Return to Transcripts main page
Interview with Israeli Peace Activist and The Parents Circle Families Forum Spokesperson Robi Damelin; Interview with "Moonwalkers" Co- Writer and Narrator Tom Hanks; Interview with "Moonwalkers" Co-Writer and Director Christopher Riley; Interview with "The New Yorker" Staff Writer Jill Lepore. Aired 1:00-2p ET
Aired December 06, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
As Israel intensifies its Gaza offensive, the U.N. says the situation is getting worse each minute, while freed Israeli hostages unleash their anger
on Prime Minister Netanyahu. I asked peace activist Robi Damelin how she remains hopeful for the future.
Next, we have Liftoff. Tom Hanks tells me about "Moonwalkers", his new immersive documentary that sends us all into outer space.
Then, an American president indicted, but it is not Donald Trump. Scholar and writer Jill Lepore looks at history for answers with Michel Martin.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The entire Gaza Strip has become one of the most dangerous places in the world, with shelters overflowing and no safe zones, that is according to
the U.N. agency providing humanitarian aid.
Despite mounting warnings from around the world, Israeli forces continue to strike targets in Gaza with reports of high casualties. And Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu continues to insist the Israeli military will disarm and control the enclave after the war. The United States rejects renewed
Israeli occupation there.
While some freed hostages and their families are venting their anger at Netanyahu, revealed in this leaked audio from a meeting between them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You will return them all. They will not wait 50 days. They will not wait another year, because you claim
that they are strong enough. You have no information. You have no information. The fact that we were shelled. The fact that no one knew
anything about where we were.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the impact of this war goes far beyond the region, this dire warning from a senior European official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YLVA JOHANSSON, E.U. COMMISSIONER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: With the war between Israel and Hamas and the polarization it causes in our society with the
upcoming holiday season there is a huge risk of terrorist attacks in the European Union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But this weekend, here in London, a vigil was held outside Downing Street to demonstrate that both sides are suffering, and pleading
for an end to the cycle of violence. Our next guest is one of the main proponents of this peace movement. She is Robi Damelin.
Her son, David, was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2002. And instead of being consumed by hate and revenge, she devotes her life towards peace
between Israelis and Palestinians. And she's joining me in the studio.
Robi Damelin, welcome here face to face. We've talked to you several times since October 7th. You were in Israel when we spoke the last two times. And
you do keep talking about how one must be able to still see the humanity in each other. Tell me why it was important for you to leave your country and
come to this vigil that was organized by bereaved families on both sides here in London?
ROBI DAMELIN, ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVIST AND SPOKESPERSON, THE PARENTS CIRCLE FAMILIES FORUM: I thought it was very important to talk about opinions.
Everybody's got an opinion. The whole world has turned into. Grand experts on Israel and Palestine. And I thought there might be an alternative to
that because those opinions are importing our conflict into your country and creating hatred between Jews and Muslims. And that's not what you want
really, but that's the end product.
And so, I spoke about, maybe instead of having an opinion, you might want to find the story of one Palestinian, of their loss, and the story of the
loss of an Israeli family now, and maybe even the story of a hostage. And instead of giving a grand opinion, you could actually tell that story.
Maybe that would contribute to some compassion, instead of so much hatred.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, were you satisfied then by how this vigil went off? Because previous ones, whether here in the U.S. -- in London, in
the U.S., around, have some of them devolved, whether they're marches against antisemitism, marches for Palestinian rights, some of them have
devolved into placards and more hate and more discord, but this one was told, don't bring any placards, don't wave any flags.
DAMELIN: There weren't any placards. There wasn't any shouting. It was very respectful of everybody. There were Christians, Muslims, and Jews, the
Archbishop of Canterbury. That's extraordinary. Because in these times where it's so good to feel good about yourself and march off to a
demonstration with a sign that probably is so destructive.
So, for me, this was very different, and the lighting of lanterns was significant, because you know, we now, tonight is Hanukkah, and Christmas
is all about light. So, there is something in common, and that is light, in many ways. So, we all lit lanterns.
AMANPOUR: And it's so difficult to actually find that light right now. You did write in an op-ed for a British newspaper, it is perhaps a natural
thing to choose a side for Israel and Palestine since October 7th is the flavor of the month.
And there seems to be a sort of a move to sort of declare yourself and to - - and I use the word tribalize, it's not a good word, but to just get into your own silos and there's no compassion and no understanding, but you
still think there can be.
DAMELIN: Oh, I think if people -- the way that the Parents Circle works, the organization that I come from, is all about storytelling. And the
minute that you would hear my personal story next to a Palestinian personal story, even the hardest of hearts cannot be affected by that.
Mainly, the people with the grand opinions rushing around with their placards have absolutely no idea what is going on? I don't think they could
find Israel on the map.
And you know, I was just thinking about my granddaughter yesterday. In the middle, I have an app on my phone, which tells me if there's going to be a
rocket. So, there was a rocket outside my house. And suddenly, this whole fear starts to come up. And that fear is very dangerous. There's a lot of
fear around Israel now and trauma and of course, the fear of the Palestinians running away in Gaza is so horrific.
I can't believe that I'm part of something that allowed that to happen. And I keep thinking about the next generation. If you were a young kid growing
up in Gaza and every two years, there's a war, and every two years they are bombed and you have no shelter and maybe no food and maybe no water, and
you're running away. And so, you have no freedom of movement, and no hope. So, what kind of an adult are you going to actually be?
