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Boris Johnson Under Fire; Interview With Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Interview with Prospect Magazine Editor Alan Rusbridger; Interview with Christianity Today Public Theologian Russell Moore. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 26, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): The tears won't stop in Uvalde, Texas.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder joins me on America's unique gun problem and why his urgent call to shore up democratic rights could affect
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have been as surprised and disappointed as anyone else in this House as the revelations have unfolded.
AMANPOUR: Boris Johnson gets defensive as the full Partygate report is published and other scandals keep piling up. Is British politics rotten to
the core? I ask "The Guardian"'s former editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger.
Plus: the explosive report on sexual abuse rocking the Southern Baptist Convention, America's biggest Protestant denomination. Theologian Russell
Moore tells Michel Martin why this is not just a crisis; it's an apocalypse.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
American parents from California to Connecticut sent their kids to school today. In the back of their minds must have been the horrors of Tuesday's
child massacre in Texas. This is the very real everyday life in the United States. Who can be fully sure that their kids or their friends won't be the
next shooting victims, whether at school, a grocery store, a place of worship, or just about anywhere?
President Biden and the first lady will travel to Uvalde in the coming days to counsel these devastated families. And while there's some maneuvering in
the Senate on potential gun legislation, few believe that anything will actually come from it.
Every time this kind of disaster happens, this tweet from a British columnist seven years ago goes somewhat viral. He said: "In retrospect,
Sandy Hook marked the end of the U.S. gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over."
Eric Holder was America's attorney general at the time of the Sandy Hook shooting. It left 20 children dead, along with six of their teachers.
I asked him about grappling with this as a father and as America's highest law enforcement official and why he says America's rule of law all comes
back to voting rights.
It is the topic of his new book, "Our Unfinished March."
AMANPOUR: Attorney General Eric Holder, welcome to the program.
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: All right, thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: Well, another horribly dark time for the United States.
What must you think, not only as a father, but the top law enforcement official you were? You dealt with it in your own administration? What did
you think when you heard about Uvalde?
HOLDER: The same reaction I think that most Americans had: Oh, my God, here we go yet again.
The vast majority of the American people are for sane gun safety measures. Nothing ever gets done. The number of bodies that are counted continues to
-- continues to climb. More children have now died, which makes the crime even more horrific than it might otherwise have been.
This is a nation that is -- that has to really ask itself some fundamental questions. And we have to put ourselves in a better place when it comes to
the possession and use of guns in the United States of America.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to those fundamental questions.
But do you remember how you felt, what you remember most even today about Sandy Hook? And, of course, you visited as well.
HOLDER: Yes, that is actually both an easy and unbelievably sad question.
People ask me all the time, what was your best day as attorney general? And I'm hard-pressed to figure out what that was.
When they ask me, what was your worst day as attorney general, it was the day that I went up to Sandy Hook to meet with the first responders in the
crime scene search officers, and they took me into that classroom. And I saw the carnage that had occurred there.
I saw bloodstained walls. I saw little tufts of carpet that were picked up. And I didn't quite understand what that was. And one of the crime scene
search officers explained to me that's where the bullets had gone through the bodies of one of those little angels and had picked up the carpet.
They painted images of me -- of what their bodies looked like. People don't understand what an AR-15 or an assault rifle does to a body, especially to
the body of a child. At the end of an incident like that, the bodies are unrecognizable. The limbs are torn from the bodies themselves. It is simply
And so I remember that day as if it were yesterday. As I left, those grizzled crime scene search officers were in tears, those first responders
were in tears. I was in tears. I will never, ever forget that day.
AMANPOUR: And, Attorney General, we remember the president, Obama, also was in tears when he talked about it, that famous wiping of a tear from the
podium of the White House. And yet, yet tragically, nothing has happened.
And this tweet that circulates every time now by the British journalist that, basically, sir, once your country decided that killing children was
bearable, the whole idea of gun control and the debate was just over.
And I spoke to a former firearms executive this week who now fights this horrible, wanton proliferation of military weapons and the like, Ryan
Busse. And he said, this is exactly how the system is meant to work, from the perspective of those who keep it working like this. He said, what do
you expect if you keep throwing a lighted match into a room full of gasoline? There will be an explosion.
And, certainly, that is the case. Do you feel, again, with your attorney general hat on, that there is any way to confront this ongoing calamity?
HOLDER: Yes, there are certainly ways in which this can be confronted.
We should ban the use of these -- use and possession of these assault rifles, these weapons of war, background checks. There's a number of things
that we can do. The question is whether or not the American people, the American system is willing to make those changes.
I'm an eternal optimist. It has been 10 years since Sandy Hook, and the United States has done little or nothing to address the problem that
bedevils us as a nation. And yet I'm hopeful that, maybe this time, that, maybe this time, we will see some -- we will see some legislation, we will
see some action.
