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Explosive Chemicals Stored at Beirut Warehouse for at Least Six Years; Macron Pledges Aid for Lebanon; Fact Checkers Calls Out Trump for More Than 20,000 Falsehoods; 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing; Hiroshima; Interview With Photographer Misan Harriman; Voting During a Pandemic; Interview With Stuart Stevens. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 6, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETSUKO THURLOW, HIROSHIMA SURVIVOR: I have the image of massive, grotesque death. This stays with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: 75 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. With few witnesses left, we speak to one who's dedicated her
life to nuclear disarmament.
Plus, anger in Lebanon and the official corruption that led to its own devastating blast.
Then, a mea culpa from Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, it's all in his new book.
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER FUND: There is a spectrum of voter suppression that shaved up a thousand votes here, a thousand votes
there, a thousand votes here. It's like the death of a thousand cuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The struggle for a free and fair election. Two voting experts on their fears for November.
And finally --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MISAN HARRIMAN, FOUNDER, WHAT WE SEEE: No one, white or black, that has subscribed to this moving is never going to turn around now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Misan Harriman, Founder, the first black photographer to shoot British Vogue's illustrious September issue.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
At 8:16 a.m. on August 6, 75 years ago today, America dropped its first atomic bomb on Japan. It was nicknamed Little Boy. It detonated 2,000 feet
above Hiroshima, killing more than 70,000 people instantly. Before the year was out, that death toll would rise to 140,000 as people succumbed to burns
and radiation illness.
Three days after that blast, another nuclear bomb, Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki, killing a further 74,000 people. It was the end of World War II
but it was also the end of the world that was. Today, Hiroshima has become a monument to the devastation of nuclear warfare. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
and some of the last few survivors gathered together to remember. And it is extraordinary to think there are still over 13,000 nuclear weapons on this
There are fewer and fewer eyewitnesses left. But I've been speaking to one of them, 88-year-old Setsuko Thurlow, who has spent her miraculous survival
as a life-long activist. And she has received the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2017 on behalf of the International Campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.
She tells me about the agonizing memories and why she's hopeful today.
Setsuko Thurlow, welcome to the program.
You were just a 13-year-old girl when that bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. What were you doing at the time, and what do you remember?
SETSUKO THURLOW, HIROSHIMA SURVIVOR: I remember everything vividly. What was I doing? I was a 13-year-old, grade 8 student in junior high school.
And Japan was losing badly. They had to recruit us, the young children, to do the work for the army. We were in the huge wooden building on the second
floor one mile away from the ground zero.
And then at 8:00, we started the morning assembly, and one day (INAUDIBLE) were speaking to us, giving us a cheer pep talk. Then suddenly I saw the
bluest white flash, and I still have the sensation of floating up in the air. And when I regained consciousness, I found myself in total darkness
and total silence, and I tried to move my body, but I couldn't. So, I knew I was facing death. Then I started hearing faint voices of my friends
around, and they were asking for help from their mothers, from their God.
And then somebody strong, male voice said, don't give up, don't give up, keep pushing, keep kicking. I'm trying to free you. So, this man in the
dark, I was rescued. I was able to come out of the building. But most of the 30 girls were burned to death alive.
AMANPOUR: It sounds awful, Setsuko. I mean, of course, now we know what a terrible, terrible situation that was back then, 75 years ago. Do you
remember being afraid? I mean, all this happened to you obviously and to all your friends around you. But do you remember how you felt and were you
THURLOW: That's a very good question you're asking, because I have often wondered why I did not feel any fear at that time. And later on, American
psychiatrists from Yale University did the psychological study of the survivors. He came to (INAUDIBLE) and interviewed about 100 survivors, and
we must have all said similar kind of experiences.
You see, in a situation like that, stimuli is so grotesque, and our psyche closes it off to prevent such massive, grotesque stimuli to affect us. I
think that is right, because, no, I never felt fearful about the horrible situation I encountered all day, all night. You know, at night, watching
all night the big ball of fire just burning the entire city. And I had to escape by stepping dead bodies on the ground. And just in normal
conditions, unthinkable kind of situation I encountered.
If I did have the normal emotional reaction to those things, I don't think I would have survived. It was a good thing that I didn't. But for quite a
while, we kept living in a stand way. In mid-September, about several weeks later, there was a certain situation and then at that moment, for the first
time, I just threw myself onto the floor and just cried and cried and cried. Why did this happen? Why me? That kind of situation occurred.
AMANPOUR: Setsuko, you lost hundreds of your schoolmates and your teachers, and you lost some eight members of your own family, including
your sister and her 4-year-old child, I guess your nephew, her 4-year-old son. Tell me about that.
THURLOW: My dear sister and 4-year-old child came back to the city to visit us the night before. The next day they were on the way to see the
doctor. And by the time I saw them the next day, they were in a totally different situation. That little fellow, that 4-year-old child, he was just
so burned badly. To me, he was just a chunk of burned melted flesh, he was like that.
