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"The Room Where It Happened," a New Memoir by John Bolton; Women's Rights and Iran; Interview With Dr. Larry Brilliant; Gabriela Jauregui, Mexican Author and Women's Rights Activist, and Farnaz Fassihi, Journalist, New York Times, are Interviewed About Violence on Women During Pandemic. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 18, 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.
Explosive claims about Trump confusing the national interest with his own interest. Informer national security adviser, Bolton's tell-all memoir.
And a deadly rise in domestic violence, the pandemic within a pandemic for females trapped at home. I speak to experts from Mexico to Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CEO, PANDEFENSE ADVISORY: It's never too late to do containment. Indeed, it's the only thing that we can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Epidemiologist and physician, Larry Brilliant, on how the United States can still overcome COVID-19.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
Explosive, damning, scathing. These are just some of the words used to describe a new account of the Trump presidency by Former National Security
Adviser John Bolton. Bolton left the White House last September over foreign policy differences with the commander-in-chief. He's forthcoming
memoir called "The Room Where It Happened" recounts 17 months spent in an administration that he describes as corrupt, ill-informed and reckless.
Here's how Bolton describes his former boss today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't think he is fit for office. I don't think he has the confidence to carry out the job. There
really isn't any guiding principal that I was anyone to discern other than what is good for Donald Trump's re-election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, President Trump calls the book pure fiction and a compilation of lies and made up stories, and his Justice Department is
trying to stop its distribution, citing national security interests.
There are also questions about the timing of these allegations in the book. In particular, Democrats are asking why Bolton didn't bring any of this to
their impeachment inquiry, prompting impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff, to say, Bolton may be an author, but he is no patriot.
So, joining us from Washington to discuss this is our national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He is author of the upcoming book, "The Madman
Theory: Trump Takes on the World."
Jim Sciutto, welcome, welcome to the program.
So, look, let me ask you, look, John Bolton is even controversial amongst all of those who are controversial for his foreign policy stance as we
know. He's the hawks hawk. Is this a score settling or is this a truth telling account, do you think? What do you think the purpose is having read
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN, CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, it's a first-hand account from a senior official, who is appointed by this
president and chose to accept that job. And by the way, not at the beginning of the administration when you could argue, perhaps you don't
know how President Trump will govern but well into the administration.
So, John Bolton knew what he was getting into and the president knew and his advisers knew who John Bolton was when the president appointed him to
this very senior position. Beyond that, he's lifelong Republican, he's a Fox News contributor. I mean, it's difficult to look at his resume and
attack him the way President Trump and his loyalists have attacked everyone else who has come to criticize him or contradict the president's message.
It seems that the only qualifier for being dismissed by this president and doped is one of his favorite terms but is a liar, is not contradicting the
president. Because remember, a whole host of people have been dismissed in similar ways. Jim Mattis was one of his generals, appointed as defense
secretary until he described him in effect as unfit for office. Mitt Romney, the president considered him for secretary of state until he then
dismissed him. Gordon Sondland, in the Ukraine, impeachment inquiry, Trump appointee, million-dollar donor to his inauguration until he testified
under oath that there was a quid pro quo.
So, John Bolton, his character has been around Washington as you well know for years. He's made a lot of enemies here. He's certainly very focused on
his own public profile. That said, he claims and took notes, by the way, contemporaneous notes of what he says were alarming instances of this
president's decisions and decision making.
AMANPOUR: So, basically the bottom line, as far as I can gather, is that he is saying that every single turn the president makes, particularly in
foreign policy, is designed with a re-election in mind. So, every conversation he has is about how can you help me get re-elected.
So, you heard what he said is to ABC, that we played it. Bolton says he's not fit for office. And you heard what the Democrats have said about the
timing of this. If he had all this information, for instance, about quid pro quos in Ukraine, and we will get to the China bit, why didn't he bring
them to the impeachment hearing instead of waiting to put them in a book?
SCIUTTO: This is a fundamental question for John Bolton that he must answer. Because if these accounts are true and he believes that those
accounts, these decisions, these statements by the president and there are many alarming ones, if they were so alarming why didn't he step forward
months ago when, by the way, this country was going through an impeachment hearing to remove this president from office.
His defense, if you want to call it that, is that, well, the Democrats should have had a broader impeachment inquiry. But the fact is, he had the
opportunity to tell that one small piece of the story, the Ukraine piece of this story which led to the impeachment inquiry. He could have made the
choice to testify and not wait for a judge in affect to give him a free pass to do so. That's a fundamental question for John Bolton, he is going
to have to answer.
