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United States Bracing for Possible Epidemic; Trump Not Worried About Coronavirus; Coronavirus Causing Big Economic Turmoil; Tom Frieden, Former CDC Director, is Interviewed About the Coronavirus; Jean Vanier's Alleged Sex Abuse of At Least Six Women; Michael Higgins, Author, "Jean Vanier, Logician of the Heart, is Interviewed About Jean Vanier; Interview With Author Aaron Glantz. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 27, 2020 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The risk to the American people remains very low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: With one eye on the markets, President Trump plays down the coronavirus, as health officials warn of a potential pandemic, we get the
facts from the former head of the CDC.
And, once revered as the living saint, the halo has come crashing down. How did everyone miss the real story of alleged sex abuser, Jean Vanier? We
talk to his biographer, Michael Higgins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON GLANTZ: They are the people who swooped in after the housing bust when 8 million Americans lost their homes and profited tremendously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Reporter Aaron Glantz takes down the home wreckers in his shocking investigation into America's housing crisis.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
For the first time ever, there are now more new global infections of coronavirus outside Mainland China than inside where it originated and the
world is scrambling to contain it. Japan is closing all schools and halting sports events for two weeks. Saudi Arabia has suspended arrivals of foreign
pilgrims ahead of Ramadan. Iran is mourning the death of close to 30 people. While Italy battles more than 500 cases. Australia's prime
minister, Scott Morrison, declares an emergency response plan.
The coronavirus is creeping into the United States and Americans are now bracing for a possibly epidemic. Top health officials say, it's only a
matter of time until we see it spread. And yet President Trump, who's intent on calming the markets doesn't seem too worried.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUM: I don't think it's inevitable. I think that there's a chance that it could get worse, there's a chance it could get fairly substantially worse,
but nothing is inevitable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Here now to break it all down is Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC.
Welcome to the program, Dr. Frieden.
TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, can I just point out because, you know, everybody is talking about the president's response. Now, a president cannot stop, slow,
accelerate, a virus or an epidemic. He has only so much that he can do and organize. What -- how do you assess his response? Because he also doesn't
want to create a massive panic. Where's the happy balance? The happy middle ground?
FRIEDEN: Nature can trump Trump. The fact is that a pandemic is currently inevitable. We're seeing cases in dozens of countries. It's increasingly
clear that cases spread quite readily. And it's very clear that there are hundreds of people with coronavirus, in dozens of countries, who have not
been diagnosed. And each of those people could cause a cluster or an outbreak.
So, it is, in fact, inevitable there will be a pandemic. What's not inevitable is it will be severe. There are mild pandemics. Saying pandemic
doesn't mean there are going to be millions of deaths. There are worst case scenarios, there are most likely scenarios and there are best-case
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's really interesting. What -- you used to be head of the CDC, your successors have now been having to talk about this in
public. What do they mean when they say America is bracing? What is it bracing for? An epidemic? How do you term what might be on the horizon?
FRIEDEN: What's very clear is coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads ready. What countries need to be ready to do is when they have their first cases to try
what we call containment mode, to try to stop it, see if you can find those individuals, prevent them from spreading it to many people and prevent
something from going beyond a cluster.
What looks likely is that that's extraordinarily difficult and at some phase many places will need to transition into managing or mitigating a
pandemic, and that means increasing social distancing by having people be further away from others when they can be. That means doing things that can
be important to continue activities, like increasing tele-work, like increasing the number of people who can learn from a distance, like
But it doesn't mean necessarily you have to stop everything. It depends on the severity of the virus. And there's still an enormous amount we don't
know either about how it spreads or about how severe it is.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, how it spreads. We've heard that there is a looming potential of what you call in the industry community spread. Can you
explain to us what exactly that means? Because at least one of those who caught it in the United States has done so without having travelled or
having been in contact with anybody from a country where it's -- where it exists.
FRIEDEN: As a virus like this spreads, it goes from where you can identify every chain of transmission, you can find all of the links in the chain to
cases that are popping up without identified links and that tells us that there are sources of infection either contaminated physical things like an
elevator button or people who are undiagnosed who are spreading it who we don't know about. And when that occurs, then we think further spread is
high highly likely.
In this case, there are series of things that make us recognize that it is going to spread quite widely around the world. The sooner we figure out the
best ways to stop it and the best ways to treat it, the more we can reduce the harms.
AMANPOUR: And what do you see? What is the series of things that make you so sure that it is going to spread more?
FRIEDEN: Several things. The explosive spread in many countries around the world, whether it's Iran, Italy, Korea, the explosive spread in Wuhan,
Hubei Province in China where you really had a massive, massive outbreak. The extraordinary efforts that the Chinese have made to tamp it down in
Hubei and throughout the entire country have made progress but how sustainable that is, is not at all unclear.
The high infectivity of this and the fact that it seems to potentially be infectious even before people are symptomatic which makes it much harder to
stop transmission. And a simple calculation of the number of people who left areas where it's spreading who haven't been diagnosed, those are like
seeds that are going to grow in countries and cities all around the world.