We have midterm elections that are coming up. And that, if anything, is a fortunate thing for this otherwise bad situation, where politicians can be
held to account. What is your position on these gun safety measures? Republicans, some Republicans, have already come out against them.
But this is something that I think Democrats and progressives have to press. We have to change our system. We have to save our people. We're an
outlier when you compare us to every other nation that is comparable to us. Other nations have people with mental issues. Other people have -- other
nations have people who have societal issues, and nobody sees the level of gun violence as we do here in the United States.
This has to be fixed.
AMANPOUR: Well, again, yes, I mean, there's been very little signal from the Republicans or others who support the untrammeled right to bear and use
arms that this is going to effect any change, even now, after Uvalde.
And even the Senate Judiciary Committee may be having a hard time trying to confirm President Biden's chief firearms official, ATF. And this is what
Senator Dick Durbin said about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): This is an agency which has the technical capacity to help us to solve gun crimes and to keep guns out of the hands
of people who shouldn't have them.
Do you know when the last time was that there was a head of this agency, somebody actually named to hit the agency? Seven years ago. Under the
previous president, this spot went vacant for four years. Why? Because the gun groups want it to go vacant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Attorney General, this is yet another example of how -- critics say this violence is actually how the system is meant to happen.
Even this job hasn't been filled for the last seven years.
HOLDER: Yes, the system's not meant to operate this way, but the system has been perverted by the gun lobby and by its supporters.
There has not been a head of ATF since I guess the Obama years. There is a very qualified nominee. The guy' name is Steve Dettelbach, who I know,
who's a former United States attorney in Cleveland, Ohio, and who will do a great job, and who will use the power that he has at ATF to address the
issues that we have not confronted here in the United States.
I think that we -- our leaders, our political leaders need to find the guts to do the right thing, but it's not really that difficult a search. The
vast majority of the American people are against that which the gun lobby is doing, in terms of the stranglehold on the American system.
Eighty, 90 percent of the people in this country want to have background checks; 60 percent or so want to ban the sale and possession of assault
weapons. So it's not like I'm asking people to have huge amounts of political courage. I'm only asking them to do that which their constituents
want to do.
But what we in the American -- as the American people have to do is, for those politicians who won't do the right thing, who won't stop this
carnage, will stand in the way of these sane gun safety measures, we have got to elect them out of office, throw them out of office, and replace them
with people who will put the safety of the American people above the economic interests of the gun lobby.
AMANPOUR: Of course, that brings me to your book, because you have laid out a whole, important treatise on protecting the vote.
And you say that this idea of gerrymandering, which is kind of complicated for, I guess, us overseas, could be partly responsible for these extremist
Let me just read part of your book on -- or an excerpt on that: "This is how state legislators ended up passing heartbeat bills, which ban abortion
in the first trimester, even though the majority of residents are opposed to them. And it's how you end up with a Congress full of representatives
willing to vote against policies like universal background checks which are supported by nine in 10 Americans, purely as a demonstration of partisan
and gun-lobbied loyalty."
In this respect, is gerrymandering, in your view, responsible for the failure to enact proper, sensible gun legislation that the majority of
HOLDER: It's certainly partially responsible.
In a gerrymandered system -- and this is where -- I will just boil it down here -- where one party draws electoral districts in such a way that it
makes it almost impossible for the other party to win. In that kind of system, where you're not concerned about a general election, as we call
them in the United States, you're concerned about a primary election, a challenge from somebody within your own party, it drives people further and
further to the extremes.
You want to forestall the possibility that you will be challenged in a in a primary election. And it makes you beholden to the special interests, as
opposed to the people. Gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters, instead of citizens choosing who their representatives ought to be.
So that's at least one part of why we have failed to address the issue of gun violence in this nation. But I think, also, the right and the gun lobby
has been successful in kind of mixing up our notion of who we are as Americans, this notion of freedom, individuality.
They have -- somehow, they have successfully equated that with the possession of and the use of weapons. And that's something that we have to
attack as well. I mean, what people need to understand is that there are hundreds of millions of guns in this country, but decreasing numbers of
households that actually possess these weapons.
So you have a relatively small number, a third maybe, of the people in the United States possess guns, but they possess way more than one gun. Like,
there are over, I guess, 300-and-something million guns in the United States.
And so I think the popular tide is turning. And the question is whether or not the political system will catch up to or be responsive to that popular
AMANPOUR: So, your book "Our Unfinished March" is about voting rights and I guess, really the whole democratic process.
And you have devoted yourself to this since leaving office. Why? And what are you trying to do with this book? Because it's history, and it's now,
and it's solutions. You go through the gamut.
I mean, the book was a continuation or an explication of my life's work, a focus on protecting the right to vote, the thing that I think distinguishes
the United States in a lot of ways from other countries around the world.