Anyway, they survived for several days, and the soldiers came, they dug a hole in the ground, threw the bodies in the hole, poured the gasoline, and
they kept turning around the burning body or bamboo poles. And a 13-year- old child was just watching every detail with just stunned look, stunned thing. And my parents were standing and watching. And the memory of this
troubled me for a long time. My dear sister and her little boy, they were not being treated as human beings who deserve the dignity at the cremation.
There was no dignity at all. They were being treated like animals or insects.
And that memory that I didn't even shed any tears, what kind of a human being am I? That troubled me and I began to blame myself. And I found that
most of my classmates had similar experiences. And I have read hundreds of testimonies. People said the same thing. They just couldn't shed tears.
They were stunned and a numbed condition. So, I think this condition lasted for a long time. It took time before we started feeling normally and
responding normally. So, that's my explanation.
AMANPOUR: You said in a speech that you made for the Arms Control Association a few years ago, it's the image of this 4-year-old child that's
burned to my retina, it's always there. That image just guided me and it's the driving force for my activism. Because that child came to represent all
the innocent children of the world, without understanding what was happening to them. Regardless of the passage of time, he is still a 4-year-
old child, guiding me.
You have used your memory and that experience to spend a whole lifetime of activism against nuclear proliferation, and warning about the dangers that
only really you and your fellow survivors can talk about. The danger of nuclear war. What do you think now about the state of security in that
regard around the world?
THURLOW: Well, it's very disturbing. My goodness. 75 years ago, 75 years have passed, but has the situation improved? No, it's worse, getting worse
and worse. And with your current president, he just frightened the whole world. And we maybe have to do something about it. I hope American people
are doing something about it, about your leader.
This is intolerable. Unacceptable. We have been kept as a hostage for all these years, which each one of us human beings deserve better than this. I
feel very disturbed. And as Mr. Obama said before he left the White House, I think, the United States is the only nation which has actually used it.
So therefore, the United States has special moral responsibility to lead work toward nuclear disarmament. Yes, I think that's the word. No, for the
world without nuclear weapons, that was his favorite expression. That was good.
So, I am begging American people, we just cannot continue to live in this condition. And I have the image of massive grotesque death. This stays with
me. And as Christiane said, yes, those images have been guiding me, and not to give up my struggle, because I believe in the decent life and the human
rights of each and every individual on this planet. We just have to come out of -- drop this madness of nuclear arms race.
AMANPOUR: There are fewer and fewer survivors like you. The average age of the survivor, I believe, is 83. You're 88 years old. Even if your own
country, some 30 percent of Japanese people cannot accurately name the dates of the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Where do you see hope, though? You see so much activism in the streets, you see young people all over the world, you know, really trying to protest and
determine their fate. Where do you see hope?
THURLOW: I see hope in them. Young people. And I have been seeing the evidence of their awakening to reality. And realizing as a citizen's
responsibility to keep this planet as beautiful and livable. And, you know, I visit many countries and talk to young people, high schools,
universities. And my hope from this belongs there. 70 percent of American youth says that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary.
That's a positive change, and I am delighted.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, it is. And I just want to thank you. Thank you for using your miraculous survival for teaching and warning all these decades. Thank
you so much, indeed, joining us on this terrible anniversary.
THURLOW: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And there can't be any higher moral authority than the call for total nuclear disarmament.
Meantime, in modern day Beirut as we know, Lebanon is reeling from a blast 1/5th the strength of the Hiroshima bomb that tore through the city on
Tuesday. Documents reveal that explosive chemicals had been stored at the port warehouse for at least six years. It was a ticking time bomb at the
very heart of the country's capital. Left unchecked despite numerous warnings by local officials. The result, over 100 people killed, hundreds
of thousands left homeless, thousands wounded.
Beirut residents are angrily accusing the government of negligence and corruption and they're even calling for a revolution. Today, Lebanon, a
former French colony, welcomed the French, President Emmanuel Macron, who was mobbed by emotional crowds. And he had strong words for the ruling
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Over and above the explosion, we know that the crisis here is a serious one and that it places
historic responsibility on the leaders. It is a political, moral, economic and financial crisis. The first victim of which is the Lebanese people. It
requires extremely quick reactions. So, for me, this visit is also an opportunity for frank dialogue, a demanding one with political leaders in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The Lebanese government has pledged those responsible will pay the price, but the political and humanitarian after shock will be difficult
And now, we turn to the United States. Now, fact checkers have called out President Trump for more than 20,000 falsehoods since his election. This
week, Twitter and Facebook removed clips of the president claiming that children are "almost immune from COVID." But many of his Republicans refuse
to call out these dangerous untruths.
Joining me now is one who will. In his new book, Political Strategist Stuart Stevens, turns on his old party. It is titled "It Was All a Lie: How
the Republican Party Became Donald Trump." Stevens argues that President Trump is the natural outcome of five decades of what he calls Republican
hypocrisy and self-delusion. And he's joining me now from Vermont.