We could see one, two or even many cities having the kind of problem that Wuhan, China had.
AMANPOUR: So, look, I want to try to get you as a health official and as a doctor to explain to me what appears to be, in some cases, a disconnect
between health professionals and experts and political leaders. We know that there's been a disconnect in China with doctors worried and political
leaders, you know, censuring them for talking about that worry.
We seem to be seeing a disconnect in the United States, and I want to know whether you think there is a disconnect. Here is a little bit of, a sort of
mash up of sound between members of the CDC and also President Trump's views of this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We can expect to see more cases in in the United States.
ANNE SCHUCHAT, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY DIRECTOR, CDC: We do expect more cases. And this is a good time to prepare.
TRUMP: When you have 15 people and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the first one was the secretary of health and human services and then the deputy head of the CDC and the president. Is that a disconnect
or are they all telling the same story? It does seem like the president, you know, is playing it down more than the -- more than those responsible
for those departments.
FRIEDEN: In the United States and throughout much of the world, we are in the calm before the storm. Unfortunately, it's going to get worse before it
gets better. And what the CDC was saying is, get ready. There are things that individuals in communities can do. There are things that health
workers have to do, and there are things that governments have to do, and it's time to do those things now because it is coming.
AMANPOUR: The president suggested a vaccine could be imminently available. Is that the case?
FRIEDEN: It's absolutely worth pulling out all the stops to try to get a vaccine that works. In a best-case scenario, you're talking 12 to 18 months
for the vaccine to be available and we don't know if it'll work. So, we need to try, but we can't rely on a vaccine becoming available.
AMANPOUR: I want to play again the same sort of characters talking about that in Congress, actually, health secretary and the CDC official talking
about this issue to Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): We're concerned that private pharmaceutical companies may end up having a role in this and raising the cost beyond the
point that people could well afford it.
AZAR: We absolutely share your passion around ensuring affordable access to medicines but the private sector must have a role in this. We will not
have a vaccine. We will not have therapeutics without the private sector candidates that they and we will have to invest in.
SCHAKOWSKY: If I could just reaffirm. Then you're saying it will, for sure, be affordable for anyone who needs it?
AZAR: I'm saying, we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable but we can't control that price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, not the CDC there, but clearly a very urgent inquiry into actually whether a vaccine would be affordable to anybody who needs it,
regardless of their means. What is the responsibility of government if there is an unusual health emergency towards getting people the cure, the
vaccine that they need, despite the cost?
FRIEDEN: Governments have an absolute responsibility here. If there is an effective vaccine, it is up to the government to make that available to
people. The issue of private pharmaceutical vaccine manufacturers is somewhat complicated. On the one hand you want to avoid exorbitant profits
and we've seen some exorbitant profits from some vaccine manufacturers where the vaccine may cost a couple dollars and then the U.S., they sell it
for $50 or $100, and they do it because they can get away with it.
But in this situation, we have a different situation. This is hard. Making vaccines costs money, it takes time and there are very few companies that
are willing to make that kind of heavy investment unless they have a guarantee that someone is going to buy it.
There's one pharmaceutical company that spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an Ebola vaccine with no guarantee of any return on that
investment. It's a private company, it's not a philanthropy. And we need the kind of expertise (INAUDIBLE) of the private pharmaceutical companies.
But in this case, you really want to make sure you have them in the game but you prevent profiteering.
AMANPOUR: So, you mentioned Ebola. So, let's just try to put this into a little bit of perspective from the last mega crisis around world. So, this
was around 2014, the Obama administration. You, I believe, at the time were the head of the CDC at that time. So, put it into perspective because for
sure, the WHO, the World Health Organization, was accused of dragging its feet when it popped up or cropped up in West Africa, remember, I think,
Liberia, Sierra Leone were the real hot zones.
Just put this into perspective as to much came to the USA, how you all dealt with it.
FRIEDEN: On the one hand, Ebola was much deadlier where it hit. And it didn't just kill people from the virus, it killed people because it shut
whole health care systems so routine care couldn't continue.
On the other hand, Ebola never had the potential to spread widely in the U.S. We were very clear about that. Interestingly, the Ebola supplemental
request for budget in the U.S. was funded at $5.4 billion, would have cost just a few thousand dollars to prevent it if it had been nipped in the bud
there. And clearly, I think, there's a recognition that the administration's first request for $1 or $2 billion is not going to be
nearly sufficient to address the coronavirus needs.
Coronavirus is going to spread much more widely than Ebola spread but we don't know how deadly it will be. Most people who get it have mild symptoms
or none at all. But some get very ill, people who are older and people who have underlying health conditions, but also some younger people. We've seen
tragically deaths of doctors in their 30s and 40s apparently previously healthy from this infection.
There's a lot more we need to know more to protect people against the coronavirus. And one of things that we need to do is invest. In the next
week, Congress will -- week or two, Congress will make a decision about how much to fund a supplemental budget request for a novel coronavirus, for
COVID. And that number is very important. The details of that matter in a big way.