That said, if you are sitting a lawmaker today of either party, if you don't believe what is written in the book, what's to stop Democratic or
Republican lawmakers from calling him to testify under oath today? I asked -- I will tell you, I asked the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, Jim Risch, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Marco Rubio, our show team did, to comment today on his revelations. They
have every right and ability to call him before a committee to ask questions about this under oath. But it doesn't appear that they have any
interest in doing so.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is weird. I want to ask you because what difference do you think it would have made? There were Trump administration officials
there testifying under oath about the quid pro quos and about all the fall- out. And in this book, Bolton claims to have eyewitness evidence that there was a definite quid pro quo and linking by the president to the Ukrainians
in return for dirt on Joe Biden.
Do you think, then or now, it would have made a difference in the impeachment? I mean, we know the Congress impeached him but the Senate
SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, listen, one of the holes, if you want to call it that, in the Democrat's impeachment case was a witness, a first-hand witness to
say that the order to do this quid pro quo came from the president. John Bolton claims to be that witness, in this book at least. He says that he
has knowledge of the president ordering just that, although Gordon Sondland got very close to saying that in his sworn testimony.
Beyond that, if John Bolton believes, as he says, and you played his comment there saying, unfit to serve, but also constantly mixing his own
personal, political motivations with the interests of the country, he would have then had an opportunity under oath to say, and by the way, this is not
the only time the president asked a foreign power for help in the upcoming election, because that's one of the most alarming revelations of his book.
That he went to Xi Jinping during the G20 Summit last year in Osaka and begged him, in the description of John Bolton, for help in the election, by
China, buying agricultural products from key swing states. That is remarkable. Remarkable to hear from his national security adviser.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me read you this passage, because it is remarkable. I mean, you know, it's one thing to -- you know, to go to President Zelensky
and the others in Ukraine, but another thing to go to the leader of the either second superpower or the soon to be superpower, Xi Jinping. And
according to Bolton, he said, in terms of as they were doing in -- trying to do a negotiation at a dinner, Trump then stunningly turned the
conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, pleading with Xi to ensure had that he would win. He stressed the importance of farmers and
increase Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.
Look, everybody probably things, well, most presidents try to do things and try to do, you know, foreign policy and domestic policy with a view to
being re-elected. What is so -- just explain, so that we understand, what is so out of order about that in this case?
SCIUTTO: He asked an adversary. President Trump has identified China as an adversary. And by the way, the authoritarian unelected leader who knows
nothing about democracy in his own country to interfere in our democracy to Trump's advantage. And by the way, we should note that the phase 1, so-
called phase 1 trade deal that came months after that conversation includes China making pledges to buy some 200 billion dollars and additional foreign
purchases including from key swing states.
Was China delivering on the president's request? Do we know what President Trump attempted to give or wanted to give to China in return? It is -- you
know, it is one thing to conduct foreign policy in such a way that you think will gains you political advantage at home, it's another thing to
directly request a foreign power to help you win. It's remarkable. Particularly in light of 2016 and Russia's clear interference. And the
Ukraine, impeachment men scandal where the president was pressuring an ally in that case. It's qualitatively different.
AMANPOUR: So, Jim, you know, you said that you were talking to sources, is this, China so-called quid pro quo, I mean, there wasn't a quid or a --
there wasn't a -- he did not give anything away, obviously but -- or we don't know, could that be an investigation on Capitol Hill, the whole --
this whole China thing?
SCIUTTO: Well, in a normal world, if the system of government was functioning in such a way where you might have bipartisan interest in
investigating foreign influence in election, maybe, but it's not where we are. And frankly, I think the Democrats, given the failure, if you want to
call it that, of the impeachment inquiry don't have much political muscle or interest in pursuing this to great length given the election is so
But when you look at China, I mean, it gets worse, as you're well aware, Christiane, because there's also an account in the book where Bolton said
that President Trump gave Xi Jinping the OK to continue building concentration camps, 21st century concentration camps in northwestern
China, in Xinjiang, where million Muslims are being held. It's truly remarkable.
Of course, that gets to another question for John Bolton. That happened a year ago, if John Bolton as an American who understands the history of
people being held in concentration camps going back to World War II, why didn't he protest more loudly? Why didn't he expose that earlier? It's --
you know, you get to questions of dereliction there as a sitting U.S. official to allow your sitting president to give China a free pass on this.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because you know a lot about China obviously having been there and written a lot about it. If I'm not mistaken, the
State Department did threaten China with sanctions over the concentration camps?
AMANPOUR: I don't remember the exact details. But I think they did something. And if they did, is that the State Department pushing back or
the secretary of state pushing back against the president's instinct?
