April 21, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
April 21, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episode
JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: after the verdict. The country and the world react to the conviction
of Derek Chauvin. We talk with George Floyd's family.
Then: Putin and protest. From behind bars to streets across Russia, support for a jailed
opposition leader sparks calls for change.
Plus: the road ahead. We discuss the Biden administration's plans to combat climate change
with the new EPA administrator, Michael Regan.
MICHAEL REGAN, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator: This is a real opportunity
for American job creation, but it's also an opportunity to harness the advancements in
JUDY WOODRUFF: All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
JUDY WOODRUFF: The conviction of a white former police officer for killing George
Floyd is still echoing tonight.
A Minneapolis jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday. It
has brought new calls to reform policing and new federal action.
John Yang reports.
JOHN YANG: Less than 24 hours after Derek Chauvin was convicted, U.S. Attorney General
Merrick Garland said the government was reviewing the Minneapolis police.
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. Attorney General: That the Justice Department has opened a civil
investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or
practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing.
JOHN YANG: The inquiry could lead to a court-supervised agreement to force changes in the department,
a practice sharply limited during the Trump administration.
Both Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and the City Council welcomed today's announcement.
The council called for the Justice Department to use its full authority to hold the police
Across the city Tuesday, jubilation when the guilty verdicts were announced.
MAN: Guilty, all three! Guilty, all three! Guilty, all three!
JOHN YANG: Minneapolis resident David Gholar:
DAVID GHOLAR, Minneapolis Resident: It was a big thing when we got that gratification,
not necessarily saying that that eases the pain of the Floyd family, but it does give
a little bit of gratification.
JOHN YANG: Today, a leading racial justice activist in Minneapolis said, despite the
verdict, there's still much to be done.
NEKIMA LEVY ARMSTRONG, Civil Rights Attorney: We don't need more reports. We don't need
more business as usual. We need tangible action steps that lead to tangible outcomes that
will make Black people, indigenous people, Hmong people, Latinx people who live in the
Twin Cities feel safe.
JOHN YANG: In his remarks after the verdict, President Biden also called for more action.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: We can't stop here. In order to deliver real
change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like
this will ever happen and occur again.
JOHN YANG: But there were fresh incidents across the country.
Minutes before the Chauvin verdict was delivered, police in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed
a Black 16-year-old girl who was holding a knife. Authorities released body-camera video,
which appeared to show the girl lunging at another woman before police fired. The killing
sent hundreds of people into the streets of Columbus to protest.
And, today, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a sheriff's deputy fatally shot a man as officers
sought to execute a search warrant. Local reports said officers fired as the man tried
to drive away. On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged colleagues to address
policing nationwide by passing a bill named for George Floyd.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful
change to police departments across the country, to reform practices and training, and the
legal protections that grant too great a shield to police officers guilty of misconduct.
JOHN YANG: Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Judiciary Committee,
said the verdict shouldn't be used to condemn all police.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): When a radical jihadist who happens to be a Muslim blows up a school
full of schoolchildren, we're told not to judge the acts of all Muslims by the acts
of a few. And I agree with that. How come the same rule doesn't apply to police officers?
JOHN YANG: Derek Chauvin, the former police officer now behind bars as a convicted murderer,
will be sentenced in two months. The most serious charge, second-degree murder, carries
a maximum punishment of 40 years in prison.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Earlier today, Yamiche Alcindor spoke with one of George Floyd's brothers
and the family attorney.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I'm joined now by George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd, as well as
the Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump.
Thank you both for being here.
I want to start with you, Philonise.
You were in the courtroom when this verdict was read. Take me into the moments before
and after this verdict. What did it feel like? What did it mean?
PHILONISE FLOYD, Brother of George Floyd: I was really nervous.
I just got up, and I was pacing back and forth. And attorney Crump and my wife, they were
like, whatever you need to do to be comfortable, just do it. If you need to pace back and forth,
do it. So, I did it until the -- we had to get into that courtroom.
And as soon as I got in there, I prayed. I prayed for over 30 minutes, because it took
the jury and the judge to come up. And, lord, when I heard guilty, guilty and guilty, I
was ecstatic. I was excited. I just didn't know what to do, because people of color never
get justice for anything.
And, at this time, I think that the world can breathe now, because they all stood behind
George through a pandemic, through COVID marching. And justice for George means freedom for all.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It's true that people really did stand up for your brother.
I want to stick with you and ask, how is George Floyd's daughter, Gianna, doing? What was
her reaction? And what do you hope this verdict means for the world that she is going to grow
up in when it comes to police accountability?
PHILONISE FLOYD: I think she would be exceptional, because she predicted. She said her dad would
change the world.
And like I always say, we're big on faith. We pray a lot. And we speak things into existence.