Will it fund vaccine development? Will it keep separate funding for preparedness in the U.S. and globally so we can make people safer not just
from this infection but from other infections as well? We have a good sense what needs to be done globally to reduce the risk of this spreading widely
and killing as many people as it could and future pandemics. And if we don't take advantage of this opportunity, we're missing a crucial time to
make the world safer.
AMANPOUR: So, one of the issues is messaging and also putting somebody in charge of this. This is a big situation, some major government official
needs to be in charge. So, the president has put Vice President Pence in charge. Just take a listen to what Pence said last night when this
appointment was made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: As a former governor from the state where the first MERS case emerged in 2014, I know full well the importance of
presidential leadership, the importance of administration leadership and the vital role of partnerships of state and local governments and health
authorities in responding to the potential threat of dangerous infectious diseases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, Dr. Frieden, we just obviously have to point out that actually when he was governor of Indiana, Scott County experienced the
largest outbreak of HIV that Indiana had seen in decades and public health officials said at the time that it was preventable. Then -- I mean, how
confident are you that Pence actually, you know, is the credible candidate to take on this epidemic now?
FRIEDEN: When I was head of the CDC that outbreak in Scott County occurred. It was a tragic outbreak with hundreds of HIV infections in a
small town. I wrote to the governor and recommended that he legalize needle exchange and he did. People say maybe he should have done it sooner, but he
did, in response to the scientific evidence that that was going to be effective.
I'm encouraged at the press conference last night the experts spoke from CDC, from NIH, and it's really important in outbreaks like this and
emergencies like this that you have science guiding what the response is.
I've also just heard, apparently, that the individual being deployed to coordinate this from the State Department is someone who is very well
prepared to do this kind of work. So, there are a lot of really good people within the government. But I think if we step back, what's certain is that
this is going to get worse. There will be a pandemic and there will be future pandemics of other microbes. What's not certain is that the world
will remain so underprepared.
There are countries all over Africa and Asia that don't even have the most basic systems to find the problem when it emerges, respond rapidly and
prevent it wherever possible. The good news is, that compared to five years ago we have a much better sense of where the gaps are and what needs to be
done to close them. What we don't have is the money and commitment to get them closed.
And I hope that this is a wakeup call that we have to stop nickel and diming preparedness and prevention and get the world safer by upgrading
those early warning and early response systems in countries throughout the world.
AMANPOUR: Well, you're certainly making a big plea for that. I just want to ask you because you have written and spoken just recently about
something you touched on, that this pandemic now, I think it's about to be called that because it's on every continent except for Antarctica, which is
unpopulated, is not just a threat in and of itself but has the secondary loss of life due to the health facilities in all these places being
stretched, i.e. if people need treated for other things that have got nothing to do with the coronavirus, they're not getting that help or not as
Am I correct? What is the secondary fallout in terms -- and apparently these are causing more deaths than coronavirus.
FRIEDEN: This is a critical pillar of the response. How do you allow health care and support health care to safely surge? On the one hand, we
know that health care facilities can become amplification points for this virus. Killing health care workers and spreading it widely to patients and
then from them into the community. There can be what are called super spreader events in health care facilities, and there have been in China.
So, health care needs to be safe but it also needs to be ready to surge. And that surge means potentially dealing with lots of people who aren't
terribly sick. And in the U.S., we do that during flu season regularly and hospitals may have to set up tents in their parking lots to very rapidly
and safely see large numbers of patients.
And tragically, if there are lots of people with severe illness, there's a lot that can be done to maximize their chances of survival, having oxygen
ready, being able to give mechanical ventilation or putting people on breathing machines. This can save many lives but it may mean doing things
like canceling elective surgeries. So, you can use the anesthesia infrastructure for that.
What we found in West Africa with Ebola was that many more people died from malaria because they couldn't get treated than from Ebola. Many women had
complications of pregnancy because they couldn't get emergency obstetrical care. Kids stopped getting vaccines. People who had chronic conditions such
as TB or HIV or hypertension couldn't get treatment.
Keeping health care going is extremely important, and that means figuring out how to scale up things like tele-medicine, that means giving patients
who have chronic condition such as diabetes and hypertension, three months of medication, that means figuring out how to continue those essential
services like vaccinations that are so important but doing so without potentially exposing people and allowing those facilities to become
amplification points for the virus.
AMANPOUR: So, yes. And I misspoke. I didn't -- I said there were more deaths now, but I meant what you just said, there were more deaths from
these other issues than from Ebola during that crisis. But let me ask you this, because, you know, again, in terms of perspective and context of how
bad this could be. Some are trying -- some are saying, reluctantly, that they see a sort of Spanish flu kind of type of catastrophe looming.
Do you think that's even possible? I mean, let's face it, in 1918, the Spanish flu killed, I mean, 50 million people, that can't happen now, can
it? And in the last two breakouts, in '57 and '68, they killed about a million each. Just put that in perspective and put that to rest if you can.
