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Interview with Wisconsin Republican State Senator Kathy Bernier; Interview with Francis Haugen. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 12, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

This is a crisis of Russia's making. Those are the words from the NATO secretary-general after intense talks with Moscow over its military buildup

surrounding Ukraine. Jens Stoltenberg also said that nobody can stand in the way of Ukraine possibly joining NATO in the future.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: It is only Ukraine and 30 allies that can decide when Ukraine is ready to become a NATO member. No one else

has anything to say. And, of course, Russia doesn't have a veto on whether you can become a NATO member.


AMANPOUR: Now, Russia, for its part, denies it has any intentions of invading Ukraine. And it says the current situation with NATO is becoming

intolerable and carries with it serious risks.

Now, the deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, is the chief U.S. negotiator with the Russians. And I asked her whether the talks have

managed to defuse this very tense situation.


AMANPOUR: Deputy Secretary, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you.

After several days of talks, once between you and the Russians, now with you, NATO and the Russians, where are you? Is there any common ground? Have

you averted the possibility of war over Ukraine?

SHERMAN: Christiane, I'm here in Brussels, just having finished a nearly four-hour NATO-Russia Council meeting, where Russia was given lots of time

to speak and to enter into dialogue with 30 countries, all of whom spoke.

They all have their own identities. They all have their own histories. But, nonetheless, all 30 NATO allies spoke as one about the things we could do

with Russia to enhance mutual security and the things we could not do.

We cannot give Russia a veto over who gets into NATO. We cannot give a Russia a veto over each country's decision about their foreign policy

orientation and their way forward or the sovereignty or territorial integrity of a country.

But there are things on which we can work. And we hope, after the discussion and the strategic security dialogue in Geneva, here in Brussels,

at the OSCE tomorrow, that the Russian delegations will go back, report that there are areas in which progress can be made, and that President

Putin will make the smart choice for dialogue.

I think all governments are going to be talking back to capitals and figuring out the next step. This week was meant to get all of these

concerns on the table, ensure that we understood each other, urge Russia to make the smart choice to de-escalate and create an environment conducive to

the best results for diplomacy.

And I hope that President Putin makes that choice, because, if he doesn't, the other side, if he invades, subverts or coerces Ukraine in any way, he's

going to face very difficult, tough economic sanctions and other actions that will not be conducive to the security that he's asking for.

AMANPOUR: Where have you got areas that you think you can offer? You have laid out quite clearly the nonstarters, no veto over NATO enlargement or


What do you think you can offer them that's meaningful?

SHERMAN: I think we can work with them on things like deconfliction, communications, transparency, where we're doing our exercises, how we're

doing them, for instance, deconfliction in other deployments around Europe.

We can have a conversation with them about arms control. That's certainly been the ongoing agenda of the strategic security dialogue. This was an

extraordinary session of that bilateral dialogue. But we have had two other rounds, creating an agenda where we can make progress on arms control, of

interest, of course, to NATO, of interest, of course, to the OSCE and to the European Union.

We think that we can also work with them on looking at missiles. We had an intermediate range missile agreement with Russia for quite some time. They

violated the agreement. The last U.S. administration pulled out of the agreement.

But it appears that Russia is indeed re-interested in missile systems. We would be glad to start that conversation again, as long as they are

transparent, which they have begun to be, as long as we know we have a verification process that would get us to a better place.


AMANPOUR: So, is that enough, what you have just said you can do, to satisfy a president who has amassed 100,000 troops in three different

places, practically surrounding Ukraine?

Is that what you think Putin wants to hear in order to remove his troops?

SHERMAN: You know, Christiane, there was a "New York Times" piece today that quoted a Russian analyst in Russia who was asked that question, and he

said, who the heck knows?

I think there's only one person who knows what Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, wants to do.

And that's the president of Russia. My own sense is that all of these ministers, deputy foreign ministers, deputy defense ministers, have come to

these first two sessions -- I would expect the same of the permanent council -- permanent representative at the OSCE tomorrow from Russia --

have instructions, have talking points, but, really, at the end of the day, because of the way Russia's government operates, doesn't know exactly what

decision President Putin will make.

And I hope he makes the smart decision for the security of Russia, the security of Europe, and for the people of Russia.

AMANPOUR: Deputy Secretary, I just want to play a couple -- well, read to you a couple of things.

Your Russian counterpart, who is the deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, demands -- quote -- "ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally

binding guarantees that Ukraine never joins NATO."

You have laid out how that's a nonstarter, you will not give Russia a veto. However, the NATO secretary-general today said that the alliance is ready

now to support Ukraine's bid to join NATO.

At this point, isn't that a massively bright red flag to a bull on this day?

SHERMAN: I didn't see the secretary-general's press conference.

