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Interview With Former Belarusian Presidential Candidate; Russia Claims World's First Coronavirus Vaccine; Opposition Disputes Lukashenko's Landslide Win; Svetlana Tikhanovskaya Flees to Lithuania for Her Children's Sake; Interview With Linas Linkevicius,; Interview With Jeffrey Toobin; Interview With Bill Gates. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 11, 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.
I speak to Lithuania's foreign minister shielding the opposition leader from Belarus after she tried to crack what's called Europe's last
dictatorship. And just what is it like to run against president for life, Alexander Lukashenko? We find out from one who tried and was forced into
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL GATES, PHILANTHROPIST, GATES FOUNDATION: It will keep coming back to the U.S. and disrupt everything we do until we stop it everywhere in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates, talks to our Walter Isaacson about fighting coronavirus on a global scale.
Plus, President Trump keeps on fighting to keep his tax returns away from investigators. We get the latest on the Trump travails from legal analyst,
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The latest show for democracy is taking place in Belarus. Demonstrators have been clashing with armed police there after a disputed election result
saw forever president, Alexander Lukashenko, sweep to yet another victory. These are the biggest protests in his 26-year rule over that former Soviet
State, and this all down to his opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
She started her candidacy as a stand-in for her jailed husband but she became a powerful challenger in her own right, drawing tens of thousands of
people to her rallies. After the government reported that she won just 10 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, she went to file her complaint
about vote rigging but ended up being held for seven hours by the authorities. She then fled to neighboring to Lithuania. In an emotional
statement posted on YouTube today, she implied that she left to keep her children safe and she begged protesters to be careful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, FORMER BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE (through translator): I wouldn't wish this choice on anyone. So, please, look after
yourselves. Not one life is worth what is happening. Children are the most important things in our lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, joining me now for more in all of this is the Lithuanian foreign minister, Linas Linkevicius.
Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you for joining us from Vilnius. You're only about -- I think about a hundred miles or so, a hundred kilometers from
Minsk. You share a border.
Tell me, what were the consequences of Ms. Tikhanovskaya fleeing and coming across to you? Did you know in advance? What was the situation there?
LINAS LINKEVICIUS, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I didn't know in advance. I tried to reach yesterday evening, tried to talk directly. We have staff
or embassy, it was not possible for a few hours, then I understood that she was at the Electoral Committee with her lawyer who was submitting a
complaint about (INAUDIBLE) accounts. Lawyer left and she stayed. And then general (INAUDIBLE) totally spent around seven hours in this detention.
So, after that, I understood that she was given some options, not too many options, basically, to flee the country or to be other sequences which were
not very optimistic. She had -- and has an Lithuanian national visa which allows her to stay in our country without any restrictions. Her children
were already here. So, her decision was just to flee, to go to Lithuania. And the main, so to say, news, that she's really safe and reunited with her
children, and we're looking forward for the next steps of what she will be planning to do.
AMANPOUR: Well, Foreign Minister, you know, you describe a situation, you cryptically say she was given not very great and not very many options,
either to flee or to face other consequences. We know what's happened to her husband, we know what's happened to countless opponents and democracy
activists. Her husband in is jail. And as you said, she had sent her children away because she had had threats even before the election.
What does this tell you about the state of affairs in your neighboring Belarus and -- well, let's start by that. How do you assess the results of
the election on Sunday?
LINKEVICIUS: Technically, we cannot call them transparent or democratic and definitely clean (ph) because of their objective reasons, you know.
There were almost none when they got to the international observers. The media was also not available because they were not given accreditation.
Internet was cut due to the candidates to the presidency were in custody, so to say. So, definitely, this is enough argument to say that the process
is not democratic.
So, the results are, as well, quite doubtful. We shouldn't be experts to doubt these results. And basically, the government authorities took a
decision to use this power against peaceful protesters, which is definitely excessive force because they were -- by far, they were not aggressive. They
were not smashing windows, they were not burning cars, and they definitely needed just to be listened to. So, this is disrespect to own people, to
citizens, it's something worrisome.
And I don't know how it will be developed, but if it continues like this, there should be some political consequences and the whole international
community, be it European Union, be it nationally we have to be very clear what is tolerated, what is not tolerated, where are redlines, where
already, unfortunately, crossed and there will be a -- I believe those who made this should be held accountable. So, now, we're discussing what would
be the developments and exactly where we are.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, there's quite tough language coming from you. I mean, you're a top diplomat for your country, you're the foreign minister,
and you're absolutely calling out what happened in an undemocratic fashion, you say, and an untransparent fashion, in your neighboring country. But
what are the levers of accountability that you, obviously, your part of the E.U. or United States, which has condemned what's going on in Belarus or
any other, you know, countries that are concerned about democracy.
What are the levers at your disposal? Because the West has played a sort of, you know, give and take, you know, back and forth game with Belarus.
