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W.H.O. Warns Coronavirus Far from Over; Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, is Interviewed About the Coronavirus, Economy and Inequalities; Economic Injustice in America; Reverend William J. Barber II, Co-Chair, The Poor People's Campaign, is Interviewed About Poverty and Racial Injustice; Trump Fires Geoffrey Berman; Eviction Crisis in America; Interview With Former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 22, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KEILAR: -- About Mexicans. So, she knows exactly what she's doing. I want to bring in Kaitlan Collins, April Ryan, Jamie Gangel.
Kaitlan, to you first. This is -- I mean, we always say this, right, it's hard to be surprised by something. I think what was so, I guess, noticeable
there was just her repeated defense of a racist term. I mean, it was like watching someone over and over again say something that we know based on
her past comments, I mean, she'll say anything. What did you think about this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the thing is, the argument the White House is making is that because media outlets back in
January and other months referred to it as the Chinese coronavirus or the Wuhan virus, I think that was even before the W.H.O., the World Health
Organization, had given it a name, that means it's OK for the president to called it kung flu as he did on Saturday night. Those are not the same
A media outlet calling it the Chinese coronavirus is not the same as the president using this term that civil liberty's outlets have said it's going
to help -- it's going to inspire racism amongst Asian American people. Calling it the kung flu is not a medical term. No legitimate news outlet
has used that phrase. So, that argument does not even make sense. Those are not the same things and that was the White House's only defense of the
president using that phrase on Saturday night.
And as Yamiche from PBS pointed out in the room, Kellyanne Conway, when asked about a White House official using the phrase kung flu several months
ago, she said she believed that term was highly offensive. So, there is a recognition inside the White House about what that term means, what it
implies, what potential it has, and it was not the same as what Kayleigh McEnany was trying to say there, a tactic that she has used many times in
these briefings trying to say, well, the media has done this and it's being hypocritical.
Calling it the Chinese coronavirus is not just simply the same thing and it's not really a viable argument. But that was the argument that the White
House used as it stood by and said the president doesn't regret using that term on Saturday night.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Coronavirus cases rising, millions out of work, and a reckoning with racial injustice. Could this be the fork in the road to building back a better
world? I asked the IMF chief.
And taking up Dr. King's mantel, Reverend William Barber joins me about fighting the structural poverty that platforms structural racism.
Then when the rule of law is under threat in America, what does that mean for democracy around the world? I speak to former federal prosecutor, Anne
Milgram, about Trump firing a top attorney investigating his allies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW DESMOND, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: All of us know that we need stable, affordable housing to live. This is essential to
us. But our country has not invested in this fundamental human need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Another brick in the wall of racism? Unfair housing in America. Matthew Desmond tells our Michel Martin about the pandemic, evictions.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
The W.H.O. is now warning the coronavirus pandemic is far from over. In fact, it's accelerating in some countries, including the United States
where nearly after of states are reporting an increase in infections. Along with mounting body count, the brazen killing in broad daylight of George
Floyd, which has reignited the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets around the world, there is a sense of seizing the moment.
And now, some unlikely institutions, including the U.S. Federal Reserve are speaking out, warning that income inequality for minorities could get even
worse, thanks to the pandemic. Even the notoriously hard bargain International Monetary Fund is talking about building back a better world
from the current crises, while also preparing to release its updated assessment from the global economy this week. And the IMF managing
director, Kristalina Georgieva, joins me now from Washington for an exclusive interview.
Welcome to the program.
And I was very interested in reading how you analyzed the situation, that you have to try to figure out how to come out of this into a better
structure, a better world. But first let me ask you, because the world is waiting to hear about the next assessment of where the global economy is
headed. What can you tell us that's on your mind about the increase in some places of coronavirus infections?
KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND: Well, the headline of our assessment is that the reception is deeper in
2020 than we projected in April. The recovery is going to be slower in 2021 than we projected in April.
But the actions governments have taken have put a floor under the word economy and are preventing a massive wave of bankruptcies or unemployment.
What we are seeing is that both advanced economies and emerging market economies are faring worse in this assessment if you take out especially
China that was first on the curve of the pandemic, and, therefore, what we are saying is, we are not yet out of the woods. We have to concentrate on
supportive measures for longer, and we need to think of a recovery that is going to bring forward our world, not slide it backwards.
AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to put this graph up, because it does show how in the E.U. and European countries, the curve is coming down. While in the
United States it is sort of flattening and in some places unflattening. In other words, it's carrying on along that horizontal road, with some
countries. Well, a lot of countries lifting lockdowns and restarting their economies with fits and starts and, you know, fairly slowly.
How is that going to affect the issues you've just talked about, and particularly, you know, in America, they are still talking about, you hear
the president's economic advisers talking about a V-shaped recovery? Is that -- does that look like being on the table?
GEORGIEVA: Well, the recovery, we foresee now is one that will coexist with the pandemic. Back in April, we were still hoping that somehow the
epidemic would recede and we can see a V-shape recover, but this is clearly is not happening. Not only the pandemic is still with us, but its course
continues. The epicenter now moved to Latin America, we are quite worried about parts of South Asia, and we don't yet know whether Africa will also
follow this speed-up of infections.
