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Deadly Afghanistan Earthquake; Explosive January 6 Committee Hearings; Climate Change Battle; Interview with U.S. House Democratic Candidate and Former Federal Prosecutor Daniel Goldman; Interview with The Nation Sports Editor Dave Zirin. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 13:00   ET




Here's what's coming up.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The evidence of climate change grows with each passing day. U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa tells me what needs to be

done now.

Plus: catastrophe in Afghanistan, as an earthquake kills more than 1,000 people. We have a special report.


WANDREA "SHAYE" MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: This affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies.

GOLODRYGA: The January 6 hearings have been explosive, but what will they achieve? I ask Daniel Goldman, who served as counsel to House Democrats

during the first Trump impeachment.

Also ahead:

DAVE ZIRIN, "THE NATION": This is a big, big controversy, and it's the biggest thing to happen in golf structurally since the game's beginnings.

GOLODRYGA: Sportswriter Dave Zirin tells Hari Sreenivasan how governments use sports washing to clean their image and push through their agendas.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

Fatal flooding has killed more than 100 people in Bangladesh and India, while a dramatic heat wave spanning Europe is causing wildfires in Spain.

Extreme weather like this will only become more common and more severe as the world drags its heels on climate change. That is what the science tells


Recent efforts to tackle the problem at the Bonn climate summit in Germany left the developing nations furious about a lack of support and the slow

pace of richer nations. It's a situation complicated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is causing some major setbacks to green energy plans.

As you might expect, it's become a trying time to lead the world's climate efforts. And for the last six years, that's been the job of Patricia

Espinosa, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

She is set to leave the position, as her term comes to a close next month. And she joins me now.

Secretary Espinosa, thank you so much for joining us.

Let's talk about that acrimony at the Bonn summit just last week .These talks did not end well. And they're coming off of talks that were rather

disappointing in Glasgow last year at the COP 26. As I mentioned in the introduction, there is some friction between developing nations and richer

nations about who is more responsible to address some of these urgent issues, primarily financially.

What do you make of this tension? And what can be done to resolve it?


opportunity to share some of my views.

And, also, let me say I fully agree with you that the reality, the science is telling us very clearly extreme weather events and more suffering and

loss of livelihoods will only increase.

And, on the other hand, what we are seeing in the intergovernmental process on climate change in preparing for COP 27 in Egypt is not very encouraging.

Yes, at the Bonn U.N. talks, there was some progress on some technical issues. But the truth is that none of that will be effective in order to

really give a push to the transformation that needs to happen.

And there is indeed a lot of division that is deepening between developed and developing countries, developing countries feeling left alone and with

not sufficient support from the developed world and, on the other hand, developed countries wanting the -- many in the developing world, especially

the emerging countries, to take up more responsibilities.

But all of this is not helpful. We need to get back to the momentum in Paris, where every country in the world accepted that it has responsibility

in addressing climate change, and where developed countries accepted and reaffirmed their commitment to provide support to developing countries.

That needs to come together.

I would say that finance will be the crucial issue to make COP 27 success in Sharm el-Sheikh.


GOLODRYGA: What's the most expeditious way to get everyone back on the same page?

ESPINOSA: Well, I would say, if we would see really a fulfillment of commitments on finance, basically starting with the provision or

mobilization of $100 billion by developed countries in order to support developing countries, that would be really a very, very important step

forward to build the trust that is needed, so that everyone can feel comfortable about assuming new commitments and having the confidence that

others will also follow up on their current commitments.

GOLODRYGA: Is the issue perhaps that they're depending on commitments, instead of anything more binding?

Is there a way perhaps of enforcing these countries to live up to some of their commitments? Obviously, there are circumstances like a war that get

in the way, but perhaps the need to move away from carrots to more sticks could be more effective, no?

Can you hear me, Secretary? I believe we lost her audio.

We will get back to that as soon as we can get her audio fixed.

We're going to turn now to Afghanistan, where a powerful earthquake has shaken the country and left more than 1,000 people dead. It's another blow

to the country, which is already facing a hunger crisis.

Scott McLean has the details in this report.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the sound of help arriving in Afghanistan's Paktika province.

Overnight, the extremely remote area was struck by a magnitude-5.9 earthquake that destroyed buildings and killed more than 1,000 people, the

deadliest quake in more than two decades. The injured are rushed to the helicopter to be taken for help. At a clinic in the region, the injured lie

waiting for whatever help they can get.

The epicenter was a sparsely populated mountainous area, but the impact was felt much farther away.

"It was midnight when the quake struck," this woman says. "The kids and I screamed. One of our rooms was destroyed. Our neighbor screamed and we saw

everyone's rooms."

Another local man says: "The houses of our neighbors were destroyed. When we arrived, there were many dead and wounded. They sent us to the hospital.

