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Interview With Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson; Interview With Journalist Rebecca Traister; Vaccine Nationalism; Interview with Amy Sherald. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 28, 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.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we will be in a position to be able to share, to share vaccines, as well as know-how, with
other countries who are in real need.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As COVID cases rip through India and surge across Asia, major faith leaders demand that wealthy countries end vaccine
I speak with South African Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Seth Berkley, head of the global vaccine alliance, Gavi.
Then: Recently, I spoke with biographer Blake Bailey about Philip Roth and misogyny. Now Bailey himself is under fire. I asked journalist and MeToo
chronicler Rebecca Traister why this keeps happening.
Also, Walter Isaacson looks at white supremacy inside the Department of Homeland Security with former Secretary Jeh Johnson.
And a celebrated portrayed of Breonna Taylor on display at home in Louisville. I speak with the artist, Amy Sherald.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
India continues to break global coronavirus records, and the spike is crushing its public health system, as oxygen, hospital beds and even
cremation sites remain desperately scarce.
And, as President Joe Biden touts his vaccination record to Congress, his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is calling out the U.S. and other
wealthy countries for failing to tackle the global nature of this pandemic.
And now, almost 150 religious leaders are launching a global campaign to end vaccine nationalism or extreme vaccine inequality. In a joint
statement, they say: "We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to our sisters and brothers by imagining that the market can be left to resolve
the crisis, or pretend to ourselves that we have no obligation to others in our shared humanity."
One of those faith leaders is Dr. Thabo Makgoba. He is Southern Africa's Anglican archbishop, and he's joining me from Cape Town, along with Seth
Berkley, who is CEO of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, which supports immunizing poor countries. He's in Geneva.
Gentlemen, welcome, both, to the program.
Can I start with you, Archbishop, because you and your fellow faith leaders of all different religions have signed this letter and this urgent call? Up
until mid-April, apparently, only less than 1 percent of people have been vaccinated in sub-Saharan Africa.
Can you tell me from your own eyes the urgency of the need on your continent?
THABO MAKGOBA, ARCHBISHOP OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF SOUTHERN AFRICA: Thank you, Christiane, for having us.
The urgency is indescribable, because, if one looks at the COVAX system and its intention, it's supposed to help the global South and the poorest of
the poor countries to vaccinate only 3 percent. It is destined to fail.
And in my context, I have seen people die without saying goodbye to their families. And if one looks at the scourge in India in your introduction,
one is anxious. But should we have that magnitude in the continent, the continent will be wiped off the face of this earth, whilst others are
So this is not a moral issue only. But it is an issue of greed. And it is an issue that the world should really speak up and stand up against such
behavior in the face of death, particularly when monopolies are wanting to make capital, instead of saving life.
AMANPOUR: Golly, Archbishop, when you say wiped off the face of this earth, it's a really dramatic picture. And it's a dramatic crisis.
So, let me ask you, Seth Berkley.
According to the WHO, I think only 2 percent of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Africa. And, of course, their population represents 16
percent of the world. And we have been reporting on this inequity for months now. And, as the archbishop said, rich countries are hoarding.
You're concerned with the poor nations and the poorest people. What can actually be done? Promises are being made from the highest levels of power.
We have heard President Biden himself.
DR. SETH BERKLEY, CEO, GAVI, THE VACCINE ALLIANCE: So, thank you, Christiane, for having us and for taking on this important issue.
The numbers are terrible. I mean, high-income countries, about a third of the citizens have gotten one dose. In the lowest-income countries, it's
point 0.2 percent. Clearly, that is not equity.
Now, why was COVAX set up? It was because this -- something like this happened in 2009, in the last epidemic, and we wanted to try to do
something else. But, as the archbishop has said, what's happened is, there have been export bans, there have not been sharing of doses. And this has
been a real challenge.
So, COVAX has been able to procure over two billion doses, which will be available by the end of 2021. That should cover 30 percent of the
population. But they're not here today. At the same time, wealthy countries bought more than a billion-and-a-half doses beyond the amount they need to
cover their citizens, because they didn't know which vaccines would work.
So, what we're asking is that, right now, at this critical time, they share those doses, so that we can make sure that at least the health care workers
and the highest-risk groups get served everywhere in the world, because we're only safe if everybody is safe.
And that's the reality of this pandemic and the new variants and the spread that's occurring.
