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Interview with Hungarian Opposition Candidate Peter Marki-Zay; MeToo's Impact. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 29, 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.
As this year draws to a close, we're looking back at some of our favorite interviews. So, here's what's coming up tonight.
GINO, IRAQI REFUGEE: Survivors united will never be divided!
AMANPOUR (voice-over): MeToo four years after going viral. I speak to the founder, Tarana Burke, about its true origins and where it goes from here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They put us in a truck, and then they took us to the other border. They cut it, and they told us to walk.
AMANPOUR: These migrants say Belarus helped ferry them to Europe. The E.U. says it is state-organized human trafficking. We get a report from Eastern
And can this man finally unseat Hungary's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban? Mayor Peter Marki-Zay tells me how he's trying to do just that by
rallying unlikely allies ahead of the next election.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think we're unquestionably weaker, that it was a real body blow, probably the worst body blow to our democracy.
AMANPOUR: "Midnight in Washington." Congressman Adam Schiff talks to Michel Martin about his new book, January 6, and how American democracy will
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It was a movement that swept the world just four years ago this month with the hashtag #MeToo. Women everywhere stood up as survivors and awakened the
public to the rampant problem of sexual abuse and harassment.
Though the term MeToo went viral in 2017, it was actually a decade earlier when activist Tarana Burke first started using it to help survivors,
particularly young women of color, to empower themselves and connect to others.
For Burke, watching MeToo go viral wasn't a cause for celebration at the time. In reality, it stressed her out worrying that it would drift further
and further away from her original intent.
Tarana Burke reveals now for the first time how it all began in a new memoir, which is called "Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of
the Me Too Movement."
And she's joining me now from Los Angeles.
Tarana Burke, welcome back to our program.
So critics are calling this very tough, a tough read, but incredibly empowering. As we said, it went viral four years ago with the Harvey
Weinstein trial. But how do you feel about where it is now and the fact that you had been doing this for the past decade?
TARANA BURKE, METOO MOVEMENT FOUNDER: Well, I think it's changed so much over the last four years.
So much has evolved. So many things have happened in the last four years that I feel like there's been a lot of progress, although there's so much
more work to be done. But we are far -- we're in a much different place that we were in October of 2017, for sure.
AMANPOUR: But tell me about the 10 years earlier, that you were toiling, I guess in relative obscurity, on this very issue. How did it actually start?
What were you doing in those 10 years before, before four years ago, 2017?
BURKE: Well, it was actually more than 10 years, right? I spent a very long time both in Philadelphia and in Alabama in the South and other parts
of the country working with young people doing empowerment and leadership work. And that evolved into working with young girls who have been
survivors of sexual violence.
And it was in relative obscurity, but -- I guess to the mainstream media and the mainstream public, but not in the black community.
And I worked really hard, along with the other people in our organization, to make sure that these girls had safe harbor and had pathways to healing,
but also to start a movement that was about organizing to end sexual violence in our communities, because just the same as we organized around
gun violence or police violence, there was very little conversation even, and definitely very little work being done to actually end the sexual
violence that was happening and so rampantly in our communities.
And so that's what our work looked like largely before MeToo went viral.
AMANPOUR: So, Tarana, I mean, you raise kind of an extremely troubling reality.
And that is, when you are trying to be an activist to lobby on behalf of your community, the black community, girls in your community who were being
abused, it didn't resonate on the level that it did when, let's say, celebrities, Hollywood stars, others who were white women who had been
victimized by people like Harvey Weinstein and others, until that came out.
What does that say about just the whole notion of trying to get justice on this -- on this account?
BURKE: I think it's the same thing we see in every other social justice issue, right?
In America in particular, we have been socialized, we have been programmed to respond to the vulnerability of white women. We have been programmed to
respond to white women in distress. And I think it's the same way around the world. It's not just black women. We have -- indigenous women in
America have the highest rates of sexual violence, and nobody talks about them.
Nobody talks about their plight and what's going on with them. And so this is what we have seen in every facet of the social justice issue is that,
when it's black and brown people, the things that are happening in our communities are not prioritized. So it's no surprise that, when it came to
sexual violence, the same thing would happen, particularly when you're talking about famous, white, rich women.
AMANPOUR: Go back all those years ago when you yourself became a victim of this, and I guess nobody responded.
You were 7 years old when you were abused. And this was one of many times you were abused. You had been raped? How did your family, how did your
community respond to this? Did you tell them? What was your experience?
BURKE: Well, to be clear, nobody responded because I didn't tell.
BURKE: And that's actually a different story than is told often, is that people don't tell because they don't think people will believe them. I
And I think a lot of other little girls and little black girls in particular don't tell because they will be believed, and it may ruin their
family. Or immigrant people, folks may not tell because they will be believed and it will bring law enforcement into their family and can
disrupt their homes. There are lots of reasons why people of color, for instance, don't disclose that are beyond just not being believed.
And so what I try to explore in my book are the other things that happened in my community. I didn't tell because I didn't want my father or my mother
to go and find the person and cause harm to the person, which would then bring the police into our -- into the situation. They might be arrested.