I also saw many dead bodies."

Taliban trucks were seen moving bodies out of the area. Some homes were badly damaged. The government says some entire villages were destroyed.

The man shooting this video says that one of his grandchildren was buried in the rubble, but they managed to pull them out alive.

At a press conference, the Taliban pledged to send more than $500 to the families of those injured and more than $1,000 to those killed, a bold

pledge for a cash-strapped government in the midst of an economic crisis.


GOLODRYGA: Scott McLean reporting there. We will continue to follow that story.

But let's now return to our interview with U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa.

Secretary, sorry about that. Technology gets in the way sometimes, especially on live television.

But I want to get back to my question, because I do wonder if you think that we have reached a point where commitments are just not enough, where

there needs to be some sort of mechanism to enforce countries to live up to their commitments and move away from carrots and to more sticks.

ESPINOSA: Definitely. There's much more that needs to be done.

On the one side, yes, of course, in the intergovernmental process, to build better instruments in order to follow up on commitments. And that is being

done. We are building a mechanism that is called the Enhanced Transparency Framework, but also beyond the intergovernmental process.

And, here, let me share with you I have been the last two days with an amazing group of women convened by the Georgetown Institute for Women,

Peace and Security and the Rockefeller Foundation, talking about the situation of women, and including in particular women and climate change.

So, in this regard, it is very important that civil society, private sector, academia, everybody gets involved in this fight against climate

change. And that would send really a very, very powerful message to governments about their responsibilities as well.


It is the biggest challenge that humanity is facing. And it is not something that governments alone will be able to address. Therefore, we

really need everybody's participation, all areas of society, all sectors of the economy. And that can be a very powerful force to accelerate and

enhance the action that we are already seeing, but not enough.

And if we keep at this pace, we know that we will not make it to the 1.5- degree goal by the end of the century.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and you say the focus now on COP 27, which will be in Egypt, should be on the Paris Climate Accords agreement there and the goal

of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

I'm just -- I'm curious to get your thoughts on -- we ran that piece on the tragedy in Afghanistan .That's just one of the global crises that leaders

around the world are having to deal with. Obviously, we have the war in Ukraine right now having impacts on economies all over the Western and

developed nations and developing nations.

How do you focus attention to this very important issue that more leaders around the world, I would say, thankfully, are acknowledging, but, at the

same time, they're dealing with more imminent issues, like famine, like, war, et cetera?

ESPINOSA: Well, it's a little bit, yes, I can say frustrating to see the attention completely shifting to other issues.

And you say -- and this is the way that people perceive it -- that the leaders are focusing on the immediate tasks. But I would underline that the

climate crisis is an immediate task, is already happening right now. And it is really threatening the existence of humanity in the whole planet. We

need to rebuild the momentum. We need to really get to a different mind- set, where everybody understands that this crisis needs to be addressed now, and that we do not have the luxury of choosing which crisis we will


We have no choice but to address all of them at the same time.


What can be done in your view, as you are leaving this position? What is your advice to world leaders, to your successor, in looking forward to COP

27 in Egypt and ensuring that that is a more successful, productive conference than last year in Glasgow?

ESPINOSA: Look, we have five, almost six months to go to the conference.

I would say my first point would be, we need to rebuild the trust. We need to rebuild an atmosphere where countries will come together in November in

Egypt and really show again what was shown in Paris and what we saw also, I would say, in Glasgow last year, that the international community is coming

together in order to address this existential threat.

And one of the elements that is absolutely indispensable for that is financing, financing because developing countries will not be able to do

those transformations if there is not a support for their actions. And it is not only about money, about financial resources. It is also about

technology. It is also about capacity-building.

So, rebuilding that trust in the coming months is absolutely essential. There needs to be signals, clear signals that all parties are really

willing to come together, do their part, live up to their commitments.

GOLODRYGA: Living up to their commitments is one thing. And you have been through quite a lot in this role over the past six years. You took over

just as the Paris climate summit was finalized and the agreement was finalized there in 2015.

And you have seen a new president, a new administration come into the United States. President Biden has stepped in and recommitted to the Paris

Climate Accord. That having been said, words are one thing. Who will pay for all of this infrastructure, for all of this investment? Where's this

money going to come from?


President Biden has made a pledge, but it requires much more than just the United States.

ESPINOSA: Absolutely. Absolutely.

And let me just give an example. And this is -- has become really just a signal, a signal of trust-building within the process, which is, since

2009, there was a commitment to mobilize $100 billion annually as of 2020. That hasn't happened. And at the same time, we know that, for the

transformation that we require, $100 billion is really nothing that will make any difference.