SCIUTTO: It may be, and the president, by the way, has signed that now, he has signed that declaration. Here's a question thought. If you are China,
who do you listen to in that circumstance? If the U.S. president says, I'm going to look the other way, right, directly to your face and then Congress
pursues its sanctions, it takes a number of months, you have a statement, who do you take your cues from? I mean, it's a similar question you and I
have discussed, Christiane, on Russia.
If you have, say, the Senate Intelligence Committee declaring that Russia interfered in the elections, that's great. But if the president repeatedly
says in public, he doesn't believe it, and by the way, doesn't show much interest in punishing Russia for that interference and, in fact, makes
public statements where he seems to ask for it. Who does Russia take its cues from when 2020 rolls around? Do they interfere again? Well, we know
they are interfering again. So, who does China listen to in those circumstances?
And that's a fundamental problem here. And broadly, in my reporting, is that you have the president contradicting, not just the country's foreign
policy but his administration's own stated foreign policy. And the foreign powers, it seems, takes their cues -- take their cues more from him than
from those other bodies, including the State Department.
AMANPOUR: So, I just want to read you just a couple of lines then I want to ask you big picture foreign policy and national security interests. So,
according to Bolton, I mean, here's some of the lines. Overall, President Trump, he says, adopted obstruction of justice as a way of life, on foreign
policy, it was fractured intellectually. With sort of the authoritarians who he seems to like so much, Xi, Putin, Erdogan, et cetera, big guys
getting together, in case of Xi, two big guys getting together. The White House process is like a food fight.
So, this is what he says about President Trump's thinking in general. An archipelago of dots leaving the rest of us to discern or create policy. How
does that translate in the very important matter of America's standing in the world, its foreign policy and its basic national security and ability
to actually influence what goes on in the world?
SCIUTTO: It -- I will say this is for another day, it's consistent with what we found in reporting this book. We still got a couple of months
before it comes out. But senior officials who has served this president across the board say there is no foreign policy and there's no policy
making anymore. You have an entire infrastructure of government, national security council, hundreds of experts, agencies and et cetera.
But the policy making follows the presidential statement, decision, gut feeling inclination of the day, often by tweet. I mean, withdraw from
Syria, it happened by tweet, no one knew it was coming and then you create the policy afterwards. It means that there is no preparation. There is
often no information or intelligence at the basis of those decisions.
And notably, I had one former senior intelligence official say to me, that our adversaries know that we as a country don't know that next play. We
don't know. They know when Trump makes these decisions that he catches us off guard as much as other countries and that creates genuine, genuine
issues with seeking America's interests abroad. And you often end up in situations where America's interests are thwarted by the president's
I mean, the example of -- you know, we have a stated opposition and, of course, to concentration camps holding a million Muslims in Xinjiang in
China. But the president privately is saying something entirely different. It creates a dissonance that means, you know, it really impedes the pursuit
of U.S. national security interest.
AMANPOUR: Now, people who really care about the projection of American power, and there are very many senior people who do in the U.S. and around
the world, say that President Trump, and this is what Bob Gates recently said, former secretary of defense, that unlike the three previous
presidents he had served, this president has not started a new war overseas.
AMANPOUR: And, as you know and we've been saying, John Bolton, it was said about him, never saw an adversary that he didn't want to bomb, whether it's
Iraq, Iran or whatever it might be. Describe -- I mean, do you think Trump might have been dragged in to some kind of aggression overseas, whether the
it was Iran or North Korea or something by Bolton? Could Bolton have had a negative effect on foreign policy or what do you think?
SCIUTTO: Well, it's possible. We know that Bolton was very forward leading on Iran as our other -- the president's advisers who remain, including
Secretary of State Pompeo, very forward leading on North Korea, and there were times when that suited the president's interests. And you and I, we
have talked and you have well covered the times when there was great concern that the president when advised by John Bolton but also others,
perhaps got close to military action against North Korea, right, during the worst of the fire and fury days or sparking a war with Iran after the
assassination of Qasem Soleimani. So -- and of course, that followed Bolton's departure.
So, there were times when there was concern that this president got close to that brink. But, Bolton himself, of course, does not have the best
record as well. I will share one story though, in the midst of the North Korea negotiations, I did have a senior is U.S. North Korean negotiator
make a (INAUDIBLE) to me saying, gosh, isn't it crazy to imagine that John Bolton is the one holding President Trump back now on making a capricious
decision in North Korea. That's someone who's working for the president on North Korea negotiation.
