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World Leaders Criticizes Trump on His Attacks on WHO; Politicizing Coronavirus; Joe Biden's Strategy on Beating Trump; Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Co-Chair, Joe Biden's Presidential Campaign, is Interviewed About Joe Biden; Boris Johnson Moved to Hospital Ward; Coronavirus Hitting African-American Hardest; Interview With Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto; Interview With Mayor LaToya Cantrell New Orleans, LA. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 9, 2020 - 14:00 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)
JOE Biden (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The coronavirus is not his fault, but the way in which he responded to it is his problem. He is the commander
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Leadership, democracy and coronavirus, with Bernie Sanders now out of the 2020 race, what is Joe Biden's playbook for beating President
Trump. Campaign co-chair congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-NO): We are not claiming victory at all. And we are just now starting to see the curve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The mayor of New Orleans speaks to Walter Isaacson about why the death rate is so high amongst the Black community there and around the
Plus, has the coronavirus killed its first democracy? The big question after the Hungarian government grabs emergency powers indefinitely, the
foreign minister joins me.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
The coronavirus battle rages on, but we are seeing small signs and sighs of relief in some countries. Spain, the second-worst hit European nation has
reached the peak of the pandemic, and the prime minister says the fire is coming under control. And New Zealand is turning a corner, says Prime
Minister Jacinda Ardern.
But here, the U.K. and indeed the United States both recorded their deadliest days on Wednesday. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in
intensive care, but his spokesman says his condition is improving.
Meantime, world leaders have criticized President Trump's attacks on the World Health Organization. And the director-general himself rejects Trump's
accusation that it initially downplayed the threat. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Please don't politicize this virus. It exploits the differences you have at
the national level. If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don't want many more body bags,
then you refrain from politicizing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was a very pointed warning not to play games with this life-and-death pandemic. And indeed, the question of leadership has become
more important than ever. And for the third straight week, millions more Americans have signed up for unemployment benefits, bringing the newly
unemployed to nearly 17 million in the United States, since late march.
And with the stage set now for a Trump/Biden showdown after Bernie Sanders pulled out of the race, what is the former vice president's strategy?
Delaware congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester, co-chairs the Biden campaign and she is joining me now.
Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, welcome to the program.
Let me begin by asking you how in the age of coronavirus, do you even run a campaign and then we'll even get to the general election.
REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE), CO-CHAIR, JOE BIDEN'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. And I begin
by reaching out on behalf of Vice President Biden to all of those individuals who are experiencing the impact of the coronavirus, as well as
those who are on the front lines working, whether it is a person who is in health care or whether they're delivering our groceries, we know that you
are on the front lines and our hearts go out to you and we want you to know that the vice president is working very hard on this issue.
Your question was a good one. How do deal in an environment such as this? How do you campaign? And first and foremost, for the vice president
(INAUDIBLE) health and safety of those individuals who might -- health and safety of his staff, to make sure that they are working remotely and are
able to really be able to still reduce the outcomes that we want, which is winning in November. Health and safety are number one.
Number two, I think, like most of us, you know, you're trying to figure out how to navigate. I mean, even the fact that we're teleconferencing to have
this interview is a new way of operating. So, in the beginning, I think many of us had to work out some of the kinks of being able to actually work
this way. But he is doing television shows, he has doing podcasts, he is doing all kinds of interviews, as well as engaging with experts on the
coronavirus, both health care experts and economic experts.
And so, for him, the campaign has not stopped. As a matter of fact, what we know is in a time of crisis, that's when leadership really counts. And so,
he is demonstrating that leadership.
AMANPOUR: Congressman, let me ask you, because it's a little bit of a delicate issue, isn't it? I mean, here we have a national and an
international crisis. And many want to refrain from criticizing their elected leaders head-on while they deal with this emergency. But there are
many in your party who are saying, don't you think Vice President Biden, who's going to be the nominee, needs actually to get out there and
challenge what he might think of inconsistencies, a lack of leadership, whatever areas he might be able to offer an alternative narrative to what
the president is offering.
Is it the time? Should he not be out there over and over again, whether it's on social media, on television or whatever?
ROCHESTER: I think you hit on it. It's a difficult balance, because the reality is, we as a country are going through this. It's not, you know,
Republicans, Democrats or independents. It's always of us that are waking up to this reality every day. But it's important for us to showcase the
contrast in how we would handle this kind of situation. So, that as individuals go into the elections in the fall, they can know what kind of
leader they would have with a Joe Biden.
On his website, joebiden.com, he's already come out with what we should do now this current situation, as well as future pandemics. He did reach out
to the president and had a conversation, but he is also highlighting those areas where he feels we have been neglectful and late. And so, I think
there is that balance. Again, the goal is to present the real contrast so that people can make a good decision.