It will not only get us started. So, at the same time, the fact that we are not seeing that come together really translating into a reality is

provoking this very big divide, and also giving some countries that are probably not so eager to accelerate this transformation to say, well, look,

there are others that are not living up to their commitments, so we can as well wait.

So, yes, it is true we need to be very conscious of the fact that we are living in a very difficult international environment, and that governments

also have many different requirements internally at national level.

But all the plans, the development plans, the economic plans in the countries, big and small, rich and poorer countries, all of them need to be

designed through the lens of climate change. And I would put that also through the lens of gender, because it is very important that we make the

point the world cannot continue to work on solutions ignoring half of the population.


ESPINOSA: So women have to be part of that conversation as well.

GOLODRYGA: Which is why it's so important to have a woman like yourself in this important position and sending this message around the world.

Like pandemics, climate change is a reminder to countries around the world that we're all in this together. And we will all succeed if we all work

together. Easier said than done, I know, but it is important.

Best of luck in your future endeavors, Secretary. Thank you so much for joining us.

ESPINOSA: Thank you. Thank you, Bianna. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now to the fraught political climate here in the U.S.

The January 6 hearings continued on Tuesday, Republican witnesses testifying how former President Donald Trump tried to change the 2020

election result and overturn Joe Biden's legitimate win.

In deeply moving comments, state officials also told the committee how false claims had real impacts on their families.

Sara Murray has the details in this report.


PROTESTER: You are a tyrant! You are a felon! And you must turn yourself in to the authorities immediately!

NICK FUENTES, WHITE NATIONALIST ACTIVIST: What can you and I do to a state legislator, besides kill him, although we should not do that. I'm not

advising that, but, I mean, what else can you do, right?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The select committee investigating January 6 again making the case that then-President

Trump tried to undermine the 2020 election, this time highlighting the brutal and threatening attacks to state and election officials, all

supported by the former president.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Trump was told by his own advisers that he had no basis for his stolen election claims, yet he continued to pressure state

officials to change the election results.

MURRAY: Trump and his associates proposed putting forward a fake slate of pro-Trump electors, saying he won in seven states that he actually didn't,

to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden's victory.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): No legitimate state authority in the states Donald Trump lost would agree to appoint fake Trump electors and send them

to Congress.

MURRAY: Trump and his attorney John Eastman even took their plan to the Republican National Committee.

RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the

RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the


MURRAY: Even pressuring, threatening and cajoling election officials.

STATE REP. RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ): I didn't want to be used as a pawn. You are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath.

MURRAY: The speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives testified to a pressure campaign by Trump and Giuliani to call a special session to

overturn the election results.

Representative Rusty Bowers testified he was never provided with any evidence of these claims, despite asking repeatedly. Still, Eastman called

Bowers again in January, asking him to decertify the results.


BOWERS: I said: "You're asking me to do something that's never been done in history -- the history of the United States, and I'm going to put my

state through that without sufficient proof? No, sir."

He said: "Well, that's -- my suggestion would be, just do it and let the courts figure it all out."

MURRAY: The committee unveiling never-before-seen text messages from an aide to Republican Senator Ron Johnson.

CASEY LUCIER, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wish to hand-deliver to the vice president the

fake electors' votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The vice president's aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the vice


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I had no involvement in an alternate state of -- slate of electors. I had no idea this was even going to be delivered to us,

got delivered staff to staff.

MURRAY: The Republican officials who testified before the committee spoke of the repeated threats they received.

BOWERS: We have various groups come by. And they have had video -- panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and

a corrupt and -- politician.

We had a daughter who was gravely ill who was upset by what was happening outside.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Eventually, my wife started getting the texts. And hers typically came in as sexualized texts,

which were disgusting. And then some people broke into my daughter-in-law's home.

MURRAY: The committee heard from a mother and daughter that Trump explicitly maligned in a phone call with the Georgia secretary of state.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had at least 18,000 voters having to do with Ruby Freeman. That's -- she's a vote

scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler.

MURRAY: The two former Fulton County election workers' lives were turned upside down because of Trump's claims.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: The FBI informed me that I needed to leave my home for safety. I felt homeless. I felt I can't believe

-- I can't believe this person has caused this much damage to me and my family.

MOSS: A lot of threats wishing death upon me, telling me that I'm -- I will be in jail with my mother.

I second-guess everything that I do. This affected my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies.


GOLODRYGA: All because of lies.

Our thanks to Sara Murray for that report.

Well, joining me now for more on the hearings is former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman. He served as lead counsel for House Democrats during the

first impeachment of President Trump. He's also running for Congress as a Democrat in New York.

Mr. Goldman, thank you so much for joining us.

Just powerful to wrap up of what we heard yesterday there in Sara's piece. What stood out to you the most from yesterday's hearings?

