'This Week' Transcript 10-15-17: Nikki Haley, Nancy Pelosi, and Susan Collins

PHOTO: Sen. Susan Collins speaks at a news conference. | Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, answers questions from reporters at the White House. | Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference.PlayReuters | Getty Images | Getty Images
WATCH Nikki Haley says Trump, Tillerson 'work very well together'

This is a rush transcript for "This Week" on October 15, 2017 and it will be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Going it alone.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's step by step by step.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump takes action against the Affordable Care Act, eliminating insurance subsidies that help millions of Americans.

TRUMP: And one by one, it's going the come down, and we're going to have great health care in our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the president repealing Obamacare on his own? What will it mean for the millions who rely on it? Who will pay the political price? House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and GOP Senator Susan Collins are here to weigh in.

Plus...

TRUMP: Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Defying America's closest allies, and most of his top advisers, Trump dercertifies the Iran deal. But will the deal still survive or will Iran respond by restarting its nuclear program? And what message does this send to North Korea? We'll ask America's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

And Steve Bannon unleashed.

STEVE BANNON, BREITBART: It's a season of war against a GOP establishment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is he waging a civil war with Trump's blessing? Our powerhouse roundtable here to debate that and more. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning.

Candidate Trump's core pitch was pretty simple:if Obama's for it, I'm against it. But nine months into his presidency, Trump has been stymied by a mix of congress, the courts, our allies and our adversaries. So this week, he took a page from Obama's playbook. When persuasion doesn't work, take executive action on your own. He moved to kill the EPA clean power plan and decertify the Iran nuclear deal. We're going to talk to the UN Ambassador Nikki Haley about that later in the program.

First, the president's latest blows to Obamacare, executive orders that aim to loosen the rules on preexisting conditions and guaranteed benefits and stop the subsidies to health insurers that help low-income Americans afford their coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that action could cause premiums to jump by 20 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2020, the federal deficit also takes a hit, and more people will lose their coverage.

About 7 million Americans benefit directly from those subsidies, and many more will feel the squeeze, a point hammered home by Nevada's Republican governor.

"It's going to hurt kids. It's going to hurt families. It's going to hurt individuals. It's going to hurt people with mental health issues. It's going to hurt veterans. It's going to hurt everybody."

After his one-two punch, the president invited Democrats to fix what he's breaking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Democrats should come to me. I would even go to them, because I'm only interested in one thing: getting great health care for this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're joined now by the top Democrat in the House, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Thanks for joining us again.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, you just heard the president right there. He wants to sit and talk. Will you?

PELOSI: I think we're a little far down the road for that. But before we go into him and that this Sunday morning, we have to be prayerful for what is happening in California, on top of Puerto Rico, Texas, Harvey, Irma.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those wildfires.

PELOSI: The wildfires in California, the hurricanes throughout our country, the violence in Nevada. People are hurting. We have to be very prayerful about that.

And at this time, you're suggesting that we sit down with the president.

The president says repeal and replace. Where is the replace? We haven't seen anything. I don't think -- I think that -- this week, the week of Friday the 13th, is the week that President Trump went rogue. He went rogue on women's health in particular, the Affordable Care Act, the Iran decision that he made, and as he continues his war on the middle class, with his unfair tax plans.

So, so many things that are not based on evidence and that's problematic. It's not based on evidence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the question is, what do you do you about it?

PELOSI: Well, I've tried to suggest to him that while we understand our differences, we can find our common ground if we have evidence-based decisions. You have governors Hickenlooper and Kasich, a Republican and a Democrat, saying that this is wholesale chaos that he's inflicting on the system. You see what governor of Nevada, a Republican, Sandoval, has said about what it will do.

Either the president doesn't know, or he doesn't care. And so we would like him to do is face the facts. As I say, he either doesn't know or doesn't care.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But those payments are going to stop next week now that the president is taking this action, so what do you do? How do you get them back? Will you demand those payments to keep the government open in December, for example?

PELOSI: Well, we're not about closing down government. The Republicans have the majority. They have the signature of the president. It's up to them to keep government open. We don't go down that path.

But I will say this, that the Republicans in congress have to be responsible. Right now we're fighting them to get children's health insurance, the CHIP program, reauthorized and funded to go forward. They're holding that up, all of this to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our country, a war on the middle class. It is very, very sad.

So, in terms of the health care, we're saying, let's follow what Senator Murray and Alexander are doing, Alexander, Murry, whatever way you want to put them, in the senate. They're trying to find common ground, and that should be encouraged. And that's one...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the White House is saying -- Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, is saying the president doesn't support that on its own. He's going to want some of his priorities in return.

PELOSI: Well, what are his priorities?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Building a wall, for example. Repealing Obamacare.

PELOSI: Please. He wants to negotiate the health care bill by repealing the Affordable Care Act and building a wall? No.