So, in Trump's world, where he is so unpredictable, and often goes to extremes in either direction, towards military conflict or away from it,
John Bolton, of all people, there were times when people in the administration, said, well, he may be a guard rail in this instance. And
again, you know, Bolton has his own record which is -- just go back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, where he is, you know, led to questionable -- very
questionable decisions on the use of force. But with Trump, there were times when some said, well, actually, he was a guard rail.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting, adding to the building blocks of knowledge of what happens in the administration. Jim Sciutto, thank you
very much, indeed.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And turning to the coronavirus pandemic, still gripping the United States, Latin America, also accelerating in Africa now, and now, a
secondary scourge, that of domestic abuse, so severe the United Nations is calling it a shadow pandemic of violence. The victims are mothers, sisters,
daughters and partners at severe risk in their own homes, under lockdown with their abusers. It's happening everywhere, including here in the U.K.,
but we are going to focus on two egregious areas with the Iranian American journalist for the "New York Times," Farnaz Fassihi, and Mexican author and
women's rights activist, Gabriela Jauregui.
Welcome to the program. Thanks very much for joining us.
Listen, can I start by asking you, Gabriela, you know, we were shocked to read the spike in in killings and in abuse in Mexico. But particularly, we
were shocked at the government and certainly president seeming to say that these reports, well he did say, were fake news. Tell us what's happening in
your country in this regard right now, under the cover of coronavirus.
GABRIELA JAUREGUI, MEXICAN AUTHOR AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, yes. All of this just happened in recent weeks. And the spike in, for instance,
murders of women went up in April to 11.2 women per day on average, which is a tremendous amount of women murdered. And, you know, the -- for
instance, the phone calls regarding family violence went up 87 percent in April as well.
And so, president coming out to say these were fake calls or fake numbers and trying put it as something that the opposition might be saying to, you
know, discredit his administration created tension, obviously, within his administration, with feminists and women's rights advocates within the
administration, but also does not help further securing women's rights on the streets and at home if the president denies it's happening, then how
are we -- you know, how are women to access justice?
AMANPOUR: Well, there are two issues here, one is, why is it happening? Because it's domestic abuse but also the killing of women, there's
femicide. I mean, Mexico, sadly, is one of the most dangerous places to be a woman. Why is it happening and why would the government deny it?
JAUREGUI: So, on that one hand it's something that this administration inherited it from other previous governments. This nothing new, sadly. And
it's been tolerated by the state and by society for many years, but the -- it's been heightened lately so that -- you know, we went from six women to
eight women, to 10 women to now, 11 -- over 11 people per day, on the one hand.
And part of this has to do with a very -- with the difficulty to access justice, and for justice to actually happen in cases like this, and the
impunity rate in Mexico is alarming, conservatively estimated at 95 percent or 99 percent even of crimes such as this go completely unpunished. And so,
there's that factor. And then, now, the government sort of trying to keep a lid on it, instead of actually creating policies that will prevent this is
also sort of an aggravating factor or adding insult to injury, literally.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And as you mentioned, April, we understand from the stats has been the deadliest month for women in Mexico for the last five years.
The government has told us in response that it has actually nominated officials to look after women's safety and to try you to, you know, figure
out a response to this.
But I want to turn to you, Farnaz, about Iran, because you wrote a very devastating report about a so-called honor kill in Iran in which 14-year-
old girl, Romina, was essentially -- well, no, not essentially, she was beheaded by her father who didn't like her boyfriend, essentially. Can you
tell me about that story? How you heard about it? How it came to light and what the response in Iran has been to that murder?
FARNAZ FASSIHI, JOURNALIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Romina Ashrafi was a 14-year- old from a remote village in the Caspian region, in the northwest of Iran, and she apparently been courted by an adult man, a 29-year-old, for two
years when her so-called boyfriend approached the family and asked for her hand or asked to marry her, her father declined and she ran away. She ran
away. The father found them after three days and return -- convinced the judge to return Romina to him despite the fact that Romina had told the
judge that her life was in danger.
Her father, when he found out that she had boyfriend had threatened to kill her, had even brought rat poison and told her to kill herself so he doesn't
have to do it for her. She ran away. When she was returned 24 hours later, he beheaded her in her bedroom while she was sleeping. This story kind of
exploded on Iran, on social media on Iran, it was on the front page of every newspaper with her picture, this innocent smiling girl with a blue
scarf on the cover of every newspaper and magazine.
And it really shocked Iran, because, you know, we perceive that honor killings are rare in Iran. But actually, when I started reporting the
story, I discovered that according to Iranian government's own statistics, about 30 percent of all murders annually are so-called honor killings.
Killings of women by the hand of a male relative who, according to Iran's law, is the legal guardian.
And this story sort of became this moment of national reckoning in Iran. It really generated a lot of public debate about the status of women's rights,
about the lack of laws that protect women. There's a legislation sitting in the parliament for eight years now that is supposed to criminalize violence
against women and that has gone through multiple parliaments and administrations and hasn't passed into law. And people are asking why, why
are men not held accountable for these acts of violence?
