAUDIBLE). France has been infected. But with your help, (INAUDIBLE),

soon, one day, all these people will be under my heel.


AMANPOUR: It's very ugly to listen to that. And it is extraordinary that you portray even the most slavish collaborators being -- you know, being

pushed back by the Nazis at that time. Talk to me about portraying that. Obviously, you know, France and everyone else has made many, many apologies

and rectification since. But that was a very ugly period.

WINGER: Yes. I think it's important to understand that it was a sliver of time that maybe for many people has been forgotten. You know, it was not

looking good. You know, Germany was fascist, Italy, Spain, that it was during the blitz in England or in Blitzkrieg, Northern France. It was -- I

think that many people probably thought, at that point, you know, that the Nazis were going to win the war. The United States had not chosen to get

into the war yet. And so, it was a dark moment, and it was important for us to kind of right into the space of that moment and show it for what it was.

AMANPOUR: I asked you a little bit about what drew you to this, but there is a personal aspect, and I wonder if you feel comfortable talking about

it. You say that, you know, in 2015, when all those war refugees came from Syria and elsewhere, especially to Germany, there you were, and you've got

involved. Tell us about it.

WINGER: Yes. I mean, everybody I know was actually involved volunteering. We were all trying to help people get resettled. You know, it was a serious

crisis, and it was terribly moving. And, of course, I was struck by the fact that people like myself, not that long ago, I mean, you know, less

than a century ago had been forced to leave Berlin as refugees and, you know, people who were Jewish, people who were artist, filmmakers were

blacklisted, forced to leave, forced to flee as refugees and that people were now coming to Berlin seeking refuge. And I found that terribly moving

and it's what reminded me of this story. And what motivated me to start researching the idea of doing a drama series about it.

AMANPOUR: And of course, you yourself are a Jewish storyteller. You've lived in Berlin for 20 years. This is what you told "The Times" of Israel,

the idea of being exiled, blacklisted and banished is very relatable to me from so many perspectives. So, that's your experience. I want to know --

because this is a big hit on Netflix. But you've obviously seen a lot of the reviews, and they criticize the notion that it doesn't stick, you know,

faithfully to history.

This is not a documentary, as you point out. How do you -- how did you build these characters? And what do you say to your critics?

WINGER: Well, I listen, this is not a history lesson. It's not a documentary. It's a television series, which is a really different kind of

project. It was important for me to bring the audience into the story in a way that was engaging, but it's also -- you know, we were imagining. We're

writing into the gray areas. You know, we're imagining the inner lives of our characters. We're imagining conversations, romances, all of that.

You know, to me, we stayed true to the spirit of the history while celebrating the fact that this community came together in a crisis and that

friendship, romance, even sex are the things that remind us that we're alive in a crisis. And these are -- these things provide the light in the

darkness, and this story is a celebration of that.


AMANPOUR: So, I wanted to ask you, you said --

WINGER: I also --

AMANPOUR: Oh, sorry. Sorry to interrupt you, because we've got a minute left. Maybe you can incorporate your thought. But you do use humor. You do

use humor in this series.


AMANPOUR: And it is almost -- again, it's like whoa, that's a little edgy.

WINGER: Yes. Well, what I wanted to say is that, you know, when I was writing it, I thought a lot about what it was like for the people who had

been exiled from Berlin. Filmmakers like myself who are in Hollywood who were traumatized, of course, by having to leave their homes and we're

watching what was happening in Europe at that time, and we're channeling that anxiety into, you know, screwball melodramas like this. You know, they

were channeling into the tools of what we do have entertainment.


WINGER: And they were using humor and they were using romance and these things to process what was going on. So, that was my inspiration.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's really interesting to watch. Anna Winger, screenwriter of "Transatlantic," which is now on Netflix, thank you so


Earlier in the program we spoke about how lies and disinformation could poison the 2024 U.S. election. Well, my next guest, the journalist, Mike

Giglio, thinks it's already getting off to a rough start. Donald Trump is the current front runner for the Republican nomination, and he's launched

his campaign in Waco, Texas. It's a place perhaps best known for the notorious cult, the Branch Davidians, who lived there and the botched

federal siege on their compound back in 1993, an event that lasted 51 days and left 82 of the cult members dead.

In a new piece for "The Intercept," Giglio argues that Trump could have been using this charged location to send a coded message to extremists. A

theory he's explaining to Hari Sreenivasan.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Mike Giglio, thanks so much for joining us.