AMANPOUR: You talk about how health care -- health care workers, of course, should get vaccinated. I was stunned to hear a WHO official in
Africa today say that it's heartbreaking to watch on television or whatever, as she put it, a 19-year-old in a rich global Northern country
receiving his or her vaccine, where health workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic in Africa or India or wherever cannot get even a
So, Archbishop, you, with this letter, are calling, in fact, on the world's most developed leaders, the most powerful G7 leaders who are coming here to
Britain, I think it's in June. You're calling on them to make this a priority and to really get every piece of this puzzle towards sending
vaccines to where they're most desperately needed right now.
Do you think -- do you think your message is going to get through?
MAKGOBA: I'm hoping this message, and through your programs and many other voices and people of faith and no faith, the G7, will listen, because look
at it this way.
I was working in (INAUDIBLE) over the weekend. And I had my mask and I had to do the testing, because I was crossing the border. And, lo and behold,
at the hotel where I was sitting -- staying, there were more people with an American accent and an English accent. And they are here.
So, the pandemic and the coronavirus does not know color. It does not know race. It does not respect the national flags. And I hope that the G7 will
realize that, that we cannot vaccinate in Europe and think that the variant that comes from other places in India and everywhere will not reach their
And we are only safe if everyone is safe. And I want to say also Canada is one of the G7. And I was praying that Canada also used the COVAX -- yes, of
course, they can, but use the COVAX in the first instance to buy so many vaccines.
I would have fought Canada will say, let me don't compete with the others. So, let me support the global South to really access more, more vaccines,
rather than take vaccines.
But to those G7 leaders, please examine your conscience. We are safe together. This is not an apartheid issue, where you are driven by capital
and monopoly have already made their profits. Think about life, rather than profits.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, at the beginning, that was the pledge, wasn't it, Seth Berkley? It was going to be intellectual property was going to be
shared. The patents, the -- it wasn't going to be about a profit-making motive.
I'm stunned to hear that Canada would have accessed vaccines via COVAX, which is meant to be, I thought, for the developing world. Seth, how does
BERKLEY: Well, actually, Christiane, the way COVAX was set up was to try to avoid these bilateral deals. The idea was to have global solidarity and
have equitable access.
So we invited all countries to join, wealthy countries, upper-middle- income, as well as low-income countries. And for low-income countries, we were raising finance to make those vaccines available free of charge.
The challenge we have had is that, because so many doses were locked up at the beginning, we haven't been able to get doses in the first half of the
year. We have a large number of doses, as I have mentioned, for the second half of the year. But, obviously, we have to oblige the people who have put
money on the table to buy doses.
And we keep our promises. And we will do that. Of course, we are encouraging countries that have large amounts of doses to make those
available, as well as the companies to go ahead and serve the international market at the same time they serve the wealthy markets. That is really the
challenge that's in front of us.
The last thing I'd say is that we worked hard to get technology transfers, a lot of them to India. So the doses that are being used in India now are
being doses that were being made to be used around the world. Of course, we understand the need. And so we're trying to diversify to other
manufacturers to make sure that we have enough producers around the world to make the doses that are necessary.
AMANPOUR: And, Archbishop, obviously, there is this massive, massive crisis in India right now. Their own Serum Institute has had to stop
exporting. They have a shortage of absolutely everything.
And it's beginning to spread across their borders. So, given that we know how lethal and contagious it can be, if not controlled and if vaccines
aren't taken, I wonder what you would say to people on your own continent, Africans, even African leaders, who, some of them, for instance, the late
president of Tanzania, have played it down.
He told people that God would protect them. I know you're a man of God. But it takes more, right? It takes practical social distancing and masks and
all the rest of it.
And we hear that so much hesitancy is causing even those supplies of vaccines that are on your continent to either expire or have to be thrown
away. So, there's a whole 'nother level of crisis to address on your continent.
MAKGOBA: Christiane, perhaps let me predicate that by saying and underscore what you also said in your comment.
I think Gavi and the G7 and the others should really also put moral pressure on the World Trade Organization to relax the trips and to really
encourage the technology share, how -- we are playing our part on some of those non-pharmaceutical interventions, like social distancing, washing our
hands, and putting our mask, even in those communities where water and sanitation in the continent is still a big problem.
And if you look at those leaders that are saying no to vaccines, that are saying this is an act of God, in the continent in the main, they are a very
small minority. This is a continent, we know we have been vaccinated for polio, for T.B.
And we continue to have -- struggle with malaria. And we have been vaccinated for Ebola. So, vaccine reluctancy will not be that big in the
continent. Of course, there will be skeptics there and there. We will say it from the pulpit. We will say it from our schools. We will say it from
the mosques. We will say it from our schools and universities to say -- to encourage people to get their jab when it is available.