So, Gianna, she is her father. She's laughing just like him. She has charisma. And that's
the thing that separates them from a lot of people. They know how to come into the room
and just fill it up with love. It's a big, different thing. Gianna, I just love her so
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And, Ben Crump, I want to ask you.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, said justice would be
George Floyd still being alive. What do you make of that? And what do you make of the
fact that it took so much to convict this officer, given the fact that you have represented
so many families who didn't have accountability happen in their cases?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, Attorney for Family of George Floyd: Certainly, Yamiche.
In responding to Attorney Ellison's revelation about justice would be George not being dead,
I'm reminded that Philonise Floyd and his family have become the comforters and counselors
to Daunte Wright's family, who was killed within 10 miles while they were in court on
the Chauvin trial.
And I am reminded of that because, at the first joint press conference, Daunte's mother
said: Justice would be my son coming through the front door with that big smile on his
face. But that's not happening, because he's dead, so we can't get justice. All we can
get is accountability.
So, I agree wholeheartedly with Attorney General Keith Ellison, who did a masterful job here,
him and his team, in prosecuting this police officer for killing George Floyd.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Philonise, I want to ask you about Darnella Frazier and the people
who stood by and pleaded for your brother's life.
That 17-year-old Darnella filmed that video that then went viral and really literally
changed the world. How much are you thinking about her and all of the people who rallied
around your brother? What do you think we should take away from the role that they played?
PHILONISE FLOYD: I think about them every day.
I know that my brother would just be another dead person if it weren't for her, because
she had the video that had laid out all the facts. We didn't even need a lawyer to actually
go in there. The facts were there.
And I just think that, right now, people really believe that the land that we live on is for
the free, because people fight to get here. And if people are going to fight here, we
need to hold our standards high, because Derek Chauvin, he was the law, but he's not above
And accountability, he has to understand now that he will have to sit in that cell and
do his time, just like my brother is in the ground doing his time.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Philonise, you were thrust into this. Your family has now become a voice
for so many. I wonder what's next for you.
And, also, in some ways, President Biden called your family before and after this verdict.
He said this could be a moment, this can be a moment for significant change. What do you
think it's going to take for this to actually be a moment for significant change?
PHILONISE FLOYD: I think we all have to stand with each other in solidarity.
We all have to be united because we're stronger in numbers, no matter what color, white, Black,
Hispanic, Asian, because there's only one race, and it's the human race. So, if we all
get together and make laws, like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, we have to
pass that law. It has blood on it.
Breonna Taylor, no-knock warrant. You have Eric Garner and my brother George, the no
choke hold. This -- all this needs to be passed. We need to end qualified immunity. We need
to make sure these officers have their cameras on at all times, body and dash. There's so
many things that we need to work on.
These officers have to be held accountable. Benjamin Crump shouldn't have to show up at
people's doorstep at times like this. People didn't ask to be in this fraternity, but we're
dealing with this.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Ben Crump, the sentencing for this officer, Derek Chauvin, will be in
eight weeks. The typical sentence for crimes like this are 12-and-a-half years.
How concerned are you about the sentencing portion of this case and the fate of the other
three officers who stand charged?
BENJAMIN CRUMP: I believe we should make certain that we hold them to account of equal justice
under the law.
Whatever the charges would have been had the roles been reversed and George Floyd had his
knee on Derek Chauvin's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds is exactly what we want to
hold Chauvin accountable for.
And I think they're going to have a victim impact statement read in court, more than
likely by Philonise maybe another family member. And I think that's exactly what they're going
to say to Judge Cahill, who's going to pronounce the sentence, that: This is my brother, who
he was. And whatever you would have done to him should happen to his killer.
No police officer should be above the law.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Philonise, what are you hoping for in sentencing? How concerned are
you about also the other officers being charged?
PHILONISE FLOYD: I basically can put it this way.
Derek Chauvin, he had a convoy with him, and that's the other officers. If I committed
a crime with someone else, they will give me the same time. So, unfortunately, they
have to go through this. But somebody had to help push my brother's brain down, so he
would be able to breathe.
Somebody had their knee on his neck, so he couldn't breathe. Somebody was trying to hog-tie
him, so he couldn't breathe. The things that I had to go through, families all across America
had to go through. You can't make up for what happened. This is not a mistake, because a
mistake can be erased.
He had nine minutes to understand that my brother's life mattered. But now he has to
spend the rest of his time in a cell wondering why I couldn't have stopped what I did to
that man that day.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, thank you so much, Philonise Floyd and Benjamin Crump. I really
PHILONISE FLOYD: Thank you so much.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just how difficult is it to bring meaningful long-term reform to the
way policing is done, especially in exchanges with African Americans? And why are some of
the challenges so persistent?
We turn to Alexis Karteron, associate producer of law and director of the Constitutional
Rights Clinic at Rutgers University, and Tracie Keesee, a 25-year Denver police veteran and
co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity.
And we welcome both of you to the "NewsHour."