And I'm looking at the West Bank now, at the occupation, and I look at my friends who have not got freedom of movement. There's a total closure.
Otherwise, I would have been here with a Palestinian partner. Can you imagine what that's like from the 7th of October? They've been more or less
stuck at home. The settlers are running rampant and doing exactly what they want with very little punishment or accountability for that matter. All of
this is a keg waiting to blow up.
And so, what I'm telling you now is that we have to work 10 times harder. And we have to work with the families that lost. Because, you know, a lot
of the families that were killed down in the south were actually from the left.
DAMELIN: And so, I know as a mother --
AMANPOUR: The Peacemakers?
DAMELIN: Yes. And I know as a mother, I think I've told you on the last program about Vivian Silver.
AMANPOUR: That's your friend who --
DAMELIN: Yes. She was burnt to death in a cupboard. But I was so sure that she would come out and she would be one of the leaders of the peace
movement. We cannot give up. There's no way that I will give up, personally.
AMANPOUR: What you're saying is incredibly brave and incredibly forward- thinking. And many say that, you know, they need to get over the current grief, to get over the situation that has so shocked, you know, them and
the whole world that they can't even talk about this kind of thing.
And I say that because you yourself and your peace circle has come under, you know, quite a lot of criticism and threats from within your own
community. Tell me a little bit about how this --
DAMELIN: Well, it's not the community --
DAMELIN: -- it's the government.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, how does your talk of peace and sort of hearing the story of the other and reconciliation go down at home?
DAMELIN: Look, we can't look at the present government as anything that would encourage the work that we're doing. It's threatening for them. We
are number one on the list to destroy. Virtually, they banned us. Literally, they banned us from schools just before the war started.
So, we started to have dialogue meetings outside. In fact, we had one outside the house of the education minister, which was pretty naughty, but
was a good idea.
And we were actually starting to move towards going to the Supreme Court. For 20 years, we've been working in schools. The only Palestinian Israeli
organization that was allowed into schools.
A 17-year-old kid has never heard in his life a story of a Palestinian. And so, for them to meet somebody from our group who comes in and is so
vulnerable and tells their personal story of loss and allows them to ask questions in a safe atmosphere, this is dangerous. I think this is
AMANPOUR: And a Palestinian, likewise, who's never heard a story of humanity around an Israeli fellow student or compatriot. And I raise that
because you said you have to hear the individual story. So, your story clearly is so tragic. You lost your son. One of your partners who we
interviewed with you by satellite, he was in the West Bank, Bassam Aramin, he lost his daughter. She was killed by an Israeli soldier's bullet.
I just want to play what he said -- rubber bullet. I just want to play what he said in terms of understanding the other side, understanding your side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASSAM ARAMIN, SPOKESPERSON, THE PARENTS CIRCLE FAMILIES FORUM: I believe what happened is terrible. And always I said, because I have a master's
degree about the Holocaust, so I have the right to talk about that.
This is my hope, my faith, that the Palestinians, they didn't kill 6 million Israelis. And the Israelis, they didn't kill 6 million
Palestinians, yet. And there is a German ambassador in Tel Aviv, but there is an Israeli ambassador in Berlin. It means we can do it. We just need a
brave leader, or leaders, to take us towards the future and release us from the atrocities and the very painful past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It was so effective to hear him say that and affecting. And I just wondered what you think, I mean, where are the leaders, because this
is going to take a massive effort, you know, on leadership in your own -- you know, in Israel, Palestine and around the world.
DAMELIN: Well, I think it's got to start. You know, we can't wait for somebody to appear. I think the work that we're doing now is vitally
important. A person like Bassam is such an exceptional human being. I mean, for me, Bassam is like -- it's above the conflict. He's my family by now.
And he also has a sense of humor.
And I must say that if you want to do this work, if you cannot laugh -- and by the way, laughter is kind of a bridge to somebody's heart anyway -- you
can't go on. And so, we laugh a lot together in all this madness, you know, and I think he is an extraordinary human being.
But I'm here and there's 700 families in our group, each one could tell you a story that would touch your heart and make an emotional breakthrough.
AMANPOUR: Do you think that, you know, talking to these -- however many of the families that you know, and there are other organizations in the region
that also try to work this path. Do you think that there are enough people on either side who will accept, and they have to, for a peace? Israel and
the Palestinians have to accept that nobody -- none of them are going anywhere, they're staying, they're sharing, they have to, and that has to
be the story of the future?
DAMELIN: Well, you know, when I came to Israel in 1967, after the anti- apartheid movement, kind of jumping from the front bend (ph) into the fire, I would say. If you would have told me then, that blacks and whites would
sit together in a room and not want to kill each other, I would have said, you were mad.
AMANPOUR: In your own home country?
DAMELIN: Oh, yes. And so, there was a miracle. It's not a miracle that everything is now paradise. No. Because people want overnight
reconciliation. There's no such thing. It could never happen. But look what happened and think of the alternative of the bloodbath that could have
happened when Mandela came out of jail. So, yes. I believe that things like this can happen for us.
I remember when Sadat, Anwar Sadat, came to Israel. I was sitting with my two little boys.
AMANPOUR: The president of Egypt at the time.