It's also an optimistic book and a book that I hope people will read now as we confront a gun lobby that seems like it can't be beaten. We -- I talk
about people who, faced with challenges to our democracy during our history, who faced challenges it seemed like they were never going to
We start with white men who didn't have the ability to vote in our first election because they didn't own property, women who didn't have the right
to vote because of their gender, African-Americans who didn't have the right to vote even after the period of enslavement ended.
And yet, because they dedicated themselves, committed themselves and gathered coalitions together, they ultimately got to the place where they
wanted to be. And I think we can do the same thing when it comes to gun safety.
This book, in some ways, is almost a primer, to say that, in past -- past generations of Americans, we got together and surmounted what seemed to be
insurmountable problems. The gun lobby seems like they can't be beaten now. Our history tells us that, in fact, they can, if we're committed, if we
stay dedicated, and if we're prepared to sacrifice.
AMANPOUR: Attorney General, it obviously boils down to the actual free right to vote.
AMANPOUR: And you know better than I do that there's been a huge backlash and re -- almost like pushing back the ability of people to vote,
especially black people and people of color, in your country.
There was a famous case, which obviously has your name in it, Shelby County vs. Holder, the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted a key part of the
1965 Voting Rights Act. And the chief justice in the majority wrote: "The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize
voting in the covered jurisdictions."
In other words, America has changed, minorities can vote, and you don't need this protection anymore.
What -- in the full lightness of the 2020 election and everything, what -- how would you react to that ruling?
HOLDER: It would be interesting. I'd like to see what the chief justice says about the words that he wrote back in 2013, given what happened
immediately after the Shelby County case, where states put in place a number of restrictive voting measures that had a disproportionate negative
impact on people of color.
As you look at what has happened leading up to January the 6th, the 2020 election, what we're finding out about the coup attempt that was -- that
was tried back on January the 6th, the involvement of high-level people to really tinker with our electoral system, and moves that have been made
since then to deal -- to try to subvert our electoral infrastructure, where we're trying to -- where you see people running for these positions where
the votes are actually counted, secretaries of state, people at local electoral -- the local electoral level who are deniers that Joe Biden
actually won the election in 2020.
A lot of the stuff that is happening now could have been prevented by an intact Voting Rights Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court in that 2013
decision. The chief justice famously said that America has changed. And, in fact, it has. We have made really substantial progress, but we're not yet
at the place where we need to be.
And voter suppression, attacks on our electoral infrastructure are still a part, unfortunately, of the American political system. And there is the
need for a more -- an intact and enhanced, in fact, Voting Rights Act.
And so that decision, I think, will go down as one of the worst in Supreme Court history.
AMANPOUR: And, unfortunately, there are 55 percent, according to a poll in the United States, of people who believe that President Biden is in office
because of cheating.
They believe the Trump big lie and all of that. So that's fundamental, isn't it, trying to fix things. You have to have a truth that people can
So I just want to read the byline. You describe your book as a History, a Crisis, a plan. Let's just talk about the plan, what you think is the most
effective and quick way to safeguard voting?
HOLDER: Well, there's a whole range of things that I talk about in the book on automatic voter registration, which happens in a number of
countries. When you turn 18, you're automatically registered to vote, which is a huge impediment to people participating in the system, same-day
registration, so that you have the ability to register to vote on the day of the election.
Coming up with ways in which we do away with these unnecessary photo identification requirements that you have seen passed in a number of
states, doing away with partisan and racial gerrymandering, doing away with some of the infrastructure issues that we see, the filibuster that we see
in the United States Senate that has stopped progress on any number of -- any number of issues.
And then I have things that we talked about with regard to the Supreme Court, limiting the number of years somebody can serve on the Supreme
Court. Now we have people to serve 30 and 40 years. And for people who can have such power, and in an unelected position, I think that's too long.
And that's actually interesting. It's one of the places where the chief justice and I, as we note in the book, that we agree, that we both agree
that -- he says 15 years, I say 18 years, in terms of how long a Supreme Court justice ought to be allowed -- ought to be allowed to stay in office.
But with regard to other voting things, 14 days of early voting, making sure that there are sufficient numbers of polling places available for
people to vote, so that you don't see these unbelievably long lines, as we have tended to see in communities of color around the country.
There's a lot with regard to our infrastructure that we can do, in addition to some of the structural changes with regard to some of our larger systems
that I think we can change and make this nation more true to its founding ideals.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's good to hear your optimism.
Obviously, America stands as a beacon for the rest of the world. So it's important that you get it right.
Attorney General Eric Holder, thank you so much, indeed.
HOLDER: Great. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And now, talking of rule of law, here in the U.K., many are throwing up their hands, some are rubbing their hands in glee, after the
release of the long-awaited report into the lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall and Downing Street, late-night parties, an illegal birthday bash
for the prime minister, drunken staff vomiting, and mistreatment of the cleaning staff.