So, what we can say on the positive side is that countries have learned enough about actions they need to take, have enough medical capacity to
treat people when they're sick, be sure to wear masks and distance sufficiently, apply micro measures that allow restart of economic
activities and be very agile in your policies as we are still waiting for the decisive component, vaccines and/or treatment, to be in place.
AMANPOUR: So, look, generally, institutions like yours and the fed and others are allergic to debt. And yet, right now there is mountains of debt.
We have a graph that can show that. And you have also said -- I don't know, well, it sounds, you know, different to what the IMF would generally say.
You -- the message is, exceptional times call for exceptional measures. So, spend what you can, but keep the receipts.
What are you saying, that debt is just going to be with us and we shouldn't worry about it for now?
GEORGIEVA: What we need to do now is to protect the economy of such a massive collapse that it can push us in depression. And that is why we
highly value actions taken by central banks to put in liquidity, actions taken by governments with fiscal measures on an unprecedented scale.
Christiane, we are now edging up to almost $11 trillion of fiscal measures alone. And what we know is that as long as this high degree of uncertainty
is with us, as long as we need to protect firms and people, that necessity of additional support for the economy is there. But we do need to think of
the world on the other side. Higher debt, higher deficit, likely higher unemployment and, very important, a risk of higher inequality, more
Now, we have to put smart policies in place, meaning that this very fiscal stimulus that we are going to inject, we have to be thinking of how best to
put it in place to do the right thing, and the right thing is, well, make sure that we invest in the economy of the future that is greener, low
carbon, resilient to climate shocks, that we invest in digital access for everybody.
One of my worries is that the big winner of this crisis, the digital economy, may be good for some but not for all. And by doing that, lack of
access for everybody, we expand in inequalities in our society. And we know from previous experiences with pandemics likes with SARS and H1N1 that
pandemics push inequality up, especially for the people with lower education, fewer assets in their hands.
Do we really want that? We don't. And not only for the people that may be impacted, for those that may find themselves poor and excluded, we don't
want it for anybody, because inequality of opportunity means that a big chunk of our society does not contribute as much as they can. So, everybody
is worse off. And that is what we need to focus on.
AMANPOUR: And as you know, of course, because on the streets, people are making that cry right now, black lives matter, racial inequality, you've
seen all the disparities that you've mentioned along racial and minority lines, and the U.S. Federal Reserve is beginning to engage on this. And
we've heard Rafael Bostic, who is the president of the reserve in Atlanta, basically say, systemic racism is a yoke that drags on the American
economy. And he said, basically, the feds can play an important role in helping to reduce racial inequities and bring about a more inclusive
So, what do you think about that? And does that affect your thinking?
GEORGIEVA: It is very much aligned with research we have done at the IMF about inequality, including structural inequality, be it on race or on
geography or on whether you're a man or a woman. And we clearly demonstrate that there are ways in which, by making sure that there is equal access to
education, that the quality of education and health services is across the board retained, that there are no areas, geographic areas, left to decline
with no attention, with crumbling infrastructure, and that investment in digital are done with priority focused on these areas that are falling
behind. This all is a pathway to reduce inequality.
And a very important element that the finance institutions can push is access to finance. Equal opportunity in access to finance. Look, every
single day, 400 children -- 400,000 children are born on this planet, every single day. When they're born, it's lottery. Race, gender, geography, your
family's wealth. It doesn't have to be lottery all the way through. We can make it so that every child can reach his full potential. And it is a
matter of determined policy choice that we ought to make.
GEORGIEVA: Kristalina Georgieva, head of the IMF, managing director, thank you so much for joining us.
And our next guest joins the ranks of Martin Luther King and Congressman John Lewis in devoting his life to fighting poverty and racial injustice.
Reverend William Barber is co-chair of the Poor People's campaign, which this weekend had its own march on Washington calling for economic justice.
Only this one, the 2020 version, was virtual, with more than 2 million people taking part, according to the organizers.
Reverend Barber is joining me now from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Welcome back to the program, Reverend.
I said, you know, in the introduction that this seems to be a moment on the street and in the pandemics that is a moment to seize this day. Do you
believe -- and you just heard the IMF chief -- do you believe that institutions that can are serious about making this matter right now in
REVEREND WILLIAM J. BARBER II, CO-CHAIR, THE POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN: Well, this is a moment, but it's a moment that's been coming because of the
confluence of movements that have been building. For instance, this weekend, we now say we have 2.5 million people on Facebook, and we can
track that metrically, and over 300,000 people that sent our platform to governors and all of the members of Congress.
This was the centering into our national consciousness, a movement made up of all races and faiths and creeds and sexuality bowing to say, listen, we
have to address five interlocking injustices. Systemic racism and all of its components, how it impacts first nation people, how it impacts brown
people and black people. Systemic poverty, 140 million people, 43 percent of this nation. Ecological devastation that is undermining of the clean
air, clean water, clean land.
And then the war economy where we're putting 54 cents of every discretionary dollar into war, and that is more money than we've put into
education, infrastructure, health care combined, and then we have to address this false (INAUDIBLE) narrative religious nationally. And when 2.5
million people say, we can't go to D.C., we planned to be there, but we're going to be online, we're going to sign up and we're going to join, that is
critically saying something that we're in a reconstruction moment. We're not in a moment where we're just tinking around the edges, we're not in a
moment where people just trying to say they like people but don't change policies, this is a transformational moment.
