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Interview With Johns Hopkins University School Of Advanced International Studies Professor And Former Senior Adviser To U.S. Envoy To Afghanistan And Pakistan Vali Nasr; Interview With Disability Activist Sinead Burke; Interview With The Wall Street Journal Reporter Rebecca Ballhaus. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 22, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what's coming up.
Ukraine contests Russian claims about Bakhmut amid the devastating toll on their soldiers defending the embattled city. Correspondent Nic Robertson's
report embedded with the troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Unfortunately, there are some in the world and hear among you who turn a blind eye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks inconvenient truths to Arab leaders after his shuttle diplomacy to Saudi Arabia and the
G7. Policy expert Vali Nasr assess the moving pieces on this global chessboard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SINEAD BURKE, DISABILITY ACTIVIST: People are valid, as they are, whether or not they're on a cover of a magazine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- inclusivity is fashionable. As British "Vogue" finds the beauty I speak to disability activists Sinead Burke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA BALLHAUS, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The count is now at least a dozen or so lawmakers who have reported trades in bank stocks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- do lawmakers profit from the banking crisis? Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rebecca Ballhaus.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York.
Is the grinding battle for Bakhmut over? Since Russia's mercenary and chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed this weekend to have finally seized
control of the city. The Ukrainian government swiftly denied it, saying their troops still hold some territory and the fighting to surround Russian
forces pinned down there.
Russia has thrown wave after wave of mercenaries into the fight for Bakhmut, and Ukraine has lost some of its most experienced soldiers. And
while the defenders say morale is high, the fighting is taking its toll.
Here is Correspondent Nic Robertson on patrol with exhausted and shell- shocked Ukrainian troops near Bakhmut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voiceover): Barely out of the armored troop carrier. Incoming artillery.
ROBERTSON (on camera): We're just going to wait in this little basement until the shelling is over, then they think it'll be safe to move forward
to the front positions.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): A few minutes later, safe to come out of this army outpost a few miles from Bakhmut.
Last night was hard. A lot of shelling. Call sign Gambit tells us the soldier is still shell-shocked from an anti-tank rocket attack.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Going to get back in the vehicle. Try to get a little closer to the front lines.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): 10 days ago, these troops push the Russians back around Bakhmut. But their advance is slowing and harder. We get to a small
HQ. Call sign Fox, a former farmer is readying his troops for their coming shift on the front line, stopping the Russians in Bakhmut from advancing.
ROBERTSON (on camera): How hard is that?
ROBERTSON (voiceover): It's impossible to describe these feelings, he says. You can only experience it. No words can express it. They shell a lot.
As we talk, it is clear this war is taking its toll.
ROBERTSON (on camera): You only have to look at the soldier's faces here to learn how tough this battle is. They all look worn. They say morale is
high, but their faces are telling a different story.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): We move on towards other positions and stop as the shelling increases.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): We've just been told the place that we were going to is under heavy shelling. So, we're going to pullback from here, go
ROBERTSON (voiceover): In the battalion bunker, the commander tells us the Russians have ramped up their shelling on his troops since they advance.
Tons of ammo, shrapnel, tanks firing, everything.
His units' drones recorded their recent successes. But now, the Russians have regrouped. And in a moment of candor, following losses the previous
night, admits morale is flagging.
Let's be honest, he says, we are fighting heavily for more than a year. My soldiers went through many battles and two rotations near Bakhmut. Troops
are exhausted but we endure.
ROBERTSON (on camera): Bakhmut, which is just over the hill in that direction, has become an object lesson in how Russia's wealth and men and
ammunition can prevail. And unless Ukraine gets the modern weaponry support from its allies, it's going to struggle to tip the balance.
ROBERTSON (voiceover): Call sign Fox and his unit loud up for their hard miles at the front. An end of war getting back to their families what
drives them into the shelling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Nic Robertson reporting there on that terribly difficult situation. And once again, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy threw himself into
the breach. Traveling across half the world to speak face-to-face with leaders, including some who stand on the sidelines.
At the G7 summit in Hiroshima, he compared the devastation of the atomic bomb to the ongoing destruction in Bakhmut while admitting it was not a
perfect comparison. He pulled aside India's Narendra Modi, asking for him to get off the fence and support their defense. All after stopping in Saudi
Arabia to address Arab League leaders who maintain close ties to the Kremlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Unfortunately, there are some in the world and hear among you who turn a blind eye to those cages and
illegal annexations. And I am here so that everyone can take an honest look no matter how hard the Russians try to influence, there must still be
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how will President Zelenskyy's push to expand support for Ukraine amid a Middle East regional reset play out?
Vali Nasr was as a senior State Department official who now teaches international affairs at the Johns Hopkins University. And he's joining me
from Washington. Vali Nasr, welcome back to our program.
VALI NASR, PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO U.S. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN
AND PAKISTAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: What struck you most about what we've just played what Vladimir - - sorry, what Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at the Arab League and the fact that he was there at their invitation, the invitation of the Saudi crown prince?
