Return to Transcripts main page
Europe's New Asylum Policy; Kentucky Attorney General Announces Grand Jury Charges, Indicts One Louisville Officer Involved in Breonna Taylor's Death; Rev. William J. Barber II, Co-Chair, Poor People's Campaign, is Interviewed About Kentucky Grand Jury's Findings on Breonna Taylor Case; America Says Goodbye to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, First Woman to Lie in U.S. Capitol; Trump Appointing Vacancy in the Supreme Court; Carrie Severino, President, Judicial Crisis Network, is Interviewed About the Supreme Court and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aired 2:08-3:04p ET
Aired September 23, 2020 - 14:08 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You've been watching the Kentucky attorney general discuss the grand jury indictments
in the case of the killing of Breonna Taylor. We'll have more on that ahead. "Amanpour" is up now.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
After the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by police, a grand jury in Kentucky indicts one of three officers. We have reaction from Reverend
Then, more than 100 of her law clerks act as an on guard (ph) for a lion of the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. How long will her law of fight for
equality and her rule of law be shaped by the next appointment?
Plus, new E.U. asylum rules but our attitudes to the most vulnerable any different? I'll talk to Alexander Betts, chief migration expert at Oxford
Welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Big news from Kentucky tonight, a grand jury indicted one Louisville officer involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison
was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. The two other officers who were there are not facing charges. You'll
remember Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman, was shot by police in March when they entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant.
Her boyfriend says he did not know they were cops and shot first. The cops, two of them, then shot back, killing Taylor.
The death of Breonna Taylor rocked the country and has led to many protests. Joining us now for more on this is the Reverend William Barber,
civil rights activist and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign and incredibly vocal, obviously, in the current national reckoning for racial
William Barber, it's really important that we talk to you because you heard the Kentucky attorney general appeal to everybody, activists, religion,
civilians, law enforcement to be responsible at this moment. I wonder what you made of the decision by the grand jury? And what we said may not
actually be quite correct. The Kentucky attorney general said it is not clear at this time which of any of the bullets that were fired actually was
the fatal one. So, what do you make of the indictment on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree?
REV. WILLIAM J. BARBER II, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN: Well, first of all, I want to be mindful that this is McConnell's former lawyer. And he
sounded at the end like an old, white supremacist in the south that basically blamed the protest on outsiders. And then he conflated the
protest with violence when the only violence that's really been done has taken life and destroyed life in Kentucky has been that of the officers.
He didn't make any commitment that he would stand behind the call for a full federal investigation. This indictment erases the name of Breonna
Taylor. He didn't even mention. It's more about endangerment to the neighbors and wanton actions.
And for him to say that the truth has been found, I'm from the south, and we know a lot of times when grand juries come back, the truth has not been
found. In fact, a grand jury doesn't find the truth. A grand jury simply says whether or not there needs to be a trial to find the truth. He's
saying there doesn't even need to be a trial to find the truth. And when you say he doesn't know which bullet, he knows a bullet from all of those
which were shot.
We also know that there should be -- this no-knock warrant is wrong in the first place. And so, the first thing I want to say -- it's several other
things but I want to say this very clearly, because we're going to deal with racism. Just because the attorney general is black does not mean he
gets a pass on criticism. And he, too, is an enabler of racism if he allows these officers not to be tried in the courts, tried, the trial. Civil
lawsuits that -- and insurance companies paying don't become an answer to murder by officers of the state. There needs to be a trial. And that's why
ultimately, we need a federal law that holds police officers accountable for when they kill innocent, unarmed black people and they can be tried for
murder at the federal level.
But to not even have a trial, every American, regardless of race, creed or color, should be really, really, really concerned about that, to have all
this and not even to have a trial and then to erase the person that was killed out of the final decision is horrific. And protesters nonviolently
should be protesting. Protesters have been protesting nonviolent. The violence here has been perpetrated by a no-knock warrant and all this
shooting that already our civil suit said was a wrongful death, and even todays on indictment says there was wantonness, that shouldn't have been.
So, there's no reason there shouldn't be an indictment and the truth be sought in court.
AMANPOUR: Reverend Barber, I was under the impression that there would be a trial under this one indictment. But can I ask you --
BARBER: There will be a trial on that one indictment but not issue murder on the other issues, yes.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, I want to read a short statement from Ben Crump who is the attorney for the family of Breonna Taylor. He said of this decision,
"This is not what we fully wanted but brings us closer to justice."
AMANPOUR: If the family's attorney is saying that, how should people like yourself and people on the street react now?
BARBER: Just what I've just said, it's not what we wanted. It is an indictment. We still now have the federal -- OK. Because we don't know if
we can trust Barr on this, but we should continue to push. That's what we always do in the movement.
I've been a part of cases where people have been in jail wrongfully in jail, black man, for 20 to 40 years for crimes they didn't do, and we kept
pushing until we got them out. We need to keep pushing here until justice is found. That this one decision of an attorney general does not in any way
suggest that the movement shouldn't keep pushing, lawyers couldn't keep pushing, we should keep calling for what we know should happen, and that is
the full trial on this matter.
