tv Democracy Now LINKTV September 27, 2019 8:00am-9:01am PDT
09/27/19 09/27/19 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy nonow! whateverer other explanatition e might become an excellent nation is also that it i is the cover-. the president has been engaged in a cover-up all along. amy: a white house cover-up. a cia whistleblower has accused the trump administration of attempting to "lock down" information about president trump's request for the president of ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by launching an investigation of
-- into democratic presidential candidate joe biden and his son hunter. this comes as support for impeachment grows among house democrats. we will speak to pulitzer prizee winning joururnalist james rise. then to egypt, where at least 2000 people have been arrested over the past week as mass protests grow against president's trump favorite -- president trump's favorite dictator abdel fattah el-sisi. >> trump and cc have permitted a close relationship. devoid of any kind of criticism of each other. dangerous, could be that it further embololdens sisi to crackdown even further without even the kind of muted criticism that we heard from previous administrations. amy: we will speak to democracy now! correspondent sharif abdel kouddous. all that and more, coming up.
welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president trump faces the biggest political crisis of his career after the publication of bombshell complaints accusing the president of abusing his power for personal gain. in the nine page document, and i named whistleblower was been identified as a cia official, writes -- "the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s. election." the complaint corroborates a rough transcript of a july 25th phone call -- released by the white house on wednesday -- showing that trump repeatedly pressured ukrainian president volodymyr zelensky to launch a corruption probe into trump's campaign rival joe biden and his son, hunter biden. the complaint also revealed details about how the white house attempted to "lock down" all records of trump's phone
conversation soon after it happened by moving a transcript of the call to a standalone computer system reserved for code word-level intelligence information. on thursday, house speaker nancy pelosi accused the trump administration of a cover-up. >> there are actions of a cover-up. when you have a system up electronic storage for information that is specifically for national security y purposes that ishave something self-servingngo the p president politically and decide it t migt not be -- you might not want people to know and you hide it someplace else, that is a cover-up. amy: on capitol hill, members of the house intelligence committee grilled acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire thursday over why he failed to quickly turn over the whistleblower's complaint to congress after the inspector
general of the intelligence community found it to be credible and urgent. maguire cited white house claims of executive privilege for the delay, calling the case "unique and unprecedented." >> i am not partisan and i'm not political. i believe in a life of service and i am honored to be a public servant. first, i want to stress that i believe the whistleblower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout. i have every reasonably that they have done everything by the book and followed d the law. amy: president trump lashed out thursday over the growing scumal, calling reporters in animals and comparing the whistlebeblower to a treasonous spy who deserved the death penalty. trump madeks to a -- the remarks to a closed-door gathering of diplomats on the sidelines of the united nations general assembly in new york. audio of his remarks was leaked
to "the los angeles times." aes. trump: that is close to spy. do you know what we used to do in the old days? spies and treason. amy: after headlines, we will speak to national security reporter james risen of the intercept about the growing scandal. in climate news, hundreds of thousands of school children have walked out of classes in cities around the world for the second straight friday in the latest round of strikes demanding urgent action on the climate crisis. today's climate protests began with marches by tens of thousands of new zealanders. the strikes were inspired by 16-year-old swedish climate activist greta thunberg, who's due to speak to climate strikers in montreal, canada, later today. meanwhile, a new report finds global wheat harvests are
increasingly under threat as the climatate crisis accccelerates. the e report in the e peer-revid journal science advances finds that without radical action to mitigate climate change, extreme droughts will threaten 60% of the world's current wheat-producing regionons by the end of the century. attorneys general from 17 states have joined a lawsuit challenging the trump administration's attempts to roll back the endangered species act. under the proposed rule changes, regulators would be allowed to factor in economic considerations when granting "endangered" status. species classified as "threatened" will see their protections weekend. and scientists will be limited in setting climate change-related protections. california attorney general xavier becerra says collapsing ecosystems show the need to strengthen, not weaken, protections for endangered species. cooks and these ecosystems are
facing unprecedented threat in the form of our climate crisis, habitat loss, and a myriad of other threats. in fact, in a recent report issued by the united nations, we learned that one million of the earth's species are under threat . and just last week, we learned that north america has lost 3 billion birds in the last 50 years. now is the time e to strengthen our planets biododiversity, noto destroy. amy: a senate committee voted along party lines wednesday to advance president trump's nominee to lead the u.s. fish and wildlife service. aurelia skipwith is a former executive at the chemical and agribusiness giant monsanto. the guardian reports she has ties to the westlands water district in california's central valley, which has worked to roll back protections for endangered populations of chinook salmon and d other species. the trump administration claimed without evidence thursday that california i ifailing toto prott
its residents from water pollution caused by homeless populations in san francisco and los angeles. environmental protection agency chief andrew wheeler said in a letter to california governor governor newsom california is failing to enforce the clean water act. his letter came three days after he threatened to pull billions of dollars in federal highway funding to california, accusing it of having the worst air quality in the u.s. california and nearly two dozen other states filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the trump administration's efforts to roll back california's more stringent tailpipe emissions standards. a spokesperson for govovernor newsom called d trp's moveves "political retribution against california, plain and simple." and san francisco mayor london breed said -- "there are no needles washing out to the bay or ocean from our sewer system, and there is no relationship between homelessness and water quality in san francisco.