NASR: Well, I think the invitation was very much for the Arab League to try to portray that it is open to supporting Ukraine, at least on some levels,
to hearing the arguments from President Zelenskyy who is an expert at public relations.
But I don't think President Zelenskyy's message is going to carry very far because countries in this region, some of them, need Russia, some of them
have economic relations with Russia. Saudi Arabia itself has an oil deal between OPEC and Russia that is vital to the price of oil.
And secondly, I think President Zelenskyy's attempt to shame them into getting off the fence and not supporting Russia does not quite address the
way in which the region looks at this conflict. They see it as a European conflict for which the region, as well as the rest of the Global South, is
paying a disproportionate price in the form of higher energy prices, food shortages, recession. And there is no western help for countries like
Egypt, Jordan, smaller Arab countries that are suffering because of this war.
And just to say that -- and so, a message that works with European leaders or with western leaders does not necessarily resonate here. However, you
have to log (ph) President Zelenskyy for trying, for trying very hard and for reaching out to the Global South and trying to, at least, engage them
in a conversation about what this war means to his country and to the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take some of those bits separately. Saudi Arabia has specifically voted to condemn Russia's invasion. It's also, a while ago,
pledge some $400 million in aid to Ukraine, but it is not joined, as you say, the sanctions nor the squeeze on Russian gas and oil.
The UAE itself, the United Arab Emirates, are providing a haven for a lot of Russian exiles and a lot of Russian business. And potentially, some, it
said, potential diplomacy. What are they doing, given the fact that their main ally is the United States in terms of security, or is that itself
NASR: Well, that is shifting, definitely. And in fact, Ukraine is one big reason why that is shifting because the United States and Europe is now
overtly preoccupied with Ukraine, militarily speaking. As well -- and then with China. So, in a way, the Ukraine war is encouraging these countries
not to rely on the United States for their security. But also, these countries are supportive of Ukrainian principle. They don't think that the
war -- that Russia's waging on Ukraine is justified and should have happened or that it was wide.
But in the midst of this, they have interests, and their interests are sometimes economical, like Saudi Arabia has an oil interest with Russia or
UAE has an interest in terms of the money that a lot of the oligarchs have put in this country, and even other Arab countries sitting around that
table, Egypt, Jordan, you know, Morocco, they have their own interests.
And what they want to see right now is not that Ukraine wins unilaterally and Russia uses -- loses definitively, this doesn't mean anything for those
interest. They want the war to end. And the conversation we heard in -- by President Zelenskyy was not a pathway to how the war ends and therefore,
the pressure of food prices, recession and economic pressure on these countries comes down. But it was rather an argument that you need to
support us unconditionally even when your own interests are not served by it. And meanwhile, we also do not have any sort of a solution for the
economic problems that have a landed on you.
And so, what these countries are doing, in a sense, whether it's the rich Saudi Arabia or the much poorer Arab countries, is really look after their
own interests in the wake of the economic sets of issues that this war has unleashed on them.
AMANPOUR: And yet, Vali, if you fast forward or rather put the tape in reverse back to 1990, it was Saudi Arabia and the Arab League that bitterly
criticized, and rightly so, the illegal Iraqi invasion into Kuwait and practically landing on the border of Saudi Arabia. The United States rushed
with a massive and unprecedented coalition to its defense.
Are memories that short and does not the international order still matter, given, especially, that they know the Russian invasion was illegal?
NASR: That's a very good point. I mean, there is a lot of similarity between what Iraq did in Kuwait and what Russia is trying to do in Ukraine,
invading a country against international law, trying to annex its territory, and that's why the Arabs are trying to portray themselves as
being sympathetic to Ukraine's position.
And so, none of them have said that they actually think that Russia's claims to Ukrainian territory is legitimate or that Russia should have
waged war. It's rather to say that, while we accept that Ukraine is in the correct, but nevertheless, we have certain vital interest that we need to
protect. And also, that our interest is for this war to end as quickly as it can so the price of food can come down, price of energy can come down,
and our economies can get going.
So, it's a really -- it's the principles clashing with certain reality that the Arab world as a whole is facing. And then, in the context that you
said, that the United States is no longer even committed to their security and Russia and China matter a lot more in the very volatile region in which
AMANPOUR: So, as that, sort of as we said, you know, sort of the chess pieces on this global board seemed to be changing. How do you and how
should one assess the Saudi and the Arab League embrace again and rehabilitation of President Assad of Syria, who actually Saudi, you know,
didn't backed up during the crackdown and nor did Qatar and yet Assad is welcomed at the Arab League?
Obviously, an ally of Moscow. Moscow came to his defense, as well as Iran, during the war in Syria against the -- you know, against the opposition
there. Why is Assad being welcomed back?
NASR: First of all, they did more than not a support Assad during the uprising. Some of these countries actively supported the opposition in the
hope that Assad would be toppled. So, first of all, you have to say that strategy failed. The entire European, American, Arab hope that the
uprisings in Syria would topple Assad has failed. Assad is still in control in Syria.
And when the Arabs look at this reality, they also see that the West, the United States and Europe, has no plans for removing Assad from power. And
they are obviously trying to deal with extremism in Syria, ISIS, al-Qaeda, but the Assad government is no longer on their threat.
