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Interview With Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba; Interview With International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan; Interview With Iranian-American Journalist, Yeganeh Rezaian; Interview With The New York Times National Politics Reporter Astead Herndon. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 10, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.



AMANPOUR: My interview with the Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, as Russian missiles rained down on his country. Then.


KARIM KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: But when I went to Bucha and went behind St. Andrew's Church, the bodies I saw were not



AMANPOUR: As civilians bear the brunt of Putin's war, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court Karim Khan joins us. Plus.



AMANPOUR: Iran's extraordinary women-led protest continue into their fourth week. The latest from Iranian-American journalist, Yeganeh Rezaian, who

tells me about her own detention by the Morality Police. Also, on the program.



is, is a relitigation of the past in terms of 2020 but it is also about setting up the infrastructure for 2024 and beyond.


AMANPOUR: Astead Herndon of the "New York Times" leads Hari Sreenivasan through the critical run up to the midterms.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

President Biden and world leaders are condemning Russia's massive missile strikes against Ukraine today. And they have vowed to continue supporting

that country and its fight for freedom. Just take a look at this map. Ukrainian officials say that 84 cruise missiles were fired at their

territory, including the capital Kyiv, and targets as far west as Lviv.

The strikes are viewed as Russia's revenge for the downing of parts of the key bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland, as well as weeks of

Ukrainian gains on the battlefield. At a meeting with his security council, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, accused Ukraine of terrorist acts

and threatened to keep retaliating.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In terms of the further act of terrorism on the territory of Russia, the Russian reply will

be harsh. And will be corresponding to the level of threat to the Russian Federation. Have no doubt about it.


AMANPOUR: My first guest tonight is the Ukraine foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba. He's cut short a tour of African where he appeals for the

continent's support now more than ever. And he's joining me now.

Welcome to the program, foreign minister.


AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, you're taking time out of a very, very busy day. What can you say to confirm what happened and what is your message

this time?

KULEBA: Well, though I'm away but everything literally happens in the front of -- in the front of eyes of my family in Kyiv and some people whom I know

in Kyiv. My kids were literally 800 meters away from the bridge when the Russian missile hit it in the downtown Kyiv. I know a woman who was killed

by a Russian missile at a crossroad, leaving child -- her child an orphan because her husband had been killed six months ago.

So, these are the stories. This is what happened. Deaths of civilians, threat to civilians, and massive, massive destruction of energy

infrastructure across the country. To make the life of civilians as difficult as it can be.

AMANPOUR: You keep saying civilians. Which I assume is deliberate. Obviously, they are targets and they are killed and wounded. But was there

any military infrastructure or any other infrastructure. You've mentioned energy. Anything else that they targeted?

KULEBA: Well, as of now, I'm aware that the vast majority of targets were energy facilities. We still have some parts of Ukraine black out -- blacked

out. I'm not aware of any major military facility that was targeted. It was only energy facilities and civilian houses, apartment buildings. So, just a

crossroad into downtown Kyiv.

So, there should be no doubt that the goal of this attack was to terrorize peaceful population and to make their life as difficult as possible.


And I'm pretty sure, I'm confident, that this is the result of Putin's defeat on the battleground. When his army cannot beat Ukrainian army, he

chooses to terrorize civilians in response as a revenge.

AMANPOUR: Foreign minister, it looks like he lashed out specifically because of what happened on the Kerch Bridge over the weekend. Did Ukraine

do that? They blame you for act of terrorism and they accuse your security services, intelligence services of being behind this plot. Did Ukraine do


KULEBA: Well, yes. Let's start by saying that Russia blames Ukraine for being Ukraine. Russia finds us guilty of -- because we exist. This is the

starting point. And I think that the narrative to say that Ukraine is need to be blamed for something is wrong and misleading one. I'm not blaming you

personally but this is something I'm hearing since 24th of February.

As regards to the Kerch Bridge, you know, I'm traveling. I have no access to confidential information from here. So, I really have no -- I really

don't know who blew up the Kerch Bridge. I wouldn't exclude its -- the Russian -- it was something happening inside of Russia because this bridge

is so heavily protected from all sides. But, again, as long as they don't have information to our intelligence, it will be impossible for me to

clearly say what happened.

AMANPOUR: So, let me then put it this way. Others have suggested that President Putin is lashing out emotionally. There are lots of articles and

blogs that are beginning to say that today. And that people are concerned, you know, there are mounting concerns about what he might keep doing and

how he might keep escalating.

Do you agree that there is an escalatory ladder underway right now? And will what happened around your country today cause you to rethink your

offensives and your counteroffensives to liberate the territories that are being occupied and seized?

KULEBA: No way. Nothing. Whatever he does, whatever he does, we will continue to liberate our territory. I want you to understand a very simple

thing. This is the war for the existence of Ukraine. This is the war for the existence of international law and rule-based order.

