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Interview with University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor Sheena Greitens; Interview with "Unsettled" Author Ryan Hampton. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 05, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hello, everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): A warning on the fragility of American democracy. Star impeachment witness Fiona Hill joins me with important reflections on
why opportunity and equality are our best hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Plus --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades.
GOLD (voice-over): An environmental catastrophe, devastation as a huge oil spill blackens Californian beaches. I'll speak to the mayor of Huntington
Beach, the center of this disaster.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Then --
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Taiwan definitely needs to be on alert. China is increasingly over the top.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Tensions rise as China sends a record number of warplanes toward the island.
What next and should the West get involved?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): And --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN HAMPTON, RECOVERY ADVOCATE: I'm someone who is in recovery from a decade-long opioid use disorder.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Former addict and recovery advocate Ryan Hampton on why he believes the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy failed the victims of the
American overdose crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
The health of American democracy has been under the microscope since the events of January 6th. That infamous day saw supporters of Donald Trump
stage a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The investigation into those events is heating up. Organizers of the rally have been subpoenaed and depositions for Trump officials are scheduled for
My first guest had a front row seat to events that set in motion serious questions about the strength of American democracy.
Fiona Hill served as president Trump's adviser on all things Russia, with a seat on the National Security Council. She was also a standout witness at
Trump's first impeachment trial, where her clear-eyed and forthcoming testimony served as a prescient warning of how our divisions can be
exploited. Here's a reminder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: President Putin and the Russian security services operate like a super PAC.
They deploy millions of dollars to weaponize our own political opposition research and false narratives.
When we are consumed by partisan rancor, we cannot combat these external forces as they seek to divide us against each other, degrade our
institutions and destroy the faith of the American people in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And now Fiona Hill is out with a new book, "There's Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century."
It's an important reflection on her work for three U.S. presidents and an examination of why the underbelly of inequality and a lack of opportunity
are tearing at the social and political fabric of this country. And Fiona joins me now from Washington.
Fiona, welcome to the program. Congratulations on the book. It's wonderful.
HILL: Thank you so much, Bianna. It's great to be here.
GOLODRYGA: I wanted to start with that clip because I remember that time, watching you and hearing you with that reminder, that warning of the
dangers, not coming from Russia, your area of expertise, that, while alarming, you seemed to be more shuttered and alarmed, I would say, by what
was happening internally within the United States.
And that did seem to be prescient, given what would transpire in the months and obviously in the years to come, leading up to January 6th.
Is our democracy more at risk of being harmed and divided today than it was two years ago, in your opinion?
HILL: Well, I think the risks are increasing, Bianna, absolutely, in large part, it's because of the events that you were just reminding us all of and
I'm just speaking to you just a few blocks away from the Capitol building, everything looks very peaceful there. But behind the scenes, of course,
these same sentiments that were stirring people to want to storm the Capitol building, the house of the people of the United States and the
United States Congress, as if it was some kind of enemy citadel, are still there.
And in large part that's because of the lies that continue to be spread around by president Trump and many of the members of Congress from the
Republican Party, that president Trump won the 2020 election, not President Joe Biden.
So we're still in a really precarious situation. And when a large portion of the population believes a lie and is mobilizing against the back of
that, that's when a democracy, no matter where it is around the world, is in serious trouble.
GOLODRYGA: And you try to examine the root of the lie there and how the U.S. could become so vulnerable to it, so many years after you had come to
this country, seeking the opportunities that were denied to you in another democracy, the United Kingdom.
GOLODRYGA: And you have come to the conclusion that a lot of it lies with the lack of social mobility that you experienced and your family
experienced for generations in the U.K. and that you see -- and others and even Donald Trump was able to pick up on here in the United States.
Tying that with access to education, why do you think those two issues are so key to trying to figure out why this country is where it is now?
HILL: Well, the access to education is probably the most critical element of all here. Obviously we know, the more people have a chance to be exposed
to knowledge, to make up their minds for themselves, you know, the whole larger educational opportunity this opens up for knowledge, not just for
skill acquisition, the more likely they are to be more discerning about the information that politicians and many of us provide to them.
What is very disturbing today in the United States is that large majorities of the population think that education is not for them. It's become a
marker of class in the United States. It's become the dividing line between haves and have-nots. It's been the dividing line about whether you're going
to have a job in the new modern technological economy or you're not.
So education is one of those primary issues that we have to address. It's one of the underpinnings of our democracy and it's one of the proofs
against the crisis that we're in right now.
GOLODRYGA: In the book you say that the one message you hope to convey more forcefully than any other is that opportunity does not materialize
from thin air. And no one does anything alone.
What are you trying to convey with that message?
HILL: You know, since the 1980s in the United States, that's when I came over here, in 1989 as an immigrant, as a graduate student and later became
a citizen, there's been this idea developing that the education of the population is somehow all about individual attainment, not about the
progress or the health and well-being of the country writ large.
When I first got to the United States, for example, I had grants, I had fellowships, I had scholarships to pursue my education. I graduated without
any debt whatsoever.
It's highly unlikely that someone can do this right now. So we need to rethink the whole premise of our education. We've taken away opportunity
from people of any kinds of lower socioeconomic background, minorities; there are so many barriers to opportunity, through barriers to education,
that this is the main obstacle.