AMANPOUR: But that's what he said.

SHERMAN: NATO has long said that Ukraine is an aspirant and is involved in the process, the MAP process, as you know, that guides aspirants through

all the standards that are required.

So, this is a -- this is not new that NATO has welcomed Ukraine as an aspirant to join NATO. And President Putin knows that quite well. And I

can't imagine that he thought that, in fact, we would all agree to make a decision or allow Russia to have a veto over Ukraine and the choice that

NATO will ultimately make.

So, am I surprised that he had his delegations put down such diktats? I'm not surprised. We are at the beginning of our process. But I have no doubt

he understands that's a nonstarter.

AMANPOUR: My question was not whether it was a nonstarter, but whether the NATO alliance is waving a red flag to a bull by actually saying today that

they are ready to support Ukraine's membership. Anyway, you have deflected that.

But I want to ask you this. President Biden has had several rounds of conversations with President Putin, certainly one in -- face-to-face, in

person, several via Zoom.

Would you say that those have worked? I mean, would you say that the situation between President Putin and the United States is better or worse

since President Biden first started engagement, which was last June?

SHERMAN: I think we're understanding each other better.

I think that those engagements have led to this week of dialogue and discussion and I hope the beginning of a diplomatic process that gets to

results. So, yes, I certainly think that President Biden's very clear-eyed, very direct conversations with President Putin -- he hasn't pulled any


He's been very straight about what we would be willing to do and what we will not be willing to do. So, yes, I do think that helped us immensely, in

fact, was essential to get us to where we are this week.

AMANPOUR: I mean, I just guess that before, in those talks, there were no 100,000 troops conducting live-fire exercises on the border with Ukraine,

and now there are. So Putin seems to be pushing, despite his meetings with President Biden and despite the talks.

What do you think Putin's actual motive is? I mean, I know you just said who the heck knows and all the rest of it, quoting a Russian analyst, but

many are also saying that he now sees a moment to reform a sort of Russian sphere of influence. You have seen how he sent troops into Kazakstan, how

he's done it in other Central Asian former Soviet republics.

Can he -- is that what he's after, do you think?


SHERMAN: I think what he has done is created a crisis out of whole cloth.

Russia, you know, Christiane, you know very well is an incredibly powerful country, member of the U.N. Security Council, one of two, along with the

U.S., largest nuclear powers in the world, has vast energy resources. They have a lot of power. The idea that they can be threatened by Ukraine, a

smaller and developing democracy, seems absurd on its face.

So, yes, I certainly think that President Putin is looking at creating a sphere of influence. We heard my counterpart, Sergei Ryabkov, say in "The

Wall Street Journal" that Ukraine's future is more important to Russia than it is to Ukraine, which is just an extraordinary statement.

I think that President Putin amassed these troops to put pressure on Europe and on the United States, to put pressure on the Euro-Atlantic ambition, to

put -- to intimidate, to coerce, and to say, I have got sticks I can bring to this discussion as well.

It is very provocative. It is very escalatory. It is very concerning. It could indeed lead to conflict. And I certainly hope that President Putin

makes the smart choice, de-escalates, engages in diplomacy. Otherwise, he is going to face very severe consequences, both economically and in other

ways, if he indeed either invades Ukraine or somehow subverts or coerces a change that the Ukrainian people have not asked for.

AMANPOUR: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, thank you for joining us from Brussels today.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, the clouds, those gathering clouds look very dark indeed. But, apparently, these talks are set to continue. And you heard Wendy

Sherman say they are at the beginning of a process.

Now, all of this is being looked at very carefully in capitals, including here in London, where the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is in very hot

water, indeed, this over allegations of violating his own COVID lockdown rules by attending a party at Downing Street in May of 2020.

And the backlash has been swift. Here he is having to apologize in Parliament earlier today.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I know that millions of people across this country have made extraordinary sacrifices over the last 18

months. I know the rage they feel with me and with the government I lead when they think that, in Downing Street itself, the rules are not being

properly followed.


AMANPOUR: Now even members of his own Conservative Party are calling for his head now.

"The Atlantic"'s Tom McTague has followed and does follow Boris Johnson very closely. And he's joining me now.

Tom, welcome. Welcome to the program.

Do you think that apology will do for Johnson what so many of his mea culpas have done for him in the past, in other words, OK, we have managed

to dodge that bullet?

TOM MCTAGUE, "THE ATLANTIC": I don't think so.

I think he's going to have to do more over the next days and weeks if he's going to escape this one. I mean, it is really quite extraordinary that,

two years after winning the biggest Conservative majority in 30 years, Boris Johnson stands a very realistic chance now of being removed from

power because of parties and rule-breaking inside Number 10 Downing Street.

