Return to Transcripts main page
Activist Alexie Navalny Unconscious and on a Ventilator in Hospital; Kamala Harris Making History as the First Black Woman Vice President Nominee; Carol Moseley Braun, Former U.S. Senate Democrat, is Interviewed About Kamala Harris; Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), is Interviewed About Kalama Harris; Interview With Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; Interview With Photographer Tyler Mitchell. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 20, 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)
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Kamala Harris picks up the torch and fights on. The importance of this historic first with one who led the way, the first black female
senator, Carol Moseley Braun.
And one who entered Congress at the same time as Harris. The first Indian- American to do so, Pramila Jayapal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER, "I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD": Visualizing black folks enjoying their lives is important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Groundbreaking photographer, Tyler Mitchell, on his meteoric rise after shooting Beyonce for the cover of Vogue and why he believes
capturing black beauty is an act of justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, CHAIRMAN AND CO-FOUNDER, THE CHERTOFF GROUP: I think it's important for all Americans to mobilize themselves to get to the polls
and send a clear statement that we're not going to have our democracy subverted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Michael Chertoff, President George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief talks to our Michel Martin about the threats facing America today.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The struggle to preserve democracy is in focus around the world and the stakes could not be higher. Right now, the Russian opposition activist,
Alexei Navalny, a Storch critic of Vladimir Putin unconscious and on a ventilator in the hospital. His doctor says poisoning is one of the
diagnoses that they are looking into. Navalny has relentlessly pursued corruption among Putin and his cronies, and he's protested constitutional
changes that would allow Putin to stay in office until the year 2036.
Meantime, in the United States, Democrats have spent this week defending America's democracy and framing the contest between President Trump and Joe
Biden in terms of restoring values and crucial leadership. His running mate, Kamala Harris, made the case for entrusting this task to Biden. Take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Who spent decades promoting American values and interests around the world. Joe, he
believes we stand with our allies and stand up to our adversaries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, as Harris accepted her nomination, making history as the first black woman and the first Indian-American on a major party's ticket,
she spoke about her immigrant parents, what she's learned about public service, and how she and Biden will strive for unity. So, let's see how
Harris matches the moment with a woman who helped pave the way, Carol Moseley Braun was the first black woman to be a U.S. senator. And in 2004,
she ran for president. And she's joining me now from Chicago.
Senator Moseley Braun, you paved the way, you blazed a path into the Senate as the first black woman. Has America come so far? I mean, it has, right?
This is an amazing moment.
FMR. SEN. CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D-IL): It really is. Thank you so much for having me. I am delighted to be here. But remember, progress is never
linear. It's always -- it fits and starts. And we are -- I'm wearing white today, because we are commemorating the 100th year of the ratification of
the 19th Amendment allowing women the right to participate as citizens, the right to vote.
It took all that time to get the right to vote for female citizens, female Americans, and of course African-American women didn't really get the right
to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So, it's been a long journey, and it's just delightful to have Kamala Harris on the ticket as the vice-
AMANPOUR: So, you know, let's talk about how she and this moment may be -- you know, may be less grating and jarring than when you made your run for
president, when Hillary Clinton did. When you made your run for president, you said you were described in a newspaper article as delusional for doing
so. And you've talked about double standards. You've said there are societal convolutions in both regards and you can clear one set of them and
run a foul in another set. For instance, you know, you're talking about being a woman and being a black woman.
MOSELEY: Right. Well, black women and women of color have a double whammy of having to deal with sexism and misogyny on the one hand and racism on
the other. And again, but they both have the same effects in terms keeping people out, keeping people from being able to contribute whatever they have
to give to the society as a whole. And so, they're both evils that have to be acknowledged and I think worked on and fought at every turn.
And I ran for president, because my little niece said to me, who was 12 at the time, she said, Auntie Carol, all president are boys, and I said, but
no, sweety, girls can be president too. And my brother said, what's the matter? I said, I just lied to Claire. I had lied to her because when I
said girls can be president too, we've never had had a female president and we've never even had a female president of a major political party at that
point, and it was not until Hillary Clinton became the candidate for president. And as you know, she won the popular vote, but did not become
So, again, we are -- it's a continuing effort to move the arc of the universe, the moral universe forwarded to perfect our democracy, and that's
why this election, from my perspective, is so important because it really is a matter of making sure that we hold on to the promise of America and
that we move this country forward and not slip backwards into autocracy, the kind of situation that you're looking at in Russia right now.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the fears in the United States with even Republicans coming out, I mean, they even address your convention, the
Democratic Convention, very concerned about securing American democracy and not taking it for granted.
Just one last question on the sort of popularity. It's quite extraordinary to see that right now according to polls Kamala Harris has the only net
positive rating amongst all the candidates, the presidential and vice- presidential candidates of both parties. It's very different to four years ago when Hillary Clinton was running and maybe beyond. Is that because of
her? Is it because of this moment? How do you analyze that?
MOSELEY: Well, let me say this. I think it's because, number one, she's fairly new on the scene. So, people are just getting to know her. With her
acceptance speech of last night, she introduced herself on a personal level to the American people and to the people of the world who were listening to
it. So, whereas the other candidates, people are more or less familiar and people have a way of reaching an opinion about politics particularly, that
tend not to be favorable or positive.