Tracie Keesee, I'm going to begin with you.
Do you think that, by themselves, the George Floyd case, the trial of Derek Chauvin are
going to bring changes in policing in this country?
TRACIE KEESEE, Co-Founder, UCLA Center for Policing Equity: It will bring some change,
but I also have to be honest that change is on the way and currently going.
And so one of the things that I want to make sure that we lift up is that this is, again,
not new. This is just something that we know has not been historically consistent. And
yet all the work that is happening now on the ground since his homicide is work that
has been going on for decades.
And so it will have some effect, but there's still a lot of work to do.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Alexis Karteron, how do you see any changes coming from what we have just
witnessed in this last year and this trial, or do you?
ALEXIS KARTERON, Rutgers University: Well, it's really hard to say right now.
In the United States, we have over 16,000 police departments, and changes really are
mostly made at the local level. So it's going to be a decision that's made community by
community, how they want to respond to this horrific murder that we all saw, thanks to
JUDY WOODRUFF: And referring to the young woman who had a video, taking a video of everything
that she saw.
But staying with you, Alexis Karteron, what -- where do we see -- where do you see change
coming initially? You say it's got to come department by department.
Can federal law make a difference?
ALEXIS KARTERON: Well, time will tell.
Right now the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is pending in Congress. It's been passed
by the House of Representatives. And that act attempts to incentivize reform at the
local level, tying federal grant money to changes in use of force policy, data collection.
It eliminates qualified immunity, which is a protection that extends to police officers
when they are sued for misconduct, and a host of other reform measures.
So, we will see if that passes Congress. If it does, we certainly can expect some reform
measures, but there's a real question activists are raising now about whether that's enough.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tracie Keesee, how do you see that with this federal law? Of course,
it isn't passed yet. Do you see it making a difference if it were to become law?
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, I will share Alexis' comment in the fact that policing is local.
And, federally, there is only so much the federal government is going to be able to
do. It is going to be up to local communities, Black and brown communities, to determine
what type of public safety they want and whether or not that public safety is armed.
And so we see this work already going on. We know that it's happening in the background.
But, again, it is going to be something that is going to be local. You feel it closer to
home than you do from the federal government. There are some things they will be able to
do. But other than that, a lot of this is going to have to happen locally.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Alexis Karteron, we didn't hear race come up a great deal during the
trial of Derek Chauvin. But it's certainly in practically every conversation that takes
place around policing right now.
How do you see changes taking place in attitudes around race? I mean, how is that something
ALEXIS KARTERON: Yes, it was really striking that race was something that basically went
unmentioned at Derek Chauvin's trial.
But, of course, it's been on everyone's minds. I mean, over a million people, millions of
people took to the streets last summer in response to George Floyd's murder. And it
was because they knew that race was part of the equation.
It's virtually impossible to imagine the treatment that was meted out to George Floyd happening
to somebody who were white, for example. So, going forward, to build on what Tracie said,
local communities are going to have to get really real about why policing occurs the
way it does, and make changes accordingly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And how do you see that making a difference, Tracie Keesee?
Do you -- I mean, what kind of conversations need to take place? Are we talking about laws
changing or what?
TRACIE KEESEE: We're talking about all of that, right?
And we see some of this happening already on the ground, where community is absolutely
demanding, for example, that money be moved and made more efficient about the services
they really need on the ground. We see this with mental health. So, you're going to see
a lot more of this.
We also see, when it comes to how do you hold police officers accountable, community has
often voiced frustration that that does not happen, not just on a consistent basis, but
persistently. And so you're going to have conversations and laws passed on the ground
that have to do with collective bargaining, and what types of protections do officers
get even in that particular vehicle?
So there's a lot of things already happening on the ground. There's a lot of things we
have to pay attention to. But I think what's going to be important through all of this,
and however this ends, is that we have got to make sure that we collect the information,
the data, so what we know works, we can share and replicate where appropriate.
And we also have to pay attention to what's already been done on the ground historically
by communities. We often overlook the fact that a lot of communities of color, Black
and brown communities, have been doing intervention work, have been doing focused deterrent work,
have been doing it without getting the funds they need to do this.
So, a lot of this work is already happening. It's going to be a lot of us making sure we
pay attention and that we lift up those things and those people who are doing the work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I think many people look at this, Alexis Karteron, and say a lot of these
small steps sound like they could make a difference, but we also know that, at the far end of those
who are, frankly, so disillusioned with policing right now, are saying, we need to get -- do
away with policing or defund the police.
How do you look on that argument?
ALEXIS KARTERON: Well, the activists who are calling to defund the police are really calling
for us to reimagine public safety.
So, it's not just about taking away money or funding from the police. It's thinking
about what it really takes to make community safe, and if there are things we can do, if
there are programs we can fund, if there are hospitals we can build, if there are schools
we can build that will make a difference and bring true public safety.
