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Interview with McCain Institute Executive Director and Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas; Interview with "English" Playwright and 2023 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama Sanaz Toossi, Interview with Boston College Professor of History and "Democracy Awakening" Author Heather Cox Richardson. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET




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


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He said, I'm not as smooth as I used to be. I don't debate as well as I used to. I don't walk

as easily as I used to. But one thing that he knows is how to deliver for the American people.


AMANPOUR: A decisive moment for America. And for how the world views what's at stake for them in this battle for the presidency. Former Pentagon

official Evelyn Farkas joins me.

Then --



stop this, it will not be stopped in my lifetime anyway.


AMANPOUR: Keeping the focus on Trump, historian Heather Cox Richardson's urgent plea to wake up to the real threats to democracy.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Items of clothing, go.





AMANPOUR: -- the Pulitzer Prize winning play, "English." Screenwriter, Sanaz Toossi, brings us a group of Iranians navigating the emotional

intersection of language and identity.

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

President Biden is in damage control mode and is now, according to a source, privately acknowledging that the next few days are going to be

critical to saving his candidacy. Biden meets tonight with Democratic governors who are concerned over his debate performance. The president is

also preparing for a sit-down interview and plans to give a press conference at next week's NATO Summit in Washington.

This critical moment for the United States is spooking allies and thrilling adversaries, with much of the world in crisis and flux. The ongoing Israel-

Hamas war, Ukraine's desperate battle for survival, the far-right at the doors of power in France, and what about China?

Evelyn Farkas served as deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Obama, and she's now executive director of the McCain Institute.

She recently traveled to some of the most crucial areas of global tension, including Taiwan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories, and she's

joining me now from Washington.

Evelyn Farkas, welcome to the program. I want to -- just a broad question, how do you think, as I said, allies and adversaries will be looking at this

moment and trying to figure out how to take advantage of it.


opportunity. I am very nervous right now at how allies like Israel are looking at this opportunity because, you know, Israel is an ally that we've

been trying to pressure. The White House has been trying to pressure Israel not to start another war in the north with Lebanon with the Hezbollah.

And of course, we have our adversaries. China has been increasingly upping the ante in the South China Sea against the Philippine Navy. And you know,

on and on Iran, all of these emboldened actors, Putin looking across the border at Russia is counting on a -- you know, a weak America if he can get

his way. So, it is unsettling right now at this moment. It's a bit of a dangerous moment.

AMANPOUR: Can I just read to you what Sergey Radchenko, who's a foreign policy professor at Johns Hopkins, he writes in "The New York Times," "A

second term for Mr. Biden poses its own security risks, as it's unclear whether he has the stamina to lead in an increasingly uncertain and

dangerous world."

Are you hearing anything like that from people who you're talking to in the foreign policy world and the foreign allies and alliance?

FARKAS: I mean, I think people are reserving their judgment at the moment, Christiane, because, of course, the White House, the president himself, you

know, they have been saying that he was just tired when he gave his campaign debate performance with Former President Trump, and, you know, he

went out on the stump, and he was energetic.

So, I think that foreign leaders are probably holding their breath, waiting to see, whether the White House answers that question of whether the

president has the stamina, the vim and the vigor to continue to stand up to our enemies and to stand with our allies.

AMANPOUR: The foreign minister of Poland, I mean, a big ally of the United States and their party just won, it's much more aligned with the Democrats

than the party that they replaced.


Radek Sikorski said, you know, harking back, you know, many, many, many hundreds of years ago, Marcus Aurelius was a great emperor, but he screwed

up his succession by passing the baton to his feckless son. Anyway, he went on to say, it's important to manage one's ride into the sunset.

Given some of the unnamed sources who've talked about, you know, having to sort of "protect Biden" during the G7, for instance, again, do you

understand where somebody like Sikorski is coming from?

FARKAS: Yes, Christiane. And I think the question comes down to not physical frailty necessarily, but mentally, you know, is he there, does he

have the ability to continue the job, and not just today, but, you know, into the term. It's a four-year term.

So, I understand the concerns. And I think that everyone is waiting for the president to give us more data points. Give us more -- that that was an

aberration the other evening.

AMANPOUR: As we talk about a world with American leadership, as we know, the NATO Summit is taking place in Washington. President Biden, as part of

his comeback tour, if you like, is going to give a press conference there. Maybe he would have done anyway, but still, what do you think is the most

important issue right now? Is it the idea of a vacuum and a crisis of American leadership in the alliance, including NATO? Is it a question of

the kind of American leadership, let's say, it's not a Democratic president who believes in alliances and it's Trump again who is much more

transactional and chaotic as we saw in the first term?

