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Interview With Israeli Defense Intelligence Former Head And ELNET Forum Of Strategic Dialogue Chair Major General Amos Yadlin (Retired); Interview With INARA President And Founder Arwa Damon; Interview With "Say More" Author And Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki; Interview With "We Are Home" Author Ray Suarez. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 13, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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

The United States warns Israel that pushing further into Rafah would lead to anarchy. As Biden suspends some heavy weapons, retired Israeli General

Amos Yadlin joins me.

Then --


ARWA DAMON, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, INARA: One of those situations where people can't hope because everything and so much has been taken from them.


AMANPOUR: -- award-winning reporter Arwa Damon on the psychological obliteration facing Palestinians in Gaza and how her charity INARA is

trying to help.

Also, ahead, the prosecution calls its star witness in the criminal trial against Donald Trump. A new poll puts President Biden in the hot seat. We

get the insider take on communications and politics with Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Plus --


RAY SUAREZ, AUTHOR, "WE ARE HOME": And I think some of the ugliness about denying the possibility of humanity to people from other places is getting

us off track.


AMANPOUR: Becoming American in the 21st century, veteran broadcaster Ray Suarez talks to Michel Martin about his new book, "We Are Home: The History

of U.S. immigration."

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

In Israel, it's Memorial Day, more solemn this year in the shadow of October 7th, when more than 1,200 people were killed and hundreds were

taken hostage by Hamas. But also, a more divisive time than usual, as government ministers find themselves booed and heckled over their war in


Now, in its eighth month, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed. There's no ceasefire or any hostage deal in sight. Many now are asking what

the Israeli government plan is. Does it have one? So far, some areas, the IDF says it's cleared in Gaza are being reoccupied by Hamas fighters. As

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says, a full on Rafah offensive would lead to even more anarchy and chaos in the enclave. Analysts say

Israel is losing allies and risking becoming a pariah state.

MAJOR GENERAL AMOS YADLIN (RET.), FORMER HEAD, ISRAELI DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE: is the former chief of the Israeli military intelligence, and

he joins me now from Tel Aviv. Major General, welcome back to the program. So, you know, I made a whole lot of statements there. It is Memorial Day,

and it's one of the most solemn that you've had in a long, long, long time. And I wonder whether you think that all the loss that you've experienced

since October 7th is being rightfully and efficiently, I'm going to say avenged or even justified in these last seven months.

MAJ. GEN. AMOS YADLIN: No way that -- no doubt that the goals and the objectives of the war were fully justified. Israel was attacked by a terror

organization that killed and burned and raped hundreds of its civilians in the Western Negev, and this is a kind of pogrom that was never done since

the Holocaust. And Israel decided that it will never happen again. And Israel will destroy Hamas and will bring back the hostages.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, on that point --

YADLIN: On the justification of the operation, there is no doubt. There is a question, Christiane, on whether it is going well, whether these seven

months by now, war is achieving the goals. And here, we can say, amid judgment, that the achievement of the goals of the war are not up to the



We have to, by the way, to compare it to wars and conflicts that you know very well. 20 years in Afghanistan, seven-year in Iraq, even to a World War

II, it was not matter of months, it was a matter of years. And when you go to an asymmetrical war, when the terror organization is embedded between

the civilians and shield by civilians it is very difficult to achieve a decisive victory as the prime minister put forward.

So, the question is what you are doing now to make the objectives of Israel updated after seven months. And I have my own suggestions because I think

that the absolute victory is not any more realistic goal. Israel should declare victory by the fact that Hamas military force cannot do the 7th of

October again. So, the never again goal was achieved.

Now, we have to bring back home the hostages. This elderly, this woman, that are suffering from unbelievable condition in the tunnels in Gaza, must

be -- bring back home. Then we can have a ceasefire in the south, ceasefire in the north, and look at the big picture of the Middle East trying to

normalize relation with the Saudis and to make the coalition that stop the Iranian attack on Israel, the barrage of hundreds of missiles. This was a

very effective coalition against Iran, other malignant activities, and at the top of them, the nuclear bomb.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then, Major General, you know, you've just talked about how that coalition, you know, was successful and that how

Israel sort of regained some standing in the International Community after that, which it had been losing, as you know very well, and it now continues

to lose again. And I wonder what you think then of analysts.

I mean, even Americans who are very concerned that Israel, by its actions in Gaza, which you've already said the goals are not being reached, is

making itself into a pariah and isolated state. Do -- you can -- are you concerned about that, almost eight months into this war?

YADLIN: Of course, I concern. However, we have to compare and to ask ourselves what the alternative we cannot declare victory and go home as the

Americans have done from Vietnam, having the Pacific Ocean between Vietnam and America and declare victory or declare even a defeat in Afghanistan and

going home.

We have this terror organization, jihadist Nazi organization that want to destroy Israel and demonstrated it very well on the 7th of October. So, we

have to find a way how to continue and deal with this Hamas government in Gaza.


