tv After Words with Helene Cooper CSPAN June 2, 2017 8:57pm-9:56pm EDT
a senate hearing investigating russian interference in u.s. election. watch live coverage thursday at 10:00 eastern on c-span3 and c-span.org or listen live with the c-span radio app. >> next, a report on siberia's first female elected president. ms. cooper is interviews by california representative aaron bass the top democrat on the foreign affairs committee on africa. >> helene cooper, i must tell you i have enjoyed every minute of reading the books and the things you say. you know, when there is a book
you like, you are almost dispointed when it comes to an end. it was very special to me because i certainly know president johnson and i thought i knew about her past and all but you went into such incredible detail about her rise and it left me feeling what an unbelievable international leader she was. it made me want to ask about you. i know this isn't your first book. your first book is the house of sugar beach. is that right? >> guest: yes. i thought i knew a lot about her too when i started researching for the book because i am liberian and heard about her all my life even as a little girl who she was a political dissidedi disside dissident. i am from liberia.
when you said that they march the people out in the course - quest interesting lee, ellen johnson sirleaf was the chief of finance and they were officials that were killed. she was one of the few who was not an we explore some of the reasons why in this book as well. >> at the taye that was on the riveting scenes in the book. because we talked about she is basically pretty much marched out there. she was anticipating being executed because she knew what had happened and the way that
the people were crying to her to save them before they were marched out. she was not able to do that obviously. but that was definitely one of the most you know captivating parts of the book. i have to tell you that i think is a part of us history that people do not really know about. i like the rain beginning of the book you described how it was really a combination of forces. they were racist, they want the black folks to leave because they did not want free black people roaming around the united states. and then there were also the people who were supportive. abolitionists. in the combined forces and that led to the first i think you know the us population knows so little about slavery. in this part of our history we did not know about. identity that i was disappointing to hear that our ancestors went back and replicated, the way that they
treated the native liberians were not or native africans was not very good. >> no, it show so much about the way we treat each other. human beings treat each other. our ancestors he went back there were you know they one of the good things that they did was to outlaw i mean outlaw the slave trade at that point. they're very very antislavery. keep in mind that a lot of the native africans that met the mayor had they were the people that were selling their brothers and sisters so to speak into slavery. and they were seeing this way of life completely as an economic staple for them eradicated. and that was part of the tension between the two sides. but you also have a lot of - in this weekend to some of the racial complexity that liberia
has been dealing with for almost 200 years now. in lot of the colonists were mixed race. children of white slave owners who had raped or embedded there slave women on the plantation is good to have a mixed race children and wanted to get them off of the plantations and out of the view of the mistress at the time. and so these kids went back to africa thinking that many than thinking that because i had white blood that they work superior to some of the africans and all of this i mean this tangle of race and the slave trade and all of that into the pot of what became liberia. it is such an interesting history. and - >> let me ask you a question. at the beginning of the book you talk about various tribes that were in conflict with each other. before the african-americans
arrived. and then later in the book you talk about the tensions between the various sets. greatest of those tribal differences?>> some of it was and some of it was not. i mean they never like seven people and that goes way back. when the freed american slaves arrived it just became native liberians verse slaves. so it was congo people and liberian people called them country people. so there is tension. once that was ripped away then we sort of went back to a lot of tensions between the different ethnic groups and had been there to begin with and then there were some that were created later on when the military coup was led by
chandler the military dictator. he elevated his tribe. he pointed all of them to the high levels of liberian office just like in the past. it was just different people. and that anchored a lot of the other tribes. see have this tribal warfare going on as well. and that was one of the things that led to the civil war. >> so you left when chandler in 1980. reduce management describing what life was like before the coup. maybe as a 14-year-old you saw some of this beginning to happen, the tensions and all. and maybe didn't. but what was life like for you in liberia before? >> 11 this is in my book. for me it was a completely normal african childhood except that i was sort of treated as a little bit like a princess, protected by my family.
