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Interview with Representative Jamie Raskin; Interview with "Fulfillment: America in the Shadow of Amazon" Author Alec MacGillis. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 18, 2022 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: The risk of a conflict is real.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): With rising signs of Russia's intent to invade, Ukraine puts his former president on trial for treason. Petro Poroshenko
joins us on what it's like to face off with adversaries at home and abroad.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I was drowning in agony and grief along with Sarah, my wife, and the rest of our family, and I thought I might never
recover from it.
AMANPOUR: In a matter of weeks, he lost his son to suicide, survived the Capitol insurrection, and led impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.
Now Congressman Jamie Raskin talks about overcoming the unthinkable.
ALEC MACGILLIS, AUTHOR, "FULFILLMENT": The gap between what I call sort of winner-take-all cities and left-behind places in America has gotten a lot,
lot wider in recent years.
AMANPOUR: Author Alec MacGillis tells Hari Sreenivasan how the big tech takeover has spurred inequality and left America in the shadow of Amazon.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, where the British government has announced that it is sending
troops and weapons to Ukraine.
Now, as the crisis there heats up, it is the latest move by Western allies to show a united front against Russia. U.S. Secretary of State Antony
Blinken is headed to the region to meet with Ukraine's president and also with Russia's foreign minister.
But, first, Moscow's top diplomat traded tough talk with his German counterpart today, as thousands of Russian troops perch on Ukraine's
border. Internally, though, Kiev is mired in another conflict. Former President Petro Poroshenko has returned to the country to face charges of
treason. He says he's innocent. And he calls the case politically motivated by allies of the current president.
And Poroshenko also knows, of course, what it means to be president of a nation that Russia has invaded. And he is joining me now from Kiev.
Mr. President, welcome. Welcome back to our program. It's a long time since we have talked to you, obviously, and a lot has happened in the interim.
Now, this case that you have returned to contest a basically accuses you of financing pro-Russian militants against your own government. It says that
you purchased coal from mines owned by those militants or located in that area of Eastern Ukraine, and that those sales fueled their insurgency
against your government.
What is your reaction to that?
PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: This is -- first of all, thank you very much, Christiane for inviting me. And I'm also missing you.
And thank you very much for the country support of Ukrainian sovereignty, territorial integrity and keeping Ukraine high on the agenda of your
This is not me who describing it like that, because only yesterday, it was presented. And I just want to cite you the commands of Ukrainian
politician, Ukraine -- absolutely independent, or it may be those who is against me, Ukrainian journalists and Ukrainian public activists.
This is the farce. This is their absolute -- this is their fake. And this is the trash. There is no any other words like this. And everybody make an
estimation that says that this is a politically motivated prosecution. This is the pressure on the leader of the opposition.
And I hate the idea to go into details, but you are absolutely right. They are blaming me for paying the salary, paying the pension, paying the social
benefits to the Ukrainian who live in the occupied territory. And this is - - was the question of the national security.
And if you want to return back Ukrainian lands who was occupied by Russia, definitely, we should protect our citizens. But all of these are -- they
have zero evidence, politically motivated. And the reason for that is very simple.
In the end of the last year, the political map of Ukraine is significantly changed. And my political party start to be the leading opinion poll in the
next parliamentary campaign. It will take place next year in Ukraine.
And the Zelensky position has dramatically falling down for the incompetence, for the big problem in the economy, energy, and security and
different other sector, and trying to avoid attention.
Zelensky to use the methods he was in Ukraine under the Yanukovych time, as the selective justice...
POROSHENKO: ... the suppression of the opposition, and many, many others.
POROSHENKO: And with this situation, definitely Zelensky -- yes, Christiane. Sorry.
AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, I hear you denying the charges. You have called them trash. You have called them fake. Clearly, a court of law will
determine and you adjudicate that, I presume.
You face a hearing apparently tomorrow, and potentially a bail setting, or potentially arrest. We don't know. We will wait and see what the court
decides tomorrow and how your case proceeds.
But this is a moment when your country stands on the brink of a potential 'nother invasion. You were president shortly after President Putin invaded
and annexed Crimea, and then invaded Eastern Ukraine.
So, you know the existential problem your country faces right now. In fact, you have said that this case against you is a gift to Putin by President
Zelensky. So why come back? Why did you come back and allow this all to happen and the internal unity to be publicly torn apart right now?
POROSHENKO: First of all, I'm a Ukrainian citizen, and I'm fifth Ukrainian president, and protect my nation. And I demonstrate that in the year 2014,
2019. It is my crucial duty.
And second is that I have a millions of millions of people who vote for me in the year 2014 and who vote for me in the year 2019 as a leader for their
parliamentary position. And, definitely, I should be together with my people.
And third position, I know how to fight the Putin. I demonstrate that during the year 2014. And I know how to unite the nation, because when I
was a president elected in the '14, and I have a parliamentary election, I have absolutely different political parties.
And I create five-parties coalition with a more than constitutional majority in the year 2014, just to unite the nation, because only united
nation can give a defeat for Putin.
