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Senate Impeachment Trial Enters Its Second Week; John Bolton's Bombshell Claim About President Trump; Tens Of Millions On Lockdown In China; The World Mourns Kobe Bryant's Passing. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 27, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The President on John Bolton, but does his bombshell claim undercut Trump's impeachment defense? Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp joins
Then, tens of millions on lockdown in China as authorities raised to stop the Wuhan Coronavirus spreading. Can they contain it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was family. He was family here in L.A. Not just L.A., but the whole world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I grew up watching him play. It's like he's a part of our life or lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Shock and grief as the world mourns Kobe Bryant. Why his influence extends far beyond by basketball?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSHUA YAFFA, MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": Sooner or later, you bite up against the state and have to decide for yourself where and then in
the service of what am I willing to compromise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The New Yorker's Joshua Yaffa on what the age of Putin means for everyday Russians.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. The Senate impeachment trial enters its second week with the President's
lawyers continuing their defense. But will a bombshell revelation finally seal the deal on calling witnesses to the trial?
According to The New York Times, a draft of former National Security Advisor John Bolton's new book says the President told him he wanted to
continue withholding military aid to Ukraine until that country investigated the Bidens. So how will this news affect moderate Republicans
Senators like Mitt Romney, who supports calling Bolton as a witness?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, other key senators, including Susan Collins also say that these reports strengthen the case for witnesses. My next guest knows what
it's like to be a moderate in her own party. She's a Democrat from conservative state North Dakota and she served six years in the Senate.
Heidi Heitkamp joins me now here in the studio.
HEIDI HEITKAMP, FORMER U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
HEITKAMP: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: We're going to get to the trial at the moment. Of course, everybody, even here in England, everybody is watching it. You're here to
talk Trump foreign policy to a British audience, to the Henry Jackson society. What in a nutshell have you said and have you heard?
HEITKAMP: I basically have been talking about the importance of maintaining our alliances and our connections as we have for years and years in not
only the Trump years but post Trump, and talked a lot about what does America first mean, is that America alone or can we redefine that so that
we can recognize our nationalism, but also recognize the vital importance of liberal democracy and NATO alliance to the future of the world.
AMANPOUR: So President Trump was in Davos just a few days ago, last week, actually, touting his success and got, by and large, a very friendly
reception. People quite like his economy, at least the top 0.1 percent do.
HEITKAMP: Yes. Yes. Well, I think when you look at the economy, what you've got to understand is he has basically said, I've done the best job in the
history of forever. But if you compare GDP growth, he has only achieved 3 percent GDP growth. He promised us four.
If you look at wage growth, yes, wage growth in the bottom quartile has grown in the United States, but it's because of increases in minimum wage
that have been promoted by a lot of Democratic policies. He's a very good marketer of the existing situation without really having proof points that
any policy of his actually drove it.
AMANPOUR: So it's really interesting because, of course, you're here and everybody, as I said, is watching what's unfolding in the Senate. What do
you make of the latest claim, this revelation are in the New York Times that former National Security Advisor John Bolton has delivered a
manuscript or data at the end of the year to the White House for approval?
And in that manuscript, apparently, he says that actually the President spoke to him about withholding that very controversial Ukraine military aid
until and unless the new Ukrainian President would investigate the Bidens.
HEITKAMP: Look, I'm no expert on timing. But you know and I know these things don't get leaked accidentally. And so it looks over the weekend like
The President's team is actually making some headway and this thing is going to get shut down very early on. And all of a sudden out of nowhere
comes this leak, which basically says this is what the report says.
There's also a lot of discussion about whether in fact his testimony under oath would bypass the NSA process that he will have to go to actually --
AMANPOUR: This is John Bolton.
HEITKAMP: -- yes, to publish the book.
And so you've got to put that off to the side and think about his motivations. Think about the motivations of whoever leaked this, which I
think are likely coming from the Bolton team. But you also have to look at the fact that John Bolton, as you know, from years of reporting with neo-
cons is like the chief neo-con.
He is not, as they portrayed, the whistleblower as a Democratic operative. He's not somebody who the President didn't bring into his administration
and entrust with this information. So in terms of his credibility as a witness, the fact that he was in fact a neo-con, a lifelong Republican and
also someone that the President trusted enough to make National Security Advisor, I think, definitely adds to the argument that he needs to be
AMANPOUR: Bolton apparently says although he has spoken to The New York Times, but his people says it's the White House that leaked it and the
President, of course, denies all of this. He has said, "I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats,
including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to
sell a book."
OK, so be that as it may, what do you make of the dilemma faced, if indeed there is one, by moderate Republicans?
HEITKAMP: I think it's going to be very difficult for Cory Gardner, for Joni Ernst, for a number of these folks who have very progressive groups in
their state and have, in fact, turned purple, if not blue, presidentially for them to go home and say, look, nothing to see here, especially in light
of this revelation. And I think that at the end of the day, when you evaluate or when foreign audiences evaluate this, you should look at the
impeachment as the indictment.