You know, I can't help thinking, Stuart, when you see the moment that we just witnessed in Hiroshima, when you see President Macron, you know,
calling for government rethink in Lebanon, and now, we turn to you and we ask you the questions to try to get the answers of how one tries to get a
rethink in the United States. You have written a book called "It Was All a Lie." What do you mean and why now?
STUART STEVENS, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, first, it's great to be here. Thank you. I believe that the Republican Party was based on a
series of principles. You could disagree about this issue or that issue. So, what were those principles? Character counts, personal responsibility,
strong on Russia, the deficit matters, fiscal sanity, pro legal immigration. Ronald Reagan announced in front of the Statue of Liberty,
signed legislation that made everyone in the country for 1983 legal.
But now, with Donald Trump, it's not that we have drifted away from those, it's that we're against all of them, where the character doesn't count. The
anti-free trade party, where Putin's (INAUDIBLE). And I just don't think that people change deeply held beliefs in a matter of a few years. I think
the only answer is that they weren't deeply held.
AMANPOUR: Which is the lie, Stuart, and where do you think your responsibility in that comes? Because I described it as a bit of a mea
culpa, your book, because I think you're coming out to speak because you feel implicated, as well.
STEVENS: I do. I wanted to write a book that wasn't blaming them, but really looked at my own involvement. If I believed and was drawn to the
Republican Party on a principle of personal responsibility, it seems the logical place to start to restore that is to be personally responsible.
You know, I think, in many ways, I represented the worst of the American political system. I cared about campaigns. I cared about winning. I didn't
care about the results of that. Now, that was my job. I wasn't a policy guy. I didn't go into government. But still I think I should have thought
more about it.
The interesting thing that just really strikes me here is, it's a collective failure of the Republican Party, not to stand up to President
Trump and to allow the party to become comfortable with a white grievance mentality or sensibility, that now epitomizes Donald Trump and the
AMANPOUR: So, before we get into some of the measures you are taking to try to correct what you feel is -- has been your role, I want to ask you,
because you said, I too was responsible. And you have -- you know, you have advised many, many presidents, many Republican campaigns over the years.
And you dedicate a whole chapter to race and you say that is the original Republican sin. I want you to tell me what you mean.
But you admit yourself to have played the race card in elections. Your first congressional race in Mississippi back in 1978, and your candidate
did end up winning. You understood what that meant at that time, yet you did it.
STEVENS: Well, that's a great question. What I did in that race, it was the first race I ever did. There was a white Republican, who was my guy, a
white Democrat, and a black independent candidate. So, it quickly became apparent in our polling that 90 plus percent of African-Americans were
easily going to vote for the white democrat or the black independent.
So, I made an ad that was sort of like a voter -- women voter's ad, where we put up all three candidates, here's the Republican, here's the Democrat,
here's the African-American who could be the first African-American elected in Mississippi since reconstruction. And it had the effect of informing
African-American voters, if there was an African-American in the race, to draw more of their votes to that independent rather than a Democrat.
Now, at the time, did I think that was evil? No, I thought it was clever. I didn't think anything disparaging about the African-American. But still, I
have to be honest and say I think it's playing the race card, because it's manipulating the dynamic of race within a political campaign. So, it really
taught me a lesson that I learned over and over, just how important race is in our American politics.
AMANPOUR: How long did it take you to realize -- when did you realize that actually it was evil? You just used that word yourself. How long did it
take you to accept that?
STEVENS: Well, you know, it wasn't -- 1956, Eisenhower gets almost 40 percent of the African-American vote. It then drops off to 7 percent in '64
with Goldwater and it never comes back. So, when I started doing campaigns, there was an admission in the Republican Party that this was a huge
failure. And that we had to try to get African-Americans. We used that phrase, a big tent party.
So, I think that there is something important about acknowledging failure and aspiring to be something more inclusive and better. We weren't
successful with that, except with on the Hispanic vote where President Bush in his reelection got a little over 40 percent. But still, it was a
Now, the party doesn't even try. Now, is that a difference? I think it is a difference, because I think that if you're going to change, you have to
acknowledge that it's a failure. And now Trump is running really the most openly white grievance campaign of any nominee of a major party, certainly
modern political history.
AMANPOUR: So, now, you've got to this point after all these decades in the game, and you clearly are shocked by what you're seeing unfolding before
your eyes. So, you've not just written a book, you have got in to a group, which you've helped to co-found, the Lincoln Project, which is, you know,
attacking the president from within. It's about Republicans advertising, polling, trying to figure out how to basically, for want of a better word,
bring down the president of your own party. Tell me how that came about, and how is it going?
STEVENS: Well, first, let me just correct one thing. I really wasn't a co- founder. I joined the Lincoln Project. It was founded by a guy named John Weaver, who is a Republican consultant. He asked me to join last fall, but
I was involved in this primary campaign against President Trump for Governor Bill Weld. But I joined this spring.
