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Interview With Former Ukrainian Defense Minister And Adviser To The Government Of Ukraine Andriy Zagorodnyuk; Interview With U.S. Central Command Former Commander And Former CIA Director David Petraeus; Interview With Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzalez. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 29, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour" live from Kyiv. Here's what's coming up.
Ukraine signals a much-needed success in the counteroffensive. We have a report from near the front line as civilians struggle to survive. And I
speak to Ukraine's former defense minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, joining me here in Kyiv.
Then, why are Ukraine's U.S. backers grumbling about this counteroffensive? We get that story from former CIA chief and retired general, David
Also, ahead --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO R. GONZALEZ, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: When people lose confidence in an institution like the Department of Justice, then I think
we're in serious trouble as a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: -- preserving American democracy. Walter Isaacson speaks to Bush's attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, about why he thinks his fellow
Republicans are wrong about bias in the Justice Department.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in Kyiv, Ukraine, at a time when the country is under the microscope for any progress in its
critical counteroffensive. Breaking through Russian defenses in the south, the Ukrainian military is reporting advances in the near Robotyne in the
As battles continue along the front lines, some local officials say they're evacuating children from areas close to the fighting. Now, Correspondent
Melissa Bell has found out all about that despite these military gains, little has changed for civilians living amid the toll of war. And she has
this report from Stepnogorsk, just four miles from the Zaporizhzhia front line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The water is for the animal left behind. Svetlana (ph) draws some each week as she waits for her own
supply, or rather her villages. It's too dangerous for emergency services, so she will carry it the rest of the way.
I can't abandon the people, she says, the elderly. And quotes a Soviet era saying, if not you, then who?
But even in the center of Stepnogorsk there aren't many people left. The Russians are only five kilometers away.
BELL: Presidential buildings like this one have been on the front line of this war for nearly a year and a half. The shelling, say the few residents
that are left here, is day and night. About 500 to 600 civilians left in this town from several thousand before the war. So far, they say that the
counteroffensive hasn't made things much worse in terms of shelling nor though they say has it made things any better.
BELL (voiceover): It's dangerous every day, say Igor Samsonenko (ph). Overnight, the roof of that house was hit, there was shelling yesterday
afternoon and a building was on fire just the other day.
As we inspect the damage done by last night's artillery fire, a Russian drone inspects us, exploding just as we leave. But little phases the local
emergency services who've been showing us around. People are used to the war, says Mikola Malikin (ph), before a shell interrupts him.
Those the emergency services can't get to rely on people like Svetlana (ph). She will now walk with what she can push on her bike for more than an
hour towards enemy fire. But with her dog for company, she says, she's never afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Ukrainian forces are making welcomed progress in the south. But the counteroffensive was so heavily touted that now questions about the
pace are coming fast and furious. Military officials here insist all is going according to plan. Our first guest is the former defense minister,
Andriy Zagorodnyuk, who remains a key advisor to the Ukrainian government and is joining me right here. Welcome to the program.
ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Is it going according to plan?
ZAGORODNYUK: It's certainly going. And as you know, that a plan is always changed because this is war.
ZAGORODNYUK: It never happens according to any schedule. So, this is just unrealistic to expect. So, it is happening. It's happening. It's happening
as much as possible. People doing -- people paying all necessary resources attention to this. It's certainly a very difficult challenge because we're
talking about extremely serious operation.
It's a largest war in Europe since World War II. It's extremely a mined territory. There's a lot of fortifications. There is -- we cannot apply the
standard western NATO doctrines because there's no aviation and many other things.
AMANPOUR: Because there's no aviation you say?
ZAGORODNYUK: There's no aviation.
ZAGORODNYUK: Yes. So, we need to invent a way how to win in this situation. And of course, we all had a plan, a certain plan, and then it is adjusted
as we go on. But certainly, it's happening and certainly, it's progressing.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, can you tell me what is the progress? You're -- we've heard from your ministry that Robotyne has been liberated. Is that the
ZAGORODNYUK: Yes, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: And what exactly does that mean? What do they have to have done? What line do they have to have penetrated, your guys?
ZAGORODNYUK: First of all, there is a strategic direction to this house. And we do locals (ph) to the other sides, because we cannot just focus only
on one area and forget about all others. Because obviously Russians would love that and they would attack us from the other side. So, we need to keep
our line everywhere. And -- but at the same time, like keep pushing on this house, and that's where it's going. And day by day, we'll liberate more and
more territory and village by village.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to play a soundbite from your own defense minister, Reznikov, just yesterday addressing people's complaints, certainly allied.
AMANPOUR: Maybe a lot of unnamed sources in the West, but nonetheless --
AMANPOUR: -- you've heard the complaints. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): We are moving forward in our counteroffensive. There are certain changes which are
not as quick as everyone wanted. It's not like in a movie, you go today and finish tomorrow. But we are moving without stopping in accordance with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he says, we're moving without stopping in accordance to the plan, similar to what you said. So, what do you say to your allies, let's
face it, who have provided you and furnished you with tens of billions of dollars of aid, of military hardware, of ammunitions, of intelligence, who
are wondering what's going on out there?
ZAGORODNYUK: Well, we're obviously telling them that we do everything possible to make this as fast as and as successful as, but at the same
time, we're not going to be unreasonable. We're going to save our people much as we can. We're not going to make stupid mistakes. We're not going to
throw people like in -- I don't know, Stalin ground (ph) battle or something like that, just in order to show that we can do something by the
end of the summer or whatever. Because that's not the way Ukrainian army works. We're not thing by date. We are very diligent and very careful and
do things in order to be the most effective with what resources we have.
