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Interview With Deputy Head Of The Office Of The President Of Ukraine And Chief Diplomatic Adviser To President Zelenskyy Igor Zhovka; Interview With Democratic National Committee Former Chair And Former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Interview With "And There Was Light" Author Jon Meacham. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 25, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




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


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We reject the transparently false allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own



AMANPOUR: World leaders dismiss Russia's latest false flag alarm. And the United States warns Putin against any nuclear use. I ask President

Zelenskyy's chief diplomatic adviser, what's behind Russia's latest provocation? Then.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We just have 15 days until one of the most important elections in our lifetime.


AMANPOUR: President Biden rallies Democrats for the final push to the midterms. But as pocketbook issues inflation rise, Republican surge in the

polls. We look ahead with our experts to what this could mean for American leadership. And.


JON MEACHAM, AUTHOR, "AND THERE WAS LIGHT": Lincoln believed that slavery was wrong, that liberty was right, that democracy was in peril, and that

democracy could not, as he put, it long-endure if we refuse to embrace the principles of the Declaration of Independence.


AMANPOUR: Historian, Jon Meacham, with a message from America's past that resonates today.

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

Russia tries, once again, to take a false flag allegation about Ukraine to the United Nations. Without a shred of evidence and despite denials by Kyiv

and Washington, Moscow claims that Ukraine plans to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. That is a weapon that combines conventional explosives with

radioactive material and could spread nuclear contamination over a large area.

Ukraine's foreign minister calls a story a pure Russian lie and says no one should be fooled by it. While the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg,

tweets that Russia must not use it as a pretext for escalation. And the U.S. state department spokesman warns the following.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: It would certainly be another example of President Putin's brutality, if he were to use a so-

called dirty bomb. There would be consequences for Russia whether it uses a dirty bomb or a nuclear bomb. We've been very clear about that.


AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, the grinding military battle continues as Ukraine makes hard fought gains in the east and in the south. And Ukrainian

citizens are hunkered down for the possibility of a winter with energy blackouts after Russia's wave of missile and drone attacks on vital

infrastructure. Western leaders continue to pledge unwavering support for Ukraine but as a new British prime minister takes over and elections near

in the United States, Kyiv's diplomatic efforts are even more urgent.

Igor Zhovka, President Zelenskyy's chief diplomatic adviser is in Croatia today meeting with parliamentary leaders from around the world, including

the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And he is joining me now from Zagreb.

Mr. Zhovka, welcome back to our program. Can I ask you, firstly, just to address this latest allegation and this appearance at the U.N. Security

Council by Russia about the use of a dirty bomb?


deep -- explanation is very simple, you know. Having running out of instruments of -- the tune (ph) to success on the battlefield because they

are achieving anything on the battlefield, rather we are currently advancing.

They are using these provocative narratives, you know, mirroring, in fact, what they're going to do. Definitely Ukraine would never ever work on any

type of dirty bomb or whatever weapon of mass destruction that you may -- that you mentioned. Vice-verse, Russia is constantly blackmailing the whole

world community by the nuclear weapon. By possibility of using biological and chemical weapon.

And yes, this time, the method -- this story about dirty bombings -- I mean, probably hiding the intention to use these kinds of dirty bombs in

the territory of Ukraine. Because Ukrainians are not crazy to use the dirty bombs on the territory of the country. At the same time, whatever they want

any inches of other territory, we are fighting for our land.


So, definitely, this sort of -- kind of narrative is considering something. Considering something serious and important for the International Community

to keep an eye on.

AMANPOUR: Well, they are keeping an eye on it. And as we've just explained, there are a lot of warnings and, you know, should Russia carry

this false flag operation further. But we remember that, as you say, Russia accused you all of doing this with biological weapons back in March. Of

course, that proved to be completely unfounded. It went to the security council back then.

And now, you know, the U.S. is keeping a very close eye on any Russian nuclear activity, given veiled threats from Moscow. And we understand that

John Kirby, who's the national security spokesman, he says, we continue to see nothing in the way of preparations by the Russian side for the use of

nuclear weapons. Do you trust the U.S. on that?

ZHOVKA: We definitely trust any valuable information which is coming from U.S. -- from the U.S. And very important that the U.S., as well as other

civilized countries, are keeping a watchful eye on possible Russian actions. That's what we want for the International Community. Please do not

repeat the previous mistakes when you were not reacting to some aggressive actions that Russia was doing and started the war against Ukraine in 2014,

another on in 2022.

And now, having this even thought about it that the nuclear weapons. So, yes, definitely. It is very difficult to conceal in the nowadays world the

major preparation for using technical (INAUDIBLE) nuclear weapon. But no less important to understand that this time it might not be the bluffing of

Mr. Putin. It might be serious preparations.

Because once again, this is practically the only military tool he's -- he can use now. Right now, the tools in the battlefield, fighting inside of

this with the civilian infrastructure, with the civilians in Ukraine, but this is not a victory. This is not a victory concealed to your own people,

to your own propaganda channels. So, that's why let us all be very serious about what he is thinking.