AMANPOUR: Well, to that point, you've written earlier this month, there is one answer to why the wealthiest nation in the world cannot provide for its
most vulnerable. We have decided not to. And so, you are, you know, again, calling for this structural end to this structural poverty. Do you think,
you know, despite the streets and the 2.5 million who joined your virtual march, that there is a political will where it's needed to actually make
this shift, because it is a shift in distributional resources?
BARBER: It will have to be where we're not only be in the streets, but we're going to have to be in the voting booth. And that's why we're also
building power. We're in a moment where the people are going to have to change the political atmosphere, just like people that went across the
(INAUDIBLE) bridge. None of the politicians wanted to deal with voting rights. The president didn't want to deal with it. But the people forced a
change in the political context, and that wasn't even in an election year. We have a greater possibility because we're in the middle of an election
Now, it doesn't mean go vote in November and then leave and go home, it means that we have to be our power, and we have to show people what we did
on Saturday. It wasn't people talking about the poor. We've got thousands of texts back that said, we saw ourselves. We said, look, America, you must
see yourself. These five interlocking injustices are affecting a white farmer couple in Kansas just like it's affecting coal miners in Kentucky,
just like it's affecting fast workers in North Carolina and people down in Delta, Mississippi.
And the more we show to the people, the possibility of change, now, the politicians are going to have to understand what this moment is. They're
still playing with it. They don't understand yet that this is the moment, and they better. Because if we can't fix these issues in the midst of a
pandemic, in the midst of the poverty that's coming, that's going to be adding another 15,000 people in unemployment, if we can't face these issues
of raising living wages and getting health care and dealing with poverty, God help us as a country.
This is the moment. This is the moment that we must build this movement. And what we're seeing is we're not going anywhere. We're going to be at the
voting booth. Whoever wins, we're going to be still in their face. We're going to keep pushing. Because what other choice do we have? As one guy
said on Saturday, our backs are against the wall. We have no other choice but to fight.
And then lastly, we've got to decide in this country, do we believe in our first declaration, and that is life. Because every regressive policy,
denial of health care, denial of living wages, even denial of voting rights has what I call a death measurement. People die when we don't have health
care. People die when they don't have living wages. People dies when we have voter suppression, and people use voter suppression to get in office.
And then once they get in office, they protect corporate polluters and they deny health care and they block living wages.
If we're going to deal with the death of George Floyd, as we should, we're going to have to deal with the deaths we don't see on camera but happen
every day to the tune of 700 poor people dying every day from poverty. We have to deal with the death measurement, otherwise we don't mean what we
say when we say we are for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
AMANPOUR: So, what happens, then, when you have a situation of voter suppression and all the other issues that you're working against, Stacey
Abrams is working against, obviously. We saw what happened in the primary in Georgia. And now, we hear -- you know, obviously, you know these figures
better than I d. The ACLU says one in every 13 black Americans cannot vote due to disenfranchisement laws. Are you convinced that everyone who wants
to vote in your community, you've said that's the first step, will be able to in November and throughout the primary season?
BARBER: Well, when I talk about my community, I'm talking about poor and low wealth people regardless of what their colors are because we've done a
study, we'll release in just a moment that shows if you just register 15 percent of poor and low wealth people and they vote, they can fundamentally
change the political capitalist in every state and they can overwhelm the system.
So, what we say, we fight against the voter suppression in the courts. We will fight and have poll watchers. But we must overwhelm this system. 100
million people stayed home last time. In the three states that Trump won, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan by 101,000 votes, 200 million plus poor
and low wealth people that could have vote didn't vote.
And so, what we are saying is, it's time to put all of that power on the table. Now, to do that, we need politicians to stop just talking about
neoliberalism and the middle class and start talking about the poor, and say how their plan, their policies on banking, their policies on wages,
their policies on health care will help everybody, will lift up everybody. They need to say, this is how it will help the black community. This is how
it will help the white community. This is how it will help Rural Kentucky. This is how it will help those in Kansas. This is how it will help those in
the delta. So that people hear their name and hear their condition.
A lot of folks have stayed home in these past elections because the politicians only talk about the middle class and the wealthy. Poor and low
wealth people expanding the voting numbers are the key to fundamental transformation in this country, and it's time, past time, that we talked to
them. We're saying that to the candidates. I certainly hope those running against Trump will do that. If they do it, they will see a mass turnout of
voters like never before.
But then again, we are also saying, even if they don't do it, we're going to be your power, go to the polls and make it so, that the poor and low
wealth in this country can no longer be ignored. This is a movement time. We have to have a third reconstruction and we have to have it now because
too many people in power are too comfortable with other people's deaths and desperation.
AMANPOUR: And you do represent the poor. The disproportionate amount are, according to all the statistics, black Americans, minorities, and we
understand that there is obviously going to be this primary in Kentucky tomorrow. And in Jefferson County, home to nearly 800,000 people,
apparently, we'll just have one polling station open, and one in five residents there is African-American.