At the same time, the frustration which we sometimes here, especially, you know, they're coming very far from the front line. And, yes, sometimes
people come for a short period of time and then they -- and then the frustrations are often based on expectations, which were developed not
exactly in Ukraine and not exactly on the front line.
Again, as I said, Ukrainian army did not provide the schedule of the counteroffensive progress, which was supposed to be adhered, you know, and
then, suddenly now, it happens otherwise. It's a war. It's a very challenging environment and people need to be patient and understand that
we're working as fast and we're working as best as it's possible at all.
AMANPOUR: So, we've heard from your side, we've heard from bloggers on your side, on the Russian side, there seems to be sort of a description of very
close combat in the south --
AMANPOUR: -- almost face-to-face.
AMANPOUR: Some chaos. Some panic -- yes. I mean, some panic. And obviously, from the Russian side, incredibly well planned and they've had a long time
to do it, months to lay a lot of mines, to dig a lot of trenches. Do you know how deep their defenses are?
ZAGORODNYUK: Yes. Sometimes it's kilometer, sometimes it's tens of kilometers, sometimes it's as deep as 30 kilometers of the -- there's no,
by the way, panic on Ukrainian side. We do know what we deal with. And that's why we step-by-step and step-by-step, we'll go through this.
To be honest, in many cases, we need to invent a way how to fight that war, because that's the war which was recently fought ever. That -- nobody had
an experience of going through the mine fields when we have five mines per square meter sometimes, it's just abnormal. Probably Ukraine is the most
mined country in the world right now by far, and we need to find way how to deal with this. And each territory is different, of course. So, it's
something to work out.
AMANPOUR: So, you're the former defense minister, you're an and adviser to the government on what's going on right now. Can you explain why, for you
all, the planes are so important? You're not going to get them for this counteroffensive.
AMANPOUR: But your ground commander, General Zaluzhny, has said, you know, how can you expect us to, you know, do everything on the ground where we
don't even have air cover? We don't have air supremacy or even, you know, air superiority.
ZAGORODNYUK: NATO standard doctrine assumes that the, you know, NATO force has air supremacy or at least air superiority, which means it has an
advantage in the air. For us, it's important. Of course, airplanes provide the long-range firepower. So, we can hit our enemy in deep, we can hit
their logistical position --
AMANPOUR: But you don't have them?
ZAGORODNYUK: Well, we have older planes, which are not competitive with the Russian planes at the moment. Their raiders are not that strong. Their
rockets is not that strong. That's why we're talking to our Western allies, obviously, United States, in order to get the, F-16s.
At the moment, we're not going to have them for that counteroffensive, but generally speaking, to apply a proper modern doctrine of fighting the war,
we do need planes, of course.
AMANPOUR: And do you -- have you heard -- I mean, it's been reported, again, mostly sort of anonymous. On the other hand, General Milley is in
constant touch with General Zaluzhny --
AMANPOUR: -- that the US and NATO was kind of surprised by how you were still paying so much attention to Bakhmut, for instance, and areas north
and east when they suggested you should throw everything at a definable goal in the south, try to cut off the supply lines of Russia to Crimea.
ZAGORODNYUK: It's very difficult to advise how to do the operation of that scale from across the ocean, to be honest, because we -- you need to know
not just details of where the forces are located, but also the different nuances, which are millions every day we go through in order to make right
decisions. And right decisions is never like ideal. It's always a tradeoff between something.
So, when we do make decision to fight for some area, it means that it has some strategic or operational value because we -- if we lose it, for
example, then Russians can develop their -- advancing in other directions.
Back half a year ago, Russians wanted to take all Donbas and then claim that, you know, they have won. And basically, they would turn the cities,
which are currently peaceful, into a nightmare. The one which are -- currently the cities (INAUDIBLE) occupy this, and we prevented them doing
that. Their offensive had failed in January, February, March.
So, it was actually some degree of success. But, of course, there will be always debates about their correct decisions. It's like all the time. Even
in any wars in the history, there always been debates.
AMANPOUR: It's said that the Russians are sending some much better, some of their elite troops to the front, to -- you know, to confront your
counteroffensive. And it said that, you know, even several months ago, maybe the death toll was somewhere for you around 17,000, according to the
U.S. Now, reports are that it could be 70,000 dead and wounded and on the Russian side as well. I've even heard the number 500,000 altogether since
the beginning of this war. It is a huge toll for inches.
ZAGORODNYUK: We're not commenting the losses. This we don't do. There's a policy of the government not to do that. But obviously, they're very high.
They're very high. And we see this because we see funerals happening. I attended one this morning for -- and for the service person, and this is
And so, the war is not easy for us at all, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: And now, they have four times more than you have. What happens? I mean -- and talking about people, what happens when it -- you know, as it
continues, it's not going to end anytime soon, is it?
ZAGORODNYUK: We're not -- you know, the war cannot be assessed by mathematics. So, it's not about like how many people they have and how many
people we have. They have many people in the beginning, and experts thought that Ukraine would stop existing --
ZAGORODNYUK: -- by March '22. It's not as simple as that. We're more motivated. We are -- we know what we're doing. We know which country we're
fighting with. We know the shortcomings of Russians. And yes, indeed, they have lots of money and they have lots of people, but it's not just about
that. It's about the complex capabilities, and we're better than them.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me about complex capabilities. because we've noticed, certainly in the last, I think -- is it a week or so, maybe longer --
Ukraine did a very interesting operation, I think it was called the Swarm Drone Operation into Crimea, certain Russian targets into Kursk, you know,
on other targets inside Russia itself. Are you stepping up that kind of activity?