First, here we are having this conversation about 30 years after what happened in Waco, Texas, and there's a reexamination of that in the current

political context here. For people who might not have been alive then or aren't familiar with the standoff in Waco, what happened in those 51 days?

MIKE GIGLIO, JOURNALIST: You know, for me, like I was in grade school, so I even have to refresh on this. But it's such an important event in

American history. And it's -- it was a Christian sect in moving outside Waco, Texas heard, I think, decades. And they eventually came under

investigation by the ATF because they were suspected of manufacturing machine guns illegally and explosives, hand grenades.

And the ATF conceived a pretty disastrously botched initial raid in late February of 1993. So, this is right at the start of the Clinton

administration, there was on the right very widespread fear of the federal government and gun control. The NRA was sounding the alarm about this. And

so, it kind of like paved right into the passions of the moment.

And the ATF raid went horribly wrong. It resulted in the shootout. Four ATF agents were killed and two members of the Branch Davidians. And then, what

happened was a very long siege that lasted through all of March and up until April 19th, during which there was a major American news story. You

know, helicopters from CNN, like the whole home media circus that is kind of like common now in America.

And the FBI, which had taken over the operation executed a second botched raid that was meant to be nonviolent, but ended up in another shootout and

a fire that killed more than 70 people at once, all from the Brand Davidians.

And so, this is the tragedy and it is really an example of botched operations and overreach of the federal government. But it also became a

cultural touchstone on the right, especially for militant groups. And for them, it became like, you know, the seminal example of federal overreach

and the -- a scare story, really, of the danger of the federal government and what it was willing to do, especially in the hands of a Democratic

administration against gun owning conservatives.

SREENIVASAN: And it was also women and children that were in this compound. I mean, why is it that that raid resonates and is one of those

core fears for groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three-Percenters and other kind of militant national organizations that you have been reporting

on and tracking?


GIGLIO: So, I've spoken at length with the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, for example, about Waco, and he wasn't involved in any

political movement at the time, but he was a libertarian minded conservative, and he watched it play out like any other American on

television that really affected him.

And for him, the moral of the story was really clear, it was never that the Branch Davidians were heroes. You know, he and other people that really

kind of focus on Waco, they don't necessarily identify with the Branch Davidians. For them, the stories about the bad guys. It's about how the

Branch Davidians were demonized for being outside the cultural mainstream. How, in their view, the media and the government, which did happen,

demonized them during the siege made them appear like these threatening outsiders.

And in their minds, like in Stewart Rhodes' mind, the basis of this demonization once in large part of the fact that they were Christian, very

hardline Christian, and that they were very hardline gun owners. And it's that directly into the kind of fears of Democrats and of the government

that people in that movement have had for a long time.

SREENIVASAN: I should remind our audience that two years after that, Timothy McVeigh took matters into his own hands and he was inspired by what

happened at Waco.

GIGLIO: Yes. So, Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran, and he had actually come down to Waco during the siege himself and handed out, I

think, pamphlets supporting the Branch Davidians. And he saw it very clearly through an antigovernment lands, you know. And when he saw the

violence happen on TV, it really triggered him.

And he later came to see it, or at least portray it, as a preview of the coming fight with the government. And a wider global bout that he saw, and

when he carried out the Oklahoma City attack, it was on the anniversary, like you mentioned, of the Waco attacks, and he was pretty explicit in

saying that this was one of the reasons that he carried out the bombing.

SREENIVASAN: So, we fast forward. Here we are. And while they are kind of documentaries on Showtime and Netflix about this, I think another moment in

our immediate political history is that Former President Trump chooses to launch his reelection campaign or one of his first rallies in Waco.


GIGLIO: To me, yes, as someone who covers militant groups on the right and political violence in America. His campaign denied that had any connection

to what happened in Waco in 1993. But I think, if I were someone who was a member of the Oath Keepers, for example, and I saw that he had picked that

place to launch the first official major rally of his presidential campaign, it would send a message to me that he was on my side, which is

something that Trump has been signaling, I think, without holding a rally at Waco.

It was a message that he obviously sent to his followers ahead of January 6th, militant groups took that message, they showed up at the capitol.

Members of the Oath Keepers, including Stewart Rhodes, have been convicted of seditious conspiracy now for January 6th. And it came out in the trial

that they thought that they were following Trump's directives. They were -- they thought they were in communication with Trump. Stewart Rhodes is

writing open letters to Trump, urging him to take specific actions. And that's what's his portrayal of why the Oath Keepers were there on January

6th, was to help him.

