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Interview With 'Novaya Gazeta' Co-Founder Dmitry Muratov; Interview With Former International Criminal Court President Chile Eboe-Osuji. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 04, 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: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city. It is
And we are in a hotel room with blackout curtains, a nighttime curfew, and blackout all over this city.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes in Atlanta.
We are having some communication difficulties with Christiane Amanpour in Kharkiv. We are going to be getting back to her as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, I will continue for her.
Graphic images of horror shaking the world, bodies lying in the streets of Bucha, and a mass grave as well. President Zelenskyy had this to say:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): These are war crimes. And they will be recognized by the world as genocide. You are
here, and you can see what happened.
We know that thousands of people killed and tortured, teared limbs, raped women and killed children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Yes, we're still trying to get back to Christiane Amanpour in Kharkiv.
That is a place where people, like people all over the world, are horrified by the scenes of apparently executed civilians on the streets of Bucha. Its
mayor says as many as 300 people might be buried in a mass grave as well.
ITN correspondent Dan Rivers visited Bucha and heard firsthand distressing accounts of rape and mass executions. A warning: Some of what you're about
to see, you might find disturbing. Here is his report.
DAN RIVERS, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): At the gateway to Bucha in Gostomel, there are the mangled remains of Russian vehicles and the blown
bridge which marks the extent of their advance.
And near nearby, the burnt bodies of soldiers killed here by a Ukrainian counteroffensive, gruesome sentinels to a battlefield in which dated
Russian machinery was pitted against the latest Western-supplied anti-tank weapons.
And this was the result, a rewriting of the orthodoxy about Russia's perceived military strength. Some of the Russians who sought to occupy this
commuter town near Kyiv will probably never leave, thanks to one man's war. The remains may never be repatriated or possibly even identified.
(on camera): This is the most potent symbol of the Russian defeat here in Bucha, a street choked with the charred remains of their tanks and armored
vehicles. Now they have gone, we're beginning to get a fuller picture of the terrible toll inflicted on the civilian population here.
(voice-over): War in all its grotesque brutality has turned the streets into a hell from which there is no triumph.
Massacres of Ukrainian men has been uncovered by the army here. The war crimes committed here mark a bleak new low in this conflict, described by
Ukraine as the most outrageous atrocity of the 21st century.
There isn't just one site where massacres occurred. The true picture here is only just emerging. This man in Gostomel tells me about the rape and
dismemberment of a young woman at the hands of two Chechen soldiers. He says they just slaughtered her like a lamb, but adds he took his revenge
with other local men, killing them both.
For the civilians like Maxym Skripnik caught between the two sides, there was little to do but pray for deliverance.
(on camera): Describe what it was like, the bombardment. I mean, describe how it felt to you.
MAXYM SKRIPNIK, BUCHA RESIDENT: It was terrible. It was completely terrible. Near my car was exploded three mines.
DAN RIVERS (voice-over): Some of the dead were buried by their neighbors close to the shattered remains of their homes.
This is where Ina lies, hit by a shell, her grave adorned with food and drink her relatives would have traditionally shared at her funeral, but her
son has been unable to reach the town to grieve for his mother.
But many more were hastily interred without headstones or even identification. Here, it's believed 280 people were buried in mass graves,
one row for Ukrainians, one for Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is horrible. We survived this. They were shelling us. I cannot find words to describe what we lived
DAN RIVERS: This family appear to have escaped unscathed after days in a bunker. Antinyalno Deema's (ph) father was detained by the Russians and
never seen again.
As he swings, he says: "If the bad men come back, I will stamp on them."
There seems little chance now of the Russians fighting their way back into these towns, but the legacy of their brief reign of terror will never be
HOLMES: Dan Rivers reporting there.
And we do have Christiane back now from Kharkiv -- so, over to you in that badly, badly damaged city.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. Michael, thank you. We will try and do our next interview, and, if not, over to you. We will get this story out tonight.
My guest is Chile Eboe-Osuji.
HOLMES: All right, we have lost Christiane again.
I will pick it up. We are going to speak now to the former president of the International Criminal Court, Chile Eboe-Osuji.
Thanks so much for being with us. Apologies for the technical difficulties.
From Christiane's report in Kharkiv, they visited the site of a Russian strike, a short drive from the hotel where they are now and under curfew.
A warning, though: I do want to show some of the images that you're about to see. They are graphic. Let's have a look. All right, let's discuss some
of the things that -- have been seeing, I mean, these atrocities in Bucha, also elsewhere, Human Rights Watch documenting specific cases of what they
regard as war crimes.