So, he may escalate. He may do whatever he wants but we're going to continue fighting. And we will win. Because you cannot win a war against

the people and that's exactly what he's trying to do.

AMANPOUR: So, to win, you obviously need a lot more help which is being pledged to you. But what do you need specifically? We hear some of your

Ukrainian government officials, military officials talking about a need for much more regular supply of artillery and ammunition for air defenses.

We understand your president spoke to the president of France and raised the issue of air defenses, et cetera. Tanks, armored personnel carriers.

Not to mention winter uniforms in order to be able to fight the very cold months ahead. What do you need right now especially as you see what's just


KULEBA: I don't know how many more civilians have to die and how many more cities have to be destroyed for all the countries who possess air defense

and anti-missile defense weapons to share them with us. And we are ready to engage in different models of sharing. But we need to protect our


If we are confident that we are able to protect them, we will be even more successful on the battleground. Because the only field -- the only field --

the only theater in this war where Russia is more -- has more advantages than we do is missile, missile defense. This is really the problem that we

have to address immediately.

And in every conversation that I had today, every single conversation was hen international partners. I made that point clear. Aire and anti-missile

defense, number one. It's true when you are fighting a war you need everything, literally, from A to Zed. But we want to protect civilians. We

want to protect cities. If we do that, we will know that everything is safe in our backs and we will move further forward.

AMANPOUR: You -- you have -- you've been in Africa. You're trying to get support from the continent. Your cutting short your trip to go back to deal

with this crisis. Africa and many, many other parts of the world, the global south, as you know better than I do, have not joined the sanctions

against Russia, have been susceptible to Vladimir Putin's narrative, particularly on the food poverty.


Even the head of the African union, you know, repeated what president Putin said about, it's the war, it's Ukraine that is holding up grain even though

there are no sanctions against that. Have you had, especially in light of what just happened, anything that makes you feel that Africa or other

countries that are reluctant might back you more now?

KULEBA: Yes, but we need to talk more with them. I can tell you one story and just to give you a glimpse of this engagement here. The narrative that

Russia helps Africa a lot is quite widespread here across the continent. And when you make it a point that Russia is not even close on the list of

investors or providers of humanitarian aid to Africa and the biggest investment is made in Africa is the Wagner mercenaries, that changes their

optics. And that makes people think.

But we have to talk with them. We have to convince them and we have to tell the truth about it. So, it will take time. But I'm sure that they will be

changing positions.

AMANPOUR: Do you expect to NATO and other allies who are firmly, you know, got your back. You know, there's going to be apparently an emergency G7

call tomorrow between leaders, including your president. There is going to be a planned NATO defense ministers meeting and -- you know, towards the

end of this week. Given what happened today and given your --

KULEBA: Yes, and we --

AMANPOUR: Yes, go ahead. What are you expecting?

KULEBA: Yes, yes. Sorry. Yes, my president has held a number of international calls today. I am speaking with foreign ministers. And you're

right, G7 Summit will be convinced tomorrow with the participation of President Zelenskyy. There will be a lot of international engagements.

What we're asking for is decisions. We appreciate every word of condemnation and every word of support. This is really helpful. But you

cannot win the war only with words. You need weapons, you need hardware, and you need further isolation of Russia through sanctions. Through a very

simple decision not to shake the hand of President Putin.

All of these things. They must happen. Sooner or later, they must be happening and these attacks that occurred today, they actually make a very

strong point that all of this has to kept -- has to happen rather sooner rather than later.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you to try to get into their heads then because we see this sort of narrative -- it's just not the narrative, it's really the west

does not want to give you -- I don't even know how to put it. Too much to spook Putin and get him to do the worst thing. Like launch, you know, a

tactical nuclear or something.

You know, you have not claimed the downing of the Kerch Bridge. OK. You also did not claim the assassination of the Dugina lady. But the United

States put out that they actually believe that you all did it. That Ukraine did it. And it appears that they put that out publicly to try to put the

brakes on some of the actions that Ukraine is taking inside Russian territory.

How much of a problem is that fear from the west and from your NATO partners as you seek even more powerful weapons?

KULEBA: Fear will lead the west to defeat. If fear -- if the west allows fear to paralyze its thinking, one of the worst strategy elements, and I

sincerely believe that it's a flawed strategy I have seen since 2014, is to be afraid, to have the fear doing something because that will provoke

Putin. We played -- we all played, Ukraine and its partners, we all played the nice and fluffy roles. Trying to make good deals with Putin. And what

did it lead to? It led to the 24th of February. It led to the deaths, tortured, killed, war crimes, destruction. This is it. Energy blackmail

appeared (ph).

So, Putin is not the one who should be treated nicely because that will kind of make him behave nicely. We should let no fear inside. We should be

resolved in one goal to defeat the country that is trying to set the world on fire. You cannot make a deal with him. This time it's gone. We have to

remain principled.