At the moment, indeed, the trickle that has come into the continent is insignificant. We need the know-how. If you look -- if I may put another
point, if you look at the amount of money, even if it's not for COVID, that continent spent on exporting drugs, I'm sure, if we had to know-how, we
could encourage some (INAUDIBLE) companies in the continent to produce their own drugs, and then to scale up the production, because...
MAKGOBA: ... all these companies cannot manage to up -- to scale up.
AMANPOUR: OK, so let me just put that last question to you, Seth Berkley.
First of all, the hesitancy, how bad is that around the world? But, also, we do know that the head of the Africa CDC has said that they rely on -- 99
percent of their vaccines are imported. They only are able to do something like 1 percent. So, no continent can survive in a healthy way if 99 percent
of what they need has to be imported.
BERKLEY: Vaccines are very special things. They're biologics, living things, and they're quite complicated to make.
And so what it requires is a long-term plan and investment. And Africa should have more facilities. We actually procure yellow fever vaccine from
a manufacturer in Senegal. There's manufacturers in South Africa, but, certainly, more needs to be done.
The challenge right now -- and the WTO is getting involved -- is to make sure there are tech transfers that go on. The challenge here is not
intellectual property. It's know-how, and it's making sure that companies work together to quickly scale up manufacturing and make adequate amounts
That's what we have done with the Serum Institute of India and other manufacturers in Korea, other places around the world to get the doses
started. And we need to do more of that to get to the tripling of global production of vaccines that we're going to need if we're going to cover
AMANPOUR: Well, look, I really appreciate you coming on, Seth Berkley and Archbishop Makgoba with this urgent call. So, thank you both.
Now, earlier this month, I spoke with Blake Bailey, author of a blockbuster new biography of Philip Roth, who himself is a complicated writer shadowed
by allegations of misogyny. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE BAILEY, AUTHOR, "PHILIP ROTH: THE BIOGRAPHY": Philip was quite capable of sexually objectifying women and making incredibly tasteless
jokes about it, many of which he put into his books, especially "Sabbath's Theater" and "Portnoy."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, subsequently came shocking news that Bailey faces accusations of his own that he sexually assaulted multiple women.
He says the allegations are -- quote -- "categorically false and libelous."
Now Bailey's publisher, W.W. Norton, that it is permanently pulling the Roth biography from print. It's an extraordinary development that raises
serious questions. Is it appropriate for Norton to cancel the book's publication? And if, as alleged, Norton of an assault by Bailey back in
2018, why did they choose to publish in the first place?
Author and journalist Rebecca Traister reports extensively on links between power and alleged abuse, from Harvey Weinstein to Andrew Cuomo, and she is
joining me now from New York.
Rebecca Traister, let's first just talk about the latest news which came today, W.W. Norton pulling all copies are out of print. Tell me what your
what you -- what you think about that, and is that the right way to go?
REBECCA TRAISTER, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: That's the hardest question of all, because, for me, in writing about issues of power abuse along gendered
and racial lines, the question always seems to come, so what should the consequences be?
And that's the thing that's the hardest for me to answer. I mean, I think that part of what we're looking at is that you can't fix these problems
through just individual censure, right? This is systemic. And, of course, there are all kinds of concerns about taking away art made by problematic
people who've behaved in abusive ways.
If you removed all the art, the books, the movies, the music made by people who have caused harm, not just have been, like, problematic, but who've
caused harm, we would be left with not a lot of art. And so that's problematic.
By the same token, in this case, you have a situation where a publisher and an author who all knew that these allegations were potentially going to be
a problem, are -- if the book stays in publication, are profiting from it.
So the questions of -- how what is an appropriate repercussion when somebody is credibly alleged of abuse, harassment, or harm, that's a really
difficult question. I certainly don't have the answer. And it's my least favorite part of the conversation, because it sort of leaves those who want
to have the conversation about, this is really problematic, and there's a lot of inequity and injustice and abuse happening with the hardest task of
all, which is being the sentencers, the executioners.
AMANPOUR: Right. Right.
So, let's take it piece by piece. Let's just first talk about the specific allegations.
He's accused by two women of rape and of grooming his pupils when he was an eighth grade teacher. He, as I said, denies all this, calls them
categorically false and libelous. He said that to "The New York Times."
His lawyer told us today: "The allegations against Mr. Bailey are demonstrably false. Many of the complainants against Mr. Bailey have
remained on friendly terms with him for the past 20 years, long after the alleged assault. 'Philip Roth: The Biography' has been published in nine
countries, and only W.W. Norton in the United States has stopped publication, based on nothing more than unproven allegations they have seen
in news reports."
