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U.S. And Russian Diplomats Meet Amid Rising Tensions Over Ukraine; Putin Sending Troops Into Kazakhstan As The U.S. And Russia Begin Talks Over Ukraine; 164 People Dead And Some 6,000 People Arrested In Kazakhstan Violent Protests; Novak Djokovic Wins Court Battle, Free To Play In Australian Open; Interview With Sports Illustrated Executive Editor And Senior Writer Jon Wertheim; Interview With University Of Pennsylvania Vice Provost For Global Initiatives Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 10, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the program everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour here in London isolating and working from home. In
Geneva today, U.S. and Russian diplomats have been meeting to try to defuse the rising crisis over Ukraine. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops
on the border. The U.S. is warning it not to invade.
But President Putin is demanding that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO. And we'll explore that standoff more in a moment. But first, Putin has also
just sent troops into neighboring Kazakhstan, where protests over rising fuel prices have left 164 people dead and some 6,000 people arrested. The
government there says it was an attempted coup that it has successfully put down.
Now Kazakhstan is the region's strongest economy. Ever since communism fell 30 years ago, its vast mineral and oil reserves attracted U.S. support and
massive Western investment. But now, that whole region has become Putin's Holy Grail, as he tries to cement a Russian sphere of influence.
Joining us now to discuss all of this is a top Kazakh government official, Erzhar Kazykhanov. He was foreign minister and he's held important
ambassadorial post, including to the United States. He's joining us now in an exclusive interview.
Minister Cassie Han, welcome to the program. These protests, which started peacefully and have now resulted in this number of deaths and huge numbers
of arrests, you say they've been put down? What is the state of play on the ground right now?
ERZHAR KAZYKHANOV, KAZAKHSTAN'S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: Well, thank you for having me. Let me start by saying that
Kazakhstan has experienced unprecedented violence across the country that had a dramatic impact on our people, and threatened to undermine our
constitutional order. And, in fact, it was an assault on our statehood.
A brief background story is, you know, that there was a peaceful protest in the western part of the country on the spike of the price of the liquified
gas, which were immediately addressed. And the President instructed the government to control the price of the gas. And so we had similar protests
in the past. There were no -- nothing new about that.
Then the situation started to spread, broader start to spread some other regions in the country. And President called for peaceful dialogue and
resolution of all these economic demands. The problem started with the fact that the peaceful protest, unfortunately, has been hijacked by
KAZYKHANOV: Terrorist groups, domestic and foreign. And that created a big problem for the country so that the President announced their emergency
situation, and he assumed the office of the chair of the National Security Council.
AMANPOUR: What it appears, at least from, you know, many, many outside analyses is that this is a power struggle that is -- that has started up
inside your country. We've seen that the former president who chose Mr. Tokayev as his successor, Nazarbayev, we don't know where he is. He's been
dismissed from his role and his loyalists, I guess, have also been dismissed.
Two security officials have turned up dead today. Can you tell me where Nazarbayev is? Is he free? Is he arrested? Is he in detention? Is he dead?
Is he alive?
KAZYKHANOV: No, President Nazarbayev is fully supportive and aware of the situation. He -- on the contrary, he called for the consolidation around
the incumbent president. And as I said, President has a full control -- incumbent President Tokayev has full control of the situation and violent
mobs that showed a very effective tactic attacking administrative buildings, military bases, police precincts
In fact, they were starting to kill law enforcement officers and National Guards, looting the gun shops. And that was a vivid example that there was
a very well-prepared terrorist attack that, unfortunately, our country faced.
You know that the Kazakhstan is a peaceful and stable country for itself was peaceful, stable country for the 30 years. And for us, it was a really
very unexpected attack that we unfortunately experienced. So I would not to jump into the false conclusions. I would rather focus on the -- on a fact
that this peaceful protest, those perpetrators were waiting and trying to hide behind --
KAZYKHANOV: -- the peaceful trolls and trying to undermine and create a callus in the country, thus, and also the seizing the power, which is --
which I think that's --
AMANPOUR: So, I need to ask you about that.
KAZYKHANOV: -- a very serious threat to this region. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, unfortunately, Minister Kazykhanov, we hear that from governments around your region all the time, but when there are
legitimate protests, you call them terrorists, bandits, foreign agents, and all the rest of it. I want to play for you something that your President
said just this past week, which really shocked the world, the shoot to kill without warning order. Let me just play a little bit of this and then I
want to ask you about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT (through translation): I gave the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to open fire, to kill
without warning. Abroad, there are appeals for the parties to negotiate for a peaceful solution of problems, what nonsense. What kind of negotiations
can there be with criminals, with murderers?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that really did shock people, particularly coming from Tokayev, who's known as the son of prominent intellectuals, he's a
professional diplomat, you are yourself also. I listed the number of positions you have held.
And Tokayev came into office sort of talking about being a transitional figure but, you know, between authoritarianism and alternative political
opinion. Is this what he signed up for? Is this shoot to kill without warning something that you signed up for that you can support?
KAZYKHANOV: I would like to give you an answer that Kazakhstan never used a lethal or a force against peaceful protesters and never will use it ever.
And my answer to you that this was a fight against terrorism. This was a terrorists who were armed, and they were well-prepared. And they were
trying to undermine the situation in the country and put -- to take control.