And that the west is not ready to support us in that, OK. We will sacrifice. Even if we don't get weapons. We will die but we will keep



I want you to make -- to be very, very sure in that because this is the very principled issue. And it's not only about Ukraine. It's about how

world will look like.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, thank you so much for talking to us.

KULEBA: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, the latest attacks are adding, of course, to the already steep civilian death toll of this war. The United Nations' Secretary-

General Antonio Guterres saying that they constitute, "Unacceptable escalation". And that, as always, civilians are paying the highest price,

as you just heard from the Ukrainian foreign minister.

And take a look at this crater in a children's playground. Take a look at this explosion next to a pedestrian bridge, again, you heard the foreign

minister talking about that. It's this kind of evidence that my next guest needs to gather as he seeks justice for the victims. Kareem Khan is chief

prosecutor for the International Criminal Court who's already made several investigative trips to Ukraine. And last month, he told the United Nations

that he had witnessed mass graves and heavy destruction in places like Bucha. Take a listen to what he told them.


KARIM KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: I am deeply concerned regarding the allegations and the information we are seeing

regarding what appeared to be reasonable grounds to believe intentional targeting of civilian objects. And also, the transfer of populations from

Ukraine outside particularly children. These are priorities that we are focusing on.


AMANPOUR: And Karim Khan is joining me now in the studio. Welcome back to the program.

KHAN: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So, this was last month. And you have seen what's unfolded on the ground across Ukraine today. You've just heard the foreign minister say the

targets are civilians. What is your immediate reaction to just what happened today?

KHAN: Well, I think the like the secretary-general of the United Nations, like many other international leaders and like your viewers, I'm also

extremely concerned. But this is a criminal investigation that we're undertaking. I have members of my office that last night were in bunkers

along with many other civilians, Ukrainian children, women and men. And this is a matter that should -- that engages issues of morality, issues of

law, and issues of empathy and humanity. And we need to be there to get to the truth.

AMANPOUR: I'm just going to read you a tweet from a member of parliament who we speak to quite regularly, Lesia Vasylenko. She says -- and this is

in the aftermath of the barrage of cruise missiles. Just minutes from my home, just 20 minutes ago, what is Russia trying to hit? The national

university? The park? Or the playground? In other words, nobody really could pinpoint any military targets. The foreign minister said energy was a

big, big target.

Are those -- does that amount to evidence for you or are you looking at different things?

KHAN: Well, we have to get to find what happened. The laws of war are quite clear that one of the principal prohibitions is to deliberately, to

intentionally target civilians or civilian objects. Certain types of targets can be a legitimate military targets, for example, barracks of

where military operations, command and control centers.

But we have to look at every strike and see what took place and see if civilians were targeted or if those are military objective. But the real

issue is this, that, you know, the law may not be as strong as many people want. But it is not as weak as many people think. And the law is in play.

The law is going to, I think, to ensure that there will be a day of reckoning in Ukraine. And in other situations where any bully, any

individual with a gun or with a missile, or the capacity to inflict terror on the most vulnerable of our next generations will realize that the law is

there. And I think that's our joint obligation.

AMANPOUR: This is, obviously, a very difficult investigation. You're already conducting it in the midst of a war. That can't be easy. You've

been, as I said, a couple of times, your people have been there for a long time. You were in Bucha. You've seen it. We heard what you said to the U.N.

We've heard you talk about this before. What -- how much have you been able to achieve in the legal, you know, investigation so far.

KHAN: I think we're making good progress. It's a difficult and very fast evolving situation. The team were in Izium just yesterday, they came back

from Izium and from Kharkiv. But we've already focused our attention on certain priorities. And the issue I will keep on emphasizing is not just

Bucha and Borodyanka. If any individual feels that they have a license to terrorize civilians or to target children or to transfer children across

international boundaries, they are on clear notice that the law has clear provisions and we will not hesitate to use those provisions if the evidence

is -- passes muster. And we will file anything necessary with judges of the International Criminal Court.


AMANPOUR: So, just to fill in some of those details. The Kharkiv police said, just days ago, they found more than 500 civilian bodies in more than

20 torture chambers around the Kharkiv area us the Russians were retreating. The U.N. panel of experts say they found evidence of war crimes

including sexual violence. Ages of the victims from four to 82 years old.

You know, what -- there are so many people we hear who are also getting into the sort of investigative sphere. There's not just you operating for

the U.N. but also there's also some local NGOs, domestic, foreign. Is that helpful?

KHAN: Well, it depends. It requires coordination. This is why along with the foreign minister of the Netherlands and the European Commission, I

hosted a ministerial event a couple of months ago, a few months ago in The Hague so we can try to coordinate. This is why I released, along with the

president of Eurojust a guidebook for civil society organizations to make sure we work with purpose. And we don't over document in the way we've seen

in Cox's Bazar or in Iraq, and in Syria.