AMANPOUR: Well, you are very serious about it because you have asked -- your government has asked, the head of the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog

to come to your country to check out these claims. Let me just read what Rafael Grossi has said yesterday. The IAEA inspected one of these locations

one month ago. And all our findings were consistent with Ukraine safeguard declarations. No undeclared nuclear activities or material were found


So, it's coming to you -- well, he and his people are coming to you in a couple of days. What do you hope that his visit will do? Because as you

know Russia has said that any such dirty bomb use will be considered an act of nuclear terrorism.

ZHOVKA: Well, we are hoping for unbiased mission of Mr. Grossi and his team. It's very important these -- that he is active in the Ukraine. It

would be very important if he also pays attention to what Russia is doing around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.


ZHOVKA: You know, we are asking in vain that Grossi and his team to push on Russia to withdraw the armed forces from the nuclear power plant.

Because you'll never find any nuclear power plant in the world operating under the guns, under the soldiers, blackmailing the director of the power

plant or the people from the team, and then coming there and letting (ph) them back or whatever.

So, what would really count would be the unbiased approach of the IAEA on what is going around the nuclear materials in Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Zhovka, as you said, a lot of this is because of Russia's mounting failures on the battlefield. And particularly, I want to

understand from you what seems to be the developments around Kherson where you have made a very concerted effort. And there are a lot of claims of

liberated territory around the actual urban center.

On the other hand, your own intelligence chief has said that they detect Russian forces potentially digging in in the city to potentially wage some

kind of urban guerrilla warfare or urban warfare. Can you tell me the situation in the city and around Kherson, and what kind of progress your

forces are making?

ZHOVKA: I don't know -- I don't think that Russia is -- you know, Russia knows how to wage a modern warfare, a -- whatever kind of warfare. Because

what they are very good at, as you know, bombarding, a carpet (ph) bombardments of the cities using the airplanes and missiles -- I don't

know, Iranian drones or never. That's what they are good at.

Whether you're talking about the modern warfare and the tactics and strategy of waging the warfare, that is where they're losing.


We're doing quite fine in this region. Though the situation is difficult. Obviously, I cannot reveal to you all the plans of our military people. But

believe me, this territory, this region of Ukraine is very important because, you know, they concentrate a massive amount of troops there,

manpower, equipment, et cetera. So, this is very important for them.

I don't believe in those narratives that it's much more easier to fortify there or to defend this territory rather to -- than counter advance. I

think Ukrainian armed forces already shown to the whole world, and definitely to Russia, that times -- sometimes we can create miracles on the

battlefield. And definitely, we will get back every inch of territory into the south of Ukraine and the Crimea.

AMANPOUR: So, we've obviously witnessed -- you've had to endure it, your people have had to endure it, the waves and waves of Russian cruise

missiles, kamikaze drones, the Iranian made Shahed drones that are hitting deliberately your infrastructure, including the energy infrastructure. And

we know that there are blackouts and energy interruptions around your country.

Are you able to fix these pieces of infrastructure fast enough? Do you, you know, foresee a cold and dark winter?

ZHOVKA: That's what we are doing very fast and quickly, repairing our damage infrastructure, then the electricity grids, thermal power plants, et

cetera. But, yes, they are doing it day by day, night by night, more and more. And more than 30 percent of general power system of Ukraine were hit

and these are dark periods of time but we are managing to it daily.

There are some blackouts across the country but limited period of time. But people, you know, have to be responsible now and to be very responsible

using the electric -- electricity, et cetera. But definitely, they are testing the ground before the wintertime.

They want us to freeze without electricity, without heating, without gas. They want Ukrainian people to panic, to be chaotic in their actions. But

each and every one of us is responsible. Each and everyone want to know what to do. And definitely, we will survive this winter, together with the

support of the International Community.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about the International Community because as you see here in the United Kingdom, there is a new Tory Party leader, a

new prime minister. You know, there is talk about whether these countries of Europe can afford to keep giving the billions and billions of dollars

and pounds of aid and all the military equipment. You know that in the United States, there is some debate, certainly in the Republican Party,

about whether there should be, "A blank check" certainly after the midterms if they win given to Ukraine.

You have met today in Zagreb with, among others, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What are you hearing from her and from others who are supporting

you now about the continued robust support for as long as it takes?

ZHOVKA: Yes, the only words I was hearing today we're from others -- as well as from other congressmen and senators from the United States is the

bipartisan support will rejoin (ph) in any results of the election. That's what we are achieving already. Look at the amount of weapon U.S. is

rendering to Ukraine. Look at the amount of financial support Ukraine is achieving from the other states. Look at the level of sanctions which are

already used against Russia.

We still count on some serious actions of the United States. Like, for instance, with the events in Russia with counter response (ph) of

terrorism. But I don't think it will be any major changes despite the results of election because U.S. is really on the side of each and every

country from the civilized world. We need to achieve this victory. We need to achieve it together. And definitely, it marginally depends on the

steadfast support of the U.S. and that's what we definitely will continue to get.