He is going to have to prove that he was more innocent than it currently looks if he's going to escape this and keep his party onside.

AMANPOUR: Let me leave you what the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, the head of the Labor Party, said in response to this apology and

PMQs, prime minister's questions, today. Let me just play that.


KEIR STARMER, LABOR PARTY LEADER: After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road, his defense, his

defense, that he didn't realize he was at a party, is so ridiculous...


STARMER: ... that it's actually offensive to the British public.

He's finally been forced to make what everyone knew, that, when the whole country was locked down, he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street. Is

he now going to do the decent thing and resign?



AMANPOUR: Tom McTague, is he going to do the decent thing and resign, to quote the leader of the opposition? Is that where one is?

I mean, what do his own party members think, donors to the Conservative Party?

MCTAGUE: Yes, I mean, we're in this extraordinary position where that is an open question.


Listening to Boris Johnson today, I thought he opened the door slightly to that real possibility that he might resign if an official report comes back

in the next few weeks that blames him, that says he is guilty of these charges of attend -- of knowingly attending a party, of knowingly breaking

the rules.

Johnson's claim, of course, is that these were extensions of the work inside Downing Street, that Downing Street is this strange hybrid

environment of a home and a workplace. Now, these don't wash with the public, but he -- his only hope is really to get through this and to move

on to something else.

It really reminds me of a kind of Richard Nixon Watergate. This is the only comparison that I can really think of. I don't think there is a comparison

in British politics over the last 100 years. Nixon really -- Watergate revealed all the character traits that people already knew about Nixon, but

ignored or didn't care about enough at the election before that, when he won this extraordinary election victory.

But, two years later, he goes. Something very similar is happening here. All those character traits that were -- that were seen as positives to get

Brexit done, now that the pandemic is the main show in town, they're seen as enormous, almost disqualifying negatives for Boris Johnson. He is under

real pressure now.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, let me just quote a very recent poll.

About 20 percent apparently right now have a favorable view of him, while 56 percent an unfavorable view. That's Ipsos MORI latest poll, which was

published today.

But let's just draw back just a second. You mentioned Richard Nixon. Watergate was a serious crime. If you look at Donald Trump, he has been

impeached twice. These are so-called high crimes and misdemeanors.

For people around the world, particularly in the United States, what is this really about? It can't just be about parties, is it? I mean, is that a

high crime and misdemeanor? Put it in some kind of context for why this is so mortally potentially wounding for Boris Johnson?

MCTAGUE: Yes, I mean, as -- you're right to say, when I write this down, it feels amazing just to type it out, what is going on here.

This prime minister that won an 80-seat majority, the biggest Tory majority in 30 years, could go because he attended a gathering of his aides and

officials in Downing Street at the height of the lockdown.

What it reveals, though, is all of those negative sides of the prime minister's character that people don't like. And I think why it's mortally

damaging for him is two reasons. One, Britain has a different system to the United States. It's a parliamentary system. A prime minister is only as

powerful as he can control the numbers in Parliament.

If people move in Parliament, he's gone. It happened with Margaret Thatcher, a three-time-winning election asset for the Conservative Party.

She was gone in 1990, when the party and Parliament moved against her.

So, something similar is potentially happening here. But it reveals this kind of moral question about Boris Johnson's character.

Was he laughing in people's faces when he told them to do one thing, not -- and these are these are extraordinary things that he was asking people not

to do. He was asking people not to go and see their relatives as they died in care homes and hospitals alone, not to see family and friends, to look

after your children, teach your children at home, not go to school, to only see one person at a time when you went to a park.

And yet we now hear, all those sacrifices, he was asking, sending -- well, not him, but his staff were sending invites to 40, 50, 60 people to go and

have a boozy summer drinks party in the back garden in Number 10. These things, people find deeply offensive, and that they have been made to look

silly, that he is laughing at them.

I think that's why it's the sort of fundamental moral question. Boris the clown, the one who broke the rules to get Brexit done was an asset. Boris

the clown who breaks rules when you're having to abide by them, that's a real problem.

AMANPOUR: Tom McTague, you know that he's been likened to populists around the world. You just said broke the rules to get Brexit done.

Some would say there were a number of falsehoods and misleading statements about what Brexit was about, whether it was about money to the NHS, whether

it was about immigration, or whether it was about all sorts of numbers many people have found questionable in the aftermath of Brexit.

But I want to ask you particularly, with all this going on around Boris Johnson's head, there are some fundamental really troubling issues that are

being reported and not really getting as much attention.


What do you make of Boris Johnson in his government's systematic attempt to rollback individual -- or, rather, important individual and civil

liberties, such as the right to protest, making already draconian immigration laws here even more tough, threatening jail terms for those who

seek asylum and the like?