So, it represents opportunities and challenges. The main issue is to make sure that the right-hand of the International Community knows what the

left-hand is doing. And we're working together independently but in a coordinated way to make sure that the law means something to those that

need it the most. And it's not about the lawyers and the judges or the politics or the fiefdoms of the International Community.

It really is those women and children that are shivering in bunkers when the Earth reverberates because of missile strikes. We need to make sure the

law is not some theoretical construct for them.

AMANPOUR: Again, this is in the middle of a war zone. What are your teams on the ground doing day to day?

KHAN: Well, all the panoply of actions that are needed. So, they've just come back from Izium and Kharkiv. We're working -- also looking at some of

the information that the Ukrainians have gathered. We're helping them with forensics from our office, but also with the Dutch and the Belgians and

many others to help them crack phones and look at various types of electronic evidence that is available. We're trying to verify it. We're

trying to build partnerships but also conduct our independent investigations to get to something that's very easy to say but very

difficult to achieve, which is the truth.

AMANPOUR: Not just the truth, because you then have to prove command responsibility. So, whether it's in Bosnia or Kosovo or Rwanda, you know,

other places where there have been international criminal tribunals and where people have been arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced. You have

to prove that they actually did order it.

For instance, Putin has to have been proved order it. So, let me just play for you, first and foremost, some sound that the United -- that the "New

York Times" has been gathering over the last several months and investigating. Like thousands of intercepts. This was from right around the

time of Bucha and, you know, Irpin. The whole horrors that were uncovered after the retreat of the Russians from Kyiv.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Hi, mom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are positioned in Bucha town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our defense has stalled. We're losing this war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Hall of our regiment is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were given an order to kill everyone we see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I come home, I'm quitting --


AMANPOUR: So, that shows a lot of issues. Most particularly, and this is not the only person who said it, Sergei (ph) is saying, we were given an

order to kill everyone we see. How does that stack up in a court of law.

KHAN: It depends on the providence. We have to check the authenticity of it. But if such a -- intercept and communication is authentic and reliable.

And we've discharged our own due diligence responsibilities, of course, it goes to the heart of the matter.

AMANPOUR: Here's another heart of the matter. You have to prove that President Putin, as I said, actually gave orders. And I wonder if some of

the U.S. intelligence and others might help you in that because, as we know and we've been reporting it, and CNN did report this two weeks ago, that

President Putin himself is giving directions from the Kremlin calling that the commanders on the battlefield. Sources familiar with the U.S. and

western intelligence agency said -- and they have described this as unusual management style, well it is. But if that's the case, surely that makes

your job easier.

KHAN: Well, we have to find out what crimes have --

AMANPOUR: But do you expect to get that intelligence shared with you?

KHAN: Well, I think it's an obligation on any party to a conflict that -- and any other actor that has information that genocide or crimes against

humanity and war crimes have been committed. Not to keep it for their internal purposes. But to share it in a manner that addresses national

security concerns so that the world can see and accountability can be fostered.


Otherwise, we are falling short of the promises that we've made since Nuremberg of never again. I think the current moment is so full of tension

and concern. And when we have threats of nuclear weapons, we really do need to put the law into action.

So, any party, whether it's a state party to their own statute or not, whether it's Ukraine or whether its Russian Federation, if they are

truthful about having information or if there's fake evidence, share it with my office. If they don't, the question that is left begging is why are

they're not sharing it?

AMANPOUR: And then finally and briefly, what do you say to people who are saying, oh, my gosh. This is going to take forever. We're in a war. We've

never -- there's never ever been a sitting president who's ever been handed over to a tribunal. This is just going to go on forever and maybe justice

will never be done.

KHAN: There's always a first time. And we've had really notable, you know, examples, as you know very well, you've reported on them. Milosevic,

Charles Taylor, Karadzic, Jean Kambanda, even serving presidents at the ICC have appeared voluntarily before the court.

I think as long as we do our job properly, International Community has a responsibility to make sure the law is not full of pious promises and

giving false hope. But it's something that can be felt by those that needed the most. And I think together, that's our job to work with partnerships

with the states to get to the truth.

AMANPOUR: Karim Khan, chief prosecutor at the ICC. Thank you very much indeed for being with us.

KHAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Now, the unprecedented women led protests in Iran. They enter their fourth week since the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody over the

Islamic republic's mandatory body coverings. The protesters are getting bolder. For instance, this stunning hack over the weekend of a live state

media broadcast.



AMANPOUR: So, what you can see beneath the supreme leader wreathed in flames are images of four women who've died in Iran in the last month. And

the message, join us and rise up. Now, security forces are getting fiercer. There are reports of dozens of deaths across the country after protests

like the one, Sunday night, where men and women took to the streets again shouting, death to the dictator.

