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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87; Replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Voter Suppression in America; Interview With Stacey Abrams, Producer, "All In: The Fight for Democracy,"; Coronavirus Surge in the U.K.; Death Toll in United States About to Pass 200,000; Boris Johnson Considered Mini Lockdown to Interrupt COVID Transmission; Interview With Doris Kearns Goodwin; Interview With Wellcome Trust Director Jeremy Farrar. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 21, 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)
STACEY ABRAMS, PRODUCER, "ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY": If the power of the right to vote was truly made available to everyone in America, it
would change the future of this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Unprecedented election challenges in the United States from voter suppression to coronavirus. I speak to Stacey Abrams who ran for
governor in Georgia about her new documentary "All In: The Fight for Democracy."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK VALLANCE, U.K. GOVERNMENT CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER: At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Act now or risk an even more dangerous second wave says the U.K.'s top scientific adviser I'm joined by the infectious disease expert,
Sir Jeremy Farrar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: She just had an amazing work ethic and an ability somehow to persevere through all those difficult
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Our Walter Isaacson talks to the award-winning historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, about the trailblazing life and legacy of Justice Ruth
Welcome to the show, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
A new coronavirus surge has been steadily mounting in Europe. Here in the U.K., officials are scrambling to figure out what to do. In an alarming
address to the nation, the chief scientific adviser warns that there could be 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day by mid-October if action isn't
taken now. That is compared to 6,000 cases per day at the height of the virus this spring when testing capacity was low.
Cases are rising in the United States as well and the death toll capacity is about to pass 200,000, which makes it still the highest level in the
world. So, health care is a prime issue for voters in the upcoming election.
In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, Democrats warn that if President Trump nominates yet another strict conservative, that will sound
the death knell for Obamacare and around 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance.
One of Ginsburg's most famous descents was against the decision to roll back major parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And since narrowly losing
the Georgia governor's race in 2018, our first guest tonight, Stacey Abrams, has made voter rights her main mission with the Fair Fight
Organization. And she has now produced a film called "All In: The Fight for Democracy." It is a clear-eyed look at the pervasive issue of voter
suppression. And Stacey Abrams is joining me now from Atlanta, Georgia.
Welcome back to the program, Stacey Abrams. It's good to talk to you specifically on this day.
I want to ask you first about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was such a trailblazer. What is her death, her passing now, mean to you, and what
might it mean for an upcoming, I don't know, election battle?
STACEY ABRAMS, PRODUCER, "ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY": As a woman who practiced law, as an American who benefited from her wisdom, her grace, but
most importantly her tenacity, it is a telling blow. And it's deeply saddening and I'm in mourning with millions of Americans at her passing.
Unfortunately, for those of us who seek opportunity and access for all, her death signals the end of an era where there has been compromise, and the
deep fear is that Donald Trump will replace her with someone who does not see all of us as equal, who does not believe that access to our democracy
should belong to all, and someone who does not believe in the autonomy of women to make decisions about their bodies. I will caution against --
AMANPOUR: Can I --
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
AMANPOUR: No, sorry. I was going to -- I wondered what you were going to caution because I was going to ask you, some have suggested it might fire
up the fight. If it becomes a cultural fight 46 days before the election, it might fire up the Donald Trump base. Others have said if it looks like
it might put at risk some hard-won, you know, rights for women particularly, it might fire up the Biden base. Where do you stand on that?
How should this be played now this close to the election?
ABRAMS: And that's exactly what I was going to say. I would caution against reading tea leaves too closely to this. The right has done a good
job of animating the courts as a reason to vote, and that has been part of their base. And so, I don't think it's going to necessarily change the
calculus for voters who support Donald Trump.
I do think it puts into sharper relief what's at stake for those of us on the left who believe that access to health care, access to the right to
vote, access to reproductive rights, access to labor rights are real. And the reality is that if Donald Trump likely replaces that seat during his
tenure, we will have to keep fighting. But we have to remember that with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, many of the issues we were concerned
about already tilted in the direction of conservatives. And so, our responsibility is not to just win but to win the White House and the U.S.
Senate so we can meet these judicial challenges with legislation that permanently settle these questions.
AMANPOUR: So, in your issue, I mean, all of these are your issues, but your main issue is voter rights. And one of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's most
famous ruling was actually a dissent, so she was in the minority, and it was over the Shelby County versus Holder decision, as we said, which rolled
back a lot of gains in 1965 civil rights. This is what she said. It basically stopped federal pre-clearance of voting changes in certain
states. And she said, throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away
your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet. Well, first and foremost, you know, expand on that, but particularly for people who may
not understand the word preclearance.
ABRAMS: The challenge of preclearance is that, in 1965, what the Voting Rights Act said was that, yes, the constitution grants the right to vote,
but in no way does the federal government actually impose on the states who administer elections the obligation to follow it. And so, what the '65
Voting Rights Act did was say that, for states that have a history of not allowing everyone who had access to the right to vote to do so, they had to
get permission before they made it harder to vote. That included poll taxes, literacy tests, things like voter I.D.