You know, it's not an easy task. It's not something that could possibly happen overnight.
But it's really a vision for what public safety in the United States can mean. You know, that
old saying when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail really applies
here. We're so used to rely on the police for all manner of things where maybe we don't
We know there are places like Berkeley that have now said they want to get police out
of traffic enforcement, because we know that traffic stops all too often lead to violence.
We obviously just saw Daunte Wright killed outside Minneapolis last week.
So, there are really creative approaches that are taking hold all around the country. And
I'm excited to see some positive change.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Tracie Keesee, how do you see this question of defund the police,
which by -- some have interpreted to mean essentially doing away with police?
TRACIE KEESEE: Well, in some cases, that is really what it means.
And so, really, I think a big part of that conversation is, what does the community want
to have happen? And if it means that we have unarmed police responding to certain situations,
then that's what we do.
And if we look at it, the work that's happening in Ithaca and Tompkins County, it's the same
thing. It's like, how do we reimagine a service that does not involve armed people for people
who have social needs that are not being met?
And I agree with Alexis. This is not just about how do we get this done and the innovation
that is happening now, but it's the funding. And, often, what we find, for those communities
who truly want something different, they are fighting bureaucratic hurdles just to get
funds in to do the work that they want to do.
And so a lot of this will have to do with who's paying attention. This is a lot about
government. This is about budgets. And this is also about who's a priority. And this has
been a number one question for decades. And so folks are going to have to have a lot of
patience, and making sure that they understand that what may not work will have to be reenvisioned
and redone, but it's doesn't mean we're going to give up and we're going to roll backwards.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it is an enormous conversation, as we say, taking place across this country
right now. And we are beginning it yet again. It's been taking place for a long time, and
it will continue.
And we thank both of you. Tracie Keesee, Alexis Karteron, thank you so much.
ALEXIS KARTERON: Thanks for having me.
TRACIE KEESEE: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As we have heard, the Chauvin guilty verdict is renewing interest in the
push for a federal police reform bill.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act did pass the Democratically-controlled U.S. House
of Representatives in February, but it has yet to receive a vote in the evenly split
To learn where things stand, we turn to our own Lisa Desjardins.
So, Lisa, I know you have been looking into this. And you have been for some time. Right
now, it does appear a members of both political parties say they see a need to do something
about this. Tell us, what's on the table and what are the holdups?
LISA DESJARDINS: Judy, this is an absolutely pivotal moment in Congress on this issue.
And I want to take you back last year, when we saw Senate Republicans pass one bill on
this issue, led by Tim Scott of South Carolina. And that bill generally would gather data
and figure out what needs to happen next.
But Democrats passed the bill that you heard so much about from your experts just a minute
ago, the George Floyd Policing Act. And that is really kind of the starting point bill.
It's most pushed by Democrats, but it contains what really we're talking about on the table.
So, let's take a look at what's in that again. The George Floyd Policing Reform Act would
ban choke holds on a federal level and some no-knock warrants, especially in drug cases.
And it would really put the pressure on states to do the same thing.
Now, police under this law could be charged with criminal offenses if they act recklessly.
That would be a new lower standard for charging police in their duties. And then, also, as
you heard so much about, officers would no longer be immune, what you heard about there,
from lawsuits. Families instead would be able to sue more ably and more quickly in courts
for any unconstitutional actions against them by police.
Now, what's happening now, behind the scenes, there are earnest talks happening. There are
three main players here, one, Karen Bass, House member from California, former head
of the Congressional Black Caucus, also Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. And then they're
talking with Tim Scott, the Republican senator from South Carolina, all of them really behind
closed doors, which they all say they're optimistic that they can find a way forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, take us inside what you know about those negotiations. What exactly
are they discussing?
LISA DESJARDINS: We got a little bit of insight today.
The key hangup is on this issue of qualified immunity that we're talking about. Let's look
at where things stand and what the issue is here. Democrats' bill, that George Floyd Act,
again, it says that, again, officers could be sued for their conduct on the job.
The Republicans' bill last year said, no, officers should remain immune from lawsuits.
Now, it seemed like a red line. But Tim Scott, today, the Republican said he thinks there
could be a compromise with the idea of loosening the standard to sue police forces themselves,
while still protecting individual officers.
Now, Karen Bass says there may be some issues with union protections as well for officers
that could be on the table. So they think they can get a deal by the end of May. We
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins reporting on this critical moment.
Lisa, thank you.
In the day's other news: The United States reached 200 million COVID-19 vaccinations.
More than 50 percent of U.S. adults have now gotten at least one shot, but the pace has
begun to slow. President Biden today announced tax credits for businesses that would fund
paid leave for employees to get their shots.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: I'm calling on every employer, large and small,
in every state to give employees the time off they need with pay to get vaccinated,
and any time they need, with pay, to recover if they're feeling under the weather after
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Germany, protesters in Berlin criticized new nationwide restrictions
to slow the spread of the virus.