You know, they've put sanctions on, they've lifted sanctions. They've made demands, you know, they've engaged, they've not engaged. What can you
actually do when you're faced with a guy who just stays in power? This is 26 years now.
LINKEVICIUS: Well, indeed, it's very -- well, we are sometimes very creative to issue concerns, deep concerns and whatever, but it doesn't
help, basically. And I'm not saying that we should be aggressive but we should be consistent. And since we were hearing and it was rhetoric cycle,
the foreign minister, my colleague, on the eve of the elections and he tried to assure that the value -- dialogue with the best, dialogue with the
operations of the European Union. Then I said, look, if you really mean what you're saying, you have to behave, you have to comply to the
commitments you made yourself. And he assured that it's not in the interest of the government to use this excessive force. But we see different
So, now, we have to really think what would be the consequences. You said lift the sanctions. Yes, but it was kind of progress because they released
political prisoners but we said it, the situation would be improved. It's exactly what we expect. But if it gets worse, we have to come back to this
language of sanctions and maybe it's not excluded even now. Everything, all options are on the table.
But those who misbehave, and they really should feel accountable. How we do that? It depends on the discussions among ourselves, which is now taking
place, and I'm talking with my colleagues in the European Union. I'm talking to high representative, Joseph Morelle (ph). We all understand we
have to bring back events in Belarus into our radar screen knowing that all -- we have plenty of, so to say, disturbances around, and Libya, Syria,
Lebanon, pandemics, refugees. But this is what we are talking happening in Europe. So, we cannot stay just impartial. We definitely should pay more
AMANPOUR: So, you're right, you named all those places where there are uprisings for democracy. I mean, even in the West, as you know, in the
United States there's uprisings for justice along all sorts of lines, as you know, right there.
But, you know, it's said that Lukashenko is Europe's last dictator. Is that a description that you would recognize? What do you know about him? I mean,
what makes him tick? Is it just money and power? Is it -- has it got something to do with Russia? You share a border not just with Lithuania,
but you have obviously access with Russia as well. What is the context in which this leader has been able to stay in power for 26 years?
LINKEVICIUS: You know, I'm not in a position to discuss these labels of, you know, titles. Let's leave the politologist to do that. What we are
considering that these relations are definitely not easy. And the partnership is also not easy and this cooperation was also not easy, but we
have to say there should be rules, basically, where we can see added value, we should continue, where we see thing which is happening unhelpful and
even wrong, we have to say also clearly.
Sometimes -- very often we are doing too late and doing too little, which is unfortunately the case. So, we have to take it more seriously than
before. And also, one more lesson to be learned but one of them is that we should really pay much more attention to opposition, to civil, so to say,
society than before, and they deserve to be, so to say, talk to them.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, you know, a lot of hope was put into this campaign. It was not just Ms. Tikhanovskaya, she was joined by two other women. It
was a unique campaign and it drew a lot of attention, a lot of votes. In the diaspora, the ex-patriot community, it said that she about 80 percent
of the votes by the -- you know, the foreign votes. But she looked pretty defeated when she posted on YouTube, including this rather sad statement. I
want you to react to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIKHANOVSKAYA (through translator): I thought that this campaign had really steeled me and given me so much more strength that I could cope with
anything, but I guess I'm still the same weak woman that I was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, it's -- to me, that's kind of sad, and I wonder what it says to you about the future of the opposition, about the fact that maybe they
don't think they have any support from anybody. You've just said the West, the world needs to support democratic forces, but they don't seem to be
getting as much support as they could be. Do you think she has a future now there?
LINKEVICIUS: No, it depends. You know, let's be realistic. She was never a politician. She was accidentally, so to say, on this wave of popularity and
maybe she didn't expect what is ahead of her. And also, let's take into account that she was in the detention for a long time. We don't know how
she was treated and she was under pressure and all this statement, what she was making during the convention should be taken for granted, basically.
So, that would be my message. Also, let's be realistic here.
And definitely, she experienced some kind of stress, even some kind of devastation and she definitely should take time to rest and to recover
until she will be able to willing to say something. So, we shouldn't force her. Let's be patient. Let's not speak for her. And what least we could do,
just to provide this refuge, to reunite the children. That's very important. A young woman who -- which was never, as I said, in politics and
these fights, and then we will see. It's up to her, what -- how she will project to the future and what are the plans and intentions. Let's wait.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, it's a good thing she's got refuge next door with you. Foreign Minister Linkevicius, thank you so much, indeed, for
And now, for more on this by somebody who really knows the kind of pressure that Svetlana is under, somebody who ran against Lukashenko ever since he
resigned as his deputy foreign minister. Andrei Sannikov, ran a presidential campaign in 2010 and was jailed shortly afterwards. And he is
joining us now from Warsaw, Poland, where he lives in exile.
Andrei Sannikov, welcome to the program.
