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Interview With Author Desmond Shum; Interview With Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA). Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 07, 2021 - 13:00:00 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you drive around Queens, it looks like a bomb went off.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): President Biden comes face to face with fallout from Hurricane Ida. And I talk to the politician who put climate center of
the national stage decades ago, former California Governor Jerry Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On September 5, 2017, we need to disappear without trace from the streets of Beijing.
AMANPOUR: The unbelievable story of Whitney Duan and where politics and business collide in Xi Jinping's China. Her former husband Desmond Shum
joins us with the book he says Beijing does not want you to read.
Then: Trump of the tropics doubles down. How Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro is sowing doubt on the next election and undermining democracy.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE.COM: This is an abuse of the judiciary. And, by the way, it's an insult.
AMANPOUR: Legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick talks to Michel Martin about Texas and the Supreme Court reshaping America.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
President Joe Biden has touched down in New York and New Jersey today to see firsthand just how Hurricane Ida caused more mayhem and damage and
death there than it did when it actually made landfall in Louisiana days earlier.
More than 60 people died in the storm that brought unprecedented rainfall and extreme flooding from the South all the way up to the Northeast.
President Biden says we are all in a race against the clock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For decades, scientists have warned of extreme weather would be more extreme and climate change was
here. And we're living through it now. We don't have any more time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: This as, over on the West Coast, the Dixie Fire is on the verge of becoming the largest wildfire in California's history.
Nearly one in three Americans live in a county that's been hit by a weather disaster in the last three months. That shocking statistic is from a new
"Washington Post" analysis. As more and more people are impacted directly by the consequences of climate change, even the former head of FEMA is
asking whether the country is finally headed toward a proper tipping point, and, if not now, when will and what will it take?
So, when he was governor of California, Jerry Brown was one of the first American politicians to really make climate an issue. He now chairs the
California-China Climate Institute at U.C. Berkeley. And he's joining me from Williams in the northern part of the state.
Governor Brown, welcome back to the program.
So, let me just ask you to follow-up on what the former FEMA administrator said, given that shocking analysis from "The Washington Post" that so many
Americans are now face to face with climate change, and its effects. Do you think, as a seasoned politician, that we're on the way to a tipping point
that will affect politics in Washington?
FMR. GOV. JERRY BROWN (D-CA): No, I wouldn't say we're at a tipping point yet.
I foresee arriving at one. But because of the deep dependence on oil, gas and coal for our whole civilization, for this television program, for our
clothes, our cars, our houses, our whole existence has been dependent and fueled by oil, gas and coal.
And now we're being told -- and it's true -- we got to get off it. Well, that's going to take heroic effort sustained over decades. So, in face of
all that, politicians are going to respond to the immediate. They're not going to lose jobs. They're not going to raise taxes. They're not going to
embark on anything too bold yet.
So I think we're going to have stops and starts. We're going to have failures. We're moving slowly in the right direction. But neither China nor
the United States, nor the rest of the world has yet grasped the full magnitude of what the world is now facing.
AMANPOUR: When you lie awake at night, maybe having nightmares about this, what then do you think it will take? The stop-start, decades-long,
sustained effort that you're talking about, we don't actually have the time for it.
What do you think it will take, if anything, for a tipping point to be reached regarding this dependence on fossil fuel.
BROWN: Well, I -- we are moving in the right direction conceptually, in people's ideas in leadership positions.
Eight years ago, there was virtually no coverage on mass media of climate change. Now it's all over, with the floods and hurricanes and the fires in
California and in other places in the world.
So, we're waking up. But it's going to take more. I'm afraid -- I'm not advocating. I'm just telling you. It is going to take more disasters, or
more political deadlock, and more debates and more rhetoric between the United States and China, until, finally, these big nations and these big
leaders start collaborating, cooperating at the level they should.
The first test will be in Scotland at the conference of the parties. Can China and United States and Europe and India really do the right thing? Or
are we going to have to spend another year waiting to get the message?
I think it's very much up in the air. I know President Biden is trying very hard. President Xi has set some ambitious goals. But it's not enough. It's
not fast enough. So we're going to have more fires, more floods, more disasters that you will be able to cover, unfortunately.
AMANPOUR: So I'm going to get more into China in a moment.
But, first, I want to ask you, because you talked about leadership and you talked about Washington. So let me just ask you directly. It looked for a
while that the president was going to get the big sort of spending bill, $3.5 billion (sic) spending bill, aiming to invest in climate policy and
But just recently, you will know that Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat from the coal state of Western Virginia, has called on the party to take a --
quote -- "strategic pause," and that puts this bill in danger. Now, others are pointing out that he is potentially got a conflict of interest.
He has huge amount of stock in private coal brokerage company Energy System -- or Enersystems -- that he co-founded and his son still runs. Is that a
problem? Is his politics and his base a problem? How worried are you that this senator is now holding up something that looked like it was going to
BROWN: Look, yes, this is a problem. And if Joe Manchin doesn't vote for the -- for most of this proposal of Biden, it is a problem, big problem.