And, in India, 22 patients died after an oxygen tank leaked at a hospital for COVID-19 patients.
The country set grim new high records today with 2,000 deaths and 295,000 cases in 24
Another attempt at fostering peace talks in Afghanistan has faltered. Plans for an international
conference on Saturday were shelved today. The sponsors cited a lack of any prospect
of meaningful progress. The Taliban had dismissed the meeting as political spectacle.
There's word that President Biden will pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half
from the 2005 levels by the year 2030. That was widely reported today on the eve of a
virtual summit with 40 world leaders. Meanwhile, the European Union agreed to go carbon-neutral
by 2050. European lawmakers said it puts pressure on Washington to act.
JYTTE GUTELAND, European Parliament Member: The U.S. is not our big brother on climate.
We are the big brother or the big sister. So, they will be actually encouraged by this.
They will be pressed by this. They will need to deliver when they see what we have accomplished.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, China's President Xi Jinping confirmed that he will take part
in the summit. China is the world's largest carbon polluter, followed by the U.S.
A dozen governors want an end to sales of new gas-powered vehicles in the U.S. by 2035.
The group, led by California and New York, has sent the proposal to President Biden in
a letter. It would apply to passenger cars and light-duty trucks.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Vanita Gupta today to be the associate attorney general 51-49.
She will be the first woman of color to serve as the Justice Department's third-ranking
official. Nearly all Republicans argued that she was too radical. Alaska's GOP Senator
Lisa Murkowski broke ranks and voted to confirm.
Plans for a so-called European soccer Super League collapsed today after 10 out of 12
clubs dropped out. Their plans to break away from existing leagues had ignited backlash
from fans around the world.
A founder of the Super League, Andrea Agnelli, said that he still believes in the project.
ANDREA AGNELLI, Founder, European Super League: It would have given that stability which is
required. The rest, I can see where they are coming from, other comments that resemble
greediness. But I would push back that, because it's simply that, today, football, it's an
JUDY WOODRUFF: European soccer officials had threatened to ban Super League clubs from
this year's European championship and from next year's World Cup.
On Wall Street, stocks were broadly higher today, led by tech companies and banks. The
Dow Jones industrial average gained 316 points to close at 34137. The Nasdaq rose nearly
164 points, and the S&P 500 added 38.
The late Congressman Alcee Hastings was honored today with a memorial service in the U.S.
Capitol's Statuary Hall. Fellow lawmakers and others celebrated the Florida Democrat
and his nearly three decades in the House of Representatives. Hastings died earlier
this month after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 84.
And Britain's Queen Elizabeth turned 95 today, her first birthday in 73 years without her
husband, Prince Philip. He died this month at the age of 99. In a statement today, the
queen thanked all those who paid tributes to Philip. She said she had been deeply touched.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": massive protests erupt across Russia in support of opposition
leader Alexei Navalny; and we discuss the Biden administration's efforts to combat climate
change with the new EPA administrator.
Across Russia today, protesters took to the streets in support of the jailed and critically
ill opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
As Amna Nawaz tells us, they also marched to denounce the man they blame for his imprisonment,
President Vladimir Putin.
AMNA NAWAZ: As night fell across Russia, protesters gathered in the thousands, answering the call
from jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
WOMAN (through translator): The situation with Navalny is completely unlawful. And it
is happening before everyone's eyes. Everyone thinks it could never happen to them. But
if it happens to one person, sooner or later, it could happen to everyone.
AMNA NAWAZ: Jailed in February, Navalny has been on hunger strike for three weeks over
lack of medical care. He was transferred to a prison hospital on Monday for so-called
Police responded to his supporters in force, arresting peaceful protesters, including one
of Navalny's top allies, opposition figure Lyubov Sobol, who posted a video message from
a police van.
LYUBOV SOBOL, Top Associate of Alexei Navalny (through translator): I was literally detained
for the thought of showing up at the rally. But perfectly well what you should do. You
shouldn't be afraid. Navalny should be alive, safe and free.
AMNA NAWAZ: Earlier this year, Navalny livestreamed his arrest upon arrival from Berlin, where
he'd recuperated after an assassination attempt, one that was launched by the Russian government.
After his arrest, Navalny's anti-corruption organization released a video calling Putin
a corrupt monarch, pointing to a billion-dollar palace Putin owned on the Black Sea. Within
a day, the video had more than 20 million views, and has now been seen more than 115
ALEXEI NAVALNY, Russian Opposition Leader (through translator): He's a kind of czar,
he's an autocrat.
AMNA NAWAZ: Navalny has been active in Russian politics for a decade. In 2012, our Margaret
Warner interviewed Navalny when Navalny started his campaign against Putin, calling his party
In 2017, Nick Schifrin followed him again during his campaign for president.