And my house would be split out because of me. And I thought that I had done something bad.
AMANPOUR: You did describe yourself in the book as feeling like a dirty dishrag. And you said that you only realize that you were not the only
person to be violated like this, you only realized when you read the great Maya Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
What was that revelation like to you, and do you hope all these years later that your book will help reveal to others who may still think they're the
only ones in their community or the only ones being abused?
BURKE: That revelation was life-changing, right? I just thought that I was holding a secret by myself.
So that is why things like MeToo are important, because it creates community, so that folks who are experienced in sexual violence don't feel
like they are alone. I hope that people are -- if somebody, a young girl reads my book and has that same experience, that would be amazing.
But I hope that the work that we're doing is big enough and loud enough so that they don't have to find community in just my book, but they can find
it through our organization and through the work that we're doing and through the movement that we're building.
AMANPOUR: You know, you say you didn't tell for all the reasons you have just laid out.
Yet when it was your turn to be -- to have to make a decision to help people, you describe a really dramatic scene when you were in Selma,
Alabama, working for one of the lead civil rights architects, Reverend James Bevel, and you realized...
BURKE: No, no. I didn't work for James Bevel. Please don't say that.
AMANPOUR: No. I'm sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. But you encountered him.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And he was, as I say, close to Martin Luther King. That's correct, right?
And in a classroom, where you had discovered that he was a serial molester. And you arrived. And take the story from there.
I'm just going to read a little extract on this. "I still had no idea the extent of his depravities, but I knew that we had to get those children
out, like we were headed north towards freedom."
Tell me -- I mean, it was quite dramatic. You went in there and tried to get all these kids out from under his, I don't even want to say care, but
under his tutelage, under his presence there.
I mean, at the time that moment happened, I didn't even know that he wasn't molester, but he was just really creepy. And he gave us really bad vibes.
And, quite frankly, he was being verbally abusive to the young people. He was -- there were queer children in the room. There were the girls in the
And he was saying the most homophobic and misogynistic and really terrible things to them. And so that alone was abusive. And so myself and two other
people who worked with me, we really felt like we had to get the girls and the kids out of there.
And, literally, one by one, we kind of pulled them out and put them on our van and took them down the street to our community center. And he obviously
saw us doing that in the middle of it and knew he couldn't do anything about it, because the children wanted to come with us. And I'm so glad that
we had that moment.
I was just talking about one of the people who was a part of that with me. I just spoke to him the other day. And we were just recounting that moment
and how, now looking back, is -- we were not scared in the moment, but just how big of a moment that was at the time.
AMANPOUR: In 2008, he was convicted of unlawful fornication. And I want to ask you, though. All this work that you have done all this awareness that
has been created, and yet still it goes on so blatantly and so wantonly and so grotesquely, in public, even, and people don't do what you did. They
don't intervene on many, many instances.
A horrendous issue last Wednesday, a woman on a train raped for eight minutes, according to bystanders, or according to those who filmed near
Philadelphia, doing nothing, not even calling 911. And it only stopped when the T.A., Transportation Authority, employee got on the train and called
I mean, how do you -- well, none of this is ever going to end. But that's in public in a sensitized, we would expect, society now.
BURKE: I think that story really knocked the wind out of me. I just can't even imagine that scenario, how it played out.
I can't imagine that nobody would intervene. I mean, I'm from New York, and I have seen people intervene in much, much, much less horrendous incidents.
And I just -- it just says so much about the world we live in. It says so much about social media and our need to -- that people filmed it, but
didn't intervene, it's just -- it's awful.
I don't really have the words. I think -- and I think it's -- but I think it's good that you brought it up, and that we talk about it, because we
have to talk about more than just these trials that have happened and people who've been arrested and people -- governors who have stepped down.
On a very basic community level, we're still dealing with sexual violence every day in our community. Every day, people are still faced with violence
in our community. And that's something that has not been addressed, largely, and this is indicative of that.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you also whether you -- because I heard you discussing this with Oprah recently. You talk about spectrum. And many
people have questioned the -- is it all black and white? Or is there gray?
Are there different levels, and you have talked about a spectrum of abuse, of accountability. And we have seen in some cases wrongfully accused people
who've basically had their lives destroyed, young people, middle-aged people, older people. And I wonder what you think about that. I wonder if
you could explain what you what you think about a spectrum of action and the spectrum of accountability.
BURKE: Well, first of all, as a black woman in America, I have seen black men's lives destroyed for decades because of false accusations around
sexual violence, right? Sexual violence...
AMANPOUR: Well, in fact, you have a specific, you have a specific encounter with that at a youngest age. When you were in school, one of your
friends was going out with or something with Yusef Salaam one of the Central Park 5 who was wrongfully accused.
And so I have a very keen understanding of how sexual violence has been weaponized against black men and what false accusations can do to the lives
of people who have to endure that. I think we also -- every time we talk about false accusations, we have to be clear about how -- what the
statistics are around that and what they say, and that it's very, very few instances where they happen, but they do happen. And I think accountability
should happen on both ends.