it's just not a real issue." in egypt, thousands of protesters defied a bloody -- a police crackdown on dissent and took to the streets of cairo and other egyptian cities today, demanding the resignation of president abdel fattah el-sisi over accusations of corruption. nearly 2000 people have been arrested at similar protests so far this week. they were triggered by social media posts by a former army contractor accusing sisi and other officials of misusing public money. earlier this week, president trump praised sisi as the two leaders met during the u.n. general assembly here in new york. later in the broadcast, we'll speak with democracy now! correspondent sharif abdel-kouddous about egypt's largest pro-democracy protests since the 2011 revolution. palestiniaian president mahmoud abbas blasted the trump administration thursday over its one-sided support for israel, saying the u.s. cannot be an
honest broker for peace while it recognizes jerusalem as israel's capital. during his address to the u.n. general assembly, president abbas also called out israeli prime minister b benjamin netanyahu. >> a week before the recent israeli elections, prime minister netanyahu came out to arrogantly announce should he prevail in the elections, he would annex and apply his sovereignty to the jordan valley, the northern dead sea, and israel's colonial settlements. despite the fact that all of these areas are occupied palestinian territory. we reject completely this plan. amy: this week, israel's president threw netanyahu a lifeline, giving the long-serving prime minister a chance to form a new government after last week's election provided no clear winner. the u.s. state department said thursday president trump will slash the number of refugees admitted into the united states from an already-low 30,000
people to just 18,000 over the next year. the head of the aclu immmmigra'' rights project, omar jadwat, respondeded in a statement -- "this administration's eagerness to unilaterally abandon our national commitment to protect people who are seeking safety from persecution, torture, and genocide is sickening. from the muslim and refugee bans, to the asylum bans, to the severe mistreatment and separation of families seeking asylum, these attacks have been deliberate, disgraceful, and fundamentally inhumane," the aclu's omar jadwat said. the trump administration is poised to cut off food aid to 3 million people as it plans a massive rollback of the supplemental nutritional assistance program, snap. this week, the agriculture department was flooded with over 75,000 comments from activists and political leaders as a public comment period for the rule change came to a close. among those who could be affected are as many as a half
million schoolchildren who stand to lose access to free school meals. in chicago, 25,000 educators have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a work stoppage. about 94% of chicago teachers union members voted in favor of the strike authorization, with demands for more staffing and lower class sizes. this is ctu president jesse sharkey. >> we need staffing lilike nursg for socicial workers special education services. we need enforceable caps and class-size. we need pay and benefits, too, but that is not enough. we care deeply about the learning and working conditions in our schools. amy: this comes as about 7000 school support staffers with the service employees international union have made preparations for a strike, as have over 2000 chicago park district workers with seiu local 73. the senate voted along party lines thursday to confirm eugene scalia to succeed alex acosta as u.s. labor secretary. scalia is the son of the late far-right supreme court justice antonin scalia a and a partner
at the powerful law firm gibson dunn & crutcher. scalia has a long history of opposing labor unions on behalf of corporate clients, including walmarart. much of scalia's legal work has been aimed at stopping the dodd-frank financial regulations enacted d after the 2008 financl collapse. in west papua, at least 32 people -- many of them student demonstrators -- were killed earlier this week in a brutal crackdown on anti-racism protests. indodonesian security forcrces reportedly opened fire on a group protestining students at a university in jayapura, killing four. 28 more were killed in a separate uprising sparked by a teacher's racial slurs. the teacher reportedly called a high school student a "monkey." the violence follows last month's escalating demonstrations calling for papapuan independence, which wee also met by bloody repression fromom the indonesian army. this is edison waromi, one of the leaders of west papua, speaking at the democracy now! studio here in new york on thursday. -- dying will
continue every day. amy: and in mexico city, thousands of protesters marched thursday demanding justice for 43 student teachers who disappeared five years ago after they were abducted from the ayotzinapa rural teachers' college in 2014. this is felipe de la cruz, father of one of the missing students. the situation of the parents is painful, exhausting, and distressing. we are strengthened by the support we receive because we are sure w we will learn the trh and the criminals will pay. amy: meanwhile, family members of the victims held a demonstration on the floor of mexico's congress, holding up images of their missing loved ones. mexican official said thursday prosecutors were beginning new lines of investigationon, and te government is offering a 1.5-million-n-peso reward for