ALEXEI NAVALNY (through translator): They tell us (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you. And we have
to say, oh, OK, we're very sorry. But, no, we have gathered here to say we're going to
ask these questions and we will obtain the answers.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, Russian Opposition Politician: At the end of the day, there are millions
of people in Russia who fundamentally reject Putin, who want Russia to finally become a
normal European country. There are millions of people in Russia who share our vision.
AMNA NAWAZ: Vladimir Kara-Murza is a Russian opposition politician. He himself has survived
two assassination attempts, he says, by Putin's government. He also says the crackdown in
recent years is a sign of Putin's weakness.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Why is he so afraid to allow the opposition ON the ballot? Why is
he so afraid to allow peaceful opposition demonstrations? This is not the behavior of
somebody who's popular and strong.
This is the behavior of somebody who is weak and very insecure.
AMNA NAWAZ: Today in Moscow, Putin said threats to Russian national security would not go
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian President (through translator): Initiators of any provocations
threatening our core national security interests are going to regret what they did in a way
they haven't regretted anything in a long time.
AMNA NAWAZ: His warning came amid a massive Russian military buildup along the Ukrainian
border. Russia-backed separatists have been fighting against Ukrainian forces since 2014.
But, this year, Ukraine says Russia has gathered more than 150,000 troops on its border.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday he wanted to meet Putin and end
the conflict. But he warned, Ukraine would not back down.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, Ukrainian President (through translator): Will Ukraine stop trying to achieve
peace by diplomatic means? No, never. but will Ukraine defend itself in case of something?
AMNA NAWAZ: So, more than 1,500 people have been detained so far today across Russia.
Vladimir Kara-Murza told us he fully expected to be among them, though, at this hour, we
do not know his whereabouts.
We turn now to Celeste Wallander. During the Obama administration, she served as the special
assistant to the president and senior director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security
Council staff and as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
Celeste Wallander, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Let me start by asking you about President Putin. He has jailed a popular political opponent.
He has rounded up protest across the country, amassed troops on the Ukrainian border. What
does all of this tell us right now about his hold on power?
CELESTE WALLANDER, Former Special Adviser to the President, National Security Council:
I think that the message from Moscow and from President Putin is that the leadership is
feeling quite insecure at home and abroad.
And President Putin in his speech today tried to draw a connection between those two things.
And what we're seeing inside of Russia protests, the activities and effectiveness of the Alexei
Navalny opposition organization, is a domestic internal movement.
But the Kremlin doesn't like to see it that way, because it doesn't like to entertain
the thought that Russia -- that Putin and the Putin leadership is genuinely facing opposition
of millions of Russians. And so it tries to draw the link to the outside world, to the
United States, in much the same way that President Putin blamed then Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton in 2012 for the protests when he returned as president.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, let me ask you about that political opposition, because Putin has faced
critics and opponents before.
Is there something different about Navalny?
CELESTE WALLANDER: Navalny is a special challenge for the Russian leadership, the Putin leadership,
because Navalny is not of the sort of liberal elite of the standard Russian politicians
Navalny has a track record is quite a nationalist, actually, and doesn't necessarily have a profile
that is strongly advocating liberalism, the package of policies we think of as liberalism.
And his main focus and what has made him really popular and well-known in Russia is the anti-corruption
campaigns, very effective investigations, very effective use of social media and media
and public reporting.
And so it's the combination of a leader who can't be branded, actually, as sort of a liberal
internationalist, but has that credibility as a homegrown, genuine politician with that
anti-corruption mission and an effective organization on the ground that clearly has gotten the
AMNA NAWAZ: Celeste, as you know, the Biden administration has tightened sanctions recently.
It's expelled 10 Russian diplomats.
Navalny supporters say the U.S. should be doing more, they should be targeting the oligarchs
who support and uphold Putin with sanctions. Do you believe the U.S. should take that step?
CELESTE WALLANDER: I think that focusing on individual businessmen is probably not going
to be effective in imposing costs on the Russian leadership.
At this time, most of those Russian businessmen, the ones who are close to Putin and the ones
who aren't so close to Putin, have already been sanctioned. You can only sanction people
so many times, and it's not going to be effective.
The better course of action is actually what the Biden White House has done in the last
couple of weeks, which is to create a new executive order that creates capabilities
not yet used, but clearly demonstrated to target Russian financial systems and, in particular,
sovereign debt. And that would really create significant costs for the Putin leadership.
And I think that that's where the Biden administration rightly has focused its signaling and its
capabilities, to be able to send a message to the Russian leadership that it needs to
desist, not just on the internal front, with its actions against Navalny and his supporters,
but also interference in our elections and in our political systems in the United States.