AMANPOUR: Let me just get you to focus on that, because from what I gather there's been two laws and this killing actually did push one of them
through parliament after a long, long time, 11 years of stalling. The one in June, making it illegal to emotionally or physically abuse or abandon a
child. That has been labeled Romina's Law.
Are you saying that the law that would protect older women, not just -- I mean, women other than children has not gone through? We understand the
government, or at least the president says he is trying fast track it.
FASSIHI: Right. So, there were two laws, Christiane, that they had been pending for many years. There was a bill for criminalizing violence against
children that had been pending for 11 years and there's a separate law for protecting women against domestic violence and all sorts of violence that
has been deliberating for eight years.
After Romina's murder made it to national news and generated this public outrage, President Rouhani asked the parliament to fast track the law for
protecting women. That is not materialized yet. So, that's still stalling. But what did happen was the law for protecting children was passed after 11
years and local media referred to that as Romina's Law. Because it beefs up the existing laws for protecting children. It criminalizes, emotional,
sexual and physical abuse and defines punishment.
However, there's a key point, according on Iran's law, which is based on Islamic Sharia law, a father or paternal grandfather is considered a legal
guardian of children. And if they murder their children, they are not given retaliation in kind or capital punishment. The maximum that a father can
face for killing his children is 10 years. And this was not addressed in the law that was just passed. This is something that religious scholars are
battling with children's right activists, with women's right's activists because it would require basically, you know, creating civil laws that
supersede the Islamic law that's already in place.
AMANPOUR: Right. OK. So, I want to ask you both how religion plays in both countries. Obviously, in Iran, it's a religious republic, the Islamic
Republic. And obviously, Mexico is majority Catholic. But this president has had gender parity, the first who's had gender parity in his government,
in his cabinet. And yet, there is a religious aspect, right? Apparently, there's a huge amount of influence, Gabriela, from evangelicals and others.
Can you tell me how it plays on the issue of protecting women's rights and justice for those who abuse those rights?
JAUREGUI: Yes. Well, of course, as we know, when church and state start to mix, then one of the first to suffer are rights against women. And so, yes,
religious leaders, not just evangelicals but they've have made -- evangelicals and Catholic leaders have made unprecedented alliances to
further their -- basically, their anti-rights agenda in a left-wing government that is supposed to be completely nonreligious.
And so, what is happened, for instance, during COVID pandemic specifically is that they have pushed very hard for amnesty in prisons that were
supposed to, for instance, allow women who had been arrested for abortion in certain states where it's illegal to be allowed to be freed in order to
not suffer from COVID, et cetera.
And they have pushed very hard for women to stay in prison. They have also pushed very hard for different state governments to not allow women who are
seeking abortion because of rape, for them to not be able to find abortion.
So, they have been sort of chipping away and using the pandemic as a pretext to really push their agenda. And this has created a very
interesting and very tight situation in the government, because, as you mentioned, there's parity. There are many women's rights advocates within
the cabinet and the government.
And, at the same time, there are these religious interests, because there was a party, a religious, very right-of wing party that created an alliance
with the ruling party, MORENA, to sort of -- to get to power.
And MORENA, the name of the ruling party, is an allusion to the virgin of Guadalupe, which is the big Catholic virgin in Mexico. So, there's very
contradictory rhetoric going on, and the actions that are actually taking place are very much in hindrance of women's rights.
AMANPOUR: So, let me turn to you, Farnaz.
Obviously, we have both covered Iran, and we know that it's a completely patriarchal, and, as you said, Islamic law, Sharia, which heavily favors
men over women. We asked the Iranian government for a response to this story. And they did say, the spokesman at the U.N.: "So-called honor
killings in Iran are extremely rare and are not accepted in any part of Iranian culture."
Well, that's the official statement. But we also hear -- and I don't know how much credence you put in it -- that this case, because of the interest
it generated, because of the activity it generated within Iran online, has caused some conversation again, you know, trying to parse maybe what is
said in the actual Koran vs., you know, actions that are carried out.
Is there any pushback against the conservatives, who say, oh, well, I mean, that girl had what came to her? Is there any sort of institutional pushback
that might change the law? We have discussed it a little bit, but tell me about what's going on in the religious circles.
FASSIHI: So, in this -- the murder of Romina and, in general, honor killings are condemned universally.
Even the religious establishment, even the president, even the supreme leader, they condemned it. Where the different -- where the difference lies
is the degree of accountability and legal punishment for male relatives, fathers, brothers, husbands who do this.