What I think -- in other words some of the things he did the other day, like saying, you can buy insurance across state lines. That's already in the Affordable Care Act. So, I'm just saying, what are -- what are his priorities? Except the priority for many of them is, there should be no government role. They never really, the Republicans, never really supported Medicare when it came into being. They now say it should wither on the vine.

This is being about a public role associated with public -- with the good health of the American people. And -- what they're doing with their tax plan and with their health bill will hurt Medicaid.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But in the absence of action by congress, isn't the president getting what he wants in repealing Obamacare step by step by step?

PELOSI: Well, what he's doing is hurting the American people. This isn't about policy or politics, it's about the American people. And if he is -- if he wanted to do that, why would he hurt people and say, now that I've taken the American people hostage, let's talk.

We have a path in the Senate, bipartisan path, at least -- I wonder if he even knows what that path is, beccause, from what he says, it doesn't sound like he has knowledge, knows the facts, bases his decision on evidence. And, that's a problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you don't want to shut down the government. But the White House has made it clear, if the president doesn't get his priorities, like the wall, with the government funding bill in December, that he is not -- that they are not going to have the votes to keep the government open.

PELOSI: Well, why are you putting that on us? They have the majority in the House and the Senate and the president's signature. They have the power to keep government open.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if they don't, if they can't get there on their own, what price will the Democrats demand for their votes?

PELOSI: Well, it's a negotiation, it's not a price you demand. Certainly, we intend, by the end of the year, to have a -- the DREAM Act passed to protect young people. The president says, and I take him in good faith, he told us, he cares about the young people. I think he cares about them because the American people care about them. And he's going to hear from the American people on the health care bill, as well.

But you're -- we're moving from the one thing to the next because that's the chaos that is -- exists in the White House right now. And I just -- maybe he's being ill advised. I don't know. But I do know that when he speaks, he does not speak from the basis of knowledge. That's why it's so hard to deal with him.

I have said to him, when we have had our differences with Republicans across the aisle or down Pennsylvania Avenue, we have always been able to at least go forward based on data, evidence, facts., a bottom line in term of a number. To say, unless I get a wall, I'm going shut our government down, is totally irresponsible for a president of the United States, and it's part of his war on the middle class, because he wants, again, a tax bill that is unfair to them. If he doesn't get that, repeal Affordable Care Act if he doesn't get that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you another question about your own leadership, one of your fellow members of congress, Linda Sanchez, fellow Democrat, came out this week saying it's time for change at the top.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LINDA SANCHEZ, (D) CALIFORNIA: Our leadership does a tremendous job, but I do think we have a breadth and depth of talent within our caucus, and I do think it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to that?

PELOSI: Well, I think we do have a great array of talent. And I have promoted it all along the way. I think when you see some of the people who represent the House Democrats, like Adam Schiff and the rest, people I have promoted in the party, getting them ready. It's up to the caucus to select its next leaderships. I enjoy the support of my caucus.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're not going anywhere?

PELOSI: Well, I'm here -- the Affordable Care Act, as you know, is very important to me. And I -- when the president became president, I saw the threat to it, I said I've got stay to take care of the Affordable Care Act. And that's my fight. That's my mission.

But also, to have women, women at the table, at the leadership table. I'm here to fight for our -- our better deal, better jobs, better pay, better future for the American people. I think that the biggest evidence for lack of experience in a job is the president of the United States. So -- I fully intend to make on the basis of my knowledge, my legislative -- I think I'm a great legislator. I know the budget. And I don't believe that I have -- self-promotion is a terrible thing, but clearly, somebody has to do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Leader Pelosi, thank you for your time this morning.

PELOSI: Thank you. My pleasure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's go on to the Republican side now. GOP Senator Susan Collins joins us now from Bangor, Maine.

Senator Collins, thank you for joining us this morning. You also announced this week that you're sticking around. You're going to stay in the senate rather than run for governor.

And one of the reasons you said is that you want to fight hyper partisanship. You want some bipartisan solutions. I take it one of them is what Leader Pelosi was just talking about, that bipartisan bill in the Senate right now to try to fix what is wrong with Obamacare.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: That's absolutely right. I'm a member of the Senate health committee, which has been doing really important work to try to stabilize the insurance markets to ensure that premiums go down and that people are going to have access to health insurance, and that effort has been led by the bipartisan leaders of Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray.

And we have all had input. There were four great hearings. And I hope we can proceed, but Democrats are going to have to step up to the plate and assist us. It's a two-way street.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how about the president? It doesn't seem to have the support of the president right now.

COLLINS: Well, I'm very disappointed in the president's actions of this past week. The debate in Washington has been whether or not to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the future. What the president is doing is affecting people's access and the cost of health care right now. And I don't agree with his decision on the subsidies that help low-income people afford their deductibles and co-pays. And I don't agree with his executive order.