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm glad to hear you sound confident about that. Can I ask you, what effect the Russian mobilization is having on the war and on the

battlefield? For instance, we are hearing that they're, you know -- sort of, noises. Sort of, beginning to surface about potential mobilization

again to the north of your country on the Belarus -- on the Belarusian border.

Are you picking up any of that? Do you see any mobilization there? Are you worried that they might go around the north again and try again?

ZHOVKA: Well, you know, this mobilization didn't give any, you know, advantages to the Russian armed forces. That's what we are supporting at

the battlefield. I mean, more from this -- those mobilized conscripts or whatever you call them, are already dying on the territory of Ukraine

because they're coming practically without, you know, preparation, without enough knowledge of how to fight.


As far as the border with Belarus is concerned, my president raised this issue at the G7 Meeting saying that we have to have an international

mission on the border between Ukraine and Belarus because we never plan anything against Belarus while they might have this offensive from the

territory of Belarus.

By, they, I mean, Russians, because definitely not the Belarus who will decide. It will be Russia who will decide what -- to start it from Belarus

or not. But even if we think about this, if they dare to stop, believe me, the Ukraine-Belarus border is heavily secured. We have stabilizing (ph)

defense there. And these possible offensives from the Belarusian territory will definitely fail.

AMANPOUR: Igor Zhovkva, thank you so much, indeed. President Zelenskyy's chief diplomatic adviser. Thank you for joining us.

And just a quick note, there was quite an extraordinary admission from President Putin this evening that just crossed on the news wires. He,

calling for his own national security and production facilities to ramp up to be able to provide those soldiers who have been mobilized on the

battlefield in Ukraine with equipment, clothes, and the kinds of things they need. So, that was an interesting admission from Moscow.

Now, Correspondent Melissa Bell has a rare glimpse into the cost of Putin's war. She speaks with a doctor, a whistleblower, who escaped from Belarus to

Lithuania carrying physical evidence of the devastating consequences to Russia's poorly prepared troops.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): For Andrei, it was the hardest of goodbyes.

I love you, he tells his daughters as he prepares to swim for his life. Is daddy leaving? Asks one. Yes, he replies.

The young doctor from Southern Belarus had just driven his family across the country from their home near the Ukraine border. Andrei then swam into

the safety of neighboring Lithuania, running from a war that wasn't his.

Fleeing with x-rays of some of the Russian soldiers he treated as the war began. The ghosts of Vladimir Putin's war machine.

"ANDREI", DOCTOR, MAZYR CITY HOSPITAL (through translator): I wanted to tell their story. I just took some evidence to confirm it. But what I took

with me could make me liable. They can charge me with espionage.

BELL (voiceover): With the state of the Russian army, it's defeats and its casualties are closely guarded secret. These images are a rare window on to

Russia's catastrophic invasion. On February 24th, the first day of the war, Russian forces landed at this airport on the outskirts of Kyiv. The fight

that ensued was brutal. Ukrainian counteroffensives inflicted devastating casualties on the Russian paratroopers. Many wound up in Mazyr City

Hospital in Southern Belarus.

ANDREI, (through translator): Most had blast injuries, injured hips, face, lacerations to the torso area, head, brain injuries. Several had damage to

their jaws.

BELL (voiceover): Andrei says that many of the injuries he treated were consistent with soldiers coming under unexpected and chaotic firepower.

ANDREI, (through translator): They saw a lot of explosions and couldn't even see who is firing on them. Some of them told us they had gone through

hell. They didn't expect what was waiting for them in Ukraine. They thought they were going in for military exercises. They were mainly angry at the

commander who had deceived them, most already were resigned to their new reality of losing a finger or a leg.

BELL (voiceover): The trucks used to transport the wounded shared at the time on social media. Andrei says, they arrived at night. Bringing 30

soldiers on the second day of the war, 90 on the third.

ANDREI, (through translator): They came from Borodyanka, some from Hostomel, and other from Bucha. A number was written on the forehead of

each to direct them to the right department. At least the ones who were admitted, had a good chance of surviving. There was one guy who was missing

his entire lower jaw. And he was only complaining that he hadn't eaten or drank anything for three days.

BELL (voiceover): But the soldiers kept arriving. Andrei says about 40 a day on average. The wounds, easier for him to remember than the names.

Although one in particular does stand out.

BELL (on camera): One of the early narratives of the start of the war, with a number of commanders that were being lost on the Russian side.

Several wound up in Mazyr District Hospital, including General Sergei Nirkov (ph).

ANDREI, (through translator): He suffered of abdominal trauma from a mine explosion in Chernobyl. So, we treated him, and then after he was

stabilized, he was taken away with the other officers. I felt disgust towards these officers. Mainly, the feeling was that they were war



BELL (voiceover): Mostly, Andrei says, the men were ordinary soldiers. Very young and inexperienced. 18, 19, 20-year-olds who would spend a couple

of days in the hospital before being sent back to Russia. Their lives saved but changed forever.

ANDREI, (through translator): I had the impression that only a small portion of the soldiers sent actually made it out alive and to our

hospital. I had a feeling that some of the living envied those who had died.