AMANPOUR: Let me just get to the issue of Bernie Sanders, who dropped out or rather, suspended his campaign. Nonetheless, saying that he was, you
know, not going to end it and he was going to see how many delegates he could get in order to try to influence the platform at the convention.
Here's what Joe Biden said when that happened. He said, I hear you. This is about the Sanders' supporters. I hear you. I see you. I understand the
urgency of what it is that we've got to get done for this country. And of course, the issue is Sanders' supporters and will they support the nominee,
Joe Biden? This is what Bernie Sanders said on television in the United States last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think what Joe what he has to do and what he will do is look at what are those issues that young people and working-
class people who supported me, what are they concerned about? So, I mean, I think Joe, he's not going to adopt my platform, I got that. All right. But
if he can move in that direction, I think people will say, you know what, this is a guy who we should support and we will support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Congresswoman, does that mean that Vice President Biden is going to start moving on some of these very important issues? And what
could he do to get that support that Bernie Sanders is talking about?
ROCHESTER: Well, first, I want to thank Senator Sanders for his service and his leadership. And I think that the vice president has expressed that
same thing. They had known each other for many years and have been colleagues and really appreciated the fact that he, number one, exposed and
raised issues that had not been in the forefront. And so, first of all, we thank him for the issues that he's raised for our country.
But also, you know, personally, the fact that he's been able to engage people who didn't see their relevance in the political process. I mean,
that's a big thing to have people recognize, yes, my vote matters, whether I am engaged matters. And so, we really thank him for that service. And to
actually (INAUDIBLE) right before the Iowa caucus, he was eating breakfast with his family, his wife and grandchildren, and, you know, part of the
conversation was that, while our campaigns may be different, they are also -- it's not the what, it's the how.
And so, we were really excited because in that conversation, he talked about unity. And that was months ago. And that was the message that he gave
as well when he made his announcement. For Joe Biden, he has said, no matter what group it was, whether it was young people, African-Americans,
veterans, he wants to earn your vote. And that's what he will continue to do is work to earn the vote.
One of the ways that I think we've already seen some movement is recently, the vice president has actually adopted one of the proposals or part of the
proposal that both Bernie Sanders and Pramila Jayapal had regarding college affordability. He also adopted one of the platform areas from Elizabeth
Warren regarding bankruptcy.
So, again, part of Joe Biden's plan is for Americans to see that we are all in this together and that we all sit under this roof together and that we
want to hear the various voices and come up with a platform that will really make sure that we lift -- uplift the middle class, that people are
engaged and that we care about our environment, health care and all of these issues that do matter to both progressives and the whole spectrum of
Democrats and Republicans and independents.
AMANPOUR: Right. And clearly, health care has been put right into the spotlight with this coronavirus pandemic. But I just want to ask you just
if you can confirm to me, because sources have told "The New York Times" that Senator Sanders and Joe Biden are expected to roll out a series of
issues and policies, sort of in tandem, or at least, Biden is going to, you know, sort of support some of the issues of Senator Sanders. Is that
correct? Are you going to have any announcement, any rollout anytime soon?
ROCHESTER: I will defer to Mr. Biden to answer that question.
AMANPOUR: All right. OK. So, let me ask you this then because some people are saying -- well, they're saying a lot of things, that A, you need to get
your digital and tech and social media game really up, because, as they say, and as many independent observers will say, President Trump has a
very, very sharp and dominant role on social media. His campaign manager used to be his digital campaign manager and they know what they're doing.
So, what plans do you have? Are you hiring new people? Are you going to be expanding more on social media? Because it's not just about television
anymore, right? It's not about traditional media, particularly in this completely untraditional coronavirus campaign time.
ROCHESTER: Exactly, exactly. As a matter of fact, your viewers may know that the campaign brought on a new campaign manager, Jen O'Malley, who came
from the Beto O'Rourke campaign. She has hit the ground running. And you know, I mean, when you really think back, I was one of the first people
that endorsed Vice President Biden, having known him for over 30 years, known his work, known his work ethic, known his heart and his passion.
And when I, you know, signed on, a lot of people were not sure about a Joe Biden candidacy. And you know, throughout that time, there were struggles.
People would say, oh, you guys don't have enough money. Oh, you're not doing well in the polls. And at that time, I said, those are true metrics,
but they're snapshots in time. And I think what you have seen, again, is that desire, that Joe Biden, you know, push to earn people's votes, and
that's what he continued to do.
And I think about when we, you know, think about where we are today from Super Tuesday on and how the tide has changed, it now requires us to step
up our game and we're excited about all of the new enthusiasm and energy that's come onboard, even the various endorsements by the previous
presidential candidates and what they each bring to the table. I mean, they bring different things themselves.