If you were running the case, what charges would you bring, from what you have seen? And how do you pursue it?
CHILE EBOE-OSUJI, FORMER PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: Well, in international criminal law, there's something you call criminal intent or
Probable cause means when you have seen something that every human being with intelligence would see as suggesting that a crime has been committed.
And that's what you see there. Then that leads you to now dig in to the investigation to try and find out who exactly did this.
So, that is what needs to happen now. And, as you know, that's the International Criminal Court's prosecutor, Mr. Karim Khan Q.C., is -- has
taken on this case. I also understand that the Ukrainian prosecutors are also investigating. And I also understand that the European Union has
pledged support to help with the investigation.
These are very, very horrid stories and pictures we are seeing. We have seen these in many wars. And we were hoping that we wouldn't be seeing
these sorts of thing anymore, but here we are in 2022.
HOLMES: One of the major difficulties when it comes to war crimes and proving war crimes is chain of responsibility.
How difficult is that to show? You see the bodies. You see the crimes. How do you find out who was responsible?
EBOE-OSUJI: It is what the investigation is really all about.
At some level, if there is evidence to show that orders -- first of all, those who committed the crimes, the apparent crimes, on the ground bear
responsibility for them, one. And, secondly, even though -- the people who are not on the ground, as in commanders and superiors, can also bear
responsibility for the crimes if there is evidence that they gave orders for that kind of conduct to be carried out in that way.
Or, even if they did not give the order for the conduct to be carried out in that way, if they had reason to believe evidence, information leading
them to see that their troops are committing those crimes, they have an obligation to suppress those crimes or punish those who committed them.
Failing to carry out those obligations imports criminal responsibility on the commanders themselves. So, it's not enough to say you are at a remote
location or you are not on the ground. But you are the commander who sent people to these things and created the danger, you have an obligation to
stop crimes being committed by your troops when you have information leading you to suspect that crimes are being committed.
HOLMES: How far up the chain can you go, though?
I mean, we have had the U.S. president says that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. I was speaking to -- when I was in Ukraine last month, I spoke to
a war crimes expert there, who said that Vladimir Putin, in many ways, with his own words has implicated himself in war crimes, and that an indictment
should not be impossible. What's your read?
EBOE-OSUJI: Taking it from your first questions, say, how far up can you go, you will go as far up as the evidence takes you, as the evidence leads
you, to the extent that someone gave that kind of order or instruction, one.
Secondly, I can go as far up as the chain of command if the chain of command heard reason to believe that their troops are committing those
crimes, if they're given information everyone is seeing.
So, yes, you can go as far up, as high up as the evidence takes you, as far as the information takes you. Now, these descriptions of Mr. Putin as a war
criminal, that question, Mr. Biden asking -- calling him that, of course, it is an interesting development.
The question is, what do we do about it? Is that supposed to be an indication of a resolve now to bring accountability to bear, or they just
political statements? If they are political statements, I'm not interested in them.
But if there is a commitment to say, wow, we do see evidence or reason to believe that crimes have been committed, then let's go after those who have
committed them, regardless of how high up they are, even if they're heads of state or president, then that is what -- consistent with international
law as we have it.
But, you see, at some point that we have to ask ourselves, where -- what do we do, as humanity, as international community, as these things keep
happening over and over again? Are we now proposed -- resolved, rather, from the presidency of the United States to all the leaders of the European
countries, are they now resolved to tighten international law so that we can constrain the space for impunity of this kind?
By doing that, we mean there's a gap in the Rome Statutes that makes it difficult to -- for instance, to go up to the Russian hierarchy, who
unleashed a war of aggression. And a war of aggression is a crime, is -- in international law.
There is a gap in the Rome Statute that puts that leadership beyond reach of the ICC. Are we now prepared to close that gap? The gap was deliberate,
by the way. It was not an accident. And we now prepared to say, from this experience, we're going to amend the Rome Statute and make it more
difficult for people to escape impunity?
Are we now prepared to say that we now will adopt a covenant on the right to peace, so that, after all is said and done, all these victims and their
relatives who have been victims of these atrocities can pursue their own claim for reparation, regardless of any deals on the side that the leaders
may make to conclude this war?
So these are ways that we can ensure this doesn't happen in future, but we're not there yet.
HOLMES: Yes. Yes.
Despite what President Zelenskyy says, President Biden and most around the world, most leaders won't label the situation in Bucha genocide. I mean,
what is your view? From what you have seen, do you think that genocide was committed in Bucha and elsewhere, for that matter?