But I think that Kamala, particularly because she brings together so many different constituencies, she brings together black people, black women
particularly, and Indians, immigrants, people who care, white people who care about preserving our democracy, white people who appreciate her
credentials, because she's very highly credentialed, as you know. So, she brings a lot to the table and she brings a lot of different constituencies
to bear on helping Joe Biden become president. And I hope it succeeds. I'll work to do anything I can to help.
AMANPOUR: I know you're campaigning for the ticket. She talked last night in her speech and many of the speakers have, but from her, this fierce
desire to, you know, try to knit the American fabric back together and this -- the word unity is one that comes out day in and day out during this
convention, from all walks of life and all types. And you can see sort of patchwork quilt of speakers and participants in the convention
And I wonder, Senator Tim Kaine who was obviously Hillary Clinton's vice- presidential running mate said that it's a lot to put on her shoulders. That there's a lot of expectations. Is it a lot or, you know, does she have
broad enough shoulders to bear that?
MOSELEY: I believe she has broad enough shoulders to handle it. She could -- she -- it's a big job and it's a big challenge, but I believe she's up
to it. I believe she has the capacity to handle the expectations that are being put on her at this very particular time. This is a grave and very
serious time for Americans. If we don't do something to, again, re-claim our democracy, we could well wind up losing it. We've got -- we are
challenged on every front in terms of the rule of law, in terms of respect for the institutions of government, in terms of how -- you know, even -- we
got 170,000 dead people for no good reason.
I mean, you know, the fact is COVID is a pandemic that's wreaking havoc all over the world and it's particularly having a sway in the United States to
the extent that it should not have, because had our president done anything early enough, he could have gotten his hands around this pandemic in a way
that would have given the states and local governments the PPEs and all the things that they needed to combat it.
So, we've got disease, we got the economy is in free fall, except for the very wealthy. And so, we've got a lot -- there's a big job ahead of Joe
Biden and Kamala Harris. I worked with Joe Biden for six years in the United States Senate, I believe he has the capacity and the experience to
make government work for ordinary people and he will to that. He is committed to do that. He is committed to bring this country forward into
the point that we can move forward together as a nation together. And I'm optimistic about that.
AMANPOUR: I just want to play in other little bit that she said in her speech. I mean, it was very wide ranging obviously, but this is where she's
discussing the moment, the structural racism and obviously everything that we have seen that's happened over the last several months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: This virus, it has no eyes. And yet, it knows exactly how we see each other and how we treat each other. And let's be clear, there is no
vaccine for racism. We have got to do the work for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for the lives of too many others to name, for our children
and for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Senator, you know, those who killed Breonna Taylor have not yet been brought to account. And I wonder whether you think, despite all the
effort, despite the goodwill, despite the uprising on the street, whether even a senator or rather Vice President Harris and a President Biden,
should that be the case, can they actually tackle this blight, as everybody has called it?
MOSELEY: I believe they can and I believe they have the capacity and the ability to do it. They certainly have the heart and the interest to do it.
Undoing white supremacy and racism in the United States is not something that's happened overnight. We fought a civil war over these very issues,
(INAUDIBLE) slavery. But what we are living with, frankly, is the legacy of slavery.
And so, I think that having this ticket focusing in on -- and again, Joe Biden's been really good on issues having to do with race and I think
having this ticket focusing on the systemic and the endemic issues having to do with racism and how it plays out in our time will be the ticket. I
believe that that is the way -- that's the only way forward, frankly.
And when -- talking about COVID again, I mean, it's affecting communities of color and indigenous people more. Why? Because they don't have the
housing, because they don't have the health care, because they don't have the ability to protect themselves in their communities. And so, you know,
we've got to fix all of those things. But again, it starts with having a will to do so. And this ticket, I believe, does have the will to address
and tackle systemic racism in ways that will help us address both the COVID as well as what's going on with the economy.
AMANPOUR: And of course, all those issues, includes the structural racism are big, big issues amongst the voters right now, according to all the
Senator Carol Moseley Braun, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
And now, from one trailblazing woman to the next. Pramila Jayapal was the first daughter of Indian immigrants elected to the House of
Representatives. In the same 2016 elections that brought Harris to the Senate. She says, there's a strong bond between us, a champion of
immigration and health rights, Pramila Jayapal is joining me now from Seattle.
So, Congressman Jayapal, I just want to know your reaction because there's so many firsts and, you know, so many different constituencies in the
United States. You must be feeling pretty proud today.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I do. Christiane, it's so great to be with you. And this was a historic night as we all know. I will admit that
watching her saying the phrase "I accept the nomination to be the vice president of the United States" brought me some tears. And I think it's
very significant not only because she brings multiple identities and will - - you know, is a flashpoint for communities around the country that have not felt themselves heard in a way the way that we would like, not felt
themselves seen, and she touched on that at many moments and she also touched on the history of those whose shoulders we stand upon.