And so, yes, social media, we've got to -- we're ramping that up. Hiring people, we're ramping that up. I remember, at one point, we were thinking
right before Super Tuesday, there were places we didn't have (INAUDIBLE) resources, but people were there, people came and they voted. And that's
what we need them to do in November. We need them to show up. And that's a whole another issue. How do we protect people's safety during a pandemic
and be able to vote, their right to vote?
So, we are ramping the campaign up in a new and an exciting way and you'll be seeing some announcements in the upcoming weeks. But it really was
people powered him and that's really what it's going to take for us to win in November.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, here's the thing, Congresswoman. As you know, well, consistently, national polls in a head to head put Vice President Biden
about six points ahead of President Trump. But President Trump has a daily platform that he's using and even "The Wall Street Journal" editorial today
said he's using it for like as a substitute for rallies now instead of sharp, medical and general sort of protective and safety information. So
even "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board said that.
But the question is, how does Vice President Biden compete with that? And you talked about safety and you talked about, you know, the real
difficulties in this coronavirus. You can't do door to door. You can't have rallies. You can't have fund-raisers. You need money, you need to get it
somehow. And you need to make sure that you're going to be able to have the primaries and the general election.
So, what are you doing? What is the party doing? I don't really know the mechanics. But what are you doing to make sure that if you can't actually,
you know, go and vote, that there could be absentee ballots? I mean, really ramping up that absentee issue. Is that what's going to have to happen? I
mean, maybe even in November?
ROCHESTER: That is -- you know, right now, we in Congress, this is part of our responsibility, you know, states and, you know, can do what they can do
to make sure that their, you know, residents are safe, but there are certain things that need to be scaled up and that take resources.
So, for example, even in the Cares Act that we just passed for the coronavirus response, there was funding that we in the House Democratic
Caucus really pushed hard for election protection, to be able to vote by mail. And as you've heard the president say, he is not supportive of that.
But the reality is, there are places in our country right now that have vote by mail, that do no-excuse absentee ballots, including the absentee
ballot that he's going to use. And people do it safely.
And so, number one priority, and they're linked, is the health and safety of our folks and the ability to exercise your right to vote. We in Congress
had the ability to make some changes. So, for example, in that Cares Act, there was money we requested, but we didn't get the amount we wanted. But
for states to be able to access that money, they would have to put up 20 percent of the money to be able to get the match. Well, that doesn't
incentivize them. That doesn't even help them in a situation where they are struggling to find money.
So, this next package may be an opportunity for us to make sure that people's votes are protected. It might not be in this next package, but
we've got to do it, because this is a right.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you very briefly. This is probably a yes or no. Are you going to call on Michelle and Barack Obama, the former first lady
and president of the United States, who are the most popular politicians in America, to come out, not just and endorse, but to campaign in whatever way
they can for Vice President Biden?
ROCHESTER: Well, I know that the president, President Obama and Vice President Biden, as well as Jill and Michelle have a very, very special
relationship. And, you know, from the very beginning, the vice president wanted to win this nomination on his own. But now, you know, it has been
really good that they still stay in contact.
I think as we go into, you know, looking at a convention and what a convention could look like, whether that's going to be in person or not,
it's already been delayed to August, we're going to need all hands-on deck. And so, while I'm not personal or close friends with the president or Mrs.
Obama, I would love to see you on the campaign trail. We could definitely use you. And America misses you.
AMANPOUR: And one final question. Because people have said, what is Vice President Biden's signature policy? Is it just beating President Trump or
is there something specific? And we hear from many, particularly his foreign policy area, that he is interested in global leadership. And boy,
if anything, showed how much what happens in the world affects the United States and how much U.S. leadership or the lack thereof affects the
progress of this kind of pandemic and what happens around the world, it is this now, right?
So, is that something that Vice President Biden is going to double down on? Because America is not leading the world. It's leading America, but not the
world, like it used to on various other crisis.
ROCHESTER: Well, you know, I think the important thing about Joe Biden is that he has both experienced domestically as well as internationally. And
so, you know, to raise our standing again in the world is important to him. But he really does care about those bread and butter issues that affect
people's daily lives.
I mean, if we just look right now at the situation with the coronavirus and how it is disproportionately affecting people of color, people based on
their socioeconomic status, you know, these are issues that touch people. And what this virus has done is just highlighted and magnified underlying
And so, for a President Biden, I think you're going to see leadership in many areas. But I think what is important are four things. A person has to
be credible. He is, both here and abroad. A person has to be competent. He knows what he's doing, he's done it before. He has to be consistent. If
you're speaking to your -- the public, you and your health experts should be saying the same thing. And lastly, he has to be compassionate. Joe Biden
knows what it means to be compassionate. When you do that, you get the confidence of the people.
AMANPOUR: All right. All right. Thank you so much, Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. Thanks for joining us.
ROCHESTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we just want to bring you up with some news that we are just learning, and that is, apparently, the British prime minister, Boris
Johnson, has left intensive care and he's been moved back to a hospital ward, where he'll receive close monitoring during the early phase of his
Now, later in the program, we look at how some countries like Israel and Hungary are seizing emergency powers during this pandemic, they say to
better deal with it, but critics say, it's just an old-fashioned assault on democracy. I'll be speaking to the Hungarian foreign minister.
But first, coronavirus has hit Louisiana hard and new data reveals that the virus is hitting African-Americans hardest, where the states Black
community accounting for 70 percent of deaths, even though they only make up 33 percent of the population.
The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, says this disparity is reflected nationwide, because of systemic problems like poverty traps and lack of
resources. Meantime, critics say New Orleans should have locked down earlier. The mayor tells our Water Isaacson why Mardi Gras went ahead.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Madam Mayor, thank you for joining us.
MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-NEW ORLEANS, LA): Thank you for having me.
ISAACSON: We've seen over the past few days now a decline in the amount of a hospitalization, a decline this the use of respirators. Have we reached
the point where your stay-at-home measures seem to be flattening the curve?
CANTRELL: We have reached a point to where our stay-at-home efforts and mandates, they are working. We have to maintain the mandates, the stay-at-
home orders. This is the time that we do not let up, that we get more aggressive, as it relates to the stay-at-home mandates. We do not want to
regress. We want to continue to make progress.
And so, we are not claiming victory at all. And we are just now starting to see the curve. So, we're not in the situation where we're flattening. We
are approaching the curve and we are shifting and pivoting really into not only more care, but stopping people from dying. And that's the focus. We
want to stop the deaths from happening.
ISAACSON: You know, we in New Orleans are not very good at social distancing. And I'm here in the French quarter and I look outside and I see
that you have police cars that are breaking up anybody who's in the crowd walking around trying to go. How have you been trying to enforce this stay-
CANTRELL: Well, the biggest level of enforcement is, one, having the presence of the law enforcement, but at the same time, pushing for personal
responsibility. And we, as we look at the mobility data from cell phone usage, we know that 73 percent, you know, of our people, in terms of moving
around, they're not. So, they are adhering to the mandates. They're taking it very seriously and we are, as well, as a city. Because we cannot allow
people to move about, break the law and do nothing about it.
So, when we act swiftly, it really sets the tone that not only do we mean business, but this crisis, it's serious. People are dying and people are
ISAACSON: When you have cell phone data, you have the cameras, the traffic cameras around the city, how do you balance the concerns people might have
about privacy with the need to look at as much information as possible to see who's moving around?
CANTRELL: Well, one, we're not -- all that we're looking for and we're not using our traffic cameras or, you know, to follow people. That's not what
we do. And as it relates to the cell phone data, it's strictly around mobility. How you can see, and you don't have -- it's not the
individualized, it's just really the traffic. And so, we're not crossing the line with people's personal information or data points, but we are
using it to see if people are following the rules, and they are staying put and that's a good thing.
ISAACSON: With the recent decline in the need for hospitalization in New Orleans and the reduction of the need for ventilators, do you think that's
going to change how we use the convention center in our emergency preparedness?
CANTRELL: Well, first of all, our people are still in the hospital. I don't want to give sense that folks are not hospitalized. They are and they
are still at record numbers. But what we're seeing is that our people are, one, coming off of those ventilators sooner rather than later. The surge
capacity at the convention center, our medical monitoring facility opened on yesterday. We opened up with fewer than 20 patients there.
We are seeing that based on how well our health care workers are doing, you know, the best job ever within those hospitals, it does make us feel that
we will not have to surge up to the capacity of 3,000. So, right now, it's at 1,000. We believe that that will be sufficient. But, again, the
convention center is for region one, and that's multiple parishes that make up region one. So, we may find ourselves being a much greater service to
our regional parishes than just Orleans.
ISAACSON: Our family homes are in the same neighborhood, right in the heart of New Orleans, called Broadmoor. And during Katrina, you worked with
my father and others in trying to make sure we came back neighborhood by neighborhood. Reflect on that for a moment and how that's helping you
organize neighborhood recoveries as we come out of this.
CANTRELL: Well, one, it is engaging the people who are on the ground, meaning these neighborhood leaders. You know, they have a role to play. So,
I have been engaging them in multiple ways. So, whether that is having consistent conference calls with them, calling them to task with helping
with feeding, cleaning up even their communities, their areas, knowing their neighbors. You know, a disaster is not the time to start learning who
people are. You should know that. And we have been trained to do this, particularly, you know, in the post-Katrina environment. So, reminding
people that, you know, your neighbors are your first responders and you have to be organized.
And so, I've organized government, I've organized community in many ways like I did post-Katrina. I have over 13 active committees that engages the
business community, the hospitality and tourism. I mean, it just goes on and on. The deaf care community. Of course, neighborhoods, public schools.