So I gave you a very short and small example. First, they were -- they killed 16 law enforcement officers. More than 1,000 has been injured and
hospitalized, the law enforcement soldiers. They cut the head of two National Guard's officers, putting them on their knees. Can you call them
the peaceful protesters? All these attacks --
KAZYKHANOV: -- took place simultaneously in the 11 regions of the country.
AMANPOUR: Where is Nazarbayev, the former president? Where is he? You say he's supporting the government and he's called on his loyalists to support
the government. Where is he now?
KAZYKHANOV: He is in Kazakhstan. And as I said, he's fully aware. And support the --
AMANPOUR: Is he free? Is he free?
KAZYKHANOV: -- incumbent President.
AMANPOUR: Is he free to move? Is he free to move around? Is he under house arrest?
KAZYKHANOV: No, no.
AMANPOUR: OK. Now, let me ask you about inviting Russian troops in. Why would your government need to invite Russian troops in? You know, the
United States, which has been an ally of Kazakhstan, which welcomed President, you know, President Biden, welcome President Tokayev recently
and said you supported the country. But now Secretary of State Blinken is very concerned, he's wants to know why Kazakhstan would need to call in
Surely you should be able to deal with this situation yourself while respecting people's rights, as Blinken put it. How long are you going to
have those Russian troops in for?
KAZYKHANOV: I would like to reiterate that 11 regions simultaneously were attacked. The government buildings were burning. The prisons were attacked.
The precincts were attacked. They were preventing the work of the first responders, medical workers, fire fighters, and they were threatening the
population, loading the properties and all the things created a big problem for the law enforcement in Kazakhstan, our National Guards.
So the President using its right for self-defense of the country, made a request for the small contingent of the Collective Security Treaty
peacekeepers to come to Kazakhstan and to protect strategic sites, mainly in the southern part of our country. That permitted our law enforcement to
concentrate on counterterrorism operation and fight against those perpetrators who were attacking the cities of my country.
Answering to your second question, this small peacekeeping contingent will be staying here for a very short period of time until full resolution and
stabilization of the situation in the country.
AMANPOUR: Well, as you know, your own President said that they have the situation under control, do you or not have the situation under control?
And I just wanted to say, you know, Russia has sent troops in the last couple of years, into Armenia, into Belarus and now to Kazakhstan and they
don't leave. Are you happy with Russian troops staying for as long as Russian troops wants to stay?
KAZYKHANOV: There is a legal grounds of Article II and IV of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. When there is a terrorist threat to the
country, when is this external aggression, we certainly -- what -- can exercise the right of inviting those troops. And my answer to you, once
again, that as long -- as far as the situation will be stabilized, they will be leaving very shortly.
AMANPOUR: Who do you blame? Who is the external aggression? And finally, I want you to tell me where President Nazarbayev is, the former president,
you haven't told me where he is. Tell me where he is and who are the external coup plotters or terrorists?
KAZYKHANOV: Well, there is a special governmental commission has been formed to start a thorough investigation of all the situation, and the root
causes of the crisis that we faced. And certainly we will be revealing information in due course, that is the -- we don't think that we have
anything to hide, but we already have some evidences that there were, as I said, a both domestic and foreign terrorist fighters who were well-
organized, they were armed, and they were trying to capture the big cities of the country.
And that is the fact that we will be more than happy to share with our --
KAZYKHANOV: -- foreign partners and friends. And I would like to not to jump into the quick conclusions. Unfortunately, the false information that
is being disseminated in the foreign media doesn't help at all. And that is why we are open and I'm talking to you, and I will be happy to continue our
conversation and continue informing our --
KAZYKHANOV: -- partners --
AMANPOUR: We appreciate it.
KAZYKHANOV: -- of what is going on in Kazakhstan. But thanks, God, we are stabilizing situation.
AMANPOUR: What would it mean for Kazakhstan? How would you view a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as you know, is the crisis of the moment that the U.S.
is trying to figure out with President Putin?
KAZYKHANOV: You know, from the very beginning, Kazakhstan has been very much involved in bringing sides to negotiating table. And, in fact, the
Minsk agreements that now being discussed, is also Kazakhstan has played in role in that as well. So we have excellent relations both with Russia and
Ukraine. And we certainly hope very much that there will be a peaceful resolution of this problem.
AMANPOUR: We appreciate you being here with us exclusively. Erzhar Kazykhanov, thank you for joining us.
We want our colleagues who are coming to your country to be given access and information. And we still don't know where the former President
Nazarbayev is. But thank you for joining us anyway.
And we're going now to Bianna in the studio to talk more about the U.S. perspective on this struggle with President Putin.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Christiane. Fascinating conversation there. And the unrest in Kazakhstan is happening just as U.S.
and Russia officials wrapped up the first day in a series of talks concerning Russia's military buildup surrounding Ukraine. Here's how both
sides describe the talks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: U.S. and Russia, in some ways, have opposite views on what needs to be done. And it doesn't help
that on some of the issues, there might be basis for future exchanges and hopefully also some progress.
WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We are ready to continue discussions on the bilateral issues we identified today as soon as
practical and we made that clear. We will have discussions with our allies and partners in the days ahead. And at the end of this week, informed by
those discussions, the U.S. and Russian government will discuss the way forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: And joining me now is Alexander Vershbow, an American diplomat who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. He was also the Deputy
Secretary General of NATO. Welcome to the program. Oh, you are coming to us from Philadelphia.
So Ambassador --
ALEXANDER VERSHBOW, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: It's nice to be here.
GOLODRYGA: -- obviously, expectations were lowered from the U.S. side, in particular, when we had Antony Blinken over the weekend, say that that we
should not be very optimistic about something tangible or concrete coming out of these talks this week. That having been said, what if anything, do
you make of what we just heard from both sides there?
VERSHBOW: OK. Well, I think the best news one can describe from this meeting is that they agreed to keep talking. But beyond that, it's clear
that differences between the two sides still quite severe.
And because the Russians are basically trying to overturn the entire post- cold war settlement of the past 30 years, They're trying to set limits on Ukraine's ability to join NATO or even receive military help from the
United States. They want us to pull troops out of Western Europe, take all our nuclear weapons back to the United States.
So we have a big gap between our two positions. But there may be some more specific issues, which I think Wendy Sherman has alluded to, where we might
be able to at least defuse tensions and de-escalate as a basis for dealing with the more fundamental differences between the two sides.
GOLODRYGA: And that includes possible arms control negotiations again, right, and renewing INF Treaty and also military exercises in the region. I
guess my question to you is, the U.S. has come forward with at least expressing some interest in flexibility on those issues. Obviously, the
laundry lists that the Russians put forward, many of them began with non- starters.
That having been said, we haven't heard of any concessions from the Russian side. And I want to quote to you what Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said
earlier in an interview. He said Russia has been flexible with the West for 30 years. So it's the Western now, the Western now, no concessions on
Obviously, a lot of this is political bluster for domestic consumption at home. But do you see that anything different is being said from the Russian
side behind closed doors?
VERSHBOW: Well, first of all, you're absolutely right. And using the term blusters is a standard Russian propaganda. And I think if you really look
objectively at the history of the last 30 years, the Western NATO went out of their way to kind of create a place for Russia in a common security
system. So a lot of what the Russians are saying is just not supported by the historical record.
But I think there are some arms control ideas that were buried in these otherwise difficult Russian proposals, including limits on the -- in
placement of missiles, close to one another's borders, and by one another. I mean NATO's and Russia's borders, not just the United States. Possible
agreement to cut back the size of military exercises that cause concern, have more inspections of these kinds of military activities.
So these kinds of confidence-building measures are possible. But I'm not sure the Russians are looking for those sorts of practical solutions. They
really, I think, overestimate the leverage that they have. They're drawing too many conclusions from our withdrawal from Afghanistan. They may think
the alliance is divided. And they may be overreaching here. And then maybe painting themselves a bit into a corner with their own domestic opinion.
But as I said, at least the talks will continue. Our allies and the Ukrainians will participate in some of the meetings, both Wednesday and
Thursday. And then we can kind of conclude whether the Russians are looking for a way out, or whether they're just setting the stage for military
GOLODRYGA: Well that leads me to my next question, because a lot of this build-up wise with the assumption that Russia and Vladimir Putin is looking
to save face and looking for some sort of credible off-ramp for him as well to de-escalate. But on the flip side, as you just mentioned, what if, in
fact, he does not want an off-ramp? What if the goal has been as he has spoken many times to see Ukraine unified once again, with Russia, by
whatever means necessary?
VERSHBOW: Yes, that's the right question to ask. I don't see much evidence right now that he's looking for an off-ramp. The Russians have advanced
these extremely one-sided proposals, and many people conclude that the whole purpose is to invite rejection and use that as an excuse to launch
And we can't take all that seriously. Ryabkov's assurances that they have no intention to invade. Because when it comes to that, they will invent
some kind of incident or pretext and blame it all on the Ukrainians. That's their standard approach.
So we would like them to look for an off-ramp. And I think we've offered some ideas that could form the basis for such an off-ramp. But I'm not so
optimistic that Putin is looking to take that off-ramp, they've blown by every off-ramp. We've offered them since they invaded Ukraine in 2014. And
if anything, they're seem more obsessed with bringing Ukraine to heal than they've ever been in the last eight years.
GOLODRYGA: I'm wondering -- and I'm sure you listen to that conversation that Christiane had with the official there from Kazakhstan about the
crisis taking place also in Russia's backyard. Clearly, this isn't something that Putin would have devised or wanted to play out this way.
That having been said, if the situation continues to unfold the way it is, and things are indeed calming down, and Russian troops may very well be
leaving in the next few days, if not weeks, could this not work to Putin's benefit, at least in his own mind, to come to the negotiation tables vis-a-
vis Ukraine, with the upper hand that Kazakhstan didn't turn to the West for help. They turn to Russia, and that Russia will be there to dispel any
sort of unrest or color revolutions, however, he would like to describe them.