Boris Johnson said he takes full responsibility for all of this, but also said he needs to move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver.
And no matter how bitter and painful the conclusions of this may be, and they are, and no matter how humbling they are, I have just -- I have got to
keep moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Amid all of this another damning report was released on the U.K.'s withdrawal from Afghanistan, and there's a growing list of sexual
misconduct allegations against members of Parliament.
So is British politics in crisis. Is it rotten?
Alan Rusbridger was "The Guardian"'s editor in chief. And he's joining me now.
Alan Rusbridger, welcome to the program. You have seen the sort of split in the way this Sue Gray report has been received through the various
different newspaper headlines. What's your verdict? Has it just sort of landed like a damp squib? Can Boris Johnson move on? Or is there -- has
anything landed that could cause some injury?
ALAN RUSBRIDGER, EDITOR, "PROSPECT": Well, Boris Johnson's predecessor as Tory prime minister, David Cameron, memorably described Johnson as a
He -- every time you think you have got him in his hands, he gets away. And he's -- whatever you think of the saga and the allegations -- and I think
they're very serious -- you have to admire his skill in getting away with it.
There looked a point a few months ago when he was dead in the water. Tory M.P.s were queuing up to file letters of no confidence against him. And
then, suddenly, he orders a report into it. Just as the report looks as though it was about to be delivered, the police step in and investigate.
And so I think the devastating conclusions that were reached by Sue Gray, the official who was writing this report, have been somewhat blunted by the
fact that it's now taken months to come out. And I think it's lacked the impact that it would have done if -- had it come out three months ago.
AMANPOUR: So -- OK, so that's because of the context around it.
But for the actual facts, let me just read you some of the things that Sue Gray has highlighted. This is in Downing Street and Whitehall, the center
All-night partying with karaoke, drunken staff getting sick and fighting with each other, Downing Street walls stained with red wine, disrespect
towards security and cleaning staff. And, after one party, a top Johnson aide wrote: "We seemed to have got away with it."
Sue Gray herself wrote: "Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen. It's also the case that some of the more junior civil servants
believed that their involvement in some of these events was permitted, given the attendance of senior leaders. The senior leadership at the center
must bear responsibility for this culture."
And she does call out a devastating failure of leadership and justice. I mean, the things that she highlights are pretty bad. I mean, let's not
forget when it was happening. It was happening when nobody else was allowed to partake in any of this kind of socializing.
RUSBRIDGER: Well, that's the terrible context, that people weren't allowed to go to the funerals of their loved ones.
They weren't allowed to visit people who were dying in hospital. Memorably, there was that picture of the queen who was completely alone at the funeral
of her husband on the night -- on the day after there had been a virtually all-night party at Downing Street.
So, this sense of a government which creates rules for others, but doesn't behave -- behave by them themselves, one rule for them, one rule for us,
is, I think, the long-term consequence. I mean, nearly 80 percent of the British public believe that Johnson has been lying about these parties.
But I think it's -- the question is, does the actual publication of this report itself provide the final nail in the coffin of Johnson? I don't
think it does.
AMANPOUR: So, in fact, also, a snap poll says that 65 percent of Britons believe he should resign.
But, interesting, the poll's director, the research director, says, the results seem to have confirmed -- quote -- "All the damage from Partygate
has already been done and that it's unlikely to get any worse."
But some of his M.P.s have again stepped back from him. And, in Parliament, a longtime Johnson critic who you know well, Tobias Ellwood, he said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIAS ELLWOOD, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: The question I humbly put to my colleagues is, are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behavior
Can we continue to govern without distraction, given the erosion of the trust with the British people?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Alan, you have followed this. You have done plenty of investigations that uncovered corruption when you were editor in chief of
How bad is this in the context of modern British politics, the relentless drumbeat of what appears to be just out-and-out moral corruption and lying?
And there's the whole issue of potentially misleading Parliament, which Johnson is still being investigated about.
RUSBRIDGER: I think the thing is that it fits into a pattern of behavior.
So, when Johnson first became prime minister, some of his best friends were some of his archest critics. The people who knew him best said this man is
simply not fit to be prime minister.
So, we had the fact that he got Brexit through by promising the British people that there would be no border in the Irish Sea. That turned out not
to be right. He's confessed that he wants to break international law in relation to Brexit.
He gave a peerage to Lord Lebedev, his supporter in the press, a son of a KGB officer, but refuses to confirm or deny whether he was warned against
it. He -- and one of his ministers broke the lobbying rules. Johnson responded by trying to change the rules, so that the minister wasn't
He's put his cronies into the House of Lords. He's taken money from oligarchs. He's given COVID contracts to his chums. He's put his cronies
into regulatory positions.