So, of course, my first question to you is, Norton apparently knew of the allegations. They didn't just see them in news reports or in our interviews
or whatever. They apparently knew, because one of the complainants told them, I think maybe anonymously, but in 2018.
So I guess then where does the responsibility lie? Should Norton have done something different, rather than just publish and hope this never comes up?
TRAISTER: Yes. Yes.
And here we get to these. So, again, so often, when we talk about MeToo or issues of sexual harassment or power abuse, they come out in these
individual stories about, like, Bailey, about people who allege that he raped or assaulted them or groomed them inappropriately.
But, in fact, the kind of thing that has allowed this behavior to flourish as a norm, this is a systemic problem. And what that means is that while
there are individuals who may have caused harm and been harmed, the ability for that to be so rampant, to define so many of the stories that we are
talking and thinking about, not only in publishing, but in politics, in art, in media, in all kinds of professions, it's because abuses of power
are structural and systemic.
And so, when you talk about that and how it applies to the Norton-Bailey- Roth situation, what you can see is issues of dependency, first of all, because when somebody who has power and is in a position to abuse it, one
of the things that they can do is, actually, people become dependent on them. So that may mean that it's your boss, and you're dependent on your
boss, who may be abusive, for a paycheck or a promotion or a recommendation, which, if you have less power than your boss, makes it hard
for you to tell him about an incriminating story or to tell the truth about the boss.
In this case, that dependency was Roth, who, as you say, is a man who has famously, let's say inequitable, expressed views about women and gender and
sex, and that's in his fiction. And it's debatable in his fiction, and it doesn't mean it's bad to enjoy his fiction. It means it's worth talking
about in his fiction, and it's not a secret.
He chose -- and Blake Bailey is -- was always open about the fact that he was chosen by Roth to be his biographer in part because of a shared
attitude towards women. A story that Bailey told himself was that they bonded over the objectification of the actress Ali MacGraw.
So he chose Bailey to be as biographer. And then Bailey got access to him, to his papers, to all of this raw material about Philip Roth. And then
Norton has -- is dependent on Bailey as the possessor of all this information.
And so publishing has profited from Philip Roth himself, and Philip Roth has profited. Blake Bailey profits. Norton profits depend on Blake Bailey.
So everybody's dependent on who had all this power, and it offers a degree of protection and immunity to those at the center who may have abused their
power in any way.
So, yes, I think Norton bears tremendous responsibility. Norton behaved, according to reports, very poorly. Not only did they not take action
against Bailey. They forwarded the complaint to him, so he was aware of it. And that also sent a message to him that they weren't going to do anything
They published his book anyway. Why would he think that it would be a problem? His publishers had been informed.
AMANPOUR: I have got to just get to their response for a second, Rebecca, but we have reached out to them as well today, and they have not got back
But there has been a leaked internal e-mail from the president, Julia Reidhead, who says: "As a publishing company, we are limited in our
investigative abilities, but we recognize that there may be situations, such as allegations of potentially criminal conduct, where we should
actively consider bringing in outside assistance."
Is that it?
TRAISTER: Well, sure, but that's the beginning of it. That's, I mean, a lot of sort of post hoc covering.
They didn't even -- according to the reports that I have read, they didn't even reach back out to the complainant. And so whether or not they should
have hired a separate investigator, the choice they made was very actively on behalf of Blake Bailey.
They let him know that the allegation existed. They transmitted a message. He knew who it was. He knew who this person was, even though she'd
submitted her claim anonymously. He, in fact, contacted her afterward in response to the forwarded e-mail.
They behaved abominably, and it wasn't just about whether they hired an outside investigator. They didn't even follow up to ask her a question, to
ask for more information, to ask for any backup. So I'm not persuaded by that defense, no.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you, because the real issue is, what does this -- well, clearly, why it matters -- we know why it matters.
Why does this discussion matter to our viewers, to people who would buy the book, to people who are tangentially also then involved in this situation?
And I think one of your early experiences during -- when you were a young reporter -- and you still are -- in any event, in your earlier days, when
you were doing a report on Harvey Weinstein, and it turned pretty ugly.
And your colleague was physically assaulted by him. It's very instructive. Just quickly tell us that story.
TRAISTER: I was a 25-year-old reporter. It was 2000. And I was reporting a film story -- a film business story about Harvey Weinstein and his
distribution of a movie.
And I went to a public event, a party, to ask him a question, because he hadn't returned my calls. And he responded very aggressively toward me. He
screamed at me, threatened me, used vulgar language, tried to take my tape recorder away, caused a big public scene. It wasn't subtle.
