Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Interview With Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova; Interview With Representative Maxwell Frost (D-FL). Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET




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

Divided they stand. Benjamin Netanyahu calls Israel's relationship with the U.S. unshakable, but President Biden doubles down on democracy there.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: And I'm concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road.


AMANPOUR: I'll ask Senator Chris Van Hollen about a crisis driving a very public wedge between two longstanding allies. Also ahead.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): I'm still in shock, says Oleg. I'm 62 years old and I've invested my heart and soul

and money to build it. And now that I'm old, it's been destroyed.


AMANPOUR: Lives and livelihoods lost in Russia's relentless war in Ukraine. Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister, Emine Dzhaparova, tells me why

they are slugging it out over Bakhmut.



REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): It happens on a daily basis. It seems like every week there's another mass shooting. And those are the ones people

hear about.


AMANPOUR: Michel Martin speaks to the first Gen Z Congressman Max Frost about the school shooting in Nashville and why America permits this new


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

President Joe Biden launches his second democratic summit with in-person and virtual participation by over 100 world leaders. The aim is also to

weaken autocratic tendencies at home and abroad amid ongoing threats from leaders like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, of course, who met earlier this

month. Here's the president laying out the stakes.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're at an inflection point in history here when the decisions we make today are going to affect the course of our

world for the next several decades for certain. We're going forward from this summit. Our job is to keep building on our progress, so we don't start

heading in the wrong direction again. To keep the momentum going. This is a turning point for our world toward greater freedom, greater dignity and

greater democracy.


AMANPOUR: But there's one thing standing up to authoritarian adversaries and quite another to hold longstanding allies, like Israel to account.

Today's summit comes as Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden traded barbs over the right-wing coalition's controversial judicial reforms. With

the U.S, president hoping they will be abandoned and Netanyahu firing back that Israel makes its own choices. So, is the world getting more or less

democracy? Is it getting more or less safe? Let's ask a Biden ally and U.S. senator, Democrat Chris Van Hollen. He joined me earlier from Washington.


AMANPOUR: Senator Van Hollen, welcome to the program.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Christiane, it's great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Can I start by asking you a bit of news that's going around the world right now. The Russians, the deputy prime minister, basically saying

that they will no longer notify the United States of any sort of measures they take under new start or otherwise, including on potential missile

tests and the like. What does this say to you?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, this is a very troubling development. I was concerned when in February, Putin and Russia decided they were going to no longer

pursue the new start agreement. Now, they're saying that includes dropping the notifications under that agreement. And of course, the notifications

are important to prevent misunderstanding, miscalculation. And so, this is a very troubling development in that sense.

AMANPOUR: And how does it sit with you and how should it sit with you and all of us at the same time as President Putin has announced that he's going

to be deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it's -- it compounds the concerns because what Putin has been doing with his announcement with respect to Belarus, what he has said

previously about nuclear weapons just is as unnecessarily provocative and obviously saber rattling. But we also need to, you know, make sure that we

understand what he's communicating here. I do think it's been a sign of his desperation in Ukraine. I mean, the war has not been going his way for a

very long time, right from the start.


This is his way of saying, you know, we've got nuclear weapons. But I don't think it's going to change the impact on the battlefield itself.

AMANPOUR: So, let's move to a broader, sort of, image here because the Ukraine fight is very much portrayed by the United States and allies and

Ukraine itself as one of the fundamental battles for the soul and heart of democracy. And today, President Biden launches his second annual democracy

summit. And so, I want to ask you whether you agree with what the president has said that actually over the last few years, democracies around the

world are getting stronger, not weaker under his leadership getting stronger.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I do think we have seen a boost in democracies around the world and democracies working together against authoritarianism and

against aggression as we've seen when President Biden was able to pull together the NATO alliance, our European partners, Europe -- East Asian

democracies like South Korea, Japan, Australia. So clearly, democratic countries have rallied together.

But I do want to make clear, Christiane, this is a constant contest. And we have also seen some backsliding in some countries which is why I think it

is important that President Biden continue to try to rally (ph) play democracies together. Democracies come in all sizes, in all shapes, but we

need to try to make sure that we focus on the values that bring us together. And those values are at stake, I believe.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, you did mention as some backsliding in some states. So, let's put the competitors Russia, China on one side and let's bring up your

ally Israel. Do you agree? Would you therefore say that this idea of trying to, you know, overhaul the independent judiciary there represents

democratic backsliding?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, let me just make clear, I would never put Israel and their democracy in any same category with Russia and China. Those are

clearly authoritarian countries. Now, I have, as President Biden has and others have been, concerned about the ongoing efforts of the new Netanyahu

government, which is a very extreme right government to undermine an independent judiciary in Israel, because obviously one of the important

hallmarks of a democracy is the rule of law and an independent judiciary.

And so, the effort to hobble that to cripple the independent judiciary is concerning and that's why President Biden and others have expressed those


AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to play a little bit of a, sort of, a quick, sort of, ad hoc interview that President Biden did today on the tarmac, a

reporter asking him specifically about Netanyahu coming to the White House. This is the exchange.