All of these different mechanisms. It helps, one, to give people accurate information, which is essential, and also, it keeps them not only informed,
but it empowers them to be a part of the us and to get out of the way. Don't hurt us.
ISAACSON: As we were preparing for Mardi Gras, you worked very closely with FEMA, the feds, the FBI, everybody else to make sure that security was
great during Mardi Gras. Did anybody from homeland security or the federal government warn you about the pandemic and say you should do something
CANTRELL: Oh, no, not at all. Well, there were no red flags given to the City of New Orleans through our unified command and leading up to Mardi
Gras. We had increased our rating with the federal government (INAUDIBLE) rating for Mardi Gras, which we had never had before, which means
additional courses that will flow through the federal government, as well as people on the ground.
So, I had special agents on the ground in the community walking with the chief and our public safety team every parade.
ISAACSON: So, nobody ever recommended you should cancel Mardi Gras?
CANTRELL: Oh, no one recommended that we would cancel Mardi Gras. And even when I moved to cancel St. Patrick's Day and Super Sunday, March 9th, you
know, all hell broke loose with that as well, being ridiculed, you know, at the state level and all, but it was the right thing to do. And when I look
at the forecast of data, not only did we do the right thing, we saved countless lives and we'll continue to do that.
ISAACSON: What have you asked for from the federal government or the state government that you have not received? What are your priorities now?
CANTRELL: Well, the priorities have been definitely around the PPE, getting the protective equipment that our front-line workers, our
employees, our first responders, that they desperately need, and consistently.
That's been a continued struggle, but we're seeing things come in. Testing was an issue initially, but we're testing more than any other city in the
country. And we're second to Iceland right now, which is a real reflection in the numbers, in the cases.
But you have to -- you have to have the data to know where you are and how you're doing. So I'm happy about that.
As it relates to the stimulus package, we were very aggressive on the front end of galvanizing our federal delegation, as well as our state delegation,
for advocating for the needs of the city, which led to some infusion of stimulus dollars, even set-asides for Orleans, through HUD and the like.
So things are moving. We just need to make sure that the city is at the table, as resources will flow from the federal government to the state,
because the city will not receive directly because of our population.
So, I want to make sure we're in line to get our fair share. We are an economy, again, driven by hospitality. We have over 110,000 workers that
are attached to that and more. The gig economy and the resources that they need, gap financing, to keep their family steady, is huge.
We believe that we're going to need to feed over 200,000 over the next couple of weeks daily. And so these continue to be some needs. But I'm
hopeful, based on the response of our federal delegation, coming together, working across those bipart -- you know, being across the lines, to
ISAACSON: Seventy percent of coronavirus cases in Louisiana are among African-Americans, even though African-Americans are only 33 percent of the
population. Why is it affecting the black community more?
CANTRELL: Well, I think what this pandemic has exposed, particularly in the United States -- and it's not that we don't know it, right? But it has
absolutely exposed the fragility within our community, the black community, the working -- within working families, the disparity gaps that existed
that we knew were prevalent, not only in New Orleans, but the United States of America.
But it brings it home in these instances. So it's a public health disparity issue. And public health touches everything, from housing, to employment,
to physical health, to wellness, the economics. It all matters.
And so black folks, in regards to the disparity gaps that exist in this country, make up the majority that fall in that gap, and so our most
vulnerable. So when you're in a -- when you're faced with a crisis like we're in, it's your most vulnerable people within your population who
suffer the most.
So we will continue to see this, if we don't address these disparity needs that we have known about for decades, for generations, but no longer, I
believe, that we can continue to avoid meeting people where they are, when we know that their needs are there.
ISAACSON: Which steps are being taken for the poorest in the city?
CANTRELL: Oh, for the poorest.
Now, this is our most vulnerable. What I say is my street homeless and getting them off the street. We have been able to do some of that. I still
have about 140 that still remain on the street that I need to find housing or accommodations for. And we're working towards that every single day.
And then having to also deal with residents in their neighborhoods who want to try to embrace this not-in-my-backyard type of concept, but, in a
crises, that will not fly, and even outside of a crisis, from my perspective.
But we're managing it through. I'm speaking directly with residents, with their concerns, and alleviating their concerns. But everyone matters in
this city, and our most vulnerable, absolutely.
But a part of that is our mental health, the mental health of our community, which touches everybody and all demographics and across the
board. I'm worried about the mental health of my folks. I really am.
I'm seeing an uptick in suicides, and also as we lose employees to this virus as well. So, making sure that we have grief counseling in place.
That's one of the services that we advocated for at the federal level, for crisis counseling. That's something that the federal government delivered
And we're working to see how we can execute that on the ground as soon as possible.
ISAACSON: In New Orleans, when somebody of great cultural significance, like Ellis Marsalis, dies, the way that person is often mourned is through
a parade, a second line parade.