ininformation, but so far, investigators say they haven't turned up any new leads. a previous independent investigation found evidence the mexican military was involved in the disappearances. and those are some of the headlines. this i is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we begin today's show in washinington, d.c., where more than 90% of house democrats now support the impeachment of president trump for pushing thee president of ukraine to investigigate democratic presidential candidate, his rival, joe biden and his son hunter. on thursday, a declassified version of a complaint by an anonymous whistleblower was released. in the nine page document, and i named government whistleblower who has been identified as a cia official writes -- of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s. election." the complaint also revealed details about how the white house attempted to locked on all
records of trump's phone conversation with the ukrainian soon after itnsky happened by moving a transcript of the call to a standalone computer system reserved for code word-level intelligence information. the whistleblower wrote in his complaint -- "according to white house officials i spoke with, this was 'not the first time' under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into this code word-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive -- rather than national security sensitive -- information." on thursday, house speaker nancy pelosi accused the trump administration of a cover-upup. >> there are actions that are cover-up, yeah. when you have a system of electronic storage for information that is specifically for national security purposes is you have something that
self-serving to the president politically and decide it might not be -- you might not want people to know and you hide it someplace else, that is a cover-up. amy: meanwhile, president lashed out at the whistleblower and white house officials who spoke to him. during remarks at a closed-door gathering of diplomats on the sidelines of the united nations general assembly in new york, trump compared the whistleblower to a treasonous spy. audio of his remarks was leaked to "the los angeles times." because that is close to a spy. do you know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? we used to handle it a little bit differently than we do now. amy: trump also called reporters scum and animals. his comments came hours after acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire testified on capitol hill and
defended his handling of the whistleblower's comment. but also said he felt the whistleblower had acted in good faith. we're joined right now by james risen, the intercept's senior national senior correspondent. he published two pieces in the intercept this week, "donald -- including "i wrote about the bidens and ukraine years ago. then the right-wing spin machine turned the story upside down." he's a former new york times reporter and was pursued by both the bush and then obama administration's as part of a six-year leak investigation into ."s book "state of war jim risen, we have a lot to talk about. first, can you talk about the revelations in washington, the significance of this whistleblower coming forward -- even the director of national intelligence saying he did the appropriate thing, the whistleblower, you know, moving within the system, fililing hiss
cocomplaint. explain everything that has happened so far. >> yeah, there is a lot to cover. to me, this just shows come as i wrote yesterday, that trump is a habitual criminal. this phone call with the ukrainian president happened a day after r robert mueller testy before congress, basically wrapping up the mueller investigatation. ukrainearts in with the -- attemptpting to get ukraine o interfere in the u.s. 2020 election day after mueller completes his presence on the stage in terms of his investigation of the 2016 russian interference. so i think we have to step back and realize that this ukrainian story is part of this larger picture of trump constantly breaking the law, violating the
norms of society, and trying to damage hiser to opponents, and violate t the constitution. so i think if you look at it -- i think one of the questions i have is, how many other countries has he done the same thing with that we don't know about yet? whistleblower is unique to me because very few whistleblowers have bebeen ableo go through the chain o of comma, the process set up for whistleblowers inside the government without retaliation or being fired o or beingng sty. and so most whistleblowers end up going to the press largely because they're frustrated by the internal system. in this case, the whistleblower was also clearly frustrated