VERSHBOW: Well, that's possible. But I think it's more likely that Putin may feel that this is just another validation of his theory, which I would
say is a paranoid theory, that the West is behind any upsurge of discontent or protest in the form of Soviet space. And that this was, if anything,
strengthened his resolve to subjugate Ukraine whether he can do it without the use of force, of course, would be his preference, but to use force if
all else fails. So I worry that the Kazakhstan events may just further harden Putin's position, rather than make it easier to find some kind of
diplomatic way out.
GOLODRYGA: No, I agree with you. I mean, that's sort of the point I was making as well, that if anything, it would embolden him to double down on
what he sees as a threat, whether it's real or not from Ukraine, given what's playing out in Kazakhstan. In terms of what assets the U.S. has,
what tools to deter Russia? Obviously, we've seen sanctions levied against the country for many years, and for whatever reason, that has not deterred
Vladimir Putin to this point.
And I want to read to you what Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton, who also sits on the Armed Services Committee said about this. He said, "I
worry our current deterrent tactics are responding to an invasion, rather than preventing it." Do you agree with that assessment? And if so, what
could be done to change things?
VERSHBOW: No, I think Congressman Moulton was making a very good point. And that was one of the points we made in this open letter that was sent to the
White House from the Atlantic Council about a week and a half ago. Yes, the threat of punishment is part of the message, but we should be demonstrating
through our actions now. Since actions speak louder than words, that were prepared to go much farther than we did after 2014 in imposing costs on the
Russians, that includes massive sanctions, really cutting the Russians off from the international financial system.
It also includes sending lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainians so that they can impose some serious battlefield costs on the Russians if they were
to invade. And I think seeing the -- those systems in place would give the Russians at least pause from doing their worst in Ukraine.
So only reserving all these measures until the invasion has happened, as the Congressman says, is going to be too late. So we have to do more now if
there's still any chance of deterring Putin from doing what he could do with these massive forces on Ukraine's borders.
GOLODRYGA: Obviously, we were focused now on negotiations between the U.S. and Russia which, by the way, is how Vladimir Putin would like things to
play out as opposed to having the Europeans involved in this as well. That having been said, NATO and other European countries are key players in this
Given your past, how would you assess the role of other European countries right now and how they're approaching it? Is this a united front? Germany
has a new chancellor, a lot of questions about Nord Stream 2. The President of France Macron has been interjecting as well. How would you assess the
situation in Europe?
VERSHBOW: Well, I think you're right to point out that there are some question marks about allied unity and all the different elements of the
deterrence strategy and the response strategy to Putin. I think that the -- in the case of the new German government, the greens may be a harder line
on how to deal with Russia than either Chancellor Merkel was or the new Chancellor Scholz maybe.
But I think the U.S. administration has done a good job in trying to rally the Alliance to work out as much as possible of an agreed response --
VERSHBOW: -- and particularly on sanctions. And now, I think the Europeans will have the chance to speak up themselves. The administration has
stressed, you know, nothing about us without us. The Europeans will be around the table on Wednesday --
VERSHBOW: -- and the NATO Russia Council. And I think they will present a united front. And Ukrainians get to speak up in Vienna the day after.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, a very crucial week ahead for us. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.
VERSHBOW: You're very welcome.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to some big news from the Australian Open. Tennis Champion Novak Djokovic could be one step closer to defending his
title when the tournament kicks off next week. That's after a dramatic turn of events not on court, but inside one.
Now over to Christiane for more on this developing story.
AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed, Bianna, because a judge in Australia overturn the government's ban on Novak Djokovic playing the world number one now
potentially able to defend his title. Now he had been threatened with deportation when he landed in Australia with what the government said was
an invalid exemption from the vaccine, an invalid application.
Anyway, today Djokovic did take to the court with his team. He also issued a tweet saying he was pleased and grateful for the verdict, but he may not
be out of the woods yet.
Joining me now to discuss the state of play is Jon Wertheim and he is the executive editor of Sports Illustrated, and also knows Djokovic pretty
well. Jon Wertheim, welcome to the program.
So first, were you surprised that the Australian judge overturned, you know, the ban? And where do you think it's headed now because it's in the
hands of the federal government and the Immigration Minister?
JOHN WERTHEIM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND SENIOR WRITER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Yes, the second question is really the critical one, because the Immigration
Minister does have the power to overrule the overrule in effect and sort of essentially deport Novak Djokovic. That's sort of the big question right
I'm not sure sort of -- you look at the odd procedural grounds, it does not seem as though Djokovic was given due process at the Melbourne Airport when
he landed last week. I mean, there much larger questions about the fact that Novak Djokovic is unvaccinated and going to a country with 93 percent
vaccination and how he was able to get exempted to begin with. But I think right now, the big question is, will this Immigration Minister, will he
exercise power to overrule in which case it's all a moot point?
GOLODRYGA: So Jon, even the fact that Djokovic claimed as part of his application for exemption that he had tested positive for COVID in
December, December 16th, the federal government says that is not a valid exemption when it comes to people coming from abroad. But beyond that,
there now is controversy over that itself because he was seen mixing and mingling, including the children without wearing a mask on the very day
after he says that he tested positive. That became a question or at least they tried, the reporters, to ask these questions to the Djokovic's family
when they held a press conference today, after the judge's verdict. Here's a little clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Is he treated on the 16th of December he did test positive and (INAUDIBLE).