There is nothing in American jurisprudence that says when you go to trial, you can only bring witnesses who were in fact in the grand jury. You bring
in everybody who has new evidence or any new evidence that you can present. It's interesting to see what will the Chief Justice do.
Well, he play a larger role in trying to make sure that this process looks less like a hurried up scam and more of like an actual deliberative process
that's arranged to achieve the truth.
AMANPOUR: And I just want to play something by Trump's lawyer who said, again, that there was no link, nothing. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PURPURA, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: There was simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So his base is obviously very loyal, including in your state of North Dakota.
AMANPOUR: You famously lost to somebody who's stuck himself close to Donald Trump, right?
HEITKAMP: Hundred percent. Hundred percent, yes.
AMANPOUR: What do you think all of this and not just for this trial, but for the upcoming election in November, what do you think it portends for
people in your state, important states like North Dakota?
HEITKAMP: I think number one, North Dakota is not going to vote for the Democratic candidate. I think it's more important what does it say in
Minnesota, where Trump barely lost the last time. And to me what you're seeing right now is you're seeing a whole lot of people waiting, even
people in rural areas, we do a lot of social listening in our one country project which is a rural Democratic project to try and find out what is in
fact the buzz or the understanding that people have in those communities.
They are neutral and they're trying to figure out what this is about. I think at the end of the day, if people - they may not be for removing him,
but they definitely think they should bring witnesses on. If they don't bring witnesses on, it will forever taint, I think, the process taint the
Senate and it will again further divide our country and polarized our country.
I think the President's best defense always was so what. Yes, I did it, so what? What are you going to do to me? And I think even in that so what
defense I think that the loyalists in the Senate would not have voted to remove him from office.
AMANPOUR: So when his best defense is so what, I mean, you clearly don't agree with that. In what way is it a best defense?
HEITKAMP: Well, it's a best defense because it's the only factual defense he can make. Anyway, when his lawyer say there's no proof, of course,
there's proof that he did a quid pro quo. We have the statement of Mulvaney, we have the actual transcript. The President keeps encouraging
people to read the transcript.
Number one, let's understand it's not a transcript. As you know, it is simply notes that were being taken. We would love to read the actual
transcript if there was one and the transcript itself certainly implies, if not directly states a quid pro quo. "I want you to do me a favor though."
What does that mean?
Every person in America knows when somebody says that, when you're asking for something you say, yes, but I need a favor.
That means I need a favor if I'm going to do this thing for you.
AMANPOUR: So are you concern then that all of this doesn't seem to have moved the dial? People who are entrenched in their original beliefs about
the President, what he did, what he didn't do have not necessarily be moved by either the congressional hearings with the testimonies of career foreign
service and civil servants nor this trial so far? What does that mean, maybe not in your state, but in the country in general for the Democrats'
attempt, if not, to oust him by impeachment then to beat him at the ballot box?
HEITKAMP: I think that what people are thinking is, look, it's not going to happen. Let's move on to the November election. Let's see what our
alternatives are. Right now the alternative to Trump is Pence. And I will tell you there's a number of Democrats who actually might be even more
frightened by a President Pence.
The other thing that isn't talked enough about is the articles of impeachment actually argue that he should be removed and then never allowed
to run again. So let's assume he was removed, but still allowed to run, I think that you would still see the same dynamic among his core constituency
And so what the Democrats have to do is they have to connect this to ordinary people's lives and this idea that we grew up, knowing for sure
that Russia was our enemy, that's not necessarily true for a younger generation. And so, again, going back to reestablishing the old lines,
reestablishing what we always have believed is in America's best interest, it is certainly not collaboration with Russia against Ukraine. That's not
in America's best interest.
AMANPOUR: What about what the America - you started this organization called One Country, right?
AMANPOUR: And you're very concerned about the Democrats and others, ignoring rural America. As you see, Iowa caucus is going to be next week.
It's the beginning of the content and you've seen Bernie Sanders surging, so the very progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He's doing very well
with Warren and Biden may be slipping a little bit in certain areas. What is your gut reaction right now to that?
HEITKAMP: My gut reaction is that on caucus day, people are going to make a judgment on who they think is most electable. Who can take out Donald Trump
is the number one issue. It's not about Medicare for All. It's not about all of these other policies, free college tuition. It's about removing a
president or nominating someone who could remove a president.
I think the more interesting dynamic is the entry of Bloomberg into the race. And you see nationally his poll numbers going up, in part driven by
an incredibly lucrative for a media outlet, lucrative expenditures of Bloomberg on advertising. But Bloomberg is being smart, because he's not
looking at the field. He's talking about his accomplishments and he is talking about how we can beat Donald Trump.
And so I think Iowa will be a test. I think there will be people who won't survive Iowa. We need to 50 percent --
AMANPOUR: Who are you reporting and endorsing?
HEITKAMP: I do not endorse anyone. I love them all. I mean, there is a great bumper sticker, it says Democrat 2020. So that's my bumper sticker.
AMANPOUR: All right. And what about Democrat and fracking? You've had this issue in your state fracking in fossil fuels. You've seen the progressives,
Sanders and Warren have said, a ban on fracking if they're president. Biden has been there must be a transition. It's very hard, isn't it, to call for
an overnight ban on something that so many people's lives depend on.