Are you worried about the cultural traditions and about how we're going to mourn here in the city?
CANTRELL: Oh, no doubt. I'm very much worried about just psychologically, right?
We have -- we're all mourning here, and not just this city, but the United States of America. I worry about that. But in our city, I have no doubt
we're going to get through it. We're going to mourn in a way that we haven't seen collectively before, because it's 208 people, and we know that
that number is growing.
But it'll be what a time, what a time. But not one is over the next. All of them will be mourned appropriately. And I believe that our families -- it's
so sad, because this is different. When your loved one dies, they're alone. They're by themselves.
No one can go kiss momma or kiss grandma or papa. No one can say goodbye. And they either have to do it over the phone. And it's very -- it's very
difficult. So I think this is going to be a mourning like we have never seen before, in a way that we will heal through our culture, again, like we
have never felt before.
ISAACSON: When I go out on the balcony behind me, I sometimes hear musicians playing on the balconies up and down Royal Street.
What's it like for you to be in a city that's generally quiet, where there isn't music on the streets anymore?
CANTRELL: Oh, it's really tough. And that's why we are, meaning the city, is working very closely with our cultural community.
In most crises that we face, like, your Cultural Economy Office isn't considered an essential personnel or critical staffing. But, in this
instance, it's critical. So through the Office of Cultural Economy, even going on right now, we have artists performing, and where we're
livestreaming that throughout the city.
We have -- and this is also a way to keep not only them playing, the gigs going, but even them making a few dollars from the gigs. So it's not like
this handout. It is a service that they're providing, and they're being paid for that. And that's through our Office of Cultural Economy.
I know that the culture of this city will be essential to the recovery and the revitalization as we move from this pandemic, no doubt about it.
ISAACSON: Madam Mayor, thank you very much for joining us.
CANTRELL: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the whole world knows where New Orleans stands on music and culture. And holding on to arts and culture can only help us
get through this crisis, like so many other crises.
Now, the pandemic may also be putting democracy and rule of law under strain, case in point, Hungary. Last week, the government asked to rule by
decree indefinitely to handle this pandemic, and Parliament approved it.
The law contains no time limit.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says that he will use the extraordinary powers proportionately, but opposition lawmakers say it puts the whole of
Hungarian democracy in quarantine.
And, today, the government further announced that the current lockdown will be extended indefinitely and revisited weekly.
Joining me now to discuss all of this is Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
Welcome to the program, Mr. Foreign Minister. We have spoken many times before about these issues.
And I'm just wondering what you make of, for instance, the headline says, has coronavirus killed off its first democracy, talking about yours?
PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, good evening to you. I'm very happy to talk to you now again, although I regret that we cannot
Hopefully, this crazy situation will be over in a short, foreseeable time, and we will have the chance to talk to each other personally again.
And I really appreciate this opportunity to talk to you, because I see that there are many fake news and lies spread about Hungary out there based on
this new law.
I understand that many of these reports about us emphasize that there is no time limit in the law, which is not entirely true, given the fact that the
law says that it is the Parliament itself which can conclude the state of danger.
I cannot imagine, to be honest, a more democratic solution for that than giving this right to the Parliament itself, which has the democratic
authorization from the people.
On the other hand, I have to tell you that I read these reports, and I regret that these reports never speak about the truth in its entirety,
given the fact that there are four countries in the European Union applying a similar kind of solution, Poland, Malta, Croatia, and us.
And there are four other countries in which the government can prolong the state of emergency or a state of danger without any kind of decision made
by the parliament.
So, I don't think that there's anybody who would be able to see what time this epidemic, what time the virus challenge is going to be over. So I
think the good solution is that we gave this right to the Parliament to make a decision when they think that this state of danger should be
Now, Foreign Minister Szijjarto, as you know, we don't engage in fake news, so there's just no point in even using that term when talking to me.
This is what your Parliament has done. And you have an indefinite, indefinite rule by decree. And, as you very well know, sure, you can say,
theoretically, the Parliament can change this, but the Parliament is two- thirds majority of your party and your party's allies, the ruling Fidesz party and its allies.
Really? The Parliament is going to go against Viktor Orban? You just tell me if you think that's even possible.
SZIJJARTO: You know, first of all, the composition of the Parliament is not an outcome of a lottery, but elections.
So, I think it's kind of natural that, in a parliament, there is a majority and there is a minority. And the majority is definitely for the government.
On the other hand, yes, there are many fake news spread about Hungary in this regard, unfortunately. I spoke about this term generally. Many media
outlets have spread lies and fake news around this law.
One of these fake news is that it says that the government has an uncontrolled and unlimited possibility to make decrees, which is not true.
The law says very clearly that we can make decrees only in accordance with protecting the country, the people, and the economy from the challenges
related to the virus.
And we definitely have to make such kind of decisions. But we are not the only one. All countries in the world, I guess, make them.
