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Interview With Fmr. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ); Interview With Juliette Kayyem. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 12, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): America on high alert. The FBI warns of a potential uprising if President Trump would be removed from office.
National security expert Juliette Kayyem on preventing another deadly siege.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A few months ago, there would be times where we'd sit for a couple hours just waiting for a call in our area. But now we're lucky
if we sit for a half-an-hour.
AMANPOUR: As the virus morphs into something more infectious, we talk with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox,
about optimizing the COVID vaccine rollout.
Plus: After nearly 35 years in power and a bloody crackdown on the opposition, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni insists that he should win
another five year-term in this week's election.
FMR. SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): We have got to eschew Trumpism and move ahead.
AMANPOUR: With the GOP locked in an identity crisis, former Republican Senator Jeff Flake talks to Michel Martin about whether the party can
finally Trump Trumpism.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The walls are closing in on Donald Trump. Democrats are trying to remove him from office, today moving forward with efforts to formally urge the
vice president, Mike Pence, to invoke the 25th Amendment. And, tomorrow, they're poised to impeach Trump for an unprecedented second time.
Trump himself remains defiant. He spent the day defending his actions last week. But national security is most definitely under threat, the FBI
warning that the United States Capitol and all 50 state houses could be the site of -- quote -- "armed protests" in the days leading up to Joe Biden's
So, I'm joined now by Juliette Kayyem. She is a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama. And she
follows this very closely. She's also a lecturer in international security at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, joining me now from Cambridge,
Juliette, welcome back to the program.
I mean, I can't imagine anybody who follows this as much as you do.
So, I want to ask you first for a broad view of whether you believe, whether it's the warnings the FBI have just made or what about what
happened last week, is an opening skirmish, or the end of what we have seen under Trump, or opening to something new and even worse?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think we are at the end.
And that should give people hope. But we have to continue this effort. So - - and the reason why is this. We -- you really have to view the movement -- and I separate this from Trump supporters and Trump voters. I am talking
about the violent extremists we saw last week.
It is a domestic terrorist movement. And its spiritual and operational leader is the president of the United States. Soon, he is going to no
longer be president. And, in the interim, he's been deplatformed. It's a technique we used against ISIS. He can't get onto social media. There's the
25th Amendment. There is the impeachments. There's the lack of business support. There's Deutsche Bank dropping him.
It's an isolation of essentially the leader of a terrorist movement, right, in other words, the people, the violent people who are supporting him. And
it's that isolation that I think is ultimately the pathway to peace, because, like other terrorist organizations, it's going to be harder for
him to recruit and to be relevant and to create the kind of violence he has.
AMANPOUR: So, Juliette, I have heard you talk about terrorists leaders, spiritual leaders, terrorist organizations for many, many years, but never
in connection with the president of the United States of America.
And I understand that you're not just throwing that term around or using it as a blanket term. You're obviously making a very significant point.
AMANPOUR: Are you confident that that's what this is?
KAYYEM: I am.
I mean, before last week, I had been using a terminology -- and this is what we study -- called stochastic terrorism, that what Donald Trump was
able to do is, he was able to ignite to incite his followers, the violent ones, with language like "Liberate Michigan," right?
So, what does that mean to us? Well, so we're kind of going to parse it, right? To his listeners, they knew exactly what it meant.
Since he lost the election, he's gone full incitement. And we know it. We have his language. We have his tweets. We have what he was saying about
storming the Capitol, about getting back the election. That's the language of destruction for political purposes. It's violence for political
And I want to be clear here. The reason why I want people to think about Donald Trump as the leader of a domestic terrorism movement, which everyone
agrees that this is domestic terrorism -- he is their leader -- is because then our known techniques of counterterrorism, the deplatforming, the
isolation, the no longer able to recruit, the sort of shaming of Donald Trump, that becomes relevant, because what we want to ensure is not so much
that we're going to be able to control all of his violent supporters, but we want to make sure that he does not have a second act.
We really worry about recruitment in the future that would undermine our democracy. So, I have been careful about how I use the terminology. I'm not
calling Donald Trump anything. It's just I think it's helpful for people to think about this as a counterterrorism effort.
And, look, we just have it a bunch of arrests, just like we would do in any counterterrorism effort, to minimize the violence against the American
AMANPOUR: You're right. There have just been a bunch of arrests and some indictments, the first two indictments.
There's also been, "The Washington Post" has reported, an internal memo and warning by the FBI in, I believe, their Virginia office, which used the
words like war, when they were warning of what they were seeing being organized and what they understood from online to be planned for that last
Wednesday, January 6, at the Capitol.
And that apparently, apparently, given the security or the lack of security presence, was not communicated. What -- how do you assess that?
KAYYEM: Yes, it is -- this often happens in incidents where you think at first we're caught by surprise.