Listen, police used a battering ram and a no-knock warrant which should be illegal to break into Breonna Taylor's home and shoot her five times. Yes,
there was a shot back, but the no-knock warrant is problematic in the first place. And anything less than indictment for a full extent of the officers'
actions ultimately cannot stand. That's why Crump is exactly right. It's a step in indictment, but it's not what we want, and we have to continue to
work before justice in this society.
They endangered the neighbors, as this indictment said, but Breonna Taylor got a casket and not a single officer is charged for that and tried in
court. Notice what the movement is even saying. We're not even saying right now they should be found guilty. We're saying there should at least be a
trial in court. So, I agree with my dear friend, Ben Crump. This is not what we wanted, it's a step. But justice is a journey. Justice is a
complete trip. So, we have all along in the history of civil rights, we have to take steps and keep on stepping. We have to take something and we
have to keep on pushing.
AMANPOUR: Reverend Barber, you know, for many of us looking from the outside, the United States is a very complicated place on many, many
levels, especially on perhaps law and order and the criminal justice system.
You heard the attorney general there saying that, yes, people outside may not understand this, but our law here in Kentucky could not find any reason
to indict or bring charges against the two who, as you say, opened the door, no-knock warrant, battering ram. He laid out the case whereby Breonna
Taylor's boyfriend fired the first shot, he says, because he thought -- he didn't know they were cops. And then they fired back. And he said, in that
regard, those two, not Hankison, but those two are, therefore, under Kentucky law, there is nothing Kentucky law can do about it.
BARBER: Yes. Well, that's not -- that's a politician talking. Let me just say a couple things. First of all, we haven't had a trial. So, we don't
even know if the no-knock warrant was justified, we don't know what went into it. That's what a trial would bring out. We don't know if race was a
part of why they went there in the first place. Also, under -- that's why we're pushing for federal law.
And isn't it -- doesn't it say something that states can have various laws that can allow people to not even be tried for cases like this? This comes
out of the old south, remember. The south, a lot of times, has had laws that eventually had to be challenged at the federal level and had to be
turned around because too often these states do pass laws like no-knock warrant. They do pass laws that protect officers from indictment when they
shouldn't be protected from indictment. That's why we need not just a reckoning around racism but a reconstruction, an examination of these laws.
This woman is dead. She got a casket and no one is even being tried in court. She was unarmed, she was asleep, she was in her own home. This whole
case is problematic. But when you shut it down, and you don't even allow cross-examination, the grand jury doesn't do cross-examination like that.
You don't do cross-examination. You don't bring it into court, then we don't know all of the dynamics of the case.
So, this is a step, but it's not the final step. And I suspect we'll be working on this case for a long time to come, and more and more is going to
eventually come out, I would suspect, as it has done in other situations. But just to erase her and to say, it's over, the insurance company paid for
wrongful death, the cops continue to go on. Activists and all need to challenge that.
And it's not activists outside of Kentucky, it's people right there in Kentucky and others joining with them from Kentucky saying there is
something wrong with the laws when you can't even have a basic indictment and a trial. I want to emphasize that, a trial. A trial.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Again, to be clear to the viewers, there presumably will be at least one trial, but you're saying there should be for all of them. Now,
let me ask you this.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this.
BARBER: And a trial about her death, not just about endangering people. The woman got a casket.
AMANPOUR: No, no. But one of those bullets of his apparently went into her body, according to the attorney general. So, presumably that will be part
of the trial. We will have to watch this very carefully, obviously. But can I ask you --
BARBER: Yes. But we don't know if it will be for murder, we don't know whether it will be for -- we've got a lot more to do on this case, and this
is what we have to do in this moment. We have to keep pushing. It's a step but it's not the final.
AMANPOUR: As her lawyer said, the family lawyer said. You know, there is the bigger picture, obviously. Breonna Taylor was a major, major victim, a
major part, a major brick in this wall of the racial upheaval that is happening in the United States. Her death, you know, obviously, which is
why we're talking about it, triggered so much protest and so much agony in your community. And, of course, George Floyd's adding to the number of
people who have been killed, around the world as well.
What do you think this ruling, this grand jury indictment today, says about the greater hope in your community that racial justice will be dealt with
properly in the United States, and this Black Lives Matter moment, which is a movement, will actually move ahead?
BARBER: Well, again, I think let's restate just a little bit. In the American community, all of our community, in this culture, in humanity, in
this point in the world, remember, while we talked about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and by the way, it took a long time for Breonna Taylor to
be lifted up, and then there were many others whose names aren't called, then you had Tamir Rice, who've had shooting down. This is not something
that has just happened, right?
King was talking about police brutality in 1963. And police brutality and death by police brutality is one area of necro politics, the politics of
deaths that's impacting black people and brown people. The death that comes from health care, the death that comes from denial of wages and what we see
even happening with coronavirus. So, at some point, America is going to have to deal with the politics of death and are going to be honest about
the politics of death.
For instance, imagine all white officers knocking on the door and breaking through the door of a white family and shooting someone. You know, imagine
-- think -- imagine what -- you haven't had that case. Imagine what would happen, and that's what people are saying. We recognize that there would be
a very different set of justice, just like there is a very different way in terms of the way people responded to President Obama and people respond to
Trump. Imagine if Obama had gone around saying some of the things that he have said -- Trump has said about protests.