YADLIN: And in this respect, I do think that we don't want to control Gaza. We don't want Hamas to control Gaza. Unfortunately, the Palestinian

Authority is weak, corrupt, and not legitimate in the eye of the Palestinian people. But we have to find a configuration based on

Palestinian technocrats, based on Arab mentorship, Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, that will turn Gaza into Abu Dhabi, Singapore, some kind of a

different area than it is today, a terror state.

AMANPOUR: So, do you think, then, that your government, the current government, which is prosecuting this war, agrees with what you said, that

there has to be some kind of overarching political solution to achieve what you've just said? Because these countries who you're talking about, they

say that they are not interested unless there is a proper political solution that talks about a Palestinian State and self-determination and

all the other things that go with it, security for Israel and all the rest of it? But there seems to be no word that your government is planning on

doing that. In fact, quite the opposite.

YADLIN: You're absolutely right. I'm still with me -- with my government on the goals of the operation, to destroy Hamas and to bring back the

hostages. However, I'm not with my government on the fact that they don't understand that if you have a military campaign, you have to accomplish it

with a political campaign.


And the political campaign is calling for, as I said, revised Palestinian Authority with Arabs, and the Arabs must have a skin in the game. They

cannot only observe. If they want to solve the Palestinian Israeli issue, or at least to advance it towards the goal of solving the conflict, they

have to come and help. And what is happening today, that they are observing. And Israel and Hamas are playing the game.

So, if my government was smarter, they would call for a political horizon. Israel will insist, in this case, after the lessons of the 7th of October,

on security, demilitarized Palestinian entity, but also changing of the culture, culture of hatred, culture of incitement, culture of paying

terrorists, all this should be put as a precondition or a performance-based advancement into a political solution.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you something because, again, you were talking about the goals, the goal -- I mean, obviously, the main goal for your people is

to get their hostages back, and that has not happened, no ceasefire, no remaining -- you know, the remaining more than 100 are still, as you said,

living that terrible life wherever they're being held.

But in the meantime, we're witnessing from abroad, anyway, what looks to be like whack-a-mole, you know, you go to -- whether it's al-Shifa or Jabalia

or the north or whatever, declare some kind of victory, leave, and up pops Hamas again, filling a vacuum.

The U.S. Secretary of State Blinken has said, Israel is on the trajectory, potentially, to inherit an insurgency with many armed Hamas left, or if it

leaves a vacuum filled by chaos, filled by anarchy, and probably refilled by Hamas.

So, what would you advise your government as a better military operation, better strategy here, tactics?

YADLIN: Yes, I'm saying, first of all, bring back the hostages. We are a sovereign country. If Hamas will go back to build its military force, we

know how to deal with it. And in a way, the fact that in the West Bank, there is a Palestinian Authority, but security is delegated to Israel

because we cannot have terror 12 miles from Tel Aviv. And this model should be developed in Gaza whenever Hamas is gone.

You're absolutely right, the Hamas is not gone yet. And Blinken saying that Hamas -- pointing that Hamas is coming back, on the other hand, is unhappy

with Israel continue the war. And also saying that Israel gave a very painful and generous parameters for a hostages deal and Hamas rejected it.

So, they left no other choice but going back to these areas, because we don't want to occupy Gaza, but we don't want Hamas to be there. And as I

said, in Afghanistan, it took 20 years, and you haven't achieved the goal. In Mosul and Raqqa, it took nine months or 12 months, and you achieved the


So, if you fight a terror organization that use the population as a human shield and doesn't care about what happened to 2 million Gazans. 2 million

Gazans are not in their home. 2 million Gazans are moving from place to place and Sinwar doesn't care. So, why put the onus on Israel?

AMANPOUR: Well, Major General --

YADLIN: This other that refuse --

AMANPOUR: Major General, to be fair, you know, Sinwar, we know the kind of person he is, and I'm asking you, from -- as a democratic state, with rules

of engagement, whether you think it's OK for Israel, by its own, you know, calculations, has at least a two to one ratio of killing civilians versus


And right now, you've got a potential full-scale invasion. And all of this is creating real hatred, more hatred for Israel and for the United States.

The U.S. president has even suspended 2,000-pound bombs because he doesn't want them used again on civilians. This is a really big problem, isn't it,

for you?

Isn't there a way to go after the terrorists without killing the civilians? And let's not just talk about human shields again. Is there a targeted way

of doing it?


YADLIN: Israel is fighting according to the international law. The ratio is not one to two. The United Nations Office of Cooperation Humanitarian came

with the numbers, which is one to one. It's better than the American numbers in Mosul and Raqqa. It's better than the American numbers in

Afghanistan. And I'm not mentioning you Tokyo or Dresden.

So, it is difficult. But Israel is doing all it can to minimize the fact that innocent civilians are attacked. We never attack innocent civilians.

We never burn them. We never rape them. We never kill children in front of their kids, as Hamas have done. So, we try to minimize it as much as we

can, but it's not easy because this is exactly Hamas kind of behavior.

The embargo on the 2,000-pound bombs is a huge mistake. Because Israel is not using them now in Gaza. We do need them against Hezbollah, against

Iran. The U.S. interests are, in a way, a counterproductive here. They are not advancing them. If they don't want a regional war, why to encourage

Hezbollah and Iran by telling them that Israel have no munition?