we were an upper-class position so even though we were in it terribly poor country always protected from all of that. i went to a really good school, and my brother and my sisters, i played out in the yard. my parents adopted p removed this big house gossip sugar beet that was on the atlantic ocean. it was ridiculous. and i had my own bedroom for the first time in my life. obtuse go to sleep by myself. so my parents it was very common in liberia at the time. they went out and got me sister. and her mama prefer to live with us because it was a chance to go to a better school, and this is very common in liberia. and we were raised together as sisters. then when that to happen and the family was attacked we ran away and she did not come with the spirit she chose not to, just something i did not realize at the time. i came here thinking we just
left her. but it is a long story i going to them first before we separated for 23 years. it wasn't until 2003, i did not know she was alive. and then i went back and encounter again. an assorted pharmacist again. and that is what my first book was about. it was about going through at the time when this happened the next and 80 left family was attacked, my mother was gang raped by soldiers to protect me and my younger sister. we went there a lot as immigrants. and as refugees actually. eventually american citizenship that we get amnesty under ronald reagan amnesty act in 1988. a lot of it was he not my childhood upbringing, burning up as a liberian, my kind of life at the 1980 coup and then coming to the united states and
trying to push the liberian part out of my life because all he wanted as a teenager was to assimilate and be like everybody else. >> of course! >> and realizing years later i would want this part of my life back. >> when did you search madam president? >> only formally met she had just become president. it was in 2006 when she came here for her been addressed to the joint session of congress. i had known about her all my life. >> what did you know about her? >> well she is minister of finance in 1979 and 1980 women to happen. of course i knew the minister of finance was. she knew my parents and so she was somebody that as a child growing up in liberia she always enough she was always
criticizing the same government that she worked for in then in 1985 when she was arrested and thrown into jail, i heard all about that and we came at this time sort of she became a political icon. she was a really bad - i was about to say a bad word! you know this political you know fighting truth to power. she was jailed and she wasn't going to bend. she was pretty stubborn. >> i think i remember seeing a picture of her that certainly reminded me of the 60s actually was she gets out of prison.and wearing a t-shirt that something. >> yes she had dreadlocks and
she looked like a rock star when she got out of jail. >> i know her as the eloquent state woman. >> you know when you meet her she comes across as so reserved. she feels very standoffish. they put that together and it is great. [laughter] >> absolutely. also imagine we are talking about the minister of finance, wasn't she the only woman that had a position that high in the country? >> liberia, at the time i think she was the only woman in the cabinet in 1979. she was certainly the first woman to be in such a high position. but liberia has always been a very patriarchal place. they have always been a handful of women at higher levels of government. but she was a female minister of finance. in 1971 it was a pretty big
deal. >> a few things that were finessing to me again, you little bit about her past in terms of that she worked for the world bank, a harvard trained economist. and in the way that you described in the book that she systematically built those relationships with the international finance committee. he talked about the beginning she knew she was destined for something. but i wonder if she had in the back of her mind always that she would wind up being president. because she strategically relationships to deal with what liberia was facing. i think anyone would have been able to do that. >> i don't think anyone else can have done that. she came into office they had 4.7 billion debt which was unfair to begin with. she - the country was this
postwar apocalyptic mass at this point.it had been through 15 years of civil war, 23 years of growth financial mismanagement, the place was a wreck. and because she had these national contacts in this background, she is uniquely qualified to begin the process and get the debt forgiven so that was a figure. i asked her many times when did you decide that you wanted to run for president? and i never got a good answer from her. and it evolved for her but i think it started a long time ago. back when she left her abusive husband. she was a victim of domestic abuse. she got married at 17. century 21 she had four boys. for boys under the age of four or five and she left them and came to the united states. she left them with her mother and her mother-in-law. she came to the united states
to get her associates degree. and that started. then she went back to my parents are working for the ministry of finance. that was the moment. she was one of very few women working in that division for the ministry of finance in the 1960s. you can imagine this is a very male-dominated area. in the think disorder started back then. her husband she had fights with her husband and he was very abusive. she started an affair with another liberian man. >> that was pretty bold! >> in the 1960s. -- but she finally walked out. and took control of her life. in the middle of 1960s which i mean think back to then, women did not really do that. you sort of took it and took it.
she was pretty extraordinary from the get go. >> knowing how humble she is, she probably would not admit this. [inaudible] >> any encounter i have had with her she is so understated. and i have interacted with her because she comes to the us rather frequently. and she is no stranger on the hill so most people know her. but she is always very understated given her stature and all. but i think given all of her experience and the financial world internationally, i do not know how she could have looked at those guys. whether you talking about any of them, and not viewed them as you - >> you idiot! >> thank you!