When we talk about racism, the systemic racism, it has many layers. It has many layers. And this is not just this moment. What you see in the streets
is a combination of moments throughout history, a continuation, constantly happening, you know, whether somebody shot in the back at a drive-through
in Atlanta or (INAUDIBLE) by knee in Minneapolis or shot in their own home innocently in Louisville and I could -- or a small kid shot by a cop and
then his sister not even be allowed to reach him, Tamir Rice. You go on and on and on and on. And then on top of that, all the other deaths that grows
out of systemic racism and problems.
So, this is not just a moment for the black community, this is a moment for America, and it's not just a moment, it's a moment in time that's built on
top of all the time, all the time that we constantly see this again and again and again. And people know in their heart, they know in their heart
that if it was a black cop had his knee on the top of a white man on camera, it would be very different. They know if it was a black cop
shooting a white man running away, it would be very different. They know, they know deep down inside of them. They know if it was all black officers,
no-knock warrant, breaking through, killing unarmed -- a white woman and mother, very different. Very different. We see it, we know it. We've seen
it down through history.
And so, at some point, we're going to have to be truthful about this. And for this attorney general to simply hide, if you will, behind Kentucky law,
go back in history and remember when southern governors used to say the same thing. Well, we don't do that down here in Alabama. That's not how we
do it in Mississippi. That's not how we act in North Carolina, South Carolina, and we don't like these people coming down here telling us what
to do. If the people had not done that and had not raised up, we wouldn't have voting rights. We wouldn't have the segregation. We wouldn't have had
an investigation around the death of (INAUDIBLE) and Goodman.
So, these are very serious matters and we have to take them very seriously.
AMANPOUR: We do indeed. And we thank you for being with us tonight on this very serious day, a very serious occasion. Thank you, Reverend Barber.
Now, today, America also said goodbye to a legendary Supreme Court justice whose whole life was about equality, fairness and human rights. More than a
100 of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's law clerks served as honorary pallbearers as her casket was brought to the Supreme Court for a ceremony by the chief
justice and attended by the remaining eight on the bench. Her casket was then placed outside under the portico. And on Friday, she'll be moved to
the U.S. Capitol where she will be the very first woman in history to lie in state there, the very first woman.
As mourners pay their respects, President Trump appears to have a Senate majority for his pick to fill the vacancy, this before he's even announced
his nomination. President Trump has an extraordinary judicial legacy. His first term has been bookended by fights over a Supreme Court vacancy. 2016
saw Senate Republicans refuse to consider President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. They insisted the next elected president should fill
So, what do the Republicans hope to achieve with their upcoming appointment? With me to discuss this is Carrie Severino. She is the
president of the Judicial Crisis Network and she was instrumental in ensuring another of Trump's nominees, Brett Kavanaugh, his confirmation.
And she's joining me now from Washington.
Ms. Severino, thank you for joining us.
You know, on this day where we see Judge Ginsburg lying in repose at the Supreme Court, I just want to ask you as a fellow female legal jurist, what
does she mean? What does her legacy mean to you?
CARRIE SEVERINO, PRESIDENT, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Sorry. One of the pleasures of clerking at the Supreme Court was meeting some of the other
justices and one of the things I enjoyed was getting to have Justice Ginsburg invite our -- my group of clerks for tea in her chambers. It was a
wonderful change to meet someone who I very much respect as a path breaker. As a woman and a mother myself, I so admire what she has been able to
achieve, especially in an era when it was very difficult for women to even get a job in the field of law, and she obviously achieved things at the
highest levels. And her commitment to her family, to her own willingness to help her husband through law school, he was going through cancer at the
time, she went to class for both of them.
So, she basically -- practically have two law degrees out of the process. Really an inspiration I think for many women. And I'm excited to see
another woman now follow in her footsteps and carry on that trailblazing path.
AMANPOUR: Well, you seem to know that it is a woman. I'm going to ask you that in a second. But as you know, clearly, this idea of so rapidly filling
her seat or bringing a nominee to consideration has caused quite a lot of bewilderment, sadness, of course, and anger, because, as I mentioned, it
was clear that President Obama was prevented by the very same Senate majority leader from bringing his nomination even to a vote.
I guess what I want to ask you is, how seemly is it? You know, she hasn't even been laid in the ground yet. President Trump apparently will wait
until she is buried on Saturday. But how seemly do you think this is to rush this through Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell within hours of
her death saying that, we are going to bring this fight to the Senate floor, this nomination to the Senate floor?
SEVERINO: Well, as Justice Ginsburg herself said, a president doesn't stop being a president in his fourth year of office. This is something that
every time there's been a vacancy during an election year, the president has made a nomination, and we know that the precedent is that Ginsburg
herself was confirmed nearly unanimously in only 42 days, Sandra Day O'Connor in 33 days, unanimously confirmed. Justice Stevens in 16 days was
So, there is a great deal of precedent for this type of a quick confirmation, and the women that the president -- it seems like are on his
final short list, are people who have recently been confirmed by bipartisan majorities, by the Senate. So, it's not -- it's a process that I think it's
appropriate to obviously give a moment for -- to pause, for justice to remember Justice Ginsburg's memory, but especially going into an election
year where there's a possibility of important cases that could split four- four in the court. I think it also makes sense to fill the seat and to move forward so there is a full complement of justices to address those
AMANPOUR: So, I did obviously a bit of reading, and there has never been such a rapid turnover as the one that's being considered right now.