BELL (voiceover): Andrei is now rebuilding his own life with his family in a European city with what little they could bring, mainly, the x-rays.

Hidden in one of his daughters' toys to be brought to safety and now to light.


AMANPOUR: Melissa Bell reporting there. And, of course, in this awful terrible war, so many are killed and injured on both sides. We reached out

to the Russian ministry of defense and the Mazyr City Hospital for comment, neither have replied.

Next, two weeks before America's pivotal midterm elections, opinion polls are swinging toward Republicans. Democrats saw a surge of reports this

summer after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade. Now, voters say, their key issues are the economy and inflation which seem to be favoring

Republican candidates.

Now, as former chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez as a veteran reader a volatile poll, and Scott Jennings is as well. He was

adviser to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

So, gentlemen, welcome to you both. Can I first start with Ukraine? Because both sides seem to be, you know, getting into what might happen in -- you

know, after the midterms. So, the Republicans, Kevin McCarthy, himself, the house minority leader, has said that Americans may be sitting in a

recession and may not, you know, think a blank check to Ukraine is in their national interests.

And as you know, Tom Perez, the Democrats have come under some fire for a letter circulated, and now withdrawn by the progressive caucus that seemed

to give 100 percent support to Ukraine but also a call for, you know, proper diplomacy to end the war.

So, let me ask you first, Tom Perez, what you make of the Ukraine factor in these elections?


Congress to support the effort in Ukraine. And one of the things that President Biden, I think, has done remarkably is to bring together the NATO

alliance. Look at where they are. They are so strong. And look at where we were at the end of the Trump administration.

And so, we're going to continue that show of unity and we're going to continue to work tirelessly to make sure that the people of Ukraine are

protected, the NATO alliance continues to be strengthened. And I -- that should be a bipartisan issue. I can't speak for Kevin McCarthy. But I can

sure believe that this bipartisan support should continue and will continue.

AMANPOUR: So, Scott, do you think it will, given what Kevin McCarthy said, and given the real economic troubles that are plaguing the world right now.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. I think there is a bipartisan support for continuing to push back against the Russian

aggression in Ukraine. I do think there will be new Republican members of Congress who wants some oversight of how the money is being spent and who

want some accountability on it. But I think overall, there is large bipartisan support.

I do think the Democrats have trouble on their progressive flank. Obviously, you referenced it but about 30 house progressives signed a

letter. And now they're blaming the staff for releasing it and not vetting it. But they clearly want out of this.

And so, you do have some people, I think, on the far left, and perhaps on the far, far right, who are questioning America's commitment to this. But I

think, overall, they will remain bipartisan support for helping Ukraine fight the Russians.

AMANPOUR: And to be clear, that letter did pledge also, you know, support for Ukraine in its effort to defend against this illegal war. But beyond

that, I want to ask you both because it might sound, kind of, counterintuitive. But none other than Jamie, you know, Dimon, who's the JP

Morgan CEO says that recession, you know, is likely and we're hearing that, you know, from other countries and other parts of the world.

But that he's far more concerned about geopolitics. And he was talking, yes, about Ukraine. But also U.S.-China relations and the wider, sort of,

issues whether it's oil and OPEC Plus, whatever it might be. The instability in the world that is almost overtaking, you know, this idea of

the economy.

Scott, what do you make of Jamie Dimon's concerns? And how -- again, how much does that play into people as they prepare to vote?

JENNINGS: Well, I think he's got some legitimate statements that he's made because I do think there's a sense among the American electorate that were,

kind of, off the rails.


And whether that means off the rails in terms of inflation or international instability -- I mean, the other day the president went to a Democratic

fundraiser and said we're on the brink of nuclear war. And then his staff came out a few hours later and said, well, he -- you know, there's now new

intelligence on that. I mean, that would give the average voter the idea that perhaps something is going haywire around the world. And it leads to

anxiety. It leads to stress.

And I think that's one of the reasons why I think Democrats are struggling a little bit here as we close out the midterm. But, yes, that kind of

roiling of the electorate can definitely have electoral ripples down the line. And I'm sure it will for President Biden when he runs for re-

election, if he does, in 2024.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's stick for the midterms for the moment. Tom Perez, your view on that. Because these are concerns put out by, you know, major

titan of, you know, global finance. And, you know, it's not often that we hear this kind of thing in local midterm elections. Does it negatively

impact your party? Do you think this whole focus on, you know -- correct, I would guess, focus on trying to solve the world's really difficult and

dangerous problems potentially backfire and a midterm?

PEREZ: Well, we have a lot of stressors right now. There's no doubt about it. We have a war in Ukraine. We have a war criminal in Vladimir Putin. We

have a global inflationary set of pressures. And, you know, Joe Biden no more caused inflation than Boris Johnson or Liz Truss in the U.K. caused

inflation. These are global forces.

And what I think voters are going to be looking for in these midterm elections is who is best situated to address a wide array of issues that

are on peoples' minds? Yes, inflations on peoples' minds without a doubt. And that's why President Biden took such decisive action in so many ways.