AMANPOUR: After the Yom Kippur War --
AMANPOUR: -- that Egypt started.
DAMELIN: I was sitting with my two little boys, and tears were pouring down my face because I thought they wouldn't have to go to the army. And
then, I think of King Hussein, who came to Israel when a Jordanian shot some kids. And I remember him sitting on the floor in a house of mourning
and thinking to myself, wow, if there was an election now, they would vote for him to be the next prime minister.
So, yes. I think things can happen overnight and a leader can come up from it, but we have to do the work that we're doing as much as we can. We have
to continue with the ceremony that we have every year on Memorial Day, we have a ceremony, which of course also the government is not exactly
thrilled. And every year we have to go to the high court to get permission for the Palestinians to come.
And I must say that it's quite good fun to beat the system and go to the Supreme Court. And this year, because of the democracy movement and because
people suddenly realized that we were so much on the top of the list for destroying, 15,000 people came to the ceremony and 300,000 people listened
AMANPOUR: It'd be really interesting to know whether that group survives this terrible war right now.
DAMELIN: We have to wait and see.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you one thing to expand on because you had told me in our first interview, don't forget Bedouins on October 7th.
AMANPOUR: Muslims, came to the help of the Israeli Jewish victims who were being, you know, slaughtered. And we know that the army wasn't there in
time. We know that individual IDF soldiers and former commanders just put on their uniforms and raced in their own private cars to do what they
DAMELIN: Well, they were all busy guarding the settlers.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about the Bedouins, because it's not a story that's told. After you told me about it, I read it, you know, in a Tom Friedman
column, also in "The New York Times." So, it's an important thing that happened.
DAMELIN: It's more than important. I think that if I came from an unrecognized village, and I didn't probably have a shelter, and when I
heard that my neighbor was in trouble, would I immediately gather everybody around me and go to try and save lives? And would I have been shot and
killed, which several Bedouin were? And would I then be taken as a hostage? Would I have made that choice? I'm not sure.
And today, if you look at Rahat, this village, they have 80,000 people, maybe -- and they've created this huge warehouse, together with the
Israelis, where they are supplying things to people in need. Extraordinary things are happening. I live in Jaffa.
Now, in 2021, when you interviewed us, there were terrible riots outside my house. This time, there's a committee of Palestinian Israelis and Israelis
who are working together for nonviolence. There's no violence.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Robi Damelin, always inspirational. Keep up your work. It's really important.
DAMELIN: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much.
So, as conflict rages on our earth, let's turn now to the stars for some more inspiration. A new immersive documentary experience takes us back 55
years telling the story of the Apollo Space Program and how humans first reach the moon. It is called "Moonwalkers" and it's narrated and co-written
by Tom Hanks, who's a long-time space enthusiast, alongside the writer- director Christopher Riley. Here's a taste of the experience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM HANKS, CO-WRITER AND NARRATOR, "MOONWALKERS": In the 50,000 years of human history, just 12 of us have traveled from our Earth to walk on
another celestial body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty seconds away from the Apollo 11 liftoff. Five, four, three, two, one, liftoff. We have a liftoff. Lift on Apollo 11.
HANKS: Now, join me on a journey back to the moon, in a remarkable immersive show at Lightroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, just days ahead of today's opening to the public here in London, I asked them what inspired this project now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, Chris Riley, welcome to the program.
HANKS: Good to see you.
AMANPOUR: This is a quintessentially American story. So, why is it debuting in London, space, and Apollo and Artemis? What made you think of
HANKS: This very facility that we're sitting in now in King's Cross is the most -- it is the most unique immersive venue I've ever come across in my
life. The first time we came here we see an exhibit of David Hockney paintings. Now, I thought I was going to be seeing an exhibit of David
Hockney paintings. I didn't realize I was going to be walking into one of his paintings as David himself was painting it all around you.
Seeing that that was possible, I immediately went to the powers that be, Richard Slade (ph), and everybody else, said, you know, you could put
people in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, where we are sitting right now on Apollo 17, and it would be as though we were sitting right on the moon.
Have you guys thought about that? And they said, no, but would you like to think about it with us? And so, here we are.
?The uniqueness of this space, I could not quite fathom the -- it's not virtual reality, Christiane, it's reality. It's not a headset with
earphones on. You are literally in a 360 -- well, you don't have a roof on us, but below you and all around you is the environment that you want to
create, and it just so happens to be the vacuum of space and The Sea of Tranquility.
AMANPOUR: And the two of you wrote this together. What did it take to write this? What were you trying to achieve? What was it about the moon,
the story that's been told so many times?
HANKS: That's a good question. Why?
CHRISTOPHER RILEY, CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "MOONWALKERS": Well, yes. I mean, it's not entirely about the moon. The story is actually a story of
hope, of course. It's about hope, of humanity, of what we can do when we work together.
Apollo really epitomizes that. It was the work of half a million people for a decade, all pulling together for one particular quest. And it was driven
by curiosity in part. And when we are curious, we discover unexpected things. And that's essentially the message we wanted to try and convey in
part, isn't it, Tom?
HANKS: You know, the interesting thing is why and why now. And I think that if you took the headlines of 1969, and the headlines of 2023, they
actually match up in quite -- what's the word I'm looking for?
HANKS: Yes. And it's not great news. It's actually quite troublesome and it is very much sort of like defining of this era that we're in right now.