DANIEL GOLDMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC IMPEACHMENT COUNSEL: Well, the emotional toll that it took on all of these witnesses, the attacks that Donald Trump

and Rudy Giuliani made publicly, and how they incited the threats and the violence from their supporters.

And it's not the first time. It's not the second time. In fact, there's a pattern of this with Donald Trump, to the point where he had to have known

that, when he calls out someone's name as a vote scammer, or whatever he did, that that is going to trigger his supporters to use threats and

violence and intimidate these individuals, these civilians, these public servants.

And so it was -- in addition to a lot of the testimony about the efforts, the extensive efforts that they went to overturn the election, it was

really the personal and emotional toll that struck me the most.

GOLODRYGA: And the ripple effects that this had on families and, as you mentioned, public servants, civil servants just doing their jobs and being

harassed by Trump supporters and by President Trump and his allies and those that worked around him as well, like Rudy Giuliani.

In terms of legal ramifications, criminal culpability, did anything stand out in your mind? And I ask that because there's a lot of question as to

how and will the A.G. step in and will Merrick Garland prosecute any of this, given the damning evidence that we continue to hear and new evidence

that we continue to hear now?

This was day four of these hearings.


GOLDMAN: Yes, there is a lot more additional evidence.

And each hearing sort of brings out a different category of evidence. In this case, we now know a lot more about the efforts that Donald Trump,Rudy

Giuliani and others in their immediate circle used to press and coerce and intimidate and try to convince state elected officials to simply overturn

the will of their voters in their states.

I thought Rusty Bowers was an incredible witness, the speaker of the House in Arizona, where he detailed the efforts, where it got to the point where

it was just simply Giuliani and others just basically saying, we actually - - he said this -- we have theories, but we don't have evidence.

That's not how this works. That's not how our law works. And that's not how the rule of law works. And to use that as a catalyst to try to overturn the

election, and then to create these fake electors, which is a crime -- to fake and forward certification to Congress, to an official body is a crime.

So I think the Department of Justice is -- we know they're looking at the fake electors. But these hearings have really, really brought to light how

widespread and massive this scheme was to overturn the election. It had a lot of different tentacles. Each of them taken together is quite


GOLODRYGA: We also heard a phone call -- of a phone call between President Trump and Ronna McDaniel. And she was the head of the RNC, and where he

clearly was expressing interest in these fake electors, in this plan hatched by Eastman.

Now, Eastman is somebody that the president eventually turned the conversation over to. But just the fact that the president was on the phone

with Ronna McDaniel there and pushing this theory, does that expose him to any criminal liability?

GOLDMAN: Absolutely.

I think there are others, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, who are absolutely in the crosshairs of the attorney general. But the big question that

everyone wants to know is, what did Donald Trump know about this? Because the -- it is necessary for the Department of Justice to be able to prove

that he knew that he was pushing false and fraudulent scheme, with the ultimate intent of overturning the election.

And when he knows that they are calling -- this fake elector scheme, which that call indicated that he was aware of, when he is telling Brad

Raffensperger to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than he lost by in Atlanta, when he is acknowledging and is informed that these theories are

all bogus and fraudulent, and yet he still is pushing them forward, that goes a long way towards proving his intent.

I don't think there's any question that there was a crime committed here. The question is, did Donald Trump enter into the conspiracy to overturn the

election? And with each hearing, we are learning more and more evidence that he did.

GOLODRYGA: With each hearing, we're also learning more and more about these unsung heroes.

As we mentioned, you served as counsel for the House Democrats in the first impeachment hearing involving Ukraine and the pressure that the president

put on then-President -- or current President Zelenskyy.

We heard of heroes like Alexander Vindman, who spoke out when he overheard this conversation. And it reminded me of these people who many, most

Americans had never heard of until instances like an impeachment or these hearings.

Rusty Bowers, you mentioned him. He was a lifelong Republican. He voted twice for President Trump. He campaigned for him. But there was a point

where he drew a line in the sand. And that was how he interpreted upholding his constitutional duty. And, because of that, he suffered greatly, his

family suffered greatly.

Let's play some more sound from his testimony yesterday.


BOWERS: It is painful to have friends who have been such a help to me turn on me with such rancor.

I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a

light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner. I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.



GOLODRYGA: On the one hand, Daniel, you have to admire that bravery and his duty as an American and his loyalty to this country over party or over

one person.

But, that having been said, you think back to the words of Alexander Vindman, when he said here, right matters. Having personally been involved

in one of these investigations, and now watching one, like the rest of us here in this country, are you encouraged that there are people like this or

are you more concerned that all of this pressure, all of this intimidation could lead fewer people from doing exactly what these people did?

GOLDMAN: I am both encouraged and concerned, and I'll tell you why. I am encouraged that there were Republicans around the country who stood up to

Donald Trump and who refused to do his bidding, as Rusty Bowers said. But I am very concerned, because since January 6, Donald Trump and other

Republicans around the country are trying to fix what failed in 2020 so that they can steal the election in 2024.