FRIEDEN: We can say a few things. First, we don't know all that we need to know about this virus. We still don't know how readily it spreads. We still
don't know how deadly it is. We know that it spreads more readily than SARS but is less deadly than SARS.
If you compare with the 1918 pandemic, I don't see a scenario in which this particular coronavirus causes that kind of devastation. That was a worst-
case scenario. It was the worst epidemic, pandemic of the last century, both the 1918 flu pandemic and the global pandemic of HIV killed tens of
millions of people. We don't see evidence that that is likely to happen in this case.
A pandemic means it's going to affect countries throughout the world. But whether it's a severe pandemic, a moderately severe pandemic or mild
pandemic, we still don't know. We don't know whether the thousands of deaths we've seen in China from coronavirus are among hundreds of thousands
or even potentially millions of infections. And so, the actual risk of death is much lower or if it's really very deadly.
There's a way of looking at this, a framework for looking at this, and the most likely comparisons are to the 1957 and 1968 flu pandemics, but that
could change tomorrow. The information is just amazingly dynamic. Each day we learn more. Each day we may adjust what we know. And that means there
are certain things that individuals in the community, health care facilities and governments need to do now to be prepared as they can be.
AMANPOUR: All right. Dr. Frieden, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us. Really helpful and everybody is really eager and needs answers and
explanation and put everything in context. So, thank you very much, indeed.
FRIEDEN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And just before we turn to our next story, just to put into perspective that this is also causing a big economic turmoil. Larry Kudlow,
who's director of the National Economic Council under President Trump, he's trying to calm fears. He said yesterday that while an outbreak could be a
human tragedy it will likely not be an economic tragedy.
So, turning now to France and the shocking story that shatters the imagine of a man once called a living saint. Jean Vanier was revered for his
devotion to the disabled. And yet, the organization he founded, L'Arche International, revealed this past week, nearly a year after Vanier's death,
that he was actually an abuser.
An independent internal inquiry found Vanier sexually abused at least six women over a period of 30 years. It is deeply troubling how this critical
aspect of his life was unknown to the public for so long. Indeed, we interviewed Vanier here on this program in 2018 about his charitable work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN VANIER, FOUNDER, L'ARCHE: I felt deep in my heart I wanted to do something, which was to be just and to be true and to follow Jesus and I
had always known Jesus as being close to somebody who was weak and fragile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we also want to figure out how these signals were missed and we've got the opportunity now. We're going talk to Professor Michael
Higgins who wrote his biography. It was called "Jean Vanier: Logician of the Heart." And Michael Higgins is joining me now from Stamford,
Professor, welcome to the program.
MICHAEL HIGGINS, AUTHOR, "JEAN VANIER, LOGICIAN OF THE HEART: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, I've laid this out, as much to try to figure out, you know, what our responsibility as investigative journalists should be as to find
out why sometimes it's so difficult to know the whole story of somebody, even when you focus like you did on Vanier.
So, what do you feel as his, you know, only mega biography when this story was broken last week, when L'Arche revealed this troubling reality?
HIGGINS: Well, I was, of course, profoundly disappointed and surprised. I can't say that I was devastated. I think there are people who have been
devastated because they had a closer intimate or emotional relationship with Jean, they trusted him, they worked with him, they knew him better.
I was a biographer. And so, there was an objective distance throughout the entire writing of the work. In fact, he wasn't particularly cooperative, he
didn't oppose it, but he was uninterested in it. He felt that the biography should be the biography of the -- of L'Arche itself. And this was typical,
I think, of Jean Vanier, always the self-effacing approach or rather humble approach. It does seem to me now it's more complicated and layered than
AMANPOUR: Well, one of the complications may be that he didn't actually want to cooperate on his own personal level and story because, you know,
you might have found the archives, the letters, the canonical investigations that would have revealed his complicity and his, you know,
alleged abuse and crimes, right? I mean, don't you think that's one thing, he was trying to throw you off the scent?
HIGGINS: I think I'm afraid that that is true. It's hard to conclude otherwise. Access to his private archives wasn't available. He was actually
quite indifferent to even maintaining the archives and the letters. Access to the Dominican investigations was not available. And biographers are not
the only one, there are other English and French biographers of Jean Vanier, never had access to this particular material.
We certainly had access of other things that were published, including various letters, his countless number of books, of course, his numerous
interviews and, of course, access to many of the members of the L'Arche communities, assistants who worked with him, members of the administration,
confidants and whatever. But the private Vanier, the reclusive Vanier, the aromatic Vanier is now proven to be the complicated Vanier.
AMANPOUR: So, let's just restate. He created this foundation to help disabled people. Well, he is not been accused of having abused them but he
is accused, as we said, of having abused, sexually abused at least six women over a period of 30 years.
I want to read you from the statement from the foundation, L'Arche. The women each report that Jean Vanier initiated sexual relationships with
them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment. The relationships were found to be manipulative and emotionally abusive and had a significant
negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships.