But we're facing resistance, not just from a Democrat from West Virginia or maybe some other state with a lot of coal. We're facing most, if not all of
the Republican Party wanting Biden to fail and not taking seriously what it takes to curb carbon emissions.
And, by the way, the Chinese are building huge numbers of coal plants. So, to be fair, the world is still sleepy when it comes to the facts. And the
truth of the matter is, we have two big assignments. Number one, we have to adapt. We have to build protection from floods. We got to deal with a
forest in the fires. We have all sorts of things to do just to protect ourselves from the bad weather that is going to get worse over the next two
At the same time, we have to reduce our carbon emissions by going to renewable energy. Both of those will cost trillions of dollars, and will
demand a level of political insight and courage and agreement that does not exist, as far as I can see, in Washington, or Beijing, or Moscow, or New
Delhi, or a number of other places where it must be realized in a very, very deep way in order to move forward.
AMANPOUR: So, Governor, you're obviously very, very closely connected to the China issue. You have met and sat across the table and negotiated with
the Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, himself.
And you have probably obviously been looking at some of the -- I guess, I don't know what to call it, but sort of bad blood that's going on now,
between Senator Kerry, Biden's particular climate czar, and his Chinese counterpart. They're trying to negotiate on all this.
And the foreign minister said earlier: "The U.S. side hopes that climate cooperation can be an oasis in China-U.S. relations. But if that oasis is
surrounded by desert, it will also become desertified sooner or later."
So, obviously, they don't like the fact that the U.S. talks to them about human rights, about intellectual property, about all the things that the
U.S. has at issue.
And so what do you think is going to come out of the negotiations with China? It doesn't look very good right now.
BROWN: No, it doesn't look good.
But Chinese and American leaders, they're smart. They know what the world is. And China in the U.S. must cooperate, or they're headed to a disastrous
conflict of various kinds, many conflicts, and maybe the ultimate conflict.
So I think they're going to pull back. One problem I see, China is doing a lot of stuff we don't like, but I don't see how you can have a dialogue, a
negotiation where the U.S. side always says, look, me good, you bad. You got that, China? Until you accept all your bad and all our good, we're not
going to get anywhere.
I think we need a touch, maybe more than a touch, of humility. We didn't look so good or we're not so good, in fact, terrible, in Afghanistan, the
Iraq War, all sorts of things.
Now, I'm not saying -- I'm not going to pick America better, China worse. But we got to realize we're on one Earth, we have one climate. We are
emitting heat-trapping gases that are going to destroy millions of people. We got to get off these lesser issues, however big and important they seem.
We have to find a way in what I call planetary realism. We both inherit this Earth. And I would invoke John Kennedy and his American University
speech in June of 1963, where he said to the Russians, the Soviets, we inherit the same planet, breathe the same air. We want our grandchildren to
have a life. We're both mortal.
That's the way we got to talk to China and find common pathways. Today, I would say there is a disinclination for that. And most of the politics in
Washington are highly aggressive and I would say counterproductive.
AMANPOUR: So, I just want to pursue a couple of points there, because me good, you bad -- you have pointed out and others that China is committed to
more coal-fired plants. And that's going to be a problem.
AMANPOUR: But, at the same time, to bolster your point, the Biden administration has just announced plans to open up millions of acres for
oil and gas exploration.
And that's, of course, complying with a court order that required the administration to resume these lease things. So it's clearly a point of
huge criticism in the climate and environmental community. But it means, doesn't it, as you say, that the U.S. doesn't have a huge leg to stand on
when it's trying to persuade China or India?
BROWN: No, look, California itself is burning 18 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline every year. We -- our cars drive 250 billion miles a year.
We got a lot to account for and a lot to change, as does China. I think China and the U.S. need each other to push each other in the right path,
because we have enormous resistance. And I think the coal interests within the Communist Party within China are also as powerful as the oil and gas
interests are in Texas and in the rest of America.
So, look, the world needs a turn by America and by China. We have -- look, in World War II, I remember -- and you certainly do -- the pictures of
Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Stalin was doing many more horrible things than China's doing today.
But the common enemy brought them together. We have a common threat, a common threat called a deteriorating climate. And because we have a common
threat, we have a common interest. Common vulnerability translates into common interest if you just open your eyes.
So that's where I derive some optimism that, whatever the pulling and shoving is now, we are going to draw closer. But how long it takes and how
many casualties along the way, that remains to be seen.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then on this, because clearly, you had brought up earlier than all this effort to distance oneself from dependence
on fossil fuels will cost money, et cetera.
But all the experts and you yourself, I'm sure, know that it'll cost a huge amount more money not to do anything about it and try to do cleanup later.