EBOE-OSUJI: You have to have -- it depends on the evidence of the intent of those who -- the evidence -- mind you here, for genocides to happen, you
don't need kill six million people or 800,000 people, as was the case in Rwanda.
The case law of international law now tells you that you can kill a few people, and that will be genocide, if there's intent to destroy the group
that the victim belonged -- that intends to destroy that group in whole or in part.
If you have that evidence, and then you commit killing of members of that group in order to destroy the group, you have yourself a serious case of
So, killing 20 people can indeed amount to genocide, if there is intent to destroy the group to which they belong in whole or in part.
HOLMES: You have Russian officials already and unsurprisingly -- it is part of their toolkit in a way -- they're claiming that the pictures coming
out of Bucha are fake, despite what people are seeing with their own eyes.
The foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, called the report stage-managed anti- Russian provocation. How should investigators looking into possible war crimes respond to Russia's allegations on that front?
EBOE-OSUJI: Well, the investigators ought to hunker down and ignore all the noise. And, usually, at times like this, you have all kinds of noise
The investigators, it is their job to bear down and pin down the evidence of what happened here, what the pictures may not have shown you and other
things that they could piece together from circumstantial evidence, as well as direct evidence. So, they have to just dig deep and get to the bottom of
HOLMES: You know, it's interesting, because Russia, the United States and Ukraine aren't signatories to the ICC. I mean, if rational authorities were
found guilty of war crimes by the court, the U.N. Security Council would be responsible for enforcement, wouldn't it?
I mean, and Russia has veto power over Security Council decisions. What are the limits here in what could be done to hold those accountable?
EBOE-OSUJI: First of all, Ukraine is not yet a member of the ICC. And Russia is not as well.
Ukraine has -- though not a member, Ukraine has declared a willingness to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. And that's another way in which the
case can come to the ICC.
But to your larger question about the Security Council, that is part of what I was saying when I say there's a gap in the Rome Statute.
There are two things here. The -- for war crimes, the war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of genocide, I will take them as separate
from the crime of aggression. Aggression in the Rome Statute is treated differently. I will get to that in a minute.
But for the other crimes, the other three, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, it is possible to prosecute even Russians who are found
to have committed those crimes on the territory of Ukraine...
HOLMES: Right. Right.
EBOE-OSUJI: ... because it happened on the territory of Ukraine.
Now, aggression, the war of aggression, or the crime of aggression is a different ball game.
EBOE-OSUJI: Because that -- or the leading powers in the United Nations, five of them, pushed against have -- giving the ICC unfettered jurisdiction
to prosecute the crime of aggression.
So, they pushed to give the Security Council control over that crime...
EBOE-OSUJI: ... when ICC is prosecuting it.
The result was to now have a scenario where, in the Rome Statute, it is written that the court cannot exercise jurisdiction over the crime of
aggression in respect of a citizen of a non-state party to the Rome Statute.
EBOE-OSUJI: And Russia is not a state party to the Rome Statute -- rather, or the territory of the non-state party, of course. We're not talking about
Russian territory now. We're talking about Ukraine and the citizens of Russia vis-a-vis the crime of aggression.
EBOE-OSUJI: And the ICC cannot get at them.
So, that is the problem with the Security Council, unless the Security Council refers it. And that's where the problem is. If the Security -- the
only way you get around that is, if the Security Council refers that situation to the ICC, then the ICC can have jurisdiction.
But we know that the Security Council will not refer this situation to the ICC, because Russia will veto it.
It is a complicated and long process.
Former President of the ICC Chile Eboe-Osuji, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. Thank you.
EBOE-OSUJI: You're welcome. Thank you.
HOLMES: And to Christiane's report from Kharkiv, where she visited the site of a Russian strike a short drive from her hotel, which, as we said,
is now under curfew.
A warning: Some of the images you're about to see are graphic.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Here in Kharkiv, former Ukrainian capital, second biggest city and one of the most important cultural sites, the great 19th
century poet Taras Shevchenko is hunkering down for the rest of this war.
Workers cover him in sandbags against the kind of destruction that's pounded this city center since the start. The most spectacular strike was
this one a month ago. A Russian missile slams low and hard straight into the corner of the regional administration building.
(on camera): The missile struck right here. And the idea of hitting a building like this is to deny the legitimacy of the state. But the terror
against civilians continues playground by playground, mall by mall, park bench by park bench.
(voice-over): Which is what we find in this residential neighborhood. People were sitting outside chatting on a Sunday afternoon. Kids were
playing. We find the telltale pattern of a mortar that landed right here.