The truth is, anyone who was following Donald Trump and certainly the online effort knew that this was going to be a big event. And so the gap
isn't in the intelligence gathering. The gap was in intelligence implementation.
Why was no one sort of running around with their head chopped off saying, we have a problem, we have to pre-position assets, we have to make sure
that people do not get onto the staircase? Once they lost control of the building, you knew that they were in big trouble when I was watching it.
I do want to say one thing, though. While there was an elevated threat environment, and most people have been warning about it -- Trump had
tweeted about it a lot -- Donald Trump's speech that morning, however, also was shocking and inciting. And that -- so, that added to the underlying
tension that already existed.
He essentially said, go take the Hill. I mean, he used words like fight, go stop the vote, go up to the Capitol. It's that language too that became a
triggering for the kind of violence that we saw.
AMANPOUR: OK, so now let's ask about the big day, which is January 20.
AMANPOUR: And, apparently, people are very, very concerned.
The FBI has made this extraordinary warning about armed protests at all 50 statehouses, and indeed at the U.S. Capitol. What do you expect? I mean,
they have made the warnings. We have all seen in plain sight what happened. We know that there has to be counterterrorism or counter-riot police and
AMANPOUR: Do you think the United States' security forces are in a position to be able to neutralize that kind of massive threat?
KAYYEM: I do now, which is great, I mean, in the sense that I think that last week was such a wakeup call.
So, one of the reasons why the FBI does an alert like this is, it's basically telling every state, get your act together, because we don't know
what the numbers look like.
But I also want to make clear that there -- the counterterrorism effort is ongoing right now. The deplatforming of Donald Trump to incite the kind of
violence we would worry about on the 20th is really important. It's worked in the past in terms of counterterrorism efforts. It has gotten his -- it's
deprived him of a radicalizing oxygen, which he has used since the election to get people up in arms.
The other is -- again, is these arrests are being done quite publicly. You have seen them, the videos, the sort of naming and shaming of individuals
who showed up at the Capitol.
For the FBI, that's very important, because what they want to say to Trump -- to anyone who would use violence to support Trump, so not Trump
supporters, but use violence to support Trump, he can't help you. I mean, in other words, what they're saying, Trump has made it seem like he's got
their back, right?
So, if you're really serious about this, you will be prosecuted. That type of vulnerability, that weakening of Donald Trump, is a key -- is very
important right now in this seven-day period, and certainly further on.
So, I'm a big proponent of isolating him as much as possible, so that he can't have this second act. We can't -- and then -- and then we unify. We
are a divided country. I know that. But most Trump supporters are not violent.
This is a small group that we just basically have to -- have to minimize the threat to the American public.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just play a sound bite from president-elect Biden, who's going to be the focus of all that attention next week under these
When somebody asked him whether he was afraid, this is how he responded:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside.
And we've been getting briefed. But I am -- I think it's critically important that there be a real serious focus on holding those folks who
engaged in sedition and threatened people's lives, defaced public property, caused great damage, that they be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, as you said, isolate and marginalize and deplatform before going ahead and unifying. And he's saying kind of the same thing about
punishing and holding accountable.
AMANPOUR: But I do want to ask you whether you are concerned about the level of potential sympathy within the ranks of law enforcement, even the
KAYYEM: Yes, I am.
And it's been a -- it's been a recurring theme, and it's been something that, from the military to local law enforcement, has been a concern. I
will say the surprise was some reporting about a Secret Service agent. We tend to think of the Secret Service as somewhat more elite than other law
So, this has to be closely monitored. These agencies have to have strong protocols about the public statements of people who are given -- who need
the public's trust. In other words, you are a police officer, yes, but you also cannot rage against major portions of the population or a future
The second is, I think the unions need to begin to sort of get very serious about the violent MAGA elements that are within their -- within their
And, finally, I do want to say, it seems like everything's divided and horrible, and I get that, and -- but maybe just taking the long course of
history, once we can get this violent element isolated, arrested, Trump deplatformed, isolated, minimized, the racism and the violence and the
white supremacy that Trump has nurtured for four years won't have a protector.
It won't have someone who's tell -- who's basically luring them in. And I think that there's going to -- there's something to having shame return to
a nation about what it means, even in terms of who we are.
KAYYEM: And I think that that will be -- I think we will be surprised that we can begin to unify again. I'm pretty optimistic about that.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's so good to hear you. And, as you say, to remove the spiritual and the operational leader of this movement will likely have a
Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much, indeed.
Now, House Republican leaders have announced that they will not be whipping colleagues at tomorrow's impeachment vote. Instead, they will let them vote
their conscience. The moves come in the midst of major soul-searching by Republicans after last week's violent insurrection at the Capitol.