HEITKAMP: Well, not only that, but if you look at the single greatest reason why we've been able to curtail CO2 in our country is the removal of
coal fired generation and replaced it with natural gas. And so the United States actually is doing a pretty good job meeting even Paris standards. If
you drive up the cost of extracting natural gas, you will then create a huge problem in terms of raising costs for the middle class of energy.
And so, I mean, I just think that this is all very short sighted. It doesn't appreciate that people - it's that moment that Hillary had where
she said a lot of coal miners are going to be out of work. I mean, there is a lot of people in states like Pennsylvania, especially western
Pennsylvania, states like Ohio that are in the extraction business and their livelihood depends on it and their cities have done very well.
And so I just think that number one is misplaced concern for the environment, but I also think that they aren't looking at the cost benefit
and what the cost would be if you eliminate low cost natural gas.
AMANPOUR: Senator Heidi Heitkamp, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
HEITKAMP: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now we're going to move on because fears continue to grow over the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus. At least 82 people have died,
all of them in China.
And there are 2,700 confirmed cases of infection in China with another 50 people infected around the world. Five of them are in the United States.
The Chinese communist government still has 15 cities under full or partial lockdown impacting almost 60 million people. But will this be enough to
contain the spread of the virus? Dr. Thomas Inglesby is the CEO and Director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University and
he's joining me now from Baltimore in Maryland.
Welcome to the program, doctor.
THOMAS INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Hello. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: OK. So on this day how worried are you? Is this people's worst fears? Is it a pandemic? Is it something that you think is going to spread
like Ebola did in its own location all those years ago?
INGLESBY: So I think it is a very serious outbreak and it already has spread beyond China in small numbers, but most of those people seem to have
been identified. We hope that most of them have been identified.
So it's not a pandemic. Pandemic is disease that's really spreading globally around the world, really unchecked spread around the world. And at
this point, really the majority, the vast burden of disease is still in China. But to the question of whether or not this is controllable, I think
the honest answer is we don't know if it's controllable yet.
So I think we really need to be going down two trails at once. The first trail is doing everything we possibly can to help China in its efforts to
control the disease and getting people isolated and treated and diagnosed. But on the other hand on track two, I think we should also be planning for
the possibility that it's not controllable and that it will spread to other parts of the world.
AMANPOUR: OK. So let's first take the China piece of this because, obviously, as you say that's the most important at the moment.
AMANPOUR: Are you impressed, satisfied, pleased with the way the Chinese authorities are dealing with this as opposed to how they dealt with in 2003
and '04 when SARS started? Are they being more transparent? And I mean, this lockdown is incredible when you think it affects close to 65 million
INGLESBY: Yes. I mean, I think they are being much more transparent than in the time of SARS. And there's direction from the President himself saying
that he is directing people to share information with the world, share with the World Health Organization with other governments.
So there is a lot more sharing. I think information could always be better. We could - they probably could improve the speed of information that
they're giving to the world, but it's also a very chaotic situation there and there's a lot going on. As you said, there are these now large scale
quarantines unprecedented in size around major cities in China.
There is, I think, some debate in the public health community around the world about whether that's likely to help or whether it's more likely to be
a hindrance in trying to get control. But certainly you have to acknowledge that they're being very, very aggressive in their efforts to try and
contain the disease.
AMANPOUR: How deadly is it? How fatal is it? Because tell me how biggest statistic 80 deaths is compared to 2,700 confirmed cases, is that very
deadly, how do you measure that?
INGLESBY: So fortunately the number of people - well, the tragic that anyone has died, the number of people who've died has been relatively small
compared to the number of cases. There was even one report out today by distinguished scientists in Hong Kong that said they believed in this
university that there could be as many as 20,000 to 80,000 cases that have taken place in China or that have occurred in China and still we have 80
So if that's the case, then it may be the case with time as we learn more that the case fatality rate is quite low as compared to SARS where the case
fatality rate was on the order of 10 percent. But it's too soon to say that for sure, I think we're hopeful that the case fatality rate will be much
lower than SARS. But we're going to need a lot more information from China to really know that.
AMANPOUR: OK. So you're in the United States, the U.S. is one of the most prepared in many, many, many instances, particularly medically and with
hospitals and prevention. How about the five cases there?
And I just want to know whether you feel Joe Biden who has criticized President Trump over proposed cuts to the CDC and the NIH, the National
Institute of Health, he said, "To be blunt, I'm concerned that the Trump administration's short-sighted policies have left us unprepared for a
dangerous epidemic which will come sooner or later." Is that fair and are you concerned about America's preparedness and its defenses?
INGLESBY: Well, I think that if any country were facing what China is facing right now, it would be very, very difficult. So fortunately we were
not the first country to have this disease. We've had some time to prepare ourselves. I think the initial response has been very good. People have
Fortunately, people who have gotten the disease outside of China seem not to be terribly ill and we don't understand the distinction yet between
those in China and those outside of China, so that's all good news. People have been isolated in the U.S.