You know, everything starts with voting, I guess, and filling out the census. How are you going to be able to convince people to get over those
BARBER: Well, a couple things. First of all, disproportionately 61 percent of African-Americans are poor and low wealth, but 66 million white people
are poor and low wealth, which is 40 million more than the 26 million black people. Now, having said that, we worked in Kentucky for two years before
this last governor was elected, and we worked in five counties, and three of them trained for Trump counties to voting for this new governor. And the
governor won when a black folk from Rural Eastern North Carolina hooked with black people from Louisville and found that together they needed to
take on extremism in their state.
We say to the people who are -- that's fighting poor, let's do everything. But tomorrow you've got to stand that line. You got to do what you have to
do if you don't have but one because people die for it. And then we got to fight between now and the fall to open up those more districts. We've got
to sue in court, get an emergency decision to make sure that there are more precincts and that people have access to the ballot through mailing.
But what we have to do is be determined. We cannot let these people who want to steal this election and undermine this democracy win. And I say to
folk in my community, particularly, that if our people face down dogs, and if they face down lynch mobs, then surely, we can face down those who
simply want to keep us from the polls. This really is a moment that you have to decide these matters are a matter of life and death in our
communities. They're a matter of life and death for this democracy.
So, we have to fight in the courts, move in the streets and we have to move at the ballot box and we have to stay there. We got to do whatever we need
to do nonviolently to register our votes, because they wouldn't be fighting so hard to keep us from voting if they could win a fair election. And poor
and low wealth black, white, brown, first nation people have the power to change this election, and we have to do it.
AMANPOUR: And so, it was actually very inspiring to watch all those people stand in line for hours amid the chaos that went on in the Georgia primary
to actually cast their ballots. So, that was pretty amazing. Civic duty.
Reverend Barber, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Now, talking more about the power of democracy, why did the attorney general, William Barr, fire Geoffrey Berman? He is the top prosecutor at
the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office.
Berman was appointed after President Trump fired his predecessor in 2017. But now, his office has investigated some of the president's allies,
including his lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. So, what does this latest in a string of judicial and oversight firing say about the rule of law in
With me to discuss is Anne Milgram, formally a federal prosecutor and attorney general of New Jersey. And she's now professor at New York
University's Law School. Joining me now from Monmouth County in New Jersey.
Welcome back to the program.
I mean, you've had all weekend to sort of cogitate and think about the meaning and the whys and the wherefores of this latest firing. Why do you
think it happened? What do you immediately sort of leaped to?
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. I mean, we're still finding out more. There was an article released by the "Wall Street
Journal" that painted a picture of Attorney General Barr being very angry with the U.S. attorney in the Southern District, Geoffrey Berman, over
Berman's refusal to sign a letter criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio related to religious freedom and the existing protest movement. But
it's really not clear to us whether there was one specific thing.
And you pointed out to us now that there have been investigations, but there are a lot of investigations that touched the president or the
president's associates, including the president's bank, Deutsche Bank, including an indictment against the Turkish state bank, including, as you
mentioned, Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani and so on.
And so, it really does look, with the timing being just five months before the next election, and with somebody who is Berman, the U.S. attorney, who
has been involved in all these very high-profile investigations and charges against the president's associates, it felt very political in the way that
it was done and I think raises a huge number of questions that have to be answered by Attorney General Barr.
AMANPOUR: Well, also, the questions of who did what when, because, you know, it seems like Barr said that he was going to step down, Berman.
Berman said, no, I'm not resigning. Then Barr apparently goes to the president and says, fire him, and that happened. Then the president says,
well, it's not me, it's the attorney general. How do you read -- what do you read into all of that?
MILGRAM: So, that's a great question, and, you know, the first thing I would tell you is that it's bizarre how this went down. I mean, it's very
clear that Barr did not tell Geoff Berman, that the attorney general did not tell the U.S. attorney in the Southern District that he was going to
essentially fire him by a press release on Friday night.
So, that press release comes out. And in response, the U.S. attorney, Geoff Berman, basically says, look, you actually don't have the legal authority
to fire me, which I believe is true under section 546 of 28 United States code. Basically, the attorney general can put in a U.S. attorney for 120
days, then the court could -- and this is what happened in New York, the court then put Geoff Berman in as the U.S. attorney.
It's very clear, in my view, that the president has the authority to fire U.S. attorneys but that the attorney general does not. And so, this is
something that was interesting, because Barr essentially was trying, I think, to do it without invoking the president's authority, and what Berman
did is he basically pushed back and said, no, I was appointed by the court. You can't fire me.
Now, what's really interesting is that then on Saturday, Barr, in my view, really steps back in some ways from this. He writes a somewhat very sharp
letter to Geoff Berman, to the U.S. attorney, saying, you know, the president has now fired you, and what we will do is instead of putting in -
- what Barr had proposed Friday night was to put in the acting New Jersey - - basically, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, Barr had suggested putting him to the Southern District so he would oversee both,
which is, again, very, very unusual and strange. And then -- and Berman had pushed back on that as well.
And so, on Saturday, the A.G. comes back, Bill Barr comes back and says, the president is firing you and we're going to put in your deputy, Audrey
Strauss, as the new United States attorney. And so, it feels to me like Berman was really pushing back against not just the way he was being fired,
but also the fact that they were really going out of the chain of command, basically taking the leadership of the Southern District completely out of
the Southern District, which, again, is really not heard of.
And so, as of Saturday afternoon, we ended up in a situation where Geoff Berman agreed to step out, but now his deputy, Audrey Strauss, is the
acting attorney in the Southern District.