So, what is next for the party that's been dominated by Trumpism and Trump for the last four years?
Well, my next guest has some ideas.
The former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was one of the few Republicans to speak out against President Trump. And since he left the Senate in 2018,
his state has, in fact, turned blue.
Here is speaking to our Michel Martin about what lies ahead.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Senator Flake, thank you so much for speaking with us.
FLAKE: Glad to. Thank you.
MARTIN: You were in the House for six terms. You were -- you had six years in the Senate.
So, I have to ask, what went through your mind when you saw people, a mob breaking down the doors of the room where you used to sit, your colleagues
huddled in the corners, staff having to barricade themselves in, police officers you probably greeted in the morning having to being chased up the
What went through your mind when you saw all that?
FLAKE: You know, in my 18 years, I saw a lot on Capitol Hill.
I -- my first year, 9/11 happened. We were forced to evacuate the Capitol. I happened to see the clerk of the House at that time and said, "What do
members of the Congress do?" as I'm running through the halls.
He said: "Run. Just get out."
And so I have seen some strange and terrible things happen on Capitol Hill, but I can't imagine anything like this, to be in the Capitol itself, on the
floor of the House or the Senate, and to see your own citizens, your own constituents in some cases, storming their doors and rampaging through the
House and the Senate.
It was just an awful, terrible day. So I can't imagine what my former colleagues went through.
MARTIN: But, in a way, I'm kind of wondering if you did, in some ways, because you have been writing for some time and speaking for some time,
especially since you made the decision not to run for reelection, about the dangers of the rhetoric that this president engaged in.
So, now it makes me wonder what your last couple of months in the Senate were like. I mean, did you get intimations that the kind of language that
the president uses, the kinds of messages he puts across could lead to violence?
I'm wondering now, did you get threats while you were still serving? What was that like?
FLAKE: Oh, yes, I did. And I happened to be on the baseball field getting shot at myself. And a couple of people actually served time for threats
made against me and my family. So, yes -- and it does.
I said many times in speeches on the Senate floor or conversations with people at the White House, saying that words matter. The words of a
president really matter. And the president's attack, for example, on the media, calling them the enemy of the people, was having already, at that
time, a couple of years ago an effect on how journalists were treated abroad.
More journalists were being held and detained and harassed, because authoritarians and despots around the world would use the president's
phrase, it's just fake news. And they felt they had a license to move ahead and detain journalists.
We saw the president stand with Duterte, for example, while Duterte referred to the media gathered there as spies, and the president laughing
along with it. And to see the president borrow language from people like Stalin, talking about the enemy of the people, and to pretend that that's
not going to have an impact.
So, yes, the words of a president matter. Obviously, I didn't foresee what happened last week. But I sensed that, as many did, that this would matter,
that this -- something would happen in terms of violence, given the president's rhetoric.
MARTIN: Your colleagues could have stopped this with the first impeachment. Why didn't they?
FLAKE: I would have voted like Mitt Romney did.
You can always question whether or not you bring impeachment forward. Alexander Hamilton said that impeachment in the end might say more about
the partisans than the accused. And so you always have to worry about the political aspects.
But the call made to a leader in Ukraine and the president of Ukraine, saying to dig up dirt on your opponent, seemed clear to me. So, yes, he
could have been stopped before, and I wish that my colleagues had. But they didn't. And here we are.
Now we see what we do moving forward. I'm just grateful the president will be out of office.
MARTIN: They could have stopped this by reaffirming the vote and declining to entertain these conspiracy theories...
MARTIN: ... even conspiracy theories directed at members of their own party.
MARTIN: Like, the election apparatus in Georgia is entirely controlled by Republicans.
So, your colleagues could have stopped this by declining to entertain these conspiracies. Why didn't they?
And, like I said, you can have different opinions on impeachment and what threshold you have to meet for that, but there was absolutely no excuse.
And some of my colleagues, like I said, could have believed that impeachment set a bad precedent and had reasons for not doing that.
But I can tell you, not one of my colleagues, not one, truly believed that there was wide-scale voter fraud in this last election. Yet they simply
amplified -- many of them amplified the president's claims and falsehoods, and there's no excuse for that.
And I do hope that there's a political price paid by those who went along with that, because that was -- they knew that that was dangerous for our
democracy and simply wrong. Yet too many went along with it.
MARTIN: Millions, tens of millions of people find his behavior acceptable. Maybe -- I don't know what percentage of them in totality find it
acceptable, but enough find it acceptable that he got 70 million votes.
MARTIN: And so the question becomes is, what assures you that there will be some political price?
And then, of course, I want to ask you why you think this president has achieved this hold on your party to begin with.
FLAKE: Well, I think there will be political price, because there has been already. The president lost.