But people now just -- as that poll says, that this is now priced into the behavior of Johnson. And I suppose, although Labor have been making
tremendous noise and demanding that he goes, I suspect that, in their hearts, he's the candidate they would want to fight in the next election,
because any trust that people had in him as a leader is now gone over this pattern of behavior.
AMANPOUR: So that's interesting.
And we all know that Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labor Party, is also being investigated for some kind of group event. He says he will resign if
he's -- if he's deemed to have violated any rules, unlike Boris Johnson, and even the head of the Cabinet, who just flatly say they refuse to
So, again, you say that the British people may have their say, and the opposition would like to face him at the next election. And the polls, we
have just mentioned. But you also quoted David Cameron about the greasy pig thing. He was known as a vote-winner.
Do you think that shine is coming off the rose?
RUSBRIDGER: I think it is.
And that statement that you play from Tobias Ellwood is -- comes to the heart of it, that I think the Tory M.P.s at the moment -- the moment they
suspect that Johnson is turning into a vote-loser -- we're about to have two more by-elections caused by sexual sleaze, M.P.s resigning -- then I
think that's the moment they will ditch him.
The difficulty is that they can't really unite around a plausible alternative. I think, if there was a strong candidate they all could unite
around, they would be through those lobbies trying to get rid of him faster than they actually have been.
And it was bad luck for Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the exchequer, that he was caught at one of these parties and fined himself. And he was -- he
was the prince in waiting, if you like. And his own ratings have taken a hit as a result of that behavior.
AMANPOUR: So, there's a whole chorus now Johnson and his ministers basically using pretty much the coordinated phrase, we have got to move on,
we have got to move forward.
And there seems to be a whole load of edicts coming out of Downing Street, whether it's Rishi Sunak doing a bit of a U-turn on trying to help people
with this terrible cost of living and inflation rises.
We have got the issue of Northern Ireland, which some say is kind of a distraction as well. But it also has a very, very important policy fallout,
if the Northern Ireland Protocol under Brexit is ripped up.
For our audience, explain what's so significant about that.
RUSBRIDGER: Well, it was the trick, if you like, that Johnson used to get his version of Brexit through, even though it was obvious to everybody that
there had to be a border somewhere. That the Ireland itself is part of the European Union and Northern Ireland is part of Britain. So, there had to be
a border for checks, and Johnson just denied that it would happen.
And he does have to -- you have to grant him, he's got this great knack that some populist leaders have of being able to lie, sometimes with great
charisma, sometimes with charm, sometimes with humor. And so, people suspend their disbelief. But Northern Ireland is a very dangerous area to
be playing with this kind of fire, that there has been peace there for a long time since the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein, Republican
Nationalist Party is now in charge in Northern Ireland, and it is a very dangerous situation, that's why it is so dangerous for Johnson, it could go
And, of course, you've got Scotland equally threatening to leave the Union. And it would be a terrible thing for conservatives. The conservative and
unionist party if, through the behavior of Johnson playing fast and loose over Brexit and the truth, he actually presided over the imminent breakup
of the United Kingdom.
AMANPOUR: So, you remember, of course, during the whole Brexit debate that there was a poll that said that Brexit ideologues would rather see a
breakup of the United Kingdom than actually not have Brexit. So, that was quite a shocking poll that was done back then.
But, you know, the United States are very, very, you know, adamant that the Good Friday Accord remains. It's a U.S.-backed accord and they absolutely
do, there's a congressional designation in Northern Ireland, in Belfast, and this is what the speaker of the House to, powerful Nancy Pelosi, has
said about this. Pretty clear about the consequences if the U.K. acts unilaterally, saying, if the United Kingdom chooses to undermine the Good
Friday Accords, the Congress cannot and will not support a bilateral free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
So again, contextualize, that -- how much does that matter to the United Kingdom?
RUSBRIDGER: It's really matters. I mean, the U.K.'s trade with Europe has plummeted as a result of leaving the free trade area with Europe. And the
story of Brexit, the premise on which it was sold to the British people was that we would thereby free ourselves to do amazing deals with the rest of
the world, and these amazing deals have not materialized.
A lot is hanging on whether Johnson can produce a deal with the United States, that hasn't materialized, and if he now positively alienates
Congress and the Senate and the president through his behavior in, frankly, breaking the law or breaking international treaties, then I think the penny
will drop, that the benefits, the (INAUDIBLE) that were supposed to follow on for Brexit are simply not there. Quite the opposite. The economy is now
taking a hit, and that's becoming apparent as a result of leaving the European Union.
AMANPOUR: And then, there's another reports, which is really scathing and really damaging for Britain's position overseas and the security.
Basically, it's about Afghanistan, and it follows up from the summer when there was a very damning report about the withdrawal of the U.K. from
The Foreign Affairs Committee says, it found system failures and mismanagement that likely cost lives in that withdrawal, criticize Johnson
and the foreign minister, Dominic Raab, for being on leave -- I mean, on holiday during the Taliban takeover, saying, the government has defended --
well, the government has defended its handling of the withdrawal and says it would respond to the findings.