In a way, they even encourage Sinwar, say, OK, the Americans and the Israelis are now fighting each other. This is good for Sinwar from

strategic point of view. So, I think this is a huge mistake. And the Americans, in a way, disturbs their own objective. And the Middle East is

looking. The people in the other allies' countries of America are asking themselves, is that the way that America is using its ally? It's not a good

idea and I hope it will not happen.

AMANPOUR: Major General Amos Yadlin, thanks for joining us from Tel Aviv.

And now, we're going to turn for more on the humanitarian disaster within Gaza to Arwa Damon, our former CNN colleague who's reported on war and

crisis for years. Now, she's the founder and president of the charity INARA, and she's recently visited Gaza where INARA has been helping set up

medical stations and shelters. And you're here with us in the studio.

Let me ask you, because the general said something interesting, well, it's cold, but you've reported on it, and that is the ratio and the length of

time it took to eliminate ISIS from Mosul. You covered that.

DAMON: I did. And if we want to look at this purely from a number's perspective, the offensive in Mosul against ISIS, which lasted about 18

months, killed at the top sort of estimate of civilian casualties around 18,000, 20,000. So, Israel has by far surpassed that. And that was a very

heavily densely populated civilian area.

But then also this whole sort of comparison of combatant to civilian, it's a very skewed way of looking at the numbers because it's not necessarily

about the overall death toll, it's about death per strike. It's about all of those strikes that Israel has launched using these massive 1,000, 2,000-

pound bombs that have leveled entire blocks, entire neighborhoods to go after one or two fighters.

And so, you have a number of well documented isolated incidents where, you know, dozens of civilians have been killed and some upwards of a hundred

to, what, go after one or two low level fighters?

AMANPOUR: So, let's talk about what you went in to do and I'll ask you a little bit more about the geopolitics in a moment. But you went in right

after the strike on the World Central Kitchen, which Israel admits was a terrible mistake, and there should be some investigations into it. There

were a number of people killed, Palestinians and internationals.

I mean, it happened just before you went in, right? What gave you the courage to actually go in as a humanitarian a few days later?

DAMON: The same thing that drove you to the many war zones that you've been to and that kind of drives us to go to these places because there's this

recognition that you kind of need to do something in terms of what's --

AMANPOUR: But in this case, you're doing humanitarian work rather than eyewitness work.

DAMON: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Or in addition to.

DAMON: But there's also this -- even within the humanitarian space, you still need a level of understanding to be able to best provide. So, the way

that we operate, the way that INARA operates, is our teams are all obviously Gazan. This is them. It's their people. They're the ones that are

kind of deciding what the program needs to be, what we need to deliver, and how it needs to be delivered, but there is always that added value of being

in there so that we can figure out how to best provide them.

And so, we can better understand, like, how is it so difficult to move aid around? What does densely populated really mean in this context? And how do

we navigate that as humanitarians?


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you something? Amos Yadlin was interesting, he said, Israel is fighting this according to the laws of war. But one of them is to

get civilians out of the way. And the secretary of state himself, Tony Blinken, has said that there seems to be, as yet they haven't received, any

credible plan to move civilians out of the way in case of a full-scale invasion of Rafah.

DAMON: There has never been, to date, a single level of coordination between the Israeli government, the IDF, and humanitarian organizations.

So, if you're hearing the Israelis, telling civilians to move somewhere and that there is going to be shelter and proper humanitarian assistance and

medical assistance waiting for them, that is not true.

AMANPOUR: And what did you find when you went in there? Was there any in the places you went to? And you were in that area, right?

DAMON: I was in Mawassi.

AMANPOUR: In the Rafah area. Yes.

DAMON: I was in -- I was across --

AMANPOUR: Which is where they're telling them to go now.

DAMON: Exactly. I was --

AMANPOUR: Which is a seaside area.

DAMON: And Mawassi was never a proper humanitarian zone. It is sand dunes. It is -- there's nothing there. There's nothing there. There isn't even

enough solid ground underneath you to be able to properly set something up. There is zero sanitation. There is zero access to clean water. There's very

little humanitarian assistance. It's complete and total chaos. And there's like a handful of medical points that are there, but it's not a

humanitarian zone.

And to tell people to go there because it's a humanitarian zone that's been expanded, it's just -- it's an extra level of unnecessary cool (ph).

AMANPOUR: And we're hearing that from people who are trying to flee. But I want to ask you about what you witnessed also, because you were very -- I

think you're focusing a lot on the children, and particularly on mental health.

And you wrote in an op ed for CNN, essentially, everybody appears to be a zombie on the brink of insanity. Here's what you wrote, "The constant

bombardment is a dagger plunged repeatedly into the gaping wound of a crushed psyche. The soundtrack of every night and day is the relentless

buzz of drones that taunts, oh, you think you've survived? Just wait, death can still come."

So, how did that show up in the children or the parents who you spoke to?