And at the same time in 1968, and same time in 2023, people were going to the moon. I mean, we do make a big deal about the Artemis missions that
will be going back around the moon within the next year, which is an incredible step for humankind.
For myself, when I was 13, the Apollo missions were this example of the -- it was an evolutionary place in the consciousness of humankind, because the
only reason to go to the moon was because we're human beings and we desire to figure out what is on the other side of the hill, and that affected me
very much then. And if we're human beings, do we not have to remain curious, and do we not have to strive in order to see what is on the other
side of that door?
AMANPOUR: And do we not have to be stirred? Because you say correctly that this unbelievable 360 experience puts you in the moment. And the opening
words we've heard, and you have the opening narration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANKS: Every human being who ever lived on the planet Earth looked up at the moon, and it's given us our seasons, it's given us our day, the length
of our month, and we've been moved by it, you know, spiritually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How did you come up with, I mean, what's really curiosity, human, you know, connection to your opening statement? How did that come
HANKS: If we are going to become interplanetary beings from "Star Trek" and all of the great wonderings of great science fiction, theoretical
fiction now and in a lot of ways, we will be doing so based on what we learned as space faring beings when we went to Apollo.
There's only there's only 12 human beings that have walked on the surface of another planet, only 12 of us in the 50,000 years of human behavior.
When we do it again, and we will, we will be doing it because these were the pathfinders who showed that it was possible in the first place.
It's not just a matter of the technology, certainly that is, but it's also as a question, as you yourself said, it's wherewithal. Do we want to? And
the answer is, yes, we do. So, then the how is, well, we already have kind of like a template of how, we just have to follow it through to whatever
the next chapter is going to be.
AMANPOUR: And, Chris, you -- I don't know whether you wrote the opening statement, but the idea of looking up and always seeing this moon, and it
is a repository of all our dreams and all our hopes. Tell me about that.
RILEY: Yes. The moon is a beacon, of course, and it's something we're all familiar with in our lives. It's always up there, ever changing, you know,
as well. And wherever you're traveling on Earth, it's different too.
And in many ways, it's pulled us off the planet. We dreamed about it, first of all, as Tom says, for centuries, we wrote about it. We invented gods up
there, as Tom's words explain at the beginning. And it's tugged us off Earth, because without the moon, there was nowhere to reach to. Neil
Armstrong, I think, I recall.
So, in the same way as the islands just off the coast of China that tugged us as a species into the Pacific, because if you couldn't see something to
reach that wasn't over the horizon, you wouldn't have the courage to go. And that's what the moon symbolizes for us as well, I think.
AMANPOUR: You saw the -- when you were a kid, you watched on television and I watched on television, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And I guess
that it's inspired you ever since because you've also played, you know, Jim Lovell in "Apollo 13."
HANKS: Yes, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, we've got a problem here.
HANKS: What did you do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. I stirred the tanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa. Hey. This is Houston. say again, please.
HANKS: Houston, we have a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Has that been something that stayed with you ever since then? Why did you choose the "Apollo 13" film?
HANKS: I was -- first of all, the "Apollo 13," Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, Jack Swigert, they are Jason and the Argonauts. That is a story that is
ripped right out of the great sagas of all of humankind.
This is what it comes around. I'm sitting at home -- actually, it was 1968 on Apollo 8. Jim Lovell was orbiting the moon with Fred Borman and Bill
Anders. And on my mother's couch, I saw a live broadcast of, what, oh, the planet Earth, in black and white on my television in my mom's house over
Something in my feeble little brain could not quite fathom that I was watching us on earth from an orbiting spacecraft that was around the moon
pointing a television camera back at us and there were -- the only three people that were not in that photograph were the crew of Apollo 8 or the
crew that in that broadcast.
There was -- I had some sort of cranial plate shift, some sort of like sense of out of body experience, which I thought we were magnificent human
-- we are magnificent creatures if we can make this happen.
And look, to be 12 years old and watching that on TV and have a spiritual, artistic sight in light moment of enlightenment, that's an impactful thing,
and I've carried it with me for ever since because I still quite can't fathom that the guy named Jack Schmitt was walking around on the moon just
like that and brought home some rocks for us to study.
AMANPOUR: Would you ever go? I mean, obviously space travel is becoming more and more, you know, Proletarian, if you like, as long as you've got a
HANKS: That's a go.
AMANPOUR: As long as you've got a billion dollars and you're Elon Musk or something like that. Would you want to go?
HANKS: I mean, you'd go, right? Given the opportunity?
RILEY: Well, we did kind of go, didn't we, Tom? Do you remember when we went to Houston to meet the Artemis crew?
AMANPOUR: No, no, but I mean really, would you get into it?
HANKS: Oh, in the suborbital stuff that goes, then I'd say no. I think that would be a lovely rollercoaster. But we just talked to the Artemis
folks last night. And they are looking -- they are hoping that private enterprise will build rotating space stations around the earth. So, you
could go up and live in space as, what is it, Proletariat, for a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. That would be intriguing, just to go up and
come back down. I'll ride a roller coaster.
RILEY: It's also worth remembering, I think, that in the next two years there's going to be 25 missions to the moon. I mean, that's way more than
the where we were in the '60s.
HANKS: Between India and China and the United States and the European Union.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's what brings me to the next --
RILEY: It's going international.