FARKAS: Yes, Christiane, I think the world is frightened right now, at least the democratic world, the world that cares about human rights, even

if they're not full-blown democracies, I think the world is unnerved because we've seen the autocrats gang up together across the globe in --

you know, from Russia, getting help from Iran and North Korea and China. All of these bad actors together confronting the democratic peace-loving

nations of the world. That's making people uneasy.

And if you have a President Trump who clearly admires our adversaries and frankly, disdains our friends and allies, or certainly disdains alliances,

that puts the United States in danger and frankly, it puts the world in danger because we are still the number one economic, political, and

military power in the world and our allies have depended on us to take the lead.

I do think they're taking a little bit of a shift. They have been hedging. I saw that in Asia on my recent trip, and we see that now with NATO and

we'll see it at the summit. But I think the world is very much nervous about who will be leading the United States, especially with the ramped-up

Trump rhetoric right now, where he's saying, I'll be an autocrat on day one. I'm going to take retribution. And he almost doesn't have any other

policy agenda except this one.

AMANPOUR: OK. Let me just take, what did you -- because everybody -- and, you know, for years, even under the Obama administration, they viewed China

as the biggest relationship to manage. What did you learn, as you said, in Taiwan and Tokyo when you were just recently there?

FARKAS: That China has become increasingly confrontational militarily, that the Taiwanese and the Japanese believe we need to deter China closer

to Mainland China, that they're coming way closer to Japan, frankly, to the Ryukyu Islands. So, to Okinawa. Also closer into Taiwan and more

aggressively and more frequently. So, the military deterrence needs to be stronger.

And of course, in the Philippines, I mean, they just did some things that were kind of -- you know, we would never have imagined that we would see

these unimaginable that they would actually seize the resupply. The -- so, the Philippine Navy was resupplied and the Chinese vessels and the Chinese

personnel took the resupply. So, food and whatever it was they were getting. They did end up returning it, but there was also a bunch of knife

fighting. So, which actually does remind us of the fighting that the Chinese have done on the border with India.

So, the Chinese are really pushing the envelope. And I think what it tells you is that they don't -- they're testing our political will because

clearly, we have military might, but a big part of deterrence is do we have the will to stand up to China and with our allies?

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let's talk about then that aspect. And put this, if I could, in context of what's going on in Europe as well, as we've seen it

appears, potentially, that the far-right extreme party, the National Rally, formerly the National Front in France, certainly has won overwhelmingly in

the first round and is poised to perhaps win the prime minister, the governance in France after the second round.


And they've been quite equivocal about Ukraine and about Russia, historically. Couple that with Hungary. Viktor Orban made a surprise visit

to Ukraine. He's no real friend of Ukraine. He is -- and he talked to them about, you know, it's time to call for a ceasefire. And I'm not -- it's not

lost on me that Orban went to visit Trump and pretty much said some of the same stuff when he came from visiting Trump. So, do you think the Trump

view of how the war in Ukraine should end is gaining traction because of likeminded allies who've got so much power in Europe now?

FARKAS: I don't think it's gaining traction, Christiane. And we will see that in spades next week. You know, NATO has worked to Trump proof it's

support for Ukraine. They've moved the -- basically the decision-making mechanism where allies got together to decide what kind of equipment and

what kind of other assistance Ukraine would provide.

Would receive on the military side from the United States and from all of the NATO members. It's now being embedded inside of NATO so that the U.S.

is, in that sense, dispensable. So, they've Trump proofed it. They've also -- all of the member NATO's, of allies -- of member nations of NATO, almost

all of them, have also signed -- at least the big ones, have signed bilateral agreements with Ukraine, including, of course, the United States.

That means that even if NATO doesn't come to the assistance of Ukraine, these other countries will, U.K., of course, France, as you said, it might

be up for debate again. But the other NATO allies who are consistently there. Germany is important. Again, I'm not discounting the fact that they

have a far-right as well.

But ultimately, right now, the center is holding. I -- there is a real danger. We shouldn't, you know, dismiss the danger of the far-right. But

right now, the policy is --

AMANPOUR: We're having some technical difficulties, but we get what you're saying. And lastly, I want to ask you about your trip to Israel and also

the occupied West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu is supposed to be coming to address Congress and meet with President Biden in this month.

And I wonder what you make of that given that this war continues, the war aims have not been met, Netanyahu faces criticism from his military on

strategy and tactics, and he's coming to address Congress at a time when he seems to be flouting the will of the American administration.