DAMON: You see it in their face, people's eyes are dead, that spark isn't there. Movements are very lethargic, they're very mechanical. And the

children and the activities that we do, it all centers really around place. We are trying to kind of coax that back a little bit, but then you also see

it in people's tone of voice.

There was this one mother I met, and she comes up and she says, listen, I don't know what to do about my seven-year-old son because he's screaming

every night, he's rocking back and forth. And he's been this way ever since he saw his sister decapitated. Her head was blown off by a bomb. And what

she was saying was horrific. But what was even more jarring was the fact that she was there. She saw this happen to her daughter, and she delivered

the story in a monotone. And that's when you realize that she has had to shove all this pain down so deep, that she can't even let emotion crack

through, because if she does, she's going to shatter into a million pieces. And so many people there have had to do that, they've had to shove this all


AMANPOUR: But the little children don't know how to do that, so it manifests?

DAMON: No, they don't. And so, it manifests in anger, it manifests in bedwetting, it manifests, you know, an inability to sleep, an inability to

focus. And add to all of that, you also have the reality that, you know, as a child, when we're scared, we go to our parents. Parents can't protect

their children anymore. And the children know this. Parents don't bother telling their children, you're going to be OK anymore, or we're going to be


AMANPOUR: So, what can you do in the limited time, in the limited space, the limited number of people you can reach, you know, to try to help these

children? I mean, there's a little play, a little -- how do you get them to have a little break from this?

DAMON: I mean, so when we're talking about emergency mental health intervention in this context when the trauma is still ongoing and when the

triggers are still ongoing, you can't go too deep you can't rip open a wound if it can be retriggered even deeper, if you're not there to be able

to sort of, you know, help a child close it again, and the same goes for adults.

So, it is very much about creating a distraction through play. But also, play is how children express themselves. They don't have vocabulary. They

use play. But it's still very, very surface. And the thing is, Christiane, you do feel like what you're doing is small.

AMANPOUR: And I think we're looking at some pictures here that you have sent us from your trip. I mean, what should we know about these people?

DAMON: Those are -- that is actually Mawassi that you're looking at. And this is Mawassi before it had even more people arrive to it. And, you know,

you walk through there and you're just surrounded by parents who are throwing their kids at, you know, as you can see, because they're

malnourished, they're limp, they're listless, they don't have their epilepsy medicine. They have, you know, basic things sometimes like, you

know, fungal rash or diaper rash or whatever that can be treated, but then everyone has, you know, a fever. Everyone needs food. Everyone needs

everything. I mean, it is suffocating the need that actually exists there.


and you have to keep reminding yourself

And you have to keep reminding yourself of, just because I can't create massive change for large numbers, that doesn't take away from what I'm able

to do for smaller numbers. And you have to kind of re-shift your focus and recognize the magnitude of the problem, but the little piece that you can

still do for it.

AMANPOUR: And did you have to re-shift your focus from being a, you know, war correspondent to being a humanitarian? How did it feel?

DAMON: It's been interesting. You know, it's very different I think specifically in the Gaza context. What I wasn't expecting was that sort of

same level of anxiety going into a danger zone as a humanitarian, as I felt as a journalist, but you do very much feel as if, you know, you're still

being targeted.

But a lot of it also goes back to, you know, even in the humanitarian space, we're still trying to figure out what's happening. We're still

trying to problem solve, even though in -- you know, in Gaza, it's impossible because the goalposts aren't just shifting all the time. They

don't exist.

And you're also still trying to get that, you know, deeper understanding of what it is that the people need and what the emotional context is so that

you're able to best serve it.

AMANPOUR: And treat them as people.

DAMON: Yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Arwa Damon, thank you very much.

DAMON: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, in America, the former president, Donald Trump, was back in the courtroom today to hear his then fixer, Michael Cohen, testify about

the hush money payment at the heart of the criminal case against him. On the stand, Cohen said that he sometimes lied for Trump.

Over the weekend, the former president hit the campaign trail in New Jersey, and at one point spun off into this strange statement.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Has anyone ever seen the "Silence of the Lamb"? The late great Hannibal Lecter. He's a wonderful man. He

oftentimes would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? Excuse me, I'm about to have a friend for dinner. Poor doctor. I'm about to have a

friend for dinner. But Hannibal Lecter. Congratulations. The late great Hannibal Lecter.

We have people that are being released into our country that we don't want in our country. And they're coming in totally unchecked, totally unvetted.

And we can't let this happen.


AMANPOUR: So, that is all incredibly hard to decipher. Just to be clear, Trump was super confused it seemed. Firstly, Hannibal is a fictional

character, and secondly, the actor who played him, Anthony Hopkins, is still very much alive.

But a new poll shows Trump leading President Biden in four key swing states after months of Biden campaigning. So, what's going on? Is this a

communication snafu for a president whose passed more legislation and been more successful than most in his first term, or is it something else? Jen

Psaki was President Biden's first press secretary when he entered the White House in 2020. And she's opening up about it all in her new book, "Say

more." And she's joining me now from Washington, D.C.

Jen Psaki, welcome to the program.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Yes, so what is "Say More"? Who should be saying more? We think the -- you know, the people you serve should be saying more.