I -- when -- as I said, when I set out to report this story, I thought that honor killings were rare, because we hardly ever hear about them, because
either the authorities hide them or the families feel ashamed to really publicize them.
But then, when I started reporting, I realized that they were more common than we thought. Just in the past week, there have been reports of two
honor killings, one in Kerman, a 22-year-old being murdered by her husband, and a 19-year-old -- I'm sorry -- a 22-year-old being murdered by her
father and a 19-year-old in Abadan by her husband.
So, Romina's case has really opened the lid and has brought women forward in telling their stories. And it seems to be a real issue and a problem.
The pushback that we get from conservatives and religious scholars in Iran is that the Islamic Sharia law does not allow men to commit violence and
that it -- we need to educate. They don't -- they don't want to change the impunity that's given to the father and to the male relatives.
They talk about education in school system or educating the parents, rather than addressing the legal loophole that exists. Now, interestingly, we also
have women rights activists who are schooled in Islamic jurisprudence.
One of the most well-known faces that I'm sure you have known and reported is Faezeh Hashemi, the former lawmaker, a lawyer and the daughter of former
President Akbar Rafsanjani.
And she's come forward after Romina and has said, this is absolutely unacceptable. There's nowhere in religious texts, in the Koran, or in
religious Islamic texts that says that men can't face capital punishment or retaliation in kind, as it's called in Islamic law, for murdering their
children or their wives, and we need to address this. We need to reform this law.
So, we do see a push by women's rights activists and then a pushback by religious authorities as well. And it remains to be seen whether this bill
that is pending in Parliament will pass or not, and in what shape will it finally go through?
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, because we're just running out of time now, many of the women's rights activists and lawyers in Iran are either in jail or
Whatever women's rights movement there was outlawed or banned in 2009, after the so-called Green Revolution. Is there a woman's rights -- some
kind of -- not even a movement, but some kind of pressure group in Iran right now?
I think I have lost my guess.
All right. Well, listen, the fact of the matter is that U.K. statistics also say that, under lockdown, 16 people have been listed as murdered by
domestic violence. And it's happening in Africa. It's happening in China, Spain, all over. So this is a very, very dramatic issue, the issue of
domestic violence and what's happening under lockdown, and ongoing, which we have to pay attention to.
So, the coronavirus rules still call for banning large gatherings, even where lockdown is slowly lifting. Nevertheless, on Saturday, President
Trump is set to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa. He says the coronavirus is dying out in the U.S., but data directly contradicts him, as, this week,
Oklahoma saw a record increase in new cases. And there are spikes in 23 states.
Our next guest, Dr. Larry Brilliant is a physician and epidemiologist who's been sounding the alarm about pandemics for years. And here he is talking
to our Walter Isaacson about what he learned working for the WHO in India about combating viruses.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
And, Dr. Larry Brilliant, welcome to the show.
DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, CEO, PANDEFENSE ADVISORY: Thank you, Walter. Nice to see you.
ISAACSON: You have been through a lot.
And you have been through the '60s. You were there for everything from the civil rights to the Vietnam protests to the Summer of Love, and then go off
and fight pandemics in India and smallpox.
But have you ever seen anything like this moment before?
I mean, certainly there were times in the smallpox program, with hundreds of thousands of deaths and babies, dead bodies stacked like cords of wood,
when it seemed like you were in the middle of Dante's Inferno or Hieronymus Bosch's paintings of the end times.
But, no, I have never seen a combination of a pandemic and the kind of politicization of, I mean, masks. It's been since "The Mask of Zorro" that
anybody saw a mask as a political statement. And to see these young people, these earnest, wonderful people marching in the streets for justice and
human rights, and to have them crushed by a quasi-military force in Lafayette Square, no.
And you add to that, speaking of crushing, the crushing of our economy by a series of reactions to the pandemic that were not scientific, but were
emergency reactions, because we didn't do the science. We gave the virus in the United States a two-week head-start, and the consequences were
So we clamped down everything, instead of doing what we have always done in smallpox eradication and polio eradication, which is use good epidemiology,
find the virus, find the contacts, put them in a cage, put the 2 percent of people in isolation who could spread the disease, and leave the 98 percent
of people who were not afflicted and not a danger free.
We have done everything, it seems, backwards. It's a very troubling combination of circumstances. And if you add to it the growing,
nationalism, the thugocracy, kleptocracies in country after country, it's a very tough time.
I think you would agree with that.
ISAACSON: What lessons did you learn from both smallpox and previous pandemics?
BRILLIANT: The science rules.
And the virus will do what the virus will do. And we're smarter than this little bag of RNA in a fat sack, in this case, this COVID virus, but that
we can't ignore the science.