ZAGORODNYUK: Just so you know, we are not commenting again who did the reparations in Russia because this is, again, not just a -- it's --
AMANPOUR: Is Crimea Russia?
ZAGORODNYUK: No. Crimea is Ukraine. Crimea is absolutely Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: So, are you commenting on that one?
ZAGORODNYUK: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Crimea is Ukraine and we can do whatever we like in Ukraine because this is --
AMANPOUR: And are you doing it?
ZAGORODNYUK: We certainly are looking at the different operations in Ukraine and in certain ones, our forces saying that this is -- these were
specific forces. For example, there's been an operation in Crimea done by forces, and then there are certain which do not comment for various
reasons. But the key thing is that, indeed, we're coming to the phase -- new phase in probably human warfare when there will be a drone wars, and
And we are entering this phase. And indeed, we will see more unmanned platforms fighting. And this is something which is --
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's happening right now.
ZAGORODNYUK: It's happening right now. A new civilizational --
AMANPOUR: And how --
ZAGORODNYUK: step we are making right now.
AMANPOUR: And how do you deal with it? Because it seems that neither of you can make a move without being seen from above, without being seen.
AMANPOUR: You know, it is apparently very open terrain, not many tree lines down in the south. Not much area to take cover under.
ZAGORODNYUK: This is probably the most transparent war in the human history. And all wars in the future will be transparent because of the
satellites, because of the drones, because of the social media and so on. Yes. And we need to learn how to live with the absolute transparency of the
war, and also with the so-called democratization of the cost of platforms, when the drone costing like $500 can kill a tank, which costs million and
so on, or how we did attack the Russian ships with the, you know, drones, which are obviously a fraction of the cost of the ship. That's where it's
going. It's going to these smaller platforms, autonomic -- autonomous platforms or distant run platforms and so on.
AMANPOUR: So, the advantage then goes to the most agile, the most adaptable?
ZAGORODNYUK: Yes. And the ones who quickly adjusted the new environment and introduces new innovations. So, this is about democratization of the
platforms, innovations, a fast delivery of the new platforms and that sort of processes.
AMANPOUR: I know that you operate a lot of the orders, the GPS targeting and also it comes via internet basically, and you are fairly dependent, if
not entirely dependent on Starlink --
ZAGORODNYUK: To a great extent, yes.
AMANPOUR: -- which is run by one person --
AMANPOUR: -- who may or may not decide that one day he favors the other side. What guarantee do you have?
ZAGORODNYUK: It's not about guarantees. It's about a democratic world, understanding that strategic technologies have to be called responsibly and
managed responsibly. Because if we are conducting the operation, which is in the interest of the whole democratic world, probably there must be some
reason reasonability behind that, behind the decisions.
And I sincerely hope that it's not going to depend on somebody's just deciding subjectively, you know, whether to turn it off or turn it on. It's
not how the world should be run and it's not how the, you know, freedom operations how it must be run, right? So, I hope for the best in this, to
AMANPOUR: So, here we are at the -- practically the end of your second summer at war, and it is said, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the most
fighting that you're going to be able to do in the next six or -- is going to be in the next six or so weeks before the rain start and the ground gets
muddy. Tell me what you -- what it looks like the next month, two months into the fall?
ZAGORODNYUK: But this is -- yes, but except the fact that this is -- you're talking about ground operation, but we're not just talking about the ground
ZAGORODNYUK: We're also talking about the drones' operations and some others. So, it's not just like it's everything ends in November. First of
all, the weather is different. Sometimes the weather is very warm and the operation can land much longer.
But generally speaking, of course, it's about the -- liberating our people. That's the main thing, because in each of these villages, which you just
mentioned, there are people who are suffering from Russian occupations, and Russians are not very nice at all to these people. We're seeing horrible
stories from each -- every village which we liberate. So, our job is to liberate as many people of our country as possible by the time.
AMANPOUR: And to keep doing that --
AMANPOUR: In order to keep western support, do you feel that there's -- you have to show -- you know, show something for all of this support in order
to keep getting it?
ZAGORODNYUK: Well, obviously people need to see the progress. But at the same time, it's not that we are doing this for someone, we are doing this,
first of all, for us. Because our people are currently under occupation and they're suffering, and that's the only -- the main thing which we worry
about. Everything else, to be honest, is secondary.
When we see these reports from where they are right now, I mean, that's only thing we can be considering right now.
AMANPOUR: Andriy Zagorodnyuk, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
ZAGORODNYUK: Thank you. Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Really interesting.
As we said, military voices in the United States keep poking holes in Kyiv's allocation of resources, troops, and combat operations. I'm joined
now by the former CIA director, retired U.S. army general David Petraeus, formerly head of U.S. Central Command. He says the counteroffensive might
yet surprise critics.
General Petraeus, welcome to the program.
DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Good to be with you again, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: I don't know whether you heard the former defense minister, but he had some really interesting things to say about what they're doing, how
they're doing it, and how it's actually going, by and large, according to plan as much as a war can.
PETRAEUS: I did hear it. I thought it was a terrific interview actually. I'd just add that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and that has
been true in this case. Certainly, there were hopes that with western tanks and infantry fighting vehicles and other systems that they might be able to
mount combined operations that could penetrate the Russian defenses, but that was before we all learned about the depth of these defenses, about the
sophistication of them.