AMANPOUR: So, can you connect a dot, and how do you assess the gathering dots, so to speak?
Because the attorney general, Barr, did something similar in Washington, didn't he? He pushed aside the head of the Washington, D.C., district,
Jessie Liu, and he had intervened in cases previously involving President Trump associates, people like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.
Is that what you think he's trying to do in New York, sort of take control of a lot of these areas that may be investigating President Trump's
associates or dealings?
MILGRAM: I think the Jessie Liu example is really one of the most important parts of this conversation, because what Bill Barr did there is,
he essentially pushed her out as the United States attorney in Washington. He then put in his own person, who has since left, but that person totally
changed the way they're prosecuting Roger Stone, if you recall, the sentencing recommendations.
In response, a number of career prosecutors at the Department of Justice left. They either resigned from the case or they resigned from the
department. But it did look like Barr effectively was able to do it, because Jessie Liu agreed to essentially resign.
And here the difference is that Berman really stood his ground and said, the A.G. can't fire me. Only the president can fire me. I was put in by the
courts, and really pushed back. And so -- and I think, of course, all the attention it got really pushed back Attorney General Barr. '
But, yes, I think -- I think what concerns me is, we're five months out from an election. We know that there are a lot of high-profile cases in the
Southern District related to the president's associates. It's also very possible that there are new matters we don't know about.
But what we do know is that Berman has -- appeared to conduct himself well as the federal -- chief federal prosecutor there. And this also reminds me
of one other thing that's worth just mentioning. If you remember back to 2007, when Alberto Gonzales, then the attorney general for George W. Bush,
he fired nine U.S. attorneys.
And the president of the United States can fire U.S. attorneys, but they can't do it for political reasons. They can't do it to try. There's all
kinds of ways in which they cannot exert their influence over this process and politicize criminal prosecutions.
And so what's really interesting here is -- and this is why I think Bill Barr needs to answer questions. Like, yes, the president has absolute
authority to fire a U.S. attorney, but you can't do it for political gain or for political purpose. And we saw Alberto Gonzales ultimately resigned
when it was found out that there was political motivation.
AMANPOUR: So, expanding it now to basically undermining justice, the rule of law, America's unique position in the world on these issues of moral
values and constitutional values.
There is a conservative scholar who was a former government official and wrote this about Bill Barr's actions in "The Atlantic."
"This is how an authoritarian works to subvert justice. He purports to uphold the forms of justice, in this case the formal rule that the attorney
general and the president exercise hierarchical control over the U.S. attorneys, while undermining the substance of justice."
Do you think that's what's happening?
MILGRAM: Look, I read that piece myself, and I think that there -- this is one of many things that have happened since Bill Barr has been attorney
general that really do call into question the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
I mean, we have seen countless times where Barr now has appointed investigators to look at prior investigations. He has gone out of his way
to summarize the Mueller report in a way that, to me, at least, did not seem accurate. So, he's changed the sentencing on Roger Stone. He's
dismissed the Michael Flynn case.
There is just example after example we can give, and I think the end result is that -- and I'm an alum of the Department of Justice and believe that
the men and women who work there are there to do the right thing, but it has really called into question, I think, for many Americans whether the
Department of Justice has been politicized.
And it is such, such a problem when it comes to criminal prosecutions and the rule of law being enforced against people, which is critical in a rule
of law society and democracy, like we are, if people don't have faith that the government is doing it fairly.
And so you need people in positions of power, because these are extraordinarily powerful positions, people who are making decisions based
on the law and the facts, and not on political motivations. And so I think that this is, you know, one in a very, very long list of ways in which the
department has been politicized.
And, as an alum, it really -- it's pains me personally, because, again, I think the men and women who work there are extraordinary lawyers who want
to do the right thing. And so I believe that Barr should be called to testify. I think he should have to answer to this and what's happening.
And, again, we're five months out from an election, so it's strange timing, but I do think it's also worth noting that he will not get to put his pick
in right now, I believe, for the Southern District.
And so we have come to a point where there is at least some pushback, and I think that's really important.
AMANPOUR: It's really fascinating, especially -- you mentioned the Turkish state bank,.
And, of course, John Bolton, if you believe what he's written in his book, suggests that authoritarian leaders, like the president of Turkey, felt
that they could intercede with President Trump for him to intercede on their behalf.
Very, very worrying in the courts. '
Anne Milgram, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
And now, with little access to affordable housing, the majority of poor Americans spend more than half of their incomes on keeping a roof over
their heads, which, for many, means ending up on the street if they can't.
The Eviction Lab at Princeton University proposes remedies that are in turn the key to economic mobility.
Professor Matthew Desmond's book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2017.
Here he is talking to our Michel Martin about how the system got so broken.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Professor Desmond, thank you so much for joining us.
MATTHEW DESMOND, AUTHOR, "EVICTED: POVERTY AND PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY": Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: I have to say that, if you live in a city, maybe even a suburb, this is a story that's like right in front of your face. I mean, we have
all seen this. We have all seen people's belongings piled up on the sidewalk. We have all seen a rental van sort of frantically throwing
people's stuff in it.
And yet the scope of this is something that I just don't think a lot of people think about. So, when did it get to be this way?