And just for the sake of comparison, I have to tell you that the rights which have now been given to the Hungarian prime minister and the
environment by the Parliament are much narrower than the rights, for example, given to the president of France under normal circumstances.
So, portraying this situation as if it was a threat to democracy is simply unfair. I have to be honest with you.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, the French National Assembly, its parliament, is still functioning. The British Parliament is still
functioning. Yes, it's in recess for Easter. The United States Congress is still functioning.
Your Parliament is not. Your Parliament is closed down. So that's a big, big difference.
And then you say that all other democracies in other countries are doing this in Europe as well.
Well, let me just ask you about Norway. As you know, Norwegian prime minister would have liked to have had emergency powers. She asked for them
until December 31, for the rest of this year, in order to deal with this crisis.
But her Parliament said no, and they gave her one month's emergency powers.
Again, I want to know, when do you think that your emergency powers are going to be lifted, this rule by decree? And exactly what do you need these
powers for that you couldn't enact, whatever measures you need to, to control the pandemic, with this massive majority that you have in
SZIJJARTO: You know, Mrs. Amanpour, I really respect you a lot personally.
And if I can make it more personal, I can tell you that I really enjoy the personal meetings with you, and I really enjoy the programs you have on
CNN. I try to be a frequent viewer of that.
But now you have been engaged in spreading another fake news about Hungary, sorry to say, because you just said that the Parliament is blocked in
Hungary, which is not true.
The Parliament is in session. For example, this week, the Parliament was in session for three days.
AMANPOUR: OK, well, that's news.
SZIJJARTO: I myself gave a report -- yes, yes.
I myself gave a report in the Parliament about the last week section of the NATO foreign ministers, about the last week session of the E.U. foreign
ministers. I myself have spoke five times in the plenary session only this week.
And I take -- and I took part on the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Next week, the Parliament will have another two-day session, and
this is going to be the situation until the 30th of June.
SZIJJARTO: This is the normal schedule of the Hungarian Parliament that we started -- that we started..
AMANPOUR: Those are...
But, you know, you say OK, but the thing is that, I don't -- to be honest, I don't really understand why media...
AMANPOUR: Well, this is news to us. So, I'm accepting -- I'm accepting that you are giving us this news.
But, again, I need to ask you -- sorry.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, this is a fact. This is a fact.
AMANPOUR: This is selective choosing. Fine.
But let me ask you something. What measures to control the pandemic are you unable to have, given your massive governmental and parliamentary majority?
And does, for instance, deciding not to recognize transgender rights, which has just happened, fall into these emergency powers that you need to deal
with the pandemic?
This is why people are worried about what you're doing, because they think that you're using this crisis to continue the march towards authoritarian
rule by decree in your country.
This is not new. It didn't just happen now.
So, answer that, Mr. Foreign Minister.
SZIJJARTO: So, yes, yes, yes, sure, sure, I try my best, believe me.
So, this week, we have submitted 16 draft laws to the Parliament, totally independent from the epidemic situation. So, you have to -- you have to
separate things into two parts, first, the measures regarding the fight against the virus.
There, we have the right to make decrees, as many other countries have decided to do so, because, there, speed matters. You don't have two weeks
for the Parliament to make a law. You have to act immediately. This is one.
On the other hand, when it comes to laws which have nothing to do with the virus situation, they go in the normal schedule in the Parliament. The one
you refer to has been on the table of the Parliament for more than three weeks now, totally independently from the virus.
So, decrees in accordance with the virus can be made, and laws which have nothing to go with the virus, they go in the normal schedule in the
Parliament. This is the normal way how the Hungarian parliamentarian democracy works.
AMANPOUR: Let me just put down this sound bite from the head of the European Commission. You are a member of the E.U.
This is what the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said just after this decree was approved by Parliament. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I understand that member states may need to take emergency measures to address the immediate
health crisis, but I am concerned that certain measures go too far.
And I'm particularly concerned with the situation in Hungary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you make of that? She's concerned. And a lot of people are concerned.
SZIJJARTO: Look, I respect the president of the European Commission a lot as well. I know her personally as well, because, as a minister of -- a
federal minister of defense of Germany, we had many interactions.
So, with all of my personal respect to her, I totally disagree with this statement.
And why I do that? Because the European Commission in the European Union is the guardian of the treaties. So, the European Commission is entitled to
make kind of investigations about the measures countries are making, whether they are in line with the European treaties or not.
Any kind of investigation has not been concluded yet, so making a prejudice about the outcome of possible future investigations, to be honest, it's not
SZIJJARTO: And, on the other hand, what I totally reject is double standards, because now we again speak about Hungary.
But, once again, I have to tell you, there are three other countries in the European Union, Poland, Malta, Croatia, all our friends, who have no time
limit in their regulations. And four other countries, Estonia, Italy, Slovakia, and Slovenia, there, the promulgation of such a situation can be
based exclusively on the decision of the government, without having the approval of the Parliament.