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the whole process was public. And all the documents that are public are legal, so --
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he (INAUDIBLE) on the 17th settlement?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so this press conference is adjourned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jon, it just doesn't look good. I mean, as some wags (ph) have said, it's just been a series of unforced errors are in this court of
public opinion by Djokovic and the family. What do you make of them closing down that conversation, legitimate questions?
WERTHEIM: Yes, I mean, it's really damning on its face. I mean, bear in mind, Novak Djokovic, even before there was a vaccine for COVID, we're
talking about March of 2020, he's already claimed that he's skeptical. In the spring of 2020, he runs this super spreader event at this Adria Tour in
which a number of players including Djokovic were ended up with COVID because they were unmasked and dancing in nightclubs.
Here we are 18 months later, he's asking us to believe that he gets COVID for a second time is -- after the December 10th deadline from Tennis
Australia. And in the day subsequent to this past, there are photos of him unmasked in public at children's clinics.
So, again, I mean, there are a couple things going on here. One is just on procedural grounds and just visa but I think it -- a big picture, it does
not look good. And you see what happens when they were asked what with a very, I wouldn't say just a reasonable question, I would say a natural
question. I mean, if you test COVID on December 16th, you're out in public on December 17th, it begs for someone to reconcile that.
How they didn't anticipate being asked that and having a better answer, I don't know. But the whole sort of macrolevel, this is not a good look. And
whether he gets to play the Australian Open and try to win a 10th title and 21st major based on what is an effectively technicality, that's one
discussion, whether it looks good for unvaccinated player to cross borders, go to Australia, have a positive COVID test after a deadline, the day
subsequently spotted in public maskless with kids, it's another conversation entirely.
AMANPOUR: And that is the big conversation, Jon, because you know as well as I do, not only does this run through high-level, you know, high
performing athletes in sport and not just tennis, but it's the question of the world public health as it tries to grapple with COVID. Get vaccinated.
And now, you have this very prominent guy who is a poster boy for the unvaccinated, and that's just -- he said it, he doesn't want to get
vaccinated. He doesn't even necessarily believe in COVID or the pandemic. You know, we've had some of this also in basketball and in American
football. Give me your view having followed this so much, what does that mean when high performing athletes, powerful people say no to the rules for
WERTHEIM: Well, I put it first. In tennis, these are independent contractors, right? There's no union, there's no management, there's no
contract. These athletes in individual sports, and it's one of the beauties in some senses, but they could do what they want. So, it's not as though
these mandates are the same as they would be in other sports.
In the case of Djokovic, yesterday, the judge at one point said, you know, Djokovic came in here with the paperwork. What more could he have done? A
point sympathetic to Djokovic. And he ordered to say, well, step back. Here's what he could have done. There's a simple safe socially responsible
move he could have made that 95 percent of his colleagues have made, that 100 percent of the people who will go to the Australian Open effectively
pay his wages (INAUDIBLE), that is to get vaccinated.
I do think one thing that we are seeing, some of this is just, look, this is a distillation of 2022, right? The very on brand for the moment. All
sorts of collisions and clashes of values. To me, this also gives you some insight into the elite athlete. In the same Novak Djokovic is convinced
that when he's dealt with Roger Federer, you'll -- match points at Wimbledon and Roger Federer somehow magical thinking, he will overcome
I think we're seeing another manifestation of that. We are getting this very sort of unique insight into Novak Djokovic's mindset, that he's had
COVID twice, he is manifestly not vaccinated and he doesn't seem to have shame. He doesn't understand sort of the macro here, but to me that's a
really interesting sliver into the way an elite athlete thinks, not the way you and I do.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you to dig deeper into that, because you know him. You know, you've met him, you've spoken to him, you've interviewed
him. And I've watched him for years as he's, you know, risen from, you know, wannabe to be number one and to be such an amazing champion.
Some of them say that they need to be able to decide for themselves what they put into their body. They operate on such, you know, incredible levels
of, I don't know, oxygen chambers and what they eat and what they drink and how they sleep and how they exercise. I mean, it's just completely, you
know, different than the normal human being. Is there any validity, do you think, to that claim that I need to be able to make a decision about what I
put into my body?
WERTHEIM: Yes, I would point out as well that Novak Djokovic is really sort of extraordinary in this regard. I mean, for years and years and
years, part of his success has been exactly what you say, it is really sort of next level science and nutrition and he's really benefitted from this.
So, he's an extraordinary example. That, of course, has to be balanced with the fact that he is a public figure, he's part of a workforce. There are
I mean, to me, apart from sort of the interest of how this insight -- I mean, I don't know if you've seen some of the footage, Christiane, of the
people outside his hotel, for example, and the fact that, you know, Serbian leaders have already weighed in on this and this is affront to Serbia. I
think what we're also glimpsing is Novak Djokovic is not playing under the same pressures. They're much different than Roger Federer. You hear these
fans in the background.