Authorities say seven people were killed in this neighborhood. Many more were injured. Kharkiv sits 40 miles from the Russian border. It is the last
major city before Donbass, where Russia is directing its war effort to the east. Just last week, the nearby village of Mala Rohan was liberated from
This civilian says he was captured and held.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was taken hostage. And they took me to the officer for interrogation. The officer said: "You are a
No, I am a civilian. See all my documents, my registration. I live here. I came just to ask, don't shoot at our houses.
AMANPOUR: When dusk falls, children are outside playing and getting the last bit of fresh air before descending underground into one of the
capital's many subway stations. After 40 days of war, they have turned their temporary homes into a neighborhood. Some have even decorated with
Xena says she's been living down here since the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, this is my house.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This used to be my house. Now we cannot live here, obviously, because it has been bombed three times in a row.
AMANPOUR: But this is a safe space for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: And for the kids?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Kids do what kids do, homework and handicrafts. Even this is organized. Marina works for an organization that plans ways to
keep the children busy, entertained, and their minds off the trauma.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here, we are equipped the playing grounds, this place for kids, where they can play with toys, with trackers, make puzzles and to
do the things they did in their usual life before the war.
AMANPOUR: But the trauma is never far away, as we found in this underground station, where civil defense are teaching kids how to protect
themselves, how to recognize weapons and ordnance, and to remember never to touch.
The adults are shown how to protect themselves in case of a chemical weapons attack. Even this maternity hospital was damaged in a mortar
strike. Now the basement has been turned into a shelter and delivery room, if necessary. Birth, life continues.
We met Alina 30 minutes after she had delivered baby Yaroslava.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, she's my first daughter.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Your first daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
AMANPOUR: Your first child?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As we are leaving, she tells us: "I love my country. I love my daughter, my family, my husband." And in the delirium of
new motherhood, she says: "Everything will be great for us."
HOLMES: Christiane reporting there.
Well, now the Kremlin's propaganda machine, of course, operating in overdrive, cracking down on any reporting that dares tell the truth about
Russian journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov has spent decades dedicated to reporting the facts as founder and editor of the
independent newspaper "Novaya Gazeta." But now Moscow's mounting reporting restrictions are making it impossible to work and the paper is temporarily
He joined me earlier from Moscow.
HOLMES: Dmitry Muratov, thank you so much for joining us.
I want to get your reaction, first of all, to these horrific images we have been seeing, most recently from Bucha. Your paper in normal times would
have been all over this story. But given the harsh new censorship laws passed in Russia since this war began, you have closed operations. And,
indeed, are you even able to speak freely now about such things?
DMITRY MURATOV, CO-FOUNDER, "NOVAYA GAZETA" (through translator): I can speak freely about anything.
And, unfortunately, our paper cannot do that at the moment. We were forced to stop our edition exactly one week and two hours ago, because the
military censorship introduced restrictions on us.
But our misfortune cannot be compared to the misfortune of the Ukrainian people. It is impossible to look at the photos from Mariupol, Melitopol,
Bucha, Gostomel, and other Ukrainian cities. This will become a huge case study of dictatorship, of what dictatorship means.
HOLMES: Russia is shifting its military focus now away from Kyiv, as we know, and the north of the country generally, heading towards the east and
the south to consolidate.
Some U.S. officials are saying that's perhaps in order to claim some sort of victory in time for that big annual military parade on May 9. Do you
believe that's what Putin wants, to claim victory, at least in the east of the country by then?
MURATOV (through translator): I would like to respond to this question calmly and in more detail.
The thing is that, for President Putin, the victory that is important to him is to win in terms of the claims that the Russian negotiating team is
putting across to Ukraine. But those claims may coincide with what Zelenskyy wants.
President Zelenskyy wants to preserve his state and his nation. And during these negotiations, I think the positions on a non -- a nuclear-free status
and a nonaligned status that is outside NATO for Ukraine may be acceptable.
And I am hoping very much that, with this huge anti-war movement in Russia and the anti-war movement in the world, it would be possible to agree an
end to the extermination of people, cities, lands, children, and harvest.
HOLMES: How does Putin say to his people that Russia won this war, given what we have seen on the ground in terms of Ukrainian gains? How does he
tell the Russian people he won? And would they believe him?
MURATOV (through translator): Let's talk about beliefs.
I think everybody should understand by now that, for about 20 years, Russian people are an object of a huge experiment. It's a fantastic
experiment called total propaganda. It's the same as radiation.