My next guest, Yeganeh Rezaian, is an Iranian American reporter working right now with the committee to protect journalists. Now, while on

assignment in Iran for "The Washington Post" in 2014, she was detained by Iran's Morality Police and her husband, Jason, spend a year and a half in a

notorious Evin Prison. Yeganeh Rezaian is joining me now from Washington.

And welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Well, to speak of all that you know is really important right now. So, I'm glad that we have you. Tell us about -- first of all, your

reaction to the fact that these women and their male allies are in the streets for four weeks. It seems an unprecedented length of time in the

history of the Islamic republic in terms of protests.

REZAIAN: It is incredibly heartwarming. At the same time, I understand that at times it gets very scary for these young women of next generation. And

I'm really proud of their male allies, as you said, male -- Iranian men for their constant support of women's demands.

And let's be honest, Christiane, I think we are past the fact that this is just the women-led a revolution or movement against compulsory hijab. This

is a women-led revolution against so many other demands. Against corruption, against suppression, against no press freedom, against no

social freedom, against 40 years of tyranny, against people of a nation.

AMANPOUR: You know, I spoke to the Nobel Laureate, Judge Shirin Ebadi, who told me just a couple of days ago that democracy, you know, in Iran would

come thought the women. It's the women who will open the gate through democracy in Iran.

And since she said that, I don't know -- you know, for the last several weeks, we've seen an increasing number of young girls, Yeganeh. I don't

know what messages you're getting from inside Iran or information, but these are teenagers. I mean 15 and younger around that, who are on the

streets. Who are getting, you know, arrested. Who are getting, you know, their schools stormed. That's also completely unprecedented.

REZAIAN: It is. It is very unprecedented. And I keep comparing that to 2009 when me and my generation were in the street. I think we were still on our

cautious side.


But now, these younger generation of Iranian women who are extremely educated. Who speak perfect English. Who have had access to internet as

much as it was available to them. They are out in the street, demanding freedom and demanding their basic rights of choice of their clothing. And

they are questioning one of the most fundamental and basic of this system. And that is compulsory hijab.

That means this is different and there is a real change brewing in the Iranian society. These women cannot be held back anymore.

AMANPOUR: Talk to me about your own personal experience. Because, again, you know, it just -- beggars belief that a young woman and we saw how she

was dressed when she came out of the subway. We saw that she had a veil on. We saw that she had the, you know, the big stuff to hide her body. You were

taken in by the Morality Police. What kind of experience did you have?

REZAIAN: The truth is that the experience is always a very -- they mean to make you scared. They mean to break your spirit. They mean to humiliate

you. They mean to make you believe you are doing something wrong while you are absolutely not doing anything wrong. But just according to them, if

they do not follow what they want you to do properly then you are accused and charged. They bad-mouth you. They really humiliate you. They make you

feel terrible about yourself. They question you with anything possible. All of the values and thoughts. They try to break you in order to adhere there

are supposed laws and rules.

And it's a -- their detention centers are terrible places to be. People are often blindfolded, handcuffed. They have to sleep on a flat concrete, share

bathrooms with dozens of other prisoners, if not hundreds. Go through lengthy process of detention. In many cases solitary confinement for open-

ended days. For long hours of interrogations and scaring tactics against you and your loved ones.

Everything we have seen. I personally experienced many of those, almost all of those. And I'm sure many of the protesters who are in detention, whether

ordinary civilians or journalists, they all go through similar experiences.

AMANPOUR: Do you --

REZAIAN: And at the end of the day, most of them are put on trial with no due process.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's what they just said. That, you know, that the authorities just said we're going to try these people. They call them

rioters and they're going to be dealt with very strongly. You were in solitary for 69 days. You were detained for a total of 72 days. And now --

REZAIAN: Correct.

AMANPOUR: -- you, with your CPJ, Committee to Protect Journalists hat on, you -- tell us about how Mahsa's story even -- I mean, I think it's

remarkable that two female journalists broke this news to the world.

REZAIAN: That's very true. Two very, very brave female journalists. One stayed in touch with Mahsa Amini's family and the other one traveled to

Mahsa Amini's hometown in Kurdistan. And one stayed with the family and documented footages of the family being in hospital. The parents crying,

holding each other, hugging each other. crying. And based on our research at the Committee to Protect Journalists, we know that they are -- both of

those female journalists are currently in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a slightly different, it's more political and social. These protests have been going on for, you know, four weeks. But

now we're hearing that very important sectors of society are going on strike in solidarity. The latest are the oil and petrochemical workers from

the oil producing part in the south of Iran. And I remember that the straw that broke the camel's back during the '79 revolution, that brought the

Islamic was massive and rolling strikes by every sector of society.

REZAIAN: Right. What we know, traditionally, is that worker unions have been in a really bad situation in the past, let's say decade or so.