So, why Hungary? Again, these kind of double standards, I think, should be left aside, especially under the current virus situation.
SZIJJARTO: Let me tell you one thing.
We had the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, which is a gathering of E.U. foreign ministers. And I told my colleagues that I understand
I do not understand one thing. We are now fighting a huge challenge. Thousands of European citizens are dying on a daily basis. Tens of
thousands of citizens are being infected on a daily basis.
My question is how Norwegian, who are not members of European Union, but Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, Greek, other politicians do have time to
deal with such a very important question, who conclude the state of danger in Hungary, instead of dealing with their internal situation to help the
people in need and help to find the virus. That's my question.
AMANPOUR: Well, because they have used their democratic process -- mostly, the answer is because they have used their democratic process...
SZIJJARTO: Just like we are using the democratic....
AMANPOUR: They have used their democratic process to bring the curve down...
SZIJJARTO: Like we did. Like we did.
AMANPOUR: ... and to start to end the lockdowns.
And let me ask you this. Presumably, you would agree that President Trump and the Trump administration are allies and friends, yes? Yes?
SZIJJARTO: Yes, of course, we are, no question. Yes, yes, yes, no question.
Your counterpart in the United States, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, has said about this: "There will be bad actors who try to use this outbreak
of virus for nefarious ends. You know, I hear people saying, boy, autocracies sure respond to crises well. Well, I have to tell you, they got
the wrong end of the stick. It's democracies that respond to crisis well. They protect liberty. They protect freedom."
So, what, again, is your answer to this?
SZIJJARTO: Did he mention Hungary in his statement?
AMANPOUR: Yes, absolutely, specifically, specifically asked about a power grab by the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban.
SZIJJARTO: Can you quote that? Can you quote that when he mentioned Hungary?
AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm telling you. I'm reading it to you.
SZIJJARTO: I have read this statement. No, no, I -- yes, but there's no mentioning about Hungary there.
But, anyway, I agree. I agree with my counterpart.
AMANPOUR: He was asked about power grabs like that of the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban. That's what he was asked about. That was the answer
to the question.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, he was -- yes, but -- but -- yes, but this was the question, and not the answer.
But, anyway, I would like to answer substantially what you have just asked me.
AMANPOUR: I gave you the answer.
SZIJJARTO: So, I have a personal -- yes, yes, yes.
I have a personal respect to Mike, of course, and I'm very happy to work together with him.
And I agree with him. Democracy is the best answer for that. And, believe me, the solution we have chosen here in Hungary is a democratic one.
I cannot do anything with the fact that the other part -- or, let's say, the external actors do not have a 100 percent wisdom about this regulation,
just like you didn't have 100 percent wisdom, because you just said here a couple of minutes to your viewers that the Hungarian Parliament is blocked,
which is totally untrue.
Others say that we have an unlimited...
AMANPOUR: I didn't say blocked.
SZIJJARTO: ... possibility to make regu -- yes. You said that they are -- you said that the Hungarian Parliament is not in session, which is totally
untrue, because it is in session.
And others say, you know, that we have an unlimited possibility of making decrees, which is not true either.
AMANPOUR: OK. All right.
SZIJJARTO: Look, the law is not long. It's less -- sorry. Sorry. It's less than three pages.
So, I think it's not too challenging to read that. So, I would like to ask everybody who makes such kind of harsh statements on Hungary to read the
law. First, read and then make statements. And then it makes sense to speak about this issue afterwards, I guess.
Well, we asked you for your response to all of this, and you have given to it to us.
So, Foreign Minister Szijjarto, thank you for joining us from Budapest.
And, finally, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who, as we told you, also wanted powers until the end of the year, decided only to agree with
her Parliament, giving them to -- for a month.
Now, she also said that it was really important to reach out and reassure children during this pandemic. So, she's held a special press conference to
answer questions that children have.
And she says that she will do that again, ahead of opening up some schools later this month.
And in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that children need their traditions. So, she promised that some very special
workers were still in action, but that they might be a little busy under the current circumstances.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: You will be pleased to know that we do consider both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny to be
But, as you can imagine, at this time, of course, they're going to be potentially quite busy at home with their family as well and their own
And so I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn't make it to your household, then we have to understand that it's a bit
difficult at the moment for the bunny to perhaps get everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Spoken like a prime minister and a mother.
All over the world, leaders are making the same promise. And though it might be hard for the Easter Bunny to hop over this year, ordinary people
are leaping into action, putting colorful pictures of Easter eggs in their windows or outside, so children can have a new kind of Easter egg hunt on
Not to be outdone, chocolatiers are adding candy masks and gloves to their bunnies to keep them safe. It is a sweet treat in what can be very scary
That's it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.