There has been an enormous amount of work done in the last 15 years, the last 10 years to build capacity in this country and in other countries as
well. But whether any country can really perform well under the conditions that China is really going through now, I think it's a debatable question.
AMANPOUR: And this is a sort of manifests almost as a bad cold pneumonia like symptoms. Is there any clarity on the source of it? People are talking
about potential animals in the market in the town that it first exhibited.
INGLESBY: So the sequencing information from the virus looks like it has come from a bat, which is where Coronaviruses have come from before. But
probably it went through an intermediate animal host and then jumped to people.
We don't know for sure. We haven't found the intermediate animal host yet, so we don't know exactly what the pathway was. But it looks like it's
following a similar pathway as has happened before, which is bat to an intermediate animal to human.
INGLESBY: And I think your second question was about symptoms.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I was just saying that it's like a pneumonia type. But I want to ask you because you all did, there was an Event 201 epidemic. There
was a scenario that was a simulation of an outbreak of a Coronavirus like epidemic modeled on SARS.
And it says, "The scenario ends at the 18-month point, with 65 million deaths. The pandemic is beginning to slow due to the decreasing number of
susceptible people. The pandemic will continue at some rate until there is an effective vaccine or until 80 percent to 90 percent of the global
population has been exposed."
I mean, that simulation that you all did is much more dramatic than the way you're speaking right now.
INGLESBY: Right. Well, because that simulation was a fictional Coronavirus with different properties that are apparent in the current Coronavirus. We
talked a minute ago about the number of deaths as compared to the number of cases that have been identified. And so far, we might hope that the number
of people who might die from this illness maybe one in a thousand, that's a very rough estimate. It could be more, it could be less.
But in this scenario that we modeled back in October, we had a case fatality rate that was closer to SARS. And we used a fictional coronavirus
that was quite transmissible between people. And so we had a different set of conditions and that number of fatalities was after 18 months and
complete failure of efforts to contain that virus.
So in no way is it a prediction of anything that's going on now. That was a different virus than the one that's occurring in China and elsewhere.
AMANPOUR: OK, good. It's really interesting to hear from you. Thank you so much, Dr. Inglesby.
Now, basketball is massive in China and around the world. Kobe Bryant is being eulogized as a legend of the game and a cultural touchstone. Over a
20-year career playing only for the Los Angeles Lakers, he racked up so many NBA titles, MVPs and Olympic gold medals.
The stricken fans started flocking to the Staples Center as soon as news broke of his death along with his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, and seven
others who died when their helicopter crashed outside Los Angeles on Sunday.
To explain the outpouring of grief and look at his legacy, I'm joined now by the sports journalist, Jemele Hill who closely followed Kobe's career.
Welcome to the program, Jemele Hill.
JEMELE HILL, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Just explain maybe a little bit more of what Kobe Bryant was beyond basketball or maybe even within basketball but in retirement, so to
speak, from the NBA.
HILL: Well, it does start with basketball because he was one of the greatest players in NBA history. He was once considered to be the true
threat to Michael Jordan who is widely considered to be the greatest player in history. So his talents on the basketball court is what made him a
Now, in post retirement or post NBA career, rather, he was seeking to be someone who really tapped into creative storytelling and Kobe has
overachieved throughout his whole career.
And it was no shock to those of us who knew him that this would, if you had to think of a person who wow the ink on their retirement papers are not
even dry yet would win an Oscar in a category that no other African- American has won an Oscar in, the animation category, it would probably be Kobe Bryant. Because we're so used to seeing him do something magical and
So this country, this world, in many respects, they're grieving because this is one of the best to ever do it and he was proving in his post NBA
life that he was on his way to even greater heights.
AMANPOUR: So talk to us a little bit then about dear basketball and how it sort of grew out of his experience and what he wanted to cement into his
HILL: Well, it was his love letter to the sport that he felt like gave him so much. And when I say gave him so much, I'm not talking about the money,
the accolades, the Olympic gold medals, the multiple NBA championships or the MVPs. He just felt like basketball really gave him an identity.
It was a place where he had power where he was able to infuse his style. It really was kind of the foundation of his life and so this was his tribute
and his love letter to a sport that just meant so much to him.
AMANPOUR: And in The Atlantic which you write for, of course, today you wrote, "As outstanding as Bryant was as a player, his growth in retirement
was more impressive in a way. Once the epitome of precocious arrogance, he evolved into being a true champion for others."
You know there is a tendency and people would always criticize the speed with which you talk about the complete person and not just the hagiography
in the immediate moment. You had an opportunity to see all sides of Kobe Bryant, the brilliant and some of what you've called the arrogance. Tell me
a little bit about the conversations you had with him over his career, over your career covering him and where you had issues with him and you called
HILL: Yes. I mean, I love to tell the story, particularly to younger journalists. Because it is sort of the way I grew up thinking about
journalism the way that I fashion my career, you're always taught that if you wrote something or said something critical about an athlete, that you
were to give them an opportunity to have their say about it. You write a column about an athlete criticizing him, go in the locker room the next day
and stand and defend what you wrote.