POROSHENKO: And using this fact, I released two-thirds of the occupied Donbass, occupied by Russian troops.
And now I definitely think that we should use these experiences and to demonstrate the unity. And that's what, despite all the fake charges,
despite all the problems he created for me, I just to call for unity of the nation. And, definitely, the president should demonstrate that.
And, second, I need to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine, the ability to protect ourselves. And this resilience should based on the democracy and
based on the rule of law, to -- based on the reform necessary to undertake, including the reform in the security sphere.
And the success of the Ukraine definitely can demonstrate our ability not to allow Putin to access us.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm going to talk...
POROSHENKO: And, by the way, if you...
AMANPOUR: I'm going to come -- yes.
POROSHENKO: If you ask what to do with Putin with my experience, I think that would be important.
I have three advices, not only to Zelensky, but to everybody else. Point number one, don't trust Putin, because it was never happened that Putin
keep his word. Point number two, don't be afraid of Putin, because this is the way how we demonstrate the year 2014 attacking their troops.
And point number three, it is absolutely necessary the international solidarity and unity. The whole world should be united against Putin and
the whole Ukraine should be united against Putin.
This is the three...
POROSHENKO: ... definitely work.
And the way how we can do that is just to increase significantly the price Putin should pay if he make the absolutely crazy decision to attack
AMANPOUR: OK, so let me ask you, do you think he will make what you describe as an absolutely crazy decision?
And let's not forget that Ukraine is very different today than it was in 2014. It's better armed. It's more united. It has much more support from
the outside world. Do you think he will decide to invade? And what will it look like? Because some have said it probably won't be a massive armed
incursion. Others think it might be.
Others say it might be an air campaign or artillery or huge cyber war?
What do you think?
POROSHENKO: First of all, the -- despite the fact you mentioned that Ukraine is different, I am absolutely confident, in the year 2013, in
December, and the year 2014, everybody said that this is impossible, that Putin make an illegal aggression against us in Crimea or in Donbass.
And with this situation, if you ask me if it is possible, my answer would be, yes, this is definitely possible. And the intelligence sources of U.S.,
U.K., NATO, Europe, and all the world delivering the evidence of that.
But if you ask me if it is happening, the answer is, nobody knows, including Putin, because if we now increase the price which Putin pay
through the (INAUDIBLE) sanction against him, through the significant increase in the defensive potential of Ukraine by increasing the price of -
- there would be thousands of Russian which would be killed in Ukraine. We don't need NATO soldiers.
But we definitely will protect our land and to increase and to return back to the Nord Stream 2 to stop Putin attempt to ruin energy security of the
country, because this is not an economical energy. This is a security project.
But the most important thing, please, we should be a -- we -- Ukraine should receive this, as we were promised, the membership action plan of
AMANPOUR: OK, let's hold off, hold off on NATO for one second.
POROSHENKO: OK. OK. OK.
AMANPOUR: I need to ask you first a question, because it is that...
AMANPOUR: Hold on a second, Mr. President.
AMANPOUR: I want to know whether you think that the West has met those conditions that you say ,has to be united and must show President Putin
that the price will be too high, in other words, the sanctions that they're threatening.
You have heard Britain is sending some weapons and troops. There are even reports that the United States is discussing may be backing a Ukrainian
insurgency against any Russian invasion. In other words, what's happening right now, what the West is doing right now, do you believe it's enough?
And, as you know, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to meet both President Zelensky and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.
POROSHENKO: I came from the -- day by day, step by step, the West doing more, and this is positive.
What we need now, again, we need make Russia weaker. And make Russia weaker, we can do that through the sanction. We make Ukraine -- we should
make Ukraine stronger. And day by day, we should receive a new effective defensive lethal weapons, including ready electronic warfare, anti-aircraft
missile, including the anti-tank and all the radio position, including receiving the intelligence information.
Unfortunately, we don't have enough of that. But we have a positive trend, which West more and more increasing the supply. We have a very positive and
promising report from the U.K. minister of defense. We have waiting tomorrow the visit of Secretary Blinken.
And definitely we can -- the more we do, the better chance not to have an aggression. And we think that the -- Secretary Blinken also need to meet
not only with the president of Ukraine, Zelensky, with also with all democratic forces, because national unity is the -- definitely is a very
important factor to increase the resilience of Ukraine to defeat ourselves, to defeat Europe, and to defeat the world.
So, you -- I stopped you when you were talking about how Ukraine must join NATO. Right now, that appears to be a nonstarter. Obviously, the West is
saying that Putin cannot have a veto over who joins NATO or not. But what we know is that President Biden has not answered that question and is not
very pro that question, including using American power to protect Ukraine, any forces on the ground or any such thing.
When he came to your country just before you assumed the presidency, he said this about one of the conditions for joining NATO, and it was about
corruption. This is what he said to your Parliament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this is a delicate thing to say to a group of leaders in their house of Parliament, but you have to
fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So he called it a cancer.