As you mentioned, he got 74 million votes, but it was seven million fewer votes than his opponent did. You had an election in Georgia that, frankly,
should have been a gimme for Republicans, yet both seats were lost.
In my home state of Arizona, we have for the first time in 72 years two Republican -- or -- I'm sorry -- two Democrats representing the state. In
the midterms in 2018, we lost the House of Representatives of, Republicans. Now we have lost the Senate. We lost more than 400 legislative seats in
state capitals nationwide.
So, a political price has been paid and will continue to be. But as to why my party embraced the man, it's the easier path to blame things on the
other side or on individuals. It's just -- that's what's easy, rather than politicians telling the truth and constituents accepting that truth.
Sometimes, it's tough medicine. But I can tell you, the president lost me long before he was running for president. His embrace of birtherism was
enough for me to say I could never support such a man. But he managed to get the support of my party.
MARTIN: So, what should happen now?
FLAKE: Well, the president is going to go out of office, obviously.
If impeachment articles are passed on the floor, if I were in the Senate, I would vote for them. Having said that, I question whether or not there is
really time to go through this and also have President Biden start his administration in a way that he should.
Given the rules of the Senate, and when they have to bring these articles up and have a trial, it's very difficult. And I just cannot see many in my
caucus going for that once the president is removed. And my concern is moving ahead on impeachment is, if you do impeach the president, you need
to convict him.
I'm afraid that if he is impeached and not convicted, then it will say more about what the president can get away with than what he can't, and the
wrong message is sent. So I hope that there are good discussions going on between the House and the Senate. Like I said, for me, that is not a
question. He did commit impeachable acts.
MARTIN: There have been a number of people in the party -- I mean, there's been some pretty robust conversations about this even taking place in
And a number of people have said that, yes, there's risks to impeachment, but that the risk to not impeaching him is greater. I mean, the argument is
that, if there isn't at least some public accounting, that it encourages impunity.
And some of my colleagues, especially those who worked overseas, lived overseas, were born overseas, argue that a number of strongmen, people like
Hugo Chavez, people like Charles Taylor, I mean, history shows that strongmen who are stopped come back stronger.
Is there any alternative, other than impeachment, that you can envision that would accomplish the goals that you seek?
FLAKE: There's some talk of some kind of censure using the 14th Amendment to bar the president from serving again.
But keep in mind that the main remedy for impeachment is removal from office. The president will be out of office next week. And so I think that
there are other things that can be done. The president will face legal ramifications in other areas, in other courts. Southern District of New
York, for example, is moving ahead, whether or not the president tries to pardon himself or anything else.
So, I think the president will face legal ramifications, if not for this, for other things.
But, like I said, members of Congress ought to consider as well the message that is sent to despots and authoritarians around the world and to people
in this country if the president is impeached, but not convicted again.
The president surely we will use that, to the extent that he's able out of office, to say, yes, there it is, one partisan body indicting me once
again, and nobody can convict. I didn't do anything wrong.
So, I think that the message sent is important.
MARTIN: I can't help but notice that, even after the invasion of the Capitol, and the leadership of both the House and the Senate thought it
important to come back to the building, even though it's had been kind of ravaged, to complete the people's business, but even after the attacks on
the Capitol, 121 members of Congress and six or seven senators still objected to the election results.
What do you say to them?
FLAKE: You're wrong. I mean, I don't know what to say, other than I think, if that vote were held today, it would be much different.
I don't know if -- I would think that someone who was caught up in the moment would certainly think, what have I done? But maybe they weren't far
enough removed from the moment to think clearly.
But if that election -- or if that vote were held today, I think it would be different. I think that they would see it differently. I hope so.
MARTIN: As you mentioned, you have been out of office for the last couple of years. You made the decision not to run again.
And you said that -- in fact, you wrote about this in "The New York Times," actually in a piece that posted the very morning that the invasion of the
Capitol took place. You said that: "I chose not to go along with my party's rejection of its core conservative principles in favor of that demagogue.
In a speech on the Senate floor on October 24, 2017, I announced that, because of the turn my party had taken, I would not run for reelection. The
career of a politician that is complicit in undermining his own values doesn't matter -- doesn't mean much."
So, what's it's been like these past two years for you?
FLAKE: Well, I was in the House for 12 years and the Senate for six. That's a pretty good career.
But I would have liked to have served another term in the Senate. You don't get to the Senate and want to go usually after just six years. But the
price that I would have had to pay, and what I faced when I was going for reelection, is a knowledge that I would have to stand on the campaign stage
with this president when he came to my state, if I wanted to have any chance in a primary.
And I would have to laugh at his jokes. I would have to nod along as he ridiculed my colleagues or minorities or others. And I couldn't do it.
There's no way that any career is worth that.