On the one hand, poor Americans have always struggled with housing. There is a story of tenements. There is a story of living underground without
heat and running water.
So, on the one hand, it's an old story. On the other hand, when you read newspaper accounts of evictions from the '30s or '40s, you're struck by how
strange and scandalous they were. There are reports in "The New York Times" in the '30s that say, three people are getting evicted in the Bronx, and
hundreds of people showed up to protest.
That's not where we are right now in this moment. Right now, we have gotten quite used to the sound of the knock on the door and the early truck
rumbling through your neighborhood. Evictions have become incredibly commonplace in the lives of many Americans.
MARTIN: And why?
DESMOND: This problem has three main ingredients.
Incomes for many Americans have been very stagnant over the last 10 years, even over the last 40 years. In many parts of the country, real incomes
have fallen. But what has not been stagnant is housing cost. Rents and utility costs have risen incredibly fast over the last 15 years.
So, there's this shrinking gap between what many Americans are earning at work and what they have to pay for basic shelter needs. And then we might
say, well, wait a minute, where's the government here? Where's public housing? Or I have heard of housing doctors. Don't they help?
And the answer is that they absolutely do help, but they're only for a small minority of families that need them. Only one in four families who
qualify for any kind of housing assistance receive it, which means most poor renting families today in America spent over half of their income on
And one in four of those families are spending over 70 percent of their income just on rent and utilities.
MARTIN: There's no entitlement to safe and decent shelter in this country. It's like a lottery system, I mean, because if only one in four of the
people who are eligible get it, then it's really luck, right?
DESMOND: Yes, a lottery is the exact way many policy-makers describe our current housing situation.
I have two young children. If I applied for public housing today in Washington, D.C., for example, chances are, I would be a grandfather by the
time my application came up for review. The waiting list for public housing in some of our largest cities is not counted in years anymore. It's counted
All of us know that we need stable, affordable housing to live. This is essential to us. But our country has not invested in this fundamental human
MARTIN: One of the other things that struck me is that you have been assembling a database that did not exist. And this is incredible, because
this is a country that loves to count everything. '
We love to count everything.
MARTIN: We can tell you at any sort of given point how many trees we have planted on any given street and when they were planted. So how is it that
we didn't know this? So, how did you notice this, is what I'm asking you?
DESMOND: So, I wrote a book in Milwaukee, and I looked at the eviction numbers in Milwaukee, and I thought, gosh, these are really high. One in 14
homes in the inner city of Milwaukee is evicted every year.
That's an astounding number. And so when I started talking to communities around the country about my book, I'd be in Houston or L.A. or Baton Rouge,
Louisiana, and people would say, well, what's eviction like in my community? Are we higher or lower? What cities are doing it right? Which
And we had no answers to these questions. The federal government doesn't collect data on eviction. It doesn't even collect data on eviction from its
own housing, from public housing.
So, we were really designing policy in the dark. Imagine if we didn't know how many car accidents happened every year in America, how many kids
graduated from high school.
That's kind of the state of our knowledge about eviction. So, we took it on ourselves to build the first ever national database of eviction, but I
think this is really a job that the federal government should be doing.
MARTIN: Here's another point that you make in the book.
You say: "If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women.
Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out."
Why is that?
DESMOND: Go into any housing court all around the country, and you will just see rows and rows of moms with their kids there.
We can't understand the eviction crisis without understanding the history of racism in America and the systematic dispossession of people of color,
and particularly African-Americans, from the land, from the soil of America.
That started in slavery and went through sharecropping. You can follow that trend through the Great Migration and the ghettoization of black folks. It
took Martin Luther King getting murdered on a Memphis balcony to end racial segregation in the housing market.
But when that happened, there are other things African-Americans confronted. Racial discrimination still exists in large part today. And you
can follow it all the way up to the subprime lending crisis, where we know communities of color were targeted by predatory lending institutions.
And so most white Americans are homeowners, but most black and Latino Americans are renters in America because of that history. So, they're
exposed in new ways. And women are particularly vulnerable in these communities.
If they're single moms, for example, their housing needs to be bigger than if they're not, because the kids kind of take up more space, and that
increases their housing cost.
And just the poverty and financial insecurity that many single moms face exposes them to eviction at really high rates.
MARTIN: You know, in your book "Evicted," you tell the stories of a number of different families, and how they came to go through this.
And I do want to mention that all of them are not, you know, single black mothers. There are other people. There are men. There's a white male nurse
who lost his license when he stole opiates from his patients. There's a -- there are a number of other people.
But I do want to ask you to sort of tell me a story of one of the people who you say sort of typifies the eviction crisis. I was thinking maybe
Arleen. Tell me her story.
Like, how did this happen to her? And how does her story exemplify all the others that you want to tell?
DESMOND: Sure. So, you're right. Eviction affects communities all across the country. It affects white communities, Latino communities, African-
About one in five of all American renters is now spending over half of their income on housing costs. So, it is a widespread problem. But someone
like Arleen really does typify the face of the eviction crisis in America.