refused to dni release this to congress, and then the white house and the justice department both tried to quash it. in the end, , it was realllly oy the leaks to the preress about e existence of this whistleblower complaint that finally forced the white house and pressure the white house to comply with congressional demands that it be released. so even in this case where the whistleblower followed the rules, it was only press leaks and the role of the press that finally forced it out into the open. amy: explain what the rules are, when you go to the formal process as a whistleblower, making a a complaint like this. why it i is supposed to go directctly to congress. >> well, the whole point o of blowing the whwhistle about wrongdoing and the government is
that you have to take it to another branch of government so that t there are checks and balances. the law is set up so intelligent whistleblowers can go outside of their own chain of command and take it to somebody who is not their boss and doesn't have the power to fire them and to somebody inside the government who has oversight and can investigate the problem. the way that this idiot maguire handled it was to go right to the whwhite house and say, what should i do with it? when the white house was named in the complaint. and then he takes it to the justice department where attorney general barr is named in the complaint. i thought adam schiff's questions of maguire were right on. and then maguire had no good answer when he asked about why he did it this way. amy: actually, we want to go to this clip.
this is the house intelligence committee chair adam schiff questioning acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire. >> would you agree that the whistleblower complaint alleges serious wrongdoing by the president of the united states? >> the whistleblower complaint involved the allocation of that. it is not for me and the intelligence community to decide if the president conducts his foreign-policy or his interaction with leaders of other countries. >> i'm not asking you to opine on how he conducts foreign policy. i'm asking you, as the statute requires, whether this complaint comeved serious wrongdoing in this case by the president of the united states? an allegation of serious wrongdoing by the president of the united states. is that now the subject of this complaint? >> that is the subject of the allegation of the complaint. two things, mr. chairman --
>> let me ask about that. found thator general series allegation of misconduct by the president credible. did you also find that credible? criticize the inspector general's decision on whether or not it was credible. my question was whether it not -- whether it not it meets the urgent concern in the seven day timeframe that would follow -- >> my question -- >> i have no question in his judgment that he considers it a serious matter. amy: that is joseph maguire being questioned by intelligence chair adam schiff. jim risen? >> i just think in a way i kind of pitied maguire. he seemed like he was way in over his head. he had no idea what was really going on here. background. seal
clearly was picked for this job because he is a nobody. after dan coats and sue gordon, his debbie were both fired by trump because he did not like people who actually disagreed with him occasionally. this guy is clearly -- has no idea what was going on and he was thrust into a situation that he did not understand. so in a way, i kind of pity him. but he also should not have taken a job like this or he did not really understand the parameters or the dynamics going on. amy: what about? lay out what we understand at this point his involvement in the story is. >> i think it is a little unclear but in the phone call with the ukrainian president, trump says "i want you to talk to both my attorney rudy giuliani and the attorney bidens barr about the
and help them get damaging information or makeup damaging information about them so that we can then go after the bidens. the justice department claimed now that trump never talked to barr about this. so we don't know if that is true or not, but we do know maguire took the whistleblowers complaint both to the white house and to the justice department and the justice department told him he did not have to release it to congress right away. and they also reportedly, very, very quickly, decided there was no grounds for prosecution against trump based on the i ida which was a similar reasoning that was in the mueller reporor, which was that it is not a
campaign-finance law violatition to seek opposition research from youreign power because can't prove that opposition research is a thing of value under campaign-n-finance law. so they used the same legal insoning that mueller used decididing not to prososecute te thep tower memeeting between trump campaign officials and the russian lawyer. i think it is a very, very weak argument, and they came to that conclusion in a very rapid way. ththey were obviously trying to shut this whole thing down before it ever got to congress. amy: and the role of president trump's private attorney rudolph giuliani, who is going bacacand forth to ukraine, but saying he is doing this on behalf of the state department? bizarre -- i've never