We've seen Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams play, and they certainly have their passionate fans, but they've not become this
pretext for an entire country, right? We do not have Swiss anthems and sort of folk songs being sung at Roger Federer matches the way we do with
Djokovic. And I think that fact that he is playing really as this figurehead for Serbia, he is the figure closely associated with an entire
country, and I think we're getting a glimpse of that too. I think we're seeing how that plays out and how Novak Djokovic does not play under the
same pressures of most other athletes who have their passionate fans, no question, but they're also not a pretext, they're not a representation of a
AMANPOUR: And of course, that country, Serbia, which is historically its whole historical narrative is that of the victim, historically. So, that's
also an interesting point. That's a huge Serbian and Croatian diaspora in Australia.
Now, let me ask you, where -- how do you think this is going to play in changing room or in the lockers or whatever you call them? You've seen
Rafael Nadal said, yes, everybody is free to do what they want. But then there are consequences if they don't play by the rules.
Last year when Djokovic was complaining about just isolating or quarantining, this is what Rafael told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFAEL NADAL, 20-TIME GRAND SLAM TENNIS CHAMPION: You see how many people is dying around the world. You see how many people is losing their father,
their moms without having the chance to say good-byes. It's a real thing. It's not the philosophical thing. That's the real life. That's what's
happening in my country, for example, and close people to me are suffering these situations. So, when you all all of this, you have to stay a little
bit more positive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, that was Rafael last year. I also want to ask you, and we've only got 45 seconds, do you think that Novak will beat Rafael and
Federer's 20 Grand Slam record
WERTHEIM: I do. I don't necessarily think it will come in Australia. He's the nine-time champion. But even for someone with his sort of mental powers
and mental strength, he's been through an awful lot before he laid his first match. At the same time, he's the youngest of the big three, as we
call them. And I think that eventually, he will topple that record. But his reception in the locker room, as you allude to, it will be very interesting
if, in fact, he takes (INAUDIBLE) it will be very interesting to see the circumstances of that.
AMANPOUR: Jon Wertheim, thank you so much. And as you said, if, in fact, he takes to the court, the immigration minister still has the power to
And now, back to you, Biana.
GOLODRYGA: All right. Christiane, thank you.
Well, next, the highly contagious Omicron variant has pushed U.S. hospitalizations toward a record high. And with the fear of new variants
occurring, a group of doctors has called for the Biden administration to adopt a new normal approach that was published in three recent opinion
articles. Among these experts is a former member of Biden's transition COVID-19 Advisory Board, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel.
Here he is talking speaking with Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you. And Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, welcome to the show.
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, VICE PROVOST FOR GLOBAL INITIATIVES, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Walter, it's my great pleasure to be here with you.
ISAACSON: You're one of six Biden transition advisers, you've worked with them on COVID. And the six of you published a series of article this past
week saying, hey, we've got to change course, we've got to learn to live with this disease. What was the purpose of that article?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, the purpose was to alert the American public, we're not going to defeat the coronavirus. It's here to stay. It's going to become
like flu, respiratory syncytial virus, other viruses that are of the respiratory tract. It's going to be around and it's going to get to an
endemic level that's a low level, and we're going to live with it.
ISAACSON: Well, wait. Why not try to eradicate it? That's what Biden said he was going to do.
DR. EMANUEL: We have, in human history, eradicated one disease, smallpox. Other than that, we still live with polio, with tetanus, with rabies, with
lots of other diseases. We are not getting rid of this virus. We're not going to eradicate it. I don't believe the president said he's going to
eradicate it either.
ISAACSON: Well, so you say we're going to learn to live with it. Does that mean that it is becoming more like the flu and we should just put it in
that bucket of respiratory illnesses that we sometimes get every winter?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, yes. We have to put it in with this collection of many, many other viruses that we get every year. We may not identify them as flu,
but there are other viruses. We're not at the level of what scientists call endemic or it's just around and we'll have minor surges, but we are still
in an emergency. We're, after all, having more than 1,500 Americans die every day. That's over 500,000 in an annual period. So, we're not there
At some point, we're going to be there, hopefully by the middle of this year, but we have to get there and then, we have to sustain it.
ISAACSON: Wait, wait. So, what changes are you talking about in the administration policy? They seem to be doing a lot of what you said.
DR. EMANUEL: They are doing a lot but I don't think yet. We've had a coherent policy. Look, they started out in January 2021 when they took
office with an excellent strategic plan that they executed very well on for the first six months of the administration. The virus changed. We got
Delta. We got Omicron. Our strategy has to change, and that was the main purpose of writing these articles.
ISAACSON: And the notion of a strategy change means that people like myself had been vaccinated, had been booster shotted. Everybody I know in
New Orleans has now had the disease. We all get a little bit sniffles and flu. We should just live with it and try to protect the vulnerable?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, that's one thing we have to do, but there are many other things we have to do. On the vaccine, we need to develop additional
vaccine against specific variants but also, try to develop a pan of coronavirus vaccine. We need to develop mucosal vaccines that might better
protect against this particular kind of virus.
ISAACSON: Meaning, ones that are nose spray type ones?
DR. EMANUEL: Yes. We need to develop therapeutics, not just the one from Pfizer, because viruses mutate. So, we'll need multiple viruses. And then,
we've got lots of other things. We have to improve our indoor air quality to get the filtration up, to have HEPA filters if we need them. We need a
much better data infrastructure so we know in real-time how many people are getting coronavirus, how many people have been vaccinated, so, how many
people have breakthroughs. Where in the country they're at?