And let's just be very clear. Even right now, the international organization Transparency International puts your country at 117th amid 180
countries on the corruption index. It's just endemic. And it occurred under your presidency and it carries on right now.
Why is it that Ukraine has been unable to meet that very important condition, if you want to join NATO?
POROSHENKO: We don't have any other alternative. Definitely, we want to join NATO. We want to meet the criteria of anti-corruption. We want to meet
the criteria of democracy.
We want to meet the criteria of economic energy and any other sphere of security. But I'm proud that, under my presidency, we create, together with
our American partners, with our European partners, full anti-corruption infrastructure, national corruption bureau, special anti-corruption
prosecution office, and special national agency, and special anti- corruption code.
And it all was estimated that the very positive and stark work is an absolutely independent structure. Unfortunately, during the last three
years, we have a backslide of the reform. And this is not only on the anti- corruption. This is the whole package of the reform, which we do together with our American partners.
And, definitely, the message from the United States to stimulate reform, not to allow backslide, and to move our -- us forward to the transatlantic
and the Euro integration. This is absolutely a necessary thing.
But, unfortunately, we have today the oligarch from the team of Zelensky or even the partner of Zelensky, Mr. Kolomoisky, who has a sanction against
Kolomoisky introduced by American government. And they find out the time to accuse, absolutely fake, me, as the fifth president of Ukraine.
But can you imagine that in the whole world, in U.S., in U.K., in Germany, in Israel, there is a prosecution against Kolomoisky, but zero in Ukraine.
POROSHENKO: Because they have a joint team, because they are -- finance Zelensky, because they send about $100 million to Zelensky. And this is
absolutely unacceptable, not only a corruption issue, but...
AMANPOUR: OK. So that's a specific -- that's a specific case. And I'm not very familiar with it.
But I will say this. After your government, Zelensky won on a promise to attack corruption, because people were fed up of what was going on, even
under your government, with all your promises. And he won because he promised to go against the oligarchs.
Now, whether he's met those promises or not, the fact that he won those promises met -- meant that there was a big problem under your government as
So, I guess, again, I need to ask you this question. What would you do differently, for instance, if you came back to power?
POROSHENKO: Definitely, we have an existing infrastructure.
And we have a -- strengthening the legislation, and we should be absolutely independent from the corruptionists. And we should appoint the independent
prosecutor, the leader of the special corruption prosecutor office, and Zelensky simply don't do it. Zelensky don't appoint the leaders of this
institution. And, definitely, this is blocking of the work.
Do you know why? Because the level of the corruption is significantly increased during the last three years. And Zelensky understand that, if he
put the independent corruption investigator, that all of his team, all of his circle would be in prison for corruption, exactly like this.
POROSHENKO: And I would definitely make it independent. And I definitely do the decisive work, including for continuation of reform, including the
AMANPOUR: Petro Poroshenko, former president of Ukraine, thank you very much for joining us.
Now, Western allies, of course, see the struggle for Ukraine as a struggle for democracy. Now, for the United States, that is an issue that hits home.
This week, efforts to protect voting rights are expected to fail in the Senate, but Democrats insist that their fight will continue.
Congressman Jamie Raskin has already fought and lost a lot. On New Year's Eve 2020, his son, Tommy, died by suicide. And just days later, Raskin was
at the Capitol when rioters stormed the building, his private grief colliding with national trauma.
The whirlwind of emotion is captured in the title of his new memoir, "Unthinkable."
And Congressman Jamie Raskin is joining me now from Maryland.
Welcome to our program.
And, even this whole year later, we want to offer our condolences on the loss of your son and just ask you how you're doing, given that anniversary,
given the anniversary of the attack on American democracy and what you're going through right now in the United States.
RASKIN: Well, thank you, Christiane, for having me.
And we are -- we're hanging tough. I mean, we're able to talk about Tommy without dissolving into tears and grief. We miss him sharply and intensely.
And we have dedicated large parts of our life to his memory and to his spirit and to the values that he embodied.
But thank you for asking. My wife, my daughters, our whole family, we're hanging tough. We have got the support of my wonderful community here in
Maryland, and people from across the country, really around the world who have reached out to connect with us during this period. And we're very
grateful to all of them.
AMANPOUR: You know, he seemed from everything you have said and written about him, a truly extraordinary young man.
Clearly, he -- at the end, he couldn't go on. But he was so, it seemed, empathetic to everything, creatures, animals, people. He looked beyond just
his own environment to countries and conflicts all over the world.
How do you account for how interested he was in what was going on beyond his own confines?
RASKIN: Yes, and he was a great champion for human rights for everyone, for an end to wars and civil wars.
And, as you say, he was also a vegan and a champion of animal rights and welfare, he was a great empath. He connected with the suffering and the
pain of everybody, people and animals.
And we have actually heard from lots and lots of families who have members of their families who are like that, who are extraordinarily empathetic,
extraordinarily sensitive, but some of whom also have suffered from depression. And that's what Tommy's mental illness was.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that, of course, because it is so front and center now, finally, the idea of depression or mental illness, and
whether one can get the correct help for it at the correct time.