Your state, the fifth biggest economy in the world, especially under your leadership, spend a lot of time thinking about these big issues. You went
and spoke specifically to Xi Jinping, and you have put climate well front and center.
Your successor, Gavin Newsom, the governor, has also done the same, and he's now facing a recall. And you have said he mustn't be, for the sake of
the planet and climate.
Do you think you will be recalled? And if he is...
AMANPOUR: ... how negative is that for your issue?
BROWN: Oh, it would be very negative.
I don't think Gavin Newsom will be recalled. He's putting on a good campaign. And the politics of California, whatever criticism may be lodged
against the governor, there's basic widespread support that will enable him to defeat this very misguided idea that you got to have a recall a year
before the regular election.
So I think the people are not going to buy it in California.
AMANPOUR: Can I just broaden a little bit?
I'm sure you have been following the issues of the Supreme Court, and whether it's about voting, whether it's about women's rights, the issue of
the Texas state test case banning a woman's right to choose and empowering, according to some experts, a sense of new vigilantism on the street, going
after anybody who may be involved in any such procedure in Texas.
What -- let me just write -- read you what Jon Michaels and David Noll, two professors from UCLA and Rutgers, have said: "Up until now, the law usually
conferred rights on people who were seeking to exercise personal autonomy over their bodies, their words or their votes. This new breed of private
enforcement laws inverts that paradigm, giving rights to people who are merely offended by what they see, hear or imagine."
Where do you see this leading in terms of empowering people's private action, not only in Texas, but potentially elsewhere, not only on this
issue, but potentially others?
BROWN: Look, what this is, the Texas law is a bounty hunter provision.
It gives $10,000 reward for anybody who can file a lawsuit and be successful against not only a doctor who performs an abortion, but anybody
who gives a ride or helps in any way to bring the woman to the abortion clinic.
This is exploiting the polarization and the deep feelings of millions of Americans. It's not the way to go. We are a divided society in a very
dangerous world. We have to find higher unities. And to empower random disconnected individuals to jump into lawsuits against people trying to
help a woman follow her conscience and what she wants to do, it's crazy.
It's politically divisive. And I think it's going to galvanize the political opposition and redound to the benefit of more sensible thinking,
not this very narrow view that has been endorsed, at least at the first stage, by five members of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even the chief, Roberts, dissented. So I think there's more to be had. And this, like in politics, you often see, you don't change until you
overreach. This is clearly an overreach, and I would suspect a change will be very quickly in coming.
AMANPOUR: Governor Jerry Brown, great to get your perspective, obviously, on that, but also on the climate challenges and the challenges with China
And we're going to turn now to covering more of China and the fascinating and unsettling story of a woman's disappearance there four years ago.
Whitney Duan and her then husband, Desmond Shum, were rising stars in China's business world. But after Shum left the country, Duan disappeared
without a trace. Nobody had heard a word from her for years, that is, until Saturday.
According to Shum, she called him and pleaded that he not publish his new book, one that promises to pull back the curtain on Xi Jinping's China. The
call was too late, of course. The book had already been printed. It's titled "Red Roulette."
And Desmond Shum is joining me now for his first television interview. He's in Oxford, England.
Desmond Shum, welcome to the program.
Now, this call you got over the weekend must have been very, very unsettling, particularly as you were getting ready to do the publicity for
your book's publication.
What do you think was the crux of the issue? Why suddenly did your former wife after four years appear out of nowhere?
DESMOND SHUM, AUTHOR, "RED ROULETTE": Well, first of all, thanks for having me.
I think what happened was, on Friday, two major newspapers, "Financial Times" and "Wall Street Journal," both have -- carry story of my upcoming
book and my situation. I think that really -- that changed the dynamics and that prompted the CCP to actually allow her to come out.
It happened just the day after the two newspaper broke the stories.
AMANPOUR: So, what was her message to you? She didn't just call to say hi. The CCP weren't apparently thrilled that her former husband is about to
publish a book that he says is very revealing in a way they might not like.
SHUM: She used -- it's very difficult.
I mean, she want me to -- first of all, she want me to cancel the book, the book publishing. Of course, as you were just mentioning, bureaucrats in
Beijing probably think, at the snap of a finger, any book can -- pulled from any bookstores at any time.
Of course, in our world, the book is already in the bookstores by then. So -- and then also it's difficult for me because I don't know -- I don't know
who I'm talking to, because for sure her phone is monitored. If not, somebody is sitting across from her.
And am I talking to her, or am I talking to the party state behind listening in asking me to cancel book and issuing all the threats?
AMANPOUR: So, the threats are what I guess interest me and interest many people and clearly must worry you, your son and your former wife.
Did you feel that she was being used to threaten you? Did she say that there would be consequences for you, her, for your son if this book went
SHUM: Oh, definitely.