I mean, the last time there was a rapid one was in 1916. So, that was a long time ago.
Justice Ginsburg herself took the trouble on her deathbed to dictate to her own granddaughter that her most fervent wish was that her replacement be
made by the next president, whoever it might be, President Trump or President Biden.
But that was her wish. And, back in 2016, it was your organization, and even the Senate majority leader who said the American people should decide
when you rejected Merrick Garland. The American people should decide.
We're on the verge of an election which may change the landscape, and they're not being given the chance to decide. What do you say about that?
SEVERINO: So, the historical precedent in these cases is, every time there is a vacancy, the president has made a nomination, and it really depends --
what happens with that vacancy depends on the control of the Senate.
In 2016, the White House and the Senate were controlled by different parties. Effectively, the American people giving the Senate back the GOP
midway through President Obama's term is them tapping the brakes. In that kind of case, there is a tie, effectively, between the White House, the
Senate. The American people were the tiebreakers in that case.
And they chose to have Donald Trump fill that seat. Historically, when the White House and the Senate are held by the same party, almost every single
time in American history, in election year vacancies, those have been filled.
So, this is the way the Senate -- the Constitution simply arranges it. There is a White House and Senate combined effort that goes into the
process. When those are held by the same party, it's no surprise that vacancies are filled, and that's, I think, what we're going to see in 2020.
AMANPOUR: I think you have just said exactly -- when they're held by the same party, it's no surprise. It's a power play.
So, I want to ask you, since you have the Senate majority right now, and right now you have the White House, what is it that you are trying to
achieve? And I say you because your organization and you yourself are very, very committed to putting conservative judicial nominees on all the courts,
including the Supreme Court.
At this moment, what is it that you want to achieve in the Supreme Court, particularly if it becomes a 6-3 conservative majority?
SEVERINO: Well, first of all, I will say that the arguments being made by the Democrats in this is not -- the power question has to do with the power
the American people give to the Senate.
The Democrats are making the argument, in 2016, many people, including my former professor Liz Warren said it would actually be unconstitutional not
to hold a vote. I think that's ludicrous, but I would point out that that's a very clear shift, and their argument seems to be, if it's our nominee, we
want the vote, and if it's not, we don't want the vote, reflecting the American people have said at the ballot box.
In terms of what our organization would like to see on the court -- and I'm happy to say I think that lines up with what President Trump and Leader
McConnell want to see in the court -- it is justices who will be faithful to the Constitution and the rule of law.
That is looking at what the actual text of the law is that's passed, the actual text of the Constitution as written. And I think that that's
something that all Americans can agree on. That means, if a law is a law that was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Democratic
president, the result is probably going to be one that is a more liberal result.
And that is something that we do see. You see many times these judges who have results that they might not agree with because they think a law is
badly written or it should be updated. But, nonetheless, they feel limited by the actual text of the law.
And then that becomes Congress' role, as the Constitution intended, to update those laws, similarly with the Constitution. It used to be a
constitutional amendment to change things. We have done that 27 times in our history. That's how you change the Constitution, not by judges.
I think putting that back in the proper constitutional role will take the politics out of the court process and put it back in the halls of Congress,
where laws are supposed to be passed under our Constitution.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, I understand the conservative view on the interpretation, if you like, of the Constitution, or the literal using of
But can I ask you this? Because you said -- has there been -- do who is the nominee going to be? I thought I heard you say at the beginning there is a
nominee. You don't know?
SEVERINO: I don't. I'm saying a woman because the president has said several times, he's committed that it's going to be a woman.
AMANPOUR: All right. OK.
SEVERINO: The front-runners appear to be Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. I don't personally know. I'm not sure the president yet knows who
it's going to be between those two women.
AMANPOUR: Let's just read out a little bit.
So, Amy Coney Barrett, former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, also, as you remember, a good friend of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's, and Barbara Lagoa, a
Cuban American from Florida, also appointed to the federal bench by Donald Trump.
How would you assess each candidate? And what bits of the law, what is it do you want to turn to affect? Is it women's rights? Is it reproductive
freedoms? Is it the continued rollback of the 1965 Voting Rights Act?
What is it that you want these -- this new appointee to be able to do?
So, if you look at these women that the president's looking at, Amy Coney Barrett, for example, she's a Seventh Circuit judge right now. She, as you
mentioned, clerked for Justice Scalia. She's someone who I feel like is a real pathbreaker, in the mold of someone like Justice Ginsburg, obviously a
different judicial approach.
And Ginsburg herself said, I want people to know that women come in all shapes and sizes, and they're not going to agree on all issues.
I think I think we all recognize that. And I think, in the ways that she was a pathbreaker, being a mother -- she's a mother of seven, two of those
children adopted from Haiti. In the meantime, she has simultaneously achieved at the highest levels of her profession, tenured professor at
Every one of her faculty colleagues endorsed her, even those who obviously disagree with her, which is quite a few of them, on maybe politics or on
jurisprudence. They said she's absolutely outstanding.
And she out now, of course, is a -- as well as being a mother, a scholar, now a judge.
Barbara Lagoa, you mentioned she's the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Her father said he had wanted to go to law school, but was unable to because
they were fleeing a tyrannical regime in Cuba to come to America. And she speaks so eloquently about how she came here and her parents came here
because of wanting the rule of law for their children.