And so that's where I have been. So, I have -- regardless of whether or not I would have liked to have stayed in the Senate for another term or two,
it's been -- to be out of office, knowing that I did the right thing has felt good. And, frankly, I lived a charmed political life, and I have no
And I -- but I'm happy the way I left, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
MARTIN: Do you feel vindicated? I mean, as terrible as the events have been, does it in some -- I mean, you certainly couldn't take any pleasure
FLAKE: No, I...
MARTIN: But do you feel vindicated?
FLAKE: No, you take no pleasure at all in it. I don't.
I saw my colleague Bob Corker, who left under similar circumstances, say the same thing. You don't take pleasure in it, but you are gratified that
others are coming to the same conclusion, maybe belatedly, or they're having the courage now to stand up and say, we were wrong, and we shouldn't
have countenanced this kind of behavior in our party, and we shouldn't have gone along with this man.
We don't see people saying those words. But I think the behavior will change. And I was certainly -- I have been good friends with Mike Pence for
20 years now. And to see -- it's been painful in the last couple of years to see what he felt he's had to do to stay in the president's good graces
But to see what he did this past week was gratifying and so good for the country. And Mitch McConnell, I have had my differences with him on what
he's done and what he's said sometimes, but he was pitch-perfect on last Wednesday.
And I was glad to see that. So, hopefully, we can move ahead and be in a better place as Republicans. Unless we decide that we're going to be the
party again of limited government economic freedom, strong American leadership, individual responsibility, we have no future. There is no
future with Trumpism.
And there's just no there, there. This kind of nativist, you know, personality cult that just doesn't last very long in a democracy. And I
think that we saw that in these last elections that bore this out. And as Republicans, I hope that we recognize, if for no other reason that we want
to be relevant as a nationalist party, we've got to eschew Trumpism and move ahead.
MARTIN: Have you spoken to the vice president since the events last weekend? I know the two of you were -- have been friends for some time.
Have you spoken to him?
FLAKE: I have not. I just haven't though that I would get through to him - - to him. I should mention, you know, that the most awful thing about some of the stories that we have heard since then is how, you know, president
was just egging people on to go after the vice president. And after finding out what was going on, and people were running around saying, Hang Mike
Pence, the president never called to check on him, never called to see how he was doing.
And I remember back years back to the baseball shooting, while I was still there, we're putting, you know, Steve Scalise in the ambulance to
(INAUDIBLE), I got a call from Mike Pence at that time who had saw the coverage saying, are you all right. Then then I got call from Barack Obama,
the former president, and Joe Biden, the former vice president, just checking, are you all right.
And to think that the president of the United States wouldn't have the courtesy or the good sense or the humanity to call his vice president, his
vice president who has been nothing but loyal to him, and who he had actually incited the mob against to check on his whereabouts or to see if
he was OK, that is just awful.
MARTIN: Senator Jeff Flake, thank you so much for speaking with us today.
FLAKE: Glad to. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: What truly stunning personal reflections from Jeff Flake to end that interview.
And now, to a story that we've been following closely also about democracy this time in Africa. Presidential elections are happening in Uganda, which
is a long-time U.S. ally, that's happening on Thursday.
Now, 38-year-old pop star turned politician, Bobi Wine, will take on the President Museveni who has been in power for, count them, 35 years, and
thinks he wants another term. The run up has been violent. And today, Uganda has banned violent social platforms, because these are crucial to
Wine's campaign because has been banned from the main media. He also says the army has raided his home again and arrested his security staff.
Back in November, scores of election supporters were killed. And shortly after, Wine told this program how he was arrested the day he was nominated
as the opposition candidate and about the violence that he's faced ever since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBI WINE, UGANDAN PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: I have to put on a bulletproof for me to be able to campaign. I have survived two assassination attempts in
last two weeks where bullets have been shot in my car, in -- on the tires and in the wind screen. Tear gas canisters are thrown at us every time. We
-- teargas and brutalized and even shot at live bullets by the police and the military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, United States has warned last month of the "consequences for those who undermine democracy." I put all of this to the President Museveni
himself when we spoke on Monday evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Museveni, welcome to the program.
YOWERI MUSEVENI, PRESIDENT OF UGANDA: Thank you. Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: OK, listen, I want to start by asking you. You know, 80 percent of your country is under 35 years old. They weren't even born when you
first came into office. And they really seem to want a change. They want jobs. Why do you think you deserve another term?
MUSEVENI: Well, because I am the one who enabled the 80 percent to survive childhood diseases and who have given them all education and who have given
them a base for economic -- for the economy. And we have a good budget, and who can support them, can support those youth.
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. President, as I said, they want jobs. Uganda today remains one of the poorest countries in the whole wide world and depends
hugely on foreign assistance. I want to ask you; 35 years ago, you said, the problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the
people, but leaders who want to overstay in power.