And so in 2014, Kobe made some comments to The New Yorker that I thought were very tone deaf. I thought they were insensitive in talking about the
Trayvon Martin case.
HILL: And he didn't seem - I think he was seeing it through the prism, frankly, of his own rape trial and him feeling as if he were wrongly
accused and I thought he provided some cover for George Zimmerman. And for him to be in that position to do that, somebody of his magnitude, I just
thought it was just wrong and I called him out about it on air.
And this was back when I was at ESPN and maybe 10 or 15 minutes after I criticized him, I get a direct message from Kobe Bryant telling me to call
him. And even more so he sent some of his reps after me too, so I got the message from multiple angles that I was to call Kobe Bryant.
And so I called him and I expected him to be angry. I mean, I've been cussed out by athletes and coaches before so I thought this was probably
the direction that this was headed. And it wasn't and we talked for about an hour. He shared his perspective, I shared mine.
And I felt him make kind of a turn and I think he understood why I thought his comments were kind of inappropriate. And later on what happened was he
apologized to the Martin family. He even spoke at a rally for Trayvon Martin as well. And I saw him really kind of dig deeper into making sure
that he use his voice to really move the needle on substantive social and racial issues.
He supported Colin Kaepernick which he also told me and we talked about when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. He also let his voice there and
spoke up about not just that case, but what he felt like was a fate that was befalling too many black men.
So to see Kobe go just in a short period of time to really dig deeper into being a socially conscious voice, it was really kind of an amazing thing to
see, because for so much of his career the focus was just on basketball, basketball, basketball. And as he kind of wound down his career, he began
to focus on other things and open up to people in a way that he had not opened up to them previously in his career and that included some people in
the media, myself being one of them.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting because it's not many world superstar who can be persuaded by a journalist who's writing about them or somebody who
they have a conversation with even if it was an hour long.
I think it seems to say a lot about how he could also accept criticism and change. I mean, you've spoken about the rape trial. He obviously always
said that it was consensual. He always denied that it was non-consensual. Nonetheless, it was settled in civil court. There was a settlement.
But he also then - was also brought up for certain homophobic comments and abuse of an umpire in 2011. He was fined 100,000. But in fact, afterwards,
he became very vocal against homophobic comments. And somebody had tweeted something bad and then tweeted against him that hey, how can you talk to
me, Kobe, you said those things yourself and he tweeted exactly, "That wasn't cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and
expect the same from others."
That also seems to be a bit of someone's legacy, someone who's so huge in the public domain with so many people who look up to him, the ability to
HILL: Yes. I think the one of his most impressive traits is that Kobe Bryant was a learner and a lot of people in his position who have been so
excellent at something that they do, a lot of times they don't possess the capacity to really care or learn about others or learn how they can be
better. His dedication to excellence wasn't just about being the most excellent basketball player. It was about being the most excellent person,
the most excellent husband and the most excellent father. These things meant something to him.
And he was the type of person that and I remember in one of our conversations, and it really struck me when this happened, he would ask me
just as much about my job as I wanted to know about his and how he did his. He didn't really want to talk about basketball. He wanted to talk to me
about storytelling and journalism and all these things and that's how he was because he was constantly - he was like a computer, constantly
downloading. And that was a genius in the way he approached it that a lot of people really, really appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: And he went out on a limb for women as well in terms of playing the sport. I mean, it just is heartbreaking that not only did he lose his
life, but his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who is the big hope of carrying on the Kobe Bryant name in basketball and all of the others who are so
devoted to basketball and they were all going off to this event that he was going to be coaching, I mean, the seven others who were killed with him.
It's just so awfully sad and such a waste really of potential. And I just wonder whether we can talk about his dedication to women playing. He even
said women should play in the NBA right now, but I want to play just a little clip from what he talked about to Jimmy Kimmel about this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST OF JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: Do you think your daughter might want to play in the WNBA.
KOBE BRYANT, FORMER LOS ANGELES LAKERS PLAYER: She does, for sure.
KIMMEL: She does?
BRYANT: I mean,, this kid man.
KIMMEL: Wouldn't that be great.
BRYANT: Dude, man, I'm telling you. The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me and she'll be standing next to me and
they'll be like, hey, you got to have a boy, you and V got to have a boy man. You have somebody carry on your tradition, the legacy. She's like, oi,
I got this. You don't need a boy for that, I got this. I'm like, that's right. Yes, you do. You got this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's so great to hear those words. I see the huge smile on your face. I mean, it's so sad that Gianna has gone but there he was this
champion for girls and for women. And not just in the WNBA play now in the NBA was what he said just recently.
HILL: I'm certainly not suggesting that this wasn't always the attitude that Kobe Bryant had. But it is interesting and you hear this from men who
have daughters very often is that there are certain issues that they connect deeper with once they have a girl. And I think because he had a
daughter who was emerging into a basketball prodigy that it allowed for him to develop an even deeper respect for female athletes, in particular girls
and women basketball players.