We need a better surveillance system so that we can test waste water and find out where there are outbreaks before the people themselves actually
understand there's an outbreak so we can intervene more quickly. And, by the way, if we really want to be a country that can prevent the next
pandemic, we actually have to do this broadly, not just focus on coronavirus but focus, as we argue in the papers, on all respiratory viral
illnesses. That's a collection of them, not just one.
ISAACSON: You know, one of the things that struck me in your article, surprised me, was just how bad our national data collection system is. We
don't have one real-time database that says, here's somebody who got it, here's the exact strain they had, here was their exact vaccination status,
and what type of vaccine and how long it had been. Aren't these types of things you're going to need the you want to get this to be where you say if
we can live with the disease?
DR. EMANUEL: Walter, you must be a doctor or epidemiologist. You're absolutely right. In the 21st century, where we have Google and Facebook
and Amazon and they know what store you're walking into, it does seem a little archaic that we are depending upon data out of Israel or the United
Kingdom instead of having our own data and showing the world how this virus is evolving. We need a real-time data system.
I think there's been a lot of reasons we haven't had it. Worry that the government can't execute privacy advocates that worry that the government
will be tracking you. You know, people who have been talking about microprocessors being given to you with the vaccine. So, we have --
ISAACSON: Those are whacky things. Why does not the CDC track exactly who's getting it? What kind of vaccine they had in real-time?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, I think the CDC grew up in an older era where they got a few selective pieces of data and then, relied heavily on modelling and
frankly, hasn't updated to a modern data system. And, frankly, the other part is congressional. They have not had a lot of money to support them and
to support this pretty big effort. But we really do need it. And more importantly, America has the best computer scientists and computer
companies that really know how to do this and we should be able to have a public private partnership that really gets that kind of data
infrastructure in place.
There's no excuse, again, for not having that infrastructure. We know how important it is.
ISAACSON: But I read in the "New York Times" that the Biden administration's already doing that. And yet, I see no signs of it.
Everybody I know who's had tested positive for COVID, whether it's us or our daughter, whatever, we're not asked what strain do you have, we're not
asked to put in the database. Why are we saying we're doing this and it's not happening?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, there is a database where people voluntarily give information, for example, about side effects of the vaccine. But I totally
agree with you. It cannot be passive, that people have to go find it, upload it, because we know that's a lot of effort and most people won't do
You need a system where you get pinged automatically and -- by a text. And then, you look at the text and you respond. That's the kind of data system
we have to have in place. And I think it has to be thought through. It's going to take money, not a huge amount of money, we're not talking about
tens of billions of dollars, and we need to put it in place.
ISAACSON: Is testing in the United States where you would like it and what do you do about states like Florida that say, well, that whole at the
testing thing is whacky, we're not going to overt testing?
DR. EMANUEL: First of all, Florida has been irresponsible and Ron DeSantis has been a very bad leader on this. We do need a better testing
infrastructure. We didn't get testing right at the start. The CDC got it wrong. We didn't approve at-home tests. We didn't have a testing strategic
plan ever, in my opinion. And we didn't know how the PCR testing is going to fit in with the at-home testing. And we didn't make it cheap and readily
available. We need a better strategic plan on testing.
In addition, Walter, one of the other important things we need to do is we need to have a very close linkage between a positive test and the ability
to get therapeutics, right? You have to start those therapeutics within a few days. We shouldn't leave it to the haphazard very fragmented health
care system to say, oh, I've got a positive. I call my doctor, and my doctor will arrange it. That will mean only people who are well off, rich,
connected will get those therapeutics and will have and repeat the disparities we've had around COVID and many other areas in these
So, again, one of the things we need is a link between your positive, you get an outgoing call. You should go to this place to get some therapeutics.
If you're not eligible, we can try to enroll you in a research trial to test out other therapeutics. And by the way, here's what we need to do to
be safe. Here's how long you should isolate yourself. Here's what you should look for. Here's a number to call, if, in fact, your symptoms get
That's the kind of system we really do need to implement. We need a much better, what we -- doctors call public health effecter arm (ph). Once we've
got the information going out and intervening with people.
ISAACSON: You say that we have to get out of this perpetual state of emergency. I think that's a phrase used in your article. Are we panicking
too much now about COVID?
DR. EMANUEL: No, I don't think we're panic panicking too much. I do think we have to get a handle on the disease. When you have a million cases, over
140,000 hospitalizations, 1,500 deaths, it's still an emergency. What we're looking at in our articles is, we're going to get out of this emergency
sometime in the end of February, early March. We need a strategic plan for the rest of 2022 and we need a plan that's flexible, that can confront a
variety of scenarios that might arise.
Do we get a more severe virus? Does it become much easier because Omicron takes over and it's not a very serious illness for people? But at the
moment, we are having -- we're still in an emergency and I think the emergency situation is important. We're not at endemic COVID. We need to
ISAACSON: You were very close in the Biden transition, all six of you were. You know Ron Klain's e-mail address and Jeff Zients, you know, the
people who are in charge of this and the administration. Why write a public article rather than just talk to him? Did you feel there was something that
needed to be said publicly?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, first of all, we are academics or we're academics who work for foundations and other things. And what we do is write articles.