But also, Christiane, it's about the policies she will fight for. You know, we spent a lot of time trying to convince people of what the reality is on
the ground. And the fact is, that Kamala Harris's multiple identities, as a black woman, as a child of immigrants, as the first South Asian-American
woman to be elected to the Senate, and now, to be on a major party ticket allows her to have a different sort of insight into the issues of
immigration, into the issues of women of color.
I have been able to work with her on a national domestic worker's bill of rights that we introduced together, all women of color, many immigrant
women, and it was just a delight, because neither of us have to explain anything to each other. Same thing with immigration. We have worked on a
number of bills around immigration. And we don't have to explain the basics. So, it affects policy and what policy is -- will get pushed
forward. And I'm really looking forward to that when she is the vice president.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, talking about immigration, which obviously you are, you know, a big activist on trying to get immigration reform, you
know, one of the most touching moments in the convention overnight was the little girl, Estella, whose father was a U.S. marine and whose mother had
been deported. And she wrote a her, obviously, you know, she was asked to write a letter and she wrote a letter to President Trump asking to have her
parents and her family to be reunited. This is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESTELA JUAREZ: My mom is my best friend. She came to America as a teenager over 20 years ago without papers in search of a better life. My mom worked
hard and paid taxes, and the Obama administration told her she could stay. Now, my mom is gone. Every day that passes, you deport more moms and dads
and take them away from kids like me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, from his first campaign throughout his presidency, President Trump has demonized immigrants, but don't forget President Obama was also
called the deporter-in-chief. There's been so many years where there is, you know, dysfunctional immigration policy. You have your own organization.
Do you really see a route forward to sensible immigration finally in the United States?
JAYAPAL: I do. And, you know, I as an activist before coming to Congress, as much as I loved President Obama -- and he was fantastic last night,
saying exactly what he needed to -- he did deport more immigrants and I called him out as an activist, and I still do as a member of Congress. The
tools around immigration policy that allowed Trump to do many of the things he did were handed to him by both Republican and Democratic presidents and
So, we understand now, however, this is different, that Donald Trump used immigrants as a political football in a way no president in recent history
has done quite this much. And so, that cruelty of family separation, of, you know, picking up children and stopping refugees, asylees from coming to
the country, violating human rights on every level, I think that has brought America to a new place.
And it is interesting because in spite of all the anti-immigrant xenophobic rhetoric inactions of this president, the polling for immigration in this
country is now higher than it ever has been. So, I believe we can pass immigration reform with leadership from a Biden/Harris ticket, and
hopefully a Senate majority and a strong Democratic House majority. It's not an issue of not knowing what we need to do. It's an issue of political
will. And I will absolutely be pushing that every step of the way. I'm one of only 14 naturalized citizens to serve in the United States Congress
today. And I believe Kamala Harris is critical to that path forward.
AMANPOUR: Pramila Jayapal, you know, you probably heard that Steve Bannon, President Trump's former chief adviser, his campaign honcho, was, today,
charged with fraud, accused of funneling money from a fund-raiser for that famous border wall. What is your reaction do that?
JAYAPAL: This is pure and simple corruption and cruelty. That is what this administration has been about all along. Corruption only for their personal
gain, to make money for themselves and for their cronies, and then to use all of the hate and divisiveness that they can stir up to bring about that
kind of personal gain. And so, the border wall has been a vanity wall from the beginning. It does absolutely nothing to reform immigration policy in a
And now, we find out, as we have known actually for some time, that this was a giant fraud. Trump is out there again saying he's going to get the
Mexicans to pay for the border wall. That is never going to happen. American taxpayers are paying for all of this. And I think Steve Bannon's
arrest today is just another example of the corruption and cruelty of this administration.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you about health care? You are on the more progressive side of the Democratic Party, I mean, at least you supported and backed
Bernie Sanders who wants Medicare for All like you do. Joe Biden does not but he's put all sorts of plans for more health care for people. Do you
think he's movable further left? Do you think that ship of Medicare for All has sailed for now? You were on the taskforce of the Biden -- Sanders task
force on health policy and health care. Where do you think Americans -- what do you think Americans can expect for health care from a Biden
JAYAPAL: Yes, I cochaired that task force, the unity task force for Biden and Sanders. And I will tell you, Christiane, that I think the support for
Medicare for All is stronger than ever before, particularly because the pandemic has shown us many of the things that we've been saying for a long
time were actually true. Nobody today is making the case that employer covered health care provides so much choice. There are 27 million people
who lost their jobs and lost their health care because of a for-profit system that ties health to jobs.
So, we went into the task force understanding that Joe Biden had a stake in the sand around the Affordable Care Act, that was his legacy. We were not
going to turn him into Bernie Sanders. Our goal then became to make sure that the tenants of Medicare for All and Universal Health Care were part of
the platform. And we achieved substantial progress on that. We got commitment to untether health care from jobs. We got commitments for the
most aggressive pharmaceutical drug pricing action that we have seen, including beyond what we did in the U.S. House of Representatives last
year. We got agreement that any public option should actually be administered by Medicare and not by private insurance companies.