Your son clearly didn't. Nationally, how do you see that issue, and how do you see your, I guess, dedication through your family and your own
experience, to trying to make that more accessible for people who need it?
RASKIN: Well, in America, we have, at least on paper, a formal commitment to mental health that's equal to physical and medical health.
The problem is that this is a promise honored often in the breach, because there just are not enough resources. There are not enough psychiatrists and
psychologists and mental health personnel around the country.
There's some very good projects and experiments under way to route counselors into elementary schools and high schools around the country. But
that's something that we really need to live up to this commitment.
At the same time, I try to make the point in my book that mental and emotional health, like physical health, are matters of critical concern in
a democracy. If you're in a dictatorship or an authoritarian society, nobody really cares about the health of the population. What matters is
just people at the top.
But if we're going to try to have democracies, we need everybody operating at their fullest, at their best to participate and to engage in self-
government. So it's really an essential issue, as you say, for democratic nations. And here in America, we have suffered a lot with COVID-19; 800,000
families are grieving, like our family is grieving over Tommy.
Comparable numbers of families have lost people in the opioid crisis, in gun violence, in the emotional and mental health trauma that so many young
people are in. So we're a country that's reeling from all of these various problems.
And we have got to make an investment in the health of the population. And the political parties certainly should be supporting mental health, not
undermining mental health by spreading lies and conspiracy theories and propaganda and hate-filled disinformation. That undermines the mental
health of the people, and it activates the most disturbed people in the society.
AMANPOUR: Gosh, it obviously leads me to the next and painful question.
The day after Tommy's funeral was the storming of the U.S. Capitol, the global symbol of democracy. And you were in there, along with one daughter
and the husband of another one of your daughters. Describe what that was for you and your kids, who -- they hadn't signed up for that. They weren't
RASKIN: Well, it was objectively terrifying and traumatizing.
I have come to learn that the psychologist define trauma as a violent demolition of all of your expectations about life. And we certainly didn't
expect the peaceful transfer of power to be overrun and the results of our presidential election to be thrown into doubt by an attempted coup and by a
violent insurrection that was led by domestic violent extremist groups like Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and 3 Percenters and Aryan Nations and the
militia groups, the QAnon networks and so on.
So this was quite a shock to everyone. I do record in my book, Christiane, that I personally, subjectively didn't feel fear, because I was still so
traumatized by the loss of Tommy. And I just kept saying to myself, I have already lost the most important thing. The worst thing I ever could have
imagined has already happened. And so what are these fascists going to be able to do to me?
So I wasn't afraid. But I was obviously very concerned for Tabitha and for Hank and for our democracy. But I had, through Tommy, who I felt I was
carrying in my heart, in my chest, a will to fight back, and to see that we fortify the institutions of democracy.
And on that very day, that was the internal resolution I made to myself.
AMANPOUR: And I guess, in an act of compassion and also professionalism, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, chose you to lead the process of
the impeachment against Donald Trump in the wake of -- in the wake of this.
And you write: "The assignment became a salvation and sustenance to me, a pathway back to the land of the living."
How did that help you process your grief and reenter the land of the living?
RASKIN: Well, I was drowning, basically. I wasn't eating.I wasn't sleeping. And I wasn't sure whether I would ever be able to do anything
again that would be of meaning in my life.
And right at this darkest moment, just a few weeks after we lost Tommy, right when the impeachment was happening on January 13, Speaker Pelosi
asked me whether I would join the team of impeachment managers. And I said yes. And she said, I'd like you to be the lead impeachment manager.
And I was absolutely just startled and flummoxed by it. And -- but I saw it from that first second as like a lifeline, like this would be a way to come
back, because she was basically saying, we need you, and you have got more important work to do.
So she insisted that I call my wife, Sarah, and my daughters and talk it over. And we did. And I decided to go forward with it. And we had a
remarkable team of impeachment managers, and they just did a splendid job.
And we were able to tell a story to America about how, essentially, a U.S. president committed the worst constitutional crime in American history of
any president when he incited a violent insurrection against the union in order to seize the presidency for another four years.
AMANPOUR: And this is what you said at the time. You were actually addressing your daughter, who had been with you in that terrible attempt to
steal democracy away.
This is part of what you said at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RASKIN: I told her how sorry I was, and I promised her that it would not be like this again the next time she came back to the Capitol with me.
And you know what she said? She said: "Dad, I don't want to come back to the Capitol."
Of all the terrible, brutal things I saw and I heard on that day and since then, that one hit me the hardest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, tell us why that hit you the hardest.
RASKIN: Well, I'm very close to my kids.
And I feel like a lot of the reason I'm in politics is because I want to help create a better world for them and deal with the crises of our time
like climate change and economic inequality and all of these things.
And when Tabitha said that, it was basically a statement that things had gotten so violent and so deranged in our politics that my workplace was
off-limits to her. It was too dangerous for her.