And so, from 1965 until 2013, the Voting Rights Act essentially stopped the worst acting states from being -- becoming worse, from imposing stricter
requirements. With the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, we saw the floodgates open. We saw 1,688 polling places shut down because they
no longer had to get permission before removing them. We saw voter I.D. laws proliferate, making it harder and harder for people to meet these
standards, making it stricter and more restrictive. And we have seen since that time opportunities for the right to vote be eviscerated because
there's no recourse, you can no longer go to court to protect yourself from state action to stop you from voting.
AMANPOUR: Can you just give me an example of how repressive this is in terms of suppressing the vote. People might say, well, voter I.D.s, I mean,
yes, sure, we all have to have a voter id. Give me an idea of the worst excesses that you say suppresses the vote today.
ABRAMS: So, voter I.D. laws. The United States has always required state- by state for you to prove who you are. But what has happened in the last
decade has been that these standards, the bar has gotten higher and higher. The two best examples are that in the State of Texas, if you are a taxpayer
that gets a gun license, you can use your gun license as I.D. to vote. But if you're a taxpayer who goes to a school, goes to a state university, your
student I.D., which is issued by the same government, is not valid.
And the most precise case is that in Wisconsin in 2016, a black woman who had voted for more than 40 years who was born in segregation at the age of
100 was told she could not prove who she was sufficient to cast a ballot in the 2016 election because she was born during segregation and was legally
not permitted to have an original birth certificate, but the State of Wisconsin required that she prove it, that she produce an original birth
certificate, she could not produce because the law did not allow it.
AMANPOUR: I also -- I mean, just things as simple as your signature. I saw in the film "All In," that many, many immigrants obviously have to take
American names. And over the years, their writing of that American name, which is not their original name, you know, changes. And their signatures
don't necessarily stay the same. That just seems so simple, and yet it's so prescriptive for these people.
ABRAMS: Exactly. And that's one of the most egregious and insidious parts of voter suppression. On its face, these things sound very logical. Yes,
you should be able to prove who you are with I.D. Yes, you should be able to sign something to show who you are. But when you have citizens who may
not have the training who are trying to guess whether your signature matches a document you may have signed a decade ago, that is unconscionable
when you think about what it means for access to the fundamentals of democracy.
As I point out, my signature doesn't match when I'm going from grocery store to grocery store depending on whether I'm signing with a pen and a
piece of paper or with that implement and that electronic pad, and yet, it's being used as a reason to deny people the right to vote in a
AMANPOUR: So, clearly, your election, when you ran for governor of Georgia, it became very controversial. I'm just going to play a little
clip, which is when you're talking about running and why you want to run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Running for governor is about changing what it meant to be a leader in Georgia. And there is nothing more transformative in the deep
south than a black woman from poverty having opportunity. It hadn't been done before, so I thought I would take advantage of the freedom to try the
things no one else tried. We know that voter turnout is the best remedy to voter suppression. We decided to go after everyone who could vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And yet, you know, you lost narrowly some 50,000 votes and there was a huge, huge controversy about voter suppression in Georgia. Your
opponent was the secretary of state, Kemp, and, in fact, he was in charge of -- he was running but he was also in charge of the electoral roles and
everything. A little like maybe the Fox being in charge of the hen house. Tell me -- I mean, and you also refused to concede. I find it interesting
the intellectual reasons you put forth for why you did.
ABRAMS: Part of the success of voter suppression, and let's be clear, this has been part of American democracy since its inception, but it has taken
on a particularly pernicious nature in the last 20 years under Republican leadership. And one of the reasons I refuse to concede is that concession
in the American tradition is not simply about saying, I have lost, the other person won, it is about subordination and saying the process itself
I did not seek to make myself governor. I didn't challenge the legal sufficiency of that election per se. I challenged the rules that permitted
that election to happen in the way that it did to allow the person who is the secretary of state to administer his own election. I gave a speech in
the following year, in 2019, to a group of foreign ministers from around the world, and the look of just disgust and surprise when they heard about
the consequences I faced, some of our more challenged nations shook their heads and said, we wouldn't even try that. And that's part of the
When you have a nation state like the U.S. that is guided by and girded in this notion of democracy, to see it be fractured by not a decision by the
people to do differently but by people in powers using their power to suppress access to the right to vote, that cannot stand and that should not
stand in the United States.
AMANPOUR: OK. I want to ask you a few questions. First and foremost, who does it help or hurt most, this voter suppression?
ABRAMS: Voter suppression benefits Republicans right now, because they are the purveyors. And it hurts young people, poor people and communities of
color, mainly African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander and native Americans.
AMANPOUR: Next question. As you know, the president and the Republicans say, we're doing this, we have to do this because there is massive voter
fraud. Give me the facts on voter fraud. How big is it? Is it a big problem? Does it make the difference between winning and losing?
ABRAMS: Voter fraud is not a widespread issue in the United States, but I will use their numbers to make my case. According to the most conservative
organization in the United States that tracks this, the Heritage Foundation. They have been able to find a total of 1,300 examples, and I'm
rounding up, out of 625 million votes cast in the last 20 years.
That is .00002 percent of the elections held, and there has never been a moment where voter fraud has affected the outcome of an election nor,
according to both Democrats and Republicans, voter fraud is not an issue, and we know this because when Donald Trump created a voter fraud
commission, he had to disband it because they could not prove it. He disbanded it rather than issue findings saying voter fraud is indeed itself
AMANPOUR: I think the figures are that 17 million voters have been purged from the roles since this Shelby County versus Holder. I also noted in your
documentary that during the gubernatorial election, you went to vote and there was an issue. They said, no, it looks like you already voted before.