I wonder if you would just comment on what I was asking the foreign minister about the state of mind of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, what she may
have been saying either under duress or not, we don't know, and what you know about the kind of pressure that she has been under and is now.
ANDREI SANNIKOV, FORMER BELARUSIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I think I agree with Minister Linkevicius. I think that definitely she was speaking
out of duress. And you should realize that it was a special KGB operation to get her out of the country, and it is not over yet. The special KGB
operation is something that they planned very carefully, not as a one-time event, but to continue, and they probably had very specific instructions
for Svetlana and blackmailing Svetlana was something that is quite difficult to digest for her.
So, we should not take anything for granted that this is coming out now from her or her team. We just have to accept the fact that Svetlana is out
of the country, but the protest against the regime and the dictator continue.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really important context. Both you and the foreign minister, you know, warned us not to take everything that she posted there
at face value, because we don't know the kind of pressure she's under.
When you say it's a KGB operation to get her out, are you talking about what the foreign minister said, she was basically given two options, get
out or face unspecified, but we all know what, consequences if she stayed in. She's out. What do you think is in her future if she wants to continue
in politics, given that she is also the accidental politician? She was just sort of running in her husband's place. He was meant to be running until he
SANNIKOV: Absolutely. And earlier you mentioned that there was some other figures. No, there were nobody else. Svetlana was quite courageous to step
into her husband's shoes and she was substituting him. And Siarhei Tsikhanouski who is now in jail in a very difficult situation was the
candidate of protest in Belarus. So, why did people supported Svetlana so massively and so big numbers? Because she was the candidate, the only
candidate running who was running against the regime. Others were fakes. So, don't even mention the names and the numbers.
There was Svetlana and Lukashenko. And people supported Svetlana. And it was actually -- I think the message that Svetlana was delivering is that, I
am not a politician, you're right, I'm a novice. I don't have any specific program. Don't ask me about this program but I'm here to organize early
election without Lukashenko. I have to win for that. And she won. And now, we have to elect our new president without Lukashenko being a candidate.
AMANPOUR: So, that's down the line at some point, you hope. But just let's go back to your experience. As I said, you tried this in 2010. You ran a
presidential campaign. And you really suffered for that attempt. I mean, prison, torture, the whole lot. Tell us what happened just for the
effrontery that you showed of taking part in what you hoped was a democratic process.
SANNIKOV: Well, yes, I did suffer as my family, my wife, we were arrested together. But also, the several hundred people did suffer. But Lukashenko -
- why we suffered? Because Lukashenko got scared in the 19th of December 2010 because he never expected so many people telling him to step down. And
that's why for the first time in the history of Belarus he attacked us on the day of election. Never before he did that. He preferred to wait because
the cowards -- you know, the cowards don't like to act cowardly openly. They wait until the appropriate moment, and the appropriate moment was when
the international observers left and when the international press left. But in 2010, he was so scared that he attacked us on the day of the election.
Today, I mean, in 2020, he is even more scared because he started to throw in jail his opponents, very strong opponents, like Siarhei Tsikhanouski,
the husband of Svetlana or Diker Babareka (ph), the bank, and also the candidates that are usually very visible industries like Nikola Starcevic
(ph) who spent five years in prison after 2010 (INAUDIBLE).
So, Lukashenko is scared. Lukashenko is trying to stop the protest and trying to show that he is in control of the country. He is not. He is not.
He is usually propped by two forces, and we usually tend to forget about one of them. One is the Russian and Kremlin and the other is the West. And
today I don't know what to expect from the West because the reaction is very mild, is very timid, and without that, I think that we might see more
violence from the site of the regime, of the dictatorial regime of Lukashenko.
AMANPOUR: Andre, the reaction from the Lithuanian foreign minister was not mild. I mean, he obviously knows the region better than most of the
Westerners. He's had -- you know, Lithuania had its own fisticuffs with Russia, the Soviet Union, in the past, so they know what's at stake. And
they're calling for transparency and maybe even sanctions again. So, I understand what you're saying.
So, I guess what I want to ask you is, what hope is there to challenge somebody like Lukashenko. And I want to again want to point out that when
you were taken to prison, I mean, you and other inmates were put through humiliating, you know, strip searches. I think they even left a rope and a
razor in your cell, essentially inviting you to kill yourself. How brutal is it and how brutal was it for you?
SANNIKOV: Is it brutal, but I still want to refer to what you said about (INAUDIBLE). Yes, his reaction and words was very strong and I can feel
that he is frustrated. There is not -- there is no more reaction -- no strong reaction from the (INAUDIBLE) because words doesn't matter now. We
need sanctions because people are being tortured like I was tortured.
I believe that the people today, like Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Nikola Starcevic (INAUDIBLE) have been tortured in a much stronger way than I was
tortured. And Belarus is part of the international convention against torture and there is no reaction. We need sanctions. We need sanctions
about -- on the people that are -- against the people that are torturing, you know. It's a legitimate call for Brussels to introduce the sections.