But I think what also happens is that we get mired down in a conversation about false accusations and what should happen more so than we do about the
accountability -- about the accountability for the harm that actually happens.
And so I have said this before, that accountability should happen on a spectrum. That's on all ends. And it doesn't have to involve law
enforcement all the time. It doesn't have to mean people's lives have to be ruined and turned upside down.
But people do have to answer for the harm that they caused. And I think that we're in a very unique position to start thinking about what that can
look like as we move forward.
It doesn't always have to be -- we're socialized to just think about law and order, crime and punishment. And everything doesn't fit into that box.
There aren't enough laws to cover the ways that people can be violated by sexual violence. It's just not possible. And you can't adjudicate healing,
right? You can't adjudicate safety. And so there's not enough policies you can create or laws that you can create that's going to stop sexual
violence, that's going to keep people safe, or that's even going to stop false accusations.
So we have to think about what alternatives look like.
AMANPOUR: Yes, and I think, clearly, that's part of, I guess, the next sort of chapter in this movement now.
And I want to ask you, though, because I want to ask you what the words mean to you. And do they mean what they did when you first started the same
way as they do today? And as part of that, I would like you to read a little bit that you have chosen from the prologue of your book, "Unbound."
"The courage that trickled out of a young black girl in the Bronx and now from millions of others form the massive ocean that this movement has
become. The essence of MeToo is found deep in the marrow of this lifelong story. There is no here without where I was, stuck and scared and ashamed,
a place I remained until the need to care for someone else's shame saved me too.
"Every now and then, I find myself right back there with that scared little girl, but I can look to the road map this movement helped me chart to lead
me home. I hope you're able to use my story of finding courage to say me too, to help you on your own path."
AMANPOUR: And do you feel that that empowerment is happening? When you see and when you look and see how it's -- what's happening right now, do you
feel that what you are just hoping in that passage is happening right now?
BURKE: I do.
I mean, the feedback from the book and -- that I have been getting from people who have read it, I have gotten e-mails and videos and all kinds of
messages from survivors and people who have read the book who have affirmed that for me. And so that makes me feel good. It makes me feel like that
purpose is being fulfilled. And I hope that continues to happen.
AMANPOUR: Look, I know it's, I guess, sensitive, because, clearly, you just spoke about how the overwhelming number of false accusations has been
against men in your community.
But I want to ask you what you think of men in your community who have also abused young girls, like R. Kelly, for instance, who went for so long
without being -- without being held accountable.
And Kimberle Crenshaw, who you must know incredibly well, who developed the concept of intersectionality, she said: "What was it about these victims
that allowed superstars to continue to work with R. Kelly, music executives to continue to make deals with him, consumers to continue listening to his
music? It's part of a long history of the way in which black women's sexuality, veracity, vulnerability has been dismissed in our culture, an
opportunity for us to really dig into it, rather than pat ourselves on the back."
I should have played the excerpt from what she said, but I read it instead. But women in your community also have been historically not believed, and
even by the men and the community have been shunted aside.
It's actually the same in every community. And it's not -- there's no special depravity in the black community. But it is -- to be clear, we have
to be able to hold multiple truths at the same time. While it is very true that black men -- that sexual violence has been weaponized against black
men, it's also very true that black women have the second highest rate of sexual violence incidents in the United States.
And that's something that we have to look directly in its eyes. Black women and girls are largely not believed. Black women and girls are largely not
protected when it comes to sexual violence in this country. And that's just a truth. It doesn't mean anything about black men, other than we have to
talk about this, unpack it and figure out solutions for why it's happening.
And so it's something that causes so much controversy whenever it comes up. When the R. Kelly case came, the community and lots of folks in the
community was split and there were lots of arguments about it. The same thing when you bring up Russell Simmons or T.I. or Bill Cosby.
Any of these names cause people to want to debate about it. But on the other end is always black women who are waiting to have some kind of
justice, some kind of anything that says that we care about them, about us, that people care about us and want to keep us safe and feel protected. And
that just doesn't happen often enough.
AMANPOUR: And that's why you're there fighting for them.
Tarana Burke, thank you so much, indeed, founder of MeToo.
And now we turn to Germany, where migrants say they are arriving with some unexpected help from Belarus. The E.U. is considering further action
against the Lukashenko regime for using people as pawns, flying in thousands of migrants and sending them across the border to the E.U. in
retaliation for sanctions.
Fred Pleitgen went to Eastern Germany, and he spoke to some of the newly arrived migrants. And here's his report.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trapped and desperate between Belarus and Poland, refugees begging for passage to Germany.
And while many are stopped, an increasing number are now making it to Germany to this refugee center in the town of Eisenhuttenstadt. Seventeen-
year-old Gino just arrived from Iraq via Belarus with her mother and sister and says Belarusian authorities even drove them to the border.
GINO: They put us in a truck, and then they took us to the other border. They cut it, and they told us to walk.