Now, you have seen that your country has now changed the two-term rule. They have changed the age limit. And there you are going for a sixth term.
Why do you think that's a good thing?
MUSEVENI: You should check your facts. It is the fifth fastest growing economy in the whole world. You should check your facts. It's about to
become a middle-income country.
Now, regarding the politics, the management of society, yes, I said, stay in power for a long time without democracy, without democracy. Mark those
words. But if it is the democratic will of the people, because we have got so many things to deal with, we need -- if we need all hands-on board, then
it's correct that we have all hands-on board.
AMANPOUR: You call yourself still a freedom fighter. I want to read to you the words of your main opponent, Bobi Wine, young man who seems to have
energized young crowds. He basically said in one of his songs: What was the purpose of liberation when we can't have a peaceful transition? Freedom
fighters become dictators. He sang that in 2018 in the song "Freedom." He has a point, right?
MUSEVENI: That is wrong. We have been having transition. We have been having transition by having elections. Every five years, we have elections.
And if the people didn't want to give us a mandate, they would vote us out.
AMANPOUR: Well, we have seen it. We have interviewed Bobi Wine. It's all over the international press that he has been, you know, attacked. A member
of his team has been killed. He is not able to go to big rallies. He's been jailed. How is that fair, in terms of a level playing field for contesting
MUSEVENI: Well, first of all, we have saved our people from dying in big numbers from corona. Have you heard of corona?
AMANPOUR: Oh, I --
MUSEVENI: Corona has been killing people, and has killed very many people in Europe and in the United States. Here, we have only lost about 300
people now. We have able -- and we have been able to do that by stopping public gatherings.
Now, Mr. Bobi Wine was one of the people who was defying that, in other -- in other words, causing the deaths or the spread of the virus. That's how
he ran into conflicts with the law. That's how it all started.
And then they tried to blackmail the country by rioting. You have seen riot -- what rioting is in Washington. It was not a good idea, those rioters who
attacked that parliament building in Washington. But we are very happy that we have not -- our people have not died, like they have died in your
AMANPOUR: Well, actually, Mr. President, let me just stop you there, because, obviously, we know what coronavirus is. You also are holding
rallies the same size, if not bigger, than Bobi Wine's. So, that's -- you know, that's one case.
MUSEVENI: I was --
AMANPOUR: But here's the thing, Mr. President. There are 54 people who were killed in these -- in the situation by your security forces in
November. Why does he have to campaign in a flak jacket? Why do 54 people have to die?
MUSEVENI: The 32 of the 54 were rioters attacking security forces. That's how they died. It was -- I hear you now in the U.S. talking of
insurrection. And you are saying insurrection is a bad idea. This was -- this was a form of insurrection. And that's how they were suppressed by --
when they were attacking security forces.
There are others, 22, who died through circumstances which we're still investigating.
AMANPOUR: The U.N. says, we're gravely concerned by the election-related violence, the excessive use of force by security personnel, as well as the
increasing crackdown on peaceful protesters, political and civil society leaders, and human rights defenders.
So, the U.N. -- that's the U.N. saying that it's the security forces. And your own security force -- I mean, to be honest with you, it really shocked
me recently, because he said that, we are proud of cracking down on reporters. He said, we beat reporters for their own good.
I don't understand why you keep putting the blame on them, when your security forces are doing this. And what's the point of it? I don't
MUSEVENI: We have cameras all over the place. If the security forces are the ones who are making mistakes, it is easy to see, to capture and
identify. In any case, the -- nobody knows more about Uganda than ourselves. I am here. I have got a lot of experience. And I can tell you
who is in the wrong and who is in the right.
So, the U.N. should just -- the U.N. have got enough trouble spots in the world to deal with.
AMANPOUR: Are you basically saying you're above the law? I mean, I'm not sure what you're saying, because, you know, human rights is an
international concept. And, as you know, Bobi Wine is proposing that the International Criminal Court, which is an arm of the United Nations,
investigate you and your senior officials for human rights abuses.
There's a 41-page brief saying the police and military have deployed "widespread use of shoot to kill, beatings and other violence."
If you have all the images, and you're confident of your evidence, will you hand it over for such an investigation?
MUSEVENI: Of course. Of course. We have no problem. We have no problem at all, because there is nothing to hide. There's nothing to hide.
And, by the way, you are dealing with people who know what they are doing, who don't need lectures from anybody really in the world, because we know
what we are doing.
AMANPOUR: Well, President Trump said that in the United States as well. And you saw, as you mentioned yourself, the incitement to insurrection, the
storming of the parliament, the cradle of American democracy, by radicals and by insurrectionists.
I just wonder what your view on that is. What would you say to President Trump about that?