But congress needs to step in. And I hope that the president will take a look at what we're doing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also pushing very hard for tax reform. The first step in that will be senate passing a budget. I know you hope to do that this week. Are you a yes on that budget?

COLLINS: I am likely a yes on that budget. I very much want to see tax reform. As you know, George, we haven't had an overhaul of the tax code since 1986. I don't think there's a single American who thinks that the tax code is fair, or simple, or helps promote job creation, and that should be our goals.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The question is what kind of tax reform will the senate end up voting on.

Some of your colleagues have pointed out their concerns. Rand Paul says he can't support a bill that increases taxes on the middle class. Bob Corker says he can't support a bill that increases the deficit. What are your conditions?

COLLINS: Well, I'm not saying that this is going to be easy, but I want to see us help our working families with tax relief. And doubling the standard deduction does just that. I want to see us help our small businesses. And I want to see us pursue policies that will encourage our larger corporations to create jobs in this country, not overseas. Those are some of my goals. And I think we can get there.

There's bipartisan support for reforming the tax code. And I hope we can keep it a bipartisan effort.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I just mentioned Bob Corker. He created quite a stir this week with his comments about President Trump, including this to The New York Times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: He doesn't realize that, you know, we could be heading toward World War III with the kind of comments that he's making.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: He also said the majority of his colleagues in the senate agree with his concerns about the president's volatility. Are you one of them?

COLLINS: Well, I have a lot of respect for Bob Corker. He's been a good friend and an excellent senator. I don't think that the Twitter war between him and the president is very productive. And I think the president needs to learn that his words really matter, that what he could say when he was in the private sector is entirely different.

Every comment that the president makes, even if it's an offhand comment, like the one he made about the calm before the storm, is scrutinized by both our enemies and our allies. So, the president needs to be more careful in his language.

But I think that we all need to get back to work on the issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: During the campaign, you wrote that the president's lack of self-restraint was creating the possibility for a more perilous world. Has that come to pass?

COLLINS: The president's comments at times have not been helpful in promoting stability and reassuring our allies, but he is the president. And I understand that. And as I said, I hope that he'll be more careful with his words in the future.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's former strategist, Steve Bannon, was also out this week declaring war on the GOP establishment. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, BREITBART: And let me give a warning to you, nobody can run and hide on this one. These folks are coming for you. The day of taking a few nice conservative votes and hiding is over. And right now, it's a season of war against a GOP establishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Says he's going to oppose every GOP incumbent up in 2018 unless they say they're not going to vote for Mitch McConnell as senate leader. Meantime, the president is going to be meeting with Mr. McConnell tomorrow. Are they working at cross-purposes? And what is your response to Steve Bannon?

COLLINS: They are working at cross-purposes. This is not helpful or appropriate at all.

Obviously, Mr. Bannon has the right to support whomever he wants to support. But I think his rhetoric is exactly what the American people are tired of. They don't want this hyper partisanship. They want us to work together. And they want us to get things done. They want us to work across the aisle. They want us to work with the president.

And Mr. Bannon's over-the-top rhetoric is not helpful. Mitch McConnell is the senate majority leader. The president needs him. I'm glad they're working together on tax reform and a lot of other issues. And I'm glad they're meeting this week. Mr. Bannon's comments are not helpful in that regard.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, Ambassador Nikki Haley is up next to talk Iran. Do you support the president's decision to decertify the Iran deal?

COLLINS: It's important to distinguish between what the president did and what he didn't do. He could have reimposed sanctions unilaterally. He could have withdrawn from the agreement. He chose not to do that. Instead, he put a spot light on two troubling deficiencies in the agreement, deficiencies which cause not only me, but also the Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to vote against the agreement.

And those deficiencies include the fact that there are no limitations on Iran's ability to develop to ballistic missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile which could reach us. We need to remember that a nuclear weapon is not just the warhead, it's the means of delivery, as well.

And second, he outlined a very important point, and that is that under the agreement, Iran has what I call a patient pathway to developing a nuclear weapon. So we ought to try to fix that. And that's what I hope that congress will do. And I hope that the president will consult more fully with our allies since this is a multilateral, not a bilateral agreement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Collins, thanks for your time this morning.

COLLINS: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will be right back with Ambassador Nikki Haley.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 2015)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Consider what happens in a world without this deal.

Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran, until it completely dismantles its nuclear program. Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure.

And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission. Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was President Obama announcing the Iran deal back in July 2015.

Let's talk about it now with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.

Thanks for joining us again this morning.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the wake of the president's decision to decertify, the German foreign minister yesterday said that he believes that decertifying the deal is going to put us closer on a path towards war, echoingSTEPHANOPOULOS: And we will be right back with Ambassador Nikki Haley.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 2015)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Consider what happens in a world without this deal.

Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran, until it completely dismantles its nuclear program. Nothing we know about the Iranian government suggests that it would simply capitulate under that kind of pressure.

And the world would not support an effort to permanently sanction Iran into submission. Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was President Obama announcing the Iran deal back in July 2015.

Let's talk about it now with the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.

Thanks for joining us again this morning.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the wake of the president's decision to decertify, the German foreign minister yesterday said that he believes that decertifying the deal is going to put us closer on a path towards war, echoing President Obama's comments right there.

How do you respond?

HALEY: Well, I think Iran is not right now saying death to Germany. They're saying death to America.

And I think that you have to look at the fact that this is not talking about the deal. This is talking about U.S. law.

And what U.S. law says is, every 90 days, you have to reevaluate and see if it's still doing and still proportionate from where it was supposed to be.

And when you look at their support of terrorism, when you look at the ballistic missile testing, when you look at all that they're doing with arms sales and things like that, they are not proportionate to what -- the concessions that we gave them. And it's something that we can make better. And I think that's the focus.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you have also had the president's military advisers saying that Iran has been complying with the deal.

Let's look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it is in our national security interests at the present time to remain in the JCPOA? That's a yes-or-no question.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, Senator, I do.

GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Iran is not in material breach of the agreement and I do believe the agreement to date has delayed the development of the nuclear capability by Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was General Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying Iran is not in breach of the agreement.

HALEY: We're not saying they're in breach of the agreement.

What we're saying is that, of the things -- of the sites inspected, no, they're doing exactly what they claim to do. But all sites have not been inspected.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But decertifying implies that they're not in compliance.

HALEY: No, decertifying implies that all of those other things that are in the U.N. resolution are not happening. Those are total violations.

They're violating every single one of them. So, this is -- U.S. law is not just part of the agreement. U.S. law talks about everything else. And it's good that it does.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you concede they're not -- they're not violating the four corners of the nuclear deal?

HALEY: Well, I think, right now, we're saying, no, as far as we see, they're in compliance of that part of it.

But what we're saying is, is America still safe? Are we still OK with them doing all these other bad things?

And what you're seeing is, everybody is turning a blind eye to Iran and all of those violations, out of trying to protect this agreement. What we need to say is, we have to hold them accountable. They can't be continuing to support terrorism around the world, like we're seeing they do.

They can't continue to test ballistic missiles, which will lead to a nuclear Iran. They can't continue to do arms smuggling in the way that they're doing.

Are we really ready to have them become a North Korea? Are we going to allow to happen?

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you're saying you believe that there are other dangers posed by Iran, but, right now, remaining in the deal is in the national security interests of the United States?

HALEY: I think that's why you saw the president staying in the deal.

He's saying to Congress, can we make it better? What else can we do so that we can better protect Americans?

And I think that his engagement with Congress is something that never happened under President Obama. They were never allowed to debate it. They were never allowed to discuss it.

So, now Congress is going to be fully engaged on the threats of Iran. These are all lessons learned from North Korea, every single one of them. Had this been done with North Korea over the last 25 years, we would not be in this situation.

What you see is, the president is trying to make sure that Iran doesn't become the next North Korea.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if the president moves to, you know, basically change the terms of the deal, using Congress, what kind of message does that send to North Korea?

Doesn't it send a message to them saying it's not worth it engaging in any talks with the United States?

HALEY: It sends the perfect message to North Korea, which is, we're not going to engage in a bad deal.

And should we ever get into a deal, we're going to hold you accountable. We're not going to look the other way, just because we think we have made a deal and we're not going to continue to watch it. We have to watch it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the...

HALEY: That's part of what we want to do, is be tough, be strong, and hold anyone accountable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the president's position on talking to North Korea right now?

In the past couple weeks, he had those tweets saying that Secretary of State Tillerson is wasting his time looking to talk to North Korea. But, on Friday, he said he's open to it.

So, what is his policy? Is he open to discussing the nuclear program with North Korea?

HALEY: Well, what we're not going to do is what we have done for the last 25 years.

We're not going to beg them to come to the negotiating table. We're not going to try and win them over with incentives and things like that. We need them to stop nuclear testing, and we need that to stop right away.

And until then, until they show a willingness to try and be a good international actor, no, there's no conversation that needs to be had.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if they stop testing, there can be talks?

HALEY: Let's wait and see if they stop testing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On that, the president, as I said, has hit Secretary Tillerson for wasting his time.

Also reports that you and Secretary Tillerson are somewhat at odds -- Politico says that it's World War III inside the administration.

Your response?

HALEY: That's so dramatic. That's so ridiculous. No.