You know, as a journalist, I covered the Chernobyl nuclear station, and I know that radiation penetrates everything, and different people respond,
react to it differently. Twenty years of being ere radiated with propaganda, that's what Russian citizens have been subjected to for 20
years. And I can tell you that this propaganda has won a victory, but not over everyone.
So we obviously have a split, a division in society between those who reject war as a political solution and between those who always believe the
government in power. This division is stunning. We have never had such a division since the 20th century and the civil war in Russia.
What we're dealing with is not just one war. There are two wars going on. One is happening in Ukraine and the other here. This is the division in
society. And anyone who thinks that all of Russia approves of the special military operation in Ukraine, then that is all of Russia, that is not
true. Even according to the Kremlin's official estimates, 25 million are against it.
According to our estimates, about half the country, those who refuse to be zombies, that half of the country is for peace --
HOLMES: Yes, if --
MURATOV (through translator): -- and against war.
HOLMES: Understood. If it is half of the country, how are they going to be heard then? I mean, how do they get their point of view, their feeling
about this war over to Mr. Putin?
MURATOV (through translator): Thank you. This is a really good and important question. You see, in Russia independent media have been
practically eliminated in Russia. A lot of the media have been declared foreign agents or undesirable organizations. In fact, for over a year, just
like preparations for the operation in Ukraine or in preparation for the war in Ukraine -- for the operation of Ukraine, they were trying to destroy
So, how can you convey your mood and your feelings without the media? How? There are many people here who are coming out in the street with posters
and signs. They wear t-shirts with stars on them, with three letters and five letters. That's to say, no to war. They're arrested. 15,000 people
have been arrested and punished for coming out into the streets of their cities.
And I want to tell you that all European politicians, your President Trump, your previous president -- your former president, they all put up with the
regime that was in Russia. It was convenient. And to blame the people of Russia or to hold them responsible for what is happening, that would --
HOLMES: Going back to your newspaper, you founded Novaya Gazeta in 1993. I mean, your work earned you a Nobel Prize. How does it feel -- how did it
feel to close it down, even if it is temporarily, I mean, how did that feel to you?
HOLMES (through translator): We know what we're doing. Soon, we will open a new YouTube channel. If the Google people don't close it. We have
auctioned a medal, see, this is the Nobel Medal. And it will be sold at the Heritage Auction, in one of the best New York museums, I hope for a lot of
money in aid of Ukrainian refugees and those who are in Europe and those who are -- who have arrived in Russia. We are prepared to receive to -- and
this will happen tomorrow, to receive several print shops from the (INAUDIBLE) Norwegian concern. This is a very generous gift. And we believe
we will be able to continue.
We know that it is very important to explain, especially through my beloved CNN, I want to explain that there are a lot of people who are not
accountable for the actions of Putin and the government. They are not responsible for this. But they are -- they are now suffering because of the
shortage of medication. These are cancer patients, children who need bone marrow transplants. And, you know, there are children who need a bone
marrow transplant. They only have 12 hours from the point when bone marrow is harvested and transplanted, only 12 hours. Not a single plane can fly
into Russia in 12 hours because flights are canceled.
So, I think all the sanctions need not apply to people who can die -- who are sick and can die. And this is also one of our responsibilities, and I
will continue to insist on this.
HOLMES: You mentioned your Nobel Prize and the fact that you will be auctioning it off to raise money, which is an extraordinary thing to do.
Six staff members at your newspaper have been killed since you co-founded it in 1993, and you've dedicated that Nobel Prize to those six staff
members. Many Russian journalists are now fleeing Russia, international journalists as well. Have you considered leaving Russia? How concerned are
you for your personal safety?
MURATOV (through translator): This is a question I am often asked. And I can tell you that a number of our staff have moved to other countries, and
I will not conceal this. We will probably open a large European project. A large majority of them, a huge majority are staying here. They will
continue working in Moscow. And I will remain. I will stay and work here. I am being persuaded. They -- people are talking to me and telling me to go
and leave the country. But I know that this is where we have our audience. This is where our readers are.
When we were closing the paper a week ago, our readership in one day was 40 -- almost 40 million people. I cannot leave them. I cannot leave our
audience or our staff. Next to me, I have my deputy, the head of the international section, Andrei Lipsky, and we decided to continue working
for our audience.
HOLMES: Extraordinary bravery and dedication to your craft to help the people know what is going on. We have to leave it there. Dmitry Muratov,
thank you so much for your time.
MURATOV (through translator): Thank you very much and goodbye.