FARKAS: Yes, Christiane, I think it takes a special kind of chutzpah, if you will, to come to the United States right now as the leader of the

Israeli government who, as you said, is not -- does not seem to be listening to the United States with regards to an off-ramp from the

hardcore military component of the engagement in Gaza to a political settlement.

He doesn't show signs of moving again to, as I said, a political settlement. His military campaign also may not have been as effective

because the Hamas terrorists are reconstituting themselves. That's what we're hearing in Gaza. On top of that, he's emboldened, empowered his far-

right cabinet to take -- illegally take, essentially, under Israeli law, maybe they're legalizing it, but under international law, they're taking

more territory in the West Bank. That does not -- should not -- international law has not determined belongs to Israel and should be part

of a future State of Palestine.

So -- and that is, of course, counter to U.S. stated policy, which is to support a two-state solution and to oppose any new settlements in the West


AMANPOUR: What did you find when you spoke to experts and others in the West Bank? Because we don't hear much Americans going there.

FARKAS: Yes. I mean, right now, what they said, first of all, was that when the Trump administration was in office, they basically gave free reign

to the far-right and to the Israeli government to increase the amount of settlements in the West Bank. And again, this is counter to international

law and counter to previous U.S. policy.

We had always, even though we knew there wasn't a solution yet, wanted to keep the space where the Palestinians were living. You know, to have the

potential for a future Palestinian State. What we heard there essentially was that there's been a concerted effort, very deliberate, you can map it

out, to squeeze the Palestinians into smaller spaces where they can "control them," but they also increasingly limit the possibility that you

can have a future Palestinian State, because they're creating these disconnected enclaves and they're connecting the settlements to one

another, to Jerusalem, creating a buffer between basically Jerusalem and Jordan.


So, it's very destabilizing. And in fact, it's going to likely -- it could likely lead to unrest in the West Bank. So, on top of what Israel is

experiencing right now, which is a full-blown war in Gaza and a potential new war in the north with a Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, you could

also have increased unrest in the West Bank.

And just as we were there, we saw new -- you know, these Palestinian settlements being -- not settlements, rather towns, villages being

bulldozed, houses being bulldozed for no legal reason whatsoever. So, that apparently has continued over the last week. And now, the Israeli

government has said, for every state that recognized Palestine and, as you know, internationally, the International Community, five states recognize

Palestine as a way to try to put pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu, the reaction from this far-right cabinet was to say, we're going to make legal

these five outposts in the West Bank, which is illegal under international law.

AMANPOUR: Evelyn Farkas, McCain Institute, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

And when we come back, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Sanaz Toossi on her smash hit, "English," taking theater world by storm.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Next to the intersection of language and identity and a Pulitzer Prize winning play. Since it premiered in 2022, "English"

has been a smash hit on stage. Going from New York to Boston, Washington and beyond. This year it came here to the United Kingdom.

The play follows an adult class of English students in Iran for preparing to take an exam. sIt's a powerful meditation on the prejudice of language,

on immigration, and what it means to belong. It's Sanaz Toossi's first play, and she first wrote "English" as her graduate school thesis at New

York University. She's joining us from Los Angeles. Sanaz Toossi, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, listen, I mean, it is incredible that you wrote this as a graduate thesis. Did you intend, imagine for it to be played around the

world like this?

TOOSSI: No, absolutely not. I mean, it's one thing to imagine that one could have a career as a writer. I definitely never thought anyone would do

this play. I wrote it for myself. I wrote it as a writing exercise. I wrote it after the enactment of the travel ban, colloquially known as the Muslim

ban. And I wrote it as a scream into the void. That it's been produced has been surreal. It's been a great surprise, yes.


AMANPOUR: So, you know, that Muslim ban was one of the first acts that President Trump took during his first term in office. So, that was in 2017.

And so, let's just set the play because it is, you know, you say it's a scream into the void and it's really takes place in a classroom in Iran.

There's a teacher who spent nine years. Here in the U.K. in Manchester, and she's the teacher of this basically English for foreign language -- for

foreign students, and they are four students. There are three women, two guys, I think.

So, it's kind of -- it's funny, but it's also kind of sad. What were you trying to say about the English class? Why did you choose that device?

TOOSSI: I knew that I wanted to write about being bilingual. I myself, I spoke Farsi in the house growing up, and then English outside the house, as

many children of immigrants do. And I felt that I wanted to write about how disconnected I was from both languages, and how I had witnessed, you know,

my parents be judged for mixing prepositions and whatnot. And really, what better place to do that in a classroom.