PLEITGEN (on camera): They cut the border. So there was a wire? And they cut the wire?
GINO: Yes, they cut the wire.
(voice-over): The E.U. accuses strongman Alexander Lukashenko of state -- organized human trafficking, luring refugees to Belarus and sending them
across the border, a claim Lukashenko denies.
Poland says it has sealed its border with barbed wire and will even build a wall. Refugees are often trapped between the two sides for days, and shoved
back and forth. This woman from Syria tells me the group she was part of slept under trees and ran out of food and water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five days later, we drink water from the floor -- on the floor. We don't have anything.
PLEITGEN (on camera): You drank water from puddles?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. Yes.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Few of the refugees stay in Poland. Most try to move on to Germany, the Brandenburg state government says. They also say
they've gone from 200 new arrivals in all of August to almost 200 every day now.
OLAF JANSEN, BRANDENBURG IMMIGRATION AUTHORITY: We increase the capacity here, and we, of course, also sped up all of the administrative procedures,
without compromising security and health checks.
PLEITGEN: Poland says the situation at its border with Belarus remains tense, and the interior minister of the German state with the highest
refugee influx tells me he wants the E.U. to get tougher on Lukashenko. "It's a question of tough international diplomacy," he says.
"We, as Europe cannot allow Belarus to do something like this. From my point of view, we could also involve Russia. All diplomatic channels need
to be used."
But few believe solutions will come quickly. Folks at this refugee shelter say they are already preparing for more arrivals, already clearing
AMANPOUR: Fred Pleitgen reporting there.
And Lukashenko's antipathy towards migrants is something shared by another European strongman, Hungary's Viktor Orban. The prime minister with an
increasingly autocratic bent has been running the country for over a decade now, but is his time soon to be up?
My next guest thinks so. And he wants to be the one to oust his; 49-year- old engineer turned Mayor Peter Marki-Zay pulled off a big victory this weekend to become the surprise opposition candidate. So, let's ask him
about his strategy.
Thank you for joining us from Budapest. I want to get to your political strategy in a moment. But I want to just have you follow up on that story
that we just reported from Belarus.
Your own prime minister, Viktor Orban, has also, as we said, a distinct dislike of migrants, particularly Muslim ones. We're seeing the Afghan
debacle probably translate into a wave of new Afghan refugees and migrants towards Europe.
Do you agree -- he calls them, Orban, invaders. What's your position? Would your approach be different?
PETER MARKI-ZAY, HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE: Hello, Christiane. And it's a pleasure talking to you.
Of course, my views are very different. But you also have to note that Mr. Orban's stance on the migration is also controversial. So he did actually
allow quite a few refugees even from Afghanistan.
And, at the same time, he's also accepting migrants for work visa, for example, 55,000 the last number from 2019. So I don't think the big
difference would be the practice.
The difference is how you treat these people and also how you communicate, because Orban is using migration for his hate campaigns. It's very strong
rhetoric on migration, not necessarily so strong on the practices. Practices, I mean the numbers.
So, yes, we need to treat people humanely wherever they come from, and, also, we should never, ever conduct hate campaigns against any minorities
and the groups -- any groups of people.
AMANPOUR: OK, so just let me one more question on this then, because it's important, and migration is one of the big issues of our time. As you know,
Orban and his ministers -- and I have spoken to his foreign minister a few times -- tout the current system that you're living under there as
And beyond that, the foreign minister told me a few years ago that -- he explained or at least he tried to explain, to answer, when I asked him
about Orban calling for a Christian Hungary. This is what he said to me:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What are you saying, that anything other than white Christians into your country are not accepted?
PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: No one said that.
AMANPOUR: Excuse me. Your prime minister did say it, a Christian Hungary.
SZIJJARTO: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: You deserve a Christian Hungary.
SZIJJARTO: Yes, because we are -- we have been a Christian country for a millennium.
And I don't really understand, why is it bad news that we don't want to change that? And I don't understand, why is it bad or why is it
unacceptable that we would like to stick to our history, to our culture, to our heritage, to our religion?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Mr. Marki-Zay, you are also a devout Catholic.
I just wonder whether you agree with that. You talked about how they have to be treated humanely and how the communication about migrants needs to be
humane and respecting human rights. So, how would you be different than what Szijjarto and Orban say about them?
MARKI-ZAY: First of all, according to my views, there is nothing Christian about Orban or Szijjarto. They also started -- they are the ultimate
They started their -- Orban started his political activity in the communist youth movement. Then he was for a long time a very liberal, a harsher
radical liberal. He was also the vice president of the Liberal International. Then he became somebody I also supported when he was an
anti-Putin, pro -- Europe, pro-E.U. conservative. Then he also changed after 2009-2010.
And now he's strongly against the E.U. and supporting Putin. So I don't think he's very consistent on ideology. The one thing that really outrages
all Christians is corruption. Corruption is the biggest problem. And there is nothing Christian about corruption.
AMANPOUR: And yet he's been in power using the democratic process for the better part of a decade, if not more.