You know, what it is, it's a collection of those of us who worked in Republican campaigns, who are appalled at where the party has gone and
appalled at Donald Trump. We have sort of three choices it seems. We can either support President Trump. We're not going to do that. We can be quiet
and just stay out of it. That kind of stinks. Or we can use these skills that we developed to try to help defeat President Trump. And that's what
I think we've been successful. I think we understand the president's mentality. I think we understand the people around Donald Trump. And know
how to get under their skin. You know, Trump is out there attacking us? We're political consultants. Nobody is going to vote for us. We wouldn't
vote for ourselves. So, I think we've been a useful distraction, and we're trying to help.
AMANPOUR: Let me just play -- just a little bit of one of the recent ads that actually went pretty viral. And you said, we've been using our skills.
Well, here you are putting them to a different kind of use.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A failed president. The worst economy in U.S. history. More Americans have died in this four-month period than ever before. Donald
Trump's response? Stop the election, he can't win. We voted during the wars, we voted in the great depression, we voted when civil unrest swept
the country. Americans died for our right to vote. Americans marched for our right to vote. Donald Trump, here's the message. We will vote. We will
defend America. We will throw you and your failed cronies out of office. The choice, America or Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Wow. I mean, it's pretty strong. You would think it was an opposition party doing it, but it's not. It's members of the Republican
Party. Do you think it will work or do you think that and the situation will work? How do you assess President Trump's re-election chances at this
particular time, the polls and all the rest of it?
STEVENS: Look, I think Trump could very well win. And I think it's very important that people not get complacent by these polls that show him
failing -- falling behind. Donald Trump has a unique power as president because he's not governed by any sense of right and wrong. And one of the
things we've learned in the Trump years is how much of our government and civil society is based on the responsibility of norms. And President Trump
isn't that way.
So, I think that the Trump campaign will do everything they can to cheat in this election. I think they're going to try to suppress nonwhite vote
legally in any way they can, illegally, and in between those two. I think it's a uniquely dangerous situation for democracy. And I am appalled that
Republicans haven't gone out and said more about defending our system and chastising their own president who is talking about suspending elections.
But this is how Donald Trump is now. In the end of July, he was talking about suspending elections. What's this guy going to be like a week out
when he's losing? I think it's extraordinarily volatile and dangerous.
AMANPOUR: Stuart, quite a few Republicans have, I mean, without taking him on full frontal, so to speak, they have been saying no, the election will
happen on November 3rd. That, you know, the president doesn't determine when the election is. And people actually have come out, maybe not as loud
as you think, and I'm interested to get your take on that.
But even most recently, you've got pushback against this narrative, which is not true that mail balloting has shown massive fraud. All the experts
say that's absolutely not true. But Senate Majority Whip John Thune has pushed back against his latest claims and this is what he most recently
said, mail-in voting has been used in a lot of places for a long time. And honestly, we've got a lot of folks, as you know, who are investing heavily
to try to win that war. It's always a war too for mail-in ballots. Both sides compete and it's always an area where I think our side, at least in
my experience, has done pretty well.
So, I'm not sure what he's trying to say there. Is he trying to tell the president to stop attacking it, is he trying to defend democracy, is he
trying to say, don't turn our voters going off to the polls or writing mail-in ballots? What's going on there, do you think?
STEVENS: Well, you know, what Senator Thune is talking about is exactly right. In the Republican Party, there has been long standing campaign that
we thought that we executed better than the Democrats of trying to get people to vote by mail. Absentee votes or early voting by mail. There's a
whole generation of Republican political consultants who their first job was working in what we call absentee chase programs. We always thought we
did this better than the Democrats.
So, I think what Senator Thune is talking about, in a weird way, Trump is suppressing his own vote. When he goes out and says that voting by mail
doesn't work, I think they got to him, the message, and said, well, that's giving the wrong message to a lot of Republicans. But what I find just so
striking here is, I mean, admirable that Senator Thune would go out and say that. But no one in the part is challenging Donald Trump and saying, what
is the president of the United States doing raising the possibility of suspending elections? They won't take President Trump on directly. And I
think that's a timidity and a failure. Because, you know, Trump's not going to ask permission to do this stuff. Trump is just going to do it and say,
stop me. That is a uniquely dangerous situation.
AMANPOUR: You know, as people look down the line, they wonder what will happen next if Donald Trump wins, what will happen if Donald Trump loses,
what will happen? You have -- I think, you don't believe that he was a black swan kind of candidate hijacking the party, you think the party has
sort of come to this and he's merely the -- you know, the image of what was always coming along.
But you trace the history of the party, or the future of the party and you have written recently for "The New York Times," this collapse of a major
political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the communist
party in the Soviet Union, when the dissidents between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experience was so great that it was
So, you know, these are really strong words. Are you sure the citizens are not -- you know, don't want what he stands for?
STEVENS: I -- listen, I think that the party exists to elect Republicans now.
I mean, say what you will about Elizabeth Warren. She can articulate a theory of government and defend it. You can argue with it. You can think
it's great. You can think it's terrible. But there is a coherent theory.