And so, fast forward to the current campaign, I have noticed and other commentators as well, Trump speaking even more openly in the terms and

frames of the militant right and militant groups. He's portraying the battle as existential against the federal government, against Democrats.

So, he's already been very aggressively in his messaging on this front. And to me, the choice of Waco, whatever he might have intended, is sending

another very strong signal that this is the direction that his campaign is headed.

And I would just note, you know, he opened that rally. He didn't mention Waco. The events of that Waco. But he opened the rally by playing a

rendition of natural anthem that was started by a choir of people who have been imprisoned for January 6th and playing images on the ride of the

capital. So, again, a pretty clear messaging where he stands on this.

SREENIVASAN: So, there were images of the capital insurrection playing at the rally in Waco sort of connecting these dots for people. But I -- you

know, let me be a little skeptical here and say, listen, are we reading too much into this? If he doesn't mention Waco, is this conveniently the -- I

don't know, the airport hangar between Dallas and Austin or Houston? I mean, it's there.


GIGLIO: I mean, it's not -- he didn't mention it, like I said, like his campaign has expressly denied that that's why they chose Waco. So, he's --

they're denying that that's the reason. I just know, having covered militant groups for years now and understanding just how important Waco is

in their world view, whatever Trump intended is sort of beside the point, the message is there no matter what, and it blends with the messaging

that's already there from his campaign, that is intentional.

He is intentionally saying to his followers, this campaign, this political battle is an existential struggle against the government, the federal

government as controlled by Democrats. They're coming after you and I'm just standing in their way. So, it's going to be a very and has been

existentially themes campaign from Trump, and I just think that this is playing into that messaging, and that it's something that we, observing it,

should just understand that context matters.

SREENIVASAN: You write that this all kind of feeds into this larger conspiracy of a new world order, all the way from Waco to a stolen

election. Explain that.

GIGLIO: Seclans of the Right (ph) have believed for decades now, and some version of conspiracy theory called the new world order, and the very basic

form of that conspiracy theory is that elite interests, global interests are, you know, businessmen and oligarchs are trying to establish a global

dictatorship and that they're trying to first undermine American democracy in order to do that.

And it sounds like pretty outlandish, but you can sort of see when, in the talk of oligarchy and erosion of rights in America, how it can blend into

different versions of politics in the United States. And some version of this year's here (ph) are explicitly racist. Some are just really grounded

more and like, talk about control the corporations have over government, influence of money in politics, but it is something that has been part and

parcel of the militant movement since before the 1990s and certainly, in the 1990s. And Waco played into that is fear security.

So, fast forward to 2020, without ever saying, now, we'll go to conspiracy theory, if you look at the press conference that Sidney Powell and Rudy

Giuliani held after the vote in 2020, when they put forward what was the Trump campaign's official narrative of how the election was supposedly

stolen, this is the Dominion conspiracy theory, it is about elite global interests, American's foreign -- America's foreign adversaries conspiring

with elites in America and politicians and the Democratic Party to steal an election, and it echoed very loudly with the new world order conspiracy


And if you're conversing that, you know, theory and its influence in certain segments of American politics, it was very alarming to see that put

forward on a national scale. This is something that have been confined to the fringes for decades. And for me, it really did preview some what we saw

in January 6th and sort of drastic, sometimes violent action that some of the Trump's followers took that day.

SREENIVASAN: Are there parallels between what happened after Waco and what's happening now after January 6th in terms of whether these groups are

sort of going to ground, whether their activity has been decreased because of the increased scrutiny by federal agencies and authorities and the press

and everyone else on them?

GIGLIO: So, in the immediate aftermath of Waco, militia activity surged, because of the -- because people were so alarmed by it. And it wasn't until

after Oklahoma City that federal investigative pressure really start to focus on militia style groups in America and there was a public outcry and,

you know, fears of right-wing extremism were like very, very pronounced in the immediate aftermath of the bombing and then, you saw participation in

militia groups really decrease.

I have the sense just talking to people in the movement after January 6th that they're still believers in Trump or in the cause that first had gotten

to join a group like the Oath Keepers, like no one may convinced that this is the wrong way of thinking, but that they're also conscious, like there

is a lot of investigative pressure from the federal government, from Congress, and they are keeping their heads down. And I think just waiting

to see, you know, whether this will blow over, whether there will be an opportunity where they can stick their heads back up without fear of being

pressured or prosecuted.