she called the president an idiot. in a speech. >> a commencement speech right? >> now, settlers in philadelphia. and then she incomprehensibly went back to liberia. and so she called the military dictator of liberia and idiot. then went back to liberia they threw her in jail. so that's what happened when you call the president and idiot. back then. >> do you think it weighed heavy on her initial support for taylor? >> that is a big blemish in her reputation. when charles taylor first invaded liberia in 1989. right at the turn of 1989 and 1990. she supported him. a lot of people who probably should have known better supported him at the time because they were so fed up. >> didn't the united states support him? >> the cia helped to get him
out of jail. looking at the people that initially supported taylor we can be here all day. so she initially supported him and it was not until, it took eight months before it became sort of - it was clear liberia immediately that his forces were just as bad. but, as it became known that he was, the people he had unleashed on the country would easily as violent as doe was. and there was just assault and rape and murder on the civilian population. not always the government soldiers but the liberian civilians as well. that is what it took when charles taylor killed one of her). for her to turn on him. and she flips on him but she is
still paying the price for that to this day. you know he turned out to be a madman. >> well but i wonder, i don't know if he describes this in the book. what is the initial reason for it? i mean, they killed him so what was the initial reason for attacking the people? it wasn't as though there was an uprising and supporting. >> yes there was. the tribes supported him. so that's what with all civil war was about. charles taylor invaded liberia in december in 1989. there the ivory coast. they were so many people, they had been attacked by the regime. the people who had supported another liberian in 1985. and little effort after everybody in the tribe.
should they were people who were very very angry at him. they were the people to flock to taylor pierce with those tribes all stayed and that's where you get this. let's read the whole, the actual civil war comes from. this because of the tribe that they belong to. you know that was horrific. that's what started the whole inner liberia became famous at the time and get both the size of government soldiers and the rebels enough abducting the children of these women. and coming and turning into child soldiers and raping mothers in front of the children and then taking the children away. in that sort of thing. that was a truly horrific time for liberia. >> i was shocked also to read about how the kids were drugged. >> yes. >> switching gears, the woman that organized.
>> definitely my favorite. one of my favorite parts of the book. because you know you always see the market women. and so, knowing how they you know there's one part in the book where their organizing separate. she is going about doing a traditional campaign and they are doing their own separate organizing. then they essentially kind of confront her at one point in the capital. in a positive way. she becomes very emotional. and i just wondered what you thought about that. why didn't she recognize them in the beginning? was it that she didn't want to be the woman president? she didn't want to be associated with the working woman? what was the reason that they organized separately? >> i don't think she did want to be the woman president but i think that there were certain type -- this woman is in her
heart, this global bureaucrat who is she looks at things, she breaks down problems. she is not overly emotional. she can be you know there are times that she comes at things a very bureaucratic way. so when she was running for president she looked at this land and thought this is a country that needs this and that and i am going to fix it. she thought that she can win the presidency you know on her own merit. just looking at presenting her longish - >> she gave some speeches and people just looked at her.>> meanwhile though, and she was aware of this. but meanwhile there was this guerrilla underground campaign going on by these market women who had endured 15 years of horrific civil war. they thought was brought on by the men. and they were not going to have that anymore.
they wanted a female president. they saw this woman, a harvard educated global bureaucrat. she stood up and they knew who she was and they knew she was their girl. they say we are going after. it took a while to realize that once she realized she embraced the entire movement. >> another thing was when they were praying and they could have been executed. and i do not know but when the men drove off in tanks and they were praying. >> they have all the men on the they feared soldiers. this is in 2003. at the end towards the end of the to work. the women were so tired of this they started just praying for peace and humanity. it is this scene where i talked to the women who were there and these men they were praying in their white t-shirts at the airfield in front of the
boulevard. they had been praying for days. i mean they had been out there. it was a deeply religious country who believe in african religions and they are also very question. and there are out of muslims as well. it is a very religious place. today's woman had been praying and praying. charles taylor's security forces came with orders to shoot them. and you know they are chambering rounds in the machine guns at the women and they are just continuing to pray.they did not get up. and they got up and walked away and that was a moment. >> it was. just like a moment around her. when they could have executed her. and so once she became president and then they were trying to clean up the streets because the market women were actually creating a little bit of a problem. i wondered what happened. they did create some booths where they can go to market in a better way.