And you are the -- pretty much the only one who has and is about to mount a significant challenge. And you want a primary this weekend that pretty much
nobody expected you would, but with a strategy that we have seen operate in the latest election in Israel.
We saw the election in the Czech Republic the weekend before, where they deposed the prime minister. The strategy is about different political
parties joining together for the election. Describe what you hope to do, in terms of the defeat a strongman political handbook.
MARKI-ZAY: First of all, unification of the opposition is a must. But it's a necessary, but not sufficient condition for victory over Orban.
His regime is extremely autocratic. There's no freedom of the press, and he's changing electoral law as he wishes. Even just this week, there were
like three different changes in very important parts of electoral law and how to appoint political appointees to positions like the public
So it's -- his system is very difficult to defeat. But with the unification of the entire opposition from left to right, and with the candidate who is
- -- who has an appeal, even to Orban's traditional voter base, electoral base, we have the highest chance of defeating him now in a decade.
AMANPOUR: So why do you think it is now that all of these parties have decided to put their own, I guess, political egos aside and their own
political, I guess, power and aspirations aside to band around you? What is it that you think has -- is like, we have had enough already?
Well, first of all, it wasn't their decision. It was the decision of voters who participated in extremely high numbers in the primary, in a two-round
And, yes, the political parties, six united political parties from left to right, they agreed in the terms beforehand, and then they had to accept the
results. But I also believe that this is the most efficient way, the best strategy against Orban and against his corrupt and automatic regime.
AMANPOUR: So, clearly, what you're saying, what you're laying out as policies and objectives are very different to Donald Trump and the populist
wave of 2016.
But, you do have a Hungarian think tank leader called Peter Kreko.
He has basically said in some ways Peter Marki-Zay, you, can be compared to Donald Trump in the fact that you're a non-party player who says new and
surprising things, who comes out of nowhere and goes against the conventional political logic.
Is that a fair description of you?
PETER MARKI-ZAY, HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE: I wouldn't -- yes, I can accept that definitely. The one thing is new, of course, is a fresh voice
in the politics in Hungary.
People are not -- generally not used to honest voice. And a very direct communication style. But, in autocratic regime where freedom of the press
is not a given, you know, you have to put things straight in order to get through communication bubbles.
AMANPOUR: So obviously Orban's party denies corruption and all of that, they deny pretty much everything you put to them. But, I just wondered
whether you think that -- I mean, six months may be a long time, do you feel that you will keep this rather fractious coalition, you know, of
opposition parties together heading into the election? Have you had to make promises? Do -- you know, what's the strategy over the next six months?
MARKI-ZAY: Yes. Well, if these six parties are going to win, if they want to win then they have no better option than keeping this coalition
together. I've also been active in the politics -- in politics for four years now and before I was working in the private sector, of course. And no
-- with no prior political engagements. I still have no party affiliation.
But Fidesz (ph), what I see is that Fidesz (ph) will do everything in his power and he has unlimited resources and a ruthless really limitless power
and they are really keen on keeping that power.
So, of course, they will try to find traitors in the opposition. They will try to dissuade people from keeping this coalition together. And they have,
like I said, unlimited resources and they are not afraid of using them.
So it's a big challenge and we have to keep the electoral basis pressure on the -- on these opposition parties to keep the coalition together.
AMANPOUR: A Fidesz, of course, being Orban's Party. The E.U. is pretty much, you know, upset about them, their sanctions on them. And it boils
down to democracy, doesn't it?
And, you know, we see them and Poland, the ruling party in Poland, you know, really pushing back on LGBTQ riots, on the rule of law, on all sorts
of issues, the independent press as you've just mentioned.
So I want to ask you about restoring democracy because it's not only in your part of Europe, it's not only in other parts as well, but also in what
we consider, you know, the greatest global experiment with democracy in the United States.
You spend a long time there. You lived a long time there. And I just wonder what you make of what happened on January 6? Now, what's going on in terms
of trying to really investigate and hold the perpetrators accountable to some of the violence that took place. You know, how difficult is it for you
when even the United States has a damaged democracy?
MARKI-ZAY: Well yes, of course, it's a fair comparison, but at the same time it's also very different because even, you know, no matter how hard
people tried and some people tried, of course, in the last few years to change the rules of democracy in the United States, it is still a working
state of law, with the rule of law and the freedom of the press.
Hungary's very different. You know, Orban really managed to switch off the checks and balances in our former constitution. Now he has a basic law, not
even called a constitution and this allows him to do anything he wants with the two-thirds majority in the Parliament. He can change constitution, he
can change electoral law overnight.
You know, he can pretty much decide on things today and it happens tomorrow if he decides to put the next elections date 130 years from now he can
technically do it. So, it's a very different situation and I pretty much envy the United States that they have a very stable system and very stable
government compared to ours.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed. And what you're trying to do in Hungary is being described as a -- as the major showdown in your part of the world over the
defense of democracy.