HOLMES: Well, as U.S. President Joe Biden joins the chorus of those calling for a war crimes trial against Vladimir Putin, Ukraine continues to
unite an otherwise divided America. Former Republican congressman for Texas and CIA officer Will Hurd knows that division firsthand. He examines the
state of American politics in his new book "American Reboot". And he tells Walter Isaacson what the United States should do next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you. And Will Hurd, welcome to the show.
WILL HURD, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN REBOOT": Thanks for having me on. It's a pleasure to be with you.
ISAACSON: We wake up this morning to the horrible images of massacres that have happened on the outskirts of Kyiv as the Russians withdrew. As a
former CIA operative, do you think that was a deliberate tactic ordered by Vladimir Putin?
HURD: 100 percent it is. This is part of the order of war for the Russians, to strike fear in the hearts of the communities that they're
targeting. And they want those images through the rest of Ukraine to be seen so that people are afraid when forces start getting closer to those
cities and those communities. Sometimes we put our Western values as a frame of how Vladimir Putin's going to operate, and that's not the case,
right? This is about -- you know, I've been telling people that the Russians, on a scale of one to 10, they're probably out of five with the
amount of death and destruction that they're able to level.
You now, what we saw in Mariupol can happen in other cities. And that's why I'm of the opinion that the United States should be giving all the kind
of weaponry that the Ukrainians are asking for, that we should be giving that to them. Because the longer this conflict goes on, the more pressure
you're going to see on the Eastern European countries. The pressure is because we have communities living under the threat of war, the impact of
sanctions on their economies, and then a growing humanitarian crisis because of the number of Ukrainians and Belarusians that are fleeing their
homeland. And the more pressure those governments have to deal with those things, then you're going to potentially start seeing fractures within the
western alliance. I mean, that's -- that plays in the hands of Vladimir Putin.
And for me, you know, as I've written in the -- in my book, we have a very simple philosophy when it comes to what we should be doing in foreign
affairs. Our friends should love us and our enemies should fear us.
And this is one of those examples where you have -- that Ukrainians asking for more. And then you have the Russians not being afraid of us doing
anything. And that's not a very good place to be.
ISAACSON: President Biden said a week or two ago, for God's sake, this man cannot remain in power. And a lot of people thought that was a gaffe. Do
you think he was right?
HURD: I think he was right. But also, when you're President of the United States, you have to be careful about the things that you say because that
caused all of our allies to say, hey, is there a change in U.S. policy towards Ukraine? And that phrase is going to be used by the Russians to
promote within Russia. No Russian citizen wants anybody else telling them who their leader should be, even if they dislike Vladimir Putin. And so,
that goes into the information operations that Vladimir Putin is going to be using in order to try to control his country.
Putin has two goals. Goal one, stay in power, until he dies. Goal two, reestablish a territorial integrity of the USSR. And one of the ways he
does that is by using information operations, which the Russians have been perfecting for 40 years in order to make his population think that he's
doing, you know, one thing when in reality he's doing something else. The Russians are first class when it comes to using information operations, and
we have to be mindful of that so that we have to be fighting in that domain of warfare as well.
ISAACSON: Yes, but you've said that Russia will not change -- will not change unless there's a radically new form of leadership that rejects
Putin's authoritarianism. How possible do you think that is?
HURD: It's going to be hard. It's going to be hard and it's ultimately going to take time. Because the reality is, there's probably four or five
people in Russia that have any impact and any influence over Vladimir Putin. One of them is the current head of the FSB, which is the successor
organization of the KGB. And the leader of that FSB has been in that position for a couple of decades. And you saw, I think it was last week or
two weeks ago where the -- they arrested -- Russian police arrested a number of people within the FSB. Now, these were more -- they -- these
weren't the senior most folks, but it's a sign that the head of the FSB and Vladimir Putin are still in cahoots.
And so, we need to make sure that we're continuing to beam real information into Russia. You know, Russian -- Russia -- sometimes we think Russia is
like North Korea where they have zero information coming in. Russians are traveling around the world. They're seeing things, and we need to make sure
that they're understanding what's really going on in their country. There's an effort to have more VPNs, virtual private networks, so people can have
access to the real internet, not just the Russian-controlled internet so we can get more information. We need to be supporting journalists in Russia
that are actually talking about what's really going on. This is not going to be an easy thing. But Vladimir Putin is committing atrocities. I do
believe he's committing a genocide in Ukraine, and we need to try to be doing everything we can to stop him.
ISAACSON: When President Trump made the phone call to Zelenskyy and was talking about maybe holding off sending more weapons until President
Zelenskyy investigated the Biden family, you were a Republican congressman. You looked into that. You ended up not voting for the Article of
Impeachment on that. In retrospect, tell me what you think of that and how problematic it was?