I think what you have is, sometimes, Secretary Tillerson and I have different opinions. But when we come into the NSC, everybody has different opinions. At the end of the day, we present the president with all the facts. We let him make the decision. And we all, as a team, go out and support that decision.

So, I have -- my relationship with Secretary Tillerson or General Mattis or anyone else, it's all a great relationship, because we're all looking out for the best interests of America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There is some concern in the Senate that the president is not supporting his secretary of state.

We played that clip from Bob Corker, Senator Bob Corker, about World War III earlier.

He also told "The Washington Post" later in the week, "When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart."

He's talking about the credibility.

"Us working with Beijing effectively is the key to not getting a binary choice between war and appeasement. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table."

How do you respond to Senator Corker?

HALEY: I think that is his opinion.

What I can tell you is what I know. And I have seen the president and Secretary Tillerson work together. They work very well together. They talk through things. And then they manage it properly.

So, if there is an issue, I haven't heard about it. What I will tell you is, I think that they're going through, trying to protect America's interests.

They have been very effective, if you look at the way we have been able to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the way we're dealing with North Korea now, the fact that we're taking on Iran, and then how we have developed so many more allies than what we had before, when you look at Saudi Arabia, when you look at Egypt, when you look at all of these countries now that we're having dialogue with that we haven't had a lot of dialogue with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our European allies don't agree with what the president has done on Iran.

HALEY: Our European allies need to remember they're not the ones the threats are coming to.

And what they do agree is that Iran is in violation of all those things I mentioned. They absolutely agree. They also absolutely agree those things need to stop.

And now you will see us going forward talking about those things to bring Iran in compliance, not just of the deal, but of the international community and what is expected to be a good community citizen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ambassador Haley, thanks for your time this morning.

HALEY: Thank you so much.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's, frankly, disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president ramped up his war against the press this week.

Our roundtable takes on that and all the week's politics when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I'm not quitting today.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: I don't believe -- and I just talked to the president -- I don't think I'm being fired today. And I am not so frustrated in this job that I'm thinking of leaving.

I will tell you this is the hardest job I have ever had. This is, in my view, the most important job I have ever had.

I would offer, though, it is not the best job I ever had. The best job I ever had, as I have said many times, is when I was an enlisted Marine sergeant infantryman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pretty extraordinary press conference this week by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly.

We're going to talk about that on our roundtable, and bring everybody in, our ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation," Charlie Sykes, who is out with a new book, "How the Right Lost Its Mind."

Got that right here, Charlie.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Also American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp, and Van Jones, also a new book called "Beyond the Messy Truth."

Thanks for that as well.

And, Van, let me begin with you.

We saw these actions. And I talked to the congressional leaders about that, the president's actions on his own this week to undo Obamacare, to undo the Clean Power Act, to decertify the Iran deal.

And I think the big question is, is this a substitute for action? Is it really effective? Or is it just more talk, in the absence of real support from Congress?

VAN JONES, AUTHOR, "BEYOND THE MESSY TRUTH": Well, I think that the president thinks of himself as a disrupter. And that's a fashionable word right now in business.

The reality is, in business, a disruption is when you have a new idea, a new product that is better than the old. It's -- Uber didn't just go around smashing up taxicabs. They had a better idea.

The problem with this president is, he is just breaking up everything, erasing the Obama legacy, and throwing stuff at Congress, and hoping they fix it.

That's not leadership, and that's not the kind of disruption that makes America better.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's achieving some of the president's ends, especially on Obamacare.

MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Yes, and it's really, really simple. He said he was going to do these things. And he's simply doing it.

If you look at what is happening on Obamacare, he actually does have a reform which we've put in place on these associated health care plans. When it comes the Paris agreement and pulling out of the Paris agreement, ending the war on coal, which relates directly to this idea that we are going to have manufacturing jobs in America and energy jobs in America.

Stop the persecution of nuns. Nothing was more ridiculous to watch than that, because -- forcing people to pay for contraceptions. I mean, this is -- all of these things he -- he simply said he would do. It's so refreshing.

And I think that is why his conservative base cleaves to him, because of the policy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Cleaves to him, but the question is, will the Republicans in Congress stand behind him?

Mary Bruce.

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This governing by disruption is an incredibly risky political gamble.

I have talked to at least one Republican who said the president's move on health care this week was simply not helpful. And he fears that they will ultimately own this, that they will own the fallout of the president's decisions here if something can't get done.

Look, here are the options, especially on health care. They can go forward, replace these subsidies, as many Republicans want to do. The administration is not keen to do that. And many other Republicans simply say they won't do anything that props up Obamacare.

So, at the end of the day, if the president is able to somehow force Republicans and Democrats to the table, break through their gridlock, he will show that he's that great deal-maker that he claims. But, otherwise, it could really blow back in his face big time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Charlie Sykes, is Mary right, right there, the Republicans she talked to?