and so, did you ever assimilate to that? >> is still a fight. 12 years later it is still a fight. during the war everybody i mean, the market women i cannot say enough about how the market women carry the country on their backs. during the war, these were the women who went, who walked to the border to all of these rebel held territories. endured attacks from all these crazy men in halloween masks and blonde wigs and wedding gowns. i mean what was that? how about magic. and voodoo and they believed if they wore this and that may be - >> they would be protected? >> they believed that they could you know they went around
naked because they believe that they were naked they would not get a bullet would not penetrate their bodies. this kind of stuff. these women were the ones that kept the economy, what economy there was functioning and moving. the people fed and they protected their children to the best that they could and they were raped. i mean the rape percentage is 70 percent and they had the children of the rapists in the forest were they put the children on the back and went back to the market. in these other women and sort of brought in many ways an end to the war when they started demanding peace and praying about that. and these are the women at galvanized behind ellen johnson and they got her elected. so many men, she was running against the football player. >> and still running. >> but this is the guy didn't have a credible college education. and you have a harvard educated
spirit. all of the member flocking to the football player and all of the women flocked to ellen. and they got her in an elective. it turned out they were immediately one of her biggest headaches. they said they wanted to continue to make their market in the street where they had been doing in the past. where she said you need to buy the marketplace. market women should be in the marketplace and not on the side of the road. we need to open up the roads for development and all that. there is been a lot of tension. >> she had her enforcer. he notes she - >> and then she was indicted for corruption. liberia has been plagued by corruption. >> where they brought in? >> when they had a problem they went to her. she fought with the market woman but she was also the biggest advocate.
you know she established the market women fund. she did. and she did a lot for them.so i wouldn't call her - they were her biggest factors. >> i wondered considering that the pathway that is volatile and the first case that you talked about, do you know what happened to the woman? >> the women were hit hugely by ebola. the biggest tragedy in my mind of people is that it punishes you for caring. the people were family members or healthcare workers or caregivers. that's it. you're punished for helping people. and so it is largely is going to have a lot of women that way. that was the big part of the whole tragedy of ebola. but also you know liberian's were able to pull themselves
out of it. so they were hit harder. my theory was hit harder because they got into monrovia. and that was a big deal but liberia also got through quicker than the other two countries in part because of the women. in part because i think of madam president ellen johnson sirleaf. she had some huge missteps at the beginning. in the beginning of the ebola epidemic. she and the rest of the country were in denial. she did not want her foreign investors and people who were looking to develop liberia to think. >> finishing of the airlines coming? >> yes and she was, she did not do well the first few months but then eventually she got sense knocked into her and she spun into high gear. at that point she got the whole country.
the country in many ways pushed her. in large part, i think it is because she had a letter free speech and a lot of criticism of her on the airways. >> what was a community that she quarantined? >> that was a figure. there's a right after that. it was just one thing after the other. but eventually liberia and madam president that their act together and at that point the country did extraordinarily well getting itself out of it. >> i remember when she approached in your both and i remember when she approached president obama. it was one of his incredible legacy is the way he mobilized the entire world. she also was the one that approached him. >> yes. she wrote a letter to him. as a lie. i watched george bush on africa and i watched barack obama on africa. i was so disappointed with obama on africa leading up to
that point. i felt should be much better than obama was. i almost felt as if obama was holding africa at hands off because they came to office and i'm the president of the united states of america. so when ebola happened i was really interested in how he was going to react to this end ellen johnson sirleaf wrote him a letter the city have to help us. you have a history.the french and the british are going to help but youhas to, and i was really carries how he would respond. >> it was very controversial. >> it was a really big deal. and his response on ebola i think made up in my mind in many ways for what i thought was a week africa policy overall.