And I knew that I could put characters -- situate characters in a classroom who wanted different things from the language, who had very different

reasons for immigrating. And, you know, I've been in -- I took -- you know, I took French classes in college. Learning a language is humbling, funny,

you feel so stupid all the time. It's impossible to be funny. It just felt like the perfect place for all of our insecurities and desires for what we

want from ourselves and from the world to bubble up.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to play actually a clip -- the clip that we've been given, and it is a scene in the classroom and they're playing ball as

a language exercise. Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things you'll find in a classroom. Go.


















UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a winner.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry? Shouldn't you be in a more advanced class?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the advanced class.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you go to an American school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are no American schools anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, skill level needs to be dispersed evenly in a classroom, or else it's undispersed and we will all fall behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have American cousins, but my English is rubbish.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, Wiedeberig (ph), that's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do speak quite well, Omid.


AMANPOUR: So, there's just so much going on there, Sanaz. Let's -- just to say again, it's a class for -- English is a foreign language for students

in Iran who are trying to immigrate. But you play on accents. Now, all those actors are British-Iranian or British-Palestinian. So, they all speak

English with an English accent. But you move them in and out of English with an English accent and then English with a Farsi accent. What are you

doing there?

TOOSSI: You know, the point of the play, for me, thesis of the play is when you hear someone speaking in a foreign accent, do not assume that they

are stupid or any -- or not as complex as you. So, it was important in "English" to give audiences, who I assume would be monolingual, interior

access to these Iranian characters.

I think Iranians, to many Americans, feel like a very far away people. And I just really, really needed audiences to know them as they would fully

express themselves, as their truest selves in their native tongue.

AMANPOUR: Almost trying to humanize them, I suppose, for -- in a country and the west, which looks at, I think, Iranians. I happen to be half

Iranian myself. And actually, in full disclosure, you do give me a shout out in the play, which I missed because I didn't get there in time. But

nonetheless, thank you.


But I found it actually really quite sad and very moving when the characters were sort of -- you know, they were expressing, at some points,

their sadness at having to learn another language and recreate a different identity just because they needed to get out of their country and try to

find some freedom and opportunity elsewhere.

TOOSSI: Yes, you know, for so many Americans, I think it goes unnoticed that if you are born speaking English, it sets you up with such an

advantage in the world, you know, not even to speak of what it means to have an American passport.

To immigrate often means -- not always, I don't claim to speak for all immigrants. I myself am not an immigrant. But from what I've witnessed and

experienced, you know, to immigrate means to leave so much behind, to leave land and family and culture, and it means to leave language, and that is

devastating. And to learn another language, in many ways, requires you to build yourself back up, to -- you know, to fight, to get a joke laughed at.

But, you know, to fight to not get the wrong kind of laugh. It's so demoralizing to feel like, you know, in your homeland, you're funny, you're

known as the class clown, and then you come to a new land you only -- the only laughs you get are ones of mockery. And to me that is deeply sad. And

to me that is enraging and I, you know, believe that that experience is one in which I wanted to depict as with compassion.

AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you because you've said -- and I'm going to quote you in the FT, I have a hard time hearing my play being called

political even though politics shape everything in the play.

Tell me about that because, of course, Iran is always in -- you know, in view in a political form. Right now, as you know, there's an election

happening with vaguely, slightly different candidates reform and very hardline vying within the parameters of that system. But talk to me about

the politics that you assign to this play.

TOOSSI: You know, I actually feel conflicted about what it means for a play to be political. And for what it means to this word to humanize, which

I use a lot, which I can't deny is part of my intention in writing Iranian characters. I guess what I -- what gives me pause is that I have always

wondered if, you know, my fellow white American writers -- I just always wonder why they don't get asked the same questions about the politics

outside of the set, you know, like what's happening outside the walls of their plays.

I think, you know, the personal is political, politics shapes everything, it shapes everything in our lives. And to be nonpolitical is very

political. So, I think that's what I struggle with. I think that's why I have tried to take the charge. I've tried to take the charge on how my work

is spoken about, because I think I've sensed sometimes a need for people to hyper politicize it.

AMANPOUR: And how has it been --

TOOSSI: I think that -- or I suspect --

AMANPOUR: Yes. Just -- I was going to ask you in our last minute. How have you -- what have audiences said to you? How have they reacted in America,

in the U.K.?

TOOSSI: We've had incredibly generous audiences, I will say, especially in Kilburn, which is multicultural and multilingual. If I asked you who our

toughest audiences are, I think you'd be able to wager a guess as to whom that would be. And that would be Iranians. Iranians are tough. We're tough

customers. And we have not often seen our experiences represented on stage in a way that feels truthful to us.