And Brian Kemp went to vote and they said, no, your paperwork isn't valid.
So, even he, in charge of all of this, was told, no, it's not going to work. Obviously, you both worked it out, because you're senior officials
and you know how to, you know, work it out. But if even he was told that it didn't work, surely, it's a perfect example of how all of this monkeying
around or whatever, you know, messing around, just doesn't work.
ABRAMS: And that's precisely the problem. I tackle voter rights because I believe in our democracy. It's not because I'm a Democrat or Republican,
it's because I'm an American. And we know that when you break the machinery of democracy, no matter who you're trying to break it for, you break it for
His malfeasance targeted communities of color, but his incompetence in that process ended up harming him. And to your point, for most Americans, they
don't have the posture or the resources to fight back. And if you are a low-income person, if you are someone who is used to being discriminated
against by the system, you will think that the problem and the fault lies with you. "All In" is designed to remind all Americans that it is not user
error. This is a system that has unfortunately been designed to fail too many of us, and we need to fight back if we want our democracy to survive.
AMANPOUR: So, what -- I was going to say, what is fighting back? What are the solutions?
ABRAMS: Number one, don't panic. We know that there will continue to be assault on our elections, but the most important piece is to not panic but
to know what's happening. Voter suppression is so effective because it makes you look like you're at fault. And so, we need to know what it looks
like, and that was the point of "All In," really telling the story and the history of voter suppression.
Number two, make a plan to vote and make it early. There are multiple options in most states, and we want everyone to understand what their
options are. And then number three, make sure we vote all the way down the ballot from the presidency all the way to the lowest item on the ticket, in
part because we have to fix this by electing leaders who actually believe that democracy should work for all of us.
And going back to the Ruth Bader Ginsburg question, if we elect a president like Joe Biden and we electricity a Democratic Senate and we hold the
House, we can actually pass laws that restore the Voting Rights Act in honor of John Lewis, in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we can pass
democratic values, and I mean that with a small D, democracy values that actually protect us no matter who is in charge.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, you say that and it sounds like a great rallying cry, but here we are in the midst of an election that already the president
is casting aspersions over the integrity of the elections, over, you know, mail-in balloting. We've seen in the primaries what happened in your state,
what happened in Wisconsin, you know -- I mean, hours and hours, eight hours or so people had to, in some cases, stand in line. Are you confident,
at least your voters, the people who you want to vote, will put up with these obstacles that are in their way?
ABRAMS: Well, let's be clear. I want Americans to vote.
ABRAMS: I may believe that the selection should be partisan, but the process of election should work for everyone. And I do believe because of
the work done by Fair Fight and others, we have gotten closer to a better election. We use the primaries, actually, as a testing ground because we
referenced earlier in the film there is a moment where we talk about the Electoral Integrity Project that points out that the United States has the
worst democracy in the western world, and part of it is that we have a fractured democracy where every single state gets to run its own rules, its
And so, what we've been working on is understanding what those systems look like in 2020 and preparing for it. And the best example I can give you is
that in January of 2020, only 34 states in the United States permitted absentee ballots, voting by mail with no excuses. As of today, we're up to
41 states. That means that from 68 to 80 percent of states now allow you to do that. That's an improvement that can make a big difference in this
election, and I am very confident that we are making progress.
I can't guarantee it's going to work because good does not just win. Those who oppose access to the right to vote, and the Republicans have said they
want to limit who has access. My belief is if you have the right to vote, you should have the right to exercise it. And so, we're going to have to
continue fighting up until election night, and we're going to have to wait patiently for the result to come through.
AMANPOUR: You know, the film is full of also history where you see, you know, the first black man, obviously, they got the vote before black women,
to vote in Mississippi, I believe it was, you know, was then assassinated. I mean, four people came to his house, asked him to come out on the porch
and shot him to death as, I guess, a way of intimidation.
And you mention that, you know, the Integrity Project shows that it's the worst democracy in the West. I mean, just saying that is just
extraordinary, because America is held up as the best, most sophisticated, for those of us who are overseas over here. And I just wonder, also, you
have very, very low turnout compared to other democracies around the world. You know, sometimes -- I mean, when you look at, for instance, Belarus, and
you see people go out on the streets and protest the -- I guess in this case, the stealing of their vote, the fraudulent counting, do you ever --
what should people do? This is about people's rights. You said every American's right.
ABRAMS: You can't fight a system you don't understand. And so, whether it's all in the fight for democracy, our documentary, or my book I wrote
earlier this year, "Our Time is Now," the point is we need to understand the character and the contours of the enemy, and that is voter suppression.
Because once you understand it, you start to see people fighting back. Across this country, there has been lawsuit after lawsuit filed to expand
who has the right to vote by mail. In states where no one thought about it in 2018, they are fighting to make certain they have this right.