So I think that's one of the things that we really have to address when we're moving forward.
GOLODRYGA: What you're able to lay out so clearly in this book is the commonality of that theme, that the barriers, the opportunities in the
United States, in the U.K. and in Russia.
And in fact, you note that it was the Cold War that sort of masked that commonality but, in fact, it exists and it ultimately helped lead to
Vladimir Putin's presidency, who you describe as the first populist president of the 21st century, because he came in seeing these issues,
seeing the instability within a struggling democracy and seized upon it.
And it's something that both he seized upon and then, years later, president Trump would as well.
HILL: Yes. Really what they're doing is capitalizing upon the frustrations of large swaths of the population, who see they can't get a job, they
certainly can't get an education so easily without going into massive debt. And they feel that there's no real future for them or their children.
They feel completely disaffected with the political system as it is and the mainstream parties. So people are looking for someone to fix it. And I
think it's very telling in the United States that there were many people here in the U.S. who voted twice for President Obama, wanting to have
change and the hope of some change.
And then also the first time around for president Trump. And, of course, millions more people voted for president Trump in the second time around in
2020 than had in 2016. All of these people are looking for someone to say that they're going to change things and to do things.
And they've become frustrated with both the Democratic and the Republican Party. And the fact that, you know, members of Congress on Capitol Hill
can't get their act together to pass bills that might make a difference in people's lives.
GOLODRYGA: So as we mentioned, you have worked for three U.S. administrations, have been an expert, one of the preeminent experts on
Russia. So anyone focused on that area knows you and is aware of you.
But for most Americans, you became a household name through your work for president Trump. And there had been so many questions, still, I would say
many unanswered, about what, if any, is the connection between president Trump and Vladimir Putin?
Does Vladimir Putin have anything on president Trump?
And you address this in the book by saying that maybe we will find out something more. But it was, in fact, the power, the status that Vladimir
Putin had, that attracted Donald Trump so much. In fact, he asked you, one of the few questions that he asked you was, will
I like him?
HILL: That's absolutely right. I mean, for president Trump and for many other people actually, President Putin is the epitome of the strong man
HILL: He's something and someone that people want to emulate. There are many other wannabe Putins around the world at this particular juncture. So
President Trump wasn't alone in that regard.
And President Putin, as we all know, was a former KGB agent. He hasn't really changed all of that much in adapting those techniques that he
learned, of how to manipulate people, look for their vulnerabilities and how to get people to do the things that he wants them to do.
And so, in that regard, he saw that president Trump was exquisitely vulnerable, he's someone with a very fragile ego. And President Putin
didn't need to blackmail him in any way, all he had to do was flatter him and to basically engage with president Trump directly, because Trump was
much more interested in Putin than he was about Russia and much more interested in similar leaders.
This was the kind of company that he wanted to see himself in. and this is a very dangerous moment for all of us because we have all gone down to path
now of looking to charismatic leaders, individuals with no institutions around them, no political parties around them, who are just trying to
engage directly with people, look them in the eye and say, give me your vote and I will just fix everything for you.
This is one of these dangerous moments that we see in other countries, the United States has actually proven itself sadly not to be particularly
exceptional in that regard and we're heading down a pretty well trod path at this juncture.
GOLODRYGA: Which is why you have said that president Trump should have never been president and that he posed a danger to the country as
president. And you along with many others at this point would agree that he would likely, barring any sort of health issues, be the presumptive nominee
in 2024 for the Republican Party and run again.
This coincides with another election, not free and fair, but in Russia, where Vladimir Putin is expected to be re-elected and stay in office, at
least if it were up to him, up to 2036.
I'm curious what would another president Trump term, coinciding with Vladimir Putin look like?
And what would the reaction be in the Kremlin if Trump wins again?
Because as you note that even though Trump spoke so profusely about Vladimir Putin, given U.S. domestic policy here and the reaction in
Congress, it's not that Russia got their way or the Kremlin got their way with many of the policies they had been hoping for.
HILL: They certainly didn't get their way with many of the policies. And they obviously wanted a lot more out of this relationship. But they did get
their way in terms of weakening the United States.
One of the goals of Russian interference in 2016 was to cast a large shadow over the whole election so that, no matter who was elected, there would be
a question of whether they were legitimate and how much the Russians had influenced the election.
But what the Russians were doing were exploiting all the divisions and the tensions within the United States. They didn't invent this partisan
squabbling between red and blue factions in the United States. They didn't invent our racial divides.
They didn't invent, you know, so many of the socioeconomic problems that we're grappling with, they just exploited them. They created false personas
on the internet, on Facebook and on Twitter, to just fuel the flames and fan them even further.
And what they will get out of another Trump presidency is more of the same, more division, more chaos, more weakening of the United States and more of
the bonds among Americans.
And I think that's where I say that there was a mistake, because, look, I'm sure anybody who is listening to this can say, well, I voted for president
Trump; they had reasons for doing so.
But I would basically ask them to have a long, hard look at what those reasons were because president Trump is a charismatic individual. He's kind
of a one of a kind. He doesn't stand with any party. He doesn't stand within any ideology whatsoever.