But, you know, so it's a pleasure to have Iranians in the audience every night, and it's a tough one, but we're just happy to have them. We're so

happy to have you. So, thank you so much for coming.

AMANPOUR: Well, thank you very much. It's a really good play. Sanaz Toossi, thank you so much indeed.

TOOSSI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: "English." Coming up a critical moment in America and for the world.




else. I care that we recognize that running currently against that ticket is somebody who is trying to destroy our country.


AMANPOUR: Historian Heather Cox Richardson has a stark warning ahead of the presidential election, after a break.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back. The full-blown panic inside the Democratic Party over President Biden's candidacy shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile,

despite having delivered at least 30 falsehoods throughout the debate, Former President Trump is gloating about his own performance as he eyes a

second term.

To historians like Heather Cox Richardson, the country's focus should be firmly on Trump's threat to democracy rather than the age-related stumbles

of the current president. She is the author of the popular "Letters from an American" Substack newsletter and author, most recently of "Democracy

Awakening." And I've been speaking to her about Trump's lies and the latest assists from the Supreme Court.


AMANPOUR: Heather Cox Richardson, welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: First and foremost, the Supreme Court decision essentially throwing the case on Trump's immunity back to the lower courts and somehow

being unable to decide whether or not the president is immune on certain issues. How do you read that decision coming at the very end of their term?

RICHARDSON: I think it's important to remember two things. First of all, by delaying that decision as long as they did, they made sure that in fact,

Former President Donald Trump would not see a trial before the upcoming election, putting a really big thumb on the scale for that election. So,

that's an important thing to remember.

It's also important to remember that it comes after two other big decisions. One that threw out the Chevron doctrine, and one that

essentially OK-ed bribery so long as the exchange of money or favors came after an official had decided something. So, in the space of a week, we've

had the idea that essentially bribery, they call it gratuities, but essentially, it's bribery after the fact was established by the Supreme

Court and next, we got what is essentially the throwing out of the modern state, the regulatory American state, which will dramatically benefit the

very wealthy and corporations.

And now, we have the idea that, in fact, the president is immune from prosecution for things he did as what he calls official acts. This is a

coup. It's a coup, and that's a legal coup in our system. And it is, as you say, interesting that it's happening right before July 4th, when, of

course, the founders of the United -- what would become the United States published the Declaration of Independence that said that the United States

would not have a king.


AMANPOUR: And what will happen if you fast forward and Trump has talked about retribution, is this now set for the foreseeable, that these parties,

these presidents will -- this political retribution is now baked in?

RICHARDSON: Christiane, I don't think what -- we know what the future is going to look like, because we have never been here as a country. That

being said, I think there's two real problems with the way that Americans are looking at this situation. And that is really, we have honored our

constitution for 248 years. And since World War II, Americans believe that the system, as we have it, is going to survive. They just don't think the

world that we lived under after World War II is going to go away. And it's going to be a huge shock to them to discover that it is.

I also think that in the period, really, since at least 1980, there has been a movement toward this idea of an imperial presidency, and it's going

to be the project of the next five months to convince Americans that this is our moment. If we do not step up now and stop this, it will not be

stopped in my lifetime anyway.

AMANPOUR: And, you know, Justice Sotomayor, she said, never in the history of our republic has a president had reason to believe that he would be

immune from criminal prosecution if he used the trappings of his office to violate the criminal law. So, of course, she dissented.

As a way of asking the actual question to you, what would have happened to Richard Nixon? Would he have been immune for what he did as president in

the Watergate situation?

RICHARDSON: If you listen very carefully, you can hear him spinning in his grave, because had he had this ruling on the table, he would absolutely

have stated. What really has frightened me in the last week, more even than the Supreme Court decision, was the reaction of the American media to the

event that happened on last Thursday in Atlanta that was televised by CNN.

And what the problem for me about that was, was not that Biden was stumbling over his words as he tried to get out the different things that

his administration had done. And it was not even that Trump showed us who he was, because those of us who've been paying close attention for a while

knew that he has deteriorated in the time since he's been in office, knew that people didn't know how bad he was, know that he is a pathological liar

and that he is refusing to accept the norms or the guidelines of our democracy. We knew that.

What shocked me was the degree to which the American media looked at those two people and rather than saying, this is what is happening on that stage,

we have these two characters, or even worse than saying, what is happening on that stage is looking at a former president talking about destroying

American democracy. What they did was they presented to the American people that the central problem of what happened on that stage was Joe Biden's

age, when he's three years older than the man on the other side who wants to destroy American democracy.