We see what's happening in Florida as returning citizens, ex-offenders who want their right to vote restored are continuing to lift up that fight. And
so, we are protesting. And I believe in this election, when we can mitigate the impediments and the barriers to voting, we will see increased turnout,
especially among those communities that for so long have believed it was them, not the system, that was at fault. Because they now understand it's
the system, because of the work we've been doing, I believe we will see increased turnout, and I believe that we are on the road to finally
defeating voter suppression in the United States and raising our ranks so that we can get back to where we belong.
AMANPOUR: And on that note, Stacey Abrams, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, here in the U.K., a worrying surge in coronavirus cases. They're doubling roughly every seven days, according to the top government
advisers. The COVID-19 alert is being upgraded from 3 to 4, meaning the transmission is "high or rising exponentially."
Under fire from the start for his response for the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a mini lockdown to try to interrupt the
transmission right now. Professor Jeremy Farrar is part of the panel that advises the U.K. government on the pandemic, and he's joining me now from
his home in Oxford.
Professor, welcome back to the program.
Where all of a sudden did this come from? All of a sudden, we've seen, you know, the summer, people were hoping and there was lockdowns lifted and
everybody hoped that social behavior would allow, you know, a continuation of a more normal life. And suddenly, we face potentially going into some
kind of lockdown again.
JEREMY FARRAR, DIRECTOR, WELLCOME TRUST: Yes, I don't think it's happened suddenly in the fact since early or mid-July, actually, the signals have
been there that the amount of transmission in the community has been plateauing from a low base in July and then just gradually through July and
into August, it's been increasing again.
And, of course, we're at the time of year when we go from summer into the fall or autumn, and that was always going to be the worrying time. Schools
have gone back. Universities and colleges have gone back. So, this has been building up over the last four to six weeks. Slowly, gradually at first,
but now, with increasing pace.
AMANPOUR: Let me just put the little soundbite from today's address, actually, to the nation by the two chief medical advisers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK VALLANCE, U.K. GOVERNMENT CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER: At the moment, we think that the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days. If that
continued, you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, that sounds really staggeringly terrifying. 50,000 as opposed to 6,000 per day or so, you know, in April. What will that mean to
the ability of this country to handle it? What will it mean for hospitals?
FARRAR: Yes, just remember, we're at about 6,000 new cases a day at the moment across the U.K. If the doubling time is allowed to continue, if we
allow community transmission to continue as it currently is, those are the sorts of numbers we would get to in the next month or so. It's not
inevitable that we get there. Public health works by prevention. It prevents things happening. It prevents that exponential increase going on.
And Britain faces a choice now. If we do nothing, those numbers may well prove to be true. 50,000 cases a day in the U.K. And you cannot keep those
cases out of hospital. You cannot just keep cases in the younger community who seem to be at low risk of severe disease. Because communities are very
mixed. Younger people work with people at higher risk, the elder people with vulnerable other health conditions.
So, if we see this increase, if we allow community transmission to keep going, if we allow this exponential increase, we will get to those sorts of
figures in the next month or so. But we don't have to. One of the lessons from February and early March and across Europe was that those countries
that acted earlier, that put in place some degree of physical distancing and separation and other measures were able to contain their outbreaks more
successfully and prevent that horrendous surge in hospital admissions and deaths. Earlier action, not having any regrets and cutting off this
epidemic from increasing is, I think, the message from today's press conference.
AMANPOUR: What does that look like? I mean, what does a mini circuit breaker look like? What does it mean? What's the science behind that?
FARRAR: Well, a circuit breaker is just, I think, one of the ideas put forward. A circuit break means you would take two or three weeks, you would
really impose fairly draconian measures, and then you would hope to lift them in three weeks or four weeks' time. And -- but actually, there are
other things that can be done as well as -- or instead of circuit breakers.
If we're sensible, if we reduce the high-risk contacts, we know more about this infection now than we did in February and March. We know that indoor
spreads, household mixing, unsafe work practices, these are the sorts of environments where transmission is being driven by. And if we could limit
that and we reduce that chance for transmission within households, between households, in unsafe working environments, limit the amount of time we
spend in close proximity to other people, and yes, wearing masks and hand washing is critically important. If we do that, we should be able to
suppress the transmission in the community, and we should be able to prevent that sort of exponential growth that you're talking about and
avoiding what we went into in March and April in this country as in much of Europe, which was truly horrendous.
AMANPOUR: So, can I just ask you, because, as you say, some of it or a lot of it is about how people behave. And there is a dramatic lack of people
wearing masks in this country. Some do, some are very socially responsible, many don't. I have seen people on buses not wearing them, and it's the law
here, you're not meant to be on public transport without being masked up. And it's just not happening. And not only that, people who are asked to
wear a mask can get very aggressive.
FARRAR: Yes. Mask wearing is important. And I think, you know, over the summer, over the months of June, July and August, that the numbers came
down perhaps a little bit, COVID went out of the news and people thought, maybe it's gone. We all have an optimism bias and as we always hope for the
best, and I think some of those behaviors started to be questioned, and, of course, some of the mask wearing and other physical distancing has dropped
down a little bit.
But I think what people need to appreciate is we all own this. This isn't now just happening in one community, in one age group, in one geographical
part of the country, this is across the whole country, as it is in many parts of Europe now increasing. And I think we all have a responsibility. I
think the best way of encouraging public health is through trust in the messaging, consistent messaging, and the fact that we provide incentives
for behavior rather than disincentives.