seen anything like this. it is truly bizarre. clearly unethical or illegal. i mean, i'mm wondering what laws covered his actions as a private citizen. it may be a violation of the neutrality act for a private citizen to engage in u.s. foreign policy. but that will be something that congress really should investigate, is whwhat the hell was rudy giuanani doing g and hw -- what role is he playingng and who is paying him?? where is h he getting his money from? is it donald trump himself or is it the u.s. government? amy: of coursese he's sang he is working on behalf of the state department. finally, president trump seeming to throw vice president pence under the bus as well as he is talking about these perfect and beautiful phone conversations he
has had with the ukrainian president. he also says you should check out pence's as w well. >> the thing about donald trump, he lies about everything all the time. in one of the real problems i have with the press today is that we actually -- the mainststream press quotes him al the time knowiwing he is lying about everything. and continueues to treat him lie he is s ally the presidentnt whn he is justst an illegitimatete criminal. and he lies about e everything,o why are we constanantly quoting him and quoting his tweets and statements when you know that everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie? amy: we're going to go to break and then we're going to talk about the story that you reported, oh, actually years ago . and that is the story of hunter biden in ukraine. james risen is the public -- pulitzer winning prize, the
amy: "why we build the wall" by billy bragg. performing in our studio lab this week. visit democracynow.org to see his full interview and performance. this is democracy now!, i'm amy goodman. we continue with james risen the , intercept's senior national security correspondent, a best-selling author, and a former "new york times" reporter. published two pieces in the intercept this week, including one titled "i wrote about the bidens and ukraine years ago. then the right-wing spin machine turned the story upside down." jim risen, tell us about what these allegations are, what hunter biden did in ukraine, and then how it has been spun around. >> sure. this is a very odd experience for me to see this story i w wre four years ago c come back in ts weird way.
in 2015 while biden was vice president, i wrote about how he as just gone to t the ukraiaine sending a message, really, from the u.s. government and from other governments that ukraine had to crackckdown on corruptio. in particular, there was the prosecutor general of the refusing tohad been do anything about major corruption cases in the e ukrai. and i wrote that this whole thert by biden too get ukrainians to crackdown was very awkward for him personally and maybe even looked at as hypocrititical because his ownwn son, hunter biden, was on the board of a company called varese mike, which was a ukrainian natural gas company. and the british serious fraud
office was investigating the ispany and its owner, who the ukrainian official or former offificial. in the british investigation had been stymied because the cranium prosecutor's office had refused her to over -- turn over documes s to the b british officials. as a r result, t the british eft to freeze ththe company's assets had bebeen overturned d by a brh courtt because they could not gt any documents from the ukrainian prosecutor and t the money thaht hahad been frozen, banks in lonn hore immediately went offs to cyprus. hunter biden was on the board of the company at the time that the assets were frozen. and he was on the board d of the company at the time that his father took this trip to the
ukraine. but joe biden went there and said, you've got to get rid of this prosecutor and you've got to crackdown on corruption. trip wasficance of his that it was backed up by the whole western world. there were severeral large westn countries that were demanding the ukraine fire this prosecutor and get -- and crackdown on corruption.. demand the firing of this prosecutor and to ask for a greater crackdown had the effect -- the possiblele effectf making hisis son have even grear legal peril than he did by being on the board of burisma because it could have led d to a more led to a more deeper investigation. what i wrote is this is very awkward and bad politically
hyhypocritical for biden, whicih was badd enough. but what happened since then is the whole right-wing spin machine got involved in this story of the last four years as they wanted to use it for opposition research in the 2020 election. and ththey now claim that biden wewent therere in order to prott his son and to fire -- and to get the ukraraians to fifire the prosecutor to stop him from investigating burisma. which is the exact opposite of what happened. so the original story i wrote was bad enough for biden, falsified byy been the e trump camp to make it look like biden actualllly was using his position to protect his son,