Do the Republicans now own the health care issue?

CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Sure. You broke it, you own it. And this is part of the problems.

With all due respect, Matt, he's not doing what he said. What he's doing is, he's sowing confusion, raising pain, and shifting the blame. They know what you're seeing now is not repeal. It's not replace. It's not even fixing.

It's designed specifically to sabotage Obamacare, so that what? You can force the Democrats to the table. But the problem is that we're finding out that the guy who wrote "The Art of the Deal" is terrible at this. He's a terrible negotiator.

He doesn't understand policy. He doesn't understand the legislative process. And I think Mary is absolutely right. I think it's going to be very, very hard to get a legislative fix.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Katrina, the problem for Democrats in this is that, as that all happens, Obamacare does unravel every single day.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE NATION": It's being undermined. It's being sabotaged.

And I think that what's important for Democrats in 2018 is to ensure that the Republicans own Trumpcare.

And, as you said, it's the Pottery Barn rule. You broke it, you own it. And I think that is a compelling message, because Democrats and progressives can no longer just be about resistance. It has to be resistance, renewal, reconstruction.

We need clear, compelling, I would argue, moral ideas of the best kind to tell Americans we're on their side and that all of this disruption is not transformation. It's not making America greater. It's making it sicker, poorer, dirtier.

And it's not providing economic security for those we need to speak to in those states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Ohio, and erode the coalition, which Trump is diminishing.

SCHLAPP: Can I just mention on this health care piece, let's all look at it.

Obamacare gave the Republicans in large part these majorities. We won on this issue for four straight elections. And it's also the left. It's Bernie Sanders. It's all the major potential Democratic candidates for president who have been come out against Obamacare and for single-player. Obamacare is being attacked...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they're not against Obamacare.

SCHLAPP: Well, but they're trying to expand. They're trying...

JONES: They're trying to improve it.

SCHLAPP: No, no, they're undermining -- they're undermining the central premise of Obamacare, which you all decided...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Go ahead.

SCHLAPP: You all decided to not have single-player.

The left is fighting Obamacare. The right is fighting Obamacare. And Americans have told Republicans, please, save us from Obamacare.

JONES: Listen, I have never seen a president of the United States willing to hurt Americans to get his way, willing to have Americans be sick, willing to have Americans possibly lose their lives, watch their children with conditions, because he wants to get his way. I haven't seen that before.

I agree with you that our health care system needs to continue to be improved and changed. I support the progressive cause. I'm willing to listen to actual conservative ideas. But I'm not willing to see...

SCHLAPP: But you think the president wants to kill Americans?

JONES: No, I didn't say that. You said that.

I'm not willing, George, to see a president of the United States actually put Americans at risk just to get his way.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the question is, what can Democrats do about it?

BRUCE: But this is a perfect example of why this is such a combustible issue.

And now you have lawmakers having to deal with this as they head into the midterms, as they head possibly towards it being used for leverage in a government funding debate, while Republicans and Democrats on the Hill are trying to tackle a very long, lengthy to-do list.

I mean, look at some of these issues, protections for dreamers, now health care. The president wants action on an Iran deal. They have to fund the government -- oh, yes, and tax reform.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, I want to bring that to Charlie and Katrina there.

Leader Pelosi didn't want to really address it.

SYKES: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the fact is, we're heading for a government shutdown without Democratic votes.

And the question is, what price are Democrats going demand to keep the government open?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, I have a different take on this.

I mean, I think you saw the president playing footsie with Charles and -- Chuck and Nancy. That went nowhere. That was double-crossing them real quick.

So, as this country betrays dreamers, the Democratic Party shouldn't just be doing congressional politics. It should be launching a massive Latino voter registration and turnout effort. That, to me, is part of the future of this country.

Build the coalition and erode a coalition, which Trump, through his own failed promises, is eroding. That isn't politics.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's long-term.

What about the short-term?

SYKES: Well, I can't see that they're going to be willing to compromise much at all, especially as Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are declaring war on their fellow Republicans.

And, by the way, Steve Bannon was absolutely right when he said that the -- cutting off those payments was designed to blow up the exchanges.

And I think that's what's happening right now is that you have a Republican civil war, and so I'm guessing the Democrats are just going to sit back and enjoy all of that, because -- and the role that the president is playing is not only to burn bridges with his fellow Republicans, but it is to, on a daily basis, distract them from the agenda when you think of all of these issues and the role the president is playing. Rather than showing leadership of any kind, he is sowing chaos, confusion, and distraction.

SCHLAPP: I get the fact that all of you -- I get the fact that there is an opinion on Donald Trump, and a lot of people don't like Donald Trump. I'm kind of used to playing this role on these panels.