MUSEVENI: Well, I'm not a -- I'm not a lecturer to Americans. They know what they are doing. But insurrection is insurrection, whether it is in the
U.S. or in Africa. You should regard any extraconstitutional actions as illegal and treasonable. But I don't want to lecture Americans. They know
what they're doing.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you know, the House has already put forward formally one article of impeachment on the charges of inciting insurrection. So, I
want to ask you, then, if you should lose a fair election, will you accept the result?
MUSEVENI: If I lost a fair election, I will accept the results, of course, because Uganda is not my house. I have got my house. I will go to my house
and to do my own thing if the people of Uganda don't want me to help them with their issues. I go and deal with my personal issues very happily.
AMANPOUR: I do need to ask you a final question. And that is your constant haranguing and harassment of the gay community in Uganda. The head of the
gay rights groups there says: "It's actually a really scary and rough time. LGBT people are fearful to even vote, as there is a risk that they will be
targeted at the polling stations due to all the hate speeches."
What are you afraid of? Why does this group, over the years, why is it so utterly oppressed and harassed?
MUSEVENI: Who is haranguing the homosexuals? Who is haranguing them?
AMANPOUR: You and your government, your churches talk about them, maybe security people, but people in the streets as well. There is a climate of
impunity in Uganda for anti-gay opposition and harassment and oppression. Why? Why, in 2021, is that the case?
MUSEVENI: Now we have a problem of social imperialism from some parts of the world towards Africa. Homosexuals are not new to Africa. They have been
here. We know them. But we have got a different -- a different view of them. We think they're deviants. They are people who are deviated from the
normal. They are not killed. They are not harangued. They are not persecuted.
But we don't promote them. We don't promote them. We don't promote and flaunt homosexuality, as if it is an alternative way of life. But we don't
agree with your -- the Western way of promoting homosexuality as if it's an alternative way of life.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you know, they have been targeted. And that's why there is a worry, including by human rights groups. But I want to ask you this.
You know, I can see, just like I can see in the United States, when you whip people up with misinformation, disinformation, sometimes lies about
people, you can get a frenzy and a mob and a fear and people who don't know where the truth is.
And I know that, in parts of Africa, homosexuals are promoted by the church, by others as deviants, as you're saying, as pedophiles. And it's
just not true. And I wonder whether you think that -- you're a Christian -- your wife is a Christian -- whether you think that's charitable, and
whether you think that perhaps you can actually move forward with a different view to that segment of your population? Because, as you say,
they are Ugandans. They're there to stay. It's not fair.
MUSEVENI: No, the prevalent opinion among our population now is that homosexuals are a departure from normal. If our opinion changes in the
future, let it change organically, but not impose it on us by others, other people.
AMANPOUR: But nobody is imposing on you, Mr. President. It's not like the international community is telling you anything in this regard about
promotion or anything. It's just about human rights.
Mr. President, thanks for joining us from Kampala.
MUSEVENI: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: And we will see what happens in this very violent environment in Uganda around the elections. That will be on Thursday.
But we're going to turn now to coronavirus. Here in the U.K., the prime minister, Boris Johnson, has warned that the country is "in a very perilous
moment" as hospitals face being overwhelmed. And in the United States, at this rate, January, will be the deadliest month of the pandemic.
Let me bring in senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen right now.
Elizabeth, welcome to the program.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks.
AMANPOUR: Look at this is such an incredible situation going on right now. I mean, just give us a little bit, expand for us how it's going in the
United States particularly in Los Angeles County as we just said is having a really, really bad run of it right now.
COHEN: Christiane, it is not going to really well here in the U.S. The U.S. is a very big place. And I think the thinking back in December from
the federal government was, well, we'll ship everything out to these states and these local -- you know, these cities and they'll take care of it,
they'll have their vaccination clinics. We'll just get it on a plane, get it on a truck. And once we get the supplies to them, they'll be fine.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way, and states and cities were telling the federal government it is not going to turn out that way. It is no easy
feat to do vaccination clinics on this kind of a grand scale and it is not going to terribly well. There is a lot of chaos there is a lot of confusion
and there's also questions about the supply.
So, do we give out all of the supply now and assume that when it comes time for people to get second doses that there will be enough? The federal
government has essentially said, yes, there will be, but there is still some concerns whether that will be the case. There's also some confusion
who can get it. Can everybody get it? Just older people? Do you have to have an underlying condition? The rules may change from state to state.
Right now, a lot of confusion, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Elizabeth, you're absolutely right. And here as well, here in the U.K. and elsewhere, vaccine rollouts just don't seem to be going well.
And it -- there's a sort of a sinking feeling in my stomach anyway because you remember at the beginning, all these leaders were talking about PPE and
masks and, you know, getting test -- trace and isolate under way, and that took forever and it never really came to bear in any meaningful way.