The Russians have not distinguished themselves, in many respects over the last year and a half or so, but this defense in depth is quite formidable.
It is good news now though that the Ukrainians I think have adapted very impressively. I do think that those in the West ought to acknowledge that
the Ukrainians probably know best their own terrain, they know best their own troops, they know their strengths and they know their weaknesses. One
of which is, of course, the lack of air power. And we're not just talking about the lack of air superiority or supremacy, we're talking about any
air, really, that can influence this fight. And one reason they can't get through is that they can't use the air power to keep the enemy's heads
down, to keep their artillery from responding and so forth.
So, the Ukrainians have adapted quite impressively. They're keeping the Russians engaged all the way along the front of 600 miles. They are picking
their way through these minefields and they have made progress. Now, the liberation of this town that you highlighted, is significant. They may be
through the first line of defenses in that area, which is why, as you noted, the Russians have had to move some of their more elite troops, the
airborne forces to back up the Russians in that area, that's a good sign because the Russians don't have that many reserves that are uncommitted.
They're also going after -- the Ukrainians are going after the logistical sites, the fuel depots, the ammunition, storage points, the headquarters,
the artillery units that are making life so difficult for those trying to get through these minefields and trenches and so forth. And they're even
going deeper, as you noted, into Crimea, for example, after the large bases there, maritime and air.
PETRAEUS: They're trying to cut lines of communication that the logistics from the Russians use. And all of this is, again, it's slow, it's very,
very hard, but they are making progress. And again, I think what we need to do is do everything we can to enable them to succeed and what will probably
stretch for as much as another four months. As the minister noted, the weather could allow continued ground operations through November, and we
ought to be doing everything we can to ensure that they have the ammunitions to continue that, to provide the longer-range precision
missiles for our rocket system, the Army Tactical Missile System, additional air defenses and munitions as well, so that they can make the
most of the remaining four months, noting that they're only two and a half months or so into this at this point.
AMANPOUR: Right. General Petraeus, I'm fixated a little bit on the air power because you just said it, he said it, the former defense minister and
so has their commanding general wartime, General Zaluzhny, said we can't do all that you might expect of U.S. on the ground if we don't have, as you
said, you know, proper force in the air.
Put back your general's hat on, your helmet on, and remind us what it took for the U.S. to win in, first of all, the first Gulf War, then to get
superiority in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. I mean, from my memory, air was the first thing that was deployed.
PETRAEUS: Exactly. And in fact, as you will recall, we pounded the Iraqis in Kuwait for 39 days and we had complete control of the skies. It was
complete air supremacy with a couple of engagements here and there. And by the time we went at them, that's what enabled us to succeed in 100 hours of
ground operations. And of course, they had nothing like the very formidable defenses that the Russians have established in Southern Ukraine in
And then, by the way, we also had very substantial numbers of armored breaching systems, essentially bulldozers with huge armor, ballistic glass
on them that just almost plow through these. And the Ukrainians have very few of those. That's one of the systems that we weren't able to provide in
large numbers apparently.
And then in the fight to Baghdad, yes, there were some stiff fights along the way. Yes, we use some of these breaching systems periodically, but
again, nothing like the defense and depth that the Russians have established with multiple lines of these minefields and entrenched lines
and anti-tank ditches and Dragon's Teeth, and we had complete air superiority, again, really air supremacy, once again.
So, if you have a problem, it's right over your shoulder. By the way, we also had attack helicopters in massive numbers. And, you know, the problem
goes away pretty quickly if you can identify where it is. That is just not a capability that the Ukrainians have. It's a shame we didn't make the
decision on F-16s much earlier. Frankly, it's a shame we didn't make the decision on tanks earlier as well, because some of those are still arriving
for the Ukrainian forces.
But they have built a very professional force. It has enormous expertise. And I think the key here is to acknowledge that they have adapted. Again,
the plan did not survive contact with the enemy so they've made changes.
And by the way, I think when they do crack these defenses, when they really can get through them, they do have reserves and other capabilities that I
think we'll see pour into those fights to try to make the most of the progress that they've achieved.
AMANPOUR: Yes, I'm also very mindful of what everybody here says, even soldiers who I met, wounded soldiers in a rehab center in Odessa yesterday,
you know, they're trying their best. They're wounded. They're getting patched up, and they want to go back to their comrades and to their fight
but they know that the other side has, as they say, four times more disposable bodies than they do. I mean, it's just a much bigger, you know,
amount of people that the Russians can throw at this. We've seen how that's gone so far. But how do you see the Russians adapting? We've talked about
the Ukrainians. How are they doing?
PETRAEUS: Well, the Russians have adapted and we have to be fair in that assessment. For example, the use of drones by both sides has been very
important. You're seeing really the future of warfare at a small scale, short distances, not long and not linked to satellites and so forth, but
really very impressive.
Well, the Russians have used electronic warfare quite effectively. Both sides have figured out how to shoot down drones. So, you're seeing this
back and forth. And again, to be very fair to them, they established a very formidable defensive system in the south in particular. Ironically, of
course, the general that oversaw most of that, Surovikin, has actually been fired. That was part of the purge associated with Prigozhin. He was seen as
too close to Prigozhin.