And hasn't put America first. I think this drumbeat of people coming out with all of this information from the administration but just more
generally, from people observing it, it's very clear that president Trump puts himself first.
GOLODRYGA: You talk about --
HILL: That's the difference with Putin actually. Putin doesn't just put himself first, he thinks about Russian interests. And that's not the case
GOLODRYGA: -- right. You talk about sowing divisions and discord by the use of Facebook. And this coincides obviously with the testimony before
Congress of that whistleblower from Facebook, who has said that the platform is a destabilizer for democracy and it sows violence.
This is coming as Russia is cracking, down not for these reasons, but on social media platforms as well. I'm curious, your take on what, if
anything, should be done in terms of regulating these U.S. companies here domestically?
HILL: Well, look, I agree with this, there's also being all the coverage of the oil spill, right?
Usually we have insurance against these kinds of harms that happen as a result of an industrial accident.
But in the case of Facebook, we've had a very large social media accident. And as we're hearing today and I think as many of us knew intuitively and
certainly, any of us working in the international security space knew, from what we saw the Russians and other actors using Facebook for, that there
was a great potential for harm.
HILL: And we needed to have some kind of democracy insurance premium here.
So I think in terms of this discussion about regulators, when we're looking to, who will clean up this oil spill, who is going to clean up this mess
here as well?
I think this is a question that we should be asking ourselves because, if Facebook executives knew that their algorithms produce more division, just
like president Trump knows that his actions and words stoke more division, then they're just opening up these tools, these platforms for abuse.
And we have seen what the Russians did in 2016. We know the Chinese, the Iranians, terrorist groups, militias, any kind of group that is looking to
seed violence can use Facebook.
It's not being used as it was intended for, to promote closer networking and closer relationships between groups of friends and family. So we really
need to take a long, hard look at this. I completely agree with everything that's being said today on Capitol Hill today.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, and they're able to do this, Russia, China, and all at a relatively cheap cost and be very efficient at it thus far. Fiona Hill,
thank you so much for joining us. It's a wonderful book. I love reading all the anecdotes that you live in Russia and here and your childhood in the
U.K. as well. Thank you so much.
HILL: Thank you so much, Bianna. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
GOLODRYGA: Well, California is facing yet another environmental calamity, as Fiona just noted. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of
emergency after a major oil spill off the coast of Orange County.
Famed for its beautiful surfing beaches, beaches that now face devastation, as the toxic oil creeps toward their shores, forcing their closure and
killing wildlife. Officials say up to 144,000 gallons may have been spilled. At the center of this disaster, Huntington Beach, south of Los
Angeles, the city's mayor Kim Carr joins me now.
Kim, welcome to the program. I wish it was under better circumstances. First, give us an update on what the situation is and the cleanup efforts.
MAYOR KIM CARR (D-CA), HUNTINGTON BEACH: So the cleanup efforts are ongoing right now. We just received notice, that oil did land at Bolsa
Chica State Beach, so that beach is now closed.
However, north of Bolsa Chica, which is Sunset Beach -- and that's still part of Huntington Beach -- that is open. The good news is that the City of
Huntington Beach took some very proactive measures to mitigate the flow of oil into our wetlands.
So that's the good news, is that we jumped on this as soon as we heard that there was oil approaching our shores. We didn't wait for the Coast Guard.
We got on it and we were able to lay down over 2,000 feet of boom to protect our wetlands and some of our most sensitive areas.
And there are crews right now that are cleaning up the Huntington State Beach and then also our City Beach, while it is open, we are closed from
the lifeguard towers to the water. So it's a dynamic situation. I can't say that we're out of the woods yet.
But I'm really confident that we will be able to clean this up and restore our beaches and our wetlands to where they were before, based on all of the
preventive measures we took right at the beginning.
GOLODRYGA: Have you been able to confirm the cause of this?
Was it a ship anchor that actually rammed into the oil pipeline that caused this?
CARR: So the U.S. Coast Guard is the lead agency on this. And it is yet to be determined as to what has actually caused this pipeline to rupture.
That was the theory that was thrown out yesterday. And obviously we are very interested in the cause of it as well, because we fully respect the
responsible party, which is Amplify Energy, to be held accountable and to really get to the bottom of all of this because, for us, it's imperative
that we know exactly why this happened and to make sure that this never happens again.
GOLODRYGA: You've been talking about all the work done in trying to avoid further damage and the cleanup efforts now.
But there had been reports that there had been a smell in the area and there had been reports of an oil sheen some 12 hours before Amplify Energy
actually alerted authorities. Obviously you know that a lot could have been done within those 12 hours.
GOLODRYGA: Why the delay?
CARR: And that's part of the investigation. And so, we are frustrated with that development as well.
And I can tell you, when we were first alerted about this spill, it was Saturday morning at 9 o'clock, when we received a message from the Coast
Guard, saying, hey, there's this potential spill; really nothing to worry about.
And then as this day sort of progressed it was, well, this spill has the potential to hit your shore on Monday morning, October 4th. Again, this was
Saturday. And at that time, we had an air show going on in Huntington Beach.
CARR: And Huntington Beach has a lot of active boaters. And we started getting reports at the city, that, hey, there's some oil out here.