>> i actually think he did do some significant initiatives on africa. but anything he did or said considering that he was accused of being a canyon that stuck into the united states, it was deathly hard for him to have an association. so i want to know a couple of things. did any of the women leaders around hopefully all of the women leaders survived the market woman? or any of them still active? i guess i was hoping that one of them would have run for presidency considering there in the middle of a campaign right now.>> sar. it is fabulous, is already shaping into this - the football player is running again. in his running mate is charles taylor's wife. and his baby mama is also running. that is the one he had a baby
with also running for president. against him. >> is she elected official? >> no, she is a former model. >> a former model? >> here in the us. and nowb she is doing her had in liberia as well. i do not see at the moment a credible female top of the ticket. but you know we do not know if the election campaign, it is a two-month campaign. we do not have the 10 years. >> thank goodness! >> things will really get going. you may see a lot of the things. >> and i was interesting. i was reading a liberian paper the other to hear that charles taylor was calm. i didn't know he had access to a phone. >> i didn't either! >> according to this report i saw that as well. he had a phone conversation with george -- i do not know enough about that you know
what. for life! >> there was another stress and he will be back in liberia by the end of the year. >> that's not happening. >> right! goodness. going back again to earlier in the book, when madam president receives a nobel prize. and also the tactics that women used taking the voting cards away from their sons because i didn't want their sons to go. tell me more about that. especially nobel prize first. why do the tactics first. but you know the women were so, they were so fed up with demand that they were going to do it anyway that they could. the men played dirty and so the women were perfectly happy to play dirty as well.
then ellen johnson sirleaf coming from the perfect vehicle for that. similar no problems at all about swinging the judge that the men swung at her. so it was a number of things that the supporters did. they bribed god to give them their voter id card so that when men showed up they would not be able to book. all of the young boys were voting for the football player. a lot of them, the mothers extol their voter id cards so they cannot go. they were two rounds. the first and the second. a lot of them i didn't realize that they would need their voter id card after that first round to fill in the second round. so that's how the women were able to get around that. they were parked at bars up and down the highway. eunice ain't give me her card for a cold beer. give me a card for this. you know they, at the polls a woman that passed the same baby around to different women because if you had, if you are nursing mother you could vote
in both the front of these 10 hour lines. they will pass the same baby around to women. there are all sorts of sneaky things. then there was this great, they dug up this video that the football player had made back when he was playing in italy. the italians soccer team in milan. when she appears in commercial but naked in front of white women. >> oh my! >> that commercial - they unearthed this video. it was 14 years old and they dropped it down the middle of the liberian political scene in liberia. as i mentioned liberia has this weird mix of bible puritanism and deep racial anxieties. and having this video show up it just got the women involved. this of this as a rejection of black women. the men were jealous and in the way it was a loser issue for george. it was enough so there was a
lot of stuff that they did. to get ellen johnson sirleaf elected. jumping from there now to the nobel in 2011, was really funny about this and the reason why the nobel came right in the middle of the reelection campaign. >> reelection? >> yes! >> so again she's on the other ticket. the other male presidential candidates were running at the time. it's literally like two weeks before election day and she gets the nobel peace prize. and the man went crazy.there were like we cannot believe it! she is in cahoots with the nobel peace prize community. and she bribed them to do this. and so then they said, that's it we are boycotting the elections for a liberian
leader, this is a country that the last president, died in office. or they will run out of town convicted of war crimes. we are not a country that produces nobel peace prize people. some people are so shocked at the idea. they woke up that morning and it was like a liberian president one in nobel peace prize? is it even possible? and the election was basically over that point. >> it was so appropriate though that she won! because what was liberia before?there was no war while she was president, right? >> while she fought battles. and that is not easy to do because a lot of the tension that led to the civil war are still there. and she has done actually a really good job of keeping that at bay. by bringing charles taylor people is your government. trying to reach out to the
opposition that you don't have people who feel that they are so completely left out of the process. because you have to remember, charles taylor was a horrible madman in my opinion. there were a lot of people in liberia still believe, why do they still consider all of his crimes were exposed to the world, they were horrific! >> they think the other side did worse. >> yes they think that he was just fighting back. >> comparing that to her? >> no not comparing to her. but i would think after seeing the horrific crimes of everyone else and then to go through, how long was the? >> two terms of six years.>> 12 years! someone who is completely the opposite. and the fact that tenant still