PSAKI: Of course, that is your role as a journalist. You know, "Say More" is about how to speak more with impact. It's not about saying more words,

it's not even about saying it louder. It's about how to have impact with what you convey, not just from a podium, everybody won't do that, from

private conversations you have with family, with friends, even in meetings if you work in companies that have nothing to do with government or

politics or media.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you that because, you know, in your book and in some of the interviews since it's published you basically talk about the

messaging of the two people we're talking about, the Former President Trump. And others, and yourself, talk about President Biden.

So, you talk about President Trump beyond the legal, you know, woes that he's had. You say, what's effective about his message, which I think is

dangerous, is that it's simple and consistent. The simplicity of it, the emotional connection, as dangerous and damaging as it is, is, I think, what

is effective.

So, I've stated what you think. Why is it that the other side, your side, hasn't yet figured out, since 2016, an alternative strong, simple message?

PSAKI: Well, I think the other part about Trump's message that's effective, Christiane, is that it's appealing to many Americans who feel aggrieved,

who feel let down. And that is something -- you know, Trump campaigns and he appears -- behaves in the courtroom as the victim, and that is endearing

to people out there, as dangerous as I said, and I believe that rhetoric is.


I think a challenge is a couple of challenges for the Biden communications team right now. One of them is having your opponent sitting in a courtroom,

blocks out a lot of the coverage in the United States. It's hard to break through with your message. That is one.

The second is, there are so many things to decide to run against. Do you run against his legal woes? Do you run against policy issues? Do you run

against him as a character? And there hasn't really been a landing on which one is right.

The third piece, which I think they could do more of here, and to go back to your original question, is really the contrast. They've done some of

this. They went -- they -- the Biden team and President Biden did an event in Wisconsin last week, a place where Former President Trump had promised

to bring back jobs that didn't happen, that's a direct contrast. That is a kind of way to break through and also show the American public what

alternative you're presenting, but there needs to be more contrast. And that is kind of the key thing in any campaign and certainly a year like

this year.

AMANPOUR: So, look, you know, president Biden gave what most people said was a -- you know, a kicking State of the Union Address. He gave a very You

know, lively and funny White House Correspondents' Dinner speech. And yet, in an interview that I listened to on "The New York Times" podcast,

Charlamagne tha God, an influential, as you know, black media personality who has a lot to say about the current election, says the Democratic

messaging in this campaign "sucks," the language of politics is dead, and of course, he is not the only one saying that.

So, again, if everything, and most of it is, you know, campaigning is about appealing to the heart and the mind and the gut and everything.


AMANPOUR: What would you advise, as a former press secretary and a master communicator yourself, this campaign to be doing now? Because I'm saying

this as we see this latest set of polls which suggest that President Trump has an advantage in some key states right now.

PSAKI: Yes, look, I think communicating is about appealing to people's emotions, pulling at their heartstrings. It's not about data points, and

sometimes there's a little too much reliance on that by a range of Democrats, including the White House. It's not about accomplishments,

necessarily. Nobody in the country wants to kind of look through a five- page accomplishment fact sheet about the IRA, right. They want to know how things are going to impact them.

This reminds me, even though the economy and the economic data is actually significantly better now than it was in 2012, but I worked for President

Obama when he ran for re-election. This period, you remember well, I'm sure the economy was still recovering. And the argument that President Obama

made at the time was that, I'm going to be the one fighting for you, and if you give me another four years, I'll continue to make it better.

And that needs to be center in this. It's not about accomplishments. It's not about data even. It's about pulling on the heartstrings of people and

reminding them that you're the guy fighting for them, and the other guy won't. So, that's the piece I think it needs to move more towards.

AMANPOUR: So, you brought up President Obama, and of course, you work for him as well. So, I want you to react to this. You know, I think that during

his second election campaign and particularly, you know, I think there was a pretty mediocre first debate performance and, you know, suddenly,

everybody just got -- you know, got ahold of the matter and the whole thing got rebooted. And of course, he won reelection.

But again, Charlemagne tha God, I guess he's the last person I listened to on this, said that --

PSAKI: Yes, I guess, yes.

AMANPOUR: -- he doesn't feel like -- and these are his words, I don't feel like Obama is on the front lines. I don't feel like he's in active duty.

Saying that he needs to be out there more for Biden. What do you think about that? Doesn't -- couldn't Biden, you know, benefit from -- I know

he's doing fundraisers and all that very successfully.


AMANPOUR: But what do you think the whole team needs to do?

PSAKI: Well, look, I think that Former President Obama will be out there, and I understand the desire for people who are fearful about a Trump second

term or another term want him to be out there. The other truth here -- and he's very effective on the campaign trail, Former President Obama, he's

also very -- still popular with independents, more popular because he's a former president. That's often how it goes.

But the other truth here is you can't translate -- popularity doesn't necessarily translate, right? If that -- if it did, then Hillary Clinton

would maybe be president. There were a lot of factors here, but President Obama was out a lot. A lot of people were out a lot for her. It doesn't

necessarily translate. This is ultimately on President Biden and his campaign team.