And so, we started to investigate a little bit more. And we're calling the Coast Guard saying, hey, this oil is not going to be hitting on Monday.
It's going to be hitting our shores very soon.
So that's why we jumped on it immediately and started to lay down that protective boom, to make sure that our wetlands were protected. And so as
the day started to progress more and more, we started to hear that this was actually a bigger oil spill than originally reported.
And it was a very dynamic situation. A lot of information was going out. And so the actual beginning of when Amplify Energy knew that they did have
a leak and when it was actually reported is something that is very critical for us to know as well.
And so this is why I know that there will be an investigation about this. We fully expect everyone who is responsible for this to clean up, to pay
for this and then also to reassure us that this isn't going to happen again.
CARR: The timeline of it, for sure, is something that we are very, very concerned about.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And these images are horrific and raises a lot of questions about the long-term impact on wildlife.
You mentioned the wetlands and the Talbert Wetlands, in particular, a 25- acre ecological reserve, that's home to dozens of species of birds, it is a point of focus right now.
Do you have any indication that they can avoid the worst outcome from this spill?
CARR: Well, right now it was reported to me this morning, only about a half hour ago that there is no oil in the ecological reserve. So that is
But again, this is -- this spill is not one just big glob. There are chunks of it all over the water. And so, last night, we had a very freakish storm
that allowed some of this oil to spill on to the north part of Huntington Beach, which is closest to the state beach.
But right now, from everything that we have seen, a lot of this oil seems to be moving south. So we're deeply concerned for our neighbors in Newport
Beach, in Laguna Beach -- particularly Laguna Beach, because of all the tide pools and the coves that they have there.
So this is moving south. But I know that the Coast Guard already has 14 boats out there, there are skimmers out there. Again, there's over 300
people actively working on this cleanup. There are people cleaning up Bolsa Chica State Beach -- or, excuse me -- Huntington State Beach right now.
So there's an all hands on deck right now to mitigate the effect of this. But I am confident that the preventive measures that we took will help make
sure that this oil does not get into our precious -- our wetlands.
GOLODRYGA: And also continue with the investigation of making sure this will never happen again.
GOLODRYGA: And getting to the root of why there was that delay to begin with. Mayor Carr, thank you so much for joining us. I know you have got
some very busy days ahead of you. Thank you.
Well, earlier we mentioned a story that continues to make waves about the Facebook whistleblower, who testified before the U.S. Senate today. Frances
Haugen says that a social media giant knows that it's having a damaging impact on teenagers' mental health and social discourse.
A former Facebook product manager, she has provided thousands of documents that allegedly show that Facebook is, quote, "putting profits before
people." Here is part of her opening statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: When we realized Big Tobacco was hiding the harms it caused, the government took action.
When we figured out cars were safer with seat belts, the government took action.
And when our government learned that opioids were taking lives, the government took action.
I implore you to do the same here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Facebook has pushed back against Haugen's allegations and said that, "To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not
Well, next, catastrophic consequences: that's the warning from Taiwan's president to the world, if the island were to fall to China.
She issued the warning as China continues to fly warplanes toward Taiwan in record numbers. Nearly 150 planes have been flown into its defense zone
over the past four days alone. It's yet another sign of an increasingly assertive China, taking a more muscular approach.
So what's China's end game here?
And how should the West respond?
Sheena Greitens is an expert on East Asia and U.S. national security and she's also an associate professor at my alma mater, the University of
Texas. And she's joining me now from Austin.
Sheena, welcome to the program. So we heard from Taiwan's president today in this op-ed.
And she wrote, "Beijing has never abandoned its ambitions toward Taiwan. Beijing is replacing, however, its commitment to a peaceful resolution with
an increasingly aggressive posture."
GOLODRYGA: So why is China doing this now and what is it trying to get out of it?
SHEENA GREITENS, EAST ASIA AND NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: Thanks, Bianna. It's great to be on with you and hi from Austin.
Over the weekend what we saw is that China sent a large number of planes into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone. An Air Defense
Identification Zone is a space around the island of Taiwan that extends beyond national airspace.
National airspace actually only extends about 12 miles from Taiwan's coastline. And so a lot of countries choose to have an Air Defense
Identification Zone which is larger, to give the country and military time to respond to incoming foreign aircraft if they need to.
And what was concerning about the planes that China sent was the number. It was actually more in four days than the entire previous month but also the
specific type of planes.
There were planes that typically don't do these kinds of flights we have seen in the past and the timing. So they're practicing doing these flights
at night. What that suggests is that China is practicing and trying to gain some very specific military advantages by conducting these types of
And there are three or four things that they would get out of doing this on the military part. And then there's also sort of political signaling logic
So on the military part, China is probably testing Taiwan's reaction. It's seeing how good are they at monitoring planes that are coming into the Air
Defense Identification Zone, how quick are they to respond and what is the response when China sends different types of planes and different
combinations of planes.
So testing Taiwan's response is one. Second, China is practicing coordinating its own air forces. So China had a very rapid military
buildup. Its pilots are still learning how to do complex operations at increasingly greater distances from bases.
And so they just need the practice in a very pragmatic military sense.