a force to be contended with. >> he was a football player during the war. he was not one of the participants of the civil war. one of the things, he was playing football in europe. the one thing he does bring to the table is the idea that he, at a time when most liberians during the civil war were looking like crazy people on the news all over the world, there was one liberian guy who was bringing honor to the country. it's almost viewed as you know he was this african player of the century. he you know that is where a lot of his popularity comes from. >> is a celebrity. >> he is a celebrity. maybe we should warn the liberian people about celebrities. you know, the african woman that all approached in your chapter called the oracle. what happened with that? they asked her if she would
essentially, because they were so excited, right? they all wanted to the back of the president. and that is before president -- where was it related to joyce? it was around the same time. it was in 2013. i was there for that meeting. >> you were in that meeting? >> yes. i took office to research the book. i followed her around like a fly on the wall. i was in the meeting with them for about an hour and 1/2. they were waiting for to come. they were all quiet and nervous. they had -- >> in - none of them were in office? >> no. they wanted to organize their
own grassroots movement. it was so cool to be in this room with these beautiful women. they're all in applicant's failure so awesome.and the supply room. there an injury. she walked in and goes quickly. it was my fiancc walked in. it was completely just this rock star in their eyes. they will come to her and they looked at her sort of like the oracle of monrovia. to pay homage you can find out how you did and you know to talk to them and she held the sessions. >> she did? >> yes she still does this. she meets with people all the time. >> good! they did not form. >> she was talking to various high level politicians around the continent. to see about forming a
organization for black women. i think that is in progress. >> what role do you think she's trying now instance of the election? i know vice president is running. and she supposedly is backing the lukewarm backing. [laughter] >> she is technically, she has not come out in any real way. nobody really believes it she wanted to win. and there is conflict between the two of them were she basically told them if you want to be president i am not going to do it for you. you have to go out and fight for the same way i did. >> that actually worries me a little bit. because you know for her not to play a very aggressive role when it looks like is going to be the opposition which is taylor, the football player and the former wife of charles
taylor. and i don't want to just say because, i do not want to say just because she was his former wife. i do not believe that she was with him at the height of his reign. is that correct or no? >> when she was his wife, yes. i don't know exactly she isn't someone i focused a lot of attention on. >> so we have a situation and said a few ago that detentions from before madame president might have kept them at bay. but it also seems as though they could explode again. >> that's true. i think but don't assume that taylor is going to win. he has lost twice now and there is a belief that he is a
feeling of support. this - >> this is a whole thing about democracy. one of the things that worries me in my role in congress. i meet with african leaders often. and we as the united states, we have a policy that we want to see fair and free elections. it worries me sometimes that some countries might not be exactly ready. and i know i am worried about what happens in liberia post madam president. and so if the vice president is relatively weak, and you know you have taylor. >> there are other candidates at will.you have coming soon is a former coca-cola executive. he is probably the most similar to ellen johnson sirleaf. probably the one that the us would most likely want to see win. because he has that same international finance
background.his issue, and i think is a possibility but his issue is he is very americanized. i'm not entirely sure. i keep saying this and i'm going to get in trouble. he's going to call me out and say stop saying that! [laughter] but you know - there is charles who is running the past. he was beaten by her before. there are a lot of characters from the past are reassembled, ready to go at the starting gate. at this point we don't know, they are a whole cast of characters, this election will be - as a journalist i think it will be fascinating. >> will you go back? >> i want to. i want to cover it and maybe -
>> i mean can you imagine and actually have annexed couple running against each other? had your ear and begin to write about that? >> exactly! >> is it a small child or an adult? >> i think it is a small child. but i do worry though because with a country that has made progress. i remember talking to president ellen johnson sirleaf and her tiny about how they didn't have electricity infrastructure that it had been destroyed. and that is like even hard for us to comprehend. >> i was in liberia for christmas and they turned the lights back on after 26 years. because during the civil war the dam was attacked and the lights went out. and i talked to be will not have electricity, you cannot even get your head wrapped around that.