He was a huge champion of the WNBA and you probably saw him maybe at more WNBA games than you did at actual NBA games. And it meant a lot to those
players in the WNBA as they fight for pay equity and fight for other equitable things to have somebody like Kobe Bryant be a voice for them. It
really did the WNBA proud and they made a lot of those players really feel indebted to him for that, because they're constantly talking about this
message of equality and how they should earn more and all of these other issues.
And it's one thing when it comes from women, because people tend to block it out because they feel like they hear it all the time. But when a man
actually speaks to it and becomes a voice and a champion for those same rights, I think it just resonates sometimes a little differently with
And so it was great to see him really use his platform and his name to give those women even more validation not that they needed it, but it certainly
was able to give them a boost and made them feel good that somebody like him was a fan of their league. And, of course, I mean, how great of a
storyline would that have been, another reason why this is so tough for people to process, the storyline of Gianna Bryant playing in the WNBA and,
I don't know, maybe Kobe coaching her.
AMANPOUR: I know. Jemele Hill, thank you so much for putting it into such important perspective for us.
HILL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we turn now to Russia where President Vladimir Putin has been in charge for two decades. And that means a whole generation of Russians
has been dubbed the Putin generation.
Joshua Yaffa is a Moscow Correspondent for The New Yorker. His new book, Between Two Fires, reveals how ambitious Russians from politicians to
filmmakers balance their own dreams with doing what it takes to survive in this system. He told our Hari Sreenivasan about how Putin maintains his
rule and legitimacy in modern Russia.
HARI SREENIVASAN, ANCHOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: So let's start with a little bit of the current news. We recently had the parts of the Russian government
stepped down. What does this mean?
YAFFA: I think what we're seeing is the beginning of the transition process if it's even fair to call it that, because I think in any transition
process, Putin himself isn't really going anywhere. He's going to stay, perhaps in perpetuity, as the ultimate arbiter of the system. The one who
resolves conflicts, manages relationships between various political clans and interests, but it does seem like he's at least formally going to leave
the presidency. What he should do, according to the Constitution in 2024.
So I think this reshuffle of the government, in fact, the dismissal of the government appointment of new ministers and calls to amend the
Constitution, it's not the final arrangement of power, but rather the opening gambit in what's going to be a long chess play that should unfold
really over the next years all the way through 2024 as Putin prepares for himself a kind of soft retirement where, in fact, he still remains, as I
said, the highest and most authoritative political figure but reconfigures power in such a way that he can leave the office of the presidency, prepare
a new generation of leaders, but who in the end are ultimately beholden to his authority.
SREENIVASAN: So why bother with this almost veil of democracy if he knows, the government knows and ultimately the people know that he's still the guy
pulling the strings?
YAFFA: Throughout Putin's 20 years in power, what's been interesting to observe is how much he cares about the veneer of democratic institutions or
rather the veneer of a kind of legitimacy that comes from an adherence to law to process to following the rules. Of course, that is often a hollow if
not absurd idea when it is he who gets to set the rules, so following them isn't so hard when you're the one dictating what the rules are.
But nonetheless, Putin's whole image, especially when he came to power, but really in the years that have followed has been that of someone who has
restored order and functionality to the Russian state after the weakness and chaos of the Soviet collapse in the '90s when the Russian state was in
a period of disorder, disorganization and the populace was left really unsure and disoriented about their own fates and about the fate of the
country as a whole.
SREENIVASAN: You dive into some of the kind of nuances of government and the people and how they're affected by it and how they affect it. What's
the kind of threw the line?
YAFFA: I started to work on the book when I realized as a journalist, there was something about Russia that I wasn't able to say in the articles I was
writing and the reporting I was doing. And I, like many reporters, and this is a very fair and correct prism for viewing Russia but saw Putin and all
of the little Putins around him versus the people who were trapped by repressive laws, by propaganda in this cage that they couldn't escape from,
but would like to.
And as time went on, I began to see that that wasn't really capturing the whole of Russia as I was living it and experiencing it. And in fact, most
people's lives were lived somewhere in the middle. They weren't venal, corrupt, cynical officials, but nor were they brave, quixotic, heroic
freedom fighters who are ready to risk everything to stand up to that system.
Most people, in fact, and I started to feel that maybe I would have been in exactly that same position, were looking to reach a kind of accommodation
with the system.
And that act of compromise on the micro scale, on the level of the individual was very fascinating to me to understand how that actually works
in people's lives in practice. And also on the macro scale, on the scale of a whole country, it seemed to me that that was a key and really interesting
way to understand how the Putin system functions and why is it proved so durable.
SREENIVASAN: Now, I want to highlight for the audience a few of the characters that you go through. One of them is an Orthodox priest, what is
he fighting? What is he settle on?
YAFFA: Right. This is a priest named Father Pavel Adelgeim. He became a priest in the 1950s as a young man in then the Soviet Union which was a
nominally atheistic state, which allowed to certain degree the Orthodox Church to exist but kept it under continual pressure and tried to do
everything it could to discourage religious belief. He was eventually sent to a prison camp where he ultimately lost his leg and he emerged from that
prison camp some years later with a whole trunk full of poetry that he'd written and a wooden peg leg.