And they also realize that things that the Arab world now needs with Syria, the West is not going to provide. That is a way to get the refugees to
return home. So, countries like Jordan would be relieved of the mast of refugees that are hosting and also, deal with the unprecedented high-level
of drug trade that is threatening the region and is coming out of Syria, which is turning in many ways into a narco-state. And they are realizing
that there is no way to deal with these issues unless they engage Assad, because the West is not dealing with it these issues. The West is there for
ISIS and al-Qaeda but not to deal with drugs or to returned the refugees.
And as a result, they've adopted a strategy that we see they also adopted with Iran, which is, you need to talk to your enemy to find a solution out
of this. And the Arab League, part of this, has come after many of these countries had already engaged Assad bilaterally. The Egyptians, the Saudis,
the UAE, they all have, you know, sent emissaries to Damascus. Assad had already visited UAE once.
So, this is only basically now making it official that they're pursuing a very different kind of a relationship with Syria in the hope that they can
open a channel to actually have a serious conversation about Assad, about things that really threatened the Arab world about Syria today.
AMANPOUR: And on that note, do you think that the Saudi rapprochement with Iran is paying any dividends for it right now? Again, President Zelenskyy
criticized, obviously, the Iranian sale or delivery of attack drones to Russia, which are being, you know, used to attack civilian infrastructure
and civilians inside Ukraine? And, you know, also said to the Saudis and to the Arab Muslim gathering that, you know, Russia's oppression of the Muslim
Tatars in Crimea should be a matter of concern to them.
Does any of that resonate? And again, how is Iran working maybe to regain Saudi, you know, faith in terms of the deal it struck?
NASR: Well, first of, all those kinds of conversations about the oppression of Muslims in Russia are all true. But these Arab governments are going to
follow their own interests. They're not supporting United States' position on the Uyghurs in China either. We don't see any of these Arab countries
criticize China for its treatment of Muslim leaders. They think they have bigger issues with Beijing and Moscow than getting into a conflict with
them over Muslim minorities.
Again, you know, they're setting principles aside for what they see as their own national interest. And I think the Saudis, also when it comes to
Iran, are very mindful that if they become too pro-western then the Russians may begin to give Iran capabilities and military assets that the
Saudis don't want the Russians to give Iran, including advanced missiles and advanced jet aircraft.
On the other hand, I think the breakthrough with Iran is important at the regional level. It just suggests that the Saudis are approaching a way
about this region in which they want to deescalate tensions and threats to Saudi Arabia, in Yemen with Iran, with Assad in Syria. And Iran is
obviously important to the relationship with Assad.
And in fact, inviting Assad to the Arab League in a de facto way is victory for Iran. Even though the Iranians may be worrying about how close Assad
gets to Saudis at some point. But right now, it's a vindication that the leader that the Iranians backed won the battle for Syria and is now being
welcomed by the very governments that try to topple him.
So, we're in an environment in which, you know, everybody is operating in this gray area. And of course, the success of Iran-Saudi rapprochement is
very important to whether this Syria-Saudi, Syria-Arab League rapprochement will work as well. But right now, everything is slowly moving in that
AMANPOUR: So, in terms of gray area, as you say, there is a black and white vision of this amongst the G7 and the NATO allies, which is where Zelenskyy
touched down in Hiroshima during the G7. And as you know, the United States has changed a yearlong position on fighter jets and on training pilots.
They're going to do it and they're going to allow their allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
This is what Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, told CNN this weekend from the G7 summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The United States has mobilized an exceptional effort to deliver on time and in full everything
Ukraine needs to launch this counteroffensive. Now, that we've done that, we can look forward to the long-term capacity of Ukraine to be able to
defend itself and deter Russian aggression.
Fourth generation fighter aircraft, western fighter aircraft, F-16s are relevant to that fight. That's why the president told his G7 colleagues
this weekend that he will, in fact, support the training of Ukrainian pilots.
AMANPOUR: So, Vali Nasr, that's from the allies. And yet, from what you're saying, despite their heavyweight that they have, it appears most of the
world is not on that side. What does that mean about general U.S. influence around the world, particularly in that region with China on the doorstep of
that summit there?
NASR: Well, you know, if we looked at the Middle East case about -- which we were talking, there's definitely a lack of trust in the United States'
willingness to actually live up to its words. It didn't deliver in Syria, it didn't deliver during Arab Spring, it's backed away from confrontation
with Iran, even President Trump did not want to confront Iran.
So, you know, the world and in the Middle East are watching Ukraine very, very carefully to see whether the United States actually really, you know,
continues to back Zelenskyy and the Ukrainians to the very end. And of course, the elections in the U.S. is also over the horizon.
But at the same time, you know, they -- as I said, they have other sets of issues here. Their issue is not whether Ukraine can win this war, their
issue is when is the economic pressure of --
AMANPOUR: And finally --
NASR: -- this war gets lifted on.