I don't have -- know anyone on the conservative side with credibility that can articulate what it is to be a Republican now, what it is to be a
conservative in America. It just is an association, the Republican Party's become, to beat Democrats, not, what is the policy? What is the policy that
Donald Trump is running on?
There's really none. Defending Confederate monuments? It's extraordinary. And this is why I look at this...
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, Stuart, I -- in the last 15 seconds that we have, you know, you talk about Confederate monuments. You grew up in Mississippi.
Your mother was an activist against lynching.
Given your history in using the race card, what do you think right now, given your upbringing, what do you think of this movement right now?
STEVENS: Oh, I support Black Lives Matter. I think it has made a monumental difference.
I mean, when you have NASCAR banning the Confederate Flag, this never would have happened without the tragic events and the response of the past few
months. I think it is a new civil rights movement. And it's a powerful, proud moment in American history.
AMANPOUR: Look, thank you so much for your insights.
And, of course, it's become a huge, huge voting issue as well, racial injustice.
Stuart Stevens, thank you very much.
And now let's dig further into what's emerging as the president's favorite boogeyman. That is mail-in ballots, as we just said, and what's at stake
for voters when a president and his party drum up fears about the election's integrity.
Ari Berman is an author and senior reporter at the progressive magazine "Mother Jones." And LaTosha Brown is a community organizer, political
strategist, and co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund.
Here is our Hari Sreenivasan and talking to them about what voters must watch out for now.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks so much.
LaTosha Brown, Ari Berman, thank you both for joining us.
First, I want to start with kind of your concerns and the big picture. Here we are, still technically in the middle of a pandemic, a fairly
consequential election. What are you most concerned about?
ARI BERMAN, AUTHOR, "GIVE US THE BALLOT: THE MODERN STRUGGLE FOR VOTING RIGHTS IN AMERICA": I'm kind of concerned about two factors that are
converging right now, which is that the Republican Party for the past decade has been embarking on a campaign to make it more difficult to vote
through things like strict voter I.D. laws, and cutting back on early voting, and closing polling places, and purging voters from the rolls.
And that voter suppression campaign has been accelerated because of COVID, because so many Americans are having difficulties voting now. A lot of
Americans are not familiar with voting by mail. There were big difficulties in the primary voting by mail.
At the same time, in-person voting hasn't been easy either in many states, because polling places have been closed. There's been very long lines at
So, I'm worried that the effort to make it harder to vote is going to be dramatically increased because of this pandemic. And a lot of voters are
going to have to vote in new and different ways in November, and many could struggle doing so.
SREENIVASAN: LaTosha, you voted in Georgia. What did you learn throughout that day?
LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTES MATTER: Oh, it was a disaster. I waited in line for three hours.
I later went and assisted other voters that had been waiting in line for over six hours. And then, later that evening, there were people who had not
voted until 12:37 a.m. the next morning on Wednesday morning.
So, it was just atrocious. It was egregious, what we saw happen. And so what I saw this last week election cycle in Georgia and both -- in Kentucky
-- that there was a lack of preparedness. And there seemed to be an attempt of some to take advantage that we're in this COVID-19 era right now, and
really take advantage of that opportunity to not really be able to make sure that people have free and fair access to the ballot.
I vote in Louisville, which is in Jefferson County, which is a county with the majority of African-American voters live in that one county; 612,000
voters for one polling site.
And so we're seeing that. We're seeing that, in the midst of this COVID-19, that there are leaders who do not have the -- I don't think they have the
best interests of democracy in mind that are actually closing polling sites and reorganizing plans that are now not covered under pre-clearance in the
Voting Rights Act, because it's been gutted.
SREENIVASAN: Ari, I can hear in the back of my head here state leaders, local leaders saying, look, I have got a pandemic. I'm actually just trying
to keep people safe. This is the balance that I'm trying to strike on how many places that I have to close, because I don't think the volunteers that
are usually my poll workers.
So -- well, how much of this is intentional voter suppression vs. unintentional?
BERMAN: There's no doubt that election officials are struggling right now to run smooth elections and that they're struggling to recruit poll
workers, and they're struggling to get the equipment they need to handle an unprecedented flow of mail ballots, and they're not getting money from
Congress or support from the White House.
But it doesn't really matter, at the end of the day, whether it's intentional or unintentional voter suppression. They were 80 fewer polling
places in metro Atlanta during the primaries, and that's one of the things that led to the six-hour lines that LaTosha was talking about.
Was that intentional voter suppression? Was it unintentional voter suppression? Either way, people were being forced to wait six hours to
vote. But there have been some trends here that really make you wonder.
There are statistics that show that, for example, younger voters, communities of color are more likely to have mail ballots thrown out. There
are studies that show that blacks and Hispanics wait almost twice as long as whites to vote, things like that.
So, if someone is looking for an excuse to make it harder to vote, COVID gives them the perfect opportunity. And they could say, oh, it wasn't my
intention of voter suppression. It was just the pandemic.