Third is that this is really expensive for Taiwan to respond to, both the fuel costs, it's hard on the pilots. And remember, China has about 1,500
fighters. Taiwan has only about 400 and a lot of those planes are older. So this also really just wears down and wears out Taiwan's ability to defend
So one reason why China's doing that is that there is some really concrete military benefits to this kind of increased operational tempo. It puts a
lot of pressure on Taiwan.
GOLODRYGA: But it's not happening in a vacuum. I think that's what's causing all of this alarm. We have seen the unprecedented aggression that
no one expected so quickly with Hong Kong.
We've seen what's transpiring domestically, with Xi Jinping really going after private companies and enterprise within the country as well.
And there is this sense among experts that he is trying to capitalize on how the West has badly handled and responded to COVID, giving this aura of
authoritarianism, being able to muster more strength around the world and flex its muscles.
Do you think that that's -- that that's part of this at all?
Or do you think this is all just something for domestic consumption?
GREITENS: Well, I think it is for domestic consumption but I also think you're right that this is about a changing China's role and place in the
world and specifically a vision that Xi Jinping has of putting China at the center of the world stage.
So yes, you're right that this did take place over probably the closest equivalent that the PRC has to the 4th of July. So it's a national holiday;
patriotism -- I've been in China during this week and patriotism is on sort of full display. It's at a -- it's running very high. There's often a
military parade where new military hardware is displayed.
And so, you know, that domestic context is part of this. But, yes, Xi Jinping unquestionably has taken China in a direction that is much more
repressive at home, the crackdown on tech but also in Tibet and in general on religious and ethnic minorities and citizens more broadly, with the
buildup of this surveillance state.
But along with being more repressive at home, China has also become increasingly assertive abroad. And we see that at China's periphery, not
just with Taiwan but you're right, with Hong Kong and with the really rapid national securitization and making Hong Kong into a national security
bastion for the CCP, as well as things like the territory that's disputed with Japan, the South China Sea and China's role in international
institutions, where China is increasingly trying to re-write the rules of global governance to favor China's interests and to legitimate its system
of authoritarian governance, including by delegitimating Western democracies like the United States and our allies and partners.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. It does seem to be a test of western countries as well and the U.S. policy, for many administrations, has been one of strategic
ambiguity here and not having specific policies, at least, publicly displayed in terms of what the U.S. would do if, in fact, China did take
over and invade Taiwan.
I'm wondering, from your perspective, is it time to change that policy given the actions that we've seen as of late from Xi Jinping? Should we be
more -- I know that there are more alliances obviously, the AUKUS deal recently is one example, President Biden speaks of the threat from China
repeatedly. He's kept many of the same policies from trade on down and the tariffs are still in place against China. But is there more that the U.S.
could be doing vis-a-vis Taiwan?
GREITENS: You know, I don't think that this is necessarily the time to revise strategic ambiguity in part because Taiwan hasn't asked us to. And
the people of Taiwan, as President Tsai's op-ed mentioned really should be the ones who decide their own fate and their own status. And the United
States has always had a very clear commitment that whatever Taiwan's status is, it has to be resolved peacefully. I mean, that's not at all ambiguous,
that commitment on the -- the part of the United States.
And so, the idea here, I think, that the United States should really be prioritizing actions before words, right? So, strategic ambiguity is sort
of -- it's rhetoric. It's declaratory. It's what we say we're going to do in a hypothetical situation. But the reality is there's a lot that needs to
go on on the ground to build up Taiwan's ability to defend itself from either an outright invasion or maybe even more likely a situation like a
blockade where Beijing tries to force Taiwan's capitulation without actually invading but by putting choke points or a blockade around the
island to try to force it into submission or capitulation.
And the reality is that the United States, Taiwan and other allies in the - - and partners in the region are not very well prepared for that whole range of scenarios. So, I would really like to see us thinking about and
planning for these types of contingencies and really making sure that that commitment to a peaceful process is upheld.
You're right, Xi Jinping sometimes, you know, still talks about the need for peaceful unification. But he's also given some signals that he might
have a sort of narrower timeline. And it's pretty clear, at this point, that the PRC's goals as it relates to Taiwan are longstanding and really
aren't changed. That's first to deter independence, a declaration of independence by Taiwan. And second, to pursue eventually unification.
But it seems like -- and what -- there's a lot of debate and concern and anxiety about is that it used to be that, you know, the timeframe was long
and really indefinite and both the timing and the tactics under Xi Jinping are much more up in the air. That's why, I think, you're seeing things like
the G7 talk about Taiwan and the need for peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits for the first time that I can think of the G7, including Taiwan.
That's why you see the U.K. and France doing freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific.
Why you see multilateral exercises going on and near Okinawa this week and a new defense spending bill in Taiwan, the application to join CTPTT,
right? These are all things that are a response to this perceived attempt to cut off Taiwan's support, to cut off its international space and really
put it under the pressure that Beijing is exerting
GOLODRYGA: I guess from a timeline perspective, as you say, no one would have expected us to be having this conversation right now. And Xi Jinping
clearly is speeding up a lot of his ambitions here and that does raise the question that I think just a few years ago everyone would have answered
with a simple yes and that is, would the U.S. respond to protect Taiwan if, in fact, they were invaded by China? Would the U.S.? There's no formal deal
to guarantee that the U.S. would come in to protect the island. And now, that's really being questioned for the first time.