But I'll tell you, 49 years ago, the Supreme Court established a woman's rights to control what she does with her body. And now, the Supreme Court

took that away. I've never seen a midterm cycle, Christiane, that is more fluid than this midterms cycle.

Admittedly, in a normal cycle, you know, Democrats would be facing remarkable headwinds. And there are some headwinds, without a doubt. But

you look at the polling in these races, and it's as fluid as it gets because so many women and so many people across the country, not just

women, are aghast at what the Supreme Court did. So many people are aghast at these election deniers that are running. As Senator McConnell said a

while back, you know, candidate quality matters.

And a big reason why Democrats still have a shot in so many of these races is we're fielding really good candidates who are fighting for the issues

that matter most to people. And there are so many extreme candidates on the other side. So, it's very fluid.

AMANPOUR: So, basically, they are -- those saying many of the voters that the economy is their priority right now. But I do actually want to ask both

of you about the issue of Roe versus Wade in the Supreme Court. Because, yes, it was a very propulsive issue during the summer and directly after

that Supreme Court vote and decision. But now you hear reports of many women, including independents, moving over to Republicans, the Republican


How do you account for that -- first, let me ask you, Scott. How do you account for what you -- what one might have thought was, you know, a

woman's, you know, political views on this basic right to choose and discuss her own freedoms, personal freedoms, that seems now to be not such

an election issue?

JENNINGS: Yes, well, I think -- first of all, I think, it was oversold in the summer that this was going to be the one and only determining issue for

the midterms. I think that's what Democrats wanted to have happen but inflation is that bad. The economic anxiety is that bad. Crime which, is

driving a lot of these Senate races, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. It is that bad.

And so, people have more than one issue that they care about. But on economic anxieties, on inflation, on just idea that when you go to the

grocery store, your shocked every time you walk on the door. You can clearly see it in the national polling.

Republicans made their bet on inflation and crime. Democrats spent all their money and made their huge bet on abortion. And if you look at the

numbers now, abortion is like sixth or seventh on the list of top issues. And inflation and crime and quality of life, that's one, two, and three.

Republicans just made a better bet.

And I think that's ultimately why, I think, the House is gone for Democrats. And I think Republicans are in a pretty good position to, at

least, pick up one seat in the senate. Democrats are fishing off the wrong peer in terms of where do most voters whether they want to hear about. They

want to hear about the economy, not abortion.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then, Tom Perez, because you heard Bernie Sanders say, you know, on the TV this weekend that he was concerned that

Democratic voters, particularly younger ones, might not be so mobilized to actually turn out.


And now, you have also this group of Democratic strategists who wrote a letter in the "American Prospect", it's titled, "A Memo to Democrats".

Basically, if they don't think -- he's talking about voters, the Democrats are prioritizing their everyday costs, they will be put off. They want to

know you understand what is going on in their lives. They want to know you are helping with the number one problem and have a plan." Do you think,

like Scott says, that you kind of dropped the ball on this and put all -- bet everything on Roe?

PEREZ: People spent their entire lives multitasking. You know, every day Americans, they are not just focused on one issue. They're trying to pay

their rent. They're trying to make sure they make ends meet. And they're trying to deal with these issues that you and I have just discussed here

about Roe V. Wade.

We had five special elections post-Roe V. Wade. You know, Kansas, if we had been having a conversation before the Kansas primary there, and I told you

what was going to happen in Kansas, you would have wondered if I was living on the same planet.

And so, there are a number of issues on voters' minds. And the thing that we have to continue to communicate is Democrats have been fighting for

these pocketbook issues. You look at the Childcare Tax Credit, that was brought to us by Democrats. We no longer have it because Republicans

opposed it. We were the ones who had been investing in infrastructure. And I'm always mind-boggled when I see Republicans show up at groundbreaking

sprint for infrastructure progress or programs that they voted against.

And so, yes, we have to make sure we communicate to everyone that we are fighting for those pocketbook issues. That we have been fighting to make

sure you are safe. And that we are fighting to protect a woman's right to choose. And look at what's happening in Georgia. When you talk about

turnout, record turnout in early voting in Georgia. Black voters are coming out. We're going to exceed the 2020 early vote turnout there if it

continues on its pace.

So, Democrats are pretty darn motivated to get out there and vote. And that is why we have so many jump ball races. We shouldn't have all these jump

all races that we do. But we do because I think Democrats have the upper hand on so many issues.

And Donald Trump continues to inject himself into the midterm elections. He wants it to be a referendum on him and that's why so many independent

voters and Republican-leaning voters who voted against Donald Trump, he keeps reminding them that he still wants to hang around.

And that's why Democrats, I think, have a real shot in the Senate races. We feel better candidates, we're talking about those issues, and I think we

can keep the Senate. The House is still, you know, a taller order. But I think that we have a shot for all the reasons that I've just articulated.

And the honest answer is none of us know until night what's going to happen. That's how fluid this situation is.