AMANPOUR: Exactly. And finally, I just wanted to ask you another big picture question. The whole rapprochement between Saudi and Iran may have
struck Israel as a setback for its attempts and its desires to have some kind of rapprochement beyond the Abraham Accords. And Axios last week says
the White House wants to make a diplomatic push for a Saudi-Israeli peace deal in the next six to seven months.
How likely is that? And the reporting is that the U.S. would make sure that there are some, you know, quid pro quo for the Palestinian issue?
NASR: I think that's the crux of. I don't think now the normalization is dependent on Iran at all. It is dependent on the fact that you have a
government in Israel that is doing everything possible to make it very unpalatable for an Arab leader to be recognizing Israel at this moment.
Israel cannot be sort of building settlements as it announced today and, you know, pressuring the Palestinians --
NASR: -- the way it is and expect that the Saudis will be willing to come to the table.
AMANPOUR: It's really an incredible situation. Thank you so much for all that analysis.
And just a note, on April 10th I refer to the murders of a British-Israeli, Lucy Dee and Maia and Rina Dee, the wife and daughters of Rabbi Leo Dee.
During that live interview, I misspoke and said that they were killed in a shootout instead of a shooting. I have written to Rabbi Dee to apologize
and make sure that he knows that we apologize for any further pain that may have caused him.
Now, resetting the conversation on disabilities in the media and society at large. Activists Sinead Burke is one of British "Vogue's" five disabled
cover stars this month, in a special addition called "Reframing Fashion." It was produced in tandem with Sinead's company, Tilting the Lens, and it
features the stories of 19 people with disabilities across the world of fashion, sport, the arts and activism. And Sinead joins me from London to
talk about education and inclusivity.
Sinead Burke, welcome to the program.
SINEAD BURKE, DISABILITY ACTIVIST: Thank you so much for having me.
AMANPOUR: I noticed that you had talked about what it was like being photographed for that cover. And I just want to hear from you how you felt
when the shoot was wrapped, what you felt like with that platform?
BURKE: I think the moment the shoot wrapped it was an indication that so much of the work was already completed and yet so much had yet to be
undertaken. About a year ago, Edward Enninful got in touch with me and asked if me and my company, Tilting the Lens, would support as consulting
editor for this issue, the photo shoot and ensuring that the set itself was accessible to the many disabled people who are part of the portfolio and
the covers was merely one step.
But I think for me as a person who had previously been on the cover of "Vogue" in 2019 as part of the "Forces for Change" issue felt extraordinary
proud. For me, I was very aware of the fact that being the first little person to be on the cover of any "Vogue" magazine ever was an incredible
honor. But for me, I took it very personally in the sense that it was a call to action to ensure that with the currency, with the platform or with
the opportunity that I had in front of me that I created a pathway and a critical path for as many disabled people as possible to participate in
"Vogue" and any industry that they desire.
AMANPOUR: How did you first become involved in this, you know, Reframing Fashion agenda?
BURKE: My interest in fashion goes back since I was a child or a teenager and my background is an education. I'm a teacher by training. And really,
one of the principles of Tilting the Lens is education because we don't know what we don't know.
Yet, as a teenager, I became this really aware of the fact that fashion was a powerful industry, albeit one with many challenges. But particularly as
little person, that when I sit in front of you in a custom tie-dye Prada dress, that gives me power and a vocabulary to explain a version of myself
to the world. So much which is often a challenge or impossible based on the fact of my physicality and my disability alone.
For me, I understood that fashion created and gave people that vocabulary and yet, the industry in and of itself was often exclusionary or invisible
to disabled people and vice versa. So, for me, I understood that if we could embed ourselves within the fashion system and think about the ways in
which representation could take shape, yes, on the cover magazines and on runways, but also in boardrooms, that the reality in which every single one
of us wears clothes at different price points, and some of us make a conscious about the types of clothes that we wear and others do not.
But because of that proximity to each of us individually and the closeness to our skin that fashion was an important industry to tackle and one to use
as a case study for all others.
AMANPOUR: Sinead, so you are basically saying you're right now wearing a custom tie-dyed Prada dress. Is that right?
BURKE: Yes. And I think in many --
BURKE: Yes. It's --
AMANPOUR: Yes. It looks great. And I -- carry one. What we were you going to say?
BURKE: I think being able to sit in front of you in a custom tie-dyed Prada dress is a privilege. And in many ways, an exception. And so much my reason
of being part of Reframing Fashion but also in setting up a business was because I have been and had the privilege of being the exception and not
the rule. And it made me question, how do we ensure the fashion is not just, for example, accessible to me --
BURKE: -- but accessible to everyone? And while I get to sit here as a symbol of that, it's about the work that follows for systemic change.
AMANPOUR: Of course. And we'll talk about Tilting the Lens, which is your organization, in a second. But first, I want to go back to what you said.
You were very aware as a teenager of all of this sort of inaccessibility because, as you call yourself, as a little person.
AMANPOUR: And you say that you are a teacher. So, those are two really important observations. As a teacher, you have to teach and be accessible
to and have all your students, you know, come on side for whatever you're trying to teach them. What was that like as a little person? Did you get
the respect that you needed in the classroom? Was there challenges there at the beginning?