GREITENS: Yes. I think that, you know, what you're seeing is that Beijing is attempting to call that commitment into question because if the United
States -- it can portray the United States as weak or wobbly, then, you know, it can weaken the entire U.S. defense architecture in Asia. And I
think that does require really concerted pushback, right?
You've seen, you know, Beijing try to link the U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan to a lack of credibility on Taiwan despite the fact that those
are really different circumstances and the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is actually codified in law under the Taiwan Relations Act.
So, you're right that there's not a formal mutual defense treaty any longer with Taiwan, but there is the Taiwan Relations Act, which is binding U.S.
law that requires the United States to help provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character and maintain the capacity to defend itself. So, there
is some legal basis for that. But I think you're right and I think that's why you're seeing the International Community and some moves by the
administration like AUKUS, like the QUAD to really try to get other countries to coordinate with the United States, because the reality is that
with the assertiveness of China under Xi Jinping, it's going to take more than any one country to respond. It's going to take a concerted effort.
GOLODRYGA: Right. And which is why President Tsai reiterated throughout this piece that if Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be
catastrophic for regional piece and the democratic alliance system. She used the word democratic throughout this piece that she wrote today.
Thank you so much, Sheena. We really appreciate you joining us with your expertise.
GREITENS: Thanks so much for having me.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to the devastating impact of America's opioid crisis. In September 2019, Purdue Pharma the makers of oxycontin, a mass
marketed pain medication, filed for bankruptcy to protect itself from hundreds of lawsuits for its part in the U.S. overdose epidemic. Someone
who has experienced firsthand the deadly cost of these highly addictive drugs is Ryan Hampton.
After more than a decade of using opioids, he is in long-term recovery. Ryan was also part of a committee set up by the Department of Justice that
acted as a watchdog during the process, representing all of Purdue's creditors, from states and hospitals to people like him. In his new book,
it's out today, "Unsettled" in an inside story of those proceedings, a David versus Goliath tale as those impacted sought justice. Here he is
speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ryan Hampton, thanks for joining us.
First of all, you had a rare vantage point into the process of the bankruptcy settlement with Purdue Pharma. You sat on something called the
UCC, the Unsecured Creditor's Committee. So, there are nine seats on this UCC that are supposed to kind of represent all 600,000 claims, four of the
nine are victims. Maybe, if you don't mind, telling the audience why are you specifically sitting in the seat of one of the victims?
RYAN HAMPTON, AUTHOR, "UNSETTLED": Sure. So, I'm someone who is in recovery from a decade-long opioid use disorder, addiction. I was homeless.
It, you know, kicked off with me in a doctor's office in 2003. I got caught up in the Florida pill mills pretty badly. I was prescribed oxycontin,
which led to multiple overdoses, which led to over half a million dollars in treatment bill.
So, I was appointed as a victim member of the committee. It was something that I applied for. I had to go in and meet with the trustee and share my
story. And, you know, the hardest part for me was I had to be impartial. You know, I'm someone who, prior to joining the committee, led -- co-led
the largest protest in front of Purdue in 2018. I had called out the company and the Sacklers for years for their criminal actions. I had
written about it.
So, what I saw from the outside then moving on to the inside, it was just a completely different ball game. It was like knowing how to play football
really well but then ending up on an ice-skating rink. You know, never skating once in your life. And I think it's important to note, too, that
the Unsecured Creditor's Committee, you know, not only were we just this mega plaintiff, but we had broad powers, right? I mean, we subpoenaed
records. We took depositions of the Sackler family. Our committee counsel and consultants reviewed millions of pages of documents.
Many of the documents that you hear about that the, you know, House Oversight Committee has released and even some that serve attorney's
general has put out there was the result of our work. It was the result of the work of our committee. We worked for over a year on discovery. And what
we found was fascinating.
SREENIVASAN: So, you were there on behalf of the 127,000 other individuals. So, some of those people might be family members who have lost
loved ones, family members who are living with loved ones with severe health issues now, right? So, you're getting from the outside literally the
guy screaming at the fence to the inside, you are kind of, I assume, at that point, feeling good. You're like, hey, I'm sitting across the table
from the people who I'm trying to get attention from. And then, when did this turn for you? When did you feel like instead of football you were on
an ice-skating rink?
HAMPTON: The big turning point for me was I thought it was a shame and actually a crime that so much money, when I started seeing the legal bills
coming out of the consultants, even our attorneys at the UCC, the attorneys representing Purdue, the attorneys representing other creditor groups, when
I started to see those bills and realized that over $1 billion would be paid to a handful of lawyers, likely way less than 1,000 lawyers in this
case, throughout the case, yet victims and communities in need wouldn't receive a dime until the end of the case, I said, we need to do something
about this, and we proposed this emergency relief fund.
And I thought this was a no brainer, right? I was like, great. Get $200 million on the ground right away where it needs to go to help curb this,
you know, over -- you know, just growing overdose crisis. And that initiative was killed. It was killed not by Purdue. It was killed not by
the Sacklers. It was killed by many of the same state attorneys general who were grabbing the microphone and saying that they were doing this to help
communities and to help victims.