HURD: Oh, I always said it was bungling foreign policy, and it shouldn't have happened. But the issue at -- during the impeachment, was whether that
was extortion. And the preconditions of extortion didn't exist. And for me, the level and the bar of impeachment was a violation of the law. I go into
a long story in the book about how my opinions on impeachment was actually formed during the Obama Administration. Because during Republican primaries
-- Republican primary voters wanted us to impeach Barack Obama. And it was like, what for? And that's where my opinion in my frame on how to evaluate
ISAACSON: Wait a minute. You're not trying to make an equivalence of anything that Obama was accused of to the things Trump was accused of?
HURD: No, I'm just using that as an example of when my opinion of impeachment came in, like what -- because there's actually 535 different
opinions on when impeachment actually is. And I'm saying, mine is a violence of law.
When it came to the Zelenskyy phone call, the issue at hand was whether it was extortion. And those issues didn't exist for extortion. But that
decision to try to withhold support to the Ukrainians was a terrible -- was a terrible decision, and it shouldn't have been even -- we should have been
giving more weapons back then.
I've been saying the same thing for -- since 2015 that we should be giving the Ukrainians more because here's what we've seen the Russians do leading
up to this. They've been perfecting cyberattacks in Ukraine. They've been using drones in how to -- you know, use drones on the battlefield. They
were using Eastern Donbas as a proving ground for tactics, techniques and procedures. Many of which we saw them use in, you know, export into places
like Syria, and we're seeing them ultimately used now.
And this is where I would say, congress actually did work when -- under the Obama Administration, when the Obama Administration didn't want to give
weapons and javelins to Ukraine, congress in a bipartisan way said, we should. When Donald Trump tried to do the same thing, congress in a
bipartisan way said, we should be supporting Ukraine. So, this is one of those things that congress actually understands what's going on there and
has the Ukrainian's backs.
ISAACSON: You -- since you've left congress and have become an expert in cybersecurity or a consultant working in the field of cybersecurity. "The
Texas Tribune" reports that some cyberattacks have happened on infrastructure. But to me, the curious thing is a dog that hasn't barked in
the night yet. We haven't seen a whole lot of attacks, cyberattacks. Why is that, or am I mistaken?
HURD: I think this administration has done a really good job when it comes to cybersecurity. Back in early December the organization responsible for -
- within the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for defending civilian infrastructure had been working with, you know, energy providers,
with all kind of critical infrastructure providers to say, hey, you know, we -- if this conflict escalates, you may be a target. They've improved
sharing of intelligence.
And so, there has been a level of preparation that I think, you know, prior to the Russians invading Ukraine. And so, I think that's been a huge
factor. Also, I think the Russian's game plan has changed significantly. And when you're unable to have the kind of successes on the battlefield
that you think you can have, you have to start spending a lot of time, energy, and attention on those type of activities, rather than doing
something that may potentially disrupt somebody's support to the person that you're fighting.
Ultimately, Russian attacks in the United States would be to sow discord and distrust and erode trust in our institutions to prevent us from helping
the Ukrainians or to prevent us from doing more and rallying the Western alliance. And so, things aren't going well for them. So, I don't think
they've been able to get to some of those operations. But they still can.
ISAACSON: In your wonderful book, the new book that just came out. There are two different chapters, one, as you said, about making sure we're
friendly with our allies. That we really support our allies, that's a key part of foreign policy. And the second chapter about how tough we have to
be on our enemies. But I noticed in those two chapters, you don't have China in either one. What do you think about China? And how we're supposed
to deal with them now, especially, when we need them, perhaps, if we're going to put sanctions on Russia?
HURD: Well, look, I believe that -- we talk about a new cold war with Russia. The new cold war is actually the Chinese government. And I say that
because the Chinese government is trying to surpass the United States as the global superpower. This is not my opinion. This is not my -- you know,
from my time in the CIA collecting intelligence. This is what the Chinese government has said about themselves in English, and they're going to do it
by being the global leader in a number of advanced technologies, like 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonic space, there's about
12 or 14 areas. Now --
ISAACSON: But wait, why do you call that a cold war? Why isn't that just a competition like businesses compete --
ISAACSON: -- and shouldn't we be competing in a -- it's not a zero-sum game.
HURD: 100 percent. And I think we can compete. You know, I'm going to always take, you know, freedom and openness and the entrepreneurship of
America over an authoritarian government. However, if you're going compete, you've got to play by the rules that have been agreed to. You know, if
China wants to be a member of the World Trade Organization, then you need to abide by the rules of the World Trade Organization. You know, stealing
technology and using it to perfect your own, attracting U.S. businesses into China, and then in essence, nationalizing them.