What's actually also going on underneath the cover of all this COVID mess?

MCTAGUE: Well, look, this goes to the heart of Boris Johnson's sort of Janus-faced character.

In one way, he is a -- as you say, a kind of populist leader who appeals to people's frustrations and concerns about the way that the country, in their

eyes, was going before Brexit. There were concerns about the level of immigration or what we see now with the votes coming across from France.

And Boris Johnson, his appeal lay in his ability to sort of bust through some of the reasons why, to people's mind, these issues weren't getting

tackled, and to do something about it.

Now we see that, on the other side, that comes with real costs. Now, I think this is this is a constant balancing act. I don't think Boris

Johnson, personally, is new in this regard. Populist leaders have always had to flirt with this -- on this border between appealing to the country's

instincts, fears, hopes, and all the rest.

I was reading a biography of Harold Wilson the other day, and it was making this exact same point, that he was in incredible trouble at one point

because his popularity ratings had slumped, and he'd had to U-turn on some of his core policies. And then they started to pick up again when he was

seem to be getting to things done, what the public wanted, even if it was not in the long-term interest of the country.

These things, I think, are political judgments, as you're right. There are very serious things going on in Britain right now, huge decisions being

taken, whether it's on foreign policy or domestic policy, that deserve scrutiny. And, to some extent, these parties look like a sideshow, so an

amazing thing for a foreign audience to look on and see, what is going on in Britain?

But, at the same time, I think they go to deeper questions. They reveal deeper questions about character and checks and balances in the system.

AMANPOUR: And very, very briefly, because we have got to move on, what are your Tory sources telling you? I mean, are they going to -- are they going

to lower the hatchet, as they did on Thatcher?

MCTAGUE: You know, I was speaking to people last night and the day before, and then today again.

And, literally, 24 hours' difference, and you get a different answer. I was -- two days ago, someone was saying to me, look, we were absolutely furious

over Christmas, and we thought that it might be the end for Boris, and then we kind of went away. And we thought look, we don't have a better option,

so we will have to stick with him.

And now they're saying to me, I think it might be curtains. I think it might be over for Boris. Other people are a bit more sanguine, and they

think that he can just about get through this.

I would say, right now, the odds are that he might well go.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Tom McTague.

Extraordinary, extraordinary times.

Now, Johnson has often been dubbed Britain's Donald Trump, the same shock of blond hair, the populism, and the bombast, and the attempt to rollback

important civil liberties, as we have just been discussing.

Now, Trump's GOP keeps questioning the 2020 elections. And, in Wisconsin, for instance, it's pitting local level Republicans against each other.

State Senator Kathy Bernier says that her colleagues should just recognize reality already. And she is warning her party that false claims of stealing

the 2020 election might come back to haunt them in the future.

She's joining me now from Chippewa Falls in Wisconsin.

Welcome to the program.

Tell me something. You have decided not to run again. You have been primaried. And we have just called the situation that worries you so much

in terms of pitting Republican against Republican.

What is your situation? Tell us what the personal reasons were that led you to decide not to seek reelection.

STATE SEN. KATHY BERNIER (R-WI): Well, I have been pondering it for personal reasons as to whether I wanted to run again for another four-year



And it just -- for my family and for other reasons, I'm not running. It has nothing to do with any pressure from a primary candidate. As a matter of

fact, I told her straight up that I'm sure she would be toast if I were to run again.

But it's just for personal reasons, not because they're pushing me out.

AMANPOUR: OK, so that's interesting.

Is your primary rival, had you been running, is she a Trumpy? Is she -- does she question the election, or is she more along your lines of

recognizing reality? Why do you think you would have beaten her?

BERNIER: Well, I have gotten lots of fan mail from independents, Democrats, Republicans. There are a lot of Republicans that want to move on

as well.

I met with what we call the Chippewa Valley Patriots early on. I explained the electoral process to them. I explained how elections are run. And

they're at the local level, ward by ward, that all ballots are counted, and compared to the full list, and that there couldn't possibly be a cyber hack

or something that causes the election results to be different than what was counted at the polling place.

They didn't like my answer. That's not to say there were some things that were different or unusual in the electoral process, but I don't believe

those behaviors and the things that occurred in Green Bay and third-party funding and all of that, though it impacted the election -- they did turn

out more Democrat -- in the end, those are legitimate voters, for all practical purposes.

AMANPOUR: So, I wonder what you make of the fact that there is still, in your state, an ongoing investigation into the 2020 election.

Let me just read the issue here. It's a Republican audit investigation. And it is led by a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, who himself has a

history of advancing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and other things.

It's costing a huge amount of taxpayer money, apparently, somewhere in the region of three-quarters-of-a-million dollars. What is the point of that?