So, again, they have adapted, but so have the Ukrainians. And again, they understand what they have, they understand what they don't have, and
they're making the most of what it is that they do have. When it comes to manpower, I do think we should remember though that while the Russian
population may be three to four times larger than that of Ukraine, Putin has never fully mobilized. He's tried to have the brunt of this war fall
not on the Moscow elite or the well-educated and wealthy, it's on those that are much farther from the capital. And we'll have to see if that is
sustainable over time.
He's only done partial mobilization, as you'll recall. This is still a special operation, in his terminology, not a war. And he's trying to shield
much of the population from it. But again, this summer and how the Ukrainians do and whether they're able to cut the lines of communication
that Russia uses, along the southeast coast of Ukraine from Russia proper and then up through Crimea.
Again, if the Ukrainians -- they don't have to actually cut the actual routes, they just have to be in range of them with artillery to disrupt
them, to degrade them and to take out, for example, the bridges and other routes that come from Crimea to Southern Ukraine. If they can do that, they
may be able to change the dynamics of this war.
While we are, of course, also leading the effort, the U.S. is leading the effort to impose greater, tighter sanctions on financial, personal, and
economic entities and also, to expand export controls and to enforce those to the greatest extent that we possibly can. At the end of this day end --
end of the day, this war might possibly end with some kind of negotiated resolution. But Putin will have to be convinced that he can't out suffer
Ukraine, the Europeans and the North Americans.
AMANPOUR: You know, you said that Putin has tried to shield his country, people from it, but clearly that's what the Ukrainians are trying to dent
as well, sending drones into Moscow, the attacks, you know, they're more strategic into Crimea, but trying to take the war and send it home, that's
one observation I have, and I don't know whether you think that that will turn the population.
I mean, it appears after the Prigozhin events that, you know, any attempt to step out of line against Putin is going to be twice, thrice and, you
know, 60 million times rethought. Do you think that the death of Prigozhin and who knows what's going to happen to Wagner, how -- do you think it's
going to have a significant impact on the war effort here?
PETRAEUS: Well, it has deprived the war effort there of 25,000 troops that were Wagner, and they were the best of -- at least of the infantry type
troops. Of course, they achieved the only real gain this past year when they took that one town in the southeast at incredible cost, but they did
come through for him. They're out of the picture, unless they signed contracts with the ministry of defense. More likely they'll go with another
private military contractor, one that -- or others that might seek to replace Wagner in Africa and in Syria, in North Africa and so forth.
Putin though, I think showed his strength. You know, again, don't cross Putin. It took a while, but, you know, revenge is a dish best eaten cold or
what have you. And I think you're right, no one's going to step out of line, at least until something else happens and then we will see. You know
well that history always says that, you know, it's inconceivable that this authoritarian figure, in this case, running a mob state, as clearly as the
case, that's again inconceivable until you look back and say, well, that was inevitable.
So, we'll see what the dynamics in Russia are as well. Noting that Ukraine, on the other hand, is fully mobilized. Everybody there knows they're
fighting their war of independence. Their very survival and integrity is an independent state. And they're committed, as you have seen. The entire
business world in Ukraine is committed to this, helping with the production and development refinement of drones and a host of other systems needed for
the war effort. And as you've also seen, their commitment, again, their determination, their resilience, and their adaptability has been remarkable
and very impressive.
AMANPOUR: Right. I mean, to be fair, from what we hear inside Russia, also, the -- as much of the economy as possible has been mobilized for this war
effort, certainly manufacturing and the like. I just wonder whether you -- I mean, this leads me to -- refer to your op-ed when you said the
counteroffensive could yet surprise, could yet, you know, really show something that the Ukrainians intended.
And what would you say to the so-called armchair quarterbacking or armchair general that's going on in the U.S. right now, and maybe other areas of the
PETRAEUS: Sure. Well, I think what folks should be doing outside Ukraine and NATO capitals, including Washington, is figure out even more
aggressively how to support Ukraine, how to provide what they need, how to sustain them so that they can make the most of the four months or so that
they have left in this offensive rather than second guessing or criticizing them.
And I -- you -- as you well know, I had a little bit of second guessing. You know, I had five combat commands as a general officer, and, you know,
occasionally the backgrounders back in Washington or something like that could be, you know, a bit frustrating. But at the end of the day, this will
come down to results on the battlefield, just as it was with the surge in Iraq.
I remember being told that we had a P.R. problem out there. I said, no, we have a results problem. And once the results change and they're
demonstrably better, the P.R. problem will go away. And they're in the process of trying to achieve those demonstrable results that will have real
operational significance as well.
And again, I think they still very much could surprise and achieve something during this offensive, as hard as it has been so far.
AMANPOUR: And so, finally, we talk about several months more of heavy fighting, and maybe even longer, what do you think the end game should look
like? How is this going to come to an end?
PETRAEUS: Well, obviously the desired end state would be to see Ukraine able to liberate all of its territory. That is the absolute determination
of everyone from President Zelenskyy to a private in the front lines. No one is talking about negotiating. But at some point, again, if dynamics
change, perhaps there can be some kind of negotiated resolution. I'm not going to get into anything less than full liberation, but again, we'll see,
especially if it includes, of course, a very substantial marshal like reconstruction plan. The E.U. and others are working hard on that, and it's
desperately needed, as you've seen in the country now, there again.