I mean, I do feel like that she is being a mouthpiece of the party state threatening me. They -- message was -- she asked the question, what would
happen to our son if something happened to you? She asked the question, what would happen -- how would you feel if something happened to us, to our
And then, on the second call, she actually say, if you go ahead with this book launch, it may cost a life. So, I raised the question, is it my life?
AMANPOUR: Desmond Shum, it's really chilling -- that's a valid question.
SHUM: Yes, it's...
AMANPOUR: That's a valid question. Whose life is it? It's chilling.
AMANPOUR: And so I guess the question has to be, from those of us listening to you, what is so important about your commitment to the story
that you want to get out -- "Red Roulette" is the name of your book -- that you are prepared, despite these clear threats, to keep -- what is the story
you want the world to know?
SHUM: I think the world knows too little.
First of all, why do I want to go ahead and publish this book? Because I want -- two things would prompt me to publish it. I first started the book
with not planning to publish. I start on the book because the mom of my son has been disappeared, and then, a year after, which is four years ago
almost to the date.
So, I start writing the book, say, well, I want to leave something for my son, telling them -- telling him who we are, what we've done. And then I
believe there is nothing to be ashamed of what we have done in China.
What empower me to go ahead and publish the book is because, as time goes on, she will disappear for -- it was New Year's come around and then say,
well, would they let her come out by New Year's? And then it was six months and then say, well, maybe they will -- it's six months already. Maybe they
are going to let her out. And a year gone by, two years gone by.
I got just really angry. I was like, you control the courts. You control the judge. You can charge her with anything in China and you will stick.
And you decide to throw a woman into that cell.
And just -- I just really -- I say, I need to come out and tell the story of what China is really happening -- what really -- who really owns China,
how thing really works in there.
And the other thing is, I grew up in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is very, very important and I hold dear to me. I have friends, relatives from Hong Kong.
And seeing what Hong Kong, what CCP done to Hong Kong really breaks my heart.
I flew back from U.K. just to be in protests. And then I flew there another time just to put my votes on a local election.
OK, so let me just pursue one of these threads. Clearly, what the main thrust of your book is about is the changing view at the top of the
Communist Party in China towards business, private business, and people like yourself entrepreneurs, after having a free rein for many years
starting in the -- I guess the late '70s, under Deng Xiaoping, which opened up the economy to much more capitalist enterprises and created
Xi Jinping is now cracking down. They have changed their view of how good or bad you are for the country. And he's now saying, the president, that he
wants a whole new kind of economy to sort of close the inequality gap that has exploded.
So is that what you feel that, like, just too much money is too dangerous, and that's what you're trying to expose?
SHUM: No, not at all.
Actually, first of all, the book chronicles my life over the -- my life. I'm 50-something now, and that my career actually mirrored the rise of
China. So I want to -- through my personal history, I want to tell what happened, how things happen in China. That's the first part.
And the second part is not from Xi Jinping. Actually, by -- after -- China really changed after financial crisis in 2008. That really changed China.
The leadership -- the leadership thinks, look at the West. Before that, everybody believed, the entire leadership and I think most of the people in
China believed we want to be like the West.
We want democracy. We will have more election. We will more have press freedom and all of that. It's the question, the argument around in the
society and within the leadership is, at what pace are we going to go and get there? That was the debate.
After '08, everything changed. They feel like, well, look at the West. The model is not that great. Hey, look at us. If we haven't stand strong, the
whole Asia will crush around us. It is because of us. Maybe our model is not that bad.
So, after the '08, everything changed. Many things changed. The state encroached forward, the private enterprise pushed backwards. Freedom of all
sort is being pulled back. And just in my case, party apparatus all of a sudden come at said -- my company.
I need to answer to the party secretary, which doesn't exist before. So, Xi Jinping is -- just quickens the pace of the change. But he start before
that. And the reason is that it's there, what I'm trying to illustrate through the whole -- my 30 years of business life in China, is the
structure is there.
Without changing the structure, every -- or all the other change is cosmetic. Closing the wealth and poor -- the gap, the disparity, yes, it is
right. I agree with it. But the reason they are closing it, it's not because they believe there is more fairness to it. The reason they are
closing it is because that's good for the longevity of the rule of the party.
The party will have better grip of power because -- by closing the gaps.
AMANPOUR: You know, we reached out quite a lot.
We tried to get the Chinese government response to your -- to the book, because they're clearly -- as you have witnessed yourself, they're not
thrilled with the fact that you have published it.
So the embassy here in the U.K. told us that: "The groundless accusations and wanton slanders against Chinese leaders and system by DeSantis Shum in
his book 'Red Roulette' are complete lies."
And, clearly, they didn't want us to interview you either, just like they probably don't want this book to see the light of day.
But what do you say to the fact that -- in fact, you have you have written about it and you have talked about it, that they are having a sort of a
review -- and you have sort of talked about it just now -- of their relationship with the business community.