And what do people in Wisconsin think about their money being used to pay for that kind of investigation more than a year on?

BERNIER: Well, there's a lot of individuals that I have spoken to that look at this in a similar view as what went on in 2016.

The fight was in Washington, D.C., over Russian collusion and all of the hullabaloo and the misery that our federal elected officials put President

Trump through.

Now President Trump, in turn, is questioning the election results for different reason. And now that's filtered down to the local level. And that

is gotten the state legislatures and the local government officials -- Wisconsin runs our elections at the local level. The town clerks and the

municipal clerks run the elections.

So now we're fighting the fight on the home front. And what goes on in Washington, D.C., is always removed from what we see on the ground. And so

that is what got more people interested in what's going on with the election results.

But we should be just as upset and just as concerned about a fake dossier and all of the things that went on in the 2016 election, is now just coming

back to haunt us in 2020. And my concern is, this is going to be that kind of business as usual. In the next presidential election, they will find

some reason to assume that the president who was elected by the people is not legitimate.

And so we're on a slippery slope in this republic. And that is my goal, is to speak out for the republic itself, that we cannot continue to do this

because we're going to be at each other's throats forever and ever.

And so that is my message.

AMANPOUR: So, if that is your message, I want to ask you how worried you are.

Again, you have told us why you're not running, and they're for your own reasons, but there are many who are not running for political reasons. Many

Republicans feel that their positions make it untenable in a party that's led by Donald Trump.

And he just came out and did an interview yesterday -- or, rather, earlier this week -- saying -- it was about Arizona, saying that they are

Republicans in name only because they certified the election. And we have just talked about what's happened in your state and the ongoing



If you're concerned by the overall damage to America's faith in your own democracy, how do you get past -- I'm just talking about you as a

Republican, the Republican Party, how do you get past this great big red wall called Donald Trump who is the party leader and who's out and out

saying that anybody who's certified the legitimate 2021 election is a Republican in name only?

BERNIER: Well, I think there's becoming Donald Trump fatigue. There is a state senator in South Dakota that has spoken out. Currently, the past --

yesterday, I believe, I heard that one of the candidates for U.S. Senate from Georgia has now spoken out asking President Trump to legitimize the

elections because we need to have people turn up and turn out to vote in 2022. And that was also my goal, is to get people to recognize, we need

their votes.

We have very important gubernatorial races in our states. We have -- we want to take the House. We want to take the Senate at the federal level and

we need to pay attention to what's going on in 2022. And I think Virginia is a good example of what we can do. We can talk about the issues. We could

talk about education and COVID-19 and practical things that impact our citizens in our states, that gubernatorial candidate did that and he won.

He did not criticize or ridicule President Trump, but he did not embrace him either. And I think that that is what we need to do to win elections in


And with the last thing we want to do is tell people, it doesn't pay to vote because your vote doesn't count, because it does. And every vote was

counted. Now, there are always instances of irregularities and some voter fraud, but that happens in every election. But what we need to do now is to

just move forward, do the best we can. We have great election laws in most states. I am not an advocate for President Biden to federalize elections.

That's the last thing we need to do.

His State of Delaware is very strict on elections, and I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate the federal government opening up all of their election

laws to be contrary to what they've always practiced. So, I think we need to just all keep our heads about us and move forward.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you since you brought up President Biden. As you know, he's made these full-throated defenses of democracy. He hasn't

mentioned Trump's name but he said, I will not allow anyone to hold a dagger to the throat of American democracy.

And as you know, he's just been in the State of Georgia. And again, he gave a very important speech urging people to support, you know, what they're

trying to do, the freedom to vote act, they're trying to pass it, and the John Lewis voting rights act, which focus on preventing discrimination in

voting. And you obviously know that Republicans, you know, have -- in like 19 states, have passed bills, laws that could severely restrict voting

rights and then, there's gerrymandering and there's all of this stuff. I want to play for you what Biden said and then ask you what you think about



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: To those Republicans who believe in the rule of law restore the bipartisan tradition of voting rights. People restored it

who abide by it in the past, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, they all supported the voting rights act.

Don't let the Republican Party morph into something else.


AMANPOUR: So, what do you make of that? I mean, he's naming Republican presidents. And are you afraid of the Republican Party morphing into

something else? And also, are you kind of worried that if there was no fraud in the previous election that, you know, 19 states Republicans have

enacted 34 restrictive voter laws?

BERNIER: The voter laws, I have been a part of taking a look at what occurred at the election and the election commission or the previous

government accountability board would always come to me with suggestions on how we can make changes to better execute an election.