So, yes, people do and have gotten aggressive, we've all seen reports of that, but in the main actually, in most countries in Europe and certainly
true in the U.K., the public has actually responded remarkably over the course of what is now seven, eight months to these -- the advice that's
being given. People are still very cautious about going out, about mixing, and about wearing masks. If we can just encourage that in a larger
percentage of the population, we could avoid the sort of national lockdown which, frankly, everybody wants to avoid. None of us want to go back to the
sort of lockdowns in April and May.
And I think as a country, and again, across Europe, we need to prioritize what we once preserved. For me, I think prioritizing education is
absolutely crucial. Primary school, secondary school, tertiary education, universities, higher education. This is the future, and I think we've done
great damage to children's education, which we need to prioritize in the weeks and months ahead.
AMANPOUR: And so, what will happen, or rather, what is the progress? How would you assess the progress on getting a vaccine?
FARRAR: Yes, as we talked about a few months ago when we were last talking, I mean, the progress is phenomenal.
There are nine or 10 vaccines now in late-stage development, some of them using entirely new technologies that didn't exist even a year or two ago,
others using very traditional approaches.
And, yes, I'm very optimistic that, from those nine or 10, there will be very safe and effective vaccines, which we will be able to distribute
equitably around the world. It's incredibly positive news today that -- of the COVAX Facility, this facility that's come together with CEPI and Gavi
and the World Health Organization; 156 countries have signed up to be part of that global effort to pool their benefits, to pool the financial support
from the R&D of vaccine and the manufacturing.
That is a remarkable statement. I would never have thought that would have been possible six months ago. So I do think the vaccines will come online,
but they're not a magic bullet. They won't provide the answer to everything.
The first-generation vaccines are unlikely to be the perfect vaccine we would all hope for. They have to be seen in the context of continuing
public health, continuing to drive down transmission in other ways, and, critically, the best clinical care for people who do inevitably get sick.
AMANPOUR: Jeremy Farrar, what about AstraZeneca? It had a quick sort of hiatus in its human trials. Two people got sick, rare neurological
But then they went back to producing. What does that say about what's meant to be the most sophisticated and promising vaccine on the horizon?
FARRAR: I think it's one of the most advanced. It's not necessarily the only -- it's certainly not the only advancing vaccine.
And there are, as I say, eight or nine candidates at similar sorts of stages to the AstraZeneca-Oxford one. A pause in a vaccine trial is
commonplace, in fact. It has to pause. Independent assessment has got to be taken place to make sure that the pause is not caused by the virus -- by
the vaccine, and that it is safe to continue.
That was conducted quickly in the U.K. by an independent regulator. I don't have access to the data behind that, but I am reassured that, A, that event
was picked up, it was identified through a robust vaccine trial, independent investigators looked at it with no political interference.
And then the vaccine trial was allowed to continue. I suspect we will see more instances like that. We don't know if that incident was related to the
control arm, the placebo, or the active vaccine itself.
But the regulators in this country and around the world are to be applauded for doing what they do, stepping in, pausing trials, and doing an
independent assessment. One of the worst things that could happen -- in fact, the worst possible thing that can happen is that we politicize the
development of these vaccines, that we don't let the regulators be independent.
The public trust in the safety of these vaccines is absolutely crucial. And I think, personally, that that pause in the vaccine trial demonstrates that
the system is working.
AMANPOUR: So, public trust is actually very low in many parts of the world, in the United States, in France, many parts of the world, in just --
in vaccines. Maybe that will change when they develop.
But I just want to end by asking you this. You talked about you need coherent instructions. It was very easy -- I mean, not easy, but you could
understand, stay at home, save lives during the lockdown. The sort of moving rules about coming out have been much less coherent.
Test and trace is still a shambles in this country. And you have always said that there needs to be a global response in order to have a coherent
response. Do you feel that there is a global response? I mean, we still don't have the United States, at a government level, involved?
FARRAR: Yes, consistent messaging is crucial. You're absolutely right to identify it, having a clear strategy.
And if I look at what Sweden has done, we can argue about the approaches Sweden has taken and the impact it's had, but one thing was very clear, as
it was in Korea, as it was in Singapore and Vietnam as well, consistent messaging and a strategic approach. That is absolutely crucial, and then a
public that trusts those messages.
And that is at the heart of public health, I believe and I hope we will start to see that in other countries coming into the autumn and winter.
On the back -- on the global cooperation, I think the COVAX Facility today, the CEPI/Gavi/WHO initiative to make 156 countries coming together, that's
in the face of geopolitical tensions of, yes, major countries that have been leaders in global health not yet being part of it.
But don't underestimate the role that United States scientists and industry have played in pushing these vaccines forward. Although, politically, it's
been sensitive and difficult, the vaccine scientists across the U.S. and China have made an enormous contributions to COVAX, so we should celebrate
AMANPOUR: All right, well, that's a good note to end on.
So, Jeremy Farrar, thank you very much, indeed.
Now, as the tributes have noted, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was making history way before she became only the second woman on the Supreme Court. Within
moments of her death being announced on Friday night, hundreds came to mourn at a sit-in on the courthouse steps. Flowers were laid. Candles were
She achieved an unprecedented mainstream popularity for her progressive decisions, and the cases she took and won cementing equality and especially
Our next guest is the renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize- winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Here, she is talking to our Walter Isaacson about the extraordinary legacy of the legal eagle and the cultural
icon known affectionately as Notorious RBG.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Doris Kearns Goodwin, thanks for being with us.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: So glad to be with you.