And Linas was telling about how he is -- he was kind of hinting on his frustration that there is no stronger reaction on what is going on in
Belarus, because believe me, we are not kept in prisons in Belarus, we are tortured in prisons in Belarus, and that is something that is going on in
Europe, not somewhere else where we know that the disparities and the tyrannies are blossoming. But in Europe and on the border of the European
AMANPOUR: Andre, finally, do you think that the protests in the street will put that kind of pressure not just on Lukashenko but also send a clear
message to Brussels and other in the West? Do you think this is a moment that will last or do you think it will be crushed?
SANNIKOV: Very good question, because I think the Russians will do everything to get rid of this regime. Why Brussels is silent, I don't know.
Why Brussels leave sanctioned? You mentioned that the sanctions were lifted because conditions were met or Linas mentioned that the conditions were
met. Conditions were not met. Yes, a couple of prisoners were released but we are not rehabilitated to this moment, that was one of the conditions of
the European Union put forward to Lukashenko.
So, if they don't take strong measures, they will undermine their own security (ph). I don't think that the protest will be crushed that easy in
Belarus and I do think that these are the last of Lukashenko's regime. But a lot depends now on the attention, on the adequate measures taken as
regards to Belarus, not to intervene into some internal affairs but to save people's lives. Because I was advising all the time for the leadership of
the European Union cap on the day of the election, especially when the regime was threatening me with violence. Come and you could save people's
lives. Nobody was there. Nobody was even answering our calls.
The famous question of Henry Kissinger who is -- what is the phone number of my initial call to the European Union. I think in the case of Belarus,
it is even more important and urgent. There is no phone number for Belarus to call Brussels, none. Because the new leadership of the European Union
seems to forget what the conditions were put toward the regime of Lukashenko to improve relations. And they started improving the relations
with the regime without any conditions.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, listen, you have made your point loud and clear. This is a platform. Hopefully, people will hear what you say. It is
democracy protests happening in Belarus. Andre Sannikov, thank you so much.
Now, President Putin today claimed that Russia has registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine. But experts have raised concerns over its safety
and Moscow's rapid approval process. There are now 20 million cases worldwide. And our next guest is behind many of the efforts to develop a
vaccine. He, of course, is the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, Bill Gates. And he's pouring billions of dollars to help ensure affordable
access to a vaccine. And here is speaking to our Walter Isaacson about that and about why he thinks so much of the testing being done in America is a
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Bill Gates, welcome to the show.
BILL GATES, PHILANTHROPIST, GATES FOUNDATION: Thank you.
ISAACSON: Tell me which vaccines you're most hopeful and optimistic about right now.
GATES: Well, we have six that will be in phase 3 trials by the end of September, and all of them have shown reasonable phase 1 data and animal
data. Weirdly, some of the later ones are the most promising. For example, Novavax with an adjuvant that is known to create strong immunity in elderly
people. But I expect several of these six will succeed.
Some of them are much lower cost than others. The MRNA platform, although in the long run, it's probably the most promising, today that manufacturing
scale up and cost manufacturers higher than some of the other constructs. So, we need a less than $3 vaccine to be able to afford getting it out to
the world at large.
ISAACSON: How are you going to make sure that it get -- how are we going to make sure it gets rolled out fairly?
GATES: Well, there is discussions of whether the U.S. supplemental bill includes money for the international response. The U.S. actually deserves
the best grade of funding R&D on these vaccines. All six of the companies have either funding or purchasing agreements that help them go full speed
ahead. As yet, though, the money, which would be at least 10 to 12 billion to buy the vaccines out there, and that's making the companies a little
hesitant to build the extra factories that we need as fast as they should.
So, if we can get that resolved with the U.S. showing leadership like it has on many global health things, that would be a fantastic step and
probably the most important thing for bringing this pandemic to an end.
ISAACSON: You just said if we can get the U.S. to show global leadership. We've been retrenching from that for a few years now. What do we need to
show global leadership?
GATES: Well, that's reasonably straightforward. If we would put 4 billion into the special coronavirus fund that the vaccine organization, GABI, has
created, then, you know, we could raise the rest of the money from others. Likewise, if we use global fund, which would then take on COVID as a fourth
disease that it would provide therapeutics for, also, you know, 4 billion there.
So, you know, compared to the trillions of economic damage or supplemental thing, you know, getting the international response showing our strong
world to get that going, you know, 8 billion is an incredible bargain.
ISAACSON: So, are you pushing congressmen, senators, are you pushing politically, you're trying to get the administration to put this in a
GATES: Yes, I spend a lot of my days doing everything I can on that, and people say from both parties in the Congress and in the executive branch
they've been open-minded to it. You know, we need to make sure that there are so many other big things that are important that this doesn't get lost
and that it gets fully funded at the 8 billion.