Teachers' union, bus driver unions, they have been on ongoing strikes over and over again. Just a couple of months ago, the system itself announce

that they have arrested more than 200 teachers for being on strike. But what is interesting to me is that as you know, Bazaari people and

traditionally are fundamentalists and a little bit more religious than the mass population.

The fact that they are joining this protest, I think, it's very telling. The real change is coming. The system knows that. The fact that Gholam-

Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i, the head of judiciary came out earlier this morning and said publicly on TV that if people -- different groups, different

unions, different fractions of the society have any criticism, he is ready to hear them.

It's because the system knows this time is different and they are acknowledging that. And they somehow know that they have been out of

control. This protest went out of their control. And that's why the massive blackout of the internet and information is caused --

AMANPOUR: So, very briefly, if on the one hand, you know, you've got some seniors saying come and talk to us, let's get around the table. And on the

other hand, you've got the, you know, the mighty force of the security apparatus cracking down and killing people. I mean, there are dozens of

dead according to human rights organizations. Where do you see this going?

REZAIAN: Yes. Well, it's very hard to say where this is going. As you said, it's been going on for four months -- for four weeks at this point. The

level of information that gets out because of the internet shut down and because people are not able to connect fast enough to the outside world and

with each other on the ground. It makes it more difficult to give a real scope and trajectory of where this is going.

I just hope that less civilians get shot, get killed, get arrested. I hope that the regime realizes that they cannot kill every single one of young

Iranians on the ground. And at some point, they need to bend down and bow down to demands of this younger generation and behave more democratic if

they want to stay in -- but the younger generation is demanding a change. Demanding a revolution. So, it's very hard to say I just wish I was there

and I could join them

AMANPOUR: Yeganeh Rezaian, thank you so much indeed.

The United States and many western nations have slapped sanctions on the Morality Police and told the Iranian regime that it will be held

accountable for the deaths of civilians. In the United States, voting is already underway for the midterm elections. With inflation, abortion rights

and the integrity of elections on the ballot.

Nearly 300 candidates who still refuse to accept the 2020 vote will be running for office and shaping the future of American democracy. "New York

Times" reporter Astead Herndon joins Hari Sreenivasan to explore the crucial run-up to these midterms.



Astead Herndon, thanks for joining us. So, let's first start with where you see right now the midterms heading. Is this something that is primarily

issues driven? Is it a referendum on what Joe Biden has been doing in the past couple of years? Is it about Trumpism? I mean, there's so many

different, kind of, lenses to look at this through. How are you seeing it?


thank you for having me. From what we see in our midterms reporting that we've been doing for our show, "The Run-Up", it's a mixture of all of those


You -- it's a kind of choose your own adventure midterm elections. And I think that that is a reflection of the really fractured political landscape

we have here. To your point, you see voters really zeroing in on the economy and inflation as their top issue. That's certainly a real pressure,

particularly for working class voters.

At the same time, you also have a Republican Party that has embraced election deniers up and down the ballots. Conspiratorial thinking about

democracy. And that is certainly driving a lot of these individual races. And then I think also the other big issue you have is the Supreme Court's

decision to overturn Roe V. Wade which is driving so much grassroots energy, particularly on the Democratic side.

And so, because all of those things, I think, have happened this year, I think you have a midterms landscape in which both of the parties, both have

things that are driving them energy-wise --


-- so that they could be good things. But they also have things really holding them back. And so, I think when you look at President Biden, that -

- this has not been the midterms. It's just a wreck referendum on him in the way typically see midterms be. But at the same time, it could result in

those same type of party losses that will be a devastating blow for his agenda.

SREENIVASAN: So much of the left right now is galvanized by the idea that democracy itself is under threat. And there's a good chunk of the right

that are really questioning what kind of government we have. And I don't know if it's just a semantic one about definitions or if it's just more

actually a philosophical core question.

HERNDON: Oh, I think it's definitely the latter. It is a question that I think it's going to go -- drive right to the heart of elections going

forward. I mean, it's really a question about who does this country -- who is this country for and who should its democracy be for. And I think that

we have seen several instances -- I would say actually throughout American history, but particularly in the last -- in the modern elections.

Where that question has really come -- has been the, kind of, core dividing line between the parties. I mean, yes, 2020 was about Donald Trump

instituting election conspiracies to stay in power. But it was also about Republican apparatus who sought to frankly discard a lot of legally cast

ballots from coalitions that they simply did not think should have that much of a say. I mean, you have an electoral college that prioritizes

certain States over others. You have an American governmental system that is not in direct democracy.

