An Exclusive Interview with Jake Sullivan

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Jake Sullivan, welcome to the program. Let me first start by asking you about this momentous verdict in the United States. And the president felt it necessary to come out and address the American people and, frankly, the world about it. How do you put it in context?

JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, Christiane, it’s important for the United States to be able to show the world, as well as to be able to show our own citizens, that the rule of law can prevail. And we aren’t going to be able to effectively promote and defend justice abroad if we can’t deliver justice here at home for our own people. And yesterday was a step forward in that regard, after a very painful and difficult period in the United States. And the president also wanted to go out and rally the American people behind an idea that we are all in this together, that the motto of the United States, e pluribus unum, out of many one, has to ultimately shine through. And, as the national security adviser, from my perspective, having a president who is speaking to the American people in the way that Joe Biden did, trying to build the kind of unified approach to take on the challenges we face here at home, that puts us in a better position to be able to have honest, serious conversations with citizens around the world about promoting peace and justice everywhere.

AMANPOUR: So, I just wanted to play now something to that end that George Floyd’s brother said after the verdict was delivered.


PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I get calls, I get D.M.s, people from Brazil, from Ghana, from Germany, everybody, London, Italy. They’re all saying the same thing: We won’t be able to breathe until you’re able to breathe.



P. FLOYD: Today, we are able to breathe again.


AMANPOUR: That is a very powerful thing for the brother of George Floyd to have said. He’s building on what you’re talking about, American values. These values have been under huge stress for the last four years, and many of your biggest challenges, whether China, whether Russia, have looked to the degradation of American values to say, don’t you talk to us about doing the right thing with democracy, freedom and human rights. SULLIVAN: Well, there’s a couple of things here, Christiane, that are important to touch on. The first is that one of the things that makes the United States an attractive country to many people around the world is not that we don’t screw up. Of course, we do, profoundly. It’s that we’re able to learn from our mistakes, that we’re able to bounce back, that we’re able to get up off the mat, and do better the next time. And I think what you saw yesterday, with the jury reaching a unanimous verdict, is an example of that. And the rest of the world will take notice.



About This Episode EXPAND

Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi reacts to yesterday’s verdict. Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo offers his opinion. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks future of country after Chauvin conviction. Political philosopher Danielle Allen relates ancient Greek ethics to modern day police reform.