And what they're doing is they are changing laws to allow elected partisan officials to have much more control over the certification process, and

potentially overturn the will of the people. And the people running for those positions are big lie believers. They are election deniers.

And so, what is going on around the country is laws are changing and election deniers are running for office in droves. And so, while the

institution's held, and barely, on January 6th, I am very concerned that the institutions will not hold in the future. And it is upon all of us to

be incredibly vigilant about ensuring that our democracy remains going forward. And that these efforts to overturn the election with these new

laws do not have the intended effect and are unable to actually steal an election or overturn the will of the people.

GOLODRYGA: As you've said, you believe there's enough evidence here to bring criminal charges. But you thought there was enough evidence in the

first impeachment to impeach President Trump. I'm just curious, how would you compare these two hearings? Because there was some criticism of the

first impeachment that it was to speech heavy. This one seems to be a bit punchier and less reliant on speeches and more reliant just on the facts,

on testimony, and on the words from these key witnesses.

GOLDMAN: Yes, you have to remember that the purpose of the different -- the investigations was very different. We were doing an impeachment

investigation. This is a -- an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened. Our investigation took three months. It dealt with massive

obstruction from the Trump Administration. We moved quickly, in large part because that was our strategy, but because we had to.

And so, what we tried to do is have the witnesses testify because their testimony was ultimately going to lead to potential impeachment charges.

What this Committee has done, and they have done a brilliant job, is they have almost yearlong investigation that they're packaging into four, five,

six, seven hearings. We don't know exactly how many.

But these are very well, pre-packaged, and prepared hearings that distill the most important evidence out of their thousands of -- over 1,000

interviews and over 100,000 documents. And they're presenting these to the American people in a very concise and powerful way.

So, I think they're doing a fabulous job. I just think that the purpose of what they're doing is a little bit different. And probably, they did learn

from our investigation, what worked and what needed a little bit of additional help.

GOLODRYGA: And tomorrow's hearing will be the fifth. And it will focus on the presidents attempt to corrupt his DOJ. We're now hearing that the

further hearings will be postponed into July. The reason we're giving is that there's just more evidence that they have to work on and put together

for these hearings.

I'm curious, in your view, do you think they're resonating with the public? There's a lot of damning evidence here. A lot of emotional testimony, no

doubt. But do you think it's breaking through, in the manner, that someone on this committee said would be akin to Watergate?

GOLDMAN: Look, I think it is breaking through to more open-minded independents. I think it's hard to breakthrough to the right-wing media

ecosphere, that is effectively Donald Trump's television network at this point. And they are not providing the details and the facts, and the actual

evidence that this committee is providing to their viewers.


So, there's going to be 30 percent of the country that is not going to believe anything that they see or hear other than what Donald Trump says.

But I think for the significant part of the middle of the country who is not -- which is not beholden to Donald Trump, they will be impacted by

this. And I -- frankly, I think you're starting to see it from some politicians and some Republican elected officials, where there are a lot

more whispers about trying to distance themselves from Trump going forward, moving on, away from the president. And that is an indication, to me, that

these hearings are resonating.

GOLODRYGA: As we mentioned, you are running for Congress. I'm just curious, experiencing everything that you've have over the past few years

in the inner workings of Washington and partisanship in the country. Why run for Congress? What is your mission? What are you hoping for?

GOLDMAN: Well, a principal reason why I'm running for Congress is exactly what we're talking about. The threats to democracy from Donald Trump and

the Republican Party that he has co-opted are much worse today than they were on January 6th. I am genuinely concerned that our democracy is in

peril, because of those efforts around the country to reverse laws and allow for partisan-elected Republican officials to simply overturn the will

of the people.

And I was in the trenches in the first impeachment, as we discussed. I've fought for democracy. I've fought for the rule of law while leading that

impeachment investigation. And I just feel incumbent. It's incumbent upon me. It's an obligation of every citizen to do everything that they can do.

And for me, having had that experience, I would like to get back down to Washington and fight for our democracy. So, that is a principal reason why

I'm running, because I just think we are in perilous times right now.

GOLODRYGA: Daniel Goldman, good luck to you. And thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well now, is 2022 a year of sportswashing? The Beijing Winter Olympics and the Qatar World Cup have shed a light on the relationship

between major sporting events and governments hoping to clean up their image. Dave Zirin is sports editor of "The Nation" and host of the "Edge of

Sports" podcast. He joined Hari Sreenivasan to discuss what sportswashing means and the many examples we're seeing around the world, from Qatar to

Los Angeles.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, thanks. Dave Zirin, thanks for joining us.