We are very divided in this country, clearly. And you have to weed through the hyperbole. Not allowing for voter ID is their proposing is not opening

up elections, it's causing more problems than what they're suggesting. So, I haven't read the entire bill, but I am not in favor of ballot harvesting,

which I understand the law does allow for. That it also does not require voter ID or a photo ID or anything that most states have currently.

So, what he's asking for is anything goes. And that as citizens of the United States, when we passed voter ID, it was overwhelmingly popular in

the State of Wisconsin by both Democrats and Republicans to ensure that the person who is voting is a legitimate voter, and that's all we do state by


AMANPOUR: So, you know, when you said anything goes, I just want to cast your mind back to the election of 2000 when, as you know, over some 500

votes in one state an election was decided and eventually by the Supreme Court. This is what the then Democratic candidate, Al Gore, said.


AL GORE, THEN-U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I

accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people

and strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.


AMANPOUR: I just wondered. We've got 15 seconds literally. Democrat or Republican. That's what you are meant to do after an election, right?

BERNIER: Absolutely. And I compliment Mr. Gore for doing that. As a matter of fact, after that time, we had the help America vote act which required

uniform recount procedures, and that was helpful as well.

AMANPOUR: Kathy Bernier, thank you so much for joining us from Wisconsin.

Now, speaking of electoral integrity, critics say that Facebook was a prime tool used to spread misinformation and sew doubt about the 2020 election.

And since Facebook whistleblower, Francis Haugen, came forward with leaked documents, she says there's now evidence to prove it. And here she is

speaking to our Walter Isaacson.


WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Francis Haugen, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: It has been four months since the information you released has become public, caused a huge national scandal, articles in the "Wall Street

Journal" around the world, congressional hearings. What's changed since then?

HAUGEN: There have been activists who have been working for years, articulating most of the problems that were found in these disclosures. But

every time they came to Facebook or they brought it to the public that these problems existed, Facebook actively denied they were real. They gas

lit them.

The thing that has changed is we now have evidence that Facebook knew itself that human trafficking was running rampant on the platform. That

Facebook knew that they weren't taking care of terrorists' content appropriate inappropriately. That Facebook knew they were under investing

in languages that weren't English. That's the difference now, is that we know that when Facebook said these problems weren't real, they were real

and then, Facebook knew about them.

ISAACSON: Last week, we commemorated the anniversary of January 6th. To what extent do you think Facebook's actions were responsible for that

insurrection in the U.S. Capitol?

HAUGEN: Facebook has known for a long time, at least several years, that choices it makes in how it designs its product. Not calls about individual

pieces of content, but choices on how it designs a product itself have real-world implications for safety. Before the November 2020 election,

Facebook surveyed a variety of settings in how its products were configured and came to the conclusion that there was a range of settings where the

system was being optimized for growth over safety.

An example of this is massively amplifying live video even though it knew it was bad at being able to supervise those videos. That's why you often

see instances of say graphic violence that occurs on news because Facebook doesn't have a way to make sure they comply with their terms of service.


Facebook came and said, given we know we have these vulnerable spots in our product, maybe we shouldn't hyper amplify content that we can't adequately

supervise or maybe we shouldn't maximize for a virality to the same extent when we know there's a moment of potential instability.

After the 2020 election passed, Facebook reset all those safety settings. They went and optimized again for growth over safety. And because there was

no one paying attention in December of 2020, Facebook had just dissolved the civic integrity team, the team that was responsible for election

safety. It meant that even though many experts were saying there is a large movement forming online, there is ways in which Facebook is amplifying the

most extreme messages, no one was awake at the wheel over the holidays to put those safety settings back to where they were before the 2020 election.

And I think that that instance of not paying attention and not being ready to act in a moment of crisis is something that Facebook is responsible for.

ISAACSON: So, tell us what's happened since the January 6th insurrection. Have things gotten better? Did they learn from this?

HAUGEN: In the immediate aftermath of January 6th, we're talking about the day of, the day after, they've reinstated many of the safety systems that

were in place for the November 2020 election. But over the months after that, they reset over and over again back to the hypergrowth settings.

I haven't worked at Facebook since May of 2021. So, I can't tell you what - - how Facebook is operating today. But until we had transparency into Facebook's operations, we can't ensure that Facebook is prioritizing the

safety as much as it needs to.

ISAACSON: Doesn't it really go Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of are you going to prioritize safety or not?

HAUGEN: It seems there's a pattern -- there's a meta problem at Facebook, or Meta as they call themselves now, of that they always are focusing on

the next big thing and they don't spend enough time making sure the things that they're already doing are being done at the level of rigor they need

to. For example, last fall, the disclosures I brought forth outlined a number of very, very serious problems of Facebook, everything from them

only taking down 3 to 5 percent of hate speech to knowing that their platforms were being used by cartels and terrorists and then, not

adequately moderating that content.