And of course, one of the alleged victims has said that Vanier justified the abuse in this way, you are chosen, you are special, this is secret, it
is Jesus who loves you through me. I mean, this is just the -- you know, the wording of a charlatan who's trying to impress and, you know, exert
themselves onto impressionable women of faith, and I wonder what you think.
You were also a teacher at the Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. I wonder what you -- you must have come across that kind of, I guess,
excuses, that kind of sort of methodology in what other areas that you've studied. I mean, the use of, hey, you're doing it because I'm Christ?
HIGGINS: Yes. The -- I wrote an earlier work called "Suffer the Children Unto Me: An Open Inquiry Into the Clerical Sexual Abuse Crisis." And during
the research phase and writing of it actually, that this was not uncommon to come across this kind of specious explanations that somehow or other
this was a bonding with Jesus, this was a level of intimacy that was sacred as well as erotic, that this was an important thing and that perhaps it was
God's will. And that most importantly, secrecy needed to be maintained because it was an incredibly intimate thing between one individual and the
Now, you know, this -- the profile were predation, whether it's in the more extreme clinical case of pedophilia or hebephilia or in the case of men who
prey on women, vulnerable women, is alarming in that there are many parallels, of course. But there are many distinctions as well.
My sense is -- and this is not in any way to excuse Jean Vanier's behavior -- it's deplorable. But, for me, what's particularly disturbing is the
invocation of any spiritualness or sacral component to this.
I find that very objectionable. It's nothing to do with Jesus and nothing to do with Mary. But it very -- but, when you look at it in terms of his
understanding of human fragility and woundedness and his need for intimacy itself, you can see that the trajectory is going to take you into an into
very difficult territory.
And that threshold, where you move from spiritual accompaniment to engaging in a deeper and even erotic intimacy is very easy to cross over.
AMANPOUR: Or -- yes.
HIGGINS: That's why you have so many areas of protection around this, or should have.
AMANPOUR: Well, or it can just be an excuse to do the unthinkable and the illegal and the criminal.
One of the alleged victims said: "I was, like, frozen. I realized that Jean Vanier was adored by hundreds of people like a living saying, that he talks
about how he helped victims of sexual abuse. It appeared like a camouflage. And I found it difficult to raise the issue."
So that's why so many people did not, so many of these victims did not come forth, until, in fact, most of them, after he died. But one or two did come
forth shortly before he died.
But I want to ask you this, because the Catholic Church knew about his mentor, this Father Thomas, who was a Dominican, who was investigated in
the '50s, and who himself was a dreadful abuser of women.
This was a mentor of Vanier's. And there are letters between them. And, as I say, there was a canonical investigation into Thomas.
So, I mean, this again, was known by the church about Thomas, and there were letters between the two of them. Should it not have been raised by the
church, which is, gosh knows, under so much scrutiny and trouble because of all the sexual pedophilia scandals over the last many, many years?
HIGGINS: Well, but in the case of Pere Thomas Philippe, you're absolutely right. There was a canonical investigation. It was done in the early 1950s.
It was done by the Holy Office of the Inquisition. And although I will rarely give credit to that Vatican body, I will give them credit on this
ground. They actually provided a severe censure or sanctioning of Thomas Philippe. And they actually deposed him.
There's a canonical distinction called deposition. He was deprived of the right to administer the sacraments, to engage in any kind of spiritual
direction, and to certainly not preside publicly at mass.
So the Vatican actually did its job. Head office, actually, in this particular instance, did its job. The Dominicans followed through. That's
Thomas Philippe's order -- followed through with making sure that the censure was kept.
The problem that arises because, Christiane, is, what motivated Jean Vanier to maintain contact with Thomas Philippe when he was under this severe
censure? And why did he enable him in some important ways to be readmitted into active pastoral practice and surface in the larger community itself?
That, I think, is the more disturbing. I think, from the point of view of the official church, they actually discharged the duties quickly and
However, it would appear that the kind of oversight that should have continued to be exercised, the kind of vigilance, since they knew Thomas
Philippe's behavior was reprehensible, should have been obviously tighter.
But how one explains Jean Vanier's involvement in this is the larger problem.
AMANPOUR: So, Professor Higgins, you have said that, had you had an inkling of this, had you known about this, you would have not have written
So I guess the question is, did you know about the investigations into Pere Philippe, Thomas Philippe? And did you know that they had -- he and Vanier
had maintained this very close friendship? Did you ever ask him about it?
And I understood, as indeed did other biographers and journalists throughout the years, that canonical sanction was imposed because of
heterodoxy. There was considerable alarm over Pere Thomas' peculiar, quirky, Mariological thinking, and his strange mysticism, and one has to
consider it somewhat bizarre.
And we were led to believe and everyone was led to believe that the sanctions imposed by the Vatican and by the order were as a consequence of
a theological investigation.
Now, what has happened is that the Dominicans are conducting two investigations, one which is canonical, to look at how Pere Philippe
managed to continue to do what he was doing long past the censure, but also to look into the behavior of his brother, Marie-Dominique Philippe, who is
the founder of the Community of Saint John, whose own behavior has now been denounced, and who has been accused quite credibly as an abuser.