And so, there were, you know, several key issues that we were able to get included into the platform, including, by the way, long-term care. This was
a big element of my Medicare for All bill in the House. The first time we've taken on long-term care. And in a pandemic where all these nursing
homes and seniors have been infected and have died, this became a bigger issue than ever. So, the platform now includes, thanks to our negotiations,
600,000 new jobs and a long-term supports and services arena, all $15 minimum wage jobs, at least, plus benefits, which will eliminate the
800,000-person waiting list that currently exists for long-term care.
So, I think the pandemic has really taken us to a new place. And we will continue to fight for Medicare for All. I haven't changed my view, but we
got significant progress into this platform, most progressive platform yet.
AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for joining us.
And just to note, the White House says President Trump has not been involved with Bannon for years and that he does not know the people
involved in the border wall project.
Now, on today's program, we've been marking some important firsts, particularly for communities that have too often been overlooked. It is
something my guest is no stranger to it. The photographer, Tyler Mitchell, became the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue in
126 years. He was just 23. His cover girl, none other than Beyonce. Now, at the grand old age of 25, Tyler Mitchell has released a new book, it's
called, "I Can Make You Feel Good." And I sat down with him to talk about where he points his camera and why that act is so important to him.
Tyler Mitchell, welcome to the program.
TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER, "I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD": Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: I'm fascinated by what you say that photographing black people at leisure is radical. Not the fact that they're at leisure, but
photographing them is radical. Why is that?
MITCHELL: Yes. Well, you know, it has to do with denied histories, right, and this idea that visualizing, and making images and projecting those and
stating visualizing black folks enjoying their lives is important, right? What is central to that in my work is that existing in a public space for
black folks in America has been denied psychically in our minds at any moment that, you know, freedom or that enjoyment that we're having or that
pleasure could be taken away or shipped away. So, to me this book, you know, stands for a beacon of that.
AMANPOUR: This is all "I Can Make You Feel Good"?
AMANPOUR: What does that mean? Who are you saying it to?
MITCHELL: It's the title of a Shalimar song, really. I heard it from a soul song. And I heard it in the Atlanta Airport when I was travelling to
Amsterdam for my show, and I thought, that's the title. I love this idea of it being a really simple, unacademic statement about feeling good, about
optimism, but it also has a gut punch, it's very direct, it's from me to you, from the photographer to the viewer. So, simply --
AMANPOUR: And in your opening statement here, you have some pretty, you know, pointed and poignant messages. So, I'm going to read a bit from the
state. I often think about what white fun looks like and this notion that black people can't have the same. My work comes from a place of wanting to
pushback against this slack. I feel an urgency to create a body of images where black people are visualized as free, expressive, effortless and
sensitive. I feel like you're trying to correct a balance.
AMANPOUR: An imbalance.
MITCHELL: Maybe. I'm mainly trying to create like a self-contained utopia, a self-contained world. And yes, it was about bringing my own
autobiographical experience to my instinctive response to those images. So --
AMANPOUR: You know, some of them -- well, they're all just kind of normal, stuff that you would see. The famous (INAUDIBLE) iconography of white
people in a painting at leisure.
AMANPOUR: And you have the red gingham matt or tablecloth where you got some people lying down. You've got people at fun in a park. What are they
saying to you, those particular pictures?
MITCHELL: I think about people like Kerry James Marshall who has been making amazing work for years about the black experience. I think about
what he said when he was trying to bring together with his vignette paintings, rococo paintings, right, flowery or kind of over the top just
luxurious enjoyments of life, right? Scenes -- rococo paintings were essentially frivolous, they're all about frivolity and I love that he was
trying to bring together that with some of the social kind of our political feelings and statements that he wanted to kind of unify in one painting.
So, I think these pictures respond to that.
AMANPOUR: So -- I mean, look, it's also with the orange hula hoop. I mean, it's such a beautiful picture.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Had you seen that elsewhere?
MITCHELL: I don't think I've seen that before.
MITCHELL: I mean, each picture that I made that I put in that book, I thought, this is something I haven't quite seen before.
MITCHELL: And maybe if I hadn't been brought to the for enough yet and had been brough to a bigger conversation that needed to be heard.
AMANPOUR: And I think this one is called Still from Idyllic Space. It's two boys with gummy bears behind them.
MITCHELL: Yes, yes, yes. A lot of it is going back to Georgia.
AMANPOUR: It's just cool.
MITCHELL: Yes. It's just cool and it's instinctively cool but it's also thinking about growing up in Georgia and what my summers looked like in the
south. And also, you think about that red gingham fabric in that picnic, that for is what the south looks like. That fabric to me says Georgia.
AMANPOUR: White south?
MITCHELL: Any south.
AMANPOUR: So, those were images that you actually grew up with?
AMANPOUR: So, what was it like growing up in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta.
MITCHELL: Well, I grew up middleclass. The suburban existences, you know, it's about having space. There's a big front yard, you know, there's
leisure in there, there's a lot of things in the pictures that I had growing up. And those kind of experiences and kind of freedom I started to
understand as I grow up more was luxury, right. Having a summer to kind of think about what I wanted to do with my life. Those things are freedoms
that, you know, I'm kind of posturing or gesturing or suggesting all black folks should have. So, for me, that's important and I think that upbringing
was really actually really positive.