Everybody in the room -- he was bellowing -- and then took a colleague of mine out into the street who challenged him on his behavior into the street
and put them in a headlock. And the reason that I think that that incident is instructive is, because when we talk about these kinds of power abuses,
so many people say, well, why didn't they come forward earlier?
Here was an incident that happened in public. It wasn't sexual harassment. It wasn't sexualized in any way. But there were lots of reporters there. It
got reported in "The New York Times." It got reported to "The New York Post." It was not a secret that this happened.
I was told by my boss that I was not supposed to speak to reporters about it. And so it got -- it got framed as I had been the aggressor, a 25-year-
old reporter asking a question of this massively powerful movie producer, who had been violently aggressive in response.
But the message that was sent to me, experiencing that, because it was reported, and no one cared -- it didn't make a scratch on Harvey
In fact, it -- we have so normalized these kinds of abuses that it all got pulled into a kind of romanticized version of his genius and his old-style
studio boss -- we -- in politics and film and art, we confuse often -- we have been told to confuse and normalize violence and abuse with genius and
power, and he knows how to play a hard-knuckled game, and he has great business acumen, and he's tough, and that's why he screams at people or
behaves in abusive or inappropriate ways.
But the ease with which an event like that was normalized and didn't make a dent in the reputation of this man, who, of course, later, we would learn,
had been engaged in massive violent predation against women in other ways, that's part of the message. That's part of how this keeps happening...
TRAISTER: ... is that it can be out in the public, and it -- we're told it doesn't matter, that's just part of what power looks like.
AMANPOUR: Rebecca Traister, thank you so much.
And you're absolutely right. We have to keep vigilant and keep the accountability up, because you're right. It does get normalized.
Thank you for having this conversation with us.
Now, this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be conducting an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism
within federal agency -- agencies.
Jeh Johnson was the Pentagon's chief legal officer. And he then served as secretary of homeland security under President Obama.
And now he tells Walter Isaacson, what lurks in the shadows.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Christiane.
And, Jeh Johnson, welcome to the show.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Walt, thanks for having me back again. Look forward to our conversation.
ISAACSON: Ten years ago this weekend was the raid on Osama bin Laden. That was the security threat at that time.
Tell me, what role did you play? And how do you see that now transforming the type of security threats we face?
JOHNSON: May 1, 2011, I was general counsel of the Department of Defense. I was the senior legal official for the Department of Defense involved in
the consideration of the legal issues that went into the planning of that very sensitive operation.
May 1, 2011, was probably my single best day in public service, because we got bin Laden. I'm a New Yorker.
Twenty years ago, on 9/11, I was in this law firm in my private life, the same firm I'm with now on the other corner of this building and I saw
everything that happened on 9/11.
So, May 1, 2011 was a sense of closure for me like it was for a will the of other Americans. And I'm proud that I had a small part in that. The threat
to our Homeland Security over the last 10 years has evolved significantly. We took the fight to oversees groups like the Al-Qaeda and the Islamic
State. We addressed foreign directed terrorist attacks to the point where, in my judgment, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, could no longer launch large
scale attack on our country like a 9/11.
We went from there to what we referred to as foreign inspired attacks where a lone wolf actor here in the U.S. is inspired by something they see on
internet to now domestic based terrorist attacks by violent rightwing extremists as it's documented by the ADL and other groups.
So, over the last 10 years since the Bid Laden operation or the threats to our homeland have evolved significantly from a foreign terrorist
organization like ISIS to now a domestic based threat of the type we've been discussing, violent rightwing extremists like El Paso, like
Charleston, I put Charleston in that category, and a series of other. The attacks on mosques, on synagogues, on black churches.
The ADL was been tracking this for years and they will tell you that that now was the principal terrorist threat to our homeland. Beyond the
terrorist threat, the number one Homeland Security, the immediate threat right now is, of course, COVID. And we're addressing that. The people are
getting vaccinated. The trendlines are, for the most part, in the right direction.
Longer-term, it's my view, Walter, that the number one Homeland Security threat to our nation is global warming, climate change, wildfires in
California, drought, famine internationally, eroding coastlines, the severe weather events that threaten aging infrastructure. And we've got a lot of
that here in the New York City area. That, in my judgment, is the number one threat to our Homeland Security.
And I'm pleased that the Biden administration is stepping up to taking a leadership role. That's where the United States should be now in addressing
ISAACSON: You rarely talk about your role that day 10 years ago in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Exactly where were you?