ISAACSON: You said that you've been talking to people in the executive branch about hoping that the supplemental will include things for global
relief. Who have you been talking to?
GATES: Well, if you take -- you know, I talked to Dr. Fauci on a regular basis, because sharing what the foundation has seen on the various trials
and intervention, you know, it's great to get his perspective. That's been super valuable. But I've also at times talked to Secretary Pompeo, the vice
president, you know, Debbie Birx is somebody we know well because she did a great job as the HIV leader in the government, now she's in a key position.
So, there is a regular dialogue there that now I really focus that on, you know, let's get this reasonably modest, less than 1 percent, for that
international response, both for humanitarian reasons, also strategic reasons and, you know, it will keep coming back to the U.S. and disrupt
everything we do until we stop it everywhere in the world.
So, of all the global health things I've ever made a plea for, this has actually been stronger, and we have to have bipartisan engagement. The U.S.
is the best on HIV and malaria, and, you know, all we have to do is complement the R&D with the procurement money.
ISAACSON: There's a push at times, though, for the FDA to approve vaccines, especially in this case. I can almost understand it with a pretty
serious of the whole economy to say, look, we know they're safe. We think they are official. We haven't fully gone through phase 3, but just like
Russia is doing and others, we're going to give it emergency use because we know it's safe and we think it's probably efficient. Do you think we should
speed up the process for cases like this, the coronavirus case?
GATES: You have to be very, very careful, because if you're not careful with one vaccine, then it can ruin the reputation of all the vaccines and
the number of lives at risked globally, then if vaccines, you know, are used a lot less, that's pretty substantial. So, you know, building up the
safety database, you know, looking at where we really know enough that we feel good about that. You know, I hope that's done well.
And I -- you know, what we've seen so far, I don't know all the internal discussions, but so far, the efficacy protocol that's being used is quite
ISAACSON: Why has testing gotten so messed up in this country?
GATES: Well, the ideal would have been to have a CDC Web site that would prioritize who gets tested, and that you don't reimburse results that are
coming back after they're not as actionable.
So, you really need a 24-hour turnaround. There were some innovations. We drove a thing where, instead of jamming the swab way back and using a
health care worker, you can just personally put it up to the tip of your nose. And we proved that that was as accurate. It's called the mid-
And some people are adopting that. So, we didn't, in advance, realize that getting the commercial providers going was so important. So, the U.S. was
the slowest in getting that piece together.
And then there was a lot of talk about who would drive doing the Web site and the prioritization, and that really didn't come together. So, right
now, you have a lot of people who can get tests weekly, whereas a lot of communities either don't have access or they get these delayed results.
ISAACSON: What are the delayed results? Are they useful?
GATES: No. They're useful, so you can write an apology note to the people that you have been exposed to over that time period.
ISAACSON: What is a way to push the health services and others to make sure they get the results back in 24 hours?
GATES: That's trivial. You just don't reimburse for anything over 48 hours, and you give a bonus for 24 vs. 48.
And it's easy that then you will just clear the backlog, because the actual batch processing logistics, you can do 24 hours, particularly if you use
the swab approach we talked about or you have the drive-in testing, where you get the sample to the machine very quickly.
ISAACSON: What happens when you talk to the White House people and the administration about testing? Are they listening to you?
GATES: I don't think criticizing them will make them more open-minded to my input.
GATES: So, we're able to get people on the phone. And, as yet, some of the things we're asking them to do haven't become concrete.
It's never been clear who's in charge. At first, it was a conversation with Azar. Then there were other people in the White House involved. I wish I'd
done a better job getting the message of how to improve testing. But there's still a chance to do it.
ISAACSON: And what would that be, through the states, or should there be a national plan for testing?
GATES: Oh, no, this is all national. The CDC is the trusted brand name.
The Web site of who should be prioritized, you don't just have rich people tested, testing their delivery people every week, vs. the communities where
the disease is highly prevalent. You have got to use a CDC Web site. Asking states to pull something like that together, as you know, isn't going to
work that well.
And the reimbursement is all at the federal level as well. So the incentive to say, no, we don't pay for valueless results, that's got to be fixed at
the federal level.
ISAACSON: So, it's got to be done with the CDC. But where the heck has the CDC been in the past few months?
GATES: In Atlanta.
ISAACSON: Yes, but go -- I mean, aren't they like the premier agency? Didn't we always look up to them? And now I'm feeling like I'm not hearing
much from them.
GATES: They're the best in the world.
Even they, as we do the postmortem, will have to say that, in February and March, there's some things they could have done better. But no doubt
they're the best in the world. And they'd been gathering the statistics. People tried to take them out of that. But they maintain that position.
They haven't been much of the communication, which they're really trained to do. There's a chance where they could be brought in. They did warn about
opening up when the cases were still going up. But those warnings kind of were not highly visible, compared to other communication.