And you have also said that, when it comes to these matters -- and I'm going to quote you, because it's quite interesting. You told "The Financial
Times" about the president: "You can rely on Xi to make the worst possible policy decision at every turn. If you want to guess where he's going to go
next, pick the worst option. He's going to go there."
I -- it made me sit up, because I think most people's view around the world of Xi is that he's maybe a control freak and wants to husband all the
political power and et cetera, but that he has a grand strategic vision for the rise of China compared to the rest of the world.
You're kind of saying no.
To your question, there's two things I want to say, is, first of all, I'm not making acquisition in book. That is the -- that's actually what I'm
exactly trying to avoid, because the most -- what I'm trying to do is, I tell my story. I tell what happened, what happened around me, how I do
certain things, how do I act, interact with certain people.
I have -- I don't make any accusation to say, oh, CCP is evil. I don't make any -- I will let the readers to decipher themselves seeing the story,
seeing what has happened.k So, that's the first thing. So, I'm not making accusation.
The second thing is, if there is sort of, several incidents, you look at the current situation with U.S. from all my knowledge with different
content, within -- also, within -- you know, within been thinktank community, within the business community, even with the government leader,
you know, within the U.S. I don't believe Trump will start this whole thing with like to get the relationship U.S. to China to where it is today.
It is because how China started to behave in the last few years, you know, including many of you have witness this (INAUDIBLE), right? I mean, China's
relationship is probably one of the lowest point with the rest of the world. How does that happen? It doesn't happen with the world say, well,
all of a sudden, say, we want the turn on China. It is all this behavior, right? Fighter jets flying daily assault over Taiwan air space.
So, all this -- and then look at Hong Kong, where Hong Kong is? He doesn't have to push that pace and that hard into -- to sort of -- to turn Hong
Kong to be a subservient society. And then, that is destroying Hong Kong.
So, I think including, you know, what he's doing with the tech sector. So, in every all these incidents, you know, the tax sector destroy, you know,
many -- by many accounts about 2 trillion. That's Chinese capital.
AMANPOUR: Look, it is really fascinating and the book is clearly really an interesting read. Desmond Shum, author of "Read Roulette," thank you so
And now, we move to Latin America where its biggest democracy is being tested as well. In Brazil, thousands are on the streets now marking this
year's Independence Day with demonstrations for and against President Jair Bolsonaro. The country appears increasingly divided ahead of next years'
election. Right wing supporters of Bolsonaro clashed with police as they tried to force their way towards Congress. Sound familiar?
Critics of Bolsonaro feared that he is increasingly turning to Former U.S. President Donald Trump's playbook for inspiration, sowing doubt in the
country's democratic institutions.
Correspondent Iza Suarez has more on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISA SUAREZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Splashed across the big screen, Brazil's conservatives look to the American right for
DONALD TRUMP JR.: Do you go the path of socialism or do you remain steadfast and strong for freedom?
SUAREZ (voiceover): The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, an American import, is hoping to revive Jair Bolsonaro's dwindling base. As
the embattled president faces sliding approval ratings, a weakening economy and public outrage over his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed
over 580,000 lives.
Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca, a lawmaker and Bolsonaro supporter tells us why the president is seeking a second term in office.
LUIZ PHILIPPE DE ORLEANS E BRAGANCA, BRAZILIAN LAWMAKER: He believes that there is a risk that the radical left will take over Brazil and that there
is a risk of totalitarian regime to take place in Brazil. And I believe that too.
SUAREZ (voiceover): With an election in Brazil looming large, this relationship with the Trump inner circle has strengthened over the years.
And in the Bolsonaro family, the likes of former Trump manager, Steve Bannon.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: He's the third son of the trump of the tropics President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
EDUARDO BOLSONARO, JAIR BOLSONARO'S SON: They say Eduardo you are --
SUAREZ (voiceover): With Eduardo Bolsonaro making an appearance My Pillow CEO's event.
BANNON: Bolsonaro will win unless it is stolen by, guess what, the machines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The machines.
SUAREZ (voiceover): Taking his cue from the Trump playbook, Bolsonaro has been sowing doubt on the integrity of Brazil's entire electronic voting
system, calling for printed ballots to supplement electronically cast votes.
And threatening not to hand over the presidency next year if there is suspicion of fraud.
JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I have three alternatives for my future. Being arrested, being killed, or victory.
SUAREZ (voiceover): As the calls for his impeachment grow louder, Bolsonaro continues to fight for political survival. Using the armed forces
to project power, with a military parade recently in front of the Presidential Palace. Enough to rattle some of Brazil's political
AMELINHA TELES, BRAZILIAN ACTIVIST (through translator): This is authoritarian gesture, it's a dictatorial gesture. So, this leaves me very
worried, yes, very worried.
SUAREZ (voiceover): A former member of Brazil's communist party, Amelinha Teles, says she was a victim of torture during the country's brutal
military dictatorship which lasted 21 years.