Well, at the end of the day, if people are removed from the voting rolls, or they have to wait six hours to vote, or their mail ballots are thrown
out, it doesn't really matter what the intention of the officials were. It matters what the effect was on the voter.
SREENIVASAN: LaTosha, this seems a pattern that people have documented, even pre-pandemic.
There was a recent report from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and they found, between 2012 and 2018, that there were 1,688 fewer
polling places. So, I mean, this is a pattern that we see throughout different parts of the country, especially in the South and the West.
What do we know that happens when there are fewer places to go vote?
BROWN: I want to note that this is a direct result from the 2013, when we look at the Shelby v. Holder case, in which the Supreme Court gutted the
Voting Rights Act.
Like, there's an act right now that Congress has to restore the act that has been recently renamed the John Lewis Voting Restoration Act. I'm
raising that because those of us that were activists, those of us who actually went to the Supreme Court said exactly -- this was very
predictable -- we said this would happen.
And so there's been an ongoing attack on closing polling sites, making it much -- difficult to have free and fair access to the ballot, particularly
for communities of color and working-class and poor communities.
As a result, what we know, that there are researchers like Carol Anderson that wrote a book called "One Person, No Vote," that she talks about that,
when the polling site is moved just 10 miles, there is a significant drop- off in participation.
Part of when we look at rural communities, when we look at transportation, transportation in many areas is a privilege point, that depending on where
you live, particularly in the South, where you don't have a comprehensive transportation system, in the midst of COVID-19, where we have seniors and
others that are not as mobile as before, I would think that you would want to keep -- you would want to have as many polling sites that are open, that
you would find out the intention wouldn't be to not allow folks to vote, but it would -- also to expand the access, so that you could have people
more dispersed, that you can actually create a safer environment.
SREENIVASAN: At the same time, registrations are down, thanks in some part to the pandemic. I mean, this is usually prime registration season, if you
will. You want to try to make sure that every new voter is registered.
DMV -- a lot of DMV offices are closed or on limited hours through the pandemic, especially the states that make it automatic that you are
registered to vote when you get your first license, or you're 18, 19 years old, you have got the license in hand.
So what are the consequences there of that effect that the pandemic is having on registrations?
BERMAN: What the pandemic is doing to voter registrations is extremely disturbing.
The electorate is basically frozen now. We would normally see millions of new people registering to vote in a presidential election year, and they're
not getting registered, because they're not going to the DMV. There is no or very few in-person registration drives.
A lot of people froze their activity during the spring, and they said, we're going to resurface in the summer. Well, unfortunately, the summer is
when COVID has been rising in places like Texas and Florida.
So there's not an ability to register people in traditional ways. And I'm very concerned that millions of young people, millions of people of color
are not going to be able to register this time.
But it is important to note, Hari, that 40 states have online registration. So, I would urge people who want to register to vote, if your state allows
online registration -- and it probably does -- register to vote online, because that is still the best way and the safest way to register to vote
in a pandemic.
SREENIVASAN: LaTosha, this is the season where activists, organizations, community organizations would be out knocking on doors.
And I'm assuming that it's a little harder to knock on doors. It's probably not impossible. But that's just not happening nearly at the scale that it
was. So, what do you do to stay connected with people to try to make sure that you have that relationship built, that you can make sure that you can
get their vote to count?
BROWN: You know, I think it is extremely difficult circumstances in which we're working in.
Those of us know that -- how critical this election is, and so we have to find creative ways to do the work. A lot of organizations are now expanding
their digital footprint and doing a lot of digital organizing online.
We have had to use technology in ways that we have not had to use before in terms of from virtual town hall meetings, to actually pushing people to
registration online, to actually go and training some people around absentee ballot -- voting absentee and mail-in voting.
When you think about voting in the South, I often talk about how my grandmother, when I used to go vote with my grandmother, my grandmother
would dress up. Voting for older people in the South, black people, was a big deal. She would dress up and put her pocketbook on her hand, and we
would go to vote.
And while I didn't know exactly what we were doing, I knew it was a big deal. I knew it was something special. It was like, you put on your Sunday
dress and you go vote. And so there's a culture of people actually going to the polls to vote.
And so now that's been disrupted. And so, in addition to that, we have to rely on local organizations and churches and the infrastructure in
communities to really be a message, to really be the message bearer, and to help organize and make sure that people are voting early, that folks know
what to do, and they know about the changes, and they can check themselves, because I think that part of what we're seeing is, we see there's a
spectrum of voter suppression.
We have seen the shaving off of voters of people who say they have been dropped from the voting rolls and not know, not know that they were dropped
from voting rolls, including some who had recently voted in an election a year ago.
We also know that -- and the Brennan Center, according to their report from 2016 to 2018, over 17 million voters were dropped from the voting rolls.
And so there is a spectrum of voter suppression that shaves off 1,000 votes here, 1,000 votes there, 1,000 votes here.
It's like death of 1,000 cuts.
SREENIVASAN: I can hear the Heritage Foundation and everyone else saying, here's this conversation about voting and suppression, but, ultimately,
look, should we not have some way to verify that you are a citizen of community X, so that your voice can be heard, that it's just that it's
legitimate, that you live in that area, that you care about those issues, and that's why you're voting?