And a -- you know -- there are plenty of political analysts and one of them has said that populism is beatable, but actually does require what you're
trying to do, which is gather a whole bunch of political parties, have all the leaders, you know, put their political egos and individual egos aside.
But, I guess I want to ask you on a -- on a broader level, do you think the 2016 wave of populism and nationalism, do you think it's on the -- on the
wane? Do you think that this is the time to confront that kind of politics that overtook the world for so long?
MARKI-ZAY: You also must have noticed that there was a change. This change, at least, you know, started in 2019 when in Europe people expected
Orban to rule Europe and also with FXB (ph) and Salvini (ph) and the likes, Lupin (ph), to take over. At least take a bigger share in Europe in
politics and it didn't happen.
Actually, the opposite happened. And so, Orban did not have a victory on international level. And we also saw that in 2019 Orban also lost base in
the municipal elections in Hungary.
Look around Hungary now, lately, you know Czech Republic and elsewhere and you will see that the tide is changing and hopefully to our benefit. This
will hopefully also affect Hungary and we are working very hard on this to happen here too.
AMANPOUR: Peter Marki-Zay, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, we just were discussing January 6, and we turn to Washington politics, where the investigation into that insurrection is heating up. The House
Committee leading it has voted to hold Steve Bannon, President Trump's former adviser in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena. He's refused to
appear in court after former President Trump's lawyers told him not to testify or to provide documents.
Democrat Adam Schiff is a committee member and he's also an author of a new book, "Midnight in Washington." And here he is speaking with Michel Martin
about why he believes the attack fundamentally weakened the United States.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining us.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CA: It's great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: I'd like to start with some news from where we are right now. A select committee of the House has been trying to investigate the events of
January 6. They've issued subpoenas to former staffers and supporters of the former president. To this point, they've been ignored.
And at this point, as we are speaking now, the former president has even filed a lawsuit against the January 6 Committee and the National Archives,
seeking to block the release of his White House records related to the Capitol attacks.
So, can I just first start by asking you, how do you respond to that?
SCHIFF: Well, he's going to lose the litigation, first of all, because the current president, Joe Biden, is not asserting executive privilege. He
recognizes the extraordinary circumstances we're in. This is an investigation into a bloody attack on our democracy, on our Capitol.
And so, Trump will lose the litigation. But is the whole point is delayed. And -- and we will work to expedite and get a quick court decision
rejecting this, I think, demonstrably meritless claim on Donald Trump's part.
I think even more promising is the fact that we are holding Steve Bannon in contempt, criminal contempt and we will be referring that to the Justice
Department for prosecution. And that, I think, is the swiftest, most powerful remedy for those who recues to provide information.
He has no colorable claim to privilege. He wasn't part of the administration. For years prior to the events, we're talking about and by
law the Justice Department has a duty to present that to grand jury and we will expect them to do so.
MARTIN: And the contrast (ph) and Joe Biden has expressed the view that Steve Bannon should be prosecuted. And as you know, some Republicans have
objected to his commenting on this, saying, that this indicates that the fix is in. That this isn't being fairly adjudicated. What's your response
SCHIFF: Well, the president said, you know, essentially people that do not follow the law, that ignore the law should be prosecuted. He didn't make it
particular to any one person. And the White House has been very clear that the Justice Department will ultimately make these decisions in specific
But, I think the president is right that for four years we had this lawless administration, you had people willy-nilly simply refuse to respond to
lawful subpoenas and that those days should be over. I view this as an early test case of whether our democracy is recovering.
And, look, one of the things that I describe in the book is the first time Steve Bannon came in to testify before Congress during the Russia
investigation, then led by Republicans. He was under subpoena when he -- when he came in the second time. The first time was voluntary.
He didn't answer questions and he was subpoenaed by the Republicans.
The second time he brought 25 questions he would answer. The only 25 he was going to answer and they were written out for him by the White House, the
subject of our investigation. And he got away with it.
And I think that's led him to believe he can get away with it now. But back then you had attorney generals under the Trump administration who viewed
their job as essentially a criminal defense firm for Donald Trump and that is no longer the case.
MARTIN: I can imagine that this is very frustrating to you and other Democrats. Why is it seem to be so difficult to hold people to account for
this kind of conduct?
SCHIFF: Oh, it is really astonishing. You know, I often look at one -- one little vignette of the last four years that's so telling about where are as
a country. A guy runs for president on a platform of building a wall, which he says that Mexico is going to pay for. He becomes president. Of course,
Mexico doesn't pay for a wall. The wall doesn't get built.
His cronies, including Steve Bannon, raise money from Trump's own supporters to build the wall and then they steal it. And then Trump pardons
him for stealing money from his own people. And this is the guy refusing to testify before Congress.
It shows you just what a group of drifters we were dealing with over the last four years, but also shows you the degree to which they think that
they're above the law. And part of the reason why they do, honestly, has to do with the fact that for four years the people that has served with in
Congress cared more about their position, their party, their power than they did our Constitution than any notions of right and wrong.