BURKE: I think, in many ways, the classroom was a microcosm for the wider world. But also, it exemplified the reality that I am disabled because I
live in a world that is not designed for me but designed for the majority of the people watching this program. And the classroom was indicative of
I am very fortunate that when I told my parents, one of whom is disabled, the other nondisabled, that I wanted to be a teacher at four years old,
neither of them questioned my ability to be a good teacher, nor did they highlight the fact that the classroom itself is inaccessible.
But to give you an example, I think many people, when I started in my career as a teacher, began to question whether or not the children would
respect me, particularly because many of them would be bigger than me. But what I did was redesign the classroom. The students all sat in a U shape so
that we were each at eye level with one another. That transformed the culture of that space, ensuring that I was not in a partitive (ph)
presence, but actually, it was about collaboration.
And whether or not I could reach the light switches or the blackboard, it became a co-design element for each of us to be able to thrive and succeed
as an individual and as a collective.
AMANPOUR: That's amazing. That's amazing. And did they help you when, let's say, you couldn't reach a light switch or you couldn't reach the blackboard
or anything like that? Did they collaborate with you? Did you get back from them what you were hoping?
BURKE: Absolutely. And it was almost instinctive. I think children's curiosity in their desire to live in a better more accessible world is
something that we as adults could learn, but it also brought about great skills and insights.
So, if, for example, I couldn't hang the artwork on the wall, it created an opportunity for curators in my classroom who were no older than eight or
nine or 10 and being able to criticize and offer feedback to their fellow students as to how they could improve their own practice, and in many ways,
in wider society and in the business world, the fact that disabled people have skills based on the lives that they have lived and the personalities
they have, it's about that added value that we have as individuals and as the community. It's not a burden or a challenge but something to really
look about as an opportunity for belonging, inclusion and innovation.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it is incredible. As you say, it's a microcosm. Your organization, Tilting the Lens, the website says, 15 percent of the global
population, that's 1 billion people, live with it some form of disability, that's according to the U.N. The disabled community spends $1.7 trillion
every year. So, you're a massive part of the global economy. And $10 billion in design spending is set to come out in order to meet your needs.
You have, said this is not a moment, it's a movement. So, are you -- do you get the feedback? Do you get the impression that the time is right and the
ground is fertile for the wider message beyond even fashion?
BURKE: Absolutely. I think we can see that momentum building. But I think this comes down to individual, collective and systemic responsibility. I
think many of us are still unfamiliar or uncomfortable even using the language of disability.
As you said, you know, it's 15 percent of the global population at least. And yet, we -- when we looked at the statistics here in the U.K., at the
very beginning of the pandemic, six out of 10 people who died of COVID-19 were disabled. How do we ensure that we never look back and continue to
leave people behind?
But also, as we think about the future of industry, the future of society, how often do we think about accessibility that doesn't just benefit
disabled people, but benefits us all? Whether that's captions, whether that's Siri, whether it's voice technology, there are so many ways in which
accessibility benefits each of us as a collective, but we have to make this a priority. We have to look to this as an investment and not a cost. And we
have to really build this into our moral compass, as individuals and as organizations, as we look to what type of future world do we want to live
We are all getting older, which is a privilege. What is the kind of world that we want to be designed for us and with us in order for us each to
continue to have equitable access?
AMANPOUR: And, Sinead, you inhabit a particular space of disability and yet, it is not just about people like yourself. The pressure from our
Instagram world are -- any world, on women in general, is intense. How do you think beyond the covers that Edward Enninful has done, both in 2019 and
now this one as the editor-in-chief of Vogue, how do you think the general pressure on women and girls can be alleviated or mitigated?
BURKE: I think the pressure around visibility representation or the lack thereof, even as we begin to question beauty standards and norms, is a
dialogue that we must continue. I think asking about whether representation on five covers or 19 people included the portfolio was enough, it's never
enough. But what you've talked about there is the importance of intersectionality.
For too long, when we think about or have representation of disabled people, it is one type of this disability and one type of person. But as we
look to disability through a global lens and look to the ways of which identities overlap.
So, for example, we have Aaron Rose Philip who is on the cover who is a black trans disabled woman. Ensuring that we are always including those who
are most marginalized at the heart of our conversation but as regards to how we think about the future of those norms, it's about continuously
expanding the definition so as many people can continue to feel included.
But I think it's also about doing this with disabled people and out for disabled people, and that goes back to as many different marginalized
groups as possible. But as we think about the future of people and whether it's the internet, whether it's different forms that create biases and that
ensure that people feel excluded, we have a collective responsibility to continue to extend the explicit invitation, because people are valid as
they are, whether or not they're on a cover of a magazine.
AMANPOUR: And lastly, your own activism. You mentioned it a little bit, you know, your childhood, the support you got from your parents. You had
siblings, you have siblings, all of whom are described as average height. What was it like growing up in that community, that family community and
what led you to activism?