It is -- isn't that a noble goal?
BERMAN: But we already have those safeguards in place. So it's not like we're not checking if people are American citizens or whether or not
they're registered to vote. There's a process in place both for in-person and for mail voting to make sure that you are who you say you are.
And voter fraud in this country in general is extremely rare. To just give you an example, the Heritage Foundation, which you just cited, has a whole
database of election fraud. They only found 143 criminal convictions for mail ballot fraud over the last 20 years. So that equals out 0.0006 percent
of total ballots cast.
So, the thing I'm worried about is not voter fraud. The thing that I am worried about in this election in particular is disenfranchisement, the
fact that people may have to wait in five- to six-hour lines, if they vote in-person, they might get discouraged and leave, or the fact that they
might not -- if they vote for mail, they might -- if they vote by mail, they might not get their ballots in time.
It might not be received in time. It might be thrown out for little things like forgetting to sign your ballot or a mismatched signature. We're
talking about the fact that up to a million people or more could be disenfranchised in this election because of the combination of voter
suppression and COVID.
That's way, way, way, way, way more cases than voter fraud. We're talking about a handful of cases of potential voter fraud, and we're talking about
potentially millions of people being disenfranchised.
So I'm concerned not about fraud. I'm concerned about disenfranchisement. That is the number one threat to the U.S. election system right now.
SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk a little bit about mail-in ballots.
We had an expert from MIT from the Election Lab there on the program just a little while ago. And he said, look, the cases of mail-in ballot fraud that
the president is talking about are just not supported by the facts.
LaTosha, when you go out and talk to people and encourage them to vote, are you telling them to go in-person? Are you telling to use a ballot online --
or, I should say, a mail-in ballot?
BROWN: So, what I will say is, just to briefly respond to President Trump, the truth of the matter is, he mails in his ballot.
And it's interesting. If he had a concern with the mail-in ballots, then why should -- then he should make sure that they fully fund the Postal
Service. In addition to that, he should put someone on the Postal Service that can run an efficient and effective program, instead of a donor to put
So, on some level, I can't take him seriously, because he certainly -- certainly is not really concerned about the efficiency or the effectiveness
of mail-in ballots.
What I will say in terms of when we're talking to voters, we're actually -- we believe that it's a false choice to make people feel like they have got
to choose either their health and safety or to be able to vote. Like, we believe that -- so, what we do is, we actually give people the options and
the information of what is available.
We encourage people to vote early, that there are ways that you can actually track your vote. We make sure that people are -- have the
information on registration early. We make sure that people -- even in this last election, where we had in Georgia, where we -- my nephew applied for
an absentee ballot. He didn't receive it.
And so what we -- we asked him apply early, applied early, so that, if he didn't get it in time enough, we had other options.
So I think the issue right now is actually encouraging people to find out now that, literally, we have to really understand how serious this is. I'm
not being an alarmist, but democracy is really fundamentally under attack.
And so in order for us to protect that, that we have to show up and vote in record numbers.
SREENIVASAN: Ari, are states making it harder for people to vote by mail?
The important thing to remember, Hari, is that a lot of states are ready make it difficult to vote by mail. So, in a lot of states, for example,
your ballot has to be received by Election Day, not postmarked by Election Day.
So, voters can send back their ballot. They think they're sending it back with plenty of time, but because of post office delays, their ballot might
not be received and they might be disenfranchised through no fault of their own.
There are laws, for example, that throw out ballots because of things like mismatched signatures, if you don't sign your ballot clearly. There are
states that have witness requirements for voting.
So, in Alabama, for example, you need to have both a copy of your voter I.D. and two witnessers -- two witnesses see you sign your ballot or get a
notarized affidavit, which is just a crazy requirement in an era of COVID.
In Texas, it's basically impossible if you're under 65 to vote by mail. In Texas, you can only vote by mail if you're under 65 if you're in jail or
prison, if you're out of the county, or if you have a physical disability.
And what Texas Republicans are saying is that fear of contracting COVID is not a physical disability. So, they have created situation in Texas where,
if you're over 65, which is a whiter and more Republican demographic, you can vote by mail for any reason. But if you're under 65, which is a more
Democratic-leaning demographic, a younger demographic, a more diverse demographic, you basically can't vote by mail.
That's the kind of stuff that really concerns me. And I feel like it's not getting enough attention. All the barriers to mail voting that people face,
that's the real threat, to me, to election integrity in this cycle.
SREENIVASAN: LaTosha, when you go out and talk to people -- I mean, Ari just rattled off a list of challenges to mail-in voting that people might
get tripped up by.
Are states making any effort to make sure that people have kind of a level of voter education, where this is reaching every community?
BROWN: I don't see the kind of education, particularly in the South, in the Southern states that we're working in, I do not see the kind of
education or the kind of information that is available.