And also, if it includes a, a guaranteed pass to NATO membership. All of that, I think, could change the dynamics just as could in awareness in
Moscow, that, you know what, this is our new Afghanistan. It -- they only lost "15,000" troops only in 10 years in Afghanistan. They have lost many,
many times that much just in the first year and a half of this war. So, again, whether Russia can sustain this, noting that yes, their economy is
many times that of Ukraine's and yes, their population is several times larger as well, we will have to see how that evolves, but the Ukrainians
certainly are intent on demonstrating to the Russians that this is a losing proposition and we need to do everything we possibly can together with our
allies and partners around the world to enable them to do that.
AMANPOUR: General David Petraeus, thank you so much for joining us.
Now, in the United States, another trial date has been set for Donald Trump on charges of trying to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential
election, it'll be on 4th of March next year. That's one day before Super Tuesday. Despite four independent grand juries indicting the former
president, his Republican base believes it's all political.
Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez served under President George W. Bush, he joins Walter Isaacson now to explain why he does not believe
the Justice Department is biased against Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And, Judge Alberto Gonzalez, welcome to the show.
GONZALEZ: It's good to be here.
ISAACSON: You have this great piece in "The Washington Post," very provocative in which you say, no fellow Republicans, you being a
Republican, the Justice Department is not biased against us. What are you talking about?
GOLODRYGA: Well, I didn't realize it would be so provocative, quite frankly, in terms of the protection of the rule of law, I ran the
department for a number of years. People fail to understand that it's a department that has over a hundred thousand employees and less than 1
percent are political appointees. And so, there's always a danger if you are -- if you hold a political appointment in that office, that if you
engage in politics, make decisions, investigations and prosecutorial decisions based upon politics, the career folks, they notice that and they
call you out, and they have friends in the media. And so, you invite great danger if you start making decisions like that.
And so, that's why I really questioned this notion that the department has become politicized simply because it's prosecuting Donald Trump, because
he's the leading front runner for Republican nomination. And I've tried to emphasize, remind people or tell people that, in my judgment, even if he
weren't running for president, he would be investigated and be prosecuted for the things that he's being accused of committing.
So, from my perspective, this is not a political witch hunt. The department is doing what it should be doing, which is to investigate possible criminal
wrongdoing and to prosecute that criminal wrongdoing when they believe that they can successfully do so in federal court.
ISAACSON: Let me read you something from the piece that you wrote. You said, it is important for people in the Republican Party to speak out for
the rhetoric and activities that we fundamentally know deep in our hearts that is wrong. Tell me why Republicans need to speak out and maybe why you
think so few of them really have?
GONZALEZ: Well, I asked to the latter. I really can't answer the question why they have failed to speak out, other than perhaps, our political
leaders, the leadership in the Republican Party. Perhaps they are fearful of speaking out and how it may damage elections going forward. Although,
obviously, looking at past -- these past recent elections, we're not doing too good, quite frankly, at the state level or the national level.
But I think it's important for people to speak out because we have a lot at stake here. For the longest time, I didn't say anything because I thought
it was kind of silly, some of the rhetoric coming from those in my political right, but now I've concluded that it's too dangerous to be
silent. We need to have people speaking out about the dangers of criticizing the Department of Justice, criticizing the rule of law because
if -- when people lose confidence in an institution like the Department of Justice, then I think we're in serious trouble as a country.
ISAACSON: You know, there have been threats of violence against people involved in these proceedings. Do you think that some of the rhetoric is
stoking up the possibility of violence against either prosecutors, members of the grand jury, that sort of thing? And if so, what should the judges do
GONZALEZ: Well, I certainly believe that that's certainly possible. And I think judges have an obligation to ensure or to discourage by the actions -
- by measures that they can impose in connection with a particular prosecution. And then, of course, I think that the federal government, as
well as state governments, should take advantage of whatever rules, processes may be available to ensure the safety of individuals who are
engaged, who are somehow implicated in these trials and blamed for doing their job in investigating and prosecuting individuals.
And so, yes, I think it's -- I think this is something that's very, very important and people can -- should not be discouraged from speaking out and
should not be discouraged from doing their job. And from my perspective, I think the people at the Department of Justice, for the most part, day in,
day out, they go to work to serve the American people.
ISAACSON: So, you were general counsel and then the attorney general under President George W. Bush. Have you talked to other members of President
Bush's administration or the president himself, President Bush himself on these things?
GONZALEZ: No, I haven't had discussions with other -- with -- surely not with President Bush. And I -- from time to time, I have had discussions
with other members in the Bush administration, but not detailed discussions. We would simply just sort of shake our heads and say, wow, can
ISAACSON: Yes, but wait a minute, if people are shaking their head and it's just dangerous, why don't a group of people like this say, all right, we're
going to now go to more than just shaking our heads, we're going to something, we're going to do something?
GONZALEZ: Well, I leave it to others to decide, you know, what they're comfortable doing, quite frankly. And maybe there's more than -- even more
than I can do. But I think this is important to speak out. Particularly what I worry about is, as we get closer to the election, this becomes more
of a challenge, more of an issue. And if something happens that's anything close to what we saw on January 6th, then I would really deeply regret not
having done more to try to discourage that kind of conduct.
ISAACSON: So, you'll probably do some more?
GONZALEZ: If I find it that it's necessary, I -- you know, again, it's not about, politics as far as I'm concerned. I dislike when they -- when
people, commentators and the media and others, political leaders, talk about what's good for the Republican Party, what's bad, you know, good for
the Democratic Party. I think the simple question is, what's good for America?
ISAACSON: The Justice Department, in the past few years, has resisted for a while, for a couple years, opening an investigation, against Donald Trump,
and yet the indictments come down after he decides to run for office, after he is leading in the polls. It seems there's some cause for people to
suspect this may be political. How do you refute that?