TELES (through translator): I lived through persecution, I lived through torture and was constantly threatened, me and my family, but we also had
the joy of seeing the resistance, the people's fight on the streets.
SUAREZ (on camera): Is Brazil's democracy at risk, Amelinha?
TELES (through translator): Absolutely, absolutely, unfortunately. We cannot let go of the past and thing that what went on, went on and is over.
It's not true. The past is very much in the present.
SUAREZ (voiceover): Fortunately, words from those who carry the scars of those dark days and who fear that Brazil's past might just be about to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Isa Suarez reporting there.
And we look to women's rights in the United States next where the Justice Department vows to protect Texas clinics from prosecution for providing
abortions, upping the ante after the state brought in a new law attempting to gut Roe versus Wade.
Slate's senior editor and legal correspondent, Dahlia Lithwick, has been following the Texas case closely and she tells Michel Martin what the
latest developments mean for women in Texas and beyond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Dahlia Lithwick, thank you so much for joining us.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: As we are speaking now, a lot's been written and said about this Texas bill, but I did want to ask for the sake of those who have not
followed it closely, just walk us through. I think many people will have heard about the so-called fetal heart beat provision which makes abortion
illegal when cardiac activity is detected. That is usually around six weeks.
You wrote a scathing piece about this law, you called it unconstitutional and brutal piece of lawless vigilantism.
LITHWICK: I did. I wrote that. I think it is really important to understand that even Texas knows that the current abortion doctrine says
that you cannot put an undue burden on a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy until viability. That marker is somewhere between 22 and 24 weeks
at present. So, when you pass a six-week ban and the State of Texas knew this was unconstitutional. By the way, this is going to be litigated at the
Supreme Court properly, presumably this term, a 15-week Mississippi ban.
This the is the State of Texas knowingly saying, we're going to do something unconstitutional. Six weeks is two weeks after the last missed
menstrual period, most women do not know their pregnant that early. And what this means, Texas providers tell us is that about 85 to 90 percent of
the abortions they usually provide have to be stopped. So, to knowingly pass an unconstitutional law and to have a kind of bounty system whereby
people are rewarded pursuing providers, knowing it is unconstitutional feels lawless.
MARTIN: So, tell me a little about the Supreme Court's ruling. You were equally scathing about the Supreme Court's behavior in this case. Tell me
LITHWICK: Probably the single most important thing that seems really hyper technical but it is urgently important, Michel, is that this happened on
so-called shadow docket at the Supreme Court. So, there is a regular docket, it's the thing that I usually cover as a Supreme Court reporter.
The court starting the first Monday in October, hears cases that come up through -- they percolate through the lower courts. An Appeals Court will
rule. There is a trial record. There is an oral argument. There is briefing. All of those things happen in regular order.
The court also has an emergency docket, right? And this is where a lot of death penalty cases come up, this is when there isn't time to let it
percolate through the courts. The urgently important thing is that in the last few years the court has started using the so-called shadow docket not
just for emergencies but for voting rights cases, for death penalty cases. We saw a whole bunch of it around COVID orders, shut down orders where
people said, we don't have time to argue this case and let it work through the system, because we're being forced to stop praying now.
And the court has overwhelmingly used the shadow docket in recent years to reward, for instance, Donald Trump, some of Donald Trump's laws and said,
oh, this is exigent, we have to do something right now. Just a few weeks ago, the court did away with the eviction moratorium on the shadow
detective. So, they did this on the shadow docket at midnight, in the dark of night, without briefing, without lower court argument, without an
Appeals Court record. And that is the really pernicious thing here.
There is a regular procedure at the court that is open and transparent. Here, we had less than two pages, a page and a half, one paragraph of
analysis from the Supreme Court essentially saying, we don't think anybody has standing the sue, we don't think anybody can win. So, good luck, Texas.
And to do that late at night in one paragraph, even Chief Justice John Roberts who voted with the three liberals dissenting in this case, was
horrified at the ways in which something so radical, so unconstitutional could be passed in the dark of night without reasoning, without rationale.
MARTIN: Given that the providers are the ones who went to the Supreme Court asking for this emergency injunction, in this case, to stop the Texas
law, what is your chief objection to their using the so-called shadow docket for this purpose?
LITHWICK: I think that the problem is that it gives the Supreme Court perfect discretion to determine what an emergency is. And really, the
problem is, if you are going to decide all of these things on the basis of people running to the court in the middle of the night and saying, this is
an emergency, then to say it is an emergency that landlords are facing the continuation of the eviction moratorium, that landlords are in peril of
exigent harm, but that women in Texas who will not be able to have a legal abortion effective midnight tonight or in this case, midnight last night,
that is not an emergency or that people in California who want to pray in COVID and they don't like the ceiling that has been placed on houses of
worship, the Supreme Court determined that they had emergency religious freedom rights that were being violated.