What will help is Former President Obama being out there to drive out the vote, to get people out there in key registration times, to be out there as

a key surrogate when people are really tuning in post Memorial Day. And the more he does, I agree, the better.

But right now, it's ultimately up to the Biden campaign and to President Biden himself to really continue to lay the ground.


AMANPOUR: So, Jen Psaki, I want to ask you about, "Say More," a little bit more about say more. So, you've now been on both sides of this issue.

You've been the press secretary. And now, you have your own programs on MSNBC. What have you learned about what journalists and broadcasters do

versus what a good press secretary does?

PSAKI: So many things, but one thing that always comes to mind, Christiane, is that it's much harder to actually conduct an interview than it is to

participate in one. In that, you have to -- and you are -- you have been doing this for so many years, you may find that to be a funny thing to say,

but because you have to kind of drive the conversation forward and listen in a way for something interesting and unique and different to happen

during the conversation and adjust as needed.

And when you're in an interview and you're participating in it, you're more of -- you're not passive, but you are kind of going through the journey,

you're not driving it. So, that's one thing. I will say that I couldn't have done my last job or certainly not my job that I did at the State

Department if I did not have a huge respect and value for the role of journalists, including days where people were pushing me, were aggressively

asking for more information. I've always had a tremendous respect for that.

But what I think -- but the interview part, I think is a big -- has been a big learning lesson for me, but many other things as well, as I've gone

through this transition over the last two years.

AMANPOUR: Can you think -- because you speak about work-life balance in your book and there couldn't be a more tense work-life balance than in the

White House. Can you think of an anecdote when the two sort of, you know, collided?

PSAKI: Many times. And I know you've experienced this, I'm sure yourself as well. But, you know, the worst day that I was in the White House in -- for

either president I worked for was the day of the attack on Abbey Gate, where we lost men and women who served our country. It was obviously a

devastating day for the president, for all of us, and certainly, of course, for those families.

It was also the day of my daughter's kindergarten open house. And I talk about this in the book and how one of the challenges is being present in

all aspects of your life as a working mother, as a working parent where I knew I had to be present in that moment and to the best of my ability

conduct a briefing and answer questions for the reporters, help the president prep for what he was going to say that day, but I also wanted to

be present for my daughter. And as much as that was a devastating day, it was an important and uplifting day for her.


PSAKI: And so, it was really having kind of two parts of your existence, which is a challenge, I think, many working parents experience, but that

was one that certainly will stick with me for a long time.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And I really hear you there. And of course, you're referring to what happened in Afghanistan during the withdrawal. Jen Psaki, thank you

so much for being with us.

PSAKI: Yes, exactly.

AMANPOUR: Now, one thing also at the top of voters' minds is immigration. It is a concern that veteran broadcaster Ray Suarez delves deeper into in

his latest book, "We Are Home." And he joins Michel Martin to discuss this critical moment in American politics.


MICHEL MARTIN, NPR, HOST: Thanks, Christiane. Ray Suarez, thank you so much for joining us.

SUAREZ: Great to see you, Michel.

MARTIN: And obviously people know your face, they know your voice from, you know, programs like PBS "NewsHour" and of course NPR's "Talk of the

Nation." You've written a bunch of books, many of them touch on the history of Latinos worldwide, immigration. What does this book do that the others

have not?

SUAREZ: Michel, I was goaded into writing this book by events. I saw the discourse in the United States around immigration changing in ways that I

thought were ahistorical, problematic, and didn't contain in them the seeds of a future united people. I heard the Great Replacement theory, for

instance, moving from dark corners of the internet and obscure right-wing manifestos to something like -- more like the center of the American

dialogue, and I thought, well, I got to say something.

MARTIN: But the other thing about this book that I have to say is, it's not a cheerleading book. It's not a book that says, you know, all immigration,

all the time, is all amazing and great. So, what are you striving for?

SUAREZ: Well, I wanted to remind people of our immigrant history, that we kind of beat you up at the front door, and then we end up eating your food.

It happens over and over again, but we keep pretending like those wonderful old Ellis Island immigrants are immigrants that we can be sentimental about

and look at beloved sepia toned photographs as family pictures get older and older. And those are one kind of immigrants, and the immigrants that

we're getting today are a different kind, but they're not.


They're the same people, the same striving elbows out, taking a chance, rolling the dice with their own lives kind of people, sometimes fleeing

desperate situations elsewhere in the world. And I have them tell me their stories. People from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, how it

was to come here, how they got here and how they got over eventually.

MARTIN: Talk a little bit about some of the sort of the history that you are kind of working around. I mean, say between the 1920s and the early

1960s, you point out that there was a significant drop in the number of foreign-born Americans in the U.S. Why was that?

SUAREZ: In 1924, the Congress narrowed the open door and made it harder to come here from a lot of parts of the world, putting in a quota system that

favored Europe particularly, Western Europe, even more. And so, we entered a time after an enormous wave of people coming here for the previous 75

years, from the 1840s to the 1920s, we started to experience lower levels of immigration. Then came The Great Depression. Then came World War Two.