He ended up in a small town in northwestern Russia, Pskov, near the border with Estonia where I visited many times over the course of my reporting and
became a really popular and beloved figure in Pskov, where everyone seemed to respect believers and non-believers alike.
What really worried Pavel and what became his kind of mission later in life was the growing proximity between the Orthodox Church and the Putin state.
In the years after Putin took power, Putin was very keen to appeal to the Orthodox state as an additional pillar of his legitimacy to somehow absorb
or use the church's own stature in society to buttress his own.
You could say the church engaged in the kind of compromise on a large scale or institutional scale that I write about on the scale of the human
experience, on the scale of the individual and some of the other characters in my book, the church lended its aura of legitimacy to the state in
exchange for all sorts of earthly, let's say, benefits here and now. State funding, having church real estate that had been confiscated by the Soviet
Union, returned to it, the imprimatur of Putin who would quite publicly go to Easter services and other religious services.
So it became a very convenient union of church and state and each got something useful out of it. But that really worried Father Pavel Adelgeim.
He saw great dangers in that for the church and that by tying itself to an ultimately earthly politician who can be popular one day, unpopular the
other day, who can do things that are perhaps virtuous and just for the population, but can do things that are unjust for the population that the
church was risking a great blow to its own esteem and own moral and religious authority.
And he was just about the only priest to speak up about the dangers as he thought of that union.
SREENIVASAN: In addition to God, the church needs the blessing of Putin.
YAFFA: Well, if it wants to expand and have the resources to do so, have the real estate to do so to be able to say get its teachings or lessons
into Russian public schools to be able to minister in the armed forces, there are all sorts of, let's say, earthly privileges that the church needs
in order to do it's godly mission.
YAFFA: It's that way for I suppose any religion and the Putin state given its monopolistic hold over life or many aspects and sectors of life and
Russia presented exactly that opportunity. I think what ultimately proved too good, too tempting for the church to resist, especially after decades
of repression and marginalization under the Soviet Union, the opportunity for the church to suddenly flourish and have all sorts of resources and
opportunities it didn't have for nearly a century, I think was too tempting for the church's leadership.
SREENIVASAN: You lay out in the book that really there's no other game in town. I mean, the state is such a massive influence on the economy, on
whether it's the media, whether it's the church, what's the other alternative if you don't want to play ball with the state?
YAFFA: It's a good question and the one that I found myself reflecting on over and over in terms of what would I do, how would I behave in this
situation, would I really be able to say no to the opportunities on offer and pick a much harder and more uncertain life.
I often came back to something that someone who was a friend of the Theater Director Kirill Serebrennikov. He's another character in the book. Really
Russia's premier avant-garde experimental director of his age who worked not only on the theater stage, but also in film, who for a while benefited
from the Putin states ultimately temporary interest in supporting avant- garde art forms.
And his fall from grace was quite dramatic. He ended up later accused of embezzlement and found himself under house arrest facing a number of years
in prison. And as one of his friends was trying to narrate his rise and fall and how did he allow himself to get so close to the state in the first
place for someone who in fact had no real enthusiasm for the Putin state, quite the opposite, internally, Serebrennikov was, I think, an anti-
Putinist, it's fair to say.
Someone whose sympathies lie with the opposition, but nonetheless he did quite well in accepting large amounts of state grants and state resources
to make his creative projects. And as this friend said to me, in Russia, it's not as if you have a choice of making a film with state money or
without state money. That would be an easy choice. Sure. Make the film without state money, do it on your own independently.
But in Russia, the choice is do you want to make a film or not. And when I understood it that way, I began to look at Serebrennikov's predicament
differently but also the predicament of lots of people I saw all around me. Serebrennikov had these talents. He had this vision. He had this
experience, why shouldn't he want to realize that in the form of films, that's a totally noble, understandable goal.
And to do that, though, it required this unavoidable, in some senses inevitable cooperation with the state. And I think that's what makes this
notion of compromise which is otherwise universal, which I see in my own life and I've seen in the life of my friends and colleagues, gives it a
particular Russian cast because the state is so ever present, really omnipresent in Russia. Wherever you turn, whatever your professional field
or interest is, you can be an Orthodox priest like Pavel Adelgeim or you can be an avant-garde theater director like Kirill Serebrennikov.
Sooner or later, you butt up against the state and have to decide for yourself where and in the service of what am I willing to compromise.
SREENIVASAN: How much of this do you think is it serves this state to have a class of people or a group of people who are its critics, so that they
can point and say, no, I don't own the press. Look at this guy, he writes horrible stuff about me all of the time. In the character that you
mentioned from the play, he was able to almost create subversive content, lay it out on a stage in front of an audience full of high government
officials who just kind of watch it and move on with their lives.