Congress had remedies during the last four years, we could have withhold funding from the Trump administration, we could have insisted, we could
have withhold confirmations, but one party, the Republican Party wasn't willing to do it. They were willing to sacrifice the -- their own
institutional interests in order to placate this president of their party.
MARTIN: Well, in fact, let's talk about your book now, because your book is -- is in part a meditation on how you think we got to this point. Your
take on how we got to this point.
You know, you obviously have strong words to -- about the former president and his -- you know -- his close -- you know -- allies, people who work for
him -- you know -- with him in the White House.
But really I would say your strongest criticism is directed at your colleagues in Congress. Why is it that really you hold them responsible for
SCHIFF: I hold them responsible because Donald Trump could not have done any of the things he did without their willing, sometimes enthusiastic
participation and help. And I -- I fully believe that we have greater perspective on this part of our history that they will suffer some of the
most severe judgments of history. Because they understood what they were doing was wrong.
And -- and, you know, just to use the most recent and terrible illustration of this, on January 6, and I describe, as you know, in vivid detail what it
was like to be on the -- on the House floor as they're breaking in the doors and breaking the windows.
I -- I have to say, while I was -- I was, you know, traumatized by what was going on, I was even more angered in a way at my colleagues. These people
that were attacking the police and climbing the walls of the Capitol, they believed the big lie.
But, the people inside the chamber with me, people I've taken to calling insurrectionists in suits and ties, they understood it was a big lie. And
they kept telling it anyway. And even after that attack, even while there was still blood on the floor and we went back into session they were still
trying to overturn the election. Still pushing the big lie. And to me that's unconscionable.
If we can't rely on our elections -- if people lose in faith in our election's ability to decide right -- you know -- which parties should
govern and who should represent us then what's left but violence. And so, you're -- Michel, you're absolutely right, I hold them personally, deeply
accountable for this destruction of our democracy.
MARTIN: You know, we often hear from people who -- who spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill that, you know, they know that what they're saying is not
true. I mean, I hear this from reporters all the time, I hear this from my colleagues all the time. But, how do you know they know it's not true?
SCHIFF: Well, they -- they -- they will tell you they know what they're saying is not true. And I -- and I a vivid antidote in a story that took
place well before the insurrection of talking to Kevin McCarthy on a plane about who was going to win the 2010 midterms. And -- and I said a Democrat
MARTIN: Currently he is the House Minority Leader. He's the leader of the Republican Minority in the House.
SCHIFF: Yes. And at the time he had a different position of leadership in the Republican Party. And we had this conversation on a plane about who was
going to win the midterms that were then six months away. I said the Democrats would win. He said the Republicans would win.
It was a total nothing of a conversation. And we get to Washington, we go our separate ways and he goes off and he does a press briefing and he tells
the press that Republicans are going to win the midterms, everybody knows it. He sat with Adam Schiff on the plane and Adam Schiff admitted
Republicans were going to win the midterms.
And I was -- I was incredulous. And I went up to him on the House floor and I said, I said, Kevin, first of all if we're having a private conversation
I would have thought it was a private conversation. But if it wasn't you know I said the exact opposite of what you told the press. And he looks at
me and he says, yes, I know Adam but you know how it goes.
And -- and for many of them, that is exactly how it goes. And they are willing to publicly mislead their constituents and the country if it just
helps them gain power or helps them keep it.
During the -- the -- you know -- the height of the Russia investigation, when I'm being, you know, villainized on Fox I would have Republicans
sometimes even seen Republicans walk by me in the Capitol and say in a hushed voice, keep doing what you're doing.
And so, you know, they understand. They recognize -- they're smart people, they recognize that Donald Trump lost and he lost candidly. But they're
scared to contradict him. And it's more important, evidently, for them to keep their position than to tell the country the truth.
And -- and that I don't understand because I can't imagine that's why they ran for Congress. I can't imagine that Steve Scalise, when he decided to
run for Congress, decided I want to run for Congress because one day I hope to mislead the country about a presidential election and undermine the
fabric of our democracy.
But -- but the story of how people came to do that and continue to do that is, I think, a story that needs to be told.
MARTIN: You really trace the sort of the seeds of what happened on January 6, really all the way back to the 2016 election, when there was an effort
made by Russia to interfere or involve itself in the 2016 election. You make the argument that if accountability had been had then, then perhaps --
perhaps the subsequent events would not have happened.
So what went wrong there? Tell us.
SCHIFF: Well, I think the country learned what it did about Trump's complicity in what Russia was doing very piecemeal, very drip by drip over
a two-year period. And during that two-year period even as the facts were coming out showing that the Russians offered -- directly offered to the
president's son help in the election, dirt on Hillary Clinton and as -- as evidence came out about the president's eagerness to get that help and his
connection with the platform WikiLeaks that was the cutout for the Russians to publish this stuff.
Even as we learned that Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, was secretly meeting with an agent of Kremlin intelligence and giving them internal
polling data and that that same unit of Russian intelligence was running the social media campaign to elect Donald Trump.