You know, these are some of the behaviors and the antics that we've seen from the Chinese government. Ultimately --
ISAACSON: But doesn't all of that pale totally in comparison to what Russia is doing, and don't we need to have a better alliance with China if
we're going to repel what Russia is doing? What goes way beyond stealing technology is going to genocide and massacre.
HURD: Look, I'm not saying one is better than the other. In a perfect world, working with the Chinese on dealing with Russia would be excellent.
The fact that, you know, one of the things under the last administration was working with China on North Korea. You know, that shows a -- there is a
model on how we can potentially work with the Chinese on some of these global issues. But the Chinese government has got to be interested in doing
I do believe that the U.S. and China should coexist. The difference between us and China than with us and Russia, our economies, our cultures are way
more intertwined than it ever was -- than the U.S. and the Soviet Union was, and then the U.S. and Russia is. And so, we should be working together
on some things, competing on others.
But the rule -- but they -- we need to be following the rules of the road, right? And that is -- that is where if the Chinese government shows a
willingness to do that, then that is great. But ultimately, this is a competition.
ISAACSON: In your book, you say we have a need for an American reboot, and you call yourself a pragmatic idealist. Explain why we need a reboot.
HURD: For me, we have these major generational defining challenges that I outline in the book, and we've talked a little bit about here today. But
the problem is, our political system is getting in the way from preventing us from getting big things done. We're at a point where it's 72 percent of
Americans think the country is on the wrong track, and that is something that has been growing over the last couple of years. And part of that is
because of our political systems.
Now, too many political choices are made in a primary, which means elected officials only appeal to a very -- to the extremes rather than the middle.
Almost two to six percent of the population, which is not a lot of folks, and we also have too many elected leaders that are interested in fear
mongering rather than inspiring.
ISAACSON: In your book, I want to do a quote, you say, "The party of empowerment and opportunity systematically attempts to disenfranchise
voters who are poor and nonwhite." You talk about the party, that's your party --
ISAACSON: -- the Republican Party. And the disenfranchised, that you were one of the few black Republicans in congress over the course of the past,
you know, couple of decades. Tell me about this notion that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise people, and what do you say to your own party
HURD: Well, look, and -- there are some Republicans that are going to do that, there are some that are not, that are trying to fight it, right? And
so, here is my opinion. We should be increasing the ability to vote. We should be increasing access to the vote. We should -- you know, we should
be able to register online. You should be able to register a day of. Let's make it easier for -- I -- look, if Estonia, who is on the border with
Russia, who is worried about a Russian invasion, physical invasion, as well as a digital invasion, if they can vote online, we should be able to figure
out how to do that here in the United States.
So, more people voting, the better. And -- but I also talked about how the Republican Party needs to start reflecting the rest of the country. Here's
what's going to happen in 2022, you're going to see Republicans are likely to take back the House. It's almost an accepted, you know, likelihood.
Probably going to take back the senate. You're actually going to see the number of elected officials from the Republican Party be more diverse than
it ever has been before.
Look, I'm a black Republican. I got elected in a 71 percent Latino district. Nobody thought I had a chance. When I did win, nobody thought I
would get reelected. How did I win? I went to -- I showed up to communities that had never seen someone before and talked about the things that they
care about. And when we do that, we can ultimately be successful.
ISAACSON: You talk about the need to appeal to basic American values rather than the fringes. If you thought that running for president, as a
Republican, could possibly help that cause, would you consider doing it in 2024?
HURD: I would evaluate if it -- because for me, the opportunity to help my country and get us beyond this moment, then of course I would evaluate
whether that's something I should do or not. I've been lucky to have served my country in a number of different ways. Being an undercover officer in
the CIA, recruiting spies and stealing secrets in dangerous places and exotic places all over the world was awesome.
Working on the most important national security issues of the day, serving in congress in one of the largest districts in the country, and helping
people battle the bureaucracy who needed help battle was great. And now, working with companies that are, you know, going to be instrumental in
partnering with the government in order to address many of these challenges is -- has been great.
And so, for me, I'm -- you know, I'm 44 years old. And if the opportunity to serve makes sense, then, yes, it's something I would evaluate.
ISAACSON: Will Hurd, as always, thank you so much for joining us.
HURD: My pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And that's it for now. Thanks for watching. And from me in Atlanta and Christiane in Kharkiv, goodbye for now.