when that is not true. amy: of course president is continuing to say investigate hunter biden. and now the general of ukraine is saying hunter biden is not guilty. talk about vice president joe biden's role in dealing with the prosecutor general in t this question of whetether he was trying to o force hihim out. -- the point the united states was making, biden was really caring a message for united states government, for the obama a administration, whwh was you have to crackdown more on corruption. prosecutor inthe particular was an obstacle to crackdown on corruption.n. he was not leaving any investigations. in fact, there are reports he
was trying to blackmail or get paid off by companies to stop investigations. so the idea -- basically what has happened, the right-wing twisted the story to try to make it look worse for biden. you i'm wondering what think of your former paper "the new york times was court running -- "but of twine can make 2020 another racece between two unpopular nominees, if you make another creature of the swamp, then he has a shot of victory. imagine a world where the ukrainian government enters the .lection on behalf of trump the president can now do the biden what he did to hillary clinton in 2016. meyer him in enough scandal and innuendo to undermine the vice president, crooked hillary seamlessly becomes crooked joe." >> i think that is the whole point, to try to make it look like -- take corruption off the
table for trump as a problem. emerged from thee mueller invesesgation looooking reallyly bad to a lot of america . but if y you can make his oppont looked dirty, too, then that would come as you say, level the playing field. i think that was exactly the point of what they were trying to do with this story. amy: james risen, this whole was the, first, it mueller report. and it did not find collusion andeen president trump interfering with the 2016 election. andrussia becomes ukraine this possibility that people are going just to be inferior raided, that congress is not doing his job to improve the conditions of the american people. >> right, right.
i think nancncy pelosi h has cly trieied -- she had been reluctat to go after impeachment because a a lot of exposed house members and competitive districts she was worried would be hurt by this. i think the ukrainian revelations and disclosures by the whistleblowers have made it almost impossible for her to ignore this. i think if you continue to ignore what trump is doing, you're just going to o aid and ababet him and encourage him to break the law even more often. so i think at some point, congress has to stand up and say, ok, we have to be here and protect the rule of law. amy: finally, president trump speaking at the united nations yesterday, and we just played a bit of that recording, clearly very throne by this whole situation. of course, the impeachment inquiry continuing.
pressscum and animals and says the whistleblower should be dealt with in ways spies used to be, and says he or shshe is guilty f treason. talk about your own experience. this sort of puts together two things, james risen. you were pursued by both the bush and obama administrations. your threatened with jail for not revealing a source. talk about how you were treated, not by trump, but by president obama's administration and the trajectory through to now. >> i think one of the problems is trurump is taking advantage f the e path firirst laid by the h administration and then the obama administration and underutingg whistleblowers
the espionage act in which they are by definition treated as spieies. in the hallway in which both bush -- the whole way and whi ch both bush and obama tried to increase prosecutions of this --lowers is led to finally, we have hit bottom with trump who is just using this kind of hateful language to undermine public servants who are trying to tell the truth. it is s one of the most disgustg things about this administration, but also something that you saw the beginnings of an both h the bush and the obama administration's. the espionage act both by bush and by obama and now b by trumpo prosecutee people who talk to te press is a definition calling a
whistltleblower a spy. bush have lednd this, let us to donald trump.p. amy: james risen, thank you for being with us come intercept's senior national correspondent, bestst selling author r former w , york times" " reporter. published two pieces this week. we will link to them, including "i wrote about the bidens and ukraine years ago. then the right-wing spin machine turned the story upside down." author of "state of war" and "pay any price." this is democracy now! when we come back, sharif abdel kouddous joins us to talk about egypt. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: "king tide and the sunny day flood" by billy bragg. performing live in our studio this week. visit democracynow.org to see his full interview and performances. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn to egypt where thousands of protesters to find a police crackdown on dissent and to to the streets of cairo and other
cities today. demanding the resignation of president cc over of shoes nations of corruption. about 2000 people have been week andover the past demonstrations that were triggered when a former army contractort -- accused sisi and other officials of misusing public money. widely posted twitter hashtags including "sisi is not my president" and "next friday" -- referring to today's protests -- also helped galvanizing the uprising. anti-government protests are rare in egypt and have effectively been banned since sisi came to power following the 2013 overthrow of former president morsi. najia bounaim of amnesty international called on the international community to oppose the government crackdown, writing in a statement -- "the government of president abdel fattah al-sisi is clearly