So, fine, we made that mistake. Now we need to go forward. We do think that this epidemic can be brought under control. I'm not trying to be super
negative. It's more and more people have been infected, that this -- the amount of spread is going to start going down. And then, of course, the
vaccine will make a dramatic difference.
Even before that, we will have therapeutics to reduce the death rate.
ISAACSON: You say that the CDC is the best in the world at doing this. Have they given us good enough guidance about whether we should be opening
GATES: Well, there are things that are complicated.
The idea that the benefits to having young people in school is very high, and that you can get -- switch to not having the older teachers or teachers
who live in multigenerational households and have exposure to older people, it's very hard here in August to figure out, OK, what are the distancing
plans and how dense is the classroom?
This is pretty complicated to say to people, OK, in a month, you have to figure this out. I'm afraid, the fall, there won't be that many kids in
public school. As we get our act together, having the younger kids go in, and having the right protections for the adults that are in there, I do
think that's achievable to get at least K through eight back in a lot of parts of the country.
So, we should work together. It shouldn't be that one side is for school, one side is against. It's absolutely right that we want school in place.
And people need to remember, most of the medical damage of this is to elderly people. So, it's breaking the connection between young people who
are infected and older people by picking younger teachers and teachers that don't have that connection back up to the elderly.
Then you can make sure that the health cost is fairly low. And, hopefully, by early next year, between all these things, the therapeutics, reducing
the death rate, the time to plan, and the vaccine being fairly imminent, hopefully, for the second half of this year, we get most young kids back.
ISAACSON: You talk about these nutjob, weird, wild conspiracy theorists, and they tend to focus on you, as if you have got some weird reason for
doing vaccines, or you want to implant chips or whatever.
Why have you become such a lightning rod? Why has all this happened?
GATES: Yes, I don't know.
To be clear, it's all false. We have been involved with vaccines in order to save lives. And, actually, over the last 20 years, the global health
community has had immense success and has cut childhood death, under-5 deaths, in half from 10 million a year down to less than five million.
And so I am caught a little bit flat-footed in saying in, no, I didn't expect this, and I don't know fully understand it. It's understandable
that, during a pandemic, people are anxious. They're looking, in some cases, for simple explanations. Social media tends to take titillating
things and allow them to move at high speed, whereas the truth about the boring fact that we do vaccines to save lives doesn't -- isn't as
Why would you click on that? And so this is a tricky time, where the ability of social media to see what the messages are and perhaps slow down
some, mark some as not true, there's this big debate about that very broadly.
ISAACSON: Your former company Microsoft might now be acquiring TikTok.
But do you think that, in general, that -- I think you used the word poisoned chalice once -- that there's some danger of having to get into
this arena of social media for a company like Microsoft?
GATES: Well, that would draw Microsoft into the competition there, trying to say, hey, our service does this better, and it's a choice that you can
It will bring a lot of complexity with it. And so if the upside and the opportunity to innovate wasn't gigantic, it won't be worth doing. But my
advice to Satya has been, hey, you should explore that in great depth, because there could be a great opportunity that would come out of that.
ISAACSON: Do you think the Trump administration should be trying to block TikTok in the United States?
GATES: I think we should have clear rules about what's allowed and what's not allowed.
Clearly, the social media companies didn't have a very good chance of getting into China for a variety of reasons. And if somebody was saying,
OK, this is some principle of reciprocality or something -- anyway, I think the U.S.-China relations, which will -- won't be great anytime soon, the
more we can state clear principles of what we predictably will allow and what we won't allow, and they do the same, that there will be less a
negative fallout from these things.
So, this was pretty new when it came up. And now people have to articulate, OK, what does this mean for other activities? How should China respond to
buying jets or software or drugs or anything from the West? Should they -- how should they look at that?
So, this -- this is a area that the policy is definitely up in the air right now.
ISAACSON: In the three decades I have known you, I have never really known your politics. I don't know what you're registered, your party. You have
stayed very apolitical.
And yet everything you have said during this interview comes down to being somewhat upset about the current direction, the current way we have been
going globally and with the pandemic.
Have you begun to reconsider and think that maybe you should be more involved in the political discourse, not just the philanthropic one?
GATES: Well, I like to save my voice for a few areas that I have put a lot of resources into and spend a lot of time on, so global health, some
actions around education, the climate change.
And it's unfortunate if that ends up marking you as a partisan that you care about climate change or you care about international generosity.
Historically, global health work was very bipartisan. The desire to improve the U.S. education system was very bipartisan. George Bush started the HIV
thing, which is the most generous health thing ever done. But he also got Democratic support as he did that. And that's been maintained over time.
So, the Congress is still pretty good on these issues. And I don't think just being on one side or the other is the best thing for me. I do believe
in excellent analysis and thinking. So, whenever the government doesn't appear to have a good long-term plan for climate change or certain aspects
of the pandemic, I can come across -- even though I'm just trying to make the technology planning statement, sadly, that can come across as
ISAACSON: Bill Gates, as always, been very interesting. Thank you for joining us.