And so, when we found in our reporting is that while Democrats are trying to rally the country around this idea that democracy protection should be

the foremost goal. That it should come before things like inflation, the economy, or protecting abortion. What you have is a Republican side that is

not unified or in the -- they don't -- we've specifically looked at Arizona where Republicans in that State are attacking the idea of democracy and

using, kind of, old talking points. Saying we're a republic, not a democracy. To say that it's actually been an obstacle for what they

consider real Americans for maintaining political power.

And so, you have Republicans up and down the ballot in Arizona. Speaking highly of Joe McCarthy. Embracing a language of far-right groups like Oath

Keepers and Proud Boys. It's built on reporting that I did a couple of years ago going to an event called Trump stop or Woodstock for Trump fans

in Arizona where that type of rhetoric was everywhere.

And so, I think that you really can't understate that for a minority of Americans, but a very hardened group of Americans. They do not see

democracy as a core intrinsic value for the country. And it's going to be up to, kind of, the rest of the country to really affirm that value over

those concerns if we seek for that to be the real priority of going forward.

SREENIVASAN: I want to cite some stats from that other paper, "The Washington Post". You know, they said -- you know, more than half of all

Republican nominees for the House Senate in key statewide positions, 299 in all deny the results of the 2020 election. 173 are running for safely

Republican seats, another 52 appear on the ballot in tightly contested races.

So, it's almost a given that many of these candidates are going to win. And, say for example, put this in context for us. When the Tea Party, for

example, rose in prominence, compare that to the wave of likely members of the House, for example, that will be election deniers.

HERNDON: Yes, yes. I mean -- I think that we should, kind of, compare it to that movement. You know, the Tea Party had a lot of elements to it. It was

principally, or at least a name in response to the financial actions from the Obama administration. But we know it had that cultural element. It had

that birther element.

And that was actually -- but that was at least for the folks who are spousing that supposed to be the undercard to that movement. For what we

see right now, those kinds of cultural grievances are the main event. They are the entre and not the appetizer for these folks. And I think that that

is going to be a difference from what we saw from those years ago.

If this Republican slate were to take back the House, the energy -- the pressure for Kevin McCarthy would be from the Marjorie Taylor Greenes, it

would be from the Lauren Boeberts, and Matt Gaetz'. They would have an immense amount of power to pressure the house majority to do things like

investigate and impeach the White House. To live out Donald Trump's grievances.


In one of our episodes, someone described them as a possible -- that they would be Donald Trump's voice and attack dogs in Washington.

So, that is really what we are talking about here is a relitigation of the past in terms of 2020, but it is also about setting up the infrastructure

for 2024 and beyond. These -- this is a movement on the Republican side that really sees itself as in the business of saving America.

SREENIVASAN: One of the intriguing things I felt about "The Run-Up" podcast was this, kind of, flipped back to the autopsy that the Republican Party

did after Mitt Romney's lost to Barack Obama. And at the time, it was the wisdom of that party and what you breakdown is really out of that autopsy

came a couple of central assumptionist, both for the Republicans and for the Democrats. And they were completely wrong by the time Trump got to

power. Break that down for us.

HERNDON: Yes. I mean, this is what we thought was a great starting point for folks to understand this current political moment. After the 2012

election, Republicans were pretty much openly saying that they had drifted too far away from where the country was. And because of the demographic

changes, specifically the growth of Latino voters and the rise of, kind of, non-white voting populations.

Republicans were saying that they had to change their messages. That they had to do things like embrace immigration reform. And that you couldn't win

big elections, talking as they had done previously. Now, that was done really agreed with where Democrats were who had said that Barack Obama's

election in 2008 and 2012 were a reflection of a country that was moving in their direction. And Democrats, frankly, dismissed the midterm results of

2010 and 2014.

You had to share this agreement from Republicans and Democrats heading into the 2016 election. That someone like Donald Trump simply couldn't win. Not

just because of Donald Trump as an individual or because of the campaign he was running. But because it was simply out of step with the country's

direction. They assume that white voters would not come out in those big enough numbers. They assume that minorities would keep up that voting

levels that we saw in the Obama presidential elections. And both those things turned out to not be true which led to the huge shock of the 2016


We wanted to do that to show that it was beyond polling being wrong or something like that. It was about -- it was also about how two parties

really believed in the direction of the country. And they used that to shake their decision-making.

I think that helps us understand right now while it -- why it feels like both parties are catching up to where a country is because they are. They

spend eight years assuming it was moving in a direction. That could be true in the long term but was certainly not true yet in 2016. And those were --

assumptions were further busted in 2020. It was a presumption of what the demographic changes in America would mean. And those were incorrect. And

so, we're really seeing both parties recalibrate with this new knowledge because they were operating from false assumptions for more than a decade.

SREENIVASAN: You know, speaking of that loss and Mitt Romney, the things that disqualified Mitt Romney, in a way, or changed public opinion against

him seemed, relatively speaking, so innocent when, for example, right now you have Herschel Walker still in a competitive race with Raphael Warnock

for the Senate.