AMANPOUR: And that also, we've all been scarred by polls, so, you know. And I know you, guys, are experts in it. But you know, who's going to bet

the House on that -- I mean the home.

Scott Jennings, let me ask you something because, you know, people have talked to me about issues that don't really get a lot of play in the, sort

of, general analysis of the midterms. For instance, suburban moms and school and children. And they still blame the Democrats for the COVID

lockdowns after the first wave, for what's being taught in school, all those kinds of things.

That, kind of, goes with messaging. And I heard from the journalist Anand Giridharadas who just wrote a big issue on this that Republicans are better

at messaging than Democrats are. So, I just want you, Scott, to talk to me about that, about -- you know, the whole school thing and the messaging

thing in general.

JENNINGS: Well, on the school issue -- I mean, look at the national report card that just came out. I mean, it's quite obvious that the school

lockdowns were a huge disaster for our children. You know, they can't read at the level they're supposed to. Their mass scores are down. And these

places that closed that schools for far longer than they should have, we knew that schools were not big transmitters of COVID, and yet we kept the

schools in many, many places closed. Not everywhere, but in many places, they were kept close for far too long.

I think people are angry about it. Look, I got four school aged kids at home and I was there with my wife juggling -- trying to do school at home

and I knew -- we all knew that the learning from home was not working, and yet they kept the schools closed. We all did the best we can. And we're

lucky. We have resources and we had the time and the flexibility to do it. But not everybody did.

Working Americans and lower income Americans were punished and their kids were punished in these school lockdowns.


JENNINGS: And I think voters are going to pay for it -- are going to cause the Democrats to pay for it.


AMANPOUR: So, very quickly, Tom, was that, you know, a drop ball? And about the messaging, do you actually get the message out as effectively as

the other side?

PEREZ: Well, listen, the reason we're in this jump ball election instead of what we see in the historic midterms elections is because voters are

understanding that they got a check in their account because of Joe Biden. They've gotten -- they're getting reductions in their health care cost

because of Joe Biden and Democrats. We have a leader who has mobilized the global community in the fight against tyranny from Putin. We are investing

in a woman's right to choose. Those distinctions are very, very clear. And we're fielding confident candidates who are going to have your back.

And that's why we have a chance. And that is what we have to keep doing between now and election day. There are undeniable headwinds around. There

always are around midterm elections. But the fact that we are in such a fluid moment with opportunities and states ranging from North Carolina to

Ohio to Wisconsin to Arizona and Nevada, that's what we're doing. And I think that's what we will see on election day.


PEREZ: Turnout is really high.

AMANPOUR: All right. We have to leave it there. Tom Perez, Scott Jennings, thank you both so much.

Now, we're going to take a look back at one of the country's most consequential presidents, Abraham Lincoln. Pulitzer prize-winning

biographer and best-selling author Jon Meacham has charted Lincoln's life in his new book, "And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American

Struggle". And he speaks to Walter Isaacson about the reasoning behind some of Lincoln's most difficult decisions and the lessons his political era can

offer modern-day America.


WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And Jon Meacham, welcome back to the show.


ISAACSON: You have this wonderful new biography of Lincoln that just came out. And as I was reading it, I notice that the thread through the book is

a focus on his conscience. You know, how did that conscience develop?

MEACHAM: One of the things I wanted to do in the book was answer the question, not only of how Lincoln did what he did but why. And in our own

time, of course, we have a great deal of skepticism, much of it justified about the motives of the American past. How progressive were the

progressives actually.

And I wanted to try to figure out what was it about anti-slavery politics? For Lincoln, it was consistently anti-slavery. He was not an abolitionist,

in the sense that we would want him to be. But he was for limiting the spread of slavery to create, as you know, what they used to call the

scorpion state. You know, they wanted -- there'd be a cordon of fire where slavery would be trapped and then ultimately die.

That was a radical position in that time. And it wasn't particularly politically potent one actually. Lincoln lost two Senate races in the

1850s. He only got 39 percent when of the popular vote when he ran for president. And -- so, what was it about this principle that he maintained

to his own detriment throughout his career? My sense is that it goes back to a theological ethos that his parents were part of. In the turn of the

18th and 19th centuries, they were part of what was called emancipation churches. They were -- it was a Baptist denomination in Kentucky.

And so, I think Lincoln, when he said, as he did in 1864, I am naturally anti-slavery. I cannot remember when I did not so think and so feel. I

think he was telling the truth. And at some point, when we look at the past, we shouldn't just take that you have done this forever. You can't

just take what people said and believe that it's totally representative of their beliefs. But at a certain point, if they say the same thing year

after year and they act on it, then you have to take it seriously.

And Lincoln believed that slavery was wrong, that liberty was right, that democracy was in peril, and that democracy could not, as he put, it long-

endure if we refuse to embrace the principles of the Declaration of Independence.

ISAACSON: Well, not surprisingly, this conscience you talk about was really connected to faith. Not just the Kentucky Baptist faith you just

mentioned, but a deep faith from reading the bible a lot. And I'd love a -- there's a wonderful sentence near the beginning of your book I'd like to

quote and for your to expand on, which is, to Lincoln, God whispered His will through conscience, calling humankind to live in accord with the laws

of love.