So she has a commitment. And you can see that in her track record since 2006 on the bench of cases where she says, I know that it's a judge's role
to interpret the law as it's written. I don't think that judges should be able to make it up as they go. That's the kind of regime my parents
abandoned in Cuba, and because they want to live under a rule of law, again, another mother, just pathbreaking women, first Hispanic woman on the
Florida Supreme Court, and I think would also be a very worthy successor to Justice Ginsburg, in terms of this kind of role model that we're holding up
for younger women.
AMANPOUR: I think Judge Sotomayor may take exception to that.
SEVERINO: No, she wouldn't be the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court, obviously.
AMANPOUR: Right. Right.
SEVERINO: And they can differ.
But I think it's still -- it's still a really admirable role model. I think that one of the things Justice Ginsburg taught us is, we can very much
admire and respect and learn lessons from people, even when we may disagree with them about issues like politics, like their jurisprudence.
AMANPOUR: That would be good if we could get past this terrible, poisonous partisanship in the United States right now.
But let me just -- I need to play your own ads to you, because it's again about this different criteria. You have one set of criteria in 2016 and
another now let.
This is your organization, your paid ads. We're going to play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: The Supreme Court has a vacancy, and your vote in November is your only voice. Senator Mitch McConnell agrees. The American people should
decide. This isn't about Republicans or Democrats. It's about your voice. You choose the next president. The next president chooses the next justice.
In eight out of 10 vacancies like this, the nominee was confirmed. Democrats are shamefully trying to change the facts. Tell the Senate, when
a strong nominee is named, follow precedent, confirm the judge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, again, I'm sitting outside the United States, but it makes no sense to me. That's an absolute -- they're in conflict, those two
The people should decide.
SEVERINO: I would say -- right.
As I was explaining earlier, the people in 2016 -- well, go back to 2014. President Obama was in office. The people gave the Senate to the GOP,
giving that -- brakes on his administration. And then the people had the opportunity to break that tie.
In 2020, it's different. The power is united with the Senate and the White House.
AMANPOUR: All right, and I'm going to put that to our next guest.
Carrie Severino, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
And so listening is Neal Katyal. He is a Supreme Court lawyer and a former U.S. acting solicitor general under President Obama, joining me now from
Welcome to the program, Neal Katyal.
Can I just ask you to pick up from the last question I asked Severino about what looks like changing standards, but she said it's up to the people, the
people have elected these senators, and the two vacancies are not the same.
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, I'm not really sure, Christiane, why you or your viewers should listen to that person or
believe her this time.
She just told you on air -- quote -- "A president doesn't stop being president in his fourth year."
And here's what she told "The Washington Post" four years ago -- quote -- "In the middle of an election year, it makes the most sense to let the
people have a voice."
Or she said to Newsmax -- quote -- "Let's let the American people decide and see what they say."
There's none of this talk of the Senate control or anything like that. She said the absolute reverse four years ago. And it's emblematic of the fact
that these folks have torched honor, they have torched principle. They will say anything.
And you're absolutely right. This is just a power play. Four years ago, her organization even went and threatened a Republican senator, Senator Moran,
just because he wanted to have a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland.
And this is not some hypocrisy about some irrelevant thing, like sports teams or something like this. This is about the crown jewel in the American
democracy, our Supreme Court. And these people are monkeying with it, breaking all principle. They're trying to break the Supreme Court just
because they're afraid they're going to lose an election.
And I think it is so corrosive. It's one of the -- maybe the worst thing I have seen in my 20-plus years in Washington.
AMANPOUR: Well, as I said to Ms. Severino, I had done the reading, and no vacancy at the Supreme Court has occurred so close to a presidential
election in American history. It's never been filled by a Senate vote before the election like this.
AMANPOUR: The closest came in 1916.
But so what do you think now? What do you anticipate? You can see the arrayed power. And it is power arrayed to get this through right now. And I
put that to her as well, that you have a president, you have a Senate, and it looks like Mitch McConnell has a majority. We don't even know who the
But so what should we expect to unfold now?
KATYAL: Well, first of all, you're absolutely right, Christiane, about the precedent. I'm glad you have done the work.
You heard Mr. Severino talk about the Sandra Day O'Connor precedent. But it wasn't even an election year. It was 1982. So all of her precedents don't
make any sense.
There's only one precedent that's close. And that's Abraham Lincoln, because Chief Justice Taney died 27 days before the 1864 election. And even
in the midst of the Civil War, when you had a chief justice who basically sparked the civil war with his Dred Scott decision, Abraham Lincoln didn't
say, oh, I'm going to fill this with my guy. He said, I'm going to wait for the election and let the person who wins decides.
So, if the Republicans go and do this and break with precedent as, to use your words, a power play, I do think that it will ultimately lead to
massive reprisals in the Supreme Court, and the American people will suffer.
I don't see how the Democrats won't be able to resist increasing the size of the Supreme Court to 13 or 15 people and nominating people to fill those
KATYAL: And then, the Republicans, if they win in 2028, may make it 19 or 21. And, ultimately, we will have a Supreme Court the size of Switzerland,
with 40 members or something like that.
That's horrible. And it goes to my fundamental point, which is, these people have abandoned all principle. They don't care about the court. They
don't care about our democracy, and they're willing to do whatever they can just to get another vote up there.