ISAACSON: Your husband, the great writer Richard Goodwin, got to know Ruth Bader Ginsburg when they were in law school together back in the late 1950s
at Harvard Law School. What did he take from that?
GOODWIN: Well, I had known that he had been on the law review with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
But when I was going through the papers that he had saved over all these years, 300 boxes of papers, I suddenly came upon a picture of my husband,
as the president of the law review, sitting in the center of a group of 25 people or so. And then off on the right is this lace -- this face, this
face of a woman, and it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
I was so excited. I remember carrying it into his study and said, look, here she is. It somehow made the moment real.
But then the incredible thing really was the realization that, while my husband and his male colleagues are being romanced by firms all over the
country, they're flown to San Francisco, they're phone to Milwaukee, they're flown to Arizona, to Washington, to New York, because these law
firms want them, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at that same level, even working harder than them, because she had a 14-month-old child and a husband,
cannot get a single job in New York.
She can't get even an interview with Justice Frankfurter, who my husband ends up working for. And, just as a woman, it just got me all mad all over
again. But that's the way it was. There was a dean at that time, Dean Griswold at Harvard Law School, who went to those women -- there were only
nine women in the class of 500 men -- and said: You are taking the place of a man. Why are you here?
And the fact that she was able to get through that and become the story that she became, and not feel bitter, but rather open doors for other women
to not have to go through what she did, that's an extraordinary thing.
ISAACSON: Sometimes, you write about tales like that of adversity helping to build character. Do you think that was important in the character that
she ended up developing?
GOODWIN: I think no question, Walter, I mean, not just the adversity of having to fight the expectations that were low for women in law school at
that time, but in her own personal life, she lost her sister when the sister was 6 years old. She lost her mother when she was 17 years old.
When she gets to law school, she's not only taking care of that 14-month- old daughter, but her husband gets cancer the next year, and she's taking care of him. And yet still she kept going on. She just had an amazing work
ethic and an ability somehow to persevere through all those difficult times.
And many of the leaders that I have studied have had that. There's something about resilience and getting through personal difficulties that
gives you an extra dimension, I think, of strength when you find your next resilience that's needed for the next diversity. And that certainly proved
to be true for her.
ISAACSON: But also, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you have empathy, it seems, that comes from so many things that hit her early in life.
And, likewise, you see, when Franklin Roosevelt goes down to Warm Springs, you write about how he gets to know the normal people there who are
suffering worse than he is, that they're all trying to fight polio. And that gives him a depth of empathy that other people in his class don't
GOODWIN: Yes, empathy is, I think, one of the most important qualities in leadership. It's the ability to see people from another point of view, and
understand their point of view, to feel what they're feeling.
I mean, that's the one way in which groups in society can get together. If you're feeling your section, your class is separated off from everybody
else's, and you don't understand what they're feeling -- Teddy Roosevelt began to develop empathy when he was police commissioner, when he saw the
tenements late at night, or when he investigated the cigar tenements in his state legislature, when he's a soldier in the Army.
And, in fact, he said, one of the great things about public service is, it takes you out of your privileged life and let you see other people living
in different ways. And when you can understand them and feel for them, you're going to want to do things for them, you're going to want to make a
difference in their lives.
But empathy becomes that human quality that can develop over time. Some people are born with it. But most people, I think, develop it through
experience. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg did that in spades, having grown up in Brooklyn, having been in a poor section, having had her family difficulties
that she had to overcome, and then just kept wanting to extend that to more people.
That's the key. You want more people to have the chances that you didn't have, rather than just wallowing in the chances that you have. Wallowing, I
guess, is the word.
ISAACSON: It was 60 years ago that your late husband, Richard Goodwin, first met Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you have watched her over the years.
Are there any other leadership traits we should learn from her?
GOODWIN: I think there was that question of humility, that even, though she was becoming a more and more powerful person, she sensed a sort of joke
about the fact that she'd become a cultural icon, rather than lording it over anybody else.
There was such a sense of pleasure and joy in knowing that other people were able to laugh at the same things that she could laugh at. There was
that sense of an ambition that was not necessarily for herself, but was for the court and the larger court.
She also had that ability a leader has to change course when necessary. So, at the beginning, she was arguing her cases before the court even before
she came on the Supreme Court. She won five out of those six cases. In the early days, the ones that she cared about, she was winning, and then she
had to change course and become a dissenter.
And she becomes the great dissenter, because that's what's needed in that place in time. So, I think you see that resilience, the empathy, humility,
and the ability -- I think one of the great things she had when I have heard her clerks talk about her, more than I knew before, was that, when
she communicated in her opinions, she made sure that they were teaching people, they were in simple language.
They weren't in legalese language, because she wanted to educate people to know what it was that was at stake in the issue that she was writing about.
And that's the same thing FDR did.
When a person would give him a draft of a speech, we want a more inclusive society, he changed it to, we want a society in which no one is left out,
because he saw himself essentially as a teacher.