BURKE: I'm very fortunate that I grew up as a loved child. I have three sisters and one brother and two parents. My father is a little person like
me. My mother is nondisabled, as you said, as are my siblings. Having that representation in my own home, particularly when 80 percent of little
people are born to two average height parents was extraordinary. And in many anyways, it my 30, I'm only beginning to quantify and qualify the
value and importance of that to me.
But I think surrounding myself and being enriched by that wonderful environment has encouraged me to always try, to always be ambitious, to
fail better, as Beckett says. And I'm very fortunate, but also aware, that not everybody's immediate home life is similar to mine. And I think what's
important is that we gather the networks and the communities that we need in order to ensure that we have the support system and the people who
believe in us to try what others may think is impossible.
And in terms of activism, you know, the classroom felt like such a essential launchpad to move from the microcosm to wider society. I think
being able to be embedded in the fashion system initially created this impetus to understand what that theory of change could look like, but
really looking to whether it was the pandemic or just these small changes that been made in fashion and really acknowledging that this is not about
one individual but a collective, and all of us to really create this change, not just today and tomorrow, but forever.
AMANPOUR: And again, you've given a TED Talk, it's been widely, widely viewed. And you are obviously in a position to encourage and help so many
people. So, thank you, Sinead Burke, very much for joining us.
BURKE: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, turning to here in the United States where congressional insider trading, which is using information that isn't public for financial
gain was outlawed in 2012. But that law didn't stop members of Congress from buying and selling shares of companies affected by the legislation
they write, and that could be set to change.
Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Rebecca Ballhaus has been reporting extensively on this issue. And she's joining Hari
Sreenivasan to discuss the moves underway to hold lawmakers and government employees accountable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Rebecca Ballhaus, thanks so much for joining us.
I know that you are part of "The Wall Street Journal's" second Pulitzer Prize, or this is your second Pulitzer Prize for uncovering a lot of great
reporting over the past year about financial conflicts of interest. Let's focus a little bit more on your recent reporting on how members of Congress
or people in government have been trading stocks during this little banking crisis that we've been seeing.
REBECCA BALLHAUS, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: We reported on three lawmakers who had traded bank stocks while also taking part, to varying
degrees, in discussions over how to handle the banking crisis. And since we published that story, I think the count is now at least a dozen or so
lawmakers who have reported trades in bank stocks.
And it ranges from lawmakers who don't seem to have been that involved in the response to lawmakers who were in private discussions with financial
regulators surrounding the closure of various banks and with trading bank stocks at the same time.
SREENIVASAN: So, these kinds of conversations, I mean, we don't have transcripts of exactly what was said between one person or another, but is
that the appearance of impropriety that's the problem here?
BALLHAUS: I think, at best, it's the appearance of impropriety. So, to give you an example, there's a congresswoman from New York, Nicole Malliotakis,
who reported -- she publicly said that she had private discussions with financial regulator surrounding the closure of Signature Bank. A couple of
days later, she reports buying stock in New York Community Bancorp. And a few days after that, a subsidiary of New York Bank -- Community Bancorp
takes over the deposits of Signature Bank, and that sends their stock up, something like 30 percent.
So, her office says that she wasn't aware that that was happening, that New York Community Bancorp didn't not come in our discussions with private --
with financial regulators. But again, it's an issue where you sort of have to take peoples' word for it that it's not something worse than an
SREENIVASAN: This is a bipartisan problem. I mean, you also focus on Representative Blumenau of Oregon.
BALLHAUS: That's right. He traded I think three bank stocks at a time where he was co-sponsoring legislation that would tighten restrictions on
financial firms. It's very much a bipartisan problem.
SREENIVASAN: Did the representatives in your most recent pieces reach back out to try to clarify what their positions were or any of their staff have
BALLHAUS: So, Malliotakis, her office said that she was not aware that New York Community Bancorp planned to take over Signature Bank's deposits
through a subsidiary and then, at no point, had come up in her conversations with financial regulators. So, essentially saying she was not
trading on inside information.
And beyond that, you know, I think Representative Blumenau's office also denied any wrongdoing and I believe said a financial adviser was involved
in the transaction. But -- so, you know, these offices, there's a lot of ways to sort of add context to these trades and defend the lawmakers, but I
think what it comes down to is how it looks when you're reading these disclosures.
SREENIVASAN: So, there were a lot of reports about this around the pandemic because, as we all live through, there was a massive market correction,
very, very precipitous drop in a lot of stocks. And if you knew what sorts of stocks were going to be affected by, say, a nationwide shut down, then
you could've sold those stocks early and quite a few members were found that -- just they had very coincidentally profitable trades.
BALLHAUS: Right. I think that was among the more scandalous moments of this kind of trading over the last several years is when it emerged that several
members of Congress had sold off, you know, millions of dollars' worth of stocks.
And one example of that was Richard Burr who sold I think over a million dollars' worth of stock after attending a closed-door briefing on the
threat of the virus. He ended up being investigated both by DOJ and the FCC but was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing. That was Senator Burr, a
Republican, but you also had Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, who was similarly selling off a lot of her portfolio. So, it's definitely not
concentrated one party or the other.