shaken to its core by the outbreak of protests and has launched a full-throttle clampdown to crush demonstrations and intimidate activists, journalists and others into silence. the world must not stand silently by as president al-sisi tramples all over egyptians' rights to peaceful protest and freedom of expression." earlier this week, president trump praised sisi as the two leaders met during the u.n. gegeneral assembly here in new york. pres. trump: it is an honor to be with my friend, the president of egypt. he is a real leader. he has done some things that are absolutely amazing and a short period of time. when he took over not so long ago, it was in turmoil and it is not in turmoil now. i justst want to say we have a long-term great relationship. it is better than ever before. we are doing a lot of trading. amy: trump also recently referred to sisi as "my favorite dictator." for more, we're joined by sharif abdel kouddous, democracy now! correspondent and a reporter with the independent,
cairo-based media outlet mada masr. it is great to have you back here. you're coveringg the united nations general assembly. sisi was there. and yet back in egypt right now, 2000 people have been arrested. talk about the significance of this moment, sharif. >> there was a severe crackdown that happened following kind of protest, unprecedented but rare and significant ones that took place of timber 20th. as you mention, this came on the back of this army contractor who worked on construction projects with the military for many years, dating back to the mubarak era. he is a little-known actor. he accused -- amy: where is he? >> in n spain and self-exile. he sold much of his assets in egypt and made millions and went to spain. he posted these videos from
there and accused sisi by and top generals byname of acts of corrections -- corruption, of squandering funds on vanity projects. he was specific and it touched a nerve i think for two reasons. one is egyptians are suffering very deeply economically. this is on the back of years of austerity measures came on the back of an imf loan, $12 billion that included deep subsidy cuts to electricity and fuel, included sales taxes, devaluation of the currency, the number of egyptians living below the poverty line rose above 30% by governments own figures. all of that came while people are really suffering economically. but also it was the way he spoke as well. he cast himself as a self-made a street thug. he has a lot of charisma when he speaks. he did not use the language of political rights. it was in court, money with you,
you stole my money. i want my money back." this touched a nerve with a lot of people. theresponse from sisi, organized hastily a youth responded.where sisi he did not refute the allegations really directly, he just said, yes, we are building presidential palaces, building a new state, and we will continue building more. this just cause more people to and do more of these videos. it kind of snowballed into last week stop what we e saw last wek in people, mostly young men their late teens and early 20's, come out and protest. there was a very swift crackdown, as u mentionened. arrest sweepggest since sisi came to power
formally in 2014. over 2000 0 people have been arrested the past week. before that, the largest campaign was about 1200 arrested in 201016 and protest over two islands being handed to saudi arabia. the majority of people who have been detained our young men. they are being held without access to their family or lawyers. they have also detained activists, journalists, political party leaders, university professors, even lawyers who are attending interrogations with detainees at the prosecutor's office, including one who is quite well known. amy: she was there the front line trying to coordinate and represent people. >> this has happened to a number of people who work as human rights lawyers. they are at the prosecutor's office trying to get details of who is detained and they themselves are detained. theave seen on the streets, vast secretive presence of
plainclothes policeman. and and other cities across the country stopping any young man they see, taking their phone, making them unload their phone -- unlock your phone and look through the sea if there's any political content and arrest them. there's also been disruption experienced on the internet and cybersecurity companies have documented this so there is disruptions to things like twitter, facebook, and skype and also encrypting messaging services like whatsapp and signal. news wasly, also bbc blocked officially. it was said it was because they inaccurately reported last week. another was also blocked as well. they have joined about 500 websites which have been blocked over the past for years in egypt, including the one i currently work for. amy: your website. >> mada masr.