AMNA NAWAZ: Celeste Wallander, formerly of the National Security Council staff under
President Obama, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
CELESTE WALLANDER: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Biden administration is just hours away from hosting some 40 world
leaders in a two-day virtual global climate change summit aimed at tackling that threat,
overturning President Trump's environmental policies, and reasserting America's leadership
on the issue on the world stage.
Michael Regan is the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He's
one of several administration officials participating in the summit. And he joins me now.
Administrator Regan, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you for joining us.
There are news reports saying that what President Biden is planning to do is cut -- order a
cut in emissions in the U.S. -- in the United States of more than half of what they are
by the year 2030.
That's ambitious. Why is it necessary?
MICHAEL REGAN, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator: You know, the president has
established from day one that we're facing a climate crisis. It's necessary for this
country to be ambitious.
But the president is rallying the world to be ambitious. And the announcement he will
make tomorrow concerning our country's goals will be ambitious, and we're all excited about
JUDY WOODRUFF: We know this is going to require some dramatic changes, ramping up renewable
sources of energy, cutting back on the kind of transportation that Americans are used
Specifically, how hard is this going to be to do and what -- I mean, 2030 is not even
nine years away.
MICHAEL REGAN: You know, it's an ambitious goal, but the times call for it. We're facing
a climate crisis.
But when the president thinks about climate change and the climate crisis, he also thinks
about jobs. This is a significant opportunity for America to not only lead, but create millions
of jobs. We have the technology, we have the ingenuity, we have the desire to move in this
direction. And the markets are driving us there as well.
So, while it is a big challenge, it's not impossible.
JUDY WOODRUFF: On the one hand, Administrator Regan, it's ambitious. On the other hand,
it's a nonbinding goal.
So, how do you plan to get the private sector in this country to go along with changes that
many of them are going to see in the short term as hurting them in the pocketbook?
MICHAEL REGAN: This president has been engaging corporate America and the private sector from
In many instances, the private sector is calling on this administration for this type of leadership.
We're setting goals. We're establishing a framework. And we're leveraging the market
potential and technological advancements that will make America a leader, not only on the
global stage in terms of tackling the climate crisis, but globally competitive economically
So, we have got a lot of American men and women, businessmen and women, who are rallying
for this as well -- or rallying around this as well.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I want to read to you a comment from a leading Republican senator on these
He's Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming. He's the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy
and Natural Resources Committee.
He said this is a pledge that would set what he calls punishing targets for the United
States, while he says America's adversaries, like China and Russia, in his words, continue
to increase emissions at will.
And he also said: "The last thing the economy needs is higher energy prices and fewer jobs,
but that's exactly what we're going to get."
MICHAEL REGAN: You know, I just disagree with that premise, which is why we have organizations
like the American Petroleum Institute, Edison Electric institute, and others calling
for controlling, deep controlling methane emissions, looking at unleashing technology
that not only we can use domestically to cut our carbon footprint, but we can export these
technologies internationally to countries like China and Russia and India.
This is a real opportunity for American job creation. But it's also an opportunity to
harness the advancements in technologies, where we can look at leveraging cutting emissions,
while expanding, expanding our global footprint internationally from a technological advancement
And so this is about creating jobs. This is about advanced technologies. This is about
global markets, and, more importantly, it's about combating the climate crisis.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I hear you saying that much of the private sector is on board, they
want change. But not all in the private sector are on board.
How do you plan to get companies, business leaders who don't want to go along with this
to go along?
MICHAEL REGAN: We have to continually engage.
The president's leadership has been exemplary in terms of engaging those who are not quite
convinced that this is the direction we need to go, whether it's the -- some individuals
in the corporate sector who are not quite convinced or some of our Republican colleagues
who are not quite convinced.
Everyone needs to see themselves in this vision. So, we're trying to paint an inclusive picture
of how this serves as a rising tide, from our disadvantaged communities, to our corporate
interests. There are jobs, there are economic opportunities, there are health benefits,
there are climate benefits.
This is an ambitious challenge for us, but we're ready for it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you expect the summit over the next two days to change the conversation
on this? What do you expect will come out of this summit?
MICHAEL REGAN: Well, listen, the president is rallying world leaders.
Number one, it establishes that America is back in the driver's seat, back in that leadership
position. There will be ambitious goals announced by a number of world leaders tomorrow. I am
really excited about facilitating a panel of elected officials, mayors, governors, indigenous
leaders from all around the world, discussing how we all tackle the climate crisis, while
taking care of the most vulnerable and creating millions of jobs while doing so.
I believe that tomorrow's summit is going to reinvigorate this conversation worldwide,
and we're going to be off to the races.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we have seen, just finally, Mr. Regan, the previous administration under
President Trump, of course, reversing a number of climate initiatives under the -- under
You now, and President Biden, are undoing what happened in the previous administration.
But how much has been lost or not -- what has not happened as a result of the last four
MICHAEL REGAN: Well, Judy, there's no doubt that we lost a step during the last four years.