GONZALEZ: Well, a couple things. One I would say is there are, what, eight, nine Republicans running for president, none of them are being
investigated, but they're all running for president, the same office that Donald Trump is running for.
The other thing I would say is, investigations take time. And these are complicated case, particularly the ones being prosecuted by Jack Smith and
a prosecutor moves forward with a prosecution when he or she is ready to do so. And, you know -- and I would say that the prosecutors are likely not
ready to go before Donald Trump announced he was running for president again. And, you know, you can't be -- I would have to think that the
prosecutors in these cases wished that Donald Trump -- that we weren't in the middle of a presidential campaign. I really do. I believe that, and I
certainly believe that Merrick Garland believes that.
But nonetheless, you can't close your eyes and ignore what you believe to be criminal wrongdoing. And so, you move forward with the prosecution when
you're ready to move forward with the prosecution.
ISAACSON: We have a process though for that, which is impeachment and then a trial by the Senate, and twice the Senate did a trial and didn't convict
President Trump. Why should it now be gone into the Justice Department?
GONZALEZ: Well, again, because the rules of evidence are different, being convicted of a crime is different. There's a, you know, disagreement about
what's a high crime and misdemeanor, what would be eligible for impeachment. And the fact that Donald Trump was impeached but not removed
from office doesn't mean that he's innocent of criminal wrongdoing, not by any stretch of the imagination.
And so, the department is doing what it should be doing, which is to investigate criminal wrongdoing and to prosecute criminal wrongdoing when
they believe that they have the evidence to be successful in court. And the fact that Donald Trump was impeached but not removed in no way suggests
that he wasn't engaged in any kind of criminal wrongdoing.
ISAACSON: Even back when you were a U.S. attorney general, there were accusations about the politicization of the department. I'm going to throw
it at you. Do you have any regrets about how you handled things then and maybe being part of this process where people lost a little bit of faith
that the Department of Justice was above politics?
GONZALEZ: Well, you have to remember that in these positions, you're going to be criticized by someone even if you're doing the right thing. That's
just the way it is, and you accept that. The other thing that I would say is, in these positions, you have to make decisions that are so incredibly
difficult. You can't even imagine how difficult they are.
And so, it is true. I would think if you asked any cabinet official, if you asked any former president, they would tell you, yes, if I had to do it
over again, there may be some decisions that I would do differently, of course. And so, yes, to respond to your question, yes, I wish there may
have been some things that I would've done differently or may have said things in a different way to be more reassuring to the American public that
ISAACSON: Is there any example you want to give?
GONZALEZ: No, I can't think of an example right offhand, but just the fact that, you know, to reassure the American public that the decisions that
were made are being made by the Department of Justice and the actions taken by the Department of Justice are based upon what is required under the rule
ISAACSON: What do you think of Merrick Garlan
GONZALEZ: I don't know Merrick Garland personally. I -- you know, I did -- when he was nominated to go on the Supreme Court, I did run an op-ed saying
that I thought it was wrong for the Senate Republicans not to give him up or down vote. You know, I wrote that President Obama did his job by
nominating someone of the court and that the Senate should do its job in, at least, voting him up or down, by all met -- by all accounts, from what I
understand, he's a man of great integrity. Yes. He appears to, you know, not like the limelight.
So, I think he's done a good job. And I suspect he's frustrated by not being able to get out there more often and talk about -- defending the
Department of Justice. You want to be careful about doing that, of course. And maybe that's one of the reasons I failed important to say something for
all the career individuals that are just doing their job day in and day out for the American people to say something to defend the Department of
Justice. Not that Merrick Garland needs my help in any way to do his job, but, again, I don't know him that well, but I -- you know, I just -- from
all indications, he's just trying to do the best that he can.
ISAACSON: You know, he appointed a special prosecutor, Jack Smith, of course, on the Trump case. And then, based on a lot of calls from
Republicans, also then does a special prosecutor, choosing somebody who had once been appointed by Trump to look at Hunter Biden, the president's son.
And yet, now, there's blowback on him. I don't quite get what the criticism is, what the -- you know, the rationale for criticizing his appointment of
GOLODRYGA: Well, the only thing that I can think of is that, given the plea deal that was apparently reached but not followed up on, Republicans felt
it was too sweet a deal for Hunter Biden, and they believe that he'll be too kind, not as aggressive as he should be with respect to the prosecution
as a special prosecutor. It's the only thing that I could think of why Republicans are now upset.
The other reason they might be upset is because of the special prosecutor. Before the appointment of the special prosecutor, I think that they had
hopes that they would have access to internal DOJ documentation. But now, with a special prosecutor and an ongoing investigation, those documents are
going to be shielded from the Congress until the investigation or prosecution is finished. So, there's some level of frustration.
So, I think as an example of, you know, that old adage, be careful what you wish for, because once you get it, you realize this is not what we wanted.
But at the end of the day, the main objective here is to investigate Hunter Biden and to prosecute him if, in fact, he's engaged in criminal
wrongdoing. And one, there shouldn't be any connection between what happens there and what happens with Donald Trump.
Every prosecution is based upon the facts of a particular case, and there is some discretion, obviously, in the prosecutor that's looking at the
evidence and deciding whether to move forward. But again, every prosecution is going to be different.
ISAACSON: We have rules in this country against witness tampering and witness intimidation, and Trump seems to be butting up against us, at least
according to the judges dealing with the case. He even said, if you go after me, I'm coming after you. Explain to me the rules on witness
tampering and intimidation and how close you think Trump is getting to that line.