First, let's get the terminology correct here? What is a definition of sportswashing?

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, THE NATION: Sportswashing is when an authoritarian regime uses a major sporting event like the World Cup or the

Olympics as a method of distraction for its crimes it may be committing against populace. That's how it's usually used. But I think it should also

be used as a way to describe when a country uses a sporting event to push through priorities that the citizens, otherwise, would not be for. Like,

say, the tearing down of a local community to build a stadium for the purposes of one of these mega events. That's what sportswashing is.

SREENIVASAN: How is it being used around us right now? Because there's a lot of conversation about a new golf league that the Saudi government is

essentially bankrolling.

ZIRIN: Well, we're seeing the rise of a lot of authoritarian governments in terms of power, money, and influence. And we've seen this new generation

of authoritarian leaders. Like, in Saudi Arabia, for example, seeing the importance of sports as a way to put the happiest possible face on their

regime. And it's not just for internal consumption to show the country, like, hey, look. We're a modern country and we're hosting all of these

amazing events.

It's also for external consumption. It's a message to the world that these countries should be part of the community of nations. And they point to

things, like hosting, say, the Olympics and golf tournaments, a various soccer tournament, whatever it may be as a way to say we are part of the

modern world. We are part of the international community and we should be given that respect.

SREENIVASAN: You know, for people who don't follow golf, what happened here? I mean, why is this so important? And why is it different than just,

say, a tournament that's being played in Saudi Arabia?

ZIRIN: Well, it's so different. And I'm -- first of all, I'm glad you pointed that out, that last point. Because the PGA Tour, the Professional

Golfers Association, they played tournaments in places that are authoritarian all the time. Autocracies are very, very popular landing

spots for golf tournaments. So, the idea that the PGA's hands are clean in sportswashing is a fallacy.

But what Saudi Arabia has done is it has funded to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars a new professional golfers' tour called the

LIV Tour, the LIV Tour. I mean, it's pronounced in different ways.

But the point of it is to actually draw in some of the biggest names from the PGA Tour. And, basically, take them away from the normal course of golf



Even to the point of offering Phil Mickelson nine figures. Nine figures, to leave the PGA Tour and join. Tiger Woods was also offered nine figures to

leave the PGA Tour and join the LIV Saudi Arabia Tour, but Tiger Woods actually turned that down.

So, they're writing big, big checks to damage the PGA Tour. And the PGA Tour's response has been to actually ban these golfers from future majors.

So, this is a big, big controversy. And it's the biggest thing to happen in golf, structurally, since the games beginnings.

SREENIVASAN: So, there are some big names involved here. Phil Mickelson, Greg Norment, I mean, these were household golf names. Very successful

athletes. Probably already very, very wealthy people. What do they get out of doing this?

ZIRIN: Well, there are a couple of things. I mean, Greg Norment has had very bad feelings towards the PGA Tour going back decades. And a lot of

golfers do. They view the PGA Tour as a Cartel. Something that operates in a way that doesn't allow for competition. They view the PGA guidelines in

terms of what it takes. In terms of tournaments, to be able to make it to the majors, the majors that aren't open tournaments.

And so, there's a lot of griping about the PGA Tour that's been going on for decades. And Greg Norment's been at the front of that line. So, I mean,

I view Greg Norment as somebody who, yes, he's taking the big check. But he's also trying to figure out how to create something different. What the

problem is that he's not thinking about where he's getting this money from and what the implications of that are.

And Phil Mickelson is somebody, I mean, he's been quoted already as saying that he understands the crimes that Saudi Arabia commits against

dissidents. Against LGBTQ people. Against, of course, Jamal Khashoggi, "The Washington Post" reporter who was killed. You know, Phil Mickelson is fully

aware of all of this. But as he says, you know, hey, you know, this is a chance to do something to the PGA Tour.

So, there's a real blinkered morality at play where, it's like, you can understand why they're frustrated with the PGA Tour. Why they want to stand

up to the PGA Tour. But the method by which they're going about it is earning them nothing but not just poor media coverage, but, I mean, also a

lot of questioning from their fellow golfers.

SREENIVASAN: There has been a line of thinking in the past that we could, essentially, import democracy, Western ideals, under or through the Trojan

horse of sports diplomacy. That this is a way for countries to see something better. Are -- is that still the case now?

ZIRIN: No, if it ever was -- I mean, the idea that sports could be a Trojan horse to bring human rights, modern values, progressivism, whatever

word we want to use as a stand in for it, I think we have to look at as just a -- an absolute fallacy at this point. It's just not tethered to

reality. I mean, one of the things these mega events bring, particularly in the post 9/11 era, where so much security is demanded to pull these events

off is a debt displacement and the hyper militarization of public space.