But let's just say that actually for the Democrats, for Chuck and Nancy, as they were referred to, it's really simple. They have to do their job. And if they want to get things done, if they want to get DACA done -- I actually think the president wants to get DACA done. On these CSR payments, I actually think the president does want to get it done, but he wants to get it done within the context of the other aspects of these policies, so it has -- dreamers are going to have to be accompanied with border security, and CSR payments are going to have to be accompanied by other health care reform. And the fact is is this, which is just simply do your job. Sit across the table.

JONES: Let me say one thing about that, you just described probably the most complicated set of negotiations in the history of the Republic that this guy is ramming through...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: I'm not done. We didn't stack up 15 in a row and then tweet all the time about everything else.

The problem that you have is what you're describing is something that would require real leadership, real finesse...

SCHLAPP: On both sides. On both sides.

JONES: I'll say on both sides. But your guy, who you love and you're going to defend, I understand your job, but you have...

SCHLAPP: It's not my job. I like his policies.

JONES: You have to admit that he is his own worse enemy. In order to do what you just describe, you would need discipline and focus. And we...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And not only that. Hold on a second, what he just described -- let me just try to break this down a little and bring it both to BRUCE and Katrina, what you just talked about right there, you're saying basically if the Democrats want the dreamers, they've got to support a wall. That's what the president is saying.

SCHLAPP: No. No. That's not what the president is saying. Nope. What the president said is enhanced border security. He did not link it to the wall.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Actually, the president has linked it to the wall, and so has Mick Mulvaney.

BRUCE: It is true that the more the president adds to this list, the less Democrats are willing to come and negotiate. But it also interesting, for instance, on the dreamer issue, the president coming out with this list of demands. The classic move from the Art of the Deal, coming to the table with all of these huge requests.

I asked Leader Pelosi about that earlier this week, and she sort of brushed aside the president's demands saying, look, she's focused on The Hill. And there is still interest from both parties in coming together and doing something around this issue regardless of the president's demands.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I'm all for transpartisan politics. And I think you're seeing some, by the way, with Republicans and Democrats coming together on remembering that congress has a role in invoking the war powers act when it comes to the actions in Yemen.

I thought -- our lead diplomat, not Tillerson, but Ambassador Haley, to have someone like that at the UN, who has said there is no talking, what kind of diplomacy is that? This -- what we've done with Iran.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Although, she seemed to be open to some talks.

VANDEN HEUVEL: No. And what we have done with Iran is take an effective, verifiable, important diplomatic agreement, and one that is in America's national security, and because of pique or anger at Obama, unraveling it will make this country less secure, the world less secure. And we need diplomacy, tough diplomacy. But I very much worry that -- and I don't usually agree with Senator Corker, what he said, we have to do everything we can to reduce nuclear -- the risk of nuclear war.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring that to Charlie Sykes. Because you know, he was a pretty extraordinary week in that respect. You had Senator Corker's remarks. You've had a series of articles in papers about the White House behind the scenes worry about how to sort of hem in President Trump deal with his anger.

You said last week, real concern that he's not stable.

SYKES: Well, it was extraordinary when you think that -- you're talking about the sitting U.S. senator who is chairman of the foreign relations committee, who is talk about the lack of stability and discipline of the president of the United States. And what I think makes it more troubling is that what Bob Corker said is what a lot of Republicans are thinking but not willing to say in public.

Look, Republicans have the problem is they've allied themselves with the mad king and they're trying to pretend he's not, trying to pretend that he's normal. I would suggest that conservatives who are denial about this should give him some tough love rather than enabling and encourage all of this.

But what Bob Corker said was really a warning flare reflecting what is going on, that these are major stakes. We're not talking about Twitter wars anymore. He actually invoked World War III. If this not a come the Jesus moment for the Republicans...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Let me jump in on that as a conservative. Let me just jump in on that as a conservative, I will agree with you that Donald Trump is far from normal, I'll give you that. But the fact is is this, the Iran policy is simply a redo of the North Korea policy. And it's the people -- it takes some disruption against the people who have established our foreign policies for decades and decades that let's just try to talk them out. Let me finish. Let me finish, let's try to talk them out of their nuclear weapons. It's what Bob Corker's policy was on Iran.

The reason why Bob Corker is taking on the president is the president is taking on his legacy. And that legacy could be at the end of this agreement....

SYKES: That's not why...

SCHLAPP: ...Iran has a nuclear weapon, North Korea has a nuclear weapon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the Iran nuclear program has been frozen for the last two years.

SCHLAPP: George, as we all know, at the end of this agreement, it sunsets. At the end of this agreement, it is a matter of time before Iran joins North Korea as a nuclearized power. And I think that is a huge mistake for our national secuirty.

JONES: I'm born and raised in Tennessee. Corker is my home state senator.

SCHLAPP: Did you vote for him?

JONES: I did not. I live in California. I would have voted against him. I'm a Democrat.