So, when I first met Arleen, she was a single mom. She's an African- American woman. She was raising two kids. And when I met her, she was spending over 88 percent of her income on rent, just on rent. Forget about
So, how is that even possible? Well, what Arleen would do is, she would pay the landlord in the winter, when there was a moratorium on utilities
shutoffs, heat shutoffs. But when that moratorium lifted in April, she had to pay the utility company, so she could be back in the block come next
And so these are the kind of situations so many Americans are facing. Should I pay my landlord or the utility company? Should I buy food or pay
the rent? And Arleen is facing that situation every month.
When she got evicted, it wasn't necessarily because she made a mistake or had an emergency in her life. Her eviction is much more the result of
inevitability than irresponsibility, when you're paying so much of your income just for basic housing.
MARTIN: I'm glad you mentioned that, because one of the points that you make in the book is, I think a lot of people have this idea that people get
evicted just because they don't know how to handle their money, that they're just irresponsible, or maybe they're playing -- they're buying
their kids a PlayStation, when they really should be paying their rent, or they're just -- they just can't handle their money.
They just don't know how they don't have the skills, and they should take a class or something like that.
MARTIN: And you found -- and tell me what you have to say about that.
DESMOND: I think that that kind of idea, that harm is being visited to families because they messed up, gives us some comfort. It makes us think
we can control our lives. If we play by the rules, it'll be OK for us.
But there are a lot of Americans that are playing by the rules, that are working hard, that are taking care of their kids, that are sacrificing, and
they're still facing this problem, not by the thousands or the tens of thousands, but by the millions every year in this country.
This is not just a situation of spending your money on a PlayStation or being irresponsible. This is a situation where rents have gone out of
control. And millions of Americans can no longer afford basic shelter.
MARTIN: And it's a snowball effect. I mean, one of the points that you make very clearly is that this snowballs, because you're constantly getting
knocked down to the bottom of the hill, and you have to climb your way back up.
And if you lose everything, or at least you lose some things, then what do you do? You get back into shelter. You have no savings, you have no
cushion, and then you have got this record that follows you.
What's the consequence of having this sort of eviction as a part of your financial record? What happens?
DESMOND: It's huge.
So, when evictions goes through the court process, there's a record that's created. And that record is public, and it's published. Often, it's
published online for anyone to see.
And when landlords see that, they often say no, because, from a landlord's point of view, that's a big deal. That's a marker of risk that maybe this
person isn't going to be a good tenant for me.
So, that means families who get evicted are pushed into worse neighborhoods and into worse housing after they move, because a landlord is seeing that
mark. And they're saying no.
The mark of eviction can keep you out of public housing, because many public housing authorities actually view an eviction record as a mark
against your application. That means we're systematically denying housing help to the families that need it the most.
Eviction records are reported to credit bureaus as well. And I think this is a really important point to stress now in COVID. There's going to be a
lot of families that are going to get that eviction record.
MARTIN: Well, currently, though, I understand that a number of cities have imposed eviction moratoriums.
MARTIN: Is that pretty much of a nationwide standard? I mean, the fact that most states at some point did impose these shutdown orders, has that
intervened in this crisis?
DESMOND: I think the media coverage of the moratoriums has been too rosy, honestly.
They're having some states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, that have rolled out pretty strong moratoriums stopping eviction
DESMOND: But there are a lot of states that haven't.
By our estimate, there are about 31 million renters living in states where the moratoriums are very weak. And even in states where the moratoriums
were OK, and they stopped evictions, those are starting to expire. So now we're hearing stories of eviction court being held over Zoom or over the
phone, which means we care about the safety of court officers, but not the safety of families that are going to lose their home and their shelter.
And I think that the big question is, what's going to happen to the millions of renters who have been protected over the last two months, but
as those moratoriums lift in the summer, what's going to happen next?
MARTIN: Can we talk about landlords, though, for a minute? What's their role in this? I mean, you have met a lot of landlords. Like, what's their
deal? How do they see this?
Because the overwhelming majority of landlords are still individuals, aren't they? I mean, they're not these big corporations, or are they?
DESMOND: Yes, that's a hard question to actually answer. It's a hard question to know who owns our cities.
Many even individual proprietors will use LLCs and other companies to do their business. And so, if you asked who are the top evicting landlords in
Washington, D.C., who are the landlords that aren't doing a lot of evictions those are really hard questions. And it really shows the gaps in
our data too.
Now, from a landlord's point of view, they haven't received rent, which means they haven't received income. And, for many, they're stretched, and
they have bills to pay as well.
So, a lot of times, when we talk about these issues, we say, OK, are we on the tenant's side are we on the landlord's side? We don't need to do that.
The system isn't working. It's not working for both parties now. An eviction is not going to solve the landlord's problem.
What's going to solve the landlord's problem is a serious injection of relief for both the tenants and property owners to get us through this
MARTIN: But you have made the point that the voucher system isn't working. Why is that?
DESMOND: OK, let's break this down.
When we first started public housing in the country, we started very late. And the modern public housing system, these ideas, these towering buildings
in Chicago or Saint Louis or Atlanta, when families first moved into those buildings, they thought it was amazing often. They said, this is
incredible, because, remember, they're moving from slums. They were moving from incredibly dangerous, degrading housing.
Now, that policy was also infused by American racism. Public housing concentrated racism -- race and it concentrated poverty in a way that
reflected our national sin. And so that was absolutely unconscionably wrong.
But it was also true that public housing failed because we made it fail. We defunded public housing. President Reagan cut the budget for public housing
by over 60 percent, 6-0 percent.