But this is the second time we've seen, you know, the handling of Afghanistan really, really criticized from within the British system.
Again, is that likely to be significant?
RUSBRIDGER: It's a truly terrible story. The fact that the foreign secretary wouldn't come back from holiday, the most senior official in the
foreign office refused to come back from holiday, the lack of planning when it was apparent that this was the situation that the West was going to have
And here's another characteristic Johnson story, the story that Johnson, through personal friends of him and his wife, Carrie, prioritized the
flying back of dogs from a dog refuge. Now, he initially denied that, but as I say, we're living in a country now where 80 percent of the people
don't believe anything he says, and it looks at least probable that that story was true. So, the dogs were being prioritized over the evacuation of
So, I think the cumulative effect of these stories is of -- I mean, it's bad for the conservatives, it's bad for Johnson, but I think it's terrible
for trust in the political process generally.
AMANPOUR: And what about Britain's reputation abroad in terms of all these things we just talked about, you remember he suspended parliament over, you
know, wanting to get his way on Brexit? I mean, that was a real rule of law issue that happens then.
Right now, there's all sorts of controversy over the U.K.'s huge lack of friendliness towards refugees, even the Ukraine refugees, which are getting
basic free visas all over Europe, not so much here in Britain. The idea of sending undocumented to Rwanda. I mean, all of this stuff that's happening
under this government, which, you know, hasn't really happens in the past. What does it do to Britain's global reputation?
RUSBRIDGER: I think it's not great. I feel slightly ashamed of that litany that you've just read out, which is a perfectly reasonable representation
of, I think, how Britain has been seen over the past couple of years. It's gone for being an extremely reliable ally, an extremely crucial part of the
European Union to a partner that willingly breaks treaties and breaks the law and doesn't step up to the plate.
I mean, it certainly has stepped up to the plate in military terms in Ukraine, you have to give it credit for that.
RUSBRIDGER: But in terms of refugees, barely at all. And I think our friends and neighbors in Europe look on us with sadness, quite frankly.
AMANPOUR: Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of "The Guardian," thank you for joining us tonight.
Ethics also on the agenda in the United States where a devastating report has found that Southern Baptist Convention leaders mishandle sexual abuse
allegations over two decades. Survivors were ignored, disbelieved, and even intimidated, the report says. The protestant denomination has an estimated
14 million members.
Russell Moore is the former president of the Ethics Commission for the convention. He resigned a year ago over what he felt was an inadequate
response to many of the allegations of sexual abuse. But the report's findings still surprised him as he tells Michel Martin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Pastor Russell Moore, thank you so much for joining us once again.
RUSSELL MOORE, PUBLIC THEOLOGIAN, CHRISTIANITY TODAY: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: The reason we're talking today is that the Southern Baptist Convention released the findings of a yearlong investigation by a third-
party professional investigative firm looking at allegations of sexual abuse, or at least the way the convention addressed matters of sexual
misconduct, of abuse, of harassment, of assaults going back for 20 years.
Frankly, the findings are deeply disturbing, to anybody, I would think, reading them. How did they strike you?
MOORE: Well, I expected to be the last person to be surprised by the investigation, because I was the one who called for an investigation to
take place, and I thought, well, everyone else should see what's going on here and make decisions. But even I was shocked by the depths of it.
I mean, this investigation revealed things that were so horrifying and shocking that I don't know how any functioning conscience could not
withdraw in horror from some it.
MARTIN: For people who haven't read it, what were some of the findings that stood up to you?
MOORE: Well, one of the findings that was most shocking to me, after years and years of several of us saying, how can we work towards some sort of
database that could prevent pastors, staff members, or others who are abusers moving from one church to the other and being told by the Executive
Committee, it couldn't be done, we looked into it legally, it can't happen, there's no way to know these things.
There actually was a secret shadow database in the Executive Committee, with what the report says could be up to over 700 individuals involved in
this kind of abuse correlated there, not to protect sexual abuse victims, but to protect themselves. That was startling to me.
Also, when you look through and see, as somebody who experienced the obstacles from the Executive Committee in addressing these matters, even at
the point of just calling them a crisis, that was objected to repeatedly. When you look at the back and forth, it's in black and white print, the
conversations that were going on internally. The sort of dismissiveness towards a sexual abuse victims and survivors, the inhumanity there is
MARTIN: Let me read from the executive summary that says that, for almost two decades, survivors of abuse of other concerned Southern Baptists have
been contacting the SBC Executive Committee to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made
phone calls, mailed letters, sent e-mails, appeared at SBC and EC, Executive Committee meetings, held rallies, contacted the press only to be
met time and time again with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the Executive Committee.