SREENIVASAN: OK. Now, if this was none members of Congress and say the FCC or another body that's looking into these kinds of things, would we be
investigated for insider trading or having insider knowledge and making a trade that was just coincidently very profitable to us?
BALLHAUS: I mean, that's always hard to say. Congress is not allowed to insider trade much like everybody else. But I think it is an area where
there have been so many scandals that they have sort of stopped getting the same kind of intense scrutiny that they might have once gotten. I think
people have gotten much more used to this sort of behavior.
SREENIVASAN: And what is sort of Congress' response to this? I know there are individual members in the Senate and in the House that are trying to do
something about it.
BALLHAUS: Well, what's interesting is that there are so many members of both parties who have proposed bans on a stock trading out right and there
are differences in the kinds of proposals that have been introduced. Most dealing -- most of the differences deal with what kind of blind trust
lawmakers could put their holdings in.
But for the most part, several members of both parties support banning members of Congress from trading and holding individual stocks and would
require them to put their investments in some kind of a trust. And that would really help this issue, because, right now, there are no rules other
than the ban on insider trading, there are no rules that require lawmakers not to trade in stocks that could be affected by their work or in areas
where they might have some sort of private knowledge of what's coming.
And Congress is, of course, in a unique position to be able to have a sense of what's coming for a particular industry or company. Congress is unique
among the -- at least compared to the executive branch in that it faces no rules that determine whether they can trade in something that they're
SREENIVASAN: So, if there is some bipartisan agreement that there should be something done about this, what's the resistance in Congress? What -- is
there are rationale? Is there an argument on why legislation like this is not going forward?
BALLHAUS: It's a good question. I mean, I think there are a couple of issues. There -- the argument against having a ban like this is, number
one, people argue that it would deter lawmakers from running for Congress if they feel like they have to sell all their stocks or put them all into
trust and otherwise, aren't able to trade. The other argument is that if members of Congress are not able to trade stocks, that would, in some ways
divorce them from the economic interests of their constituents. So, those are some of the arguments that have been put forward.
But I think beyond that, it's also just an issue of coming to an agreement on what a ban should look like. So, this past fall, House Democrats
introduced a proposal that would ban stock trading, would require you to put your -- would require lawmakers to put their holdings in a blind trust,
but that proposal actually drew a lot of criticism from some ethics groups who said that the rules for creating a blind trust were so weak that it
would actually make the current system worse.
And so, I think some of the disagreements centers on what should these trusts look like.
SREENIVASAN: There's been this philosophy for a while that sunlight is the best disinfectant and, you know, what if I just disclosed that I purchased
some shares, that that transparency is enough in itself to avoid the conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. But the
way that that's reported of when you bought a share and when you have to tell the public, I mean, there's still a lag there.
BALLHAUS: Right. There is a lag, and Congress is also of the three branches of government, has historically been the one where these disclosures are
the easiest to get because they are now posted online. But there is a delay.
And I think more importantly, we've now had so many different scandals related to lawmakers creating stocks and nothing's really happening that I
think that argument has sort of become diluted, because if members of Congress know that they're very likely not going to face any consequences
for trading in a stock that might look bad but not, you know, necessarily be insider trading, there's not really a disincentive for them to make
those kinds of trades.
SREENIVASAN: You've also been looking into not just members of Congress, but the other branches as well. I mean, we are seeing both in the judicial,
as well as the executive branch, people getting caught up in this and, you know, it being revealed after the fact that they might have had trades that
were unduly profitable.
BALLHAUS: Right. So, I spent most of last year looking at the executive branch of government, that that was a really interesting case because
unlike Congress, federal agency employees have rules that say they're not supposed to trade in stocks of companies that could be affected by what
they're working on.
So, when they first set out, we kind of expected that we weren't necessarily going to find all that much because the rules are so much
stricter than they are for Congress. But what we found really did not -- show that there was a lot of, sort of, questionable trading.
So, I mean, for starters, the disclosures that we -- that are supposed to be public, that you're supposed to be able to review were incredibly
difficult to get. It's been -- we started requesting these forms for more than 50 agencies in January of last year and we still have not received the
disclosures from some agencies.
And more importantly, I think that these disclosures show there's rampant trading and stocks that are affected by the work of agencies and that the
ethics officials are really sort of narrowly interpreting these rules to say you have to be kind of the deciding voice on an issue that would affect
company in order for it to count as a conflict.
SREENIVASAN: Now, your investigation, Capital Assets, looked at 2,500 employees across 50 different federal agencies. Were there any specific
agencies or groups where it was particularly egregious?
BALLHAUS: Yes. There were a couple that really stood out. One story that we did early on was on the FTC, where we found a number of officials trading
stocks in companies that were involved in mergers or other reviews by the FTC. We also found that officials were trading stock in major tech
companies that have received a lot of scrutiny from the FTC in recent years. And in particular, we found many trades in Facebook at the time when
the FTC was investigating Facebook.
Beyond that, I think the EPA had a lot of trades in energy and oil and gas companies that would be affected by the agency. The same was true of the
Energy Department. And like with Congress, we also found some instances of officials trading in the early days of the COVID pandemic that -- in ways
that appeared to be quite well-timed given what they might have known about what was coming.