And it's so sad. It breaks my heart.
AMANPOUR: OK. OK.
So, that's your view. But I want to know what you think of the facts, because it is not clear that, even if they get more conservatives -- well,
maybe it is clear. But up until now, with the 5-4, not everything has gone the conservative way.
I don't know how surprised you were, but many major 5-4 votes in the past few years, and, just recently, the chief justice, Roberts, siding with
liberals on DACA, the dreamers, on a pro-choice case, and on an LGBT case.
OK, so that's 5-4. But I think conservatives were surprised that the conservatives didn't side necessarily with -- the conservatives on the
court didn't side with the administration, or perhaps even the people who put them on the court with their money and their organization.
What do you see...
KATYAL: I'm so glad -- I'm so glad, Christiane, that you raise that, because that is the beauty of our Supreme Court up until now.
I mean, think about 2012. In that election year, Chief Justice Roberts, who was appointed by a Republican president, George W. Bush, crosses the lines
and votes to uphold President Obama's signature initiative, the Affordable Care Act, and really helping him in the 2012 election, not intentionally,
but because he thought that was the best view of the law.
That is largely the way the Supreme Court operates. And now you have got Republican senators saying, I won't -- like Josh Hawley saying, I will not
vote to confirm someone unless they pledge to overturn Roe vs. Wade ahead of time.
And that's what they're looking for. So, they're not looking for justices in the mold of the chief justice. Indeed, you have heard President Trump go
and attack the chief justice at various times.
So, I wish that was what was going on? It's just not.
AMANPOUR: I want to play you something that Mitt Romney said, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who's, as you know, not always stood with President Trump,
in fact, used his vote against him during the impeachment process.
He said the following, because he -- I think he's decided to approve whoever the president -- or not approve -- to approve -- to bring it to the
to the debate, to the Judiciary Committee. This is what he said about that:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I recognize that we -- we may have a court which has more of a conservative bent than it's had over the last few decades.
But my liberal friends have over many decades gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court. And that's not written in the stars. It's also
appropriate for a nation which is, if you will, center-right to have a court which reflects center-right points of view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK, so two statements that which are interesting, one, the statement that America is center-right. Maybe it is. I mean, I don't know.
You can comment on that.
And the other is that, "My liberal friends have got very used to having a liberal court over the decades."
KATYAL: So, Senator Romney cast a very courageous vote on impeachment. And I think all Americans really should be proud of that, and he will go down
That statement was not his finest hour. There have been 18 -- of the 18 most recent nominations to the Supreme Court of, people who have become
justices, 14 have been by Republican presidents. So this idea that it's a liberal Supreme Court, that's the first I have ever heard of it.
I have taught constitutional law for 20 years. I have literally never heard that phrase before. Most of my time practicing at the Supreme Court, it's
been with seven Republican appointees and two Democratic ones. Right now, there are three Democratic ones. So I honestly just don't know exactly what
he's trying to say there.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you, in light of what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has tweeted yesterday -- and I'm going to read it to you in a
second, but it goes to whether the court is actually representative of America.
He tweeted: "A sixth GOP justice nominated by an impeached president, who lost the popular vote by three million, confirmed by GOP senators
representing 15 million fewer Americans than their Democratic colleagues, after Obama's pick couldn't even get a vote. When I say the system is
rigged, this is what I mean."
So, do you think the system is rigged? And how representative are the justices of America and Americans? And I talk also, in this moment of
justice that's being demanded of for black Americans, for African- Americans.
KATYAL: Yes, I don't think that you can look at, if President Trump gets his nominee through, and you have 15 of 19 justices appointed by one party,
that could be seen as representative of where the country is.
I think the country's evenly split. And the Supreme Court composition has not been evenly split at all. And I think Secretary Reich is right to point
to what he's -- what the Republicans are doing, which is trying to disenfranchise voters in state after state in all sorts of things, mail-in
ballots, this, that and the other, any sort of rubric they can to try and bolster their voting power at the polls and now at the U.S. Supreme Court.
So there is a direct relationship between these things. And, ultimately, I think these folks are afraid of democracy. They're afraid of things like
the Voting Rights Act, which is why they want their justices to strike it down. And it's a sad -- it's a sad moment.
I think we will get past it. I think that there's nothing more fundamental than the -- for Americans than the right to vote. And I think we will
ultimately see that for what it is, and there will be a new birth of American democracy, but I do think it's going to take a lot of effort.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you this final question. I'm going to play by a bite -- a little sound bite from President Trump, who says why they need to
fill this seat before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need nine justices. You need that.
With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they're sending, it's a scam. It's a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know better than
anybody else. So, you're going to need nine justices up there. I think it's going to be very important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, we always have to say no evidence of mail fraud. This is the president's rallying cry, but it's not based in reality.
However, what do you expect to unfold on election night? And what role, given what we saw in Bush vs. Gore in 2000, what could -- how could the
Supreme Court become embroiled?
KATYAL: Well, President Trump has said a lot of outrageous things in his four years and before he became president, but what he just said, what you
just played is among the most outrageous.
To someone like me, who practices before the Supreme Court, who reveres the institution, the idea that he has to get another justice up there to help
him in the election is, I find, just so sad and so corrosive. It's antithetical to everything the court is about.