it has been blocked for about 2.5 years. we put up mirrors but it is a little cat and mouse game. i should also say just to finish, as we are going to air right now, protests were called for after friday prayer, which ended maybe an hour and a half ago. the roads leading to to rear have been closed off. there's a security presence in there. very heavy police presence downtown. the interior ministry has said they will act with decisiveness against any what they call destabilize the country. sisi has just landed from new york, landed to a very managed and staged entrance with journalists and supporters waving flags. he said there is no reason for concern. finally, there has been a pro-sisi rallies organized by parliamentarians and organized by the intelligence services which are trying to counter the
ones against sisi. in the sideng held of the largest massacre in egypt's modern history six years ago in august were over 1000 people were killed who were supporters of the former now late president. amy: i want to go back to sisi in new york. on monday at the united nations, a reporter asked president trump and egyptian president abdel fattah el-sisi if they were concerned about the protests in egypt. pres. trump: i'm not concerned. egypt has a great leader. he is highly respected. he has brought order. before he was here, there was very little order. there was chaos. i'm not worried about that at all. >> [indiscernible] there have been efforts put
forth for many years to make sure political islam is having a role on the political arena. and competently, this part of the world will remain [indiscernible] officially in egypt, the public opinion of the people are refusing this kind of political islam to egypt. they have demonstrated the refusal [indiscernible] amy: that is the egyptian president sisi and president trump. president trump has called him his favorite dictator. reported orent was trump was waiting to meet sisi and he reportedly said, "where
my favorite dictator?" trump's aids and the egyptian aides could not believe he said something like that. there is a frankness to it. we have to remember trump is an extension of what has been u.s. policy for many decades under the success of democratic and republican administration's that have supported egypt throughmubarak and morsi. trump -- i think it is important that the rhetoric that comes from the administration also matters. and when you have the biggest arrest sweep that is been happening in cairo and trump sits and says there is no problem with that from everyone has demonstrations, sisi has brought stability, this does give a green light for sisi to crack even further.
some administration's have use the state department to speak out and say, we urge him to use self-restraint and things of that nature. i think there is an important factor in rhetoric even though it is just rhetoric and we have to remember u.s. policy has not changed much. also, boris johnson who just met with sisi during the unga similarly praised the bilateral relationship between the u.k. and britain. we can see this larger change that is happening. amy: and sisi sing at the meeting, let me say you will always find something like this in our region, especially with political islam. >> he is trying to blame it on the muslim brotherhood, calling it the bogeyman. i think this language can be familiar to many people here in the u.s. when i talk about islamic terrorism and they y try and blame everythingng on that. that is what sisi has been trying to do. i think an incredible person can
see it has nothing to do with that. if we are looking at the u.s. response, is only presidential candidate who has said anything is bernie sanders who tweeted a couple of times, most recently last night, saying the writer protesting is an international right in egypt should exercise self-restraint. chris murphy and mendez also tweeted similar things, as did congress member whose name escapes me. i think we have to watch what is happening right now in egypt areuse despite -- these un-organize protests. there is no political movement backing this. everything has been shut down politically for years. it is random and hard to call this a movement, but certainly, i would say something changed on september 20, that there was a before and an after and the way sisi is viewed and the way he is talked about and knowing there content,idespread ms. just the people themselves will
reverberate and have a real effect. amy: do you see a possible reprise of the arab spring? >> know, i don't. i think that was a particular moment and we have to remember 2011, at least in egypt and cairo and cities across the country, did not just happen out of a vacuum. there was 10 years of organizing a movement building and politics
wildcat strikes. all of these things brought what happened in 2011 into real movement. this is different. amy: has that all stopped? >> any group, any person who tries to do anything is quickly imprisoned or they are subject to different kinds of penal measures. it has been very hard to do anything. having said that, i'm amazed by the bravery and the perseverance of people in egypt to continue their work and continue pushing back despite the dangers of doing so. there's also a lot of talk there is an internal struggle within the regime that muhammad ali, this contractor, is somehow backed by elements within the regime that are dissatisfied with the way sisi has handle things. sisi has lost a lot of popularity. the ritzy islands that were handled over, they were not happy about that. former chief of staff of the military who dared to run against sisi in the election was imprisoned for 10 years. this is someone who is from the military establishment. there is talk of things being backed that is very opaque and hard to know. amy: how do you remain safe when you return? i continue to do my work but i don't think they focusus on me muchch. amy: thank you, sharif, sharif abdel kouddous democracy now! correspondent and a reporter with mada masr, an independent media outlet in cairo.