So there is a track record of failure to account, which now is going to become part of a grander reckoning.
AMANPOUR: Gosh, we really do hope so, a reckoning and accountability and the oxygen of light being really seriously shone on all these corners,
because the Catholic Church is going to have a hard time surviving if this carries on.
Professor Higgins, thank you very much, indeed, for joining me.
And our next guest is an award-winning investigative journalist. Aaron Glantz's work has sparked over a dozen congressional hearings and criminal
probes. His latest book home, "Homewreckers," takes a shocking new look at America's 2008 housing crisis, a tale of greed and corruption.
Glantz pulls back the curtain on a group of Wall Street magnates who he says took advantage of a rigged system. And he told our Hari Sreenivasan
these home-wreckers include key members of President Trump's inner circle.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Your book is titled "Homewreckers."
Who is a home-wrecker?
AARON GLANTZ, AUTHOR, "HOMEWRECKERS": Steve Mnuchin, the president's treasury secretary, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, Tom Barrack, the
president's close friend who planned his inauguration, Steve Schwarzman, the chairman of Blackstone, Jamie Dimon, the head of J.P. Morgan Chase, the
biggest bank in America.
These are the people that I describe as home-wreckers.
SREENIVASAN: Why are they home-wreckers? Why are they not just investors in the real estate market?
GLANTZ: They are home-wreckers because they are the people who swooped in after the housing bust, when eight million Americans lost their homes, and
profited tremendously, taking the wealth of those families and putting it in their pocket.
SREENIVASAN: Look, capitalism says this is -- this offers the market liquidity, when there are buyers that are coming in for distressed
properties. They're the ones taking the risk. What's so distinct about what these guys did?
GLANTZ: When I went about writing this book, my initial thought was that, when you had eight million Americans lose their homes in the Great
Recession, that there would be some families who are winners and other families who were losers.
So I bought a foreclosure in 2009. I used these historically low prices that happened at the bottom of the housing bust to live the American dream
for my family. And now here I am, 10 years later, raising my children in a stable environment, building wealth for my family. God willing, I will be
able to retire at the end of the day.
And we live in a country right now where this is the exception, not the rule, where the richest Americans own as much as 90 percent of the rest of
America. And this is because we don't own things like we used to; 80 percent of most Americans' monthly paychecks go to essentials, things like
food, transportation, clothing, health insurance, and shelter.
Now, four of those five things just disappear as soon as you spend that money. Your gas is burned up. Your clothing wears out. Your food is eaten.
Only housing can either go to build wealth for your family over time, or it can go to build wealth for your landlord.
And what we saw in this decade after the housing bust was that the homeownership rate in America declined every single year from 2008 to 2016,
even when the economy was supposedly getting better.
And the reason that that happened was that we had a rigged system. And the home-wreckers are the people who benefited from that rigged system. And
they are the ones who took our wealth.
SREENIVASAN: Showing this rigged system, you end up kind of diving in through the eyes of one specific woman, Sandy Jolly. Her parents lost their
homes through a reverse mortgage that they may not have understood.
And their daughter fought this for eight years. She starts digging in to who got their home. You get this paper trail. What do you find? Tell us the
GLANTZ: This is a woman who, as you mentioned, her parents had owned their house outside of Thousand Oaks, California -- outside of Los Angeles in
Thousand Oaks, California, for 30 years.
They had bought it for less than $90,000 back in the 1980s. He worked for the water department. She worked for a company that printed payroll checks.
He was a World War II veteran, and they used the G.I. Bill to buy their first home.
This is the American dream that we're supposed to have. But when they got old, there was a reverse mortgage salesmen in the housing bubble who showed
up at their door with a sales pitch that said, so, you ask, what's the catch? None. There is no catch.
But, of course, the catch was that, while this family got a relatively small amount of money from this bank, the bank then added interest and fees
month after month. And instead of the debt getting smaller over time, their debt actually got bigger.
And this is how they ended up being foreclosed on when they died. And so, when I started to talk to Sandy, she was all upset about this reverse
mortgage and this foreclosure, but when I began to investigate, I found that this was a woman whose 1,500-square-foot home in the suburbs outside
of Los Angeles had become a pawn in a real estate then involved many of the president's closest friends and advisers.
So, the bank that foreclosed on her was run by Steve Mnuchin, who is now Trump's treasury secretary. He foreclosed on over 100,000 families,
including 23,000 seniors.
And we -- because of this rigged system, we subsidized that to the tune of over a billion dollars.
GLANTZ: This bank that Steve Mnuchin owned was bought in 2009, at the depths of the Great Recession. And it was a failed bank.
The previous bank was called IndyMac. After Steve Mnuchin bought it, he rebranded it OneWest. And the way this happened was -- maybe you remember -
- IndyMac was one of the worst banks in America, headquartered in Pasadena, California. It made the reverse mortgages, like I was mentioning.