Any program we have in America is going to fail with that kind of cut. And so, when those towers went down, they didn't go down because the idea
necessarily was corrupt at the root. They went down because we choked them to death.
Now, what arose from their ashes was this idea of housing vouchers. If I qualify for a voucher, I can take that ticket, I can live anywhere I want
in the private rental market, as long as my housing isn't too expensive or too shoddy. It has to pass basic tests. And instead of paying 50, 60
percent of my income to rent, I pay 30, and the voucher covers the rest.
Does that work? Absolutely, that works. I mean, studies that show, when families receive a voucher, they move to better neighborhoods, they don't
move as much. Studies consistently find that, when families receive that ticket, they do one thing with their income, which is, they buy more food.
Their kids become stronger.
Now, they work. The thing that's not working about them is, they're a lottery, that most families that need them don't get them. So, are they
perfect? No. But what is the big problem? It's that waiting list. That's the big problem with vouchers.
MARTIN: And I also heard you say that you think we're on the cusp of another eviction crisis because of the severe job loss that we have
experienced over the last couple of months, as the response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
So what's keeping you up at night right now and what's giving you hope right now?
DESMOND: So, unless we have a serious intervention in the eviction crisis, it's hard for us not to anticipate a wave of eviction and homelessness
that's going to wash over the country throughout the summer and into the fall as the eviction moratoriums lift.
I think eviction for many of us have become something we reach to, when -- so fast when a tenant can't make the rent. And this isn't all property
owners, but this is a good amount of them. And I think we need rent relief at the scale of the problem. If we don't get it, we're going to have more
disease spread, we're going to have more poverty spread and more social suffering in the country.
That is keeping me up at night.
What I'm hopeful about is what's happening on our streets today. I'm hopeful that the country is having a moral reckoning with its legacies of
racism. Anyone who studies a social problem like eviction or incarceration or job loss, we quickly realized that racism is at the very heart of that
This is at the heart of the eviction crisis and it's the heart of many social ills around the country. And so I'm hopeful that we, as a nation,
are at a place where we can fully face the sins of our past, the sins of our present, where we can enter into a new chapter, where we actually
believe and act on the values we profess, that there should be equality under the law, that there should be equal opportunity, and where you're
born shouldn't dictate your future.
MARTIN: Professor Desmond, Matthew Desmond, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
DESMOND: Thank you, Michel, for having me.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, we address a moral reckoning about the sins of Great Britain's past on what's known as Windrush Day here, a recent honor
to the first Caribbean migrants who were brought over to rebuild this country some 72 years ago, after World War II, only for many of their
descendants to be wrongfully detained and even deported in a toughened-up immigration system two years ago.
The scandal that ensued highlights the U.K.'s long struggle with colonialism and racism.
A new poll commissioned by CNN finds that black Britons are twice as likely as whites to think that this country has not done enough to address
historical racial injustice. Black and white Britons are also far apart on the visual symbols, such as public statues of men with ties to slavery.
So, in this personal primer, our frequent contributor Afua Hirsch, author of "Brit(ish)," has more about this time of moral reckoning.
AFUA HIRSCH, AUTHOR, "BRIT(ISH)": There's a real tendency in Britain to believe that racism and especially anti-black racism that originates from a
history of slavery and colonialism is an American problem.
We often sit in complacency and talk about how terrible things are in America.
The irony is this was a form of racism and ideology that was invented here in Britain. And for black British people we have been living at ground zero
this ideology without any recognition of the ways in which it has shaped our lived experience.
It's really fascinating how statues spontaneously became centers for protest during this movement. Because no one was really asking for them to
be taken down as a specific to the murder of George Floyd.
But for so many of us they represent all of the unsaid and erased parts of our history. The reality is that we glorify people who are personally and
institutionally complicit, even enthusiastic about the murder, the genocide, the appropriation of land, and the enslavement of black people.
Many of the figures that we elevate on statues were involved in military expeditions, people like Admiral Nelson, who is remembered for defeating
the French in an incredibly important war for the British, but what's not remembered is that he personally supported the slave trade. He used his
political privilege to advocate against the abolition of the slave trade.
Winston Churchill, right, you remembered for his role in enabling the allies to win the Second World War but it's not mutually exclusive to
acknowledge that, and remember that he also was obsessed with racist ideas about Africans, about Indians, so much so that even is conservative Eton
colleagues were concerned that his racism was clouding his judgment.
Until we can look at these statues in an honest way and have a conversation, which has not been happening, I don't think it's acceptable
to leave them in these positions where they glorify in public spaces, and all the messages that sends to British people about what we stand for as
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough. This is civil rights movement 2020. Black lives matter.
HIRSCH: Black people in the U. K. are living the everyday legacy of the system of racism that was created. Many black people in Britain are the
descendants of immigrants who are specifically brought to this country to do low wage labor, to live in substandard housing, their children received
an inferior education. And we still see the results of that.
Black children are more much more likely to be excluded from school. Black people are more likely to live in inadequate housing, in impoverished
areas. Black people are more likely to work on unfair labor terms.
This is a moment where it's time to really hone in on the black experience and to stop tiptoeing around it as this society has always done.
AMANPOUR: Afua Hirsch on the struggle that needs to continue.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast, and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.