AMANPOUR: Again, from your essay, I occasional weave symbols into my portraits such as water guns and plastic resin chains, symbols of
repression as a subtle reminder of the ways in which the black body is still politicized, and sometimes unable to move through the real world as
freely as I would like. It's really quite poignant what you write there. So, tell be what that means, as freely as I would like?
MITCHELL: Well, you know, I could give you an example. Growing up, you know, my mother would sometimes -- and even I was too young to understand
this -- have concern for what I was wearing out of the house. You know, if was wearing a hoodie or if I was wearing a certain thing that presented a
certain way, she had concern for that. And my frustration with her growing up was, why would you care about what I'm wearing? You know, allow me to
express myself in whatever form that may feel or that may be on that day.
And growing up now, reflecting back on that, the main thing for me and why I wrote for that in that essay is because she shouldn't have to feel that
way. The psychic -- the kind of passing down and policing that goes on amongst ourselves and kind of the psychic life of black Americans, it's
something that we don't need to feel that way about, if that makes sense.
AMANPOUR: It does makes sense.
AMANPOUR: So, this is a dramatic and really powerful cover image.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, you got a line of black young men. I don't know how old they are, but they look young.
MITCHELL: Yes. I made it here, actually.
AMANPOUR: Did you?
AMANPOUR: Oh, yes, I thought so, because there's all the boys of (INAUDIBLE). I looked at it, my first impression, like my first reaction
was the chain, was the heads bowed, was a little bit of subjugation.
AMANPOUR: Is that what you intended?
MITCHELL: I think it's a mixture of everything.
I think it's like that landscape, those willow trees in Walthamstow spoke to me. They reminded me of Georgia. They reminded me of the South. They
reminded me of some element of the global black experience.
And there's beauty in that, right? There's these boys enjoying moments. Before this picture was taken, all these boys were playing tag together.
And there's this amazing video I made of them kind of enjoying one another.
And that kind of black male kind of unity is important to visualize. But, yes, you're right, there is a somber note. And the chain is definitely like
the punctum of the picture. I think there's, like, subtle reference made to images of chain gangs in Louisiana...
MITCHELL: ... right, in Georgia and those histories.
AMANPOUR: How interesting is it to be Tyler Mitchell today?
AMANPOUR: I'm asking you, because you're 25 years old. You're young.
At 23, you did something that no other black photographer had done. I mean, perish the thought that there had never been a black photographer at
"Vogue," certainly not to have shot the cover or the September issue.
AMANPOUR: Just process that for me.
MITCHELL: Yes, still processing.
MITCHELL: I think, in some way, I was always interested in many, many things, just as a person, as an artist. There were assignments and
commissions and pictures that I was making that spoke to people on many different levels. I was photographing musicians.
I was photographing -- I had the opportunity to photograph Emma Gonzalez and a lot of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland
shooting, and a lot of young gun reform activists. So, I was interested in that.
I was interested in making images of kind of black male compassion, right, and kind of envisioning a new sort of black masculinity.
AMANPOUR: How did it come about that Beyonce -- well, you were thrown in at this -- your first big major shoot like that...
AMANPOUR: ... to somebody else global and as mega as Beyonce? How did it feel?
MITCHELL: It felt amazing. I mean, you -- that's a great moment, yes.
It's a really -- it's an honor to photograph someone like that and to work with a magazine like "Vogue," so, yes.
AMANPOUR: And you made a regal and very flowery.
MITCHELL: Yes, I was referencing -- it was referencing Rococo paintings, like I said. It was thinking about the luxury of frivolity, thinking about
the luxury of having time, the luxury of having space to breathe, and those flowers and that amazing image.
So, it was a great collaboration.
AMANPOUR: And it wasn't obviously that you were going to do fashion, right? I mean, you started, I think doing, selfies and skateboarding videos
and things like that.
MITCHELL: Yes, I was making films of my friends like skateboarding in Georgia.
So, yes, I kind of avalanched into photography by actually making a trip to Havana, Cuba. I made -- I went in 2015 on an exchange through my school at
NYU, didn't know anything, other than Americans weren't allowed to go to Cuba. So I wanted to go.
And a teacher of mine looked at pictures that I'd already made, and identified them as fashion photographs. And I said, why and how? And he
said, well, it looks like you dressed these people up and you took pictures of them, didn't you? I said, yes, with the sweater out of my closet. Like,
I thought they looked cool in something I had in my house.
And he was like, well, that's a fashion photograph, then. You have dressed them in something. You spoken about an element of style in the picture.
And, to me, that switched on a light of, like, a fashion photograph can be much, much more about the person than necessarily the brand or the clothes
or any of those things.
Certainly, the language around photography is all about hierarchy, the subject, capture, shoot, God forbid.
MITCHELL: I'm constantly thinking about that...
MITCHELL: ... and constantly trying to in every way subvert the old notions of what those relationships were.
So, you think about older fashion photographers, where it was very dictatorial almost. They would really tell the model to the T. where they
wanted their finger, how they wanted their body, how they wanted them to lean, how they wanted them to look.