Then came the baby boom and years of tremendous economic progress in Europe coming out of the rubble of war.

So, by 1960, the average immigrant in the United States, the average foreign-born resident was older than the average American. And the

percentage of people who were born in another country had dropped to around 5 percent, which is a low that we hadn't seen in over a century. at that

point, during the hot cauldron of the Cold War, Lyndon Johnson, leaders of the House and Senate talked about how this looks to the rest of the world

that we made it difficult for people from other parts of the world to get here, and they began to tinker with the machinery of immigration. Out of

that comes the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. And we get from that the America that we're experiencing today.

MARTIN: What happened in that, that '65 Act that was such a game changer?

SUAREZ: We dropped the quota system favoring Europe. And in fact, few Europeans wanted to leave their countries in those years. And people really

wanted to come here for study, to invest, to start with their lives over from other parts of the world. So, there was pent up demand in East Asia,

in South Asia. There was pent up demand even in Africa, which is a remarkable thing given the experience of black Americans just in the recent


In 1965, we were still experiencing the very difficult adjustment of the Civil Rights Act years. And there were still Africans who wanted to come

here and take their chance on America.

MARTIN: How did you come up with the idea of this as an oral history? I mean, the title is "We Are Home: Becoming American in the 21st Century." It

is an oral history. It's basically told through their -- through people's own sort of testimonies. So, tell us some of those stories. I was thinking

about Samir from Mombasa from Kenya.

SUAREZ: I suspect a lot of people are going to fall in love with Samir. He is from Mombasa, which is a city on the Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, but

he's not from the historically black African population of Kenya. He's a Yemeni, from a very old Yemeni family in Mombasa.

And after his parents split up, his aunt who already lived in the United States, without the knowledge of the family, applied in the diversity

lottery to get the family to the United States, and they won. And Samir and his brothers and sisters and his mother came to Maryland, a suburb of

Washington, D.C. He starts his life over. And he was an absolute fiend for American culture.

So, he had movies and television shows and pop music running through his head and through his imagination. And then he got to Columbia, Maryland,

and he thought, this isn't what I had in mind. And before too long, he's working two full-time jobs, 40 hours a week at Wawa, 40 hours a week doing

the breakfast at McDonald's, thinks his life is full of drudgery and boredom and says, I can't keep doing this.

And he joins the U.S. Army. And Samir, before too long, after a quick tour through basic, is shipped to Korea. He goes on to put together this almost

Forrest Gump-ish kind of life, where he just seems to put opportunity in front of opportunity in front of opportunity, buys a house for his family

at 21 years old using the G.I. Bill. And he basically has these transformational experiences like 9/11, like the Muslim ban that came in

during the early days of the Trump administration. And he had to have a Muslim Americans version of the talk with his sons.


And you don't think of there being such a thing, but he grabbed his then very young kids and ran down to Dulles International Airport to join a

multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational group of protesters saying this ban on people visiting, on people moving here, on people being refugees

from Muslim majority countries is un-American. He's not the kind of guy who would show up at protests, but he became that. And that actually was, in

some ways, the capper on his American journey. Everything kind of makes sense to him now, in a way it didn't before.

MARTIN: You profiled a congressman from Michigan. Tell us his story and why did you want to profile him.

SUAREZ: The night of Joe Biden's first State of the Union address, I watched Biden come down from the lectern and start to work the room, as he

does. And there was this short guy with a big smile on his face and he has some face time with the most powerful man on earth. And Joe Biden moves on

to talk to other people.

But Shri Thanedar stays in the shot, still grinning from ear to ear. He's like the luckiest guy in the world, as he keeps following the president

around the room, as he has some small talk with other members of Congress. And I thought to myself, oh, I know who that is. That's that new

congressman from Michigan. I got to talk to that guy.

He told a fabulous story of constant reinvention, of starting and losing multiple businesses, becoming a millionaire many, many times over, and then

losing it all and starting again. And then in his mid-60s, deciding to run for electoral office, and I guess maybe fueled by this amazing American

life that he had already lived, what did he decide? Would he be his first job in electoral politics? Governor of Michigan.

So, you know, don't want to start at the bottom there, do you? He gets his clocks cleaned by Gretchen Whitmer and then decides, no, but I really want

to do this. I really like this. And after the remap, following the 2020 census, he runs in a newly mapped seat in Michigan, wins, and now is this

excited new member of Congress, and he says, in no other place in the world is my story possible.

MARTIN: You also explore the frustrations, deep frustrations of other people, and I'm thinking here about the -- Jesus Contreras, who's a

recipient of DACA, which is the deferred action program or what some people call the dreamers. Just, do you want to tell his story?

SUAREZ: He was brought over the border from Northern Mexico by his mother when he was seven years old. So, here was this kid. He grew up sort of in

the struggling class in Texas, but realized that it was simply beyond his family's ability to provide if he tried to pay for college.