I think it's very reasonable for them to be watching the presidential race and wondering what would happen if Trump were to win. He has suggested that

he would pardon January 6th -- people who were convicted for January 6th. So -- and again, he's opening his ground in Waco with a rendition of the

national anthem, that's sung by people who are convicted of January 6th. So, he's signaling very clearly to people who are in prison that he's on

their side. So, I think there's a very much all around like a wait and see approach right now.


SREENIVASAN: You've said in your reporting that movements like this are filled with people who think of the long game. I mean, you've said -- used

the phrase, I think, tactical patients. Explain that.

GIGLIO: I think that if you look at a group like the Oath Keepers and the wider spectrum of militant groups that they're at the vanguard of and you

understand that they don't think of themselves as antigovernment or extremists, they think of themselves as the rightful authority in the

country. They think that they should be in charge. And I think they felt for a time, part of Trump administration, that they were moving towards


You know, that Trump was on their side, they still had a lot of resistance within the government and the political system, but that they were

generally empower. I think if you think of it from that mindset, then that's a mindset that encourages for long view. That's a mindset that

encourages participation in the political process where it helps and then, using any other means to grab and leverage power that you can when the

political process isn't working.

And I think that it's a struggle that, in their minds, has been happening since the 1990s, when lot of these groups first came into being, in the

immediate aftermath of Waco. And I think they are very content, at least at the moment, to see can they get political power again. And you know, what

would be the result if, again, like a Trump or someone that shared his worldview were to come back into power. You know, like the -- I don't think

that they would consider that whatever the political -- the hammock is right now, whatever investigated pressure they're facing right now, but

that's the end of the story for them.

SREENIVASAN: So, there seems to be a little distinction that you're drawing here too, that it's not just antigovernment, it's more specifically


GIGLIO: Yes. I -- these groups have been, since 1990s, called antigovernment. If that term ever was appropriate, I don't think it really

is right now. I think it's more accurate to say that they want to be the government. And that they're not afraid of federal power. They're afraid of

it in the hands of Democrats.

Because if you think about what the Oath Keepers and other supporters were asking for on January 6th, it was for Trump to invoke the insurrection act

and to overturn an election. To use the National Guard to help him do this. That would be a massive use of federal power, obviously, a massive of abuse

of federal power.

So, I think we should consider that their enemy is not really the government, but yes, like you mentioned, it's Democrats, it's Democrat's

control of the government, and that's what motivates them, I think, right now more than anything else. And that's also how Trump, I think, frames the

struggle that he says his campaign is engaged in right now.

SREENIVASAN: Do you think that government agencies have learned from Waco from what happened in January 6th how to stop this from happening again?

GIGLIO: The government, after Waco, did tons of internal investigations and reports. I think it's pretty obvious that whatever the Branch Davidians

did wrong at Waco, which is quite a bit, that really over the top aggressive government response was just not called for, and was responsible

to largely for the deaths that happened.

And also, I think there's an awareness that that sort of drastic overreach creates problems that last in this game for decades, like it's still

influencing politics today. I don't know how that translates to present moment other than saying, you know, you just always hope that anyone in

power in America realizes that it is usually much more risky in the long- term to use too much power rather than too little.

And I think that is a lesson that they have learned from past incidents at Waco and elsewhere and that I think the government has really been having

struck it (ph) downs with in what is the largest -- one largest investigations, obviously, in FBI history after January 6th.

SREENIVASAN: Mike Giglio, thanks so much for joining us.

GIGLIO: Thanks for having me.


AMANPOUR: So much attention and so much at stake in defending and protecting democracy.

And finally, tonight, we have devoted a lot of time on this program to innocent victims of dictatorial regimes, especially Americans still held

hostage around the world. The latest being detained, journalist Evan Gershkovich, in Russia. And three Americans languishing for years in Iran's

notorious Evin Prison.

Tomorrow, I'll talk to two families paying an unbearable price for the privilege of having that blue passport.



BABAK NAMAZI, BROTHER OF DETAINED IRANIAN-AMERICAN SIAMAK NAMAZI: Being held over seven years, being left behind, you know, three or four times,

how can you keep on hoping? But we try. We try. My father, literally, has, you know, grasping to life as long as possible to see the day that Siamak

comes out as a free person.


AMANPOUR: Tune in tomorrow for that emotional conversation. That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.