AMANPOUR: You raise an interesting point. Because India's done a biggie, on the south side, China's done a biggie landing on the dark side. There is
a fear in the United States, at NASA, that unless an -- even a -- you know, a SpaceX executive has said, unless we get our act together, whether it's
Artemis or whoever next, we are going to be beaten by China, by India, by Russia, by whoever. Does that -- do you think that that matters?
RILEY: Well, the thing about leaving Earth and exploring beyond Earth is that it has to be an endeavor that we do collectively. And so, there's room
up there. The moon is huge, as Tom says in the show, you know, the size combined of Brazil and the United States and Russia. There's a massive land
mass. There's room there for us all to explore. We really shouldn't be restricting it to one or two countries.
AMANPOUR: But do you believe watching what's happening in the world right now. And it is true, the space program is one of the only international
cooperative events that carries on right now. But all these countries are at loggerheads.
RILEY: I don't know if loggerheads is the right word when it comes to beyond earth exploration. Yes, there's loggerheads, things going on, of
course, in foreign policy and that sort of stuff, but not when we talk about leaving the Earth.
I mean, the International Space Station is up there still functioning despite troubles between the partners back on Earth. And that's because
space needs that collaborative approach.
HANKS: And you know, the Russian crews and the international cruise, the Americans, they get together for karaoke night on the International Space.
They watch movies together up there. There's going to be no losers in going to the moon.
Certainly, when I was a kid, we had to beat the communists. We had to do it before the decade was out. And if we didn't, we were going to lose. And
there was no way America can lose to the reds. That's just the way. There's going to be no losing in whoever goes up to the moon now.
I talked to somebody -- I held one of the rocks that Neil Armstrong brought back from the moon. It was in plastic and I had gloves on. It was a very
safe atmosphere. So, it wasn't like picking it up. And I asked the geologist at NASA, I said, is it true that there's water on the moon? And
they said, there is evidence that there is water on the moon.
If there is water on the moon, it is a game changer, and let's just say it's going to be there for everybody. And more power to anybody who has a
wherewithal and the will and the money and the drive in order to get up there and start finding else what else -- find out -- finding what else
we're going to do.
AMANPOUR: So, you say more power to anybody. So, that leads me to the question of Elon Musk and SpaceX. And frankly, Elon Musk's politically
dubious qualities and his kind of hate speech on X, and he's been in a lot of trouble for promoting antisemitism and this and that.
So, when you think. of the idealism of President Kennedy that's -- you know, who he said that we will, you know, make it to the moon for all the
right reasons, does it worry you, actually, that some of these people who are able to do this may not have, you know, the best interests of
HANKS: Well, that's interesting. Look, it turns out a bunch of tycoons can be really kooky people. I mean, you know Henry Ford was a vicious anti-
Semite. We still drive Ford trucks around, though, a while back.
If anybody is going to be as shortsighted as they're going to turn going into the moon for some brand of personal gain, that's just simply wrong. It
doesn't exist in that way. And we kind of like the U.N. and people have said, you know, there shall be no conquering of territory in outer space. I
don't know how anybody could go to the moon and get rich doing it. It's just going to be the opposite. It's going to cost them an awful lot of
But I think eventually their ego might be solved by doing something other than putting a flag that has a copyrighted logo up on the moon. I think
there's other ways that they can -- their ego can be, you know, buttress.
AMANPOUR: And you also think -- because again, we live in a very polarized world right now, we're in the middle of a terrible war, several terrible
wars. People have lost faith in institutions. People are completely polarized and tribalized on so many issues, even on climate. Do you think
the moon is kind of maybe the last institution and space travel and the exploration that the people can trust in?
HANKS: Going to the moon requires a default setting that is not cynicism. It requires just the opposite. It actually requires faith at each other,
trusting one's own abilities to be improved by working with other people. And that is good.
It can't help but be international. I mean, every one of the plaques that are existed up there were unveiled all say for all mankind. For all
humankind. We cannot go there unless we do it all together. And I think -- you know as well as anybody, that yes, a faith in institutions or a belief
in institutions, or what's the other -- I -- just an understanding that, yes, all we really need is enough of us to work together and we can truly
change the world.
Right now, it seems as though not enough of us can work together. Let's find an example of when that happens, and I'm sorry, but going back to the
moon is that very example writ large.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you two film questions. A.I. and the writers and actor's strike. You had written and talked about how when you were young
you had to scratch out a living and, you know, you earned your paycheck, and it wasn't easy. A lot of these writers and actors are in the same
position, and so they went on strike and they're worried about A.I.
Did you support the strike and --
HANKS: Oh, yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: And what do you think is the actual result of the resolution? Will that save them from the A.I. threat?
HANKS: I think that we -- I think there is a great river. There is a Rubicon that we are still crossing, and I don't think we are quite in
Greece yet -- excuse me, in Rome yet. Greece. That tells me --
AMANPOUR: Wherever we are.
HANKS: -- where I go on vacation, doesn't it? And on the other side of there is going to be a landscape that is certainly scientific and artistic.
And A.I. is a tool that can be used for nefarious reasons, and it can also be used in order to make things possible that haven't been possible.
The economics of it, the business of it that's coming down, I think that is the area that we are in still a very unfamiliar landscape. Between
everything that's happened with the lockdown, certainly with the economics of streaming, we're not quite sure what works yet.