And I have heard Ruth Bader Ginsburg say the same thing, so that her dissents are looked upon, not just as powerful arguments for the issue, but
as teaching people why they have to feel the way she hopes they feel about why this is wrong and why this dissent was necessary to take place.
ISAACSON: In response to the push to confirm a successor to her, some of the Democrats are reacting by saying, if it gets pushed through by the
Republicans, we should increase the size of the Supreme Court, that this is our way of getting back.
The Constitution doesn't set a set number for the Supreme Court. You have written extensively about Franklin Roosevelt trying to do that. Isn't the
lesson of Franklin Roosevelt that this is a bad idea?
GOODWIN: Well, you go back to that time with Franklin Roosevelt, and there's two ways of looking at it.
One is, he comes into that situation. He's won the election in 1932 on the basis of the New Deal. The New Deal is under way between 1932 and 1936. One
of its central parts is the Economic Recovery Act. He wins the election huge in 1936. Social Security is up at issue, minimum wage, labor
And the court is about to strike down all of that central part of the New Deal. It's already stricken down the parts that were before 1936. So, he
makes the decision that, in order to save the economy of the country, and to save the New Deal, he has to do something with the court.
I think if he had explained straight to the court, straight to the country that they needed to add justices because, otherwise, the entire New Deal
program was being broken in its place, and it was necessary for the country, he might have gotten the court packing. But it was a little too
clever by far.
What he said is that every time a justice turns 70, I'm going to appoint a new justice in this place. And he knew damn well that there were four
conservative justices who were turning 70, so that would give him four additional justices. And then he said the court wasn't able to do its work
efficiently, because they were so old.
I, of course, resent that being older than that today. Anyway, Justice Hughes was able to prove they were doing their court efficiently. So it
didn't work. It just wasn't being straight with the American people. And then it turned out that one of the justices retired. Another one changed
their mind and went along with the New Deal.
So, the whole plan went kablooey in that sense. But it really does raise the questions. Once you escalate to this point -- I'd love to hear your
thoughts on this Walter, too -- and you would start adding court -- people to the court in order to make your political party have more people on the
court, then what happens when the Republicans come along and have a majority in the Senate and a majority in the presidency, and then they add
another three at their time, and then three more?
And we could end up with a court with 30 people. And it would be a political institution, and not a court. So it's a dangerous path to go
But I understand why FDR felt the need to move in that direction.
ISAACSON: Well, I think that we have gotten into this cycle, and it starts with Robert Bork, where it gets worse and worse, and then we get rid of the
filibuster for some judges, then finally the filibuster for the Supreme Court.
And now it could get escalated even further.
My question is, how do the de-escalation? How do you stop this process?
GOODWIN: Well, the de-escalation could start right now, if there were enough Republicans to decide that this is not right to go forward at this
time and to bring in a Republican nomination so close to the election.
Or even if they are saying possibly, if Trump would lose the election, they might still do that at that time, that will be yet another step in this
And then the Democrats are already saying, everything's on the table, then, if that happens, if you don't keep your word from what you said last time.
One of the things that's -- that makes me sad about this whole question of the hypocrisy is that keeping one's word, keeping one's bond is such an
important part in our whole political history. When Lincoln finally promised in September of 1862 that he would issue the Emancipation
Proclamation in 1863, and there was a huge blowback to it, and a lot of people thought, he won't do it, he just won't do it now, there's been so
But Frederick Douglass said, we know one thing about Abraham Lincoln. When he says his word, he keeps his word.
And even the last day of his life, he didn't want to go to the theater. He was having so much fun being in the White House celebrating the fact that
the war was coming to an end. And he said: "I'd rather stay, but I must go, I must go because I gave my word this morning in the newspapers that I
would be at the theater, and my word is bond."
And we talk about it as hypocrisy or lying, but we're losing something deeper than that. When a politician or any human being, when we give our
word, and then that word means nothing, then the power of truth means nothing, and we have lost that sense of integrity that has to bind us as a
ISAACSON: There's some very specific examples, especially, say, Lindsey Graham, who over and over said you can get count it as hypocrisy, don't
worry, I will not vote for a nominee at the end of a president's term.
Do you think, as a historian, those things will come back and blemish their historical legacy?
GOODWIN: I do think that, later on, what historians will look at is, what duty does a person have in a moment like this? Is it duty to party, or is
it duty to the institution of the Senate, or is it duty to the country and duty to the Constitution?
And it's hard to see how that would be rendered by history as a duty to the country. It seems very much a duty to party and a duty to Mitch McConnell.
When my husband left the Johnson administration, and then joined the anti- war activism, he was considered a traitor by his fellow people who'd been in the White House with him. They said, you're biting the hand who feeds
you. You're giving aid and help to North Vietnam and to Hanoi.
And he wrote a long as say, even at that time, about the duty of loyalty and exactly what I was saying, that, in the end, you have to bargain with
yourself, is, where does that duty lay?
And I think, too often, in our modern decades, we have seen the duty to party or the duty to section out do that duty to the -- where do they --
don't they remember when they take the oath of office it's to the Constitution and it's to the country?
And I think that sense of a larger identity with your institution -- when, finally, Dirksen was able to come around and bring Republican members to
break the filibuster, so the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could get passed, he was putting his duty to the Senate -- he wanted the Senate to be able to
not break over this issue.