JOHNSON: I was in the command center in the basement of the Pentagon that day. You know, I remember that not like it was 10 years ago, but like it
was maybe 10 hours ago. It was Sunday. I was very apprehensive and nervous like a lot of other people. I got up very early and went out to the flower
shop, the garden shop that morning, planted a whole bunch of pansies in my yard in Georgetown. Then put on a sport coat and went to work. I told my
family I have to go to work today. I'll be back later. And I sat there and listened to and watched the whole operation from the basement of the
I took detailed notes which are now classified. I'll never see again. I'll never forget my entry. I think it was around 3:00. Geronimo, Geronimo,
which that our special forces had found him and got him.
ISAACSON: President Biden is looking at extremists at around the Armed Services and the police, even in parts of your former Department of
Homeland Security because there was a high proportion of people who were part of the January 6th insurrection, who were part of law enforcement in
the military. Tell me how you -- why that is and how you would settle that problem.
JOHNSON: It's a worthwhile inquiry. From what I understand, the announcement the other day, there was no special episode among DHS
personnel. No specific individual who was arrested or anything of that nature acting out on DHS headquarters or something like that. But we do
know that a number of the insurrectionists on January 6th were former members of the military, maybe a few in law enforcement. And so, it's a
worthwhile inquiry to undertake.
DHS the largest collection of civilian gun carriers in the federal government larger than the Department of Justice includes border patrol,
customs, air and marine, the coast guard, Homeland Security investigation. So, this is a worthwhile inquiry.
But the other thing I want to say in response to your question. Walter there is a very interesting study out of the University of Chicago by a
professor Robert Pape, you may have heard of it, that studies the demographics of those who were converging on the Capitol on January 6th. It
shows that a number of them were from blue states, a number of them were from diverse cities, diverse states and their number one fear and concern
was the so-called great replacement that somehow white members of our society were going to be replaced by people of color. That plus the false
belief that somehow the election was stolen with the principal drivers of this, that it's worth further study. But I do believe that the announcement
from DHS was wholly warranted.
ISAACSON: You talk about white replacement theory, that seems somewhat prevalent among people in the Border Patrol. In fact, in Facebook, people
in the Border Patrol have said racist things about even Hispanic members of Congress. What can be done about that?
JOHNSON: Well, we don't want to stifle free speech, but there is a point where a Facebook posting, even in your private off hours' capacity, can so
degrade and undermine your employer's integrity and mission and credibility, that action can be taken. Their decisions in our courts, for
example, that say that, sure everybody has a First Amendment right, but if you say an employee of a public agency, specifically a law enforcement
agency, there are some limits to what you should be saying.
And when I was secretary. I got to know dozens and dozens of members of the of the Border Patrol, DHS personnel postings like that in my experience are
not reflective of the larger attitude within the DHS.
ISAACSON: Do you think that the Department of Homeland Security and the government should monitor the social media of like the Secret Service, the
Border Patrol, the Immigration Service? And should it even monitor the encrypted messages like encrypted message services?
JOHNSON: That's a good question. When we say monitor, that might, to some, imply surveillance. But in many respects, Facebook postings, Instagram are
public. And if I were a member of law enforcement, I remember the Secret Service, and I had a link to where I had friended somebody else in a Secret
Service, and I see them posting things that are that are ugly that are extremist, I would probably feel as though we have an obligation to report
that to a superior.
But, you know, we struggle with this as employers, we struggle with this as leaders of government agencies, how far do you go in measuring the social
media, the social media conversations of those who work for us. And in this age, I think it is a worthwhile inquiry. There are always limits, there are
privacy limits, but I do believe it's a worthwhile inquiry as you apply for a job and why you have a job.
ISAACSON: You have said that the border immigration problem, the illegal immigration problem has a certain tug to it, which is the more a president
sounds receptive to having people come to this country, the more people try to get across the border. How do you break that dynamic and do you see that
as being a problem right now with what's happening on our southern border?
JOHNSON: Walter, I have to say, I have been away from this problem for five years and the further you get away from it, the easier the solutions
seem to become. This was a difficult problem. I own the southern border issue for three years when I was secretary of Homeland Security.
The simple fact is this, under the current conditions, in the current environment in Central America, this is a one-dimensional problem. The more
receptive we sound in our immigration policy here in this country, the more the smugglers use that to recruit migrants to come to the United States.
There is a push and a pull factor, without a doubt.
And so, achieving the right balance between promoting our values, being fair, humane in our immigration policy but also enforcing our immigration
laws is delicate, without a doubt. When we had the spike in 2014, I felt obliged to send an unequivocal message, do not come here illegally. You
just simply have to send that message. Americans want border security, they want us to treat the dreamer's, for example, fair, they want us to reform
our broken immigration system but we want a secure border.