Now, how does a country pull that off without serious uproar among its populous? You know, piling up debt, displacing ordinary people, and then

militarizing public space? Well, if you're an authoritarian country, that actually makes you very attractive for the Olympics, for the World Cup, for

these other mega events. Because an authoritarian country can actually push these things through without having to deal with any sort of democratic


Now, what you see though when, say, the Olympics are coming to Paris in 2024, or Los Angeles in 2028, what you see is actually these countries in,

you know, "Western democracies", acting more like authoritarian governments. And pushing through building plans, pushing through police

plans, pushing through security plans, that would make authoritarian countries envious.

But they're able to do it through the guise of sports, through the glory of sports, through the excitement of sports. And that's the other side of

sportswashing I feel like we don't talk about it enough. It's not just to cover up the crimes of an authoritarian country, it's also about pushing

through proposals that people would otherwise reject if they didn't come wrapped in the bunting of sports.

SREENIVASAN: So, you are saying that, in a way, the city of Los Angeles can displace, say, homeless populations a couple of years in advance, as a

way, well, to pave the way for the new complexes that might be coming for the Olympics down the road?

ZIRIN: Well, that's what they are doing. I mean, I've talked with homeless rights activists in Los Angeles, as well as Olympic planners.


And basically, what they're able to do right now is displaced people from the tent cities that have been erected in Los Angeles because there is a

housing crisis in Los Angeles. There is an affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles.

And instead of dealing with that, the root problem, what they're doing instead is rounding up and displacing and destroying the park tent cities

that have been erected, so people have some form of a shelter. And how are they able to do this? How are they able to do this above -- instead of

there being some sort of civic response is they talk about the 2028 Olympics and the importance of preparing for the 2028 Olympics. Whether

that means building infrastructure for it or just making the city a place that they think is going to be more sightly for an international audience.

SREENIVASAN: What is the role of the IOC here? Because they have a pretty large checkbook when it comes to deciding for, you know, what city that

they're going to. And it will have a huge ripple effect on, at least, the local, if not regional, economy.

ZIRIN: A massive ripple effect. I mean, the International Olympic Committee, first of all, has bought hook, line, and sinker this idea that

they are somehow this traveling roadshow of democratic ideals and international togetherness. And therefore, whatever country they go to, no

matter how authoritarian, no matter how many human rights abuses, they are somehow making that country better by the sheer presence of the Olympics.

Now, what happens when reality intercedes with that? What happens when they say, oh, we're going to hold the winter games in China and we're going to

make China a somehow better place just through our presence there. And then, of course, there's a ton of evidence to the contrary, in terms of

attacks on human rights workers, on Muslim populations, on all sorts of issues that we can talk about that China transgresses human rights.

The Olympics feel like they're still doing the right thing. So, then they find themselves in a position of making excuses for China, and actually

being a force that aids and abets directly China's political operation. I mean -- and they do that in every country where they go. They're always

going to be the cheerleader of whatever country they're in. Whether it's China, Russia, France, the United States. They're going to stand by them no

matter what that country is doing to prepare for the Olympic games.

So, the IOC, I mean, becomes more than just, sort of, like a quiet partner. They become a political force in these countries to justify what we have

been discussing, the debt displacement and militarization. Because they say, not only are the Olympics worth it, but we're actually leaving this

country better than where we found it.

SREENIVASAN: Now, World Cup, obviously, billions of people are excited about it. It's going to be played in a place where there have literally

been thousands of workers who have died in horrible conditions. But FIFA says, that's not really our place to decide.

ZIRIN: No, because Kante (ph) wrote a very big check and the Qatari monarchy has decided that it will spend billions of dollars of its

country's wealth for the purposes of sportswashing. Of presenting itself to the world as, somehow, this modern monarchy that needs to be accepted into

the broader society.

Now, the crimes in Qatar have been so extreme. I mean, you mentioned the deaths of migrant workers. It's estimated that as many as 30 to 40 workers

have died directly, in just making the stadiums, creating the infrastructure for the World Cup itself. Let alone the hundreds of deaths

that have taken place in other projects and the conditions that these migrant workers have faced is absolutely horrific.

So, one of the things that the two biggest unions in England are demanding, along with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, is they're saying

that FIFA needs to put aside $440 million. I don't know how they came up with that figure, but it is certainly a big number, to create a migrant

center in Qatar where people can get support, have grievances met, and just some sort of social infrastructure for the migrant workers in Qatar because

currently there is none. There's nowhere they can go in the face of these labor abuses.

And this call has been taken up by some very high up people with the English National Team. So, we'll see if that goes anywhere. But that's

really what I'm talking about, Hari, is this idea that people are going to have to agitate for these institutions to act in a different way than

they've been acting really for the last century. But particularly since 9/11, where the pressure to have a security games has been very intense,

and has cost millions upon millions of dollars.