Our scientific integrity took a hit. Our ability to harness and grasp technological advancements
took a hit. But the good thing about America, the good thing about my employees at EPA,
we're resilient. We're going to make up for that lost time.
And the president is leading the charge. And what I can say is, he's leading the charge.
And every time he thinks about the climate crisis, he's thinking about jobs. Every time
he thinks about jobs, he's thinking about the climate crisis.
With this attitude, it will serve as a rising tide, and I believe we will regain the momentum
that we lost during the last four years.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we will certainly be reporting on the summit in the next -- over
the next two days.
Michael Regan, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, thank you very much.
MICHAEL REGAN: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We want to remind you about a special "NewsHour" documentary that is airing
tonight on PBS.
It is called "Critical Care: America vs. the World," produced by Jason Kane and hosted
by William Brangham.
Let's take a look.
WOMAN: Let me feel underneath your arm.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It's a uniquely American problem. The richest country in the world
leaves tens of millions with no health insurance.
WOMAN: It makes me feel that we don't matter.
MAN: The thing about surgical theater...
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: A country with such remarkable innovation...
WOMAN: They don't know a discharge date.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: ... and yet so many are struggling.
WOMAN: Every one of us can name someone we saw suffer to death.
WOMAN: You know the deck's stacked against you.
JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: This is America's day.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: As a new administration takes over, promising reform, we travel to
four very similar nations with four very different health systems for clues.
DR. ASHISH JHA, Dean, Brown University School of Public Health: I love how open and explicit
they are about the fact that there are always choices.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: How do they care for virtually everyone, and do it for less money?
MAN: No one says, well, that's going to cost too much, so we're not going to do it.
MAN: Here, it's a bit more humane. It's like, look, there's a basic level of care that people
deserve. It costs, but you still deserve it.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And amid a pandemic, does universal coverage help save lives?
WOMAN: If you require an ICU stay, if you need to be intubated and ventilated, all of
those things are covered under the public system.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: We have a problem. What lessons can we learn from abroad? "Critical
Care: America vs. the World."
JUDY WOODRUFF: And William joins me now.
William, so pleased that this special is going to be airing.
One of the things you report is that the United States spends roughly, what, two times what
other wealthy nations spend on health care, but we often don't get the outcomes that they
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right, Judy. That gap that you're describing was really the
genesis of this entire documentary.
We spend so much money -- I think it's almost $3.8 trillion every year -- on health care,
and yet we have these incredible inequities. We have amazing innovation, as we're seeing,
but also 30 million people uninsured in the middle of a pandemic.
So, we wanted to look at, why do those inequities exist, what might we do about them, but then
also look at how there are so many examples of other nations, wealthy nations around the
world that have solved this problem. They cover everybody, they do it for less money,
and they get better health outcomes than we do.
And so the question is, how do they do that? How do they go about it? How do they fund
it? What are the pitfalls of those systems? And so we go to four different countries.
And what we're trying to figure out is, what lessons we might learn that we could help
policy-makers here understand?
JUDY WOODRUFF: And, William, you started filming this before the pandemic broke out, and what
it did was, it exposed the disparities you were looking at in a way that we hadn't seen
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That's right.
We began filming this back when there was this debate in the Democratic presidential
primary about how we're going to fix this issue in this country, but then the pandemic
breaks out and we're visiting all these countries. And so the question comes, how does a universal
health care system help you, if in any way, during a pandemic?
And the answer to that is mixed. I mean, you could look at certain countries, like the
United Kingdom, for example, with its single-payer system. They did quite badly during the pandemic,
a lot of cases, a lot of deaths. We went to Canada to look at their response to the pandemic,
and, in many ways, they did a lot better than we did.
I mean, if you had symptoms, you could easily get a test. If you got sick and needed to
go to the hospital, that was all covered, you didn't have to worry about those bills.
So there are these lessons that can be learned, but the end result is that a universal health
care system is a sufficient -- it's a useful tool, but it is not sufficient for fighting
JUDY WOODRUFF: The special is titled "Critical Care," airing tonight on PBS.
We are so much looking forward.
William Brangham, thank you.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thank you, Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And online: Thousands of Americans have volunteered to help administer vaccines,
as the U.S. has ramped up efforts to control the coronavirus.
We spoke with several vaccine volunteers across the nation, and heard about the sense of happiness
they feel when they get to help their fellow citizens overcome the pandemic. All that and
more at PBS.org/NewsHour.
And that's the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.
More Episodes (307)
May 13, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episodeMay 13, 2021
May 12, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episodeMay 12, 2021
May 11, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episodeMay 11, 2021
May 10, 2021 - PBS NewsHour full episodeMay 10, 2021
May 9, 2021 - PBS NewsHour Weekend full episodeMay 09, 2021
May 8, 2021 - PBS NewsHour Weekend full episodeMay 08, 2021