Also, I learned that pandemics will find the cracks in society. It was always the lowest caste community in India, the bricklayers, the migrant
workers who would get smallpox. The wealthier people in India had already been vaccinated.
And science teaches us that, if you have a vaccine, you use it. But if you don't have a vaccine, we have plenty of other tools in our quiver -- arrows
in our quiver. And we haven't been using those.
If you follow what we learned in smallpox or polio eradication, or Guinea worm, you want to have a great search, a detection system, a surveillance
system, and find every single case. And then we do backward tracing to find out, where were they during the incubation period or so before?
We find those cases, and then we do forward tracing. We find all the people who were in contact with the case and might conceivably come down with it
later. Those three groups, those who have the case, those who may have had it before, and those who might have it in the near future, those people, we
quarantine. We take them out of contact with the rest of the community.
What drives an outbreak like this, an epidemic like this, a pandemic like this is the density of susceptible people who are nearby a contagious case
of the disease.
So, by quarantining, I estimate, 1.5 or 2 percent of all the people in the United States, then the rest of the country can continue economic activity
and life. Because we didn't do that early in the outbreak, because we gave the virus an eight-week head-start, because we allowed it to expand at
exponential speed, we came in with a hammer, with a cudgel.
We closed the economy. And we're bearing the consequences of that now. And it's -- indeed, it's easier to close an economy than it is to open it
again. The signals for opening are not here.
So, we have put ourselves in quite a fix.
ISAACSON: Is it too late to do containment? Has it gotten out too far?
BRILLIANT: It's never too late. It's not as good if you wait a long time, because the virus is now seeded in every state, in most counties.
But it's never too late to do containment. Indeed, it's the only thing that we can do, until we have a vaccine, that makes sense. Closing the economy,
closing all travel, closing all places that people can go, it's the wrong measure.
You need to find out where the disease is. We are today about three weeks after Memorial Day. A few states opened before Memorial Day. Many more
opened on Memorial Day. There were huge crowds at beaches and all the amusement parks trying to go out. They were so desperate to go. How can you
But it is inevitable that three weeks after Memorial Day, three weeks after the Fourth of July, three weeks after Labor Day, with those crowds of
people coming in contact with cases, that we will get spikes.
And, Walter, it's not a question of a second wave. We have never lost the first wave. What we're seeing now are knock-on effects of opening up at
ISAACSON: Well, are you worried about the protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder, in which people have gotten together in large crowds,
since you talked about them doing so at beaches on Memorial Day, that that might help spread the virus?
BRILLIANT: I'm worried about the murder of George Floyd. I'm worried about these twin issues that we have to face right now.
We have to navigate between the horrific systemic racism in the United States and the -- you know, because we have talked about it in the past,
that I had the privilege of marching with Dr. Martin Luther King.
In one way, the first time I saw these kids in the street, it warmed my heart. I felt so good. I felt like it was just a rising up, an awakening.
And then, immediately, I looked to see if everybody had masks on, of course. And most people did have a mask on.
And while I don't like the fact that people are marching very close to each other, not six feet apart, I do like the idea that they wear masks. Yes,
there will be inevitable cases of COVID from people marching in the streets, but the numbers are much greater at our holidays.
If you think about the hundred of millions of people who are out celebrating on Memorial Day and Fourth of July and on the roads on Labor
Day in an ordinary year, and then you think about the hundreds of thousands of people who are marching in the streets, they are an addition to an
already problematic resurgence of the disease.
ISAACSON: Early on in the pandemic, President Trump sort of used words like hoax or Democratic hoax or fake, and a whole lot of people still
What did you think when you heard the president say that?
BRILLIANT: I was disappointed. I was angry.
You can't wish this away. This virus doesn't care what you or I or the president says. It doesn't care if you're Republican, Democrat. It doesn't
care the color of your skin. This virus sees all of us as its duty to infect.
And so what the president was doing was dividing us into people who now think of the mask as a political symbol. It's insane that something that
will keep you safe is a political symbol.
It's also insane to peddle snake oil. I'm sorry. Bleach is snake oil. And talking about instant cures or the virus is going to disappear in April or,
the summer, it's just going to go poof, it's a miracle, that is not what I want from my leader, either my public health leader or the servant of the
public, the president of the United States.
I think what Mr. Trump has got to do is to realize that the trajectory is this virus is continuing up in the United States. We have the worst
outbreak in the world. It is not too late for him to become a hero, to go back to basic epidemiology, to begin to do the kind of contact tracing, the
testing, the isolation of people who are spreading the disease right now.
And if he doesn't do that, then he's part of the problem.