And by the way, it's not only, you know, 12 people at the White House that have to have this change in attitude. It's the country that needs to get on
board. We need a collective effort for everyone to understand where we're going, what are the steps that are needed to get us there. And I don't
think this was -- I mean, let me just say, no one intended this as a hostile attack on the White House.
ISAACSON: How did they react?
DR. EMANUEL: Look, they reacted positively that this was a very useful suggestion. Let me just say, Walter, I've been in the White House during an
emergency in 2009 and 2010. You are working from 6:00 a.m. to midnight trying to solve problems. It's not -- you don't have the time to step back
and say, all right. Let's lay out the strategic plan in detail.
Who's going to be responsible for what? That's why we're helpful there, and we thought that trying to develop -- indicating we needed the strategic
plan, indicating where the country was going and what the initial steps were, this is really a down payment on a strategic plan, was necessary. And
by the way, I think they recognize it and they think it's a positive contribution, not someone stepping on their toes, being angry at them and
critiquing them. That wasn't the intention at all.
ISAACSON: When I read the three articles, the ones with your name on it, and those of other people, I was shocked by the time I got there of what a
total mess of this, a total mess on data collection, of knowing exactly how the vaccines work, which ones are working and which timing of how we do
vaccination mandates, of how we don't have a strategic plan. Is there somebody in charge now who's supposed to be doing this?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, again, I think, you know, they are in charge. They're working extremely hard. I've been in those trenches. It is a very hard job
to do. And, Walter, it's not just this moment.
Look, you know, the problems we have with the CDC came out right from the start in February 2020 where we got the testing wrong, their advice on
masking was wrong, and those things do not just happen with COVID. We have really some great institutions, but we also have some practices and
cultures that are not optimal, and we really do need --
ISAACSON: Like what?
DR. EMANUEL: Well, look, I've been, frankly, a little disappointed in the NIH and the research the NIH has done. You know, we spent a lot of money on
convalescent plasma. We never did a full randomized trial because we couldn't organize people to do a trial. We beet heavily from the NIH on
monoclonal antibodies, even though every virologist will tell you, well, the virus is going to mutate and it's going to mutate away from these.
We did not heavily invest in oral therapeutics like the new Pfizer and Merck drugs, even though that is obvious where we needed to go, and we had
a history of knowing it was obvious through HIV where you needed a multidrug cocktail. We're going to need a multidrug therapeutic cocktail
with COVID too. And yet, we didn't investigate -- spend -- focus our research on that for a variety of reasons.
I think we -- when we get out of this, we do need some really important rethinking of those biomedical institutions. I will say one really positive
thing that I do think has been shown by COVID, and that is the FDA can review and assess trials much more quickly than it has in the past. The
problem is personnel. To do that requires a lot more people than it has. And I think that is one of the things we ought to learn.
We can work at much faster speed in terms of the regulatory process or drugs and devices and other things and we need to institutionalize that.
ISAACSON: One of the things you all call for is vaccine mandates. Now, I've known you for a long time, Zek. You've got more political savvy in
your fingertips than anybody I know. Vaccine mandates clearly are not working. They're gone up to the Supreme Court. The Biden administration
wants them, but, you know, the courts are stopping it. People when faced with a mandate go ballistic. You can't even get the U.S. Postal Service
which works for the government to do it.
So, why just call for vaccine mandates when that seems impractical?
DR. EMANUEL: Walter, I have been calling for vaccine mandates since April and we are going to need vaccine mandates for COVID. It may go against our
strain, but there's no other way. You can voluntarily, as we've shown, get 60 percent of Americans to get vaccinated. And we have not really been able
to get much above 60 percent. We've plateaued.
We need to get closer to 85 percent or 90 percent and the only way to get there is through requirements. I would very much disagree with your view.
When companies impose mandates, people respond. The Mayo Clinic just really announced that 99 percent of their people agreed, 700 people out of a
workforce of 70,000 decided they would rather lose their job than get a vaccine. That seems to me, a success. Not a failure at all.
We've had successes with many other companies. You've got Starbucks recently instituting its own requirements. I think the Supreme Court would
be dead wrong to say that OSHA overstepped its bounds in issuing a mandate for vaccination at companies.
We are in the midst of a crisis, an emergency. This has, you know, been analogized to wartime and the Supreme Court would be wrong to take away one
of our most important tools. I actually do think, this is one of those health measures where what I do affects you, affects the whole community
and we know that in that circumstance, we should be able to require people to take precautions.
In the case of COVID, the precautions, they need to include getting vaccinated to reduce the spread, and if the spread is bad, to reduce the
imposition on the hospital and healthcare system so that everyone who has an illness, whether it's pregnancy or if -- that's not an illness, but
whether it's a pregnancy or a heart attack or stroke or cancer can get the appropriate care.
When the system is straining because of COVID, it's hard for people to get the best care available, and that imposes burdens on many other people.
ISAACSON: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, always, great to see and thanks for being with us
DR. EMANUEL: Thank you, Walter. It's a great honor to be here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Some passionate words from Dr. Emanuel on how individual decisions impact the entire community.
Well, that is it for me in New York. It's been a treat working with you, Christiane, my friend.
AMANPOUR: And likewise. Good night for me in London. See you tomorrow.