GONZALEZ: Well, it is a violation of law, of course, to be engaged in witness tampering and witness intimidation, but we also have a First
Amendment. And obviously, the First Amendment, the rights under the First Amendment are strongest with respect to a candidate running for political
office, which is what we have here. And yet, on top of that, the fact that that is very typical of Donald Trump conduct. And so, maybe we've become
sort of immune to the kind of rhetoric that he says.
But I think he needs to be careful. The judge, with respect to the January 6th cases, appears to be a judge that's pretty strict and is going to be
held -- is going to held everyone accountable in connection with that trial. And so, I think he needs to be careful. I think he's -- obviously,
his lawyers are speaking to him about this, whether or not he abides or listens to what his lawyers say I think is open to question.
But, you know, it's -- again, he's running for office. He's entitled to say certain things, but he needs to be careful in terms of what he says here
about potential witnesses.
ISAACSON: In the trial involving the January 6th insurrection, how important is it that we have an early trial, that it get done before the
election really gets underway?
GONZALEZ: I think it's vital that American voters know whether or not the person they're voting for -- assuming Donald Trump wins the nomination,
whether or not this person has engaged in criminal wrongdoing. And so, I think it's important for the trial to be completed before the election. In
fact, if I'm a defendant in the case, I'd want to know that -- I'd want to get it over with as quickly as possible as well.
I think Donald Trump would like to delay it pass the election because he assumes he's going to be successful in getting reelected to the office, and
there is a longstanding practice at the Department of Justice, you're not going to prosecute a sitting president. Now, of course, he would be subject
again to another impeachment in the house. And at this time, it's possible the Senate might remove him.
But nonetheless, I think, ideally, quite frankly, we'd have a resolution of the trial before Super Tuesday. Because, you know, voting will occur well
before the election. And so, the sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned, for the American people to understand and to know whether or not
they're a candidate, assuming Donald Trump is their candidate, engage a criminal wrongdoing.
ISAACSON: Well, if people have Donald Trump as their candidate now, don't you think they've already made up their mind about whether what he did was
right or wrong?
GONZALEZ: Well, it's one thing to say that now, it may be another thing when, in fact, they learn of the results of a criminal trial and he's been
prosecuted. And evidence is going to come out that we don't know about. One thing we always have to remember, the prosecutors, investigators are always
going to have far more information than you and I, than people in the media, than the American public. And so, all that's going to come out in a
trial. And maybe after that information comes out, people are going to say, well, he's a criminal and he's been convicted.
And so -- and at the end of the day, people may just start getting too tired of all this and realize, this is not good for our country. I hope --
I'd like to think we're past that point, but to the extent that people are not yet tired, perhaps after, you know, a lengthy criminal trial, they'll
become tired and realize that we need to move on. It's best for our country to move on.
ISAACSON: Do you think the trial should be televised?
GONZALEZ: I've always been against televised trials because I think people act differently in front of a camera. I think lawyers act differently in
front of a camera. But here, with respect to what happened on January 6th, this is really attack upon, I think, the American system, against American
voters all across this country, and I think Americans would like to see that.
And the truth of the matter is it might be helpful to our -- to the rule of law in that if it's televised and the Department of Justice doesn't do a
good job in prosecuting Donald Trump and he is convicted, I think people will have seen how our system works and yet -- and that he wasn't -- he did
receive a fair trial.
And so, there are benefits, as far as I'm concerned. This is a unique case in which I think one could make the argument that it should be televised.
ISAACSON: Judge Alberto Gonzalez, thank you so much for joining us.
GONZALEZ: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Fascinating conversation, especially the bipartisan turn of it.
And finally, tonight, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. How hard is it still for women to command what Aretha Franklin sang about? Let's take the Spanish Women's
Football World Cup Champions still demanding accountability like protestors across the country for an unwelcome and unsolicited set of tight hugs and
full kiss on the lips when the team won.
Luis Rubiales, the president of Spain's Football Federation, is still refusing to resign for this behavior, despite a huge outcry across Spain
about casual everyday sexism. But across the Atlantic, there's much better news in women's tennis. At the U.S. Open in New York, groundbreaking
champion, Billie Jean King, has been honored for securing equal prize money for women at that tournament 50 years ago. Former First Lady Michelle Obama
led the tributes as play began at Flushing Meadows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: Let us remember that all of this is far bigger than a champion's paycheck. This is about how women are seen and
valued in this world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, when I spoke to Billie Jean King on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Women's Tennis Association, I asked her about the toll
of fighting for equality as an activist while competing at the highest level.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLIE JEAN KING, FORMER TENNIS CHAMPION: I made a decision when I was 12 years old, my epiphany that I would fight for equality the rest of my life,
and I made a very conscious decision that I wouldn't win as many titles as a player if I were going to do this.
AMANPOUR: Did you?
KING: Oh, absolutely. I knew that was so obvious.
AMANPOUR: Because I want to just --
KING: If you're working off the court like I was, I mean, I would go to sponsor -- go see a sponsor in New York in the morning and then take a
train to Philadelphia and play in the finals of Philadelphia. That is not the way to win titles. And I'm sure I didn't win that one. I think I lost
to Chris Evert.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we are so glad and also so grateful that she made the decision she did all those years ago, paving the way for so many women, so
many generations of girls to compete on a level playing field.
That is it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, on our website and all over social media. Thanks for watching and goodbye from