MEACHAM: He believed there was a transcendent moral order. He was not a conventional Christian. I am not re-baptizing Abraham Lincoln. Let's be

very clear there. He was not someone who confessed conventional Christian creeds. He did not follow a conventional Christian view. What he did have

was this ambient sense that there was a right and a truth. And that right and that truth were manifested to the extent to which human beings could

actually make the golden rule operative.

And that may sound a little co-melodic (ph) or a little ceremony, but it's not. It's what he did. And he connected the two. He connected this idea of

love of neighbor, not just to theology but to politics. He said, my ancient faith teaches me that all man are created equal. He said, as I would not be

a slave, so I would not be a master. That expresses my idea of democracy.

And so, if I respect you and your equality and your dignity, I am therefore more likely to have you respect mine. And if I extend a hand to you when

you need it in the morning, you are more likely to extend one to me in the afternoon when I need it. And that is the motive moral force of democracy.

ISAACSON: And yet you call Lincoln a big inconsistent man, why?

MEACHAM: Well, W. E. B. Du Bois did it first. Du Bois said he was a big brave inconsistent man. He was a poor, illiterate, illegitimate white. This

was a 1922 essay. And he was inconsistent because he did not see that there was a practical way, practical way to create the kind of egalitarian

democracy that you and I are blessed to be able to kind of take for granted as an actionable idea.

He did not see the integrated 13th and 14th and 15th amendment country all his career. He got there through the crisis of war. He got there,

understanding that the verdict of the war meant that slavery had to die, that it couldn't be gradual emancipation, that it couldn't be compensated

from the slave owner's emancipation. They had to be immediate, unconditional. It came through the -- what he called the fiery trial.

And in doing that, he had to put aside his own views that we would see as racist. And that was a very common -- tragically, are very common dichotomy

of views. There were many abolitionists in the United States of America in the 19th century who wear terrible racists. They believed in the political

equality of black Americans but not the social or civil equality.

And so, to me, one of the reasons to tackle Lincoln was to try to figure out if someone could be so wrong about the social and civil equality of

black Americans. So, wrong about that. And saying horrible things that were in fight fact white supremacists. If you could be that person and yet be

the person who decided to wager everything on a civil war, who fought for, ran for election on the 13th amendment, what manner of man is it who can be

so wrong about something so big and yet also get big things right. And the biographical answer, the historical answer is, what manner of man is that

is he's a man. Fallen, frail, and fallible.

ISAACSON: One of the great themes we wrestled with in history, J. Blinken (ph), Ben Franklin, all of our founders, or anything else is, when is it a

good idea to compromise? I was surprised in your book there were so many times that Lincoln refused to compromise.

MEACHAM: So, there are three great moments. I think we've met as his Churchillian moments. Like Churchill in May of 1940. He looked and said, I

am not -- I will not give in on this principle. He wins the presidency, barely. There is a perfectly rational compromise on the table. It was a

deal that would have restored the Missouri Compromise line, which I know your viewers will now -- their eyes will blaze but it's important. It was

to take that line back across the country to the eastern border of California and allow slavery to go into New Mexico and Arizona.


The one view was, well, it's not arable -- it's not hugely arable land so it won't be that bad. You know, when you get into saying some about slavery

that it won't be that bad, you're probably in the wrong place to be making an argument. He wouldn't do it because he believed that if you gave an inch

on slavery, that the south -- the white south would come back again and again and again.

ISAACSON: What would've happened had he made that compromise?

MEACHAM: The war would have been avoided but slavery -- we would have smashed the one controlling principle. The one controlling anti-slavery

principle in the American experience which was that the Congress had the power. This is very important. It's dorky but important. The Congress had

the power to regulate the institutions of territories that would become states. They did not have the power, as they saw it under the constitution

to do anything directly about slavery in the existing states.

And because of the 13th amendment and the drama of that, we sort of put that to the side in our -- in the popular imagination. But Lincoln did not

believe that he had the constitutional authority in 1860 and '61 to abolish slavery where it existed. What he firmly believed was that he had the power

-- the federal government had the power, to prevent its spread.

I believe, this is just me talking. I think it's unclear to me that slavery would have been abolished in the 19th century. Because it would have meant

that the federal government had basically said, well, it's not that bad. We will let it go that far. And this question suffused and defined our

politics in a way that's -- it's almost hard to recover now.

The Douglas-Lincoln debates in the 1850s and the Senate races were about the spread of slavery because that's what the federal government had

authority over. And if the federal government, under Lincoln had declared themselves pro-slavery, then it's very hard for me to see how abolition

would have unfolded.

ISAACSON: But then, in 1864, he decides to go hole hawk for emancipation, even though, as you said, before that he thought the federal government

only had the power to deal with the expansion of slavery and to other territories. Even the Republican leaders, whose party leaders at the time,

tell him to compromise and not go full bore on emancipation. Why does he do it?