GATES: Thanks, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, it is a measure of the deeply poisonous partisan times that we live in that health, basic life and death, is translated as
Now, President Trump is still fighting to hide his financial history, demanding that the Manhattan district attorney reveal just why he has just
issued a subpoena for eight years of tax returns and other documents. Mr. Trump's lawyers argue that he's being harassed.
Well, joining me now to parcel out the facts of this case is top legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
And he's just released a new book on the president and the Russia investigating, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald
Trump." He's joining me now from New York,
Jeffrey Toobin, welcome to the program.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Hi, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Can we start -- hi, Jeffrey.
Can we start on, before we get to your book, on the latest, as I led in, the Manhattan district attorney, the subpoena for eight years of tax
records and other documents, and what President Trump's lawyers are saying? I think they have called it illegal harassment.
Just tell me why this is important. Why is the Manhattan DA doing it now?
TOOBIN: Well, the Manhattan district attorney is doing a criminal investigation of the president.
We don't know exactly for what crimes. It's a secret grand jury investigation, like all grand jury investigations. But this is a case that
has already been to the United States Supreme Court, and the Manhattan district attorney won.
So, I don't think it's a question of if the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, is going to get these records. But I do think there is the
possibility for some delay.
The important point to note, as a public matter, is that, even if Vance gets these documents, they will not be released to the public, perhaps
ever, because they will be only used by the grand jury. So, it's not like one of the great mysteries of the Trump era, what's in his tax returns, is
going to be solved for the public.
But these prosecutors, who are not subject to the United States Department of Justice, not under the supervision of William Barr, the attorney
general, whether they can proceed with their criminal investigation.
AMANPOUR: So, quickly, you basically said it's gone already to the Supreme Court, and the Manhattan DA won.
Just explain for new readers exactly what that means.
TOOBIN: Well, it means that the prosecutors are going to get these documents.
Now, this is sort of the end of the legal skirmishing about that subject. But I don't have any doubt, given the Supreme Court's opinion, that Cyrus
Vance and his prosecutors will get these documents about the president's personal financial history. And they will then be able to use them to
investigate whether any -- the president or anyone else committed any crimes.
I don't want to prejudge that question. I don't know if the president committed any crimes. But these documents, which Congress has looked for,
for a long time, unsuccessfully, and what Mueller chose not to look at, these prosecutors are going to see them, and we will -- as the president
likes to say, we will see what happens.
AMANPOUR: And I'm going to get your book in a moment, because it is about the Mueller investigation.
But I want to just carry on with this. Of course, basically, Trump had argued and I think Attorney General Barr had argued that the president was
immune from criminal investigation. That's what the Supreme Court said, no, that is not the case.
AMANPOUR: But is President Trump and his lawyers charging that this is just an illegal fishing operation, that it's harassment, is that a
And, remember, I'm asking you this because you write in your book that Trump's lawyers successfully outwitted and kept them on the back foot, the
Mueller investigative team.
TOOBIN: The answer is, the Trump lawyers have lost this argument, I mean, that they made the argument that the president is immune. They made the
argument that this is just a fishing expedition.
And the Supreme Court of the United States rejected that argument and sent the case back to the Manhattan district judge, who is now supervising the
end of this case.
But the substantive issue, the big issue in this case is over, it's done. And Trump has lost, and Vance is going to get these documents. I just have
no doubt about that.
As I say, I don't know what they're containing -- what they contain. I don't know if there is anything untoward in them, but Vance will get them.
And we will see if he can build a case out of them.
AMANPOUR: The Deutsche Bank subpoena issue add to this, I mean, "The New York Times" just broke last week that the district attorney, again, the
Manhattan DA, subpoenaed Trump's major lender, Deutsche Bank, last year for the financial records.
And just a while back, I interviewed rMD-BO_David Enrich, who's "The New York Times" reporter who broke that story when Congress was trying to get
the documents. And here's what he said to me at the time about Trump's relationship with Deutsche Bank.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
rMD-BO_DAVID ENRICH, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, Deutsche Bank knows, I'm tempted to say everything. That will probably be a slight exaggeration, but
they know a hell of a lot.
And this is -- Deutsche Bank for the past two decades has been basically the only mainstream financial institution willing to do business
consistently with Trump and his companies. And they have lent well over $2 billion in total, some $300 million of which is still outstanding.
And so, over the years, they have collected reams and reams of detailed information about the president and his company and his family finances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, just -- so, just quickly, Jeff, Jeffrey, this suggests that it's just going to go beyond what's already alleged to be the hush money
payments and this and that.
TOOBIN: Oh, certainly. It's not -- this is well beyond -- the president paid off Stormy Daniels, the porn star, with whom he had a one-night stand.