It also was a big maker of these so-called ninja loans, no income, no job, no assets, no problem. The interest-only loan, which was a loan that you
would get on your house, but like a high interest credit card, the balance would get bigger, instead of smaller every month, if you just made the
SREENIVASAN: So, very risky loans.
GLANTZ: Very, very risky.
And they would tell people, don't worry, you can always refinance, real estate will go up forever. And, of course, that was a lie. And so, when
real estate started to soften, the bank collapsed. And the government took it over.
And the government was so desperate to get this bank off the government's books that we made a deal with Steve Mnuchin, who had got this group of
investors together that also included John Paulson, George Soros, Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computer.
And this group together came in, and they paid the government nothing for this disaster of a bank.
SREENIVASAN: How can you pay nothing for a bank? Do you mean that it was that they made the profits back up, or how?
GLANTZ: I mean, that the government owned this bank, and then they basically gave it Steve Mnuchin and his group for nothing. It was like a
junk car, right? They didn't want it anymore. They said, here, you take it.
But then, more than that, Steve Mnuchin agreed to invest some money in the bank. But then we agreed to cover his losses up to 90 percent in many
SREENIVASAN: So, if you make money, it's your money. If you lose money, we got your back.
And so we agreed to cover his losses, to a great degree, on foreclosures, and not only the cost of the loan, but also appraisal fees, inspection
costs, lawyers' fees, all these costs that you incur, if you're a bank in a foreclosure, that actually provide an incentive that you not foreclose.
We said, we got your back. We will take care of that for you.
SREENIVASAN: So, explain, for example, what happened to her house? How did it bounce around between these different characters you're talking about?
GLANTZ: So, what happened was, after it was foreclosed on by Steve Mnuchin's bank, this 1,500-square-foot home outside of L.A., it goes on the
auction block. And who should show up and buy it but a company called Colfin AI-5 California LLC.
SREENIVASAN: Who is that?
GLANTZ: Turns out that this LLC, this shell company, is one of many LLCs controlled by an investment fund founded by Tom Barrack, who is one of
Donald Trump's closest friends.
And he was sending people out to courthouses all around the country at the bottom of the housing bust on a gigantic buying spree, buying up properties
with cash, ends up buying up 30,000 homes across the country, from California to Florida.
So, Sandy ends up paying more than $40,000 in rent to live in this house to Tom Barrack's company over a period of just 18 months.
SREENIVASAN: So, you mentioned a couple of names, George Soros.
SREENIVASAN: He's famously known as kind of a backer of liberal causes.
Is this about specific political persuasion? Is this just about money? Because this was also happening during the Obama administration.
GLANTZ: This is a story that takes place during the Obama years. And it was during the Obama years that we made these sweetheart deals with people
like Steve Mnuchin, paying him as his bank foreclosed on over 100,000 people.
Wilbur Ross, who's now the commerce secretary, he made a similar deal, acquiring BankUnited in Florida, and we subsidized his group, also more
than a billion dollars, as he foreclosed on tons of homes.
When Tom Barrack was getting started, the government itself ended up owning hundreds of thousands of homes and was trying to decide what to do with
them. It put out, under Obama, an open call for proposals.
And lots of people came for with very good ideas, like allow cities to take these over and turn them into affordable housing, use them to fight
segregation, get the government involved in selling them off one at a time to families, so that they can build wealth, so we have maybe a transfer of
wealth from one family to another, but not to these giant corporate landlords.
The Obama administration didn't do any of those things. Instead, what it did was, it bundled these homes, 1,000 at a time, and sold them off at deep
discounts to private equity firms. And so the very first purchase of homes through one of these government auctions is made by Tom Barrack's company.
He buys a controlling interest in about 1,000 homes across Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix for pennies on the dollar. And when I asked former
officials at the federal Housing Finance Agency, why did you do this, and they said, well, Barrack had the highest bid.
And I said, yes, he had the best bit of some who could buy 1,000 homes at once. What about people who wanted to buy these homes one at a time?
SREENIVASAN: Is there a racial or class component to this? I mean, are all houses treated equally?
GLANTZ: The racial component here is very strong.
During the housing bubble, families of color were disproportionately targeted for predatory loans, the high interest loans, the loans with
balloon payments. And then, when the housing bubble burst, they were most afflicted with foreclosures.
So, Steve Mnuchin's bank in California, nearly 70 percent of the foreclosures of his bank were in communities of color. Then you look at
where the bank did its lending. Over five years, where Steve Mnuchin and Joseph Otting, who's now Trump's chief bank regulator, were running this
bank, it helped just three African-American families buy homes and just 11 Latino families.
SREENIVASAN: Compared to how many loans were they making?
GLANTZ: They were making hundreds of loans.
SREENIVASAN: What's been the response to the book from, say, Steve Mnuchin?
GLANTZ: Steve Mnuchin -- well, first of all, I tried to interview him before publication. I reached out a number of times. I even sent a
certified letter to four of his homes. He didn't respond.
But after the book came out, I did get an e-mail from him. He quibbled. He said that I was inaccurate when I said that he had acquired this bank for
nothing off of the government, and he said that he and his other investors put $1.6 billion in the bank.