YAFFA: Right. The early years of Putinism, especially we're almost defined by exactly that dynamic that you highlight. There was a kind of big tent,
aspirational idea behind Putinism that we can have militaristic nationalists and avant-garde theater directors and that's all somehow part
of the overall system, because that's the ultimately the important thing that the system retains its stability and one way it does so is by kind of
inclusiveness, of course, to appoint someone who's an actual on the street rabble-rousing organizer and critic of Putin doesn't necessarily have a
place in that tent, someone like Alexei Navalny who has emerged as the country's most popular opposition leader.
But that dynamic has narrowed in recent years and that's shown in the lives of the characters I write about, someone like Serebrennikov, the theater
director who for a while was celebrated by the Putin state, by given resources and his plays were put on the largest stages in Russia, the
Bolshoi Theatre, and others as. The window in tolerance of the Putin state for these diverse at sometimes seemingly quasi oppositional voices has
narrowed so too of the opportunities for people like Serebrennikov and other people in my book.
It's actually become harder to do the kinds of compromises that I write about. You can't manage your relationship with the state in this kind of
nuanced clever way where you're a little bit in, but not all the way.
YAFFA: Now, the Putin state is really forcing people to choose and it's possible that strategically, as for the long-term stability of that system,
that's not really an advantageous posture for the state to have.
SREENIVASAN: Ten years ago, I might have asked you the question, do you see Russia becoming more like the U.S. And now I also have to ask the question,
do you see the U.S. becoming more like Russia in some ways?
YAFFA: Sadly, absolutely. Especially, I think here if my time with Konstantin Ernst, the Head now of Channel One, Russia's main state network.
He really narrated to me his own intellectual journey. He said to me, in the Soviet times, I, like so many people were really frustrated by all of
the limitations of the Soviet state. We were young people with ideas and ambitions, and we couldn't realize them and that angered us. And we
presumed that everything in the Soviet Union's adversary, the west, America, most of all, somehow must be 180 degrees different there. Things
should be --
SREENIVASAN: Milk and honey.
YAFFA: -- exactly. But then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the collapse of the Iron Curtain, he had the opportunity to travel to
experience America and the west has actually existed. He grew disappointed. It wasn't actually the land of milk and honey, but there are all sorts of
problems, deficiencies, hypocrisies in America and American foreign policy.
And his takeaway was to become essentially a cynic about the world at large. Every place is just as fallen as the next and there is no land of
milk and honey and I see that kind of thinking creeping in to the American political discourse. Each side is equally corrupt. Each side is equally
culpable. All facts have equal weight.
So what's the point in even trying to parse them? That's the great and ultimately successful strategy of Channel One in really Russian propaganda
in the age of Putin. They don't try and convince viewers of Russia's unique and particular greatness. Rather, the message is sure, the Russian state
may be corrupt in certain ways. Sure, the Russian state may commit this or that violation, but look at the violations that America commits. Look at
the hypocrisies of Europe. Look at the failures of the western order.
We're all equally culpable, we're all equally to blame and there's no real point in trying to isolate to identify one state or another for coming in
for kind of particular or exaggerated blame. And all versions of events carry equal weight. I saw that with how Channel One reacted to the shutdown
of MH17, a plane flying over eastern Ukraine, from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
That was tragically shot down out of the sky in the summer of 2014. We now know it seems pretty clear, based on international investigations led by
the Dutch that the plane was shot down by a Russian anti-aircraft system that was given surreptitiously and covertly from the Russian military to
the separatists it was backing.
But on Channel One, you heard all manner of contradictory, even absurd versions about what had happened. None of them holding a kind of coherent
logic. It couldn't actually be A, and B and C because all of the versions were contradictory. The point being to leave the viewer in such a state of
exhaustion and disorientation that he or she simply threw her hands up and said, it's so impossible to make sense of the truth here, I give up.
And also that Dutch version of events which seems to be by far the most credible one ends up in that same froth, that same informational soup, it
has no more or less weight than all of those other absurd versions purposely put out on channel one to muddy the waters. And that kind of
purposeful strategic campaign of disorientation and exhaustion of the viewer, sadly, also is beginning to feel recognizable here in the American
SREENIVASAN: All right. Joshua Yaffa, Between Two Fires is the book. Thanks so much for joining us.
YAFFA: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago today. More than a million Jews and other minorities were
exterminated there. The Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's mother and sister perished. Against all odds, he survived and he dedicated the rest of his
life to ensuring the world would never forget.
I spoke with Wiesel on the 70th anniversary five years ago. Then too ill and frail to travel, but still astounded that no world leader had warned
them or try to stop the Nazi horrors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIE WIESEL, NOBEL LAUREATE: Became dead, of course, in 1944. In 1944, we, in Hungary, didn't know that Auschwitz existed. Hardly known, believe me,
heard Roosevelt, heard Churchill on the radio stations turn to Hungarian Jews saying, Hungarian Jews, don't go to the train, because the trains will
lead you to Auschwitz. People, many of us would not have gone, many wouldn't have believed perhaps, but couldn't have gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Elie Wiesel died a year later. He forever believed that 'We must always take sides, neutrality helps oppressor, never the victim'. And that
is it for now, but be sure to tune in tomorrow for my interview with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Trump on his Middle East peace plan.
Until then, catch us online on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.