And there were revelations last week, of course, by the (INAUDIBLE) by "New York Times" that he had paid for one abortion, asked for a second abortion

from his ex-girlfriend at the time. How is it culturally that we've gotten to this place where a phrase like binders full of women could be so

scathing against Mitt Romney. And what has been revealed about Herschel Walker in the past week and a half, two weeks doesn't make the kind of

catastrophic slide in the polls that you would imagine?

HERNDON: I think it's important for us to understand just how the evangelical wing of American politics, specifically white evangelicals have

negotiated this change in politics. Remember -- if you remember back to Trump, these were the evangelical leaders who were uncomfortable, at least

vocally, with his home actions. But as we understood it at the time, made a, kind of, transactional agreement. That because Donald Trump could

institute Supreme Court of judges that would allow for Roe to be overturned, what was their top priority, that they were comfortable with


Now, that we have seen that come to fruition, it is not that little evangelical church has said, OK. That's it. Enough with that type of Trump-

type politics.


It's actually escalating such where we have seen a, kind of, rise of Trump- type preachers who are to -- going to step further in terms of reflecting his grievances.

And when we talked to a lot of those evangelical pastors, they are now saying a new type of transaction where it's not just about Donald Trump as

an individual. But they are open to embracing the whole new slate of candidates. That are going further or anti-democratic language. Who are

doing things like questioning results. Who are doing things like Herschel Walker and being specifically hypocritical from personal life to public


It is explicitly about power for the evangelical church. And because Herschel Walker is in a critical race that could determine control of the

Senate for many of those people, that is simply too big of a price for them to give up.

SREENIVASAN: I also wonder, in your reporting, where are the moderates? Is there a, kind of, moderate left that can be convinced of either side?

HERNDON: You now asked the question to one of my colleagues the other day about, how does the establishment feel about Donald Trump? And they looked

at me and said, he is the establishment. And I think that was a great reminder because that kind of outside is now very much driving where the

party is. I think on the Democratic side, it's a little different.

You do have a president in Joe Biden who has tried to represent a more moderate wing. Who has rejected some of the left's most grand proposals.

But at the same time has moved himself on issues like student debt cancellation or as we have seen on his climate change legislation. On what

he's recently done with marijuana reform.

Those were things that were pushed on to him and he has reflected. I don't think anyone would tell you that Joe Biden has become Bernie Sanders

overnight. What I think it's harder for some Democratic voters, is that the ticket and the kind of conversations that are leading where the midterms

are, aren't those, "Moderate issues." There are a lot of -- there are a lot of times those more culture identity grievances, and those are leading

where, you know, where elected officials, they're kind of political terrain right now.

And so, what Republicans are going to try to do, is use inflation and use those cultural issues to bring over moderates who are on that center-left

side. But it's harder to do that when you're running Donald Trump-like candidates up and down the ballot.

SREENIVASAN: When you look at the range of candidates and what voters are facing right now, does policy matter to a voter today more or less than

this particular person's place in the culture war?

HERNDON: Uh-huh. I think it matters. I think, when you -- I mean, when you look at what the Senate candidates, particularly on the Democratics side

are messaging, they're trying to focus on what Joe Biden has done. They're trying to focus on infrastructure built on policy, the climate change

legislation. And if he did not pass those pieces, he would -- democrats would be in a much worse position than they are now.

They were adding real low point over the summer, particularly when people felt like Congress was not delivering. So, doing those things, the

prescription drug pricing, those things have mattered. But at the same time, those things are not enough to save Democrats from the real holes

that they're in. Republicans have a unified and animated base that comes out particularly around those cultural grievances.

And so, Democrats, not only have to motivate (ph) people around policy, but do have to energize their base in that same way. And because of these house

districts, the ways that they're drawn, the retirements and the path that have shifted, because of the Senate races being in sometimes some States

for Democrats, they have to do both those things. Not one or the other.

And so, I think that they're -- I think we can't say that policy doesn't matter. But we can't say that policy is not the end all be all. And it's

not the only part of this equation. And so, for democrats, you have to be doing well on the policy front. But you also have to provide a response to

how Republicans are speaking on that grievance front and that's has been a challenging piece for them also. They have not been able to rally their

base around democracy protection, as well as Republicans have been able to rally their base around election denial, and that's a scary thing.

SREENIVASAN: Astead Herndon, national political reporter of "The New York Times" and host of the podcast, "The Run-Up", it's worth a listen. Thanks

so much for joining us.

HERNDON: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.


AMANPOUR: Indeed, it is scary for all of us who love and protect democracy.

Finally, today, Indigenous Peoples Day is observed in the United States on a holiday traditionally celebrated as Columbus Day.


It's a time to honor the diverse history and the cultural ripeness (ph) of native American life.

And that is it for our program. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus on our podcast. Thank you for

watching and goodbye from London.