AMANPOUR: So, Heather, after that debate, there has been -- from party grantees to obviously the media grantees, to a whole load of people,

including grassroots, as CBS poll said something like 72 percent of those who were polled after the debate say Biden should step down. Are they


RICHARDSON: I think there are a couple of things going on. One of them is that structurally, and again, as I just said to someone, my interest is not

in Biden or Kamala Harris or Trump or whomever he might choose as his vice president. My interest is less in them, but in the long-term sweep of

American history.

You know, I want the whole picture. And in the whole picture of American history, if you change a presidential nominee at this point in the game,

the candidate loses and it loses for a number of reasons. First of all, because the apparatus of the party for the election is set up around

somebody else. Second of all, because the news is only going to report all the growing pains of a brand-new campaign, including all the opposition

research that the opponents are then going to throw at people.

AMANPOUR: And the only time in recent memory that's happened was when President Johnson decided not to take up the nomination of his party. And

that was, frankly, if you will -- if you remember, he's something like -- you know, the saying went, if I've lost Walter Cronkite over Vietnam, then

I've lost the American people.


So, there is precedent to this. But as you say, then the replacement candidate did lose.

RICHARDSON: That's correct. And again, there are some parallels there in that one of the things that Democrats were furious about in that election

of 1968 was that they hadn't voted for the person who was at the top of the ticket, Hubert Humphrey, at that point. And in this case, of course, the

primary voters in the Democratic Party who are the most loyal people have voted, and they voted for Joe Biden.

For all the people who are focusing on Biden right now, and as you mentioned, I'm a historian of the Republican Party. The Republican party is

in crisis and they are as well doing something unprecedented, which is trying to run for president somebody who not only has 34 criminal

convictions, but also tried to overthrow the will of the people in the 2020 presidential election.

So, I think that -- again, right now, I think the idea that the focus is on Biden is a bit misguided, at least from my perspective, because I don't

care if we elect Biden or Harris or anybody else. I care that we recognize that running currently against that ticket is somebody who is trying to

destroy our country. And I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way. And after the July Republican National Convention, the American narrative

is going to look very different.

AMANPOUR: It's really interesting. And just to contextualize what you just said on the debate stage, Trump refused to say that he would accept the

result of the future election. Only he said if it was fair and legal. He also talked about an economy that all, you know, reasonable economists say

would jack up inflation and essentially an import tax would be a tax on the American people, those tariffs. So, on and on he was saying things that

experts have said would actually not work to the benefit of most of the American people who he claims to be representing.

RICHARDSON: Well, again, right now -- and I'm not necessarily saying it's a bad thing that the focus is on the Democrats and grappling with the one

key weakness of this ticket, which is Biden's age, but people are somehow erasing from their minds the fact that the Democratic ticket, which, by the

way, also has really a fabulous set of cabinet officers and has had, as I say, this extraordinarily successful administration, is trying to run

against a party that has no plans that people like, they're doubling down on a nationwide abortion ban. We know that 70 percent of Americans want

protections for abortion enshrined in our national law.

They're doubling down on protecting the idea that anybody can own a gun when almost 80 percent of Americans would like common sense gun safety

legislation. They're doubling down on tax cuts for corporations. That too is extraordinarily unpopular.

AMANPOUR: Finally, You have sat down face to face with Joe Biden. Was the man on Thursday, the man that you know?

RICHARDSON: No. But -- no. I mean, he's clear. He has utter command of what he's talking about and so on. But I want to emphasize, to my mind, my

impression of him is right -- you know, it's what I've seen, he bears responsibility for that performance on the stage. I don't want to make

excuses for him. That's not the way this game is played.

What I would say, though, is it is a mistake to look at him and say, oh, we've got a problem. And not to look at Trump and say the same thing. And

then to look at their performance in that office and say, we would rather have the man who couldn't get anything done and who really just worked with

other authoritarians around the world than the man who has really managed to protect American manufacturing and so on.

So, I care deeply that the American people have an entire picture of what is at stake in this election and where we are right now, after that debate,

is not giving us that picture. It is my expectation following the Supreme Court's recent decisions that that balance may be restored, but if it isn't

restored from the higher reaches of our government and from the media, the American people sure better do it themselves because we have five months to

make sure we get to the 250th anniversary of the American Republic. And if we don't come out right in November, we're not going to make it.

AMANPOUR: That is a dramatic way to end this interview. Heather Cox Richardson, thank you so much for your analysis and your historical


RICHARDSON: Thank you for having me.


AMANPOUR: A dire warning indeed. And we'll be right back after this short break.