And, suddenly, I felt like everything I had been throwing my life into, government and politics and trying to uplift things, had been turned to
mush by the Trump actors and this mob and this violent insurrection.
And so, I don't know why that one pushed me over the edge and I was very emotional about it.
Tabitha did come back on January 6th of this year, just a few weeks ago. And, you know, when she was asked by reporters, why did you come back? She
said, well, my dad goes back and his colleagues go back and the maintenance people go back and the capitol officers go back. And so, I can go back
every once in a while. But I do think that both she and Hank found it somewhat traumatizing to be back there after hiding under a desk for
several hours and hearing, you know, the mob pounding on the door.
AMANPOUR: But they did it and they displayed their faith in your democracy. And now, you are on the House Select Committee, which is
investigating that. And, you know, that last week, the Department of Justice, I believe, issued some 11 indictments for seditious conspiracy.
But there's a huge amount of uncertainty as to whether they will go after, the department will go after, you know, the big fish, the ring leaders,
from President Trump to his allies.
What do you think? What does your gut tell you? I know that the -- you know, the attorney general has come out and said, anybody who we find to
have been responsible will be prosecuted or will be, you know, investigated. What is your gut? Will it reach to the top levels, to the top
RASKIN: Well, the way that I see the events of January 6th are that we had a mass riot that began as a demonstration and became a riot and that
surrounded a violent insurrection made up of domestic violent extremist groups, white nationalist groups that came armed and ready to fight and
they were the ones that smashed our windows and began beating up the police officers, 150 of whom ended up with serious injuries or wounds because of
But then, that insurrection surrounded a coup on the inside, and that was an attempt, essentially, to take Joe Biden's majority of 306 in the
electoral college and reduce it below 270 in order to kick the contest into the House of Representatives for a so-called contingent election under the
12th Amendment of our constitution. And at that point, we would have been voting not one member one vote, but one state one vote. And the GOP had 27
state delegations, we had 22. Pennsylvania was split down the middle one.
Even if Liz Cheney, the out large representatives of Wyoming had defected from the GOP, which I think she would have at that point, still would have
left with the majority of 26. So, they had a pathway to try to steal the election, essentially. And I think that Donald Trump was prepared, at that
point, to invoke the insurrection act and to declare something like martial law.
Do I think that we are going to be able to tell this story in our Select Committee? Yes. Do I believe the Department of Justice is working its way
up the various rungs of the ladder to get to the top? Yes, I do. I think the closer you get to Donald Trump, of course, the harder it is to get
people to testify, but accountability can be interpreted as both individual accountability, prosecuting people but also, collective accountability, and
that's what our committee is trying to do.
What do we need to do to fortify democratic institutions so that we don't face another coup attempt or another insurrection like this or if we do, we
will be able to rebuff it?
AMANPOUR: Well, this is what you said, slightly more chilling than being able to rebuff it. But this is what you said about all the chatter about
whether Trump will come back in 2024. Let's just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RASKIN: President Trump declared his conduct totally appropriate. So, he gets back into office and it happens again, we'll have no one to blame but
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that's a pretty stark statement. No one to blame for ourselves. And right now, I know you're in Congress but the Senate, very
likely won't pass this very important set of voting rights, you know, bills that could, you know, shore up democracy and the elections. You know, it
doesn't look good.
How is that possible that President Trump -- President Biden's allies, his Democratic allies could cost him this very important and cost the nation
this very important legislation?
RASKIN: Well, and, of course, we passed that out of the House. It's in the Senate. We do have a majority prepared to vote for it in the Senate, but we
don't need a majority, we need 60 votes. We need a super majority because of the filibuster. And what we have now in our country is a commanding
majority on the side of democracy, on the side of moving forward and on the side of progress.
Remember, even Hillary beat Trump by more than 3 million votes. And then, Joe Biden beat him by 7.5 million votes. And the young people are
registering overwhelmingly Democratic. But what they've got is the manipulation of every lever of anti-democratic power. So, the filibuster,
they thrive on to stop voting rights legislation. And the voter suppression statutes in the states to keep people from voting, the gerrymandering of
our congressional and state legislative districts in order to stack the deck against the majority.
Right-wing judicial activism, after packing the courts, that's the struggle in our country. They have a bag of tricks versus the clear will of the
majority, and that's the struggle we're in and it is the fight of our lives and it continues to this very day.
You know, we had the most sweeping bipartisan vote to convict a president in U.S. history. There have only been four presidential impeachment trials,
Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, Trump one and Trump two. This was by far the most bipartisan majority vote, 57 of 43. But Donald Trump still beat the
constitutional spread. We were 10 votes short of the two-thirds we needed. If we had gotten 10 more Republican votes, we would not be in the situation
we're in. But this is it. And so, we need to go out and to organize and to make sure that the majority gets to rule in our country.