SREENIVASAN: You mentioned the pressure that the unions in the UK and Amnesty International has put on FIFA. What is FIFA doing to try to get

ahead of this?


ZIRIN: They're abdicating, is what they're doing. They're trying to create some semblance of friendly public relations in the run up to the World Cup.

So, this isn't the issue that we're talking about each and every day. See, already this World Cup is -- comes draped in shambles, Hari, because the

World Cup should be happening right now.

And when Qatar won the bid, they said, we are going to create state-of-the- art air-conditioned stadiums. So, even in 109-degree summer heat, World Cup Soccer can be played. That turned out to be, of course, a fantastical lie

that people, at the time, said that will never happen. But FIFA was willing to accept that because it was also accepting some very large checks. Not to

mention a bribery scandal, about why the World Cup went to Qatar in the first place, that's been reported upon extensively.

So, I think what the FIFA is trying to do is to get ahead of the issue over the next several months with the hopes that when the games start, we're not

talking about the deaths of migrant workers, in the years in prison, LGBTQ people face in Qatar. The fact that some countries are telling LGBTQ fans

to not even travel to Qatar during the World Cup. That they can't guarantee their safety. They don't want those stories out. They want stories of a

Qatar that is actually in better shape than it would have been precisely because of the presence of the World Cup.

SREENIVASAN: Given the prestige that's at stake, given the eyes of the world that are watching, and given how integral soccer is, especially in

the lives of pro-athletes. I mean, should we be putting this onus on the Messi's and the name-ours (ph) of the world or their countries? I mean,

should they be boycotting the World Cup? And how do we force this kind of change and attention to happen?

ZIRIN: You know it's so interesting, Hari, because what you're asking is a question that I'm seeing across society on a host of issues. Like, does it

really move the needle to have a celebrity speak out for change? You know, does a celebrity, whether it's an athlete or movie actor, does them using

their platform to speak out on an issue actually make a difference?

And I think there's a lot of evidence that says that our attention on celebrity, our attention on the famous stepping up, doesn't necessarily

move things forward. I mean, it can create, you know, tremendous awareness. It can amplify issues already at play. But, at the end of the day, what's

going to be needed are institutions, ordinary people, unions, human rights organizations start to see these games, whether it's the World Cup, the

Olympics, or what have you as political events.

SREENIVASAN: Here we are having a conversation while Brittney Griner is still being detained by Russia. She's clearly a political pawn here. It's -



SREENIVASAN: Right? It's not because of whatever trace of whatever she might have had. A vape or not. I mean, there hasn't been a trial, there

hasn't been evidence presented. Nobody knows exactly why but we do know that she is one of the greatest athletes the United States has ever


ZIRIN: Absolutely. And one of the things that you've seen is a lot of women's basketball players have said that they're not going to play in

Russia where women's basketball is not only a huge sport, but it's also extremely lucrative. And so, you know, those kinds of boycotts actually do

make a difference. They create an atmosphere of pressure on Russia to release Brittney Griner, or at least negotiate her release.

I mean, that's the kind of sports diplomacy that we need. Sports diplomacy from below. Sports diplomacy that isn't forced upon athletes to say things

they might not necessarily want to say or try to make it like they mean things they do not necessarily mean.

We need a constant level of pressure around Brittney Griner's release, first of all, on the U.S. State Department to make sure they're dealing to

make this happen. But we also need and we've seen athletes speak out in solidarity with Brittney Griner. You see, that's the kind of political

sports collision that can actually make a difference.

And I think that the seizure of Brittney Griner, and the creation of this Brittney Griner political prisoner in Russia, has been a real consciousness

changing moment for a lot of athletes. Because it's one thing to speak out about injustices here at home, whether it's police brutality or whether

it's equal pay. It's another thing to start stepping onto that international stage. An international stage that gets you paid to be able

to raise the issue of Brittney Griner's freedom.

But when you have somebody who is a friend, who is a teammate, who is somebody the lot of these players have known since they were all teenagers

coming up together in AAU, I mean, it creates a different kind of political calculus and a different kind of political momentum. I mean, we've never

had a generation of more politicized athletes than we do in 2022. What they do with that is going to be an interesting thing to follow.


SREENIVASAN: Dave Zirin, thanks so much for joining us.

ZIRIN: Thank you so much.


GOLODRYGA: Really interesting and timely conversation.

And finally, celebrating the solstice. Thousands gathered at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise over the incredible formation on the Northern

hemisphere's longest day of the year.

Meanwhile, in Antarctica, some brave Australians participated in an annual winter solstice tradition. A quick dip in the ice-cold water. The next

sunrise on the White Continent isn't until the 29th of June.

That is it for now. Thank you so much for watching. And goodbye from New York.