If great stories that truly do reach people come out of whatever tools you're going to use in order to tell a story, deepfake technology, A.I. in
order to buttress up the research is after, that's one thing. But in order to use it to make things cheaper, faster, less interesting, quicker,
whatever it is, well, then I don't know if I want to live in that Rome.
But it's going to be -- it has not been decided. We are still in a very malleable circumstance right now when it comes down to the art and science
and industry of telling stories.
AMANPOUR: And you have to be -- you had to go out and denounce an ad that was used by A.I. claiming to be you.
AMANPOUR: -- for a dental product.
HANKS: That was phishing for information. They just wanted somebody to do it. And that was about as primitive as you're going to get. But here's the
thing that has been proven ever since they put sprockets onto celluloid. Movies can lie to you. And you might enjoy being lied to and believe
But also, movies can tell you a type of truth that is undeniable, both, you know, empirically and also emotionally. And A.I. along with the close up,
along with special effects shots, along with anything is going to be some other tool that is going to be used by someone who is going to try to
either curry your favor and use it to their advantage or move forward the art form of cinema.
AMANPOUR: Tom Hanks, Christopher Riley, thank you both very much indeed.
HANKS: There you go. How about this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And "Moonwalkers" is open now to the public here at the Lightroom in the U.K. This is a stunning, immersive experience.
Now, he made history as the first U.S. president to be criminally indicted, but the charges against Donald Trump aren't unprecedented. Our next guest
argues that the failed conviction of a former American leader over 150 years ago could hold lessons for the trials awaiting Trump.
Staff writer at "The New Yorker," Jill Lepore, joins Michel Martin to discuss her latest article, "What happened when the U.S. failed to
prosecute an insurrectionist ex-president."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Jill Lepore, thanks so much for talking with us.
JILL LEPORE, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: Your recent piece for "The New Yorker," which is out now, outlines the trial of Jefferson Davis, the president of a Confederacy. It's a very
detailed and complicated story, which I think a lot of people -- even people who are kind of Civil War buffs, probably don't remember. So, the
first question I have for you is, what made you take a look at it?
LEPORE: It's really an overlooked moment in the history of the Civil War because the trial never took place. Davis, the president of the
Confederacy, the commander-in-chief of the Confederate Army was arrested soon after the war ended in May of 1865.
People thought he would be brought to trial for treason and war crimes right away, and that that would set the stage for a whole chain of events
that many other Confederate generals and leaders would it be put on trial as well. His was to be the test case.
And there was a whole concatenation of reasons why the trial never came off. It sorts of stretched on for four years before the thing finally
resolved. And I think therefore, Civil War historians kind of set it aside as an irrelevancy. It assumes a new kind of resonance and relevance in this
moment today because of the upcoming criminal trials of Donald Trump, right?
So, Davis was not president of the United States. He's president of the Confederacy, but really the only ex-president to be indicted in the United
MARTIN: The resonance of it, did that immediately jump out to you?
LEPORE: Yes. So, I am working on a book about the history of failed attempts to amend the constitution. So, I was looking at the Civil War and
Reconstruction, and there are all these efforts to -- proposed amendments to narrow the definition of treason, to make forming an armed insurrection
to overthrow the U.S. government, unconstitutional, like, weird things, and I thought, why was this really necessary? And it all pointed to the attempt
to successfully prosecute Davis.
And the resonance really jumped out for me, mostly because we're having this big constitutional argument in the United States today about Section 3
of the 14th Amendment, the so-called disqualification clause which provides it -- people who were -- took an oath to the constitution, but then engaged
in insurrection against the United States were automatically ineligible for federal office, it was really written for Jefferson Davis.
So, because that provision is being used now, or people are trying to use it to challenge Trump's place on the ballot in states across the country,
it seemed kind of urgent to me to, well, what actually happened to Jefferson Davis?
MARTIN: One of the things that was really striking was that there were several reasons why the trial never took place. And some of those were sort
of philosophical, some of those were constitutional and some of those were tactical, perhaps the most important one was the question of what is
treason? You know, what is the definition of treason? So, will you talk about that?
LEPORE: Yes. So, treason, you know, is defined in the constitution, and again, in an 1862 law. Treason is levying war against the United States or
providing aid and comfort to its enemies. And so, it seemed, you know, the one news person, like, if we can't convict this guy of treason, like, what
is the definition of treason, right? It seems sort of obvious that this was the right charge.
What was tricky about it, politically, was that Davis was going to argue, or it was anticipated, and his legal counsel suggested as much, that he
couldn't possibly have committed treason against the United States because when Mississippi seceded, he was in the U.S. Senate from Mississippi.
When Mississippi seceded in 1861, he forfeited his U.S. citizenship. And so, during the whole of the Civil War, when he was commander in chief of
the Confederate Army and president of the Confederacy, he was not a U.S. citizen. You can't commit treason against a foreign country. And so,
therefore, the charge made no sense.
Whether that would have been a successful defense is one question. But from the U.S. government's point of view, it would be a bad piece of political
work to give him the opportunity to make that case, because essentially, he would be arguing that seceding from the union had been constitutional,
which was really one of the things the Civil War was fought over was whether states have a right to simply secede. And he would have been able
to use the opportunity of his trial.