And I think these pictures indicate a more collaborative process. They speak to a relationship, a true relationship between myself and the
subjects, a lot of whom are friends or friends of friends or just people in a larger contemporary community.
So, for me, it's about thinking, with photography having its 200-year history of hierarchical relationships, how do I subvert those as best as I
AMANPOUR: You have got another picture. I mean, it's called "Gun," 2016.
AMANPOUR: What were you thinking? What was going on?
MITCHELL: I was thinking about Tamir Rice, to be honest with you.
He's the 12-year-old boy who was killed in a park near his house in Cleveland because police believed him to be armed. And he was playing with
a toy pellet gun.
Tamir and so many other stories that we hear of, these are about kind of projected and imagined realities, rather than real ones. So, as much as a
picture is a fantasy, that image of a gun speaks to those histories, so, yes.
AMANPOUR: You said, black beauty is an act of justice.
MITCHELL: It is. It is.
That comes from a lot of different places. The depiction and imagination that we have as black folks is a strong and powerful thing, I think, for
ourselves, for our community. It's kind of an important self-assurement to envision ourselves, to dress ourselves to the nines, and to picture that.
People have understood that since the beginning of time. I think about Frederick Douglass, who was the most photographed man of the 19th century.
He traveled up and down the East Coast, and he would collaborate with photo studios up and down the East Coast as he was writing his autobiography.
And he understood the importance of his image. He would style himself, he would groom himself, he would dress himself, and he would sit for the photo
studios in the late 1800s. And he knew that handing that image out to people, alongside his story as a free slave, or as a freed slave, was
And so presenting images of ourselves as beautiful is an act of justice. We know this.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, like everybody in the world, you were shocked and devastated by what happened to George Floyd.
You're also at the center of the conversation about black power, black visibility, black talent, black -- just being there, and people wondering
why this didn't happen earlier.
So, does that part of it weigh on you? Do you feel any sort of responsibility, or...
MITCHELL: I think the most important thing that my work is kind of suggesting or posturing is that freedom and whatever that means to the
individual is the most important thing.
So, for me, in this book and in this work, it's about hula-hooping. It's about skateboarding. It's about jump-roping. It's about enjoying space and
taking up space. And it's about existing.
So, the work is both of this moment and not of this moment. And I think that work is my life's work. So, I think, for me, I try and make sure that
freedom and expansiveness is what I push for. So...
AMANPOUR: You obviously have an optimistic vision of life.
Are you optimistic about the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd? What -- does something about it make you hopeful?
MITCHELL: I think I have to be.
And with a book called "I Can Make You Feel Good" and with everything that I'm doing, I think I have to be. I think there are amazing beacons of
progress. I think they're -- and I think we have to focus on those and then we have to question and we have to interrogate and we have to look into
everything, and then we have to basically come up with solutions.
And I think that's the only way things can go forward. I think about "Moonlight," a movie that was basically not designed to do much of anything
in the theaters, not designed to do much of anything commercially. Barry Jenkins will say that.
And I think about the trail it had to winning best picture and the conversations and the lights that I saw in people's eyes as I was
experiencing that movie and as the world was experiencing that movie, and I was like, oh, yes, this is possible, you know?
Kamala Harris, cover of "Vogue" shot by Tyler Mitchell?
AMANPOUR: Are you going to break a story?
MITCHELL: Who knows? You never know.
AMANPOUR: Tyler Mitchell, thank you so much, indeed.
MITCHELL: Thank you for having me.
MITCHELL: Nearly. And Tyler Mitchell's book is out now.
Now, continuing the theme of securing democracy, this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a new report on Russian interference in the
Miles Taylor, who served as chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security, says they tried unsuccessfully to raise the issue with President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY CHIEF OF STAFF: The president was very disinterested in that. You couldn't talk to the
president about Russia without him thinking you were saying that his presidency was illegitimate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our next guest, Michael Chertoff, was the secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush.
Here he is speaking to our Michel Martin about the looming specter of yet more election interference.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: My pleasure.
MARTIN: There's news this week.
The Senate Intelligence Committee released its fifth and final report about 2016. And the committee concludes, after 3.5 years of investigation, that
the Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered the effort to hack the Democratic Party networks and to leak information damaging to Hillary
Clinton, and the Trump administration made aggressive efforts to take advantage of that fact.
We know now that the Russian government isn't the only hostile foreign power attempting to manipulate our elections. All these years later, is the
U.S. government doing anything about that.
CHERTOFF: Well, let me say, first of all, I think this Intelligence Committee report is really commendable. It's very thorough.
It puts in context of things which the Mueller report alluded to, but the Mueller report was narrowly focused on a legal issue. This is a much
broader focus on counterintelligence. And I think, while it doesn't surprise me -- I have known all this for some time, as most people have --
it lays it out with great specificity, and that's very, very valuable.
I think that the Russians, of course, for decades have used disinformation to try to undermine the West. And what's happened is, they have gotten
adept at using social media in order to amplify the messages they're trying to send.
The government, I think, is doing some things about this. My old agency, DHS, there's a unit called CISA, Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security
Agency. And they are working with the election officials to help shore up the cybersecurity, and they're also working with the private sector to call
out these disinformation efforts.