AMANPOUR: And if I could just -- because you've read it out before and you've written about it, you have your son's suicide note, and you look at
it every single day. It's in your dresser and you see it every day and he says, please forgive me. My illness won today. Look after each other. The
animals and the global poor for me. All my love, Tommy.
There is so much in there. What does it mean to you? What do you get out of that every single morning?
RASKIN: Well, recently, I've been focused on the last three words of his text, all my love, because Tommy is someone who gave all of his love, as
much as he could, every single day to the world, to his friends, to his family, to his students when he was teaching, to his teachers, and we owe
the world nothing less than all our love. So, I'm going to be fighting with all my love for our democracy, for my family, for my constituents, for my
AMANPOUR: Jamie Raskin, Congressman, thank you very much indeed. And your book "Unthinkable."
So, of course, if you or anyone you know is suffering and is in need of help in the U.S., you can call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide
Prevention line. And it provides confidential support, of course. And anyone outside the United States, a worldwide director of resources and
international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. And of course, you can turn to Befrienders and to your
friends and family, wherever they might be.
Turning now to the power of big tech. Amazon is the second most trusted institution in the United States, trailing only the military, according to
Georgetown and New York University's recent poll. But with such influence, how is it reshaping America? That is the subject of a new book from the
award-winning journalist, Alec MacGillis in "Fulfillment: America in the Shadow of Amazon."
MacGillis examines the company's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the country. And here he is speaking to Hari Sreenivasan
about his new book and what's behind that easy one click purchase.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Alec MacGillis, thanks so much for joining us.
Now, there are a lot of books out there about what it's like to work inside an Amazon warehouse or what the experience is for employees or even how a
package gets to your house. But you're using this time, really, almost to take a look at, well, America and how it's changing through the lens of
Amazon. Why did you do that?
ALEC MACGILLIS, AUTHOR, "FULFILLMENT: AMERICA IN THE SHADOW OF AMAZON": Because over the last 10 years or so as a national political reporter, I
was traveling around the country and I was just scrolling increasingly worried and aware of these growing disparities, regional disparities in
We've always had richer and poorer places, of course, but the gap between what I call sort of win or take all cities and left behind places this
America has gotten a lot, lot wider in recent years and has had a big effect on our politics, was a big reason why Donald Trump got elected. And
I wanted to write a book that got at those disparities and why they're so unhealthy for our country, and got at it in a deep kind of narrative kind
And at the frame that I chose to use to tell the stories of those disparities was Amazon. I use Amazon as a kind of lens onto the country,
showing the role that the big tech giant like that is playing and exacerbating these inequalities and these gaps that are really so -- just
such a big role for factor and why things have sort of kind of unravel politically in America.
SREENIVASAN: Look, there are a lot of these changes that were happening between the coasts and the heartland, so to speak, that happened before
Amazon. So, why look at it through this lens? What did Amazon do to these changes? Did it add fuel to them?
MACGILLIS: It did. And to put it very kind of crudely, what you've seen with the tech giants, not just Amazon but also Google and Facebook and some
of the others is that you have a lot of commerce and business activity and this commercial life that used to be dispersed all around the country in
different sectors that has now kind of hoovered, kind of sucked into the cities where those companies are based.
We've seen it happen in media, my business, our business where you've had media ad revenue that used to be spread all around the country, in both
newspapers and TV and radio, now being increasingly kind of drawn into Silicon Valley where Google and Facebook are based, two companies that now
control the vast majority of digital ad revenue in this country.
So, you've seen that happen in media and then you've seen it happen in retail where you used to have retail commercial life spread all around the
country, both in terms of, you know, big chains, mom and pops, regional department stores, all this activity that now, as we've shifted more and
more to e-commerce, so much of that wealth and prosperity in that sector has been just kind of hoovered into a city like Seattle where Amazon is
bases or Washington, D.C., where Amazon is now building a second headquarters.
SREENIVASAN: You know, one of Amazon's defenses is going to be, listen, we are one of the most trusted institutions in America, Democrats and
Republicans who don't agree on much agree that they have faith in us, that, frankly, we wouldn't have earned this trust if it wasn't for the fact that
we did our jobs. We deliver people what they want very easily and quickly. So, what's the cost here?
MACGILLIS: Well, it's absolutely true. We have these surveys, these remarkable surveys showing just how high Amazon ranks as a sort of admired
trusted institution in American life. And what's striking about that is that, that they ranked highest, actually, among Democrats. So, you have
this very interesting tension where Democrats, you know, broadly defined, rank and file Democrats, liberals in America, are actually even more kind
of fond and dependent on this company and it actually become more so -- even more so in the past year or two during the pandemic where Democrats,
as we know, took a much more cautious approach, certainly, to COVID and were much more likely to buy things online, to sort of hunker down and kind
of exist in a one click kind of way with other (INAUDIBLE) sort of delivered to them. And so, it actually became even more aligned on Amazon.
At the same time, you have Democrats, some Democrats in Washington, elsewhere who are very worried about Amazon's growing dominance and people
like Lina Khan, who President Biden just recently appointed to chair of Federal Trade Commission, Elizabeth Warren and others who really see Amazon
and the other tech giants as becoming the new monopolies of our time and believe that something has to be done.