MEACHAM: Third week of August -- I think this is one of the most important moments in American history. Third week of August, 1864, it looks as if

he's going to lose. The chairman of the Republican National Committee who was the editor of "The New York Times" -- that tells you how long ago this

was, comes down to Washington. And Lincoln had just met with Frederick Douglass a couple days before. Henry Raymond was this name.

He comes in and he says, if you keep emancipation as a precondition for any settlement of the war -- this is before the fall of Atlanta, this is before

Sherman's March to the Sea, you will lose re-election. And Lincoln worked this out. He left some documents where he tried to talk himself into it.

How would he present it if he were to compromise on this.

But fundamentally, he decided, no. One practical reason was that black men under arms who were a vital part of the war effort at that hour. And he

said man do not fight, say for incentive. How could you ask a black man to fight for a union that would not emancipate them. So, that was a very

practical thing. But it was this moral sensibility that in the trial of the war, slavery had been defeated. And he was not going to then compromise.

And this is what a compromise would have looked like in the same way we were just talking about what 1860, '61 would have looked like, and this is

all in the record. If Lincoln had said, all right, we will do peace talks with Richmond. And we'll -- I will lift or limit the force of the

emancipation proclamation. And then the new union, the reconstituted union can settle all the issues in a convention of the states. God only knows

what they would have done. And I think it's pretty safe to say that it would not have been immediate uncompensated emancipation.

ISAACSON: What changes and his own minds between 1862 in 1864, because it's not so much the war going that well.

MEACHAM: It's the extraordinary contribution of black Americans under fire.


It is understanding that people who were not free we're willing to fight for a union on the implied promise that emancipation would come. And I

think that we understandably focus on the great people of history. But undoubtedly, the unimaginable courage of black men and black women under

arms mattered enormously to him.

And Frederick Douglass, to his everlasting credit, understood this from the very beginning when he pushed for the enlistments and recruitment of black

Americans in the union army. He said -- I'll get it slightly wrong, but once you get a brass U.S. and an eagle on a man's shoulder and you get a

gun in his hand, it will be impossible to keep them in chains.

ISAACSON: Your history books are actually always so timely. And I didn't really remember this incident but it really struck me, of course, of how

timely it is which is after the 1860 election, there is a plot to decertify and a plot of Lincoln's foes to go to the Capitol and overturn the election

results. And a patriotic vice president, I think it was John C. Breckinridge, says no, no, no. I'm not going to go along with this. I'm not

going to decertify the electoral college vote. Tell me how that resonates for you today?

MEACHAM: It's -- it was February 13, 1861, Lincoln saw it, interestingly. He was getting letters. He was in Springfield. He'd won. He was getting a

lot of reports of attempted assassination, death threats, rumors of war, of people might try to kill him at the inauguration. And he wrote early on

that, I think our point of greatest danger is the electoral college vote. Because he's a lawyer, right? So, he knew that that was a critical step in

the legal certification.

And the votes were held in wooden boxes in the Capital. John Breckenridge who had run against Lincoln and who would become a confederate general and

confederate official decided that he had sworn an oath to a constitution. He might not follow that constitution and the fullness of time but his oath

at the moment was to that. It's very much like Mike Pence.

And Breckenridge -- Henry Dawes of Massachusetts said, he did it like a Roman of old. He did his duty in that moment. They packed the -- the police

were in the capital from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Winfield Scott came down from New York, the commanding general of the army. He said,

if anyone tries to interfere with the count, I will blow them through the windows. We were on tenterhooks.

And you look -- one of the remarkable things that -- there are sort of two political -- remarkable political things in that era. One is, as we are

falling apart, South Carolina seceded, I think on December 20th of 1860. So, in the -- people are following them out, different states.

The fact that the transition happened. The fact that the inauguration happened on March 4, 1861. And then the fact that we had an election --

well, three elections, really. We had an 1862 midterm, some auricular (ph) elections in 1863, and then the 1864 election. Even amid the civil war,

people were not claiming that elections had been stolen or that there was a big lie that was defining American politics.

And that, I think, for our own time, should show us that this is -- our concerns about the future of democracy are not hyperbolic. They're not a

notional. Even in the civil war, we had fairly orderly elections. And I think it was an innate obedience to the rule of law that John Breckenridge

had, Mike Pence had. And I think that it -- we're all being called on it at this point to accept results if they're full, free and fair even if we

don't like them.

ISAACSON: Jon Meacham, thank you for joining us again.

MEACHAM: Thanks, Walter.


AMANPOUR: Great conversation.

And finally on a lighter note, it is quite the season for fruit and veg. We've had a lettuce out last a prime minister here in the U.K., as

immortalized by the British tabloid, "The Daily Star". And now, in Belgium, pumpkins have joined the race. These competitors decked in fancy dress have

paddled across a pond in giant hollowed out pumpkin boats. The annual tradition began years ago as a competition to grow the largest pumpkin. But

at last, for what to do with them afterwards, the relay race was initiated. On the menu of this event, of course, pumpkin soup. At least, maybe after

the event.


That is it for now. Remember you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on our podcast. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from