SREENIVASAN: You know, in your investigation -- I'm just reading a quote from you about the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, in recent years, has
opened investigations into nearly every major industry. It's launched antitrust probes into technology companies, examined credit card firms and
move to restrict drug, energy, and defense company mergers. At the same time, senior officials at the FTC disclosed more trades of stocks, bonds
and funds on average than officials at any other major agency in a "Wall Street Journal" of review of financial disclosures going back from 2016 to
I mean, you know, how did they take up a special interest in tech companies, and what did that do to their influence?
BALLHAUS: I think what was clear from that was just that the rules were not being enforced in such a way that there was any disincentive to be trading
in tech companies because what ethics officials were really looking for were officials who were taking a leading role in a matter that could affect
a company. And they weren't kind of looking at this broader pattern of, we have all these officials who are trading tech companies while we're
supposed to be the agency that's, you know, making sure we're keeping a tight check on the tech industry. It wasn't really that holistic of a view,
it was much more narrowly targeted on what exactly is this person doing and what exactly are they trading?
SREENIVASAN: You mentioned the EPA as well and you found 200 senior EPA officials, nearly one in three, reported investments in companies that were
lobbying the agency. What are these investments look like?
BALLHAUS: What we found was -- one of the officials we highlighted in our story was that a senior official who's trading repeatedly in oil and gas
and energy companies. And his ethics official, at some point, flagged his trades and -- to ask, you know, whether there was a conflict there, and the
answer they got was that his role was much more administrative in nature and that he was not, you know, determining the outcome of various
regulations. And therefore, that it wasn't a problem.
And so, I think that's an example of the kind of the narrow view that some ethics officials across the government are taking, is looking at, you know,
specifically, do we think that they're working on a thing that could have a major outcome and not on does this look bad?
SREENIVASAN: There's an attempt, I think, on Nick Langworthy from New York, a Republican here, who said that he would introduce legislation to try to
put different parameters around federal agencies from trading in their sector. Is that going to improve things? Is that not enough? What do you
BALLHAUS: Well, I think like with the bans on congressional trading, we've seen a number of lawmakers in both parties introduce legislation that would
either ban stock trading among executive branch officials or like Representative Langworthy would require agencies to impose tougher
And I think a mixture of that would certainly improve the situation, because I think, as it is, you have this idea that sunlight is the greatest
disinfectant but you're not really able to view most of these forms in real-time. And when you do view them, you just see so much trading in the
industry that that agency is supposed to be regulating.
SREENIVASAN: You know, Nancy Pelosi has famously been criticized for the trades that her husband has made. And interestingly -- well, to put it
mildly, a strange group of bedfellows and Representative Alexandria Cortez- Ocasio and Representative Matt Gaetz are both co-sponsoring a piece of legislation to try and prevent lawmakers and their families from profiting
off of insider information.
I mean, do you see that gaining any momentum, any meaningful momentum in trying to restore faith in government, as they would like to say?
BALLHAUS: I mean, I think, as you say, anytime you have such an unusual mixture of lawmakers and, I mean, on the Senate side, you have everyone
from Josh Hawley to Elizabeth Warren.
BALLHAUS: Anytime you see those people banding together over an issue, I'm more inclined to say it will get some momentum. I think one issue for the
executive branch in particular is that some members of Congress feel that it's important to address their own issues before they move on to the rest
of the federal government.
And so, you've seen some proposals that would restrict trading in both Congress and the judicial and executive branches sort of do them all three
at once and others that say, we need to deal with Congress and then we can move on to everything else. So, I think that's one hurdle that we're seeing
SREENIVASAN: You know, I know it's hard to measure our confidence in Congress and exactly what it is that shakes it. But I wonder, the type of
reporting you, your team, "New York Times," other major papers, so many of these scandals have come into play that I wonder what that does to our
faith in our lawmakers and our faith in the system?
BALLHAUS: Yes. I think it's a really important question, because what we heard over and over from readers in response to our (INAUDIBLE) last year
was basically, I knew it. And so, I think, you know, it's not necessarily shocking to readers, instead, it's really confirming what a lot of them
already believed or feared, which is that lawmakers are out for their own private interests rather than the interests of the country.
And so, I think you've seen broad public support for bans on stock trading for Congress, and I think it really is an issue that seems to be
contributing to sort of the eroding public trust.
SREENIVASAN: Rebecca Ballhous from "The Wall Street Journal," thanks so much.
BALLHAUS: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And trust is always critical. Finally, tonight, a trio of new tourist has just been welcomed aboard the International Space Station. The
Axiom Space Mission is being led by the former NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson, who spent more time in space than any other American.
The three paying passengers are an American investor and two astronauts from Saudi Arabia. One of those is a stem cell researcher who has just
become Saudi's first woman in space. They're all going to be up there a week doing a number of science experiments as well.
And that's it for now. If you ever missed our show, you can always find the latest episode shortly after airs on our podcast. On your screen now is a
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Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.