I should also tell you, Michel, I am on the advisory board of something called CyberDome, which is a nonprofit bipartisan that is offering free
cybersecurity to campaigns. So you have a combination of people in the government and outside the government, and particularly outside the
government, working together to try to push back against this disinformation offensive.
MARTIN: The report, though, makes clear that the Trump campaign didn't seem to have a problem with this.
And now this is the president of the United States. So, what does that tell us about his concern about this and what role his campaign even now maybe
playing to repel these kinds of efforts?
CHERTOFF: Well, it's clear President Trump has been pushing back since the election on the idea of the Russians somehow interfered, which, of course,
is totally contrary to all the facts and all the evidence we have seen repeatedly.
It's also clear, if you read the Senate -- the bipartisan Senate intelligence report, that elements of the Trump campaign certainly
encouraged and wink-winked at what they must have understood, yes, was a Russian effort to interfere with the election.
And you see that with Manafort. You see it with Stone. It's not necessary to sign a contract with the Russians. Anybody who looked at the tea leaves
could have seen what the Russians were trying to do.
And we do see that these individuals were signaling that they would be receptive to Russian interference, and that the Russians would benefit from
And my concern is that we're going to see a rerun of that this time, although the good news is, because, in the private sector, and particularly
in the states, people are more alert to this, the Russians may have to be somewhat more restrained in how active they are.
MARTIN: You're working on a task force, a bipartisan task force, on election crises.
What are some of the other issues that you're addressing with this group? It's a very interesting group, because, unusually, it has -- it's not just
bipartisan. It has people from different sectors, like the activist sector, for example, who aren't often invited to participate in these kinds of
And I just want to know, what is the focus of your work right now, especially given that, as we said, the election is soon upon us?
CHERTOFF: Well, I think it's to see that the election allows for people who are eligible to vote to vote, that we get the votes counted, and, if it
takes a little longer, that we accept and are patient about it, and that, if there's going to be a transition of power, that it be orderly and
responsible and in accordance with the law.
And one of the things which we have acknowledged in the task force is that, while we're obviously concerned about foreign interference, domestic
disruption is itself an issue.
For example, there are concerns that you might have ideologically motivated Americans trying to go to polling classes and disrupt, or people getting
online and trying to scare people away from voting in person because of the pandemic, which is, of course, a real issue.
And that's why we want to see the maximum opportunity for people to cash their ballots, whether it be by mail, whether it be by drop box, or whether
it be by standing in line, in a sanitary and properly run polling place.
The idea is to let people be exercising their democratic rights.
MARTIN: What mechanism do you have to ensure that that occurs, other than shame? I mean, shame seems to have played a role in getting the head of the
Postal Service to back off from his efforts to make certain changes, which he says were for business reasons, but which many of his critics say were
clearly intended to make it more difficult for certain people to vote.
And the president has made no secret of the fact that he's very interested in having some people vote and having other people not.
So, given that, does your committee have any tools, other than shame?
CHERTOFF: Well, the main tool, I think, is to work with state and local officials.
A strength, although sometimes an obstacle, to having a well-run election is that there isn't a single federal official or agency that runs
elections. So, if we get the secretaries of state and the state governments, for example, to extend, to some degree, the time within which
people can vote, if we get them to make ballots available on a wide scale, if we get them to create drop boxes and multiple polling places, all of
those are things that can be done by state officials.
And I think giving them the legal tools and the understanding of the capabilities that they have at their disposal is the most effective way to
promote a free and fair election.
MARTIN: Mr. Secretary, I don't think it's a secret that most of the voter suppression efforts that we have seen so far have been directed by the
right against the left, specifically against so-called racial minorities, whom they deem to be more supportive of the policies of the Democratic
Party, sort of, and the left sort of more broadly.
But I'd like to ask you, are there any strategies that you see being employed by the left in order to discourage people, conservatives, from
CHERTOFF: No, I have to say, to my observation, all really based on the right, and particularly there has been, as you said, Michel, a focus on
trying to get a minorities list less interested in voting or less capable of voting.
I think another thing that's unfortunately become true is, because some of this online activity allows analysts to pinpoint those particular areas
which are more likely to favor a liberal candidate, it's possible to target certain geographies for disruption.
So, for example, if you look at a state like Pennsylvania, the voting pattern in a place like Philadelphia is likely to be much different than
the voting in the center part of the state. So, if someone were to try to interfere with voting in Philadelphia by either disrupting the electric
system or creating some kind of an outbreak of violence, that would have the effect of skewing the vote for that state, which, of course, is known
as a swing state.
And that's one of the reasons I and others are urging state and local officials to be prepared for disruption and have a plan B, so that people
can get their votes in, even if it means creating alternative sites or expanding to some degree the time within which people can mail ballots.
MARTIN: I have to ask you about that.
You have dedicated much of your life to public service. I mean, you were a Supreme Court clerk. You were a federal judge. You led the Department of
Homeland Security in a Republican administration. I assume that you're a Republican.
And just have to ask, what -- how does that sit with you to see one of the political parties trying to sort of exert its power through means that you
identify as unfair? I'm just wondering, how is that striking you?