There's a lot of confusion. Just recently, the Supreme Court made a ruling about Alabama, that Alabama state fought for there to be an expansion of
doing drop-in mail-in ballots. So the states, and particularly the secretary of state, particularly in deep red states, are -- actually have
not been very responsive.
In many ways, they have been more aggressive at not -- at creating these systems that are not welcoming and are not inclusive. And so I think that
that's why we have to really stay on this issue around voter suppression and hold those accountable that literally are responsible for running these
elections in our states.
SREENIVASAN: Ari Berman, LaTosha Brown, thank you both for joining us.
BROWN: Thank you.
BERMAN: Thanks so much.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, at this time, everybody's talking about how important voting is.
And, finally, earlier this week, I spoke to the editor of "British Vogue," Edward Enninful, about this year's historic September issue, which
highlights activists in the fight for racial justice.
The cover was shot by Misan Harriman, the first black photographer to shoot the front of the September issue, backed by an all-black team. It shows
football star and anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford and also model and mental health activist Adwoa Aboah.
We spoke together about what the assignment means to him earlier this week here in London.
MISAN HARRIMAN, PHOTOGRAPHER: It feels like the winds of change have blown finally in the direction that I have been waiting for more than I -- as
long as I can remember, really.
AMANPOUR: And very proud?
HARRIMAN: Very proud, very determined.
What I saw in Edward using his influence to empower people like myself is something I want to emulate for as long as I can.
AMANPOUR: So, this cover is called "Activism Now." And you would have to be under a rock not to understand the significance of this moment.
And you have been all over London documenting the Black Lives Matter.
AMANPOUR: This is an extraordinary image and an extraordinary statement, frankly.
HARRIMAN: Yes. Yes. That's...
AMANPOUR: And it's true. Why is ending racism even a debate?
HARRIMAN: It's such a simple question. And I think that's why that image has resonated with millions and millions of people.
That was taken outside the U.S. Embassy, and...
AMANPOUR: Here in London.
HARRIMAN: Here in London.
And that young woman, Darcy Bourne, is England under 21 hockey player, an elite athlete who went out there to make a statement about the biggest
stain of modern man.
AMANPOUR: Why is it easy a debate?
HARRIMAN: Well, why is a question with many answers.
But my observation, through my lens, I have seen the beating heart of London. I have seen young boys, young girls, all races, all religions stand
in solidarity. People that didn't understand that there was any kind of racism are educating themselves. People that have lived the experience,
like myself, are not alone in licking our open wounds.
And I feel that that's a movement that can now never go backwards.
AMANPOUR: And talking about the diversity, I mean, there are obviously lots of these powerful images. I mean, that's incredible, this young man,
in solidarity with Nelson Mandela.
HARRIMAN: And, also, that is the Public Enemy hip-hop album "Fear of a Black Planet," with Madiba behind. I mean, those compositions, you can't
AMANPOUR: And then, this one, I mean, that's, again a very, very powerful image.
But you're talking about the sort of Rainbow Nation, if you like, the people who are amongst the supporters of BLM, all sorts of colors, but this
little boy in a wheelchair, that is so touching.
AMANPOUR: It looks like his mother, who is..
HARRIMAN: I was looking at the edit at 4:00, and I just started crying.
The -- his mother is knelt down, holding his hand. She's in tears. He's looking with so much determination. And as you can tell, he is a young man
with special needs and he has his own issues, but he felt he had to be there.
Plus, there is a wall of mainly white hands punching the sky in solidarity.
AMANPOUR: That must be different too now.
HARRIMAN: It is.
And I think we are one, and we have to move together as one. My imagery is about hope and solidarity.
AMANPOUR: And as we look again at your cover, show me some of the other images in there.
HARRIMAN: OK. OK. There you are, Riz Ahmed.
HARRIMAN: And my man, Patrick Hutchinson.
AMANPOUR: Isn't he phenomenal?
AMANPOUR: So, remind us of his story again, quickly.
HARRIMAN: So, when the -- I don't know what to call them, football hooligans...
AMANPOUR: Far right, yes.
HARRIMAN: ... guys, far right, decided to embarrass themselves in Central London, he saved the life of one of those gentlemen who was getting himself
into a very dangerous situation.
And Patrick carried this man on his shoulders, like it was a child of his own, so his life could be saved.
AMANPOUR: What an image that was.
HARRIMAN: And I spent the morning with him photographing him. And he's an amazing man, a father, a personal trainer. He has many, many interests,
softly spoken, a man of deep empathy.
AMANPOUR: Do you think this moment will last?
HARRIMAN: Oh, yes. The seed has been planted.
And no one, white or black, that has subscribed to this movement is ever going to turn around now. We are moving forward together. And with the help
of Edward Enninfuls -- and I hope there are many other business leaders that will do what Edward has done -- we can truly change the world.
AMANPOUR: Hope and solidarity, what a wonderful message.
The magazine hits the stands tomorrow. Tune in then for my interview with one of the activists on the cover, the anti-racism campaigner Jane Elliott.
That is it for now.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.