And I'm wondering what the doctors who you talked to think might happen with this virus, with this disease if they even can't get this end sort of
game done to the vaccinations.
COHEN: So, Christiane, vaccination is important for two reasons. One, of course, to, you know, get immunity in the population, but the other is to
stop the creation of variance. We've already seen a variant come out -- first few reported in the U.K. We've seen variants reported in South Africa
and in Brazil that in many ways look like they could be even worse than the ones in the U.K. The more this spread the more variants we will get. The
more people who get this virus, the more the virus has the opportunity to get smart and to keep changing and changing, and then that decreases the
chance that the vaccine will work as well as it has been.
So, there's a double reason that we really need to get this vaccine rollout done quickly all over the world. People need to be immune. And also, we
need to tell the virus, stop mutating, and you can't do that if the virus has all these opportunities to spread around and keep mutating.
AMANPOUR: A very difficult winter ahead. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for joining me tonight.
AMANPOUR: Now, in Los Angeles, officials say that the real aftermath of holiday get togethers is likely still to come. And hospitals are already,
as we said, in crisis mode. Correspondent Sara Sidner is there and this is her latest report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mariachi music slices through the silence. The melody is meant to soothe the family sorrow, the cruelness
of COVID-19 on display. This is a funeral in a parking lot.
JULIANA JIMENEZ SESMA, MOTHER AND STEPFATHER PASSED AWAY FROM COVID-19: My mother was a very strong woman and she fought to the very last breath.
SIDNER: Juliana Jimenez Sesma says, these are the last words they exchanged.
SESMA: I told her, mom, do not be afraid for the Lord is with us. I love you and may God bless you. Keep strong for me mom. And all she answered me
was, yes, miha (ph). Yes, miha with that voice, with fear.
SIDNER: Sesma lived with and cared for her mom who had a lung condition. Her stepdad had asthma and diabetes. Her brother lives right next door with
his young family.
How many people ended up getting it? Did everyone get --
SESMA: All of us.
SIDNER: Her stepfather and then mother ended up here, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. They fought to live just like those filling all the
ICU beds now, but they died within 11 days of each other.
Dr. Jason Prasso treated both Sesma's parents.
JASON PRASSO, PULMONARY AND CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN, MLK JR. COMMUNITY HOSPITAL: I just want her to know that we here tried our hardest and, you
know we're really sorry that things went the way that they did.
SIDNER: The terrible scenario is not unusual as COVID ensnares those who live in multigenerational families and are part of the essential work
PRASSO: We have had the misfortune of seeing this disease run through families and all too frequently take multiple members of a single family.
SIDNER: The state-of-the-art hospital is an oasis of care in the health care desert of South Los Angeles. It is no wonder the heavily black and
Latino neighborhood is suffering disproportionately. The inequities in health care invites death.
ELAINE BATCHLOR, CEO, MLK JR. COMMUNITY HOSPITAL: Diabetes is three times more prevalent here than in the rest of California. Diabetes' mortality is
72 percent higher. The life expectancy is 10 years shorter here than in the rest of the state. And all of that is related to this being an under
resourced and under-served community.
SIDNER: That was before coronavirus arrived.
PRASSO: We're running like well over 100 percent capacity.
SIDNER: The 131-bed facility is suddenly treating more than 200 patients, 60 percent of them are COVID patients. They've made space everywhere, tents
outside, inside hallways, the prayer room, a former gift shop. The battle to save a life physically and mentally exhausting. But on this day a
surprise reminder of why they fight.
ELAINE STEVENS, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: Hello, gang. I'm here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. You look amazing.
STEVENS: I'm back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me see. Let me see. You got dance moves? Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
SIDNER: 74-year-old Elaine Stevens (ph) returns to thank her doctor and nurses. She spent more than 40 days in this ICU before walking out alive.
STEVENS: I made it. A lot of days I didn't want to make it, but I did it.
SIDNER: As she celebrated a second chance at life, the ceremony for death was still played out in the parking lot for the Sesma family.
SESMA: Don't let this be you. If you truly loved your loved ones, don't let this be you. Continue to, you know, take all the cautious -- take extra
precautions, exaggerate if you have to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So much at stake. So many rules to still follow even for exhausted populations all over the world.
And finally, tonight, a surreal scene from Spain where storm, Filomena, has blanketed the usually balmy capital of Madrid in snow. More than a foot and
a half has fallen over the past few days. Something that Madrid hasn't experienced in 50 years. And residents are even skiing and snowboarding and
sledding across town.
The Spanish prime minister, of course, is urging people to be as sensible as possible as the country grapples with its COVID crises like so many in
Europe this winter. But it is a change and it is a chance to blow off steam and to enjoy a little bit of outdoors.
That's it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.