MARTIN: And by outright hostility, I mean, like, they were vilified.
MARTIN: These were -- let me just say, religiously, as a pastor, as a person who is ordained, as a person who's committed to carrying the word of
your faith, how do you understand that?
MOORE: Well, there was something going on there that was the work of the devil, but it wasn't that of the sexual abuse victims and survivors. It was
these conversations that would picture them as crazy or as evil. And frankly, the least surprising thing to me in this report is the way that
sexual abuse instances were spoken of as a distraction, because that was something many of us encountered over and over and over again. We can't get
distracted from the mission, from what it is were called to do.
Well, the most basic and minimal level of our mission is to have safety for kids and for vulnerable people, that Jesus tells you he loves. And that's
not some sort of extra, that any institution has to do. That's basic and fundamental, especially when it's happening in the name of Jesus.
MARTIN: One of the other disturbing things about the report is that people at the highest levels, some of the most revered leaders within the
organization were implicated in this conduct, not just as covering it up, but also actively participating in it themselves.
MARTIN: And I have to ask you, did you see that?
MOORE: I was not surprised by some of the cases that were correlated because those were things that had been reported previously, but there were
several that were indeed shocking. There was one minister mentioned who was one of the very few people who seems to be or seemed to be respected across
all of the typical divisions and camps, and that one was quite a shock, and there are many people that I talk to you right now who are still reeling
from that set of revelations.
MARTIN: Pastor Moore, you wrote about this in a very powerful and, obviously, deeply felt essay for "Christianity Today." You write, who
cannot now see the rot in a culture that mobilizes to exile churches that call a woman on staff a pastor or that invite a woman to speak from the
pulpit on Mother's Day, but dismisses rape and molestation as distractions and efforts to address some of the violations of the cherished hurts
autonomy? In sectors of today's SBC, Southern Baptist Convention, women wearing leggings as a social media crisis, dealing with rape in a church is
How do you understand this within the structure of the Southern Baptist Community that this went on for so long? Frankly, I will say to you that
there are people who identify as evangelical, who identify as belonging to the religious tradition of that specific group, who say that really, it's
related to that kind of misogyny and that deeply rooted patriarchy within the church, that basically says that men are more important that women,
that men have power and women don't? Could it be that?
MOORE: Yes. I think that's a key part of it. An attitude towards women that is unbiblical and is wrong. We would see that when sexual abuse
survivors or victims would be spoken of behind closed doors as Jezebels or as Potiphar's wife, an example that's not relevant at all from scripture
against these brave and courageous women who are going forward, that sort of language.
You combine that with, in some sectors, there was a sense that, well, these are fake issues, the MeToo movement, that something out there in the
culture, that's a liberal idea. It's not something that is really relevant to us. Now, along with institutional self-protection, which is one of the
things that we have seen over and over again in multiple institutions, where the institution itself becomes an idol and it becomes more important
than innocent people.
MARTIN: We are talking about people who as children or as very young -- as young girls were brought into sexual relationships with people that could
be damaging lifelong. I mean, there was the first-person testimony about this. People -- survivors have spoken publicly about this. These are people
who are committed to the church.
MARTIN: And so, I guess what I am wondering, since you know these people, some of the people implicated in this report, I am just wondering, did --
how do you see that? Is it that they feel they are just more important or - - I'm just -- do you understand what I'm asking here?
MOORE: Yes. It is a deep darkness, and that is one of the reasons why I -- when people ask me, well, what should be done in terms of structural
reforms, there are a lot of structural reforms that need to happen. The SBC Executive Committee itself is far too powerful and its power happens mostly
behind closed doors. There are databases, there are things that can be done. But that is not enough.
What has to happen is to also get at the root of where is this coming from, and it is deeply, deeply dark. And that is one of the reasons why some --
several of us were told, well, you need to work within the system and do things according to the process that is there. Well, all of us did. I mean,
I was working within the process for 50 years as a loyal Southern Baptist from the moment I was conceived. And eventually, one gets to the point of
saying, wait, this is deeper than just ignorance and this is deeper than just people not knowing how to solve a problem.
Now, what I will say is that as dark a view as I have of the Executive Committee, and what has happened here, I am encouraged in the sense that
this investigation never would have happened if grassroots Southern Baptist's hadn't shown up at the convention and demanded it happened and go
around much of their leadership to do that.
And so, we will see what happens in the days to come. But maybe, finally, the people being abused are ready to say, enough of this.
MARTIN: What should happen now?
MOORE: It is hard for me to say what can happen in such a short period of time, given the crisis and how long it has taken to get here. But there
needs to be accountability for the leaders who have been involved in this. There needs to be restitution for those who have been harmed during this
awful process. That there needs to be a taking away of the kind of power and the kind of authority that could allow this sort of thing to go on
unchecked. And with it, the kind of culture of intimidation and retaliation.