So, I think the principal objection of the shadow docket, for me, is not just that these cases are not fully ventilated. There is no record. We
don't know what actually is happening or what the harms are. But the Supreme Court is taking it upon itself to decide who is a sympathetic
emergency plaintiff. And in this case, they said, oh, yes, those folks who wanted to pray in California and their church was being given less
deference than bike shop or Costco, they had an exigent personal dignitary emergency that we have to act on now.
The women Texas, who by every single metric, have a right to end a pregnancy until viability at 22 weeks, they are being -- having the line
moved to six weeks. And they face no exigent emergency? That is the Supreme Court arrogating to itself the power to decide what an emergency is and who
a sympathetic plaintiff is, and that has to be wrong.
MARTIN: Well, you have said repeatedly in your writings and you said here that this law is unconstitutional. What makes it unconstitutional? I mean,
I think the defenders of it say it is constitutional if the court says that it is. So, what makes it constitutional in your --
LITHWICK: Right. In fairness, the court here, in its one-and-a-half-page order, doesn't weigh in on the merits of the constitutionality. And in
fact, they unsigned order goes to pains to say, we're not making a decision or a declaration about the constitutionality of this. We're just making a
decision about whether this is an emergency and whether the court has jurisdiction to grant relief.
So, you are quite right. It is up to the court, at some point, to be the arbiter of what is constitutional. But if the court cares about precedent
and stare decisis and (INAUDIBLE), that when they say a law is the law, then Roe v. Wade is still a good law and Casey is still a good law and any
pre-viability abortion ban, any ban pre 22 to 24 weeks is per se unconstitutional.
As I said, the court has a chance to look at that again in this Mississippi case. Dobbs that's on the docket for this term. If they want to end Roe v.
Wade by, you know, actually assessing the law and making a constitutional determination, they can and will likely do that. The question is whether
this with the vehicle to start to ship away at Roe.
MARTIN: Conservatives have made three arguments basically. I'm going to put them in basically three buckets. The first is that people who are
criticizing this bill are pro-abortion zealots. So, therefore, it is really a matter of whether you agree with access to abortion or not. The second
argument is that abortion is bad. So, it doesn't matter.
In essence, the means are irrelevant to defend the goal, right? If the goal of eliminating abortion or discouraging it severely is so important, that
it doesn't really matter. But I want to focus on what I've observed as sort of a legal argument made by conservative legal writers. Their argument is
that Roe v. Wade as garbage decision. It created a right that does not exist. So, this might be an equally tortuous garbage decision. But so what?
That the two cancel each other out.
You have seen that, right? So, what is your response to that?
LITHWICK: I mean, I think my response to all three buckets of arguments is that you could say all of these same things about guns, right? You could
certainly say that the kinds of gun cases that are being pressed, again, that will be heard this term at the Supreme Court are being made by pro-gun
zealots. You can say that it doesn't matter what the law is, guns are bad. That, you know, having semi-automatic weapons in the hands of everybody who
wants one in a Walmart is bad. And that the Heller, the decision that said that there is a personal individual Second Amendment right to bear arms to
defend yourself is a garbage decision. You can say all those things about anything you don't like.
The problem is, it a little bit depends on whose ox is being gourd. You can certainly do what the opponents have done and say, it is just bad law and
the Supreme Court has the ability to just reverse it. But I think the answer to that is, one, stare decisis, right or wrong. And furthermore, I
think I would say that the idea that Roe is a garbage decision when it is in fact the cornerstone of so many privacy dignity protections that came
after is a really worrisome road go down.
If you are going to do away with Roe, you are also doing away with, what, Griswold, the right to have -- to use birth control within marriage? So, I
think it is very, very dangerous to say that precedent doesn't matter because what that argument leads to, and this for me the chilling thing, is
pure power. What you are saying is the law is what five people say the law is regardless of centuries of precedent. And that really isn't a legal
argument. That is a pure power argument.
MARTIN: I'm wondering if there is a way which this could have been anticipated. Do you think the administration and the Pro-Choice advocacy
community were caught flatfooted here? And if so, why?
LITHWICK: I think one piece of it that is really startling that we haven't reckoned with yet is the ways which this is of a piece with a whole bunch
of laws that are conscripting citizen vigilantes into taking the law into their own hand. We're seeing it in a voting context, right, that you can
take it upon yourselves to enforce voting rights. We're seeing in the COVID context. And I think that the sense that citizens should give up on law
enforcement and take the law into their own hands and do what they will is really new and really frightening.
To the second part, I think the reason if folks were caught flatfooted, if they were surprised by what happened in Texas, I think it is because they
weren't paying attention to what's happening in Texas. If you were a provider on the ground in Texas, you already witnessed HB2, that was the
attempt to close clinics in 2013 that the Supreme Court reversed in Whole Woman's Health. You saw Greg Abbot, Governor Abbot try to shut down
abortion clinics during COVID, saying it was unessential health services.