What was Facebook's response? They chose to pivot and focus on video games, to focus on the meta verse. That is a choice that Mark is responsible for

and he hasn't shown the level of responsibility and leadership for making sure Facebook solves its own problems before moving on to new greener


ISAACSON: In response to your claims this fall, Facebook said it's spent $5 billion a year keeping its platform safe. And here is a quote, "As a

company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our app."

What's your response to that effort? I mean, 5 billion is a lot of money.

HAUGEN: I think the number that they should mention is how much profit do they make per year. When Facebook made the quote, they were on track to

make $45 billion a year in profit. There's this question of, you know, would Facebook be really suffering if they only made $40 billion of profit

or $35 billion of profit?

When you think about it, you know, Facebook claims to support on the order of 50 languages around the world, in a world that has 5,000 languages. And

3.1 billion of the people in the world are on Facebook. If you spoke one of the languages that wasn't supported, would you say the $5 billion was

enough money to spend on safety or should you spend another million or $2 million to make sure your language was supported as well?

The fundamental issue is Facebook is unaccountable. And as a result, they can't be trusted to set that level of safety spending at an appropriate

level because none of us get to see what actions are actually done to keep us safe.

ISAACSON: There is something called Section 230, which is as you know full well, pretty platforms like Facebook somewhat exempt from private legal

action from being held liable for what people post on there. Should we tweak or change that type of law so that Facebook itself is responsible if

private citizens feel they have a cause of action against Facebook?

HAUGEN: I am against changing 230 with regard to individual pieces of content because it's not possible to run services like Facebook or many of

the other things we take for granted, the internet, if any individual piece of content can result in a lawsuit. But I do support the idea that if

Facebook has made a long series of consistent decisions to optimize for growth over profit, it should have to take responsibility for that.


ISAACSON: Well, is that true? Is that what they've done?

HAUGEN: Unquestionably.

ISAACSON: So, then, what should the responsibility be?

HAUGEN: There -- I -- so, one of the challenges here is that because we are dealing with such an opaque system, it is difficult for us to see those

patterns of behavior. We have to hypothesize them unless they -- you've been on the inside and you've seen them happen. What we see is that -- and

we have documents in the disclosure covering this pattern that there's basically an expectation internally that if you have a safety solution that

will decrease misinformation, but it comes at even slight cost to frequency that you visit Facebook, to the number of pieces of content you view,

that's considered a solution that's dead-on arrival.

If Facebook consistently chooses to optimize for growth over things like our information environment, they should be held responsible for that.

ISAACSON: Now, you've said that the profits are driving this. Is there some regulatory thing that the Federal Trade Commission or Congress should

do where you say, you're a corporation that's using a profit driven mechanism that you know is harming people and you know is harming the

environment and you're doing it intentionally simply because you're prioritizing growth?

HAUGEN: I do believe there's an opportunity for, say, the SCC to step in because the SCC -- one of the responsibilities of the SCC is to ensure that

public companies are not lying to the public. And we've seen repeatedly through the filings that we have submitted with SCC by my legal team that

Facebook has said publicly one thing about say child safety and a different one internally in their research, or said one thing publicly about

misinformation or COVID and said a different thing internally.

And that's illegal. Like, we can't have corporations lying to the public. But I do believe there's an opportunity for us to have a more systematic

way of doing transparency where, right now, it's unacceptable that academics can, in detailed ways, document problems with Facebook and then

be reliant on Facebook to either validate them or not validate them, right? The fact that there is no independent accountability is unacceptable

because right now, Facebook knows they have to publicly report their profit. So, they optimize for their profit.

They don't have to publicly report the volume of misinformation or whether or not people are overexposed to the information.

ISAACSON: Do you think the people at Facebook, especially on high, see the collective cost drive democracy and the individual cost?

HAUGEN: I think one of the very dangerous things about how Facebook is currently governed is Facebook is largely populated internally, its

engineering teams, by people who are quite privileged. These are people who most of their friends are college educated. Most of them have comfortable

lives. They don't see a negative Facebook because their friends all post pleasant content.

And so, one of the things that has repeated over and over and over against harm types on Facebook, this could be violent imagery, it could be hate

speech, it could be misinformation, it doesn't matter which, is most users are OK, maybe 60 percent, 70 percent. But the top 10 percent or 5 percent

is hyper exposed, you know, over and over again, that they see vaccine misinfo on their news feeds.

If you are a Facebook employee and when you log on to Facebook, it's always a very pleasant experience, it's very hard for you to feel the urgency of

the need to fix things like misinformation or the urgency to deal with these rabbit holes people are falling down.