In fact, he did not want to be pardoned. He wanted to have the public stage to argue that he -- that the secession had been constitutional. In much the
same way you might say Trump is delighted to have the opportunity to argue that he won the 2020 election, that in some ways, these upcoming trials
give him an opportunity to use a courtroom as a campaign platform.
MARTIN: The trial never actually happened, but a trial date was set. And here's another thing that -- another remarkable thing that I'm not sure a
lot of people would know is that black men were actually seated as jurors, waiting to -- you know, for this trial to proceed, which it didn't. Set the
scene for us, first of all, and tell us why you think that's so important.
LEPORE: Yes. I do think this is the one overlooked explanation for why the trial never took place. I think the constitutional argument is compelling
and surely played a very, very important role. But black men were pretty much uniformly denied the right to serve on juries. There are exceptions
here and there with dire consequences.
So, you know, there was this recent study that in Texas in 500 trials of white men accused of killing black men, tried before all white juries,
every single one of those accused was found not guilty, right? So, just the absence of black men on trial juries -- of enormous source of inequality.
MARTIN: Wait, wait, wait. You're saying in one state alone? One state alone, that there were 500 trials where white men were accused of killing
black men, black people?
MARTIN: And none of them --
LEPORE: In 1865 and 1866. So, the trial was supposed to take place in Virginia -- in Richmond, Virginia, which had been the capital of the
Confederacy. White men are not really eligible to serve on juries in Richmond, Virginia. They've been disqualified for their participation in
the rebellion against the United States.
The judge in the case in Virginia, a guy named John Underwood, was a radical Republican, had been an abolitionist, was really committed to equal
rights. Congress had endorsed the idea that black men should be able to serve on juries. This was part of the debate over the 14th and 15th
Amendment and, you know, assuring -- guaranteeing equal rights regardless of race. Underwood said, I'm going to put -- he appointed black men to the
grand jury conducting the investigation. It was a mixed-race jury.
And he pledged that the trial jury would also be a mixture of black and white men. It was such an extraordinary thing and such a novelty. There's
actually a beautiful photograph taken of the 24 men and paneled to be the jury pool, 12 black men and 12 white men, the jury that would have tried
So, when you look at the correspondence between Davis' lawyers and Davis and Davis' wife or in the prosecution, there's an enormous amount of
anxiety about the idea that a jury that it will be half composed of black men could convict a white man to death, to be hanged that -- so, there's
this just, whoa.
So, it would be good to prosecute this guy for treason. On the other hand, we'll have another war in our hands if we do. There's tremendous anxiety
about the risk of political violence of actually conducting the prosecution and very little concern for the risk of the failure to prosecute him, like
what would that mean over the course of American history for the leader of the Confederate Army go away unscathed.
MARTIN: Davis had been arrested. I mean, the fact is he had been arrested. He had been in a military prison. He was presented for trial. So, how come
the trial didn't go forward?
LEPORE: So, there's a lot of hesitancy about giving him a platform to make the argument for the constitutionality of secession. There's the problem
that the chief justice of the Supreme Court would have to sit at the trial itself, and he planned to run for president, in fact, did run for president
in 1868. He needed white democratic voters. He didn't want to sit at this trial.
So, he -- in fact, once the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, he conferred with the defense attorney for Davis and said, I have an idea.
Here's how you can get these charges dismissed. Say that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which has just been ratified, actually penalizes him
because it prevents him from holding federal office again, and to try him for treason would amount in a kind of flimsy way to double jeopardy.
MARTIN: That was exactly the argument that the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, made in saying why he wasn't going to vote against -- vote
for impeachment for Donald Trump. He said, well, because he's going to go to a criminal trial.
LEPORE: Yes. And there too, as with the chief justice who gave the suggestion to the defense, McConnell was looking out for his own narrow
political interests and not thinking about what would justice mean, how would the country right itself after this tremendous dislocation, 700,000
people died in the Civil War. The president of the Confederacy would never be held to account. Partly through the course of ambition the part of
So, that -- in a formal sense, the way he got off was by his defense, entering this motion regarding Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
Ultimately, the government just dropped the case. They decided not to pursue the case. And then Andrew Johnson issued a pardon. And there's all
this movement by 1870 or so for amnesty for anyone involved in the Confederacy, the country sort of just deciding, we need to move on.
MARTIN: Let's fast forward to the current day. And what is it about this whole episode that strikes you as relevant to the current moment? And
frankly, why you're so concerned about it?
LEPORE: The Trump defense team in the Washington, D.C. felony case regarding efforts to overturn the election filed a motion saying, all the
charges against Trump in this case should be dismissed because he enjoys presidential immunity.
And the judge, Judge Chutkan in this case, just issued a ruling just last week in which she dismissed the motion saying, just because no president
has actually been criminally convicted, it doesn't mean it's unconstitutional to do it. That doesn't constitute a precedent, right?
But one of the things that's important about not setting aside the attempt to prosecute Jefferson Davis is -- you know, I will say just personally,
I'm a very conflict diverse person. I could see, after the Civil War, thinking, you know, if we prosecute this guy, it's just going to be a mess,
right? The country is going to be up in arms about it. Half the country is going to think he's not guilty, that it was a political prosecution.
Meanwhile, Andrew Johnson, the president, is subject to an impeachment.
You know, there's just going to be -- we've been through so much suffering. The war was brutal. You know, we're trying to reconstruct the country.