BIDEN: Like many strong supporters of Israel, I'm very concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he be coming to Washington?

BIDEN: Not in the near term.

AMANPOUR: So, no. No, invite to Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House in the near time and concerned about the subject that we've just been

talking about, the potential to undermine a key pillar of Israeli democracy. So, what happens? How do friends stopped friends sliding into

the authoritarian playbook, which is a fact when you start messing with an independent judiciary.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I do think it's important that we not only hold our foes accountable, but that we also hold our friends accountable wherever they

are in the world. And look, the United States is far from perfect. But if we're going to continue to contrast the democracies of the world, countries

that respect the rule of law with authoritarian countries like Russia, like China, then we do have to work together to uphold those standards.

Otherwise, it looks like just a hypocritical framework.

So, I am glad that, you know, President Biden has expressed the concerns he has had about what's happening in Israel with the effort to undermine in

independent judiciary. And, yes, I think that, you know, the Biden administration is going to want to find ways to hold other countries

accountable. Again, not just our foes, but also our friends.

Christiane, I would also say, with respect to Israel, a lot of the focus has been on the Supreme Court. But there's also the whole issue of the

Biden administration's position of trying to preserve the prospects of a future two state solution.


And this this new, far-right government that includes people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, who have, you know, been -- folks who have spread hatred in

the past seem hell bent on trying to exert de facto Israeli control -- I mean annexation over the West Bank. So, that's another very important issue

where the United States needs to express its concerns.

AMANPOUR: So, I was wondering how you would express those concerns. You, yourself, has been -- have been quite forward leaning on expressing

concerns. In fact, I'm going to play a little bite that you know, because it's you addressing Secretary of State Blinken. This was before Netanyahu

hit the pause button on these judicial in the face of massive and unprecedented protests across the spectrum in Israel. But this is what you

said to Secretary Blinken.

VAN HOLLEN: I appreciate the statements that have been made by Biden administration officials. I think, Mr. Secretary, it's important for you

personally also to continue to speak out. And I think we look weak when we see time after time actions taken inconsistent with our positions with no

consequence at all.

AMANPOUR: So, what are you saying there? What consequence therefore? I mean, the idea of annexation, the idea, as you've mentioned, those two

very, very far-right and religious members of the coalition have said extra ordinary things like Smotrich stands in front of a map that shows only

Israel and Jordan and basically says that's it, you know. No Palestinians. They don't exist.

VAN HOLLEN: Well right. And so, I do think it's important to distinguish between the two things going on right now in Israel, right? You've got the

efforts by the Netanyahu government to essentially undermine the court. You also have the ongoing issue that we've just talked about with respect to

Smotrich, Ben-Gvir and trying to essentially assert Israeli de facto annexation over the West Bank. And two individuals with a record of, you

know, attacking the rights of Palestinians.

So, what I want is that for the Biden administration to not just speak out on the issues and importance of protecting the two-state solution but make

clear that there are some consequences. And we've had discussions with the Biden administration about some things the United States could do.

Including, Christiane, reversing some measures that the Trump administration took in the very final weeks of the Trump administration

that blurred the lines between Israel and the West Bank with respect to the conduct of U.S. policy.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I know what you're saying. It's seemed to be a carte blanche, in fact, to annex the West Bank. But I want to ask you something,

because obviously there is a very, very strong support for Israel throughout all the administrations, throughout all Congress, et cetera. But

the people of the United States, according to a recent Gallup poll shows support for Israel's somewhat being recalibrated, if not declining.

The decline is most pronounced amongst Democrats, who now are evenly divided in their support for Israelis and Palestinians. And apparently,

according to this poll, there's been a sort of a decadelong decline in the kind of blind support, if you like. Does the fact that more Americans

believe in a more equitable handling of the situation by the United States permit you in Congress to go in that direction that you're talking about?

VAN HOLLEN: So, Christiane, I do want to distinguish between support for Israel and support for the policies of a particular government in Israel.

Right now, this very extreme right-wing government. I think the American people, like myself, overwhelmingly support the people of Israel and have

great affection for the people of Israel. But are very worried about the conduct and actions are being taken by the government of Israel. With

respect to issues of human rights of Palestinians. With respect to efforts to claim sovereignty, de facto sovereignty over the West Bank. With

comments made by Smotrich where he openly talked about the need for the state to wipe out a Palestinian village. With the fact that you've got Ben-

Gvir who is the heir to the Kahani Party, which was a vicious right-wing movement in Israel.

So, I -- we say -- President Biden says, we've had a relationship with Israel based on shared interests and shared values.


But clearly, we don't share the values of a Smotrich or Ben-Gvir. And as they continue to get the upper hand in this government, it will continue to

raise concerns.

AMANPOUR: Senator, Taiwan, the president of Taiwan is going to visit the United States on route to Central America, she'll stop in New York and Los

Angeles. Do you think the speaker of the House should meet with her? And how do you rate the Biden administration's, you know, China approach.