Not just against the sexual abuse survivors, not just those that we see in this report, but also for those who would advocate for them or who would
whistle blow, that has to happen. And the agenda being set within the denomination by a small group of people who wish to act as political power
brokers and sometimes almost a mafia, that has to be addressed.
So, there are a lot of sweet and good and Christ-like people, most of them in the pews are. But they have to realize that this is happening, and to
say, not in our name anymore. And that means not blaming the people who say that there is a problem, but blaming the problem and fixing the problem.
MARTIN: In response to the report, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ed Litton, said in a statement that, there are not
adequate words to express my sorrow at the things revealed in this report and that the Southern Baptist's must resolve to change our culture and
implemented desperately needed reforms. Do you believe him?
MOORE: Do you I believe Ed? Yes. Because Ed has been speaking and working on these issues for a long time. But Ed can't do it alone, he knows that.
That is going to take -- and it can't be done through these just trust us, it's going to take a long-time sort of blue-ribbon committee approaches.
It's been 20 years of this.
And so, this needs action now, and not any more delay. And I think Ed is completely sincere in seeing that that happens. Everybody else needs to
join him, as well. And J.D. Greear who was the president right before him also was heroic in trying to address this. And he, like many of us, faced
obstacle after stonewall after stonewall here. And that needs to end.
These lone leaders who were speaking to this along with the army of sexual abuse survivors and their advocates out there, none of these people can do
it on their own. There needs to be a driving away from apathy for everybody to deal with it.
MARTIN: These were issues that you have been dealing with for quite some time. These issues, the conventions failure to respond to them
appropriately were among the reasons you resigned. Also, the harassment directed at you, because you kept pushing on this issue was -- were among
the reasons you resigned. And I just have to ask, even though you knew about some of these things, what was your reaction when you read the
report, when you saw all of this written down in black and white?
MOORE: I was physically repulsed. As a matter of fact, I had a physical reaction. I broke out into hives that I have had to have treated. And what
that caused me to wonder is what is the response of -- I've talked to many sexual abuse advisers -- sexual abuse survivors who have had a very
difficult time reading this report, far worse than anything I could imagine. And I have to wonder about those out there in the country who
don't feel that they have any voice or any power at all, what their response must be to reading this. And it is gut wrenching.
MARTIN: Do you have any regrets about leaving, feeling like perhaps you could be part of this change? Do you feel like if you had not left that
perhaps the change would not have come?
MOORE: I have no regrets. Although, I have great pain. I was raised with my entire identity tied up in being a Southern Baptist. And it's almost
impossible to think of myself as anything other than a Southern Baptist, but I had to. And there was no other way that I could carry out of the
calling that Jesus had given to me. I could not do what they wanted me to do and I couldn't be who they wanted me to be.
MARTIN: But do you -- I remember you writing, at one point, that your wife said, I love you, I'm with you to the end. But if you don't leave, you're
going to be in an interface marriage.
MOORE: Yes. She had seen too much.
MARTIN: She's seen too much?
MOORE: Yes. She was with me, along with my son at an Executive Committee meeting because after so many of these attacks on various fronts from
there, my son, 15 years old, had asked her, has dad had some sort of a moral failure? And so, I said, why don't you come with me and just listen
to it all. And he did. And when, when we left, he just said, dad, why do we want to be a part of this?
Now, you know, that was really a big moment for both of us. We had to leave. A lot of people have had to leave. At one point, 1 million people
over the last three years. That said, I don't expect anybody else to leave and I don't judge the people who are staying just as I would hope they
wouldn't judge me for leaving. We need people to stay and to work for reform, and we also need people to say, sometimes when there is -- what I
consider to be a toxic environment, I have to leave it in order to be faithful to who they taught me to be.
MARTIN: Is there anything that would cause you to go back?
MOORE: I don't think so. But that doesn't mean that I don't pray and hope that they get this right. I wish that I had been wrong on what I concluded,
and I really, really hope that over the next year, and the next several years we look back and say, they are doing the right thing. That's is my
MARTIN: Pastor Russell Moore, thank you so much for talking with us once again.
MOORE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A toxic story indeed.
And finally, as the world watched in horror at yet another mass shooting in the United States, I ask Germany's deputy leader for his thoughts on this
uniquely American pattern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT HABECK, GERMAN VICE-CHANCELLOR: From a German point of view, it is simply not understandable that the use of weapons in such amount is
allowed. And I can't understand why really wart weapons are allowed on the free market in the U.S. So, from a European perspective, from a German
perspective, the loss of lives is too high. It is a price too high to pay for this allowance and these rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, he along with so many world leaders, of course, pay their condolences and sympathies for the dead. But Germany is one of many U.S.
allies to outright ban the use of military style weapons. And you can listen to my conversation with the Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck tomorrow
on our show.
That is it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.