And I realized at that point -- because they felt if the money didn't go to them, the money shouldn't be spent at all. I realized at that moment that
we were up against a much bigger machine than just Purdue and the Sacklers. Purdue and Sacklers, they were just writing the checks at this point. How
the money was getting spent was up to the government, it was up to the states, it was up to the municipalities, they played the outsize role in
the bankruptcy, Purdue bankruptcy, which would never happen in any other mass bankruptcy because they thought we did this to ourselves. And some of
those deputy attorneys general and attorneys general actually said those very words, and I write about it in the book.
SREENIVASAN: Help people understand who are watching this, of the bankruptcy, as it stands today, who is getting what from this?
HAMPTON: Yes. So, the victims fund, which is most important to me was negotiated at $750 million. Now, to give you the larger scale, the overall
settlement is expected to be somewhere between $9 to $10 billion depending on how insurance dollars pay out, the insurance -- the claims insurance
coming out of Purdue. That's about 7.5 percent of the total settlements split around approximately 130,000.
Now, that $750 million number, though, can be misleading because that's before attorneys take their cut. So, attorneys, the Tort lawyers, you know,
plaintiff's lawyers in the case, will average somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of that $750 million. So, that number very well likely could be
under 500 million that all the victims have to split.
Insurance companies, hospitals, CVS pharmacies, they shared about another $700 million in total. And then states, municipalities take the rest of the
dollars. I will repeat, though, it is notable that lawyers and consultants in this case will take well over $1 billion, less than 1,000 of them, which
is more than 130,000 or so victims will have to share. It's -- if you didn't live it like I did, it's almost unbelievable. I mean, you just can't
imagine a world or a system that's set up with just such gross wealth inequality and injustice.
SREENIVASAN: The State of Massachusetts, the State of New York have kind of put out similar statements about what they're going to do with the
money. And I want to read one from Massachusetts here. We will use every piece of evidence and every dollar we achieved in our case to expand
prevention, treatment and recovery for the families who have been hurt in this crisis. New York says, we'll be able to more quickly invest these
funds in prevention, education and treatment and put an end to the delays and legal maneuvering that could possibly continue for years and across
multiple continents. Why don't you believe that?
HAMPTON: Well, I'll believe it when I see it. First of all, because the states have done a terrible job in spending money so far when it comes to
abating the opioid overdose crisis. I mean, there was an inspector general's report with HHS, there was a government accountability report
that came out about six months ago that shows that the way the states have actually been spending down their money is unacceptable. There's still a
tremendous amount of money that is left unspent from the federal dollars they received.
Look, I'm not in the business of saying, hey, the states shouldn't be doing more. They absolutely should be doing more. But I pay taxes for those
services. You pay taxes for those services. Your viewership pays taxes for those services. We know that to actually truly make a dent in combatting
the overdose crisis, we need upwards of $20 to $30 billion a year.
$9 billion, $7 billion, the money that's going to be coming out of these settlements spread out over a decade or two decades, that's not going to
cut it. Why are states going to rob victims, right, of the only opportunity that they have for any type of justice in this case. The only talking
points they have is that, we're going to spend it, you know, forward. We're going to make sure it goes to the right places.
The whole emergency relief fund, that $200 million that I -- that we just discussed really opened my eyes that they don't want to listen to
community-based advocates, community-based providers on how the dollars should be spent. Those systems that you just mentioned are very broad
strokes. Prevention can mean a lot of things, right? Prevention can mean more criminal justice systems. I've seen the abatement plans, there's tons
of money in there in terms of what I feel is criminalizing addiction.
Once again, treatment is kind of a buzz word out there. But what type of treatment are we actually providing? Recovery is another buzz word out
there. But what type of recover? Are we providing harm reduction services? Are we providing peer services? Things that we have data that are new that
we know will save more lives.
Now, I brought up a lot of this to the state attorney general during that process and proposed that we start spending money that way, not just me but
several other public health experts. But they didn't want to listen to anything we had to say.
SREENIVASAN: I want to talk about the Sacklers as well. Because you were in the rare position to actually have them in depositions. You were able to
go through discovery, meaning look at the back-and-forth e-mails again that some of those e-mails that you found are the ones that made their way to
Congress. But one of the things that was intriguing to me was that that you found between 1997 and 2007 the Sackler family who controlled the company,
so it's their cash register, so to speak, they withdrew about $1 billion at a pretty steady pace, 200 million or so a year.
And then, you found the four years following, about 2008 and more, they took out $7 billion. What happened at that moment that you think impacted
the Sackler's family decision to take out a lot more money from the company?
HAMPTON: Well, I think that this was clear evidence that the Sacklers knew what was coming, right? So, 2007 was when the consent judgment, when Purdue
pled guilty for the first time in federal court. And there actually -- and I write about it in "Unsettled" there's an e-mail that was exchanged
between certain Sackler family members the day after Purdue pled guilty talking about some of the options in terms of diversifying where the
Sackler money is.