VAN HOLLEN: So, I think the Biden administration has expressed and underscored us policy with respect to China and Taiwan, just right. The

Biden administration has made. Very clear that our interest is in protecting the status quo on Taiwan. We want to make sure that Taiwan can

defend itself. We will provide Taiwan with military equipment to help defend itself. And we are concerned that it's not the United States, but

actually President Xi that is attempting to change the status quo on China.

With respect to the visit of President Tsai, this is, I believe, going to be her sixth visit to the United States in seven years. She'll be

transiting the United States. And as to who decides to meet with her and whether the speaker meets with her, these are decisions by American elected

officials. And, you know, China does not get to dictate who and when American officials meet with Taiwanese officials.

But I do want to underscore, the Biden administrations made this clear through both public and private communication with the PRC that we continue

to support of the status quo with respect to Taiwan. And China should not be about the business of trying to change the status quo.

AMANPOUR: And one final question on the spat or whatever, the deep disagreement between the U.S. and Israel, this government on democracy.

President Biden has uttered the words that he hopes Prime Minister Netanyahu, "Walks away from the judicial overhaul." That's created a huge

amount of kerfuffle in Israel, with Netanyahu responding that, we make our own decisions. Do you hope that he walks away from this, Bibi, because this

is not gone yet. It's just been postponed.

VAN HOLLEN: I -- right. They've just put the pause button on it. No, I do hope that the Netanyahu coalition will not proceed with the changes they're

proposing that would -- what got the independent judiciary in Israel. I do want to point out, Christiane, that as part of a side deal, apparently, to

postpone consideration of the judicial law, Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed Ben-Gvir has given him the green light to go ahead with forming

this kind of national guard under the jurisdiction of Ben-Gvir. And there are very legitimate concerns that this could be used as a Ben-Gvir militia.

Because Ben-Gvir has a history of inciting violence against Israeli Arabs.

So, it's important to follow all the twists and turns. Yes, they postponed it. But in this case, Ben-Gvir was apparently given the green light to go

ahead with forming the so-called national guard. So, there's a lot to follow and I do think, you know, while there are connections and between

what's happening with respect to the attack on the Israeli court system, we also have to remember there's also the ongoing issue of, you know,

protecting, preserving the prospects of a future two-state solution, protecting the human rights of Palestinians.

And of course, we're in a very combustible moment during the Holy days of three major religions in the Holyland. And the Biden administration has

been trying to broker different agreements to lower the temperature. What I expressed the other day and the committee hearing was the fact that Prime

Minister Netanyahu had within 24 hours of reaching these agreements undermine them, violated them by beginning to talk about expansion of

settlements again. So, a lot going on. A lot of different moving parts. And I'm glad that you and I are here talking about what's happening there and

around the world.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: Cautionary words from a powerful U.S. Senator.

Now for Ukraine and its allies, defending the country's independence and sovereignty is also about the global fight for democracy.


Today, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited his Chinese counterpart to visit Kyiv, telling the associated press that he wants to

engage directly with President Xi Jinping, who keeps claiming that he wants to be a peace broker. In the Eastern City of Slovyansk, a Russian missile

strike killed two people this week and turned buildings to ruin. As Correspondent Ben Wedeman now reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): There isn't much to be salvaged from this business in Slovyansk, demolished

Monday morning in a Russian strike. Oleg his wife and some friends are loading up what's left.

I'm still in shocks, says Oleg. I'm 62 years old and I've invested my heart and soul and money to build it. And now that I'm old, it's been destroyed.

The attack killed two people and injured more than 30, the likely target, an army recruiting office next door. In the hospital. One of the victims

lies unconscious, a 30-year-old woman, a wall fell on her, fracturing her skull and damaging her internal organs. Surgeon Sergei Okovitiy has

struggled since the war began trying to mend shattered lives and bodies.

Unfortunately, I have had to treat many serious injuries caused by mines and explosions, he says.

To the south in Krasna Hora (ph), another Russian attack hit just next to this kindergarten, fortunately empty since the war began.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Strikes like this happen on a daily basis. This one occurred late on Monday evening.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): Hours afterwards, workers make repairs. This area is regularly hit. They may be back here soon. Down the road in Kostyantynivka,

closer to the front, only a few residents remain. 73-year-old Tamara isn't going anywhere, putting her faith in a higher power.

God protects me, she says. God will save me. If not, it is what it is.

Artem sells seeds and other supplies to a dwindling community of optimistic gardeners.

Everyone is scared, he tells me. Only idiots aren't. Until now I'm here but I evacuated my children.

Not all children have left, however, one finding solace on a swing amidst the ruins.


AMANPOUR: Extraordinary sight there of that child. Ben Wedeman reporting from Eastern Ukraine. And now I'm joined by the country's Deputy Foreign

Minister, Emine Dzhaparova, she's joining me live from Kyiv.