That issue is (AUDIO GAP) that is of any great interest to Cyrus Vance. He is more interested in substantive financial crimes involving the Trump
Organization, the president's -- the business. And now, for the first time, even though these subjects have been of great interest to congressional
investigators, to journalists, even to some prosecutors, this is the first time any prosecutors are going to get their hands on them.
And they will have a pretty complete picture of Trump's finances, between the banks and the tax returns. There are not many places to hide, and we
will see if there is any -- any case to be prosecuted, because Vance will be able to do it.
AMANPOUR: So, you have just published this book, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors," about the Mueller investigation into Trump, Russia, et
And it's highly detailed, and you have interviewed dozens and dozens of people from all sides. You didn't get to talk to Robert Mueller himself.
But you essentially focus on what you think were two big missteps, one, not getting the president to personally deliver testimony, to have oral
questions, and, two, that whole other bit about how we allowed Attorney General Barr to sort of grab the story, when he gave him the synopsis
before it was -- before it was actually published.
So, how could it have been done differently, do you think?
TOOBIN: Well, the -- I think the Mueller's team was a group of honorable, dedicated people who did, in some respects, great work. I mean, they
accomplished a great deal.
The -- what they uncovered about the extent of Russian efforts to elect Donald Trump, whether through social media or hacking e-mails of prominent
Democrats, was really extraordinary.
But there was a big hole in the Mueller investigation, and that was the failure to get Donald Trump to testify under oath. The -- Mueller is an
institutionalist. He is someone who dedicated his life to institutions, whether it was the Marine Corps, or the FBI, or the Justice Department.
And he was reluctant to challenge these institutions when they came up against him here. And I think the failure to subpoena Trump was in part a
result of some very clever lawyering by Trump's lawyers, but also Mueller's unwillingness to push a confrontation with the president of the United
States that might have gone all the way to the Supreme Court.
As a result, he had to settle -- or he chose to settle for written questions and answers that were written more by Trump's lawyers than Trump
himself, which really provided no meaningful information at all.
AMANPOUR: And yet that the second aspect also seems, I mean, incredibly egregious, that the summary was given to Attorney General Barr, who did not
publish it for a long, long time, and was able to, frankly, misstate what the serious conclusions that Robert Mueller had come to.
TOOBIN: It was even worse...
AMANPOUR: Why was that period of silence even allowed?
TOOBIN: It was even worse than that, Christiane, because Mueller didn't even put in his report what his investigation showed.
Mueller did not say that the president repeatedly committed acts of obstruction of justice that were far worse than what Bill Clinton was
impeached for, far worse than what drove Richard Nixon from office. But Mueller said, because he couldn't indict the president -- under Justice
Department policy, sitting presidents can be indicted -- Mueller said, well, I'm not going to spell out the president's crimes, because he
wouldn't have the opportunity to defend himself.
I thought that was bending over backwards in a way that Mueller didn't need to do. And, as you pointed out, the ambiguity of his conclusions allowed
Barr to mischaracterize what Mueller found as a kind of exoneration.
And that, I think -- it reflects, of course, very badly on Barr, who acts like a political toady. But it also sapped Mueller of the influence that he
could have had if he had simply had the courage of his convictions to complete the report.
AMANPOUR: So, in our final minute, you obviously have also written a lot about the Supreme Court. And you have seen what's been going on over the
last few weeks of their -- of their decisions.
A lot went against the president, against the administration. And now people like the vice president are telling Christian Broadcasting Network
that: What's up with the chief justice? He's very disappointing.
What do you think is happening here?
TOOBIN: I think the chief justice, who is the vote that really decided all these prominent cases, the case that said the Louisiana abortion laws
couldn't stand, the case that said, under federal law, you can't fire gay people for no reason, those cases, I think something is going on with John
I think John Roberts is an old-fashioned, traditional Republican. He's certainly no liberal, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But I think the extremism
and the lawlessness of the president and his administration has alienated John Roberts.
And there is a difference in the way he's approaching his job in this final year of the president's first term, or perhaps final year of his
presidency, that shows how alienated John Roberts has become.
I don't know if that would continue through a Biden presidency, but perhaps we will find out.
AMANPOUR: As you mention a Biden presidency, we will also be digging deeper into his pick for vice president. That's going to be the next
chapter in this political saga that we have been all watching and waiting to see how it's going to turn out.
Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much, indeed.
And, finally, a vigil in Beirut to mark one week since the blast that killed at least 160 people and left 300,000 homeless.
The Muslim call to prayer and the Christian church bells in this deeply sectarian nation marked the exact moment of the explosion. The vigil was
organized by protest groups. And it comes a day after Lebanon's entire government resigned.
Tensions flared again after the vigil. But here, like in so many parts of the world right now, as we have been reporting tonight, people are
demanding that this summer of discontent becomes a real and meaningful turning point for change.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.