So, I think part of the play here, and it's very worrisome, is that it is easy to say Roe is still a good law, Casey is a good law. It was reaffirmed
again two years ago in the Supreme Court. So, we're all safe. But if you are in a state like Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, where there is one
clinic left, where there are waiting periods, where there are endless hoops to go through, this isn't surprise at all.
MARTIN: You know, I'm curious about is why the court was not more interested in the abuse of the judicial system for this, because the court
does -- it as in the past been concerned about the abuse of the legal system. I was just wondering what is your thought about that.
LITHWICK: I mean, I think the short answer is we don't know. Because the decision was so abrupt that we have no idea what was going through the
minds. As I said, the page and a half of reasoning was unsigned. We don't even know who wrote, much less what they were thinking. And I think the
cynic in me says that's because it has the effect that they wanted, which is abortions have stopped. And it doesn't matter kind of the principles.
The deeper principle here and it's the one that John Roberts flicks at in his dissent is not just abuse of the judicial system but abuse of the
Supreme Court itself.
A deliberate defiance of Supreme Court precedent and the kind of underappreciated, completely overruling of Roe by state. And that offends
John Roberts who thinks deeply about the role of the Judicial Branch and the need for the, sort of, dignity and esteem the public regard of the
Judicial Branch. I don't think John Roberts has any problem with ending Roe v. Wade who is clearly on record wanting to do away with abortion rights.
I think the reason he votes with dissenters is exactly what you are pointing to, which is this is an abuse of the judiciary. And by the way,
it's an insult to the judiciary. And that is the thing I think that forces Roberts to peel off and vote with the liberals in dissent.
MARTIN: I just don't think it is a secret that this has been a 30-year project of the conservative movement. I mean, it's been a generation-long
project of the conservative movement to dominate the judiciary, that is a fact. And it is also a structural issue now because it is also been a 30-
year project of conservative movements to dominate state legislatures, which has been achieved. So, given that there is a structural imbalance
here, what do people who disagree with this do now?
LITHWICK: Well, I think in the very near term, they do everything they can to help women, particularly poor women and women of color in Texas. And
that may include helping construct funds to help them get out of state. We've seen a huge uptick in women already traveling to New Mexico and to
Oklahoma. But you are quite right, that doesn't solve the larger structural problem. And those are the places where, I think, you are also right. A lot
of people have just taken their eye off the ball.
If you look at polling around reproductive rights, the country is absolutely emphatically clear that none of what we're seeing in Texas
aligns with what the majority say in polls. The vast majority of Americans support abortion. And so, I think what has happened --
MARTIN: They (INAUDIBLE) abortion in some context, just to be clear about that. I think it is accurate to say. They don't support all access to all
abortion at all times. But I think it is accurate to say that the majority of the country does support access to abortion under most circumstances at
most times. The legal consensus that currently exists is generally supported by the public.
LITHWICK: There is a really good clarification. That is exactly right. I think the term of art is abortion on demand. And you are quite right, that
we don't have vast majorities supporting all abortion all the time. But I will say that a law like the Texas law that has no exceptions for rape and
incest is really, really reflective of a very, very minority opinion. And I think that the reason that we're seeing these "heart beat bills," right,
we've seen in 2021 alone, record numbers of anti-abortion laws passing in state houses and red states is exactly because of what you have said,
because of the capture of state legislatures and also, because of the capture of the courts.
And I think that that requires systems thinking. Not sort of individual liberty (INAUDIBLE), you know, frustration but thinking about systems,
thinking about how it is that, by the way, Texas the same day that SB8 went into effect passed this massive restrictive voting law. So, how is it
possible that we are looking at minority positions been written into law? And so, I think that if this is the kind of thing that worries people, it
really is time to started thinking about structural court reform of the federal courts, something that nobody wants to say out loud. It is time to
start thinking about winning state houses. It is time to think very, very seriously about whether, you know, free and fair elections can happen, if
massive numbers of voters are suppressed.
And I think those the kinds of things that are really boring and they're really technical and they don't make for good television and so, nobody
really wants to think in terms of those systems. But you are quite right, those systems are exactly what is kind of coming home to roost now.
MARTIN: Dahlia Lithwick, thank you so much for talking with us today.
LITHWICK: It's always a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Fascinating really and important.
And finally, tonight, an extraordinary tale of survival. It happened in Australia where a three-year-old boy has been reunited with his family
after going missing in rural area. Anthony A.J. Elfalak was located on a river bank less than 500 meters from his family home after an intense
search and rescue. The toddler who as autism and is nonverbal miraculously managed to survive in the bush for three whole days.
He was found cupping water in his hands in order to drink, which police say, of course, key to his survival. What a clever boy with such a strong
survival instinct who is now safe and recovering with his parents.
And on that great and happy news, that is it for now. And you can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for
watching and good-bye from London.