Ms. Dzhaparova. thank you very much for being with us again. I just wanted to ask you related to that report that we just saw from close enough to the

front lines, your government is trying to get the place evacuated, especially Bakhmut where still people are despite the fierce onslaught. And

as you could see from that report not everybody is ready to leave. How much of a problem is that for the battle?

EMINE DZHAPAROVA, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: It's a pleasure to join the program, Christiane. As always, it's indeed a tragedy for any

human being to go away from a house that some of those people literally build up with their own hands. And then as government messages, all the

time in vocals, all the time that it might be a matter of threat for those people who are living at the front line, but not all of them are ready to

do so.

And we keep on communicating. We keep on insisting that evacuation must happen. But unfortunately, people sometimes emotionally are not ready to

leave their homes and their houses. So, it's just a matter of acceptance. But these people are huge and a huge crowd.

AMANPOUR: So, in the meantime, you know, before I get to the actual battle of Bakhmut, we've been hearing more and more reports over the last few

weeks of the incredible not just, you know, toll on actual lives on buildings on bodies, but also the mental toll. We've seen reports from some

of your psychiatric units, we've heard about soldiers on the front who are suffering World War I style shock trauma and traumatic experience. How much

of an issue is that for you? Can you talk to us about that?

DZHAPAROVA: Yes, probably as a human being, I believe that the whole Ukrainian nation is traumatized. Even though you never know how it might be

triggered, I can speak on behalf of myself saying that, for example, I allowed my -- first time I allowed myself to cry since the very start of

the full-fledged invasion --


-- in two weeks after when I got -- when my suitcase with my belonging came from Kyiv to the western part of my country. And I just, you know, it

happened in a moment when I touched my dresses and my pants because I was not able to buy anything because of the curfew and martial law, all shops

were closed. And then you never know when any human being can cry out its trauma.

But I can tell you for sure that not only soldiers who are pure seeing and witnessing this barbaric war who, who has -- who are witnessing tortures,

rapes, killings, shellings, but also average people who are not at the front line but who are separated from their families. For example, we have

eight million of Ukrainians who left the country, those are mostly women and children, and their husbands are in Ukraine, and it's more than a year

of separation. You can imagine how traumatic it can be a separation. Then separation of mothers and kids, like in my case, I have my two daughters

abroad and I saw them only for three time, like, three times since the very first -- since the start of full-fledged invasion.

Of course, it's a huge trauma. So, I think that for a long-term process of recovery will be happening after the resolution of war. But now, believe

me, at this stage of the war, it's still an existential matter of survival.


DZHAPAROVA: So, we need to survive physically. And after that, we can speak about the mental recovery.

AMANPOUR: OK. I hear you. And as you were speaking, we saw these devastating aerial photos of the destruction in Bakhmut. So, let me ask you

about that, there's been a lot of talk about Bakhmut. Your president has talked about it many times. He's visited many times. The Russians,

particularly the Wagner Group, seemed to be putting a huge amount of attention on that.

Now, I want to ask you what seems to be going on. We understand that Russia made pretty serious inroads, potentially was about to be able to capture a

key small road, but a key artery. How do you describe the state of the fight in Bakhmut right now?

DZHAPAROVA: It's still terrible. I'm probably not the best person to commend the military offensive that is taking place there. But there are

four main cities and four main battlefields, I would say, which is Lyman, Marinka, Avdiivka, and Bakhmut. So, the battlefield and the harshest war is

taking place there. It's still a question, but I -- what will be the outcome, but I can tell you for sure that the armed forces of Ukraine has

proved its capability, even though we can hear some questions and voices that Bakhmut -- that Russians might accomplish their goals in Bakhmut.

But I think that in order not to allow this to happen, we have followed -- we have to follow several elements, which is the shipment of needed weapon,

not only ammunition but artillery systems and shells that we really critically need. We have the first shipment of German and British tanks

that has arrived, that -- they have arrived in Ukraine, but more should be more should be performed.

So, with you support, the Ukrainian army is capable not only to protect its territories but to counter -- for the counteroffensive operations because

for today, it's approximately 17 percent of Ukrainian soil is still under the occupation. We had 20 percent since the very beginning of the full-

fledged invasion, three percent is deoccupied. So, we have proved that Ukrainian army is capable of deoccupying. And then to keep on the dynamic

of deoccupation and successful counteroffensive, we have to be dully prepared.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then because obviously everybody wants to know about whether there's any opportunity for peace. Now, your president

today warns that defeat in Bakhmut would spur on, well, Russia's narrative but also make Ukraine look weak. And, as he said, cause Russia to push,

push, push forward more aggressively. At the same time, President Zelensky is asking Xi Jinping, president of China, to come to Kyiv. Tell me why.

DZHAPAROVA: I had some technical issues. I couldn't hear the whole question.

AMANPOUR: OK. Let me repeat the key question correctly.

DZHAPAROVA: But I think that I got you correctly.

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes.

DZHAPAROVA: So, commenting the first --

AMANPOUR: Yes, go ahead, go ahead.

DZHAPAROVA: The second part of the question.