And you could start to see those withdrawals happen very quickly because the family, the -- they like to call themselves "the family." That's how
they referred many times in their own e-mails to each other, the family was afraid that they were going to get sued. That they were going to have
liability. So, I think that there is a very reasonable case to be made that that's when they started to hide assets, right? That's when they started to
make it more difficult to trace their money. They knew what was coming down. And eventually it did.
Sadly, victims aren't going to benefit much, though, from, you know, the outcome of this case. But the Sacklers, you know, were essentially scared.
SREENIVASAN: So, to be clear, the settlement that's kind of agreed upon now, does it go through to the individual bank accounts of the Sacklers and
take money back that they might have socked away?
HAMPTON: Right. Great question. No, it does not. So, we spent about a year trying to track down Sackler money, and it is almost impossible
forensically. Given the way that they set up what are called IHCs, these independent associated companies, right? It's their -- you know, the
different trusts that were set up in different countries, under different names, different associates of Purdue and Sackler family members. Very
difficult to track down.
But it does not mean that we go in and take the money from the Sacklers. Essentially, the Sacklers are receiving non-consensual third-party release.
They are, you know, contributing close to $4.5 billion on a payment schedule where they're actually writing a check into the bankruptcy to
receive that release. But -- you know, one of the more maddening things when you look at Sackler wealth, right, is that by the time they finish
paying the settlement, which is, you know, eight to nine years, they actually will end up richer than they are today even after paying back
themselves the money that they paid into the bankruptcy.
Just assuming a standard healthy interest rate. It's -- you know, given the extraordinary amount of wealth that they have, it's average that they
probably will end up somewhere, you know, starting right now around $11 billion, they could end up somewhere with their investments and interest
rates closer to $15 to $16 billion. So, there's the possibility that they may actually net $1 billion if they do nothing else after this.
SREENIVASAN: So, you had the opportunity to depose one of the Sacklers. What did you find in that conversation?
HAMPTON: You know, I tended, you know, much like we do these days, on Zoom. All of the Sackler depositions live. There were about 50 of us. It
ranged from 50 to 60 of us that were these Zoom sessions and they were very long. Some went into several days all day. The one that I would, you know,
like to mention was Richard Sackler. Because Dr. Richard Sackler was really the head of the family. He's the one where a lot of the discussion and I
guess credit, you could say, goes to for all the crimes that have happened with oxycontin.
And he was incredibly casual. He laid back in his chair. He laughed. He smirked a little bit. He was slow in his speaking. And he felt -- it felt
as if you were sitting across the table from a guy who knew that no matter what, no matter what we dug up on him or no matter what was revealed in
this process or no matter how many lives and families he destroyed and possibly killed, he knew he was going to get off. And so, he just kind of
And as I say it in book, and I know we're on public television, the best way to describe is zero Fs given. He did not care. He did not care. He knew
that at the end of this, the outcome, you know, was casts. It was cast in stone. And quite frankly, it was cast in stone before we even started this
SREENIVASAN: I mean, do things like, you know, admitting wrong doing, making an apology, things that the Sackler family has not done, does that
matter in how you perceive this whole process to have been?
HAMPTON: I truly believe that the Sacklers believe that they haven't done anything wrong, which is really just this odd world that they live in.
They're not on the ground. You know, this is what we call in the United States billionaire justice. And at this point, I'm not sure a Sackler
family apology goes very far with me.
I will tell you what would have gone far, though, is full Sackler wealth. The victims in this crisis, the victims of Purdue's greed and crimes and
the Sackler crimes should have been entitled to full Sackler value and it could have looked several billion dollars, it could have like all $4.5
billion from them. But sadly, we got nothing.
I don't know what many victims are going to do, you know, with $1,500, $1,600 check and an apology from Richard Sackler. I don't think many of us
really care, you know, about an apology from them. A lot of us believe they -- there should be a criminal trial. And that's still could be on the
table. So, they are only getting a civil release in this case. They're not getting a criminal release. The sad part about it is though, is that the
Department of Justice -- the United States Department of Justice, has yet - - or any United States attorney has yet to bring a criminal charge against the Sackler family.
All of these attorneys general, there are 48 of them in -- that were participating in the Purdue bankruptcy, not one single one of them has
brought a criminal charge against the Sackler family. So, I would like to flip the table and ask them, why is that? Why haven't they changed this
family when they still can? They still can today. They have yet to do that.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "Unsettled." Ryan Hampton, thanks so much for joining us.
HAMPTON: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And last November, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three felony offenses. The Sackler family does not currently face any criminal charges
and no member of the family has been convicted of a crime for actions related to Purdue Pharma, nor do they admit wrong doing.
In August, during bankruptcy proceedings, former company president, Richard Sackler, said he believes his family and the oxycontin manufacturer bear no
responsibility for the opioid crisis.
And finally, more than 60 years after the launch of Sputnik, Moscow claims a new win in the space race beating Hollywood to shoot the first feature
film in orbit. The Russian Space Agency has sent a movie crew to the International Space Station, but NASA is also set to take Hollywood to the
final frontier with the help, of course, of Tom Cruise and Elon Musk's SpaceX. So, the race is still on. This time starring billionaires and the
big screens finest.
Well, that is it for now. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from New York.