AMANPOUR: And now to Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rejecting the idea of starting a ceasefire while Hamas remains in power.

Responding to a report that some of his own military officials are pushing for one. The report said these officials fear they're running out of

munitions that they'd need should another war break out with Hezbollah. And they also believe a ceasefire is the best way to bring the Israeli hostages


Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians released from Israeli prisons on Monday are describing the horror they faced while in custody. They say they were

abused and subjected to "near daily torture with very little to eat." CNN's Nada Bashir has more.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A long hopeful reunion after months in detention, removed from Israel's devastating military onslaught on Gaza,

forced instead they say, to face unspeakable horrors in Israeli detention.

We were being tortured in ways I cannot describe, Farir (ph) says. Only God knows what we have been through. I swear to you, it was the kind of torture

nobody can speak off.

Overwhelmed, it is almost too painful for him to account.

They play with your emotions, he says, they would show us photos of our relative's bodies, pictures of our families and children and say, look at

your children, we killed them. They would show us pictures of our wives, our sisters and tell us that they had taken them and done this and that to


For Farir's (ph) daughter, her father's safe return is all that she has been praying for.

I'm very happy, she says. Never in my life have I been without him. Not once in seven years.

Inside, the relatives of those released on Monday frantically call loved ones to share the news.

They told him they'd killed us all. He still can't believe we're all alive, this woman says.

On Monday, Israel's Prison Service said that it was not aware of these claims, adding that all prisoners are detained according to the law, and

that all basic rights required are fully applied by professionally trained prison guards.

Though Israeli security officials have previously told CNN that they have been made aware of torture tactics being used against Palestinians within

Israel's prison system and are investigating.

Some 50 Palestinian detainees were released by Israeli authorities on Monday. Why they were originally detained, we may never know. CNN inquiries

to Israeli authorities went unanswered.

Among them, the director of Gaza's largest hospital, Al Shifa, released more than seven months after Israeli forces first raided the hospital and

detained him.


We were beaten and tortured almost every day. My little finger was broken, and I was repeatedly struck across the head, causing me to bleed several

times, Dr. Abdulsalami (ph) says. The torture taking place in Israel's prisons is near daily.

The decision to release Palestinian detainees has sparked fierce backlash among some Israeli officials. Top ministers were reportedly out of the loop

and everyone from the opposition leader to the far-right security minister called it dysfunction and national security malpractice.

But the Israel security agency or Shin Bet says it was forced to release some detainees due to a shortage in prison space. Whatever the reason,

Monday's reunions were a moment of relief for many families in Gaza.

Mahmoud Ali Baida (ph) says he was detained for more than eight months.

Look at my legs, he says, they wouldn't give us anything to treat our rashes.

Many has spoken of the little food and water they received while in detention. Other say they were denied medication, including insulin for


For a month and a half, I was blindfolded, handcuffed and forced to kneel, Wal Amsur (ph) says, highlighting the deep scars left on his wrists. A

permanent reminder of all that he and so many others have been forced to endure.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


AMANPOUR: CNN has asked the Israeli security agency Shin Bet about those allegations, but they did not receive a reply.

Now, we are going to go to the White House, where the spokeswoman is speaking about President Biden's travail.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- air defense systems, ammunition for high mobility artillery, rocket systems, artillery rounds,

and other critical capabilities that are being drawn down from U.S. stocks using presidential drawdown authorities.

It also includes new funding that the Department of Defense will use to purchase interceptors for Patriot and NASAMS air defense systems to help

Ukraine defend its troops and its cities against Russia's aerial attacks. The United States support over the last few months has been critical in

helping Ukraine defend their territory against Russia's advances. Thanks to the bravery of the Ukrainian forces and weapon deliveries from the United

States and our allies and partners, it is increasingly clear Russian offensive around Kharkiv has been a failure.

And as President Biden has been clear, we are committed to continuing to stand with Ukraine until they prevail against Russian aggression.

So, I want to share a bit of additional updates before -- for all of you before we start. I know some of you have been trying to confirm some of

this information that I'm about to share. So, I'll do it right now at the podium.

The president has connected with Leader Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Representative Clyburn, Former Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Coons.

Today, President Biden taped two black radio interviews that will air tomorrow morning. One is with Earl Ingram on Civic Media Network, which

airs across Wisconsin, and one with Andrea Lawful Sanders on WURD's, The Source, in Philadelphia.