DZHAPAROVA: No, no. Just the second part of the question. Could you repeat the --

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. President Zelenskyy is inviting President Xi Jinping to come to Kyiv to, as he said, meet him face-to-face to talk about a

resolution to this war.


You know, Xi Jinping has claimed to be, you know, a peacemaker.

DZHAPAROVA: Yes. Thank you, Christiane, for the question. First, every way is not only physical aspect, not only the conventional war that we see at

the battlefield, but it's mostly about the spirit. And, of course, any defeat of Russian army impacts and has its affect. So, of course, an --

likewise, the victories -- tactical victories of Ukrainian army is a huge step towards raising this spirit because every army needs it. I mean,

Ukrainian army critically needs this.

So, I think that Bakhmut is a critical point to hold this spirit up to keep on counter offensive, because you know that we've been preparing for a

serious counter offensive, which might take place soon. So, for that reason, any success is important.

When it comes to the, let's say, peace broking and peace initiatives of China, I mean, we have been repeatedly saying that any peace negotiation or

any peace formula or any peace initiative is OK on the parity basis. President Zelensky many times vocal that he is ready to talk to any leader,

especially to the Chinese leader when it comes to the resolution of peace, and if China is really serious about it will consider parity basis, it will

consider that the involvement of all parties to the war, because after the visit to Moscow, obviously, there should be a direct dialogue between

President Zelenskyy and Xi Jinping.

So, I think it's critical for -- if any country is really serious about the initiative about the resolution of the war. And then to, conclude myself,

our president initiated the peace formula, which is 10 simple steps that should be a basis of any negotiation. And territorial integrity and

sovereignty is the very fundamental things. So, the rest, any initiatives that does not include this simple formula are not negotiable for Ukraine.

AMANPOUR: What do you make and how dangerous do you think it is for you that President Putin has announced that he's going to be deploying some

tactical nuclear weapons next door to you in Belarus?

DZHAPAROVA: So, I think that it's yet another demonstration that President Putin did not achieve and did not accomplish his goals with the Xi

Jinping's visit. Is it another threat language that they traditionally reform perform, not only since 24th of February, but since 2014 and even

before for decades.

In the peace formula of President Zelensky, nuclear security is the very fundamental issue. So, I think what we see as the message -- and by the

way, Lukashenko has not commented yet these messages, to my knowledge. If I'm not mistaken. I didn't have a chance to follow it. But I think that

this is something that is usual for Russia, to blackmail, to always raise the stake of the messages that come from Russia. And the reason for that is

actually to hold in fear the whole International Community. And unfortunately, sometimes it's a case.

But Ukraine -- let me be very clear that, I mean, we are, of course, sometimes scared, but we are not panic because if -- that brings us to

numbness, it means that Russia has accomplished its goals. So, we cannot allow us -- ourselves to be scared.

AMANPOUR: Let me just end by asking you. You told me last time we spoke that you're originally from Crimea. Today, there have been reports that

there was some kind of potential Ukrainian reach action into Crimea. There was video shown. It has not been clarified by your government or commented

on. Is that still a place where Ukraine is determined to project its military demonstration? I don't know how to put it. Are you active against

Russian positions in Ukraine -- in Crimea?

DZHAPAROVA: Well, Crimea is integral part of Ukraine. And, of course, Ukraine is intended to de-occupy Crimea, and it's been repeatedly set --

leadership as well as President Zelenskyy. So, secret (ph) to get Crimea back. The issue is, on what basis it would be performed? But I would say

that they told the integrity, as I said, and it should be taken very clearly that it's something that we cannot bargain, trade or negotiate.


Crimea, I mean, let me be very clear. I mean, there are thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for Ukraine and

this illusion of Russian paradise in Crimea of those overwhelming majority of support of Russian -- of Crimean people to the Russian reality is yet

another falsificated narrative because there are hundreds of thousands of Crimean territories (ph), of ethnic Ukrainians or even ethnic Russians who

were not supportive to the occupation of Crimea, who are willing to live in freedom. And there is no freedom anymore in Crimea.

So, of course, I believe that there are people brave enough who still resist. And I know these people -- some of these people, yes, these are --

some of them are my friends, but -- and I know that they've been resisting by trying to inform Ukrainian people about the reality. And this is, by the

way, why we still have number of political prisoners in Crimea --


DZHAPAROVA: -- because people are resistant.

AMANPOUR: It's really interesting to see how this is going. Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova, thank you so much for joining us. And we also

apologize for some of those technical glitches.

Next to the bloodshed in America's classrooms. A grief-stricken community in Nashville is gathering for vigil this evening to mourn. The three

children and three adults who were killed in a mass shooting at a Christian school on Monday. More details are now emerging about what happened that

day. New body cam footage is showing how the police confronted the shooter who local authorities say was under care for an emotional disorder and had

legally purchased seven guns in the past three years.

For Americans everywhere, this incident is incredibly triggering and our next guest is no exception. Democrat Maxwell Frost made history in 2022

when he became the first person from generation Z to win a seat in Congress, formally one of the leaders of the March for Our Lives movement.