And what my book seeks to -- one of the things my book seeks to do is to show that consumer who has become very reliant on Amazon in recent years,
to show them the reality of what's behind that easy one click, whether it's the really, really tough conditions in the warehouses or all the tax
avoidance that the company does and the effects that has on the local fabric being weakened or the effect on small businesses that are now losing
more and more of their business and their profits to Amazon. The book really seeks to show you what lies behind it all.
But it's true, the reliance has grown considerably, the consumer dependence has grown considerably these last couple of years.
SREENIVASAN: I also wonder, as you point out, now with this administration in place and Lina Khan heading the FTC and certain comments that President
Biden has made, is there going to be a change in whether and how we regulate Amazon?
MACGILLIS: There's a lot of discussion now and real movement in Washington, both on the legislative side, in Congress where you have some
bills moving through the House right now that would, in various ways, break up or rein in the tech giants. And then, you have -- also on the regulatory
side, you have Lina Khan and some others in the administration taking a very close look, really scrutinizing these new quasi monopolies or
monopolies and what can be done about them.
But you hit on a very important point about the fact that they have now -- these companies have now become so central in our lives, they actually have
(INAUDIBLE) utilities and that's -- it's one reason that one of the approaches being contemplated, there's sort of two different avenues being
contemplated for dealing with this dominance now.
One is to somehow break them up. And there are arguments for doing that. But it's tricky because they've gotten so big and so central to our lives
that it's almost hard to imagine life without Google, life without Facebook.
Still, other approaches being contemplated are to actually treat them as we treat utilities and take what's called a common carrier approach to them
where their acceptance, their dominance in our life is accepted as a fact just the way the railroads or the telecom or an earlier era were accepted
as a fact as just things that -- or have become essentially like utilities. And so, we accept their dominance and then, we regulate them heavily. We
actually start to treat them as we would the water utility or the rail or other facets of life that are just now basically unavoidable, in a sense.
And so, that's the other approach that could be taken.
SREENIVASAN: One of the interesting things about your book is it also almost chronicles the role and power of labor. I mean, here's the second
largest employer in America with close to a million employees. Most of them working in warehouse jobs for an hourly wage. And yet, still no
unionization. I mean, most famously, there was an effort in Bessemer -- at the Bessemer plant which failed. And now, it's going back up for a vote and
employees there are going to have another chance to vote. Do you think that that vote will change because the company says, we're looking forward to
MACGILLIS: The fact is that the laws in our country have, for decades now been -- the deck has now been so slanted against labor organizing, that it
makes it really tough to organize in the private sector. There's so much that a company like Amazon can do -- can legally do to exert pressure on
workers and dissuade them against organizing.
That said, this fight matters a lot. And this really is -- as you mentioned, Amazon is now second largest employer in the country, they'll
probably soon surpass Walmart to be the largest one. This -- when you talk about sort of the conditions of working in modern America and contemporary
America, this is where it's at, the warehouse has become the new site of massive employment. It really is the -- it has replaced, in the sense, the
factory or shopping mall as the place where you go to get a job. If you just need a job, you don't have specialized training or college degree,
you're going to go -- you go to a warehouse to get that job.
And so, lifting up workers in those warehouses is going to be such a major part of sort of improving the life of working-class America generally.
SREENIVASAN: Amazon often pushes back with the idea that, hey, you know what, we're paying $15 an hour minimum. That is something that unions have
not been able to deliver in several places. Certainly, the national -- there has been no national minimum wage increase in a long time. So, why
pick on us? Why are we the problem? If we are the second largest employer, look at the good that we're doing.
MACGILLIS: A couple of points in response to that, and that's absolutely one of the things I heard from Amazon when I spoke to them for the book.
Many jobs -- many, many jobs have been created by Amazon, absolutely. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs in this past year or two alone to handle
this surge of orders that we all sent to the company.
But one always has to remember the broader context of those new jobs. The fact is that there's been a whole swath of jobs lost with the shift to e-
commerce. One of the biggest areas of job loss in this country, much more so than by fellow newspaper reporters or coal miners has been brick and
mortal retail, just hundreds if not millions of jobs lost in that sector.
And so, these Amazon warehouse jobs are in a sense replacing another form of retail work. The -- and we should note, replacing it with a form of
retail work that is often much more strenuous, much more socially isolating than the job of the department store clerk needs to be.
The -- on the pay, absolutely, Amazon has been forced in this tight labor market to raise its starting wages. In some places, it's now -- it's up to
$18 an hour for the warehouse jobs because they really have to compete for workers. The fact of the matter is though, that the reality of those jobs
is still bleak. And we know how bleak it is not only through books and reporting like mine and others but also the basic fact that the turnover of
this has jobs is extraordinary. The turnover is so high.