ISAACSON: You have always been beloved with the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control.
Do you think they truly dropped the ball when it came to, first of all, doing testing, and now trying to figure out how to do a nationwide database
that allows us to understand the spread of this disease?
BRILLIANT: We don't have a national strategy, and it should have come from CDC.
CDC is a little bit like Mecca for epidemiologists. We have all trained there at some time. We go by and visit. And some of my best memories are
1600 Clifton Road in Atlanta. It's very sad to see an institution that was uniquely revered around the world, probably greater than any other American
agency, to see it fall on such hard times.
Yes, it dropped the ball on testing, of course. And since then, it has been in the shadows. I think that this is not a science-first administration.
ISAACSON: What is the CDC doing wrong right now?
BRILLIANT: Well, I mean, it's hard to understand if it's the CDC doing wrong, or, as in the case of the guidelines that the CDC made for when to
open up schools and camps and churches recently, and they did this 80-page thorough treatise on how to open up.
And the administration didn't like it. First of all, they quarantined the report, and then they had it cut down to eight pages. So, it's hard to know
if it's the CDC expertise that is lacking or the suppression of that expertise, for reasons that just do not make any sense to me.
ISAACSON: You gave a talk in 2006 where you got to do a wish. And your wish was, help me stop pandemics.
And it was very prescient. It was about pandemics that leap from animals to humans. How did you foresee that? And who else foresaw that this type of
thing was going to happen?
BRILLIANT: That was my TED Talk.
I get called every once in a Cassandra. Laurie Garrett is a real Cassandra. I think Bill Gates has been a Cassandra. Cassandra didn't end up very well
in Greek mythology, as you know.
I think it would be hard to find epidemiologists who had the experience that I had and the experience that Laurie had who were not predicting that
there would be a disease, a pandemic like this. I don't think we get any extra credit.
Indeed, I think all we have been are maybe a little bit more public mouthpieces for our science of epidemiology. Over the past 30 years, there
have been some three dozen or four dozen viruses that have jumped from animals to humans. It's only inevitable that the roulette wheel of genomics
will select one of those viruses that have jumped and give it the twin characteristics that COVID has that make it so dangerous, the speed of
transmission and the high rate of morbidity.
And that, as long as modernity continues, as long as we cut down the rain forests, as long as we live in animals' territory, as long as we, in West
Africa and wet markets, we consume wild animals, as long as we eat more meat in places that are -- where meat is grown and farmed in a way that you
have these pancake houses, where on the bottom floor are pigs, in the middle are chickens, top is people, and you raise the pig, you eat it, you
cut it up, and when there's leftovers, you render them.
And what do you do? You feed them to the chickens. And you raise the chickens, and you cook the chickens and you eat them. What is left over,
you cut it up and render it and feed it to the pigs.
I don't know that I could have considered creating a scientific experiment that would be more efficient at creating new viruses. So, we're living in a
way the viruses jump from animals to humans at an unprecedented rate. And we have this great travel system. We have this great tourism industry that
takes these viruses from the place they jump all over the world in 18 hours.
So, we are on the cusp of an age of pandemics. And that makes it all the more daunting for us to deal with not just this one, but the next one. We
need to re-empower CDC. We need to reestablish the person who was fired in the National Security Council who would be our eyes and ears and mouth for
We need to invest in public health all over the world. None of us are safe. We need to take this as seriously as we would take war, as we would take
famine, as we would take any other problem that we have faced.
But we're America, right? We can do this. But we have to focus on it. We have to take it seriously.
ISAACSON: Dr. Larry Brilliant, thank you so much for joining us.
BRILLIANT: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the American Medical Association has declared racism a public health pandemic and crisis.
And finally tonight: George Floyd's killing triggered a global reckoning on racial injustice. And his brother Philonise has taken the message to the
streets, to Congress, and now to the United Nations, urging them to set up a commission to investigate police violence against black Americans.
Take a listen to his message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: You watched my brother die. That could have been me.
I am my brother's keeper. You, in the United Nations, are your brothers and sisters' keepers in America. And you have the power to help us get justice
for my brother George Floyd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, that was a virtual call to the U.N., and it's a powerful reminder to keep struggling and keep hoping for justice and freedom.
And that was the message of struggle and resistance on this day 80 years ago, when Charles de Gaulle made his famous broadcast to Nazi-occupied
France from exile here in London.
And, today, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, met with the U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, here in London to celebrate the Allies' struggle
for freedom. During that war, of course, one of the most revered songs of hope was Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again." She has died now age 103.
And we're going to leave you with her 1939 hit, the one that brought comfort to millions of people during the Second World War, and also
recently during the lockdown, because of the pandemic.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.