He tells Michel Martin why the shooting in Nashville is so utterly outrageous.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Representative Frost, thank you so much for talking with us.

REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): Thank you so much for having me.

MARTIN: Now, I just wanted to start thinking about the fact that we're speaking with you after a person killed six people at a Christian school in

Nashville. People may remember that you were the first national organizing director of the student led anti-gun violence group, March for Our Lives.

And just a couple of days ago was the fifth anniversary of that 2018 student led campaign. And I just was wondering what the last day or so has

brought up for you as a person who is so involved in that issue.

FROST: Well, you know, it's incredibly, number one, triggering for myself and for the friends of mine that have grown up with, over the past decade,

fighting with and gun violence. I, you know, go on social media every time after these shootings and see my friends from Parkland, my friends from

polls, different shootings across the entire country talking about having to relive their own trauma because of what's happening right now.

I found out about this shooting right before I hopped on a plane to come here to D.C. for session and just spent the whole time thinking about it

and being very angry about the fact that this isn't normal and it shouldn't be a reality for us, but we live in a country where, for so many people,

growing up, especially people, part of my generation, they see this gun violence is normal because it happens on a daily basis. It seems like every

week there's another mass shooting, and those are the ones people hear about.

There are so many shootings across the country. It was 100 people a day due to gun violence. The largest mass shooting is actually not one event, but

the multiple instances of gun violence that happened in black and brown communities across the country. The devastating amount of white middle age

rural Americans who will take their life with a gun in a day as well. And so, there's just a lot of work that needs to be done on this issue.

MARTIN: Is there anything you've learned since you've been in Congress that sheds light on why it is that this particular health crisis a solution

seemed to elude us, at least, to this point?

FROST: Yes. It in gun violence and on any issue, whenever you see broad opposition and you take a step back and think, why has nothing been done on

this? What's going on? Almost always -- in fact, I'll say always, there is some sort of lobby behind it that has a goal of valuing of profits over

people, and that's the same thing in the gun issue.

You can boil it down to culture, which that's a huge part of it. You can boil it down to power, which is a huge part of it. But behind all of that,

there -- you think about something like the NRA. The NRA says that they're an advocacy organization is completely false. They're not an advocacy

organization. If they were, they would be with most NRA members and advocating for universal background checks. But because that might hurt the

bottom line of gun manufacturers, they're not for it. So, they are lobbying front, so that way these gun companies can make more money.


Corporate greed and the role that corporations plan our politics are a huge reason why we don't have voting rights, a huge reason why we don't have

adequate gun laws in this country, a huge reason why health care in this country is not a health care system but a sickness care system, and it's

really something that we can't just look at and talk about, we have to actually act on it.

That's why in the 10 years I've been working on this issue, one bill has passed at the federal level, and it's an OK bill. It's important. It's

going to save lives. But that's the reason why. It all boils down to corporations, corporate greed, people valuing profits over people.

MARTIN: You arrived in Congress at the point at which your party went into the minority after having been in the majority for, you know, some number

of years, but I was just looking at the list of hearings today and many of them are like big tech censorship, disorder at the border, things of that

nature. So, I'm just interested in how you set priorities for yourself at a time when sort of the institutional levers don't really seem to be there in

your -- in the house for people with your perspective.

FROST: No matter what the situation is, no matter what's going on, we have to stay true to our values and what we believe in, right, and the issues

that we ran on. I ran on ending gun violence. I ran on ensuring everybody has health care in this country. I ran on voting rights. I ran on ending

the climate crisis. And I'm going to stick true to those values no matter who the speaker of the house is.

However, we do know that, you know, a lot of times we have to take small steps to get there. It doesn't mean we don't let go -- you know, it doesn't

mean we let go of those north stars, but it means we realized the political situation. The situation right now is the Republicans have a slim majority

and they are focused on not bills that are going to help people but bills that will help set themselves up.

So, you know, keep the House and run for president in two years -- less than two years. And I'm not making this up. Jim Jordan, one of them, you

know, most senior members of that party said it himself that the next two years are going to be about setting themselves up in terms of messaging and

et cetera for the election, and we see that in the bills coming up.

I mean, look at the bills I've had an oversight. I had one that was called the Biden investigation, then a colon, the Department of Treasury, like

it's some sort of movie title. I had another one that was the hunter Biden laptop Twitter files, part one. You know, when's part two? You know, it's

like it's all theatrics, and it's all messaging and not about affordable housing, not about helping foreign working-class families not about helping

to end gun violence in our communities, supporting small businesses, none of that. It's all about messaging and placing blame on the Biden

administration for number one issues that have been here for a while and issues that they're not interested or actually working together on.

MARTIN: So, given that those realities, as you understand them, what is your role here? What are you going to do?

FROST: Well, it's a few different things. As a member on oversight, I have an important job of pushing back on all the lies that we're seeing from the

-- this far-right MAGA wing of the Republican Party, and we're going to continue to push back on those things and these committee hearings, and

that's really one of our front lines over the next two years.