And you're absolutely right, Christiane. There could be any number of election disputes about the right to vote, about mail-in ballots, about
state legislatures and their role in the process.
Any of this could go to the Supreme Court. And I don't think anyone should be sitting there saying, oh, I need my justice to get up there and do my
bidding for me, which is what he is implying there.
I know -- I think past presidents have been very reticent to make any sort of comments about cases that might come before the Supreme Court.
AMANPOUR: We really do live in extraordinary times.
Neal Katyal, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
And now we're going to turn to the European Union, where a new asylum policy is being unveiled. The much-anticipated proposals would aim to avoid
disasters like the recent fire at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, Europe's largest migrant camp. And it left -- this fire left around
13,000 people without shelter.
Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My house is finished, many -- all finished.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a really big fire. And almost all the camps burned. We don't know where to go, and all the (INAUDIBLE) are outside, and
try to find a place to just at least stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Well, their sad lives further upended.
And, for years, the E.U. has been criticized for not getting member states to take their fair share of refugees.
With me now to discuss this is Alexander Betts. He's professor of forced migration and international affairs at Oxford University.
Welcome back to the program.
It's a long time since we have talked about immigration and migration and refugees, but, clearly, this terrible fire in Greece has focused
What did you hear in terms of sharing the burden from the new E.U. proposals?
ALEXANDER BETTS, OXFORD UNIVERSITY: So, the tragedy of Moria was really avoidable and inevitable as a consequence of the European Union's failure
to develop responsibility-sharing, for European states to cooperate adequately in relocating people, in grossly inadequate shelter on the Greek
And what we have seen since 2015 is that the E.U. member states have failed to come to an agreement because they're stuck rigidly to the so-called
Dublin regulation, which means that the front-line states like Greece and Italy take responsibility initially to process asylum claims and protect
That's meant that Greece has effectively become the warehouse for refugees. Now, the new proposals, this Migration and Asylum Pact, many -- large parts
of it are fairly politically uncontroversial. They're about trying to manage irregular migration into the E.U.
But there's one element of it which is trying to move beyond Dublin and have a new relocation deal. The problem is that, once it reaches the
political stage, and European countries have to actually agree on a practical situation, the likelihood is that deadlock will persist.
So what I have heard in the deal is a move towards something that would be quite voluntary, that, when we get large influxes to Greece and Italy,
there will be an attempt to relocate the most vulnerable families and children across Europe, but it will be a voluntary commitment.
And the deal is yet to hit the political fan.
AMANPOUR: Well, hit the political fan, that's a good way of putting it.
There's been some rather extraordinary descriptions of what all this means, basically, also reporters pointing out that absolutely nothing has been
shown to even move the dial, other than terrible tragedies, whether it's a migrant boat sinking, whether it's refugees washed up on beaches, or now
this terrible fire.
That's one thing. Nothing gets done until something terrible happens and all the pictures are around. But, also, this is one that's being described
as, let the humanitarian sound humane and the hard-liners sound hard, essentially saying, OK, let the willing European countries bring in
refugees and migrants, and those who don't want to, a lot of East European and other countries, let them do some of the other work.
What is the other work? I mean, I read that it is like, let them do the deportations. Can you explain what's the humanitarian work and what's the
BETTS: Well, this pact is trying to provide something for everybody.
E.U. member states are in different positions. We have seen countries, like Hungary, Poland, Austria, very reticent to accept more refugees and asylum
seekers, other countries, like Germany, trying to provide ongoing leadership, with more solidarity.
Now, the thing about the relocation deal is, it says that countries can basically commit on their own terms. So, some might take in refugees
relocated from Greece and Italy, but, for others, they might contribute in other ways, through financial support, through providing money,
effectively, to support returns.
So, if some countries really don't want to relocate refugees onto their territory, they might simply contribute to paying for the return of failed
asylum seekers back to the countries they have come from.
And it's that element which is framed as solidarity, but has a heavy element of volunteerism, that means basically there's probably a lack of
teeth in this agreement. And it's an attempt to be, in many ways, all things to all people.
It talks about balancing responsibility and solidarism, but, in a way, it's a pragmatic attempt to be agreeable to all, that the risk is that it
therefore doesn't achieve very much in terms of binding commitments to cooperation.
AMANPOUR: And you spend your life and your career studying the ways around this and how to try to have a humane policy. We're talking 10,000 people,
those people in Moria camp. We're talking 10,000 people, and we can't find countries to take -- to divide that number between them.
What does that just say about the continent right now?
BETTS: Well, we really have all the evidence we need at the moment that the political will to protect refugees is not there in Europe.
Some of the basic values that underpin the European Union of human rights, solidarity, of support for refugees are not there. And while this new pact
aspires to build lasting, sustainable corporation, the reality we're seeing is that that's just not there, that 13,000 people can be made homeless by
fires in the camp in Moria on the Greek islands, and yet a handful of European countries have come forward and said, OK, we will take a few
hundred children, relocate some families.
But that we're really trying to scrape the barrel of solidarity, just for those 13,000 people says at all. And I think a big side of the European
debate is about externalizing this, outsourcing responsibility now to countries like Libya.
And when the E.U. is really trying to outsource its human rights obligations to a failed state like Libya, it highlights that, behind
everything that's going on, there's a really challenging politics in Europe, not only the rise in populist nationalism we saw before COVID-19,
but what COVID is going to do for recession, the economy, and the politics of immigration and asylum in Europe.