So, it's incumbent upon whoever is in power, whichever administration is in power to send a very straightforward unequivocal message to people south of
the border that there's a right way and a wrong way to come to our country. And if you come here illegally -- everyone has a right to claim asylum, but
if you come here illegally, we will send you back.
Now, I've had some -- when I was in office, I had some very awkward moments. I went to Guatemala. I literally stood next to the president of
Guatemala in a press conference and said to his people, don't come to my country. It's a little awkward. But we have to send that very
straightforward message. Otherwise, the coyotes, the smugglers will distort a muddled message and encourage people to come. There are like used car
dealers, with all due respect, they use car dealers, that say you got to go now. There's a discount. You got to go by the end of the month. And there's
this feeding frenzy that leads to large numbers like the ones we're seeing now.
ISAACSON: Do you think that the perception of chaos or the perception some people who call it a crisis on the southern border, whether it's real or
just proceed, feeds into the white nationalist extremism?
JOHNSON: Yes, I do. This is a Republican talking point. They -- Republicans like to talk about the border. They like to talk about a border
out of control and it feeds anxiety. It's important to understand the facts of illegal migration. And I don't -- I won't beat around the bush. I think
the answer to your question is yes.
ISAACSON: If you could have a wave of wand and change some policies to help with the border issue, which policies would you do irrespective of the
politics of getting them passed?
JOHNSON: Well, it's actually not as difficult as waving a magic wand. There are solutions to this. They might be politically unattainable in this
environment, but there are solutions. The simple fact is this, Walter, as long as Central America is in the state it's in, which is one of the most
violent regions of our planet, the push factors for illegal migration will always overwhelm whatever defenses you can put up on the southern border.
People are making the very basic decision to flee a burning building in Central America, send their children up here, even if it's only for a
couple of years while their deportation proceeding their asylum application is pending. And so, making an investment in addressing the poverty,
addressing the corruption, addressing the violence is the way forward. We began that in 2016 with an investment of $750 million. And border security
experts will tell you that that drop in the bucket was beginning to make a difference.
I know Joe Biden believes this because when he was vice president and I was secretary we had conversations about this. He spent a lot of time in
himself in Central America addressing this issue. And long-term, that is the solution to this problem, you have to address the push factors.
ISAACSON: Do you think that the conviction of Derek Chauvin a week or so ago can help us to get to a better place both on policing practices and
maybe even the larger issue of race?
JOHNSON: Two thoughts. One, I'm proud of our court system. Our democracy right now is challenged, it's under stressed. But through it all, I think
the courts have remained a forum for truth and justice. I was very impressed by that Derek Chauvin jury's methodical approach to the issues,
they reached a verdict in 10 hours, but it's apparent that they were very careful.
The other thing that occurs to me, every time I think about the Derek Chauvin prosecution, Walter, suppose it had been no camera, the initial
police report said something like, had, you know, a health condition when in distress while he was handcuffed and died. If there had been no camera,
I suspect there would have been no prosecution, wouldn't have been an indictment, would have been of something tucked in a file and forgotten.
As many people know, excessive force, lethal force, unwarranted lethal force by the police is not new. What is new is that it's being filmed now
and it's being filmed on a regular basis. And so, there are answers to this this problem, but it's a phenomenon that is occurring, we see it occurring
on a regular basis. Not because it's new but because the filming of it is new.
ISAACSON: Secretary Jeh Johnson, thank you so much for joining us.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And finally, on that very same issue of injustice. Last year, artist, Amy Sherald was commissioned by Vanity Fair to paint Breonna Taylor
just months after she was killed by police. Now, imagine her giving away her work to the public rather than selling it to a private collector.
Sheryl shot to fame in 2018 with her portray of the first lady, Michelle Obama, which is about to hit the road on tour. And her portrait of Breonna
is on display in Taylor's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky right now. And Amy Sherald is joining me to talk about it from her studio in New Jersey.
Welcome to the program, Amy Sherald.
What amazing thing. I mean, this portrayed, you have decided not to sell off to the highest bidder like you could have done, it's an amazing thing,
but to give it to the public commons, if you like, to make a public statement with it. Tell me why that was important to you.
AMY SHERALD, ARTIST: It was important to me because, you know, it was just something I knew I had to do when I was asked to make this portrait for the
cover of Vanity Fair. I had a long conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates about it and I decided it was the right thing to do. And after the cover was
revealed, it was sitting in my studio and I was thinking about Louisville and all the unrest that had happened there because Breonna Taylor and I
felt like it could be a Balm in Gilead and a way for people to process through art what was happening in the community and maybe find some solace.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the actual painting itself because -- and I'm going to, you know, play a little bit in a moment from Ta-Nehisi
because I talked to her about this when it was on Vanity Fair's cover last September.