And I told him that I have reported that in the book, that they invested money in this bank, but that did not take away from the truth that they had
paid the government nothing.
And it was very important to me to point out that we, the U.S. federal government, took a huge financial hit, and even subsidized his
foreclosures. And yet he remitted none of his financial gain back to make up for that.
And, in fact, at the end of the day, he sells this bank, OneWest Bank, to one of his neighborhood -- neighbors in a Park Avenue apartment that he
lives in for $3.4 billion.
So he and his investors cleared a tremendous amount of money. And we, the government, got nothing in return. So I said all that back to him when he
wrote to me.
And I also said that he's still welcome to talk to me. And I remain available. I work for Reveal. We have a weekly radio show that goes out to
500 stations. I said, we would clear the whole show for him. And he wrote back to me again, and he restated his concerns with what I had written.
I offered him again the opportunity to come on and state his perspective for our large audience and be featured in the update of the book. And then
SREENIVASAN: Redlining has come back in the news recently, particularly for some comments that Michael Bloomberg made during a discussion that he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks whole hold neighborhoods and said, people in these
neighborhoods are poor, they're not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell them -- your salesmen, don't go into those areas.
And then Congress got involved, as -- local elected officials as well, and said, oh, that's not fair. These people should be able to get credit.
And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn't as
good as you would like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: Essentially saying that this group of investors shouldn't have been lent to in the first place, and that helped create the housing
GLANTZ: It was incredibly disturbing to see a candidate for president of the United States blame the end of redlining for the housing crisis.
I mean, redlining was a practice that goes back to the New Deal. During the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt invented the long-term fixed-rate mortgage
that we enjoy today. The Home Owners Loan Corporation refinanced more than a million loans, nearly one out of every five mortgages in urban America,
and it made a profit for the taxpayers.
It shows a shining example of what we could have done during the housing bust of 2008 that would have made a very different result than we had.
Now, the main problem with the Home Owners Loan Corporation was redlining. All of that wonderful government finance was only available to white
people. And government real estate agents went out to neighborhoods all over America. They drew lines on maps. They shaded neighborhoods with large
numbers of people of color red.
They used specifically racialized language, saying that neighborhoods were hazardous to lend in because they were -- quote, unquote -- infiltrated by
Negroes or threatened with Negro encroachment.
The word melting pot was used as a pejorative, because you wouldn't want people of different races living side by side, according to the government
at that time.
And now here comes Michael Bloomberg, all these years later, saying that the end of this practice, which happened, by the way, in 1968, with the
Fair Housing Act, was responsible for the Great Recession. It's laughable.
I mean, what we did have during the boom was, we had predatory lending by banks targeting people of color, which resulted in them being dispossessed
when the housing market busted. Loan officers at Wells Fargo testified in court that they were making -- quote, unquote -- "ghetto loans to mud
people" during the housing bubble.
And Wells Fargo paid a large federal settlement over that. I mean, that is the kind of activity that led to the housing bust, not the end of
SREENIVASAN: What is the impact that these people that you have called home-wreckers, you put on the cover of the book, have now that they are
swept up into the administration?
Because the names that you're talking about are not the ones that are churning in and out of the administration. These are relatively stable
names that have been there in their Cabinet positions or positions for quite some time.
GLANTZ: Yes, these guys are not going anywhere. I mean, it's pretty remarkable, when you think about the level of churn in the Trump
How many Department of Homeland Security secretaries has he been through, State Department chiefs, chiefs of staff? It seems like, every day, we wake
up, there's another body turned over in the Trump administration.
And yet the people that you and I are talking about today, Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Joseph Otting, they're all still there, quietly working away.
We could talk about the tax bill that was passed, the Trump tax bill, which was generally helpful to rich people, but especially helpful to real estate
developers who own properties through LLCs. If you make money, and it's paid to you through an LLC, then you get, because of this Trump tax bill, a
20 percent deduction right off the top.
The Opportunity Zone tax credit, which was the main way that the Trump tax bill was supposed to help poor communities, if you live in a house and you
want to fix your roof, you can't get a tax benefit for that.
But if you're a big-time condo developer that wants to buy 10 houses, knock them all down, and build a new development, you can get a huge capital
gains tax cut if you do it in a poor community.
So, every step of the way, these guys, these home-wreckers, now that they're in power, are there -- they're very focused on their goals. They're
not caught up in the day-to-day of impeachment or the rest of the Trump hysteria.
They're focused on profit and making money.
SREENIVASAN: Aaron Glantz, thanks so much.
GLANTZ: Thank you, Hari.
AMANPOUR: It is a toe-curling story.
And, finally, as pressure builds around the world to combat the climate crisis, the small African nation of Senegal is blowing away larger
neighbors in the race for renewable energy by launching the largest wind power plant in the whole of West Africa.
It will supply nearly a sixth of the country's power and help Senegal meets its target of getting 30 percent of his energy from renewable resources.
According to the country's president, the power plant will also provide electricity to another two million people in the country.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.