But let me just say something, we are so into the crazy now that when something significant happens, we don't notice. This is not a bomb thrower. This is someone who supported Donald Trump. And when someone of his stature and his temperament says World War III, that should be an all car stop on the interstate moment. What is going on? This is a serious, serious development.

STEPHANOPOULOS: BRUCE, he went on to say that most of his Republican colleagues won't say so, but they agree with him. You report there every day.

BRUCE: It's no secret that a lot of Republicans share these kind of frustrations. It's a common sentiment that is shared in the basement, in the hallways of the Capitol.

But to hear some one come out and say it publicly is incredibly (inaudible). And someone like Bob Corker. And what's interesting in the aftermath of this is not what you're hearing, but what you're not hearing, which is many Republicans almost -- you know, you can count on one hand coming out to take sides.

VANDEN HEUVEL: There's been a lot of talk this week about enabling and complicity, and another part of our society. We're seeing that happen with this predator.

And I think more important, though, than that, George, is not name calling, but to understand the signal, the decertification of the Iran agreement, signals to North Korea as we try to resolve that crisis peacefully. I thought Nikki Haley, Ambassador Haley, had -- was a revisionist historian as she talked about how talking had led to the North Korean program. That's not the history. People should look it up. We can't go into it on he show.

But we're at risk -- now it is George W. Bush who took us into the most destabilizing debacle, but we're at risk with Trump. And I think we need to face that.

SYKES: I actually agree on some of the aspects of this Iran deal, but this is where the credibility of the president is important. I think David Frum said this is the least abnormal decision that he's made on foreign policy if the president was credible. And that's why this erratic, thin-skinned, narcissism of the president undermines even policies that might actually be a good idea.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And for the latest politics any time, download the ABC News app and sign up for breaking news alerts.

The roundtable is here. And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: See that tweet there from President Trump?

"Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake, that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to the public."

Back now with our roundtable.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, of course, the national media doesn't have a license, so the president doesn't have any power to revoke them.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But this has created a bit of a debate inside the media as well of what to do about tweets like that. Are they a distraction, or are they dangerous?

VANDEN HEUVEL: It's an important question.

I think there's a fundamental media malpractice where you let Trump's tweets drive the morning, win the morning.

I think what is important to focus is that he's said these kinds of things before. They're -- but not to let an outrage fatigue take over.

You have to remember this is a man who sounds more like an autocrat than a democratically elected president. And so it's important that the media continue and people understand the media is not a special interest operation. It's a legitimate check. It's part of an institutional array of checks on a president's power.

JONES: In the Constitution.

VANDEN HEUVEL: In the Constitution.

(CROSSTALK)

VANDEN HEUVEL: And so I think that's critical.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But I guess the question is, if you ignore it, does it seep in? Does his message seep in, take hold?

SYKES: No, you can't -- you cannot ignore it. He's the president of the United States. Words actually matter.

And here we move beyond simply attacks on the media to the suggestion of the use of government power to punish the news media. This is in Nixon territory.

Here's a president over the last 24 hours bragging about tanking private sector stocks, you know, hurting the NFL, going after the news media.

Look, this is where you get into the question of authoritarianism, quite frankly. And, as a conservative, small-government conservative, this ought to be alarming to people that the president, who has control of, appoints members of the FCC, is now talking about retaliatory action.

And this is not the first time he suggested doing that.

SCHLAPP: As a talk show host, you understand that the left has for years talked about a fairness doctrine.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: And I am upset about it.

And I do think that we ought to have -- but the news media also -- and that also applies now to Facebook and Twitter, apparently. There needs to be a perception by the people who use these platforms that they're getting all sides and people have the ability to impact with their point of view.

What you have seen with Twitter, they took down an announcement from your home state's congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, when she ran for the Senate because she talked about the atrocities of Planned Parenthood.

This type of stuff, I think, deserves scrutiny, not by the government, but by all of us.

JONES: I agree that part of the reason that this stuff works when Trump sort of throws a punch is because the whole system has now devolved into this "I'm right, you're wrong" food-fight all the time.

And people don't trust -- in my book, I have gone all across the country talking to people. And what I have realized is, there's common pain across the country, but we don't yet have common purpose.

And the media...

STEPHANOPOULOS: We don't even have a common set of facts by which we can...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: And so -- and so -- and I think that, you know, so Trump is kind of taking advantage of that.

I think the people in Silicon Valley need to be very worried that they seem to be actually helping to divide the country with all the -- the algorithms actually push us apart.

If you follow one liberal, they will you to follow 15 more.

SCHLAPP: Can I agree with him? Do we agree? Do we agree?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what? That is a perfect place to end.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to end today on a note of agreement.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our debate continued off-camera.

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT." And I will see you tomorrow on "GMA."

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