On space, science and technology, which is the other committee I sit on, that's more of a bipartisan committee. We are hoping that we can work

together among the environmental subcommittee, work together in terms of resiliency against the impacts of the climate crisis but also, preventative

measures. And we're not going to get the green new deal this year or next year, but what we can get are, you know, smaller, incremental steps to

hopefully, you know, appropriate money in the right way where we can actually prevent the climate crisis and put money in the hands of community

groups that are doing great work in terms of resiliency, but also in terms of preventative measures in reducing emissions.

And so, those are just one of the examples on gun violence. I just filed my first bill last week. It's the Creative Federal Office of Gun Violence

Prevention. It's a bicameral piece of legislation, which means that it also was introduced in the Senate. I worked with Senator Chris Murphy on it. We

introduced it at the same day with advocates and survivors surrounding us. That is a bill that has enough. It's not gun policy, it's just a department

to research data and provide good recommendations on any gun violence.

And I hope that because it's not, you know, "gun policy" and it's more about creating an office that we can get some Republican support on it, is

it going to end gun violence, the creation of the office immediately? No. But it's providing a daily solution to a daily problem.

MARTIN: Do you see any areas of possible agreement with members of the House Majority, the Republican Party, at -- on matters such as this?

FROST: I hope so. I mean, you know, we've -- I've reached out to many different members. I've had conversations with members of the Florida

delegation and, you know, we've already done two bipartisan things. We worked number one. We worked together with the whole delegation,

Republicans and Democrats, in ensuring that there's no off-road (ph) drilling in Florida.


We also all came together to write a letter to the Florida State Legislature to advocate for money in protecting the Everglades. So, we -- I

mean, we've already been doing it. And you know, we've co-sponsored a ton of bipartisan legislation. But again, none of this is the type of

legislation that we really -- the transformational change we need right now to combat the climate crisis.

And I don't know if you saw the recent report, but we don't have much time to drastically, you know, cut emissions, or else, you know, my generation

and my kids and my kids' kids are going to, you know, have the consequences to bear.

We, you know, see that Republicans are being very, you know, the sort of a vengeance, you know, associated with being in the majority right now. And

so, there's not been a ton of collaboration on a lot of the bigger ticket items.

MARTIN: But is that really across the board or is that just for the cameras? I guess what I'm curious about is like behind the scenes are there

members of the House Republican Majority who are willing to work with people like you and others like you on things that would move the ball


FROST: No. Some are. You know, you'll -- it's -- you'll rarely find someone in Congress, a member, who just doesn't want to work with anyone,

right, on anything. I mean, even very far-right members that I disagree with on a lot of things, I've had conversations with some of them about

music legislation, et cetera that they seemed, you know, open to. And there's been a ton of partisan legislation already passed this session.

It's just, here's the thing, no one hears about it because, you know, the majority isn't you know, making a big deal about it because, you know, they

have a mission. And that mission right now is a messaging for the next election cycle. The next two years are one big campaign. And I think, you

know, as you look at these committee hearings and you look up the pieces of legislation we're voting on, like this parental bill of rights last week

that we voted on that talks, you know, apparently, it gives parents rights. It doesn't do that at all, actually. And it doesn't even talk about the

rights of students to not get shot in their classroom.

If Republicans in Congress actually cared about what's going on at schools, why don't they do something on these school shootings? Why don't they do

something to ensure that children actually have nutrition in schools? Why don't they do something to ensure that teachers have equitable pay and that

they have the materials that they need so students can learn? No.

It's a cycle, right, defund public education, blame public education on all the problems and then, try to privatize the system. And then, you know, we

have this shooting just less than a week after we voted on this parental bill of rights. So, it's a very horrible irony. But, you know, there is

just a lot of work to do.

MARTIN: Is there anything that has surprised you about being in Congress?

FROST: Not a ton. I would say that partisanship is really built into the operation of Congress. It's not just a thing that has happened, right? It

is part of the building. It is part of the way we operate. I'll give you an example, my orientation. We are only with our Republican colleagues for the

morning and that's when the classes are going on, and I'm trying to pay attention, you know. And after that, there's a bunch of other events and

they -- you get split up and you're not with each other the whole night.

So, you really have to go out of your way to create opportunities for bipartisanship. We have separate break rooms, you know, the cloakrooms. We

sit on separate sides of the aisle. We obviously caucus separately. A lot of the caucuses are separated by party even though there's members who

might actually, you know, be able to join different ones. So yes, either way, the -- really the way partisanship is really built into the operation

here has been a big surprise for me.

MARTIN: And what about generationally? Do you feel a big divide with other members who -- the median age of voting members of the house is, I believe,

58. And I think the median age of voting members of the Senate is something like 65?


MARTIN: Do you feel it? Does it seem like that?

FROST: Well, I will say that there is -- yes, there is a generational divide. 100 percent.

MARTIN: How do you see that? How does it play out?