And he thought he could help that do -- it's that larger sense of ambition for something bigger than just your party. Your party is not supposed to be
your whole identity. When you get into the Senate, you have got fellow colleagues. You're working with them. And you're trying to come to some
sort of compromise agreement, so that there had to be some way for this to not happen in this way that it's happened.
And we just feel sometimes we're just caught in it and we have no control over it anymore. But people do have a control. And they're the people to --
they have a control to reward or to punish the actions that may be about to take place on both sides.
ISAACSON: You talk about how party before country has now become the way it is in the Senate.
Are you worried that we now have a partisan Supreme Court, or is it more partisan than it has been in the past?
GOODWIN: Well, somehow, we always do see moments on the Supreme Court when it seems so partisan, and yet somebody like John Roberts is willing to put
the institution perhaps above what his thoughts might have been, and make a balancing wheel on that.
And people do surprise you when that happens. But, right now, I think there's not a question that people are seeing it more partisan. All the
hearings that we have had for the court justices have become much more contentious over time.
I mean, even 20 years ago, there would be an overwhelming majority that would vote for a Steve Breyer or vote for one of these people, even 10
years ago. And it gets into this pattern right now that's going to be hard to break.
And if the court just becomes another political institution, then we don't have that separated powers that -- because we need the court. We need the
court. It's there for a reason. And if it loses its own respect as an institution, then we have lost something really important.
I mean, that's one of the reasons why, when the Brown v. Board decision was being decided in 1954, the Supreme Court justice wanted it to be a
anonymous decision, such a critical decision. They knew what kind of controversy it would raise.
But if the court came together as a whole, then it would seem less political. So, there's got to be those strands working within the court now
for people who do have camaraderie with one -- we have been hearing that, not only Scalia and Ginsburg, but more of them are camaraderie with each
other than we think from the outside.
They have got to fight somehow to keep that apolitical look for the court, so that we can value the court as its own institution.
ISAACSON: We lost two moral giants in the past couple of months, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Lewis, people who fought for things larger than
And there was a great outpouring of mourning that reminds me a bit of what you write about with Franklin Roosevelt, when he died, the notion that "he
knew me"-type feeling about Roosevelt.
What did in your mind, Lewis, Congressman Lewis, Justice Ginsburg have in common that caused that outpouring of mourning and what they have in common
GOODWIN: I think what we saw is that people saw in John Lewis and in Ruth Bader Ginsburg a person whose entire life had been devoted to public
service, a person who had fought for other people, and who had given a sense of themselves to make things better, to make a difference, and that
somehow they had come, by a power of example, to promise us that, even though we have been through very hard difficulties, John Lewis even more in
some ways than RBG -- RBG herself said that.
He possibly could have suffered death. And he certainly suffered injury in the early days of the civil rights movement. But she had to overcome
barriers to get where she was.
And then, when people saw that they still remained optimistic, that they still believed, and they both said, we have made much progress, we cannot
forget that, we still have a long way to go, it gives you hope for the future.
And then somehow people felt an emotional connection to them. They brought -- they brought things to the Pettus Bridge, as they brought things to the
Supreme Court. And there was a sense they had become mentors and friends.
And what they said about FDR when he died is that people were gathering all over the place. They just had to be together, because they needed to
express to themselves, we have lost our friend, which is a great thing to say about a public servant.
And, in fact, one critic said, isn't it amazing? Millions of people in this country there are, and yet one people has now -- one person has just now
died. One person has just now died, Franklin Roosevelt, out of the 130 million in the country, and all the rest of us feel lonely because of that
I think that's why people felt lonely that they needed to go to the Supreme Court, they needed to go to the bridge, because they had lost a mentor,
they had lost a friend. When a public servant reaches out to that level, into the hearts of the people, that's really something special, and it's
something to be valued.
And in the midst of all this chaos right now, to know that that's what you can do as a public servant, it really should give young people as they look
at what they're going to do with their lives a thought that maybe there's something special about public service.
When you go in it, you're seeing all sorts of parts of the country, you're meeting all sorts of people, you're possibly making a difference in
people's lives. And you may end up with a story like RBG or John Lewis or Franklin Roosevelt, where people will value that and feel a connection to
you for the rest of their lives.
Your legacy will live on for a long time to come. And that's a great, comforting feeling as one faces the ending of their lives.
ISAACSON: Doris Kearns Goodwin, as always, thank you for joining us.
GOODWIN: I'm so glad to be with you, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose under the Portico of the Supreme Court this Wednesday and Thursday And, on Friday, she will lie in
state at the Capitol, and people can pay their respects.
And, finally, we end with another female lawyer fighting for human rights, this time in Iran. We're learning that Nasrin Sotoudeh has now been
hospitalized there after a month on a hunger strike at the notorious Evin prison.
Sotoudeh is calling for the release of all political prisoners, as poor prison conditions are made worse by the threat of COVID. The 57-year-old
was locked up from 2010 to 2013 and again in 2018, after defending women who removed their head scarves to protest compulsory hijab laws.
Her sentence? Up to 38 years. For her unyielding grit and determination, Nasrin Sotoudeh's name has become a rallying cry, especially for women, not
only in Iran, but around the world too.
And that's it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.