So we're at a very low ebb. It's very worrying for people who believe in human rights and refugee protection. And we really need not only leadership
by the European Commission, but the states to step forward and say, OK, the numbers are much lower than in 2015-'16. This is a global challenge, a
global shared responsibility.
And if we expect countries around the world, some of the poorest countries in the world, that host the majority of refugees -- and it's 85 percent of
the world's refugees are in low- and middle-income countries.
Most are not in Europe. They're not in North America. If those countries, the Jordans, Lebanons, Turkeys, Uganda, Kenya, if those countries can take
most refugees, we have to show that there's a global shared commitment to protect refugees who are fleeing conflict and violence and persecution.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's extraordinary to remember that Angela Merkel of Germany took a million in 2015. And now, as you say, the attitudes have
But you mentioned Libya. And I want to ask you about this, because E.U. documents, investigations into this issue have revealed that the E.U. has
been, I think, funding and training and providing boats to the Libyan Coast Guard, as you say, in its failed state to try to prevent migrants from
getting on the boat and crossing the Mediterranean.
And they admitted, apparently, in a 2019 leaked report that the coast guard can't -- that they can't monitor the Libyan coast guard. Detaining migrants
is -- quote -- "a profitable business model for Libya's government."
What does that mean? What is going on between the E.U. and Libya and these poor migrants?
BETTS: Europe is collaborating with a failed state in order to outsource responsibility, not just for migration, but for people who probably are in
need of international protection.
Since 2017, the European Union has returned about 40,000 people seeking to claim asylum in Europe to Libya. And the E.U., for instance, funds the
Libyan coast guard. And only in July this year, there was a substantiated report that showed that E.U.-funded Libyan coast guard had shot three
Sudanese refugees for failing to cooperate.
And we know from stories from many human rights organizations that Libya has become a detention black hole, that there are detention centers being
run by militias, in which many migrants are being sold into prostitution, into slavery.
This is a country that is run by militias, where the internationally recognized government has really tenuous control over parts of Tripoli,
yes, but certainly not the whole country.
And yet Europe is relying to a great extent on Libya and other transit countries as the basis for its attempt to manage the flows of irregular
migration , and what we see in this new pact (ph) idea is like the rapid return of failed asylum seekers - we have to question whether the quality
of the asylum process will be adequate, and whether we risk sending people who face a really well founded fear of persecution in the countries they've
come from - if we risk sending them back to countries like Libya, they may face very serious harm.
AMANPOUR: OK. Let me just ask you, because we've got a short time left, also rescue workers and aid organizations - NGOs have been almost
criminalized, if not actually criminalized by the E.U. There's a Europe- wide crackdown on aid workers who are helping migrants.
Another E.U. funded research paper found that 158 individuals have been investigated or persecuted on grounds of smuggling, money laundering and
membership of a criminal organization since 2015. I mean, what is this happening? What's your read of what's happening to these NGOs and aid
BETTS: Well, there's been a long-term crackdown on what's broadly called facilitation. Anybody - even private actors, airlines, international
organizations, NGOs that are seen to help people get in to the European Union on an irregular or illegal basis can face serious legal sanction,
even criminal sanction.
And the idea of clamping down on smuggling networks and criminal gangs (ph) makes sense, but a lot of the legislation across the European Union,
including from individual member states is really criminalizing often very well meaning people who are trying to support the human rights agenda. And
so, I think this is all part of an underlying attempt by the European Union to reduce the space for what's called spontaneous arrival asylum.
I think when I listen to conversations amongst ministers in governments across Europe there's a real sense that they feel spontaneous arrival
asylum is no longer sustainable in the current context given rising populous nationalism, given the likelihood of serious recession. And I
think for everybody who cares about human rights, there's a real danger that is that protection space is diminished in Europe.
As the border closes off, as we make asylum claim assessments more and more rapid, and people are returned quickly that we risk people being really -
having their human rights undermined, and the institution of refugee protection is at (ph) threat if NGOs and human rights organizations are
also potentially criminalized for playing any kind of role in say, rescue at sea, or facilitating access to territory for people who are attempting
to seek asylum.
AMANPOUR: OK, literally 30 seconds. Do you see - I mean, what would your plan be to deal with these migrants who are legitimately now homeless, and
just people who need asylum?
BETTS: So, I think on a global scale we have to recognize that most refugees are (inaudible) middle income countries (ph), and the solutions
for most are going to be jobs, education, long-term solutions in those host countries - countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya.
But Europe has to find a way to leave its door open, and it has to share responsibility amongst the E.U. 28 - soon to be 27, and that involves a
recognition that we must have shared responsibility to relocate people from Greece, from Italy, from Malta - and they need to be the kind of commitment
that's in the migration pact (ph), that governments have to take it seriously.
Governments have to recognize the numbers are much smaller than they were in 2015 and 2016, that we can - even with COVID-19's impact on the economy,
accept a small number of refugees in Europe and show the humanity - that spirit of human rights that has underpinned European values over the last
AMANPOUR: Alexander Betts, on that note, thank you so much for joining us.
And now, I want to hand you back over to Kate Bolduan for continuing coverage from Kentucky where we've learned that no Louisville officers will
be charged directly with the killing of Breonna Taylor.