FROST: It's -- a lot of times it's on little things. But, I mean, you look at something like the TikTok hearing that just happened. You just listen to

a lot of the questions and they're just kind of like, you know, stupid questions that if you knew anything about tech or the way that, you know,

TikTok works, you wouldn't ask it. I'm not saying the -- you shouldn't have a hearing on protecting data and privacy, but just like you -- like the

words people are saying are just kind of like, you know, wild.

It's not even just about younger people, it's just about educated people in terms of tech. And young people are actually much more educated in this

space because -- gen Z, for instance, what -- the thing that separates our generation from other generations is we've been immersed in technology

since birth. That's actually the -- that's the defining factor of gen Z, technology since birth, cellphone since birth, internet since birth.

And because of that, we're just naturally educated on tech and the internet and et cetera because it's been a factor of our life. And so, I think it's

part of the reason why it's important to have younger people in Congress, but also, not just young people, educated people on these different topics.


MARTIN: If you and I were to talk again, and I hope we will, by the end of next year, what do you think we will be talking about? Do you hope that

there will be something specific that we can point to that you can say, this is different because I was here?

FROST: Number one, it's -- first and foremost, is the work I do back at home, the constituent services, the way we engage with our community. I

just did a community swearing in in Orlando. Usually, when a member of Congress gets sworn in, it's a pretty small event, maybe a smaller group of

people. Some people do bigger things. We did it in the gym of a community center, in a neighborhood that needs a lot of help in Central Florida. And

we had over 1,000 people show up because we knocked the doors, the days leading up. We were in the community talking about it every single day and

we had 1,100 people come out. That's not normal.

So, like, you know, in terms of the progress and changing the way people think about politicians and politics, we're already doing that back at

home. It's not going to get on the news every day, because it's not. I guess, you know, sexy enough or whatever, but that's really -- it doesn't

matter if it's the speaker of the House or who's in the Majority or anything. The work we do back at home is paramount and it's really

important, especially in the State of Florida where we have a governor like Ron DeSantis chipping away at the hopes and dreams and desires of


And so, it's important that we provide that leadership. And honestly, in this moment, that is the most important thing for me.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, the -- Florida, there's so many things we could talk about. The fact is that that Governor DeSantis was reelected by

wider margins than he was first elected. He seems extremely popular in the state, and he seems poised clearly to run for the presidency. So, it would

seem that he would have every incentive to keep going down the road that he is. I mean, it is part of your job right now to just kind of gumming up the

works as opposed to actually fulfilling your own agenda? Do you see what I mean? Is there really anything you can do?

FROST: A huge part of it is using my office and the way that we can to advocate and help people that are going through this. You know, there's a

huge vacuum in impacted folks being able to actually talk about what's going on in Florida because there's this culture of fear right now in the

state. When I speak with teachers, superintendents, et cetera, they're scared to speak out because they will literally get fired.

You know, for instance, we had a high school, Boone High School, that they have -- they've had this event for a long time, years and years. It's

called Dragon Donuts. And there's a drag queen in Central Florida that comes in and it's not a drag show, not that there's anything wrong with

that, but it's a conversation with the drag queen about the work that they do in the community as far as feeding people and small business and et


And so, this -- you know, the state essentially told the school board and told the district that they need to shut this down across. They're also

going to fire anyone associated with it, teachers, administrators, et cetera. So, we essentially have this like fascist Florida government right

now that is using, abusing its powers to scare people into submission to doing what they want.

And so, that includes -- you know, it's difficult for legislators to speak out. We saw happens to State Attorney Andrew Warren in Hillsborough County

where because he was vocal, he was suspended from office by Ron DeSantis, which was unconstitutional. But there's one -- there's a group of people he

can't touch and its members of Congress, it's students. So -- and so, that's why we're seeing a lot of students step up and be the voice for

what's going on in the State of Florida. I'll be there alongside with them.

We're also encouraging -- I think President Biden and the administration need to do a lot more. The DOJ needs to do a lot more. We need the attorney

general involved with what's going on in Florida. We need the Department of Education to launch an investigation on what's going on in terms of don't

say gay. So, we need leadership from that point.

So, you know, my two things are, number one, ensuring people know about it, being vocal about it, being vocal in the communities, hosting events and

rallies so that way people understand what's going on. And then, also, pushing the levers of power that we do have. Because, you know, you're

right. I'm a representative. I hold no executive powers. I don't have any departments that I run. All I have is my influence and my ability to, you

know, bring the subject to bear at the national level. And so, we'll do that in in big ways.

MARTIN: Congressman Maxwell Frost, thank you so much for talking with us today.

FROST: Of course. Thank you so much for having me.


AMANPOUR: And the first gen Z congressman laying out the priorities for the younger generations today and in the future.

That's it for now. But don't miss the show tomorrow and my conversation with the eccentric art duo, Gilbert and George, about their new center and

exhibition space. They told me about their connection with life's downtrodden, which led to an impromptu sing along. And we'll leave you now,

with a little bit of that musical moment.

Goodnight from London.