Even as we're learning all these things, we're learning them in bits and pieces. The public doesn't get to see the whole picture at once. And Donald
Trump is using the biggest megaphone in the world to repeat endlessly and over and over, no collusion, no corruption. And his -- his amplifiers on
Fox are saying the same thing.
It really obscured, I think, in the public mind what really happened. And that made it very difficult to hold him accountable. Ultimately, when we
had perhaps the best opportunity to explain to the country what we had found it was that hearing with Bob Mueller which was not the same Bob
Mueller that he had been.
And it is very telling that on the day after that hearing with Bob Mueller, when Donald Trump felt that he had escaped the jailor for his Russian
misconduct, it was the very next day that he was on the phone with the president of Ukraine, this time asking yet another country to help him
cheat in yet another election.
And I think you can draw not only a straight line between the failure to hold him accountable for his Russian misconduct to leading to the Ukraine
misconduct. And a direct line between the Senate refusing to hold him accountable for that misconduct and the insurrection.
And now, what I fear is that we will be able to one day draw a line from the Republican's unwillingness to hold him accountable for the big lie and
the incitement of that insurrection to something even worse in the future.
How many times do we need to be told and reminded and demonstrated and shown the -- the danger of not holding someone like that accountable?
MARTIN: And how do you feel that's going? I guess, would be the question. How do you feel about this country's willingness to stand up for the
principles as you see it that -- that cause it to be the country that it is, that allows it to be the country that it is? How's that going?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it hasn't gone well for four years. But, we are -- we are a deeply resilient country. And I -- I believe with every bone in my
body we're going to get through this.
And part of what I wanted to write about too in this book is about the heroic figures who emerged from this chapter, who are showing us the way,
who demonstrated real courage at the risk of their firing or at the risk of their lives that ought to inspire us.
And I fully believe that those people and millions and millions of Americans like that are what are going to get us through this. Because
those that love our democracy far outnumber those that are willing to tear it down right now.
But, we need to wake up to this threat. So many times in the last four years we have asked ourselves whether something like this could really
happen in America. And it has happened in America. That question has been answered, yes, it can happen here. It is happening here.
You know, among those that are the most powerful voices in this book interestingly are immigrants, people like Maria Yovanovitch and Fiona Hill
and Alexander Vindman and others.
But you can meet them in every day life, you ask anyone that's come from a repressive country or a country that's lost its democracy and they will
tell you they see all the hallmarks in America right now of what they went through in their old country.
So, the danger is real. How are we doing? Not so well. Are we going to get through this? Absolutely. And what's going to get us through it? Well, we
are going to fight to pass legislation to protect our voting rights and -- and make sure that we do away with the gerrymander and these other ways in
which a minority of Americans can control the country. But, we can't put all of our eggs in that basket. We also, each one of us, needs to be doing
our part to make sure that no one's vote is taken away.
And if we do that, and we don't try to do everything, if each individual in their own personal life tries to do one thing in the next year and a half
to help save our democracy then we will be able to look back on this as a time when we went through a really dark chapter but we made it through. And
that's the future that I'm working towards and I'm confident we will see.
MARTIN: Did January 6, the events of January 6, make this country stronger or weaker in your view?
SCHIFF: I think we're unquestionably weaker. That it was a real body blow. Probably the worse body blow to our democracy. And this -- this body blow
came from within. This was not some external attack on the country. This -- this body blow was self-inflicted.
And, you know, tragically -- to add tragedy upon tragedy, there was a window of opportunity after January 6, in which it might have had the
effect of casting and repudiating -- casting aside or repudiating Donald Trump and Trumpism. And maybe the country really could have moved forward,
clearly forward after that terrible attack.
And then maybe you could have said that at least something positive came out of this, because it revealed the disastrous ends to which Donald Trump
brought us. But, it didn't have that effect. And people are now making heroes of the attackers. They're bringing a flag from insurrection day to
Republican rallies in Virginia to help elect a Republican governor there.
They're celebrating these criminals as political prisoners. And so, we have not turned a corner. And -- and that corner is yet to come. So, I wish I
could tell you that there was something, anything about that day that marked a new beginning for the country in the sense of seeing the horror to
which Donald Trump brought us. But we have not turned the corner.
MARTIN: Congressman Adam Schiff, your latest book is called, "Midnight In Washington: How we almost lost our democracy and still could." Thank you
for talking with us. Clearly, there's a lot to talk about.
SCHIFF: There sure is. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And also, clearly, as you heard from our earlier conversation with the Hungarian Opposition Candidate, what happens to the American
democracy does matter to the rest of the world.
And finally, tonight, if pigs could fly, well perhaps in this instance they have because in a medical first surgeons in the United States have managed
to transplant a pig kidney into a human body. In a breakthrough experiment, doctors were able to successfully attach the kidney to a patient classified
as brain dead. And there was no immediate rejection.
In the U.S. alone more than 90,000 people need a new kidney, with an average wait time of three to five years. This, now, paves the way for
future trials. Perhaps, a new beacon of hope for so many people in the U.S. and around the world.
And that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you for watching and good-bye from London.