But you obviously had communication with Breonna's mother, with her family. You chose to do the colors, the dress, the ring. Tell me how you brought
her alive and how you got to know her. Because, obviously, it's the first time you've painted somebody who is no longer alive.
SHERALD: Right. The first thing I did was reach out to her mother and I asked her to send me some photographs that really represented Breonna's
personality. And one thing that she said was that Breonna love to get dressed. And so, I know, as a woman, as a young woman, if I was going to be
on the cover of Vanity Fair, I would want to feel beautiful.
So, the first thing I did was reach out to her mother. I then found a young lady who I used for a painting before to pose for me because she was the
same height and the same stature as Breonna. And then I read out to a black female designer in Atlanta Georgia by the name of Jasmine Elder and started
a conversation with her about some of the dresses that I was thinking about. And she was so happy to be a part of the project. She sent me five
or six dresses and, you know, we ended up using want for that painting.
As far as the color, it was the hardest choice I felt like I've ever had to make in any of my painting. It took so long. It was three or four days of
me -- you know, I think I saw so many colors that by the end of the day I didn't know what I see, what I like and what I didn't like. And I remember
walking into the backroom down the hallway from my studio and I was just like, Breonna, what color do you want this dress to be. And when I got
back, I had -- it was transitioning from one color to another and the blue on blue came in and I thought that that was exactly what I was looking for
because it allowed the viewer to focus on her face. There is a sense of etherealness that -- you know, that encompasses her heavenliness and just
AMANPOUR: I want to play this bit, as I said, when I spoke to Ta-Nehisi about his commissioning you to do this. And he had talked to Breonna's
mother, you know, about what this all meant to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TA-NEHISI COATES, AUTHOR: When Tamika Palmer, Breonna's mother, when she thinks about her daughter, you know, she's very happy that, you know, she
become a symbol for the movement. But that is her daughter, that's a life, that's -- you know Breonna is not a slogan to her, she's am actually a
person. And it's so important to remember that when these cops kill people that they kill actual people, that they're not piling up numbers, that
these are not digits, these are actual lives of people, children who -- folks have put energy into who are completely erased off the face of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know, he puts it so correctly and dramatically, obviously. And I was struck also by the fact that you put the ring on her finger,
because she hadn't yet received it.
SHERALD: Yes. As soon as Ta-Nehisi and Latoya Ruby Frazier, we were on a Skype, just kind of going over the work that she had done and we deal with
the family and the photographs. And when I found out that it was a love story, it really felt like something that had to be included into this
painting. So, I asked Latoya to send me an image of that engagement ring that Breonna did not know that she was going to get.
And I reached to Tamika Palmer and she asked Kenny if he was OK with it and he was absolutely ecstatic about it being included. It brings -- it just
brings another level of meaning to the story.
AMANPOUR: It really does. And another bigger level of meaning why you've done this, you know, I've read that you weren't able to join the Black
Lives Matter protests, that this is part of your protest, if you like, but also part of your commitment to social justice. And the funds, whatever
funds accrue, are going to support social justice education.
SHERALD: It's -- you know, as an American painter, as a female painter, as a black female painter, I realize, especially, as a black painter, my
responsibility when it comes to, you know, visually representing this American narrative in a way that will allow her story to continue to be
retold. And so, that's why it was really important for me to make sure that I found the right steward for this work. And of course, it had to be in
Louisville, of course (INAUDIBLE) had to be -- have some ownership over this painting and it be a part of her community and where her mother
But I also felt that it was also appropriate for it to be within an institution in D.C. in line of sight of the White House and that National
Museum of African-American History and Culture, I felt like it was the perfect home for it because this is a key moment and she's become symbolic
of this moment and they will be able to create some context around that narrative in order for her story to continue to be told.
AMANPOUR: I wonder, Amy, whether you've heard any reaction from people who have seen it, whether it has, you know, had the important impact on people
who see it in her hometown. And also, because, of course, you shot to fame with your portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, which is also going on the
road. So, you're big into -- I don't know, is it a teachable moment or what is -- it's moving this history throughout to the country and not just
keeping it on the walls of a museum.
SHERALD: Yes, it's true. You know, I mean, I'm not a commission artist. But when I'm offered the opportunity to become a part of and create a
legacy through painting, I think it's something that is really important to do.
AMANPOUR: It is really remarkable. Amy Sherald, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And, of course, Amy Sherald is having her first solo West
Coast exhibition in Los Angeles right now.
And that is it for us. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.