Let's just let this go and move past it. You see a little bit of that, you know, in the -- in just how the country has metabolized the insurrection of
January 6th, which, you know, we're coming up on the three-year anniversary of.
You just think about, you know, Republican members of Congress, day of, were outraged. You know, two weeks later, you know, there was just a
tourism gone a little awry, you know. There's narrow political motivations on the part of, I think, people have quite questionable ethics. But then
there's also the country's desire to just move past it. I mean, this is one of the reasons people don't want either Trump or Biden to run. People want
to put this moment in American political history behind us.
And somehow, I think that diminishes the resolution to try Trump in these many cases, people who value civic peace, it has to be done. It has to be
done. And you see with Davis that it was really one of the first acts of abandoning the project of reconstruction and its promise for a fully
multiracial democracy. This tremendous experiment that was hugely important. The project of fully guaranteeing equal rights for Americans,
regardless of race.
Part of the abandonment of that was saying, let's just let Jeff Davis go, is kind of the first move of like, well, let's let the 14th -- let's
pretend we didn't really ever actually ratify that. We won't have -- we won't honor it as a Supreme Court. We won't guarantee equal rights. We
won't fight against lynching. We won't suppress the clan. We won't -- you know, all the things that unraveled that made it possible for
reconstruction to be replaced by Jim Crow instead of by what reconstruction was meant to be, I think we have to pay attention to what it meant to say
Jeff Davis can get off scot-free.
What would it mean to say for Trump to not have been indicted? What would it mean for Congress to not have attempted to impeach him? Who knows what a
jury will make of these charges?
Surely, we do know this. It will be a mess. It will be a political -- like, it will be painful. It will be anguished. Americans will be divided about
it. It still has to be done.
MARTIN: You ask in the piece, can Donald Trump get a fair trial? Is trying Trump the best thing for the nation? Is the possibility of acquittal worth
the risk? Every trial on charges related to the insurrection gives him a stage for making the case that he won the 2020 election, any acquittal will
be taken as vindication and his supporters will question the legitimacy of any conviction. But you also say that failure to try him is an affront not
only to democracy, but to decency.
Now, those are very strong words. Like, why do you say that?
LEPORE: I say that as someone who would really rather these trials never take place. You know, when Trump was in office -- I remember "The
Washington Post" did a forum about whether Trump should be tried after he leaves office. And I wrote an opinion essay saying, you know, no, like it
is a tradition that we are blessed to live in a country where we don't prosecute and send to prison political leaders when a new party takes
office. That's not the American tradition. We have a very different -- we accept the outcome of elections and we move on.
And for whatever Trump had done in office, you know, it would be the best thing for the country to move on. This was before the insurrection, before
the documents, the classified documents travesty. And, you know, I've absolutely come to see it is essential -- as much as it appears to defy all
precedent, it is essential to the rule of law. And it's not a trivial matter to bring criminal charges against the president, but more is it a
trivial matter to attempts to overthrow the results of a democratic election.
And there has to be an attempted reckoning with it. The process has to proceed, because without it, you're left with the kind of failure to reckon
with the Confederacy essentially. It's a redo of that moment. It's very different scale, different political moments, but there was a cost to not
holding the leaders of the Confederacy accountable for undertaking a regime to defend the institution of slavery. There was a cost and it was not borne
equally, nor will the failure.
If Trump manages to delay and delay and delay these trials, gets re-elected and pardons himself, there will be a tremendous cost in the United States,
and it will not be borne equally.
MARTIN: Here's what I have to ask, though. If you shared his politics, do you think you'd have a different view of it?
LEPORE: Yes. So, I don't think that his policy agenda is on trial at any of these criminal trials. Whatever my own political positions are, are
irrelevant here. What the act of convincing Trump supporters about the legitimacy of the trials has to be, you know, he can win. Like, it's a
trial. It's not -- there's not a secret cabal of people that choose how these things will proceed.
That at the end of the day, if you don't have faith in trial by jury, what is there left in the world that we share that you trust to arbitrate truth?
That is the one institution that Americans still have a tremendous amount of faith in. That's my case there.
I do think it's essential that the prosecution be above and beyond fair, that there be no, like, by any means necessary we prosecute this guy. I
mean, I think there's different quality to the indictments in the different jurisdictions where Trump has been indicted. I think the D.C. case is
really, really important. But I don't think -- for a second, as someone who is interested in seeing the prosecution proceed ever cut a corner.
And I do think the degree to which in many realms in American life and politics and culture our standards have shifted to adjust for Trumpism,
that has always been an error. I think the right thing, this steering the ship straight is to say, we have no choice. This is probably going to get
him re-elected. We got to indict him anyway.
MARTIN: Jill Lepore, thanks so much for talking with us today.
LEPORE: Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Challenges ahead.
And finally, after a year that redefined the meaning of stardom, Taylor Swift has been named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: It's me. Hi. I'm the problem, it's me. And tea time, everybody agrees. I'll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.
It must be exhausting always rooting for the antihero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But unlike her song, "Anti-Hero" suggests, Time Magazine chose Swift for being the hero of her own story. Between her multimillion-dollar
Eras tour breaking the box office with her concert film and three number one albums, securing her name in history as the artist who took on the
music industry to own her own work. And she won.
That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, on our website and all across social media. Thank you for watching and goodbye