He won an athletic scholarship by sheer luck. And decided he wanted to be an emergency medical technician, work with a fire department, pull people

out of buildings, out of car wrecks and so on. But he wasn't allowed to have a driver's license because he wasn't in the country legally. DACA

opens up the doors to further education, to getting a Social Security number, to getting a driver's license. And he becomes an EMT and helps get

Houston through the pandemic, extracting people from apartments who had waited too long to make emergency calls about their health because they

were afraid their immigration status was going to complicate things once they got to the hospital.

He would reassure them. He would comfort them. Get them on a gurney. Get them out of their apartments and into an ambulance and save their lives.

He's frustrated because he feels his good work is not recognized by the society where he's chosen to make his life. He says, I have no memories of

Mexico. I was a little kid.

MARTIN: Right. But having said that, what do you say to people who really believe that there's something sort of fundamental about American identity

that has been compromised and they say they want to defend that?

SUAREZ: A lot of them tell fables about their own immigrant past. You'll frequently hear people say, well, yes, my ancestors came from somewhere

else in the world, but they followed the rules neatly leaving aside the fact that for much of American history, there were no rules, and we just

don't do battle with that fact.


People lied about their scrapes with the law back in Europe, or the fact that they were fleeing conscription back in Europe. And they'd arrive at

Ellis Island and say that those things were not true. They came with new names, with new identities, that happened a lot. And yet, all of those

people are sort of sepia toned heroes who learned English right away, miraculously, even though we know that the older you are when you come

here, the less easy and the less likely it was for you to learn English. We particularize the personal, and we generalize about the dysfunctional.

So, you'll say, oh, Jose? Yes, I work with him. Good guy. My kids play on his kid's little league team. Oh, Mariam. Yes, Mariam and Adnan, they're

terrific people. They live down the block. They keep their property nice. My kid is on the -- is on a team at school with his kid. So, we

particularize the positive traits of the immigrants we know and still give ourselves permission to generalize about the pathology of the immigrants

that we don't know.

So, we can still think that it's a terrible threat to the United States that people are coming in from Latin America, even though the Latin

Americans, you know, in your daily life are OK and getting the hang of being American. It's that ability to switch it on and off that drives me a

little crazy.

MARTIN: OK. But what do you say that every country defends its borders, right? This is the first book you've written that you're in it. You're sort

of describing your trip, your travels, and your conversation. So, I feel like I can ask you, what about that? I mean, the fact is every country

defends its borders, creates borders, borders are, in fact, kind of what make a country a country. There are people who would say that, you know, if

you can't have open borders, you know, what do you say to that?

SUAREZ: Every country on the planet has the right to have a border, to regulate, and observe who's here, who wants to come here, and set the rules

for coming here and for staying here. That is an absolute bottom line to this conversation. We have allowed our system to become dysfunctional,

clogged, slow, and unjust, which makes a situation where people who try to do it legally the -- in the first place get discouraged and then do it


When they interview a lot of the Chinese nationals who are showing up at the southern border with Mexico, they find that they've long had paperwork

in the system trying to enter the country. They know particularly where they want to move, they may have relatives in the country, but it all takes

so long that they eventually come some other way.

Let's set aside for a moment the desperate people that are pouring out of Venezuela and Cuba and Honduras, who -- the places they live are dangerous.

They don't have enough to eat. Civic order is -- has melted down, that's different. Those people are trying to become refugees. But laws have to be

followable. And once they become not very easy to follow, you'll find people have a greater propensity to break them.

The people who are trying to get into the country some other way, overstaying visas, lying on their applications, a lot of them are not

predisposed to be criminals, they just have a situation they need to take care of. This is not workable. But instead of hiring more magistrates, more

uniformed officers, building more hearing rooms, hiring more interpreters, fixing this crisis, it's we're allowing one of our parties to turn the

screws on the other to make them embarrassed through this process, as if the United States could escape what Turkey and Germany and Britain and

France and countries all over the world are experiencing as we have a world on the move. Millions upon millions of people will sleep tonight in a place

that is not their home.

MARTIN: Well, right, before we let you go, as I said, you've been doing this a long time as a journalist, as an observer. of, you know, the events

of the world. Was there something about this particular project that kind of changed your mind about something or that changed the way you think

about this issue?

SUAREZ: It's a great question, because I have become both more practical and more sentimental the older I get I am moved when I watch things like

why we fight or as I referenced in the book, a lovely old Oscar-winning short film with Frank Sinatra called "the House I Live In," which almost

every time I hear it now, I get all blubbery, because it evokes an America that is the ideal America, the one we all hope for, where we take people as

they come, where we extend a hand, where we believe that people from anywhere can be their best selves here.


And I love that America. I want us to believe in that America because it's a big part of our joint way forward. And I think some of the ugliness about

denying the possibility of humanity to people from other places is getting us off track.

And you mentioned that most of my other work has been very reporterly. And it is partly this topic that sort of pulled me off the sidelines that made

me think, well, maybe after 45 years I've earned the right to have an opinion. And this is what I'm what I'm -- what it's going to be about.

MARTIN: Ray Suarez, thank you so much for speaking with us.

SUAREZ: Great to talk to you.


AMANPOUR: And on that note, we end our show tonight. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.