>> we get a power outage here for a few days. you both for generators and all that. you going to the average liberian homes. they will run that freezer for three hours in the middle of night just enough to keep things cold and then it goes back again. this is the way the country has lived for so long. you're just getting infrastructure back. so you are right, there are a lot of reasons to be worried about the end of this term. where we've seen 12 years of relative calm. but i think that also there are plenty of reasons for hope. i think one of the things that she is done that i think will be hard to turn back is freedom of speech and freedom of the press. liberians have not gotten used to the fact that they can go on
the radio and they can call her an idiot if they want to. she is not good to throw them in jail. and they do! they call her every name in the book. and they are so used to that that is hard to imagine that they budget tolerate being tossed back into that regime. they have the freedom to speak that they never had before. >> you think if she had her third term that she would win? >> yes i do. >> what do you think the future holds? >> but she is not running. let me make a point that that is huge! i'm you deal a lot with these - >> these guys have been in office 30, 40 or 50 years. african president. the men that run the african countries do not act on until you put a gun to their heads. and the first woman to serve
does or two years and septum is a huge thing. for the first time in liberia we are going to have the example of a post president, we have never had that before. >> i had the honor of being with her in january for the inauguration of the canadian president.one thing she did that was also incredible in african history is, when the president of the gambia changed his mind first he conceded when he lost his election. then he changed his mind and decided to stay. she was in charge of the west african region and they went over there and basically said, if you step down or we will come get you. >> and that organized - and they went in. >> so we are making progress. i think recently making better progress in west africa the rest of the - not only to have
far better, our food is way better.our culture rocks! our clothing is better.live better books, better art. [laughter] >> what do you think the future holds? what does madam president jeanette?>> i think you see her a lot on the circuit. she says she is going to retire but i do not believe that. i do not think she will be quiet. she still has a lot, and enormous amount of vigor. i mean she is 78 years old. i following around for this book, i was exhausted. when we went on these torahs and we finally hit that where were staying for that to the money. she and be ready for an interview. and i was like, i have to sleep!
[laughter] >> i just think she is such an incredible role model and again, having interacting with her a lot over the last seven years. to see her very understated but very powerful at the same time. i only wish i had been in congress when she addressed trans am and that was the first time. while no, nelson mandela and madam president. -- it was a big deal to have. back in the 70s . liberia has always been america's biggest ally. you know with africa but he just congress. it was a big deal for ellen johnson sirleaf to do it. you know she had the pearls and the whole outfit. she can do liberian english and american english and go back
and forth so she wrapped herself in her american cloak and delivers this very americanized type of speech. and she thanked congress for all he had done. and she says he is a bar piece of a beer. it was a huge political triumph for her. >> was at janet's time that - >> she was put in by banner and pelosi and cheney was there. it was quite the same. i watch the video again and again. that is when with barack obama. remember baynor was walking her down the aisle. ellen johnson sirleaf, and pelosi was there right there as well. they were escorting her into the chamber. you care about this. so they coming out and stopping and talking to everyone.
members on both sides and shaking hands. and there's a moment with the with barack obama who at that time was a junior senator from chicago standing there. and baynor just disappears. it's like he's not making the introduction. then pelosi comes around to introduce her to senator obama. that is the first time that she met barack obama. hello think it was, joe biden, it was you know she - she is very good at playing congress. she was praying on the phone with - and mean she like to really, she has done a lot of the homework. >> mentions the tapes.so want to see that tape. of the speech. >> at that you talk about the video. >> no! that i think i can do without. but i would love to see -
[laughter] i would love to see her give that speech and imagine that in congress he must've been a very exciting time. >> it was a very full scene. >> it will be very interesting to see what she does next and i like that she told me that she will be on the speaker circuit. maybe i will see both on the speaker circuit. >> i'm always out there but i've been really enjoying, i mean i really enjoyed working on the book. it is weird not because it took me four years to write to get to the point where it is a labor of love. it is also this enough so the work of "the new york times" and my day job is like what do i do now at 4 o'clock in the morning? >> is a wonderful book to read. it was a great contribution and i really appreciate having the opportunity to read the book
and have a conversation with you. >> this has been so fun. thank you so much! >> you are very welcome. >> former fbi director james comey will testify next week at a senate hearing investigating russian interference in us elections. watch live coverage from the senate intelligence committee thursday at 10 eastern on c-span3 and c-span.org. or listen live with c-span radio app. >> c-span's washington journal live every day with mayors and policy issues that impact your. coming up saturday morning. president karpinski reacts to the president's decision to withdraw from the paris climate agreement. then wall street journal economy reporter discusses the main jobs reported in the
president's record on job creation so far. and editor-in-chief -- discusses the idea of universal basic income and what it could mean for us employment. be sure to ask he spends washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern saturday morning. during the discussion. >> next on "after words" physician and analyst elisabeth rosenthal examines the business side of healthcare. in her book and american sickness healthcare became big business and how you can take it back. dr. rosenthal looks at the rising costs for medical services and offers guidance to consumers on how to better navigate the healthcare system. she is interviewed by doctor david blumenthal president of the commonwealth fund. >> hello. it is a pleasure to be here with you. i want to congratulate you on an incredible readable and thorough review of problems of