CHERTOFF: Michel, it offends me, because I'm an American first. And I was there on 9/11. I was serving as head of the Criminal Division.
I saw how, when we were attacked, it wasn't Republicans and Democrats; it was Americans were attacked. And, in fairness, everybody came together.
The idea that a party is being hijacked in order to try to interfere with the fundamental constitutional values that I have spent much of my life
defending is very distressing and very disturbing to me.
And one of the things I think is very important is for all Americans to mobilize themselves to get to the polls and send a clear statement that
we're not going to have our democracy subverted.
Look what's going on in Belarus now. Look what's going on in Hong Kong. And I should mention, I'm chairman of the board of Freedom House. Right now,
you have people all over the place putting their lives at risk to defend freedom and democracy.
And Americans who have always traditionally done that don't have to put their lives at risk in the same way, but ought to get themselves out of
their armchairs and to the polls.
MARTIN: The department that you used to lead, Homeland Security, you have expressed concern about the fact that the department is now being used to
advance a political agenda, as opposed to a national security agenda.
I know that there are varied views about the conduct of the people who are engaging in street protests in the United States, just to stipulate that.
But the reality of it is, these are American citizens who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are putting their bodies on the line in order to
protect American democracy.
And we see the Department of Homeland Security has been used to round people up, in some cases using unmarked vehicles, wearing uniforms that
don't have identifiers.
What is your response to that?
CHERTOFF: So, I think it was a real error in judgment to send into the field, into the cities people who are trained really to do operations at
the border where you're dealing with violent drug gangs, and who were not trained and equipped and didn't have rules of engagement that would be more
appropriate when you're dealing with American citizens in cities.
And I think we did see examples of excessive force. I think having people wearing camouflage uniforms was a very bad message. And, by the way, we saw
in Washington at Lafayette Square in June a similar effort to get the military to play the same kind of a role.
But what distressed me the most is this. The president took the opportunity, in fact, to applaud the idea of being as brutal and as
aggressive as possible, and in particular said, we're going to go after cities with liberal Democratic mayors.
So, the president used rhetoric that was aimed at essentially labeling the entire exercise as a political exercise, as we saw more recently with the
post office, where he talked about curtailing mail-in -- the Postal Service in order to affect curtail mail-in ballots.
So, he is deliberately messaging a view of how you use the organs of government that suggest they ought to be subordinating to the personal
political interests of the president, which is the exact opposite of what the people who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution have dedicated
themselves to do.
MARTIN: A number of your fellow Republicans this week, the former Governor of Ohio John Kasich, the former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the former
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, all Republicans, have come out publicly to say that President Trump
is unfit, that the country is less safe than it was before he took office, and they will not be voting for him.
What about you?
CHERTOFF: Well, I never discuss explicitly my vote, because I believe in a secret ballot, but I will say this.
I agree with what they have said that President Trump has made us less safe. He's alienated our allies. He's encouraged our adversaries and our
enemies. He's distracted the people who are defending us from the critical work they're supposed to do.
I will also say that, having known and worked with Joe Biden in a variety of capacities, I have a lot of respect for him. I trust him. I believe his
heart is in the right place. I may not agree with every policy, but I have no doubt that his primary loyalty and his fidelity is to the Constitution
and the people of the United States.
So, you can draw your own conclusion.
But, to me, the important thing is, we -- party is secondary. Our public responsibilities and our country come first. And that is how my vote is
going to be cast.
MARTIN: The president has hinted that he will not accept the results of the election if he is not reelected. I don't know whether that's just, you
know, smoke or just chatter.
So, my question isn't about him. My question is about the people around him.
MARTIN: If that is the case, what should happen?
CHERTOFF: Well, I think there are two issues. One is whether -- and particularly if we have an extended period of time to count the vote,
whether ideological allies, right-wing extremists or white supremacists, are being encouraged by him to get out there and be violent, and try to
disrupt the country while we're going through this count process.
That's a matter which will require a swift and strong response from law enforcement, and maybe the National Guard, to defend us against acts of
In terms of whether, come January 20 of next year, once you have the certification by the Electoral College, that the president would refuse to
obey the rules, I think what would happen is simply this. The new president, presumably President Biden, would get sworn in.
And all of the organs of government would look to him and his appointees for direction. And what would be left would be, whatever Donald Trump
thought his power would be, would be like when the emperor of Persia tried to make the seas rise. It wouldn't have any effect.
MARTIN: Michael Chertoff, thank you so much for talking with us today.
CHERTOFF: My pleasure, Michel. Thank you. Stay safe.
AMANPOUR: So interesting that the former secretary of homeland security places the stakes for the American election heavily into defending
democracy and reminds everybody of the stories we have been covering all week, Belarus, Hong Kong, and now Russia, with the opposition activist
perhaps struggling for his life, perhaps having been poisoned.
We will wait to see how that story develops. But this is fundamental, the global struggle to defend democracy.
So, as the Democrats' convention ends, full of historic firsts and rousing speeches, and the Republicans get ready for their convention next week, we
will speak to presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. That's tomorrow night on this program.
For now, that's it. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.