ISAACSON: Wait, wait. That makes no sense to me. I know maybe they can see a nice wonderful Facebook feed but they must know, I mean, it's just been

so well documented what happened to our democracy, for example, what's happened to our vaccine awareness, for example. I mean, are they that


HAUGEN: A refrain that you hear quite often inside of Facebook and major executives like Bosworth have publicly -- he's, I believe, the CTO now as

of maybe six months ago, four months ago. They've publicly come out and said, there have always been problems in the world, Facebook is not

responsible for those things. People have always crazy --

ISAACSON: Is that a valid argument?

HAUGEN: I don't think that's true. And one way to think about it is Facebook's own research shows that one of the dangers is something called

engagement-based ranking, that's where you -- prioritize content, you give more reach to content that gets more reactions, you know, more comments,

more likes, is that you end up giving the most reach to the most extreme content because people are drawn to engage with extreme content.


Mark Zuckerberg in 2018 wrote this publicly in a whitepaper. Facebook has come out to said, the solution to this problem is AI, right? That we can

have computer systems that will remove the worst things and that will keep us safe. The problem with that solution is they have to rebuild those

safety systems over and over again by language and Facebook's own internal data says that the way Facebook has configured them, they're so afraid of

making mistakes that in case of things like hate speech, they only get 3 percent to 5 percent of hate speech.

ISAACSON: This is also a huge problem internationally. And we don't focus on it quite as much, because, you know, our own democracy got in peril. But

let's take Ethiopia, for example. What roles has Facebook play in the problems happening there?

HAUGEN: Ethiopia is a great example of how Facebook's strategy of using AI to solve safety problems doesn't extend to the most fragile places on

earth. The most fragile places in the world are often linguistically diverse. They often speak languages that might be spoken by 5 million, 10

million, 20 million speakers. Ethiopia has 100 million people and six major language families in 95 dialects.

Facebook currently -- or when I left Facebook, Facebook, only supported two of those languages for any of their safety systems. When you make -- when

you choose to run the system hot and use AI to fix things, you open up the door where you just are flying blind for most problems in most places in

the world.

ISAACSON: So, what's been the consequence in Ethiopia?

HAUGEN: You see -- right now, Ethiopia is facing a civil conflict for different ethnic groups engaged in violence. I believe it's the Tigrayans

are being targeted currently. And people are distributing misinformation that is dehumanizing folks on both sides of the conflict. That is calling

for violence. You also see things like coordinated action where people come out and create a larger sense of public pressure like, you know, having

artificial accounts, you know, mass pile ons of commenting when people, you know, make calls for peace, mass reporting.

So, maybe someone is trying to deescalate the situation, you cannot just slander that person online, you can also mass report them, which can cause

their account to get disabled. All of these things are seen in this conflict and it's the same kind of thing that happened (INAUDIBLE) during

the ethnic violence incident there a few years ago.

ISAACSON: The Biden administration is currently in talks with Russia, and a Facebook report released recently said that Russia is still the largest

producer of disinformation on social media. What should be done to deal with the Russian influence?

HAUGEN: That is such a good question and it's one of vital national security. One of the things that I have talked about repeatedly is the fact

that Facebook is significantly less transparent and that has significant national security implications.

When I worked with an investigator (INAUDIBLE) inside of Facebook, that's the people responsible for catching things like people using the platform

for spying or using the platform for information operations, the kind Russia uses to distribute that information. One of the things I was shocked

by was that because Facebook doesn't give any data out, often, Russian information operations are caught on Twitter because Twitter has a fire

hose of tweets that people can analyze.

And there's maybe 10,000 researchers in the world that are always analyzing those tweets. Because Facebook has so little data, often, information

operations on Facebook are caught using Twitter's data. One of the most basic things we need is a larger partnership between private security

researchers, between governments around the world and Facebook on mechanisms for us to have more eyes on task, more people looking for these

information operations because Facebook hiding behind the curtain actually actively threatens all of our safety.

ISAACSON: Francis Haugen, thank you so much for joining the show.

HAUGEN: My pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.



AMANPOUR: Here is what Facebook has said in the past about Haugen's claims, "We're a business and we make profit, but the idea that we do so at

the expense of people's safety or wellbeing misunderstands where our own commercial interests lie." Facebook denies having contributed to the

January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and regarding the conflict of Ethiopia, the company says that it's worked hard to remove more harmful

content and add more local staff with expertise.

And finally, tonight, the Winter Olympics in Beijing are less than a month away. And as athletes contend with competition and COVID, they face

enormous pressure. Tomorrow, I speak with Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time about his struggles with mental health, the

pressures of being a top athlete, and why he feels it's important to open up about all of this.

That's it for now. Remember that you can always catch us online. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.