Most of these warehouses have 100 percent turnover in the course of a year. That suggests that this work is still not what we would hope to be -- not
what we consider a good job that someone wants to stay at with a career around if they're leaving those jobs that quickly. And in fact, Amazon
actually encourages that high turnover because the more they turn workers over, the less likely they are to build solidarity and organize.
SREENIVASAN: Alec, just so I have it on the record here, when your book came out last year, Amazon's a statement was, that it has been a positive
force in the U.S. economy creating 400,000 much needed jobs last year alone. The truth is, this is their quote, that Amazon has helped lift
communities across this country with industry leading pay and benefits including a starting wage of at least $15 an hour and invested billions in
COVID related initiatives to keep employees safe and deliver for our communities.
You also tell some poignant human stories to try to help illustrate all of this. One is a guy named Bill who worked at a factory in that Baltimore
area early on. And then, here he is decades later now working at an Amazon warehouse. Tell us a little bit about Bill Badoni Jr (ph).
MACGILLIS: One of the people I spent a lot of time with is Bill Bodani (ph) who worked for decades in the Bethlehem Steel Mill here outside of
Baltimore, largest steel mill in the world. Had all of these different jobs there, often very dangerous jobs. He got injured a few times, but he found
such purpose and meaning in the work and camaraderie. He really, really liked the work. That's why he stayed with it for 30, 35 years.
He then went -- the mill got shut down. He retired when the mill shut down. Then eventually, a few years later, had go to back to work because he lost
his pension. He pensions slashed, so he had to go back to work. He goes back to work at the Amazon warehouse that was built on the exact same piece
of land that used to hold this great steel mill.
He goes for less than half as much money as he was working -- as he was making at the steel mill. He feels -- has none of the purpose and sense of
camaraderie that he had on the old job, which is completely different kind of existence. And so, I used his story to sort of show you that the
transformation of working America and what it looks like in a very human way. He ends up just barely lasting a couple of years at that new job.
He's driving a forklift. He's under such pressure to deliver more and more palettes on his forklift. He doesn't have enough time to go to the
bathroom. He's an older guy, he needs to go to the bathroom a fair amount. Finally, a few times, he has go into the corner of the warehouse, park his
forklift and, you know, go quickly behind the forklift and hope he won't get caught, completely undignified, completely different sort of life than
he had when he was actually making things at the steel mill on the exact same piece of land.
SREENIVASAN: Give us an idea of how much power a company like Amazon has on Capitol Hill.
MACGILLIS: Oh, just extraordinary level of power. And it goes beyond just lobbies. And Amazon now has second or third largest spending on lobbying --
federal lobbying in the entire country. So, you have that core presence. But then, it goes beyond that.
You have -- Amazon that has now -- is one of the great sort of overlooked stories in recent years that I try to get at in fulfillment, Amazon has
grown its presence in Washington, D.C. so much, not just through lobbying but all other sorts of ways.
The -- Jeff Bezos, of course, bought the "Washington Post" some years ago. So, he owns the newspaper. He has -- the company has massive federal
contracts to -- all so much of -- Amazon has this whole other arm of the company that beyond selling stuff they also run so much of the Cloud, you
know, where the data centers that all of our -- so much of our digital life now runs through and Amazon has all these contracts with the CIA and other
branches of the federal government to run its Cloud operations. So, you have that presence in Washington.
You have the -- now, you have the second headquarters that Amazon is building right across the Potomac from Washington to Northern Virginia. You
have the enormous mansion that Jeff Bezos bought some years ago, that's biggest mansion in Washington, D.C. that he's turned into a kind of salon,
a sort of VIP salon to bring everyone together. And, again, exert kind of soft power in the city.
So, Amazon's presence in the seat of our federal government has become enormous in all sorts of ways, and that's not an accident. The company
knows that its biggest threat right now is not so much corporate competition, these are faces so little corporate competition, it's biggest
threat is the threat of federal intervention.
So, if you build up the soft power in Washington, then Amazon becomes no longer the big scary tech company but just the company that employs the
nice guy who lives next door and -- or you see at your daughter's soccer games, you're much less likely to feel that this is a -- you know, a big
scary giant that needs to be broken up.
SREENIVASAN: Alec MacGillis, the author of "Fulfillment: America in the Shadow of Amazon" and also a reporter at ProPublica, thanks so much for
MACGILLIS: Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the power of the tech giant is, of course, undeniable.
And finally, tonight, a formidable woman proving that age is just a number. For the first time in 60 years, the American concert pianist, Ruth
Slenczynska, is set to release a new album just weeks after her 97th birthday. "My Life in Music" illustrates Ruth's personal and musical
journey thus far.
Born in California to Polish parents, her journey has included playing for U.S. Presidents Hoover, Kennedy, Carter and Reagan. She also once played a
duet with President Truman. Hailed as the greatest living prodigy since Mozart, she's the last living student of Sergei Rachmaninoff. A partnership
that began after the legendary pianist was unable to perform, leaving nine- year-old Ruth to take his place. We leave you with her 1963 tribute to Rachmaninoff.
Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.