And as Governor Walz of Minnesota announced today, the president will meet with more than 20 democratic governors. Now, as you know, these governors

are some of our closest partners when it comes to creating jobs, building new roads and building bridges and so much more. And so, the president

certainly looks forward to meeting with them. And with that, I am happy to take your question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Last night at the fundraiser, the president blamed jet lag for his debate performance, but he was back

stateside for well over a week. So, does he really need more than a week and a half to recover from traveling in Europe, and did he really -- is

that really what he thinks caused his poor debate performance?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, yes. Just a couple of things, and I do appreciate the question because -- you know, the president has certainly spoken to this

many, many times about the debate. And so, he had an opportunity to do that in front of supporters. And as you just stated, he did that. He talked

about he owned that the debate was not his best night. And he said himself, it's not an excuse, but it's an explanation. I was standing here yesterday

and many people were asking why and what's the explanation. And that's what you heard from him.

Look, the two, I think -- in addition to the two major trips, he was also doing -- continued to do his presidential duties. He worked late in doing

that, and he also prepared for the debate. And on top of that, there was obviously the jet lag, as you just asked about, and also, he had a cold.


And you all heard directly -- you heard from him during the debate, he had a hoarse voice. Many of you reached out to me and my team and some other

members of the White House asking what was going on. We confirmed that he had a cold. And so, I think those two things, continuing, obviously, to do

his duties as commander in chief, as the president.

And so, I think some of you here in this room can certainly relate to, you know, what could happen when you're having an important moment and you're

not feeling well and, yes -- and also, you wish you could have done better. And so, he took ownership. I think that's important. And he's going to

continue to make a strong case for his agenda, and that's what you're going to see.

And he was given an explanation, and that's what he wanted to do. He wanted to get that out there and for people to hear directly from him, as he has

been doing since Friday of last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just seems like there -- I know you're calling it an explanation, not an excuse, but it does seem like there are new excuses

since the debate of what went wrong there.

JEAN-PIERRE: I wouldn't say -- I don't think it's a new excuse. I think some of you, some of your colleagues reached out to us about the schedule.

They -- some of your colleagues asked if the schedule was too strenuous or was it because of the jet lag. And so, we are laying out and explaining

exactly what happened. You heard from the president, you've heard from me, and it was, you know, indeed a schedule where, you know, the president

traveled six time zones forward to G7 in Italy, nine time zones back to L.A., and three time zones for it again to D.C. That's something that one -

- the print pooler on that day laid out for all of you and those who reach -- who read the pull notes. And on top of that, he did have a cold.

So, it is an explanation. I don't think it is an addition. I don't think it's -- we certainly don't want to explain this away. But you all asked me

for an explanation yesterday, the president gave that directly yesterday to his supporters. He wanted to make sure knowing that all of you would get

that information as he's speaking to his supporters last night.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mentioned all the calls that he has made in your topper (ph). Why wasn't he doing that on Friday? And why wasn't he doing

this sort of damage control? Why was he waiting on doing that -- waiting to do that until the middle of this week?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I was asked a similar question by one of your colleagues yesterday. And look, you know, the president obviously, right

after the debate, he visited four states in two and a half days, gave a couple of remarks. He met with supporters whether at the Waffle House or in

Atlanta, at a watch party or in North Carolina where there were hundreds of supporters there, in Raleigh. And so, he was busy dealing with -- you know,

dealing with his schedule and also speaking directly and engaging with his supporters and then spend time with his family.

I think what's important is that he has done this outreach, he's having these conversations. It is important to him to do so. And the folks that I

laid out that he spoke to are -- or some of them have been his colleagues. Some of them have been elected officials that he's known for some time.

Obviously, you know, Leader Jeffries is a new relationship that he has, someone that he obviously respects and so, you know, it is -- I think it's

important to note that they were strong conversations. That's something that the president told me and my team directly moments ago. He's -- he was

walking around and we happened to see the president and he said they were strong conversation. And by the way, he looks great. The vice president is

great. And they are ready to continue working on behalf of the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Karine. Hi. Is President Biden considering stepping down?

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not. And you heard -- I think, I believe directly from the campaign as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given the groundswell of concern from fellow Democrats, from donors, from supporters, doesn't he owe it to the American

public to reflect on whether he should step down?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, very much into Sung Min's (ph) question, and my answer to her question, where he had an opportunity to talk to supporters.

He's done it a couple times at this point, and laid out what happened on that night. Talked about how he understands, and it was not his best night.

He understands that it is fair for people to ask that question, but we cannot forget his record and what he's been able to do. We cannot forget

how he's been able to deliver for the American people for almost four years. That matters too. And he has the most historic record

administration, the most in modern politics, and that should matter, and he wants to continue to do that work.

And, you know, a lot of his -- what's on his agenda is very much popular with majority of the American people.