'This Week' Transcript 5-17-20: Peter Navarro, Sen. Bernie Sanders

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, May 17.

ByABC News
May 17, 2020, 9:45 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, May 10, 2020 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The American people never signed up for perpetual shelter in place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fight is not yet over. This is not the time to give up.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As states relax restrictions, a declaration from President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: At odds with top health experts.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak you may not be able to control.

DR. RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our guests this morning, White House adviser Peter Navarro and Senator Bernie Sanders in his first Sunday show since leaving the race for president.



TRUMP: Obamagate, it's been going on for a long time.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is all about diversion. This is the game this guy plays all the time.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our powerhouse roundtable takes on President Trump's campaign against the Russia investigation, with Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."

Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

It was a tale of two Saturdays, as the number of COVID cases in the U.S. closed in on 1.5 million, the death toll topped 88,000 and most states took tentative steps to reopen.

President Trump was out of sight at Camp David, but not out of mind, dispatching dozens of messages to followers of his Twitter feed, continuing a stream of attacks on his predecessor, at least 160 tweets since last Sunday, that Trump boils down to a single word, Obamagate.

Earlier this week, Obama tweeted out a one-word response of his own: "Vote."

But, on Saturday, the former president made a rare public appearance. In two virtual commencement addresses, he delivered a pointed critique of how the Trump administration has handled the coronavirus crisis.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing.

A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we begin with a response this morning from one of the president's top advisers, President Trump's top advisers during this crisis, Peter Navarro.

Mr. Navarro, thank you for joining us this morning.

President Obama continued this in his second commencement address last night, suggesting that things are screwed up because people in charge are taking the easy way out.

Your response?

PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Well, I'm glad Mr. Obama has a new job as Joe Biden's press secretary.

I note for the record that, in his speech that I read, there was no mention of manufacturing, no mention of China. As far as I'm concerned, his administration was a kumbaya incompetence, in which we saw millions of manufacturing jobs go off to China.

His new normal was a flat line in terms of wage growth. And I'm happy to report that this president, Donald J. Trump, in three-and-a-half years, built the most beautiful economy in modern history. And the Chinese did take that down in about 30 days.

But we are in the process right now of rebuilding that. And this president, Donald J. Trump, is the one who has the skills to do so, because you know what, George? What we're going to do is, we're going to go back to the future here, buy American, deregulate and innovate.


NAVARRO: What do I mean by that? Bring the jobs home. Make it here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say the Chinese took down the American economy. So, you're saying they deliberately unleashed the COVID virus on the United States? Do you have any evidence for that?

NAVARRO: I did not say they deliberately did it, but their China virus -- let's go over the facts here. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The virus was spawned in Wuhan province. Patient zero was in November. The Chinese, behind the shield of the World Health Organization, for two months hid the virus from the world, and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York, and around the world to seed that.

They could have kept it in Wuhan. Instead, it became a pandemic. So, that's why I say the Chinese did that to Americans and they are responsible.

Now, George, one other thing that I think is unconscionable about the Chinese behavior, as we speak, they signed a trade deal on January 15, and they promised not to steal our intellectual property, big part of that deal.

Guess what? The FBI has now issued warnings that the Chinese government is hacking the intellectual property, so that they can steal vaccines for the world. And what would they do with it?

It wouldn't be a benign experience. They would use that vaccine to profiteer and hold the world hostage.

So, yes, I do blame the Chinese. And it will be really interesting, George, as to how this election unfolds, because you have got Joe Biden, who has been a long friend of China, vs. President Trump...


NAVARRO: ... who is the only president who has ever stood up to China.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's pick up on that, because on Thursday Vice President Biden spoke out on this and took on President Trump directly. Let's listen.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is President Trump was praising the Chinese government, downplaying the threat to the American people. As I said, as I was warning -- I was warning the need to get the people into China to see what was actually going on. And the Chinese government's word, you know, we squandered critical time. And so I just don't -- and now he's trying to play this China card.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The vice president had an op-ed in USA Today in January, he warned in February, all through the month of February the president, President Trump, was praising President Xi of China. He was saying he trusted President Xi of China. He was saying President Xi of China was being transparent, that's why Vice President Biden says that the president was downplaying the threat from China.

NAVARRO: Yeah, well Joe Biden's has got 40 years of sucking up to the Chinese, including the eight years as vice president. And we know about the billion dollars that his son took from the Chinese.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's just not factual, sir. That is not a fact. He did not take a billion dollars from the Chinese.

NAVARRO: Went into that hedge fund.

Be that as it may, I do think this election is going to be a referendum in many ways on China.

And here is what we know, George, the Pew Research Group did a poll, which showed that over 90 percent of the American public think that China is a threat in some way, and over 70 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

In my judgment, the behavior of the China's Communist Party over the last three months, particularly in terms of unleashing this pandemic, I think they're shooting for 100 percent negative views.

So we'll have Joe Biden, long friend of China, President Donald J. Trump the only president in modern history to stand up to China. Going into November, and what this is going to be about, it's not going to be about the pandemic, it's going to be about jobs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you keep talking about...

NAVARRO: What we have to do now is rebuild the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Listen, we're going to talk about the economy, you keep talking about China, though, but all during the month of February, as I said the president was continuing to praise China,was continuing to praise President Xi of China, he was trying to work out that trade deal with China, wanted to preserve that, wanted to preserve the gains in the stock market. It was President Trump who was praising China all through the month of February. And, you know, there's a lot of evidence that those lost weeks made a difference.

NAVARRO: So, first of all, I think it's great that we have a president that can get along with all world leaders, so that's number one. But number two, there's no lost weeks. This starting gun for the China pandemic started on January 30th when President Trump had the courage to pull down the flights from China, that was an enormously courageous decision. He took a lot of heat from that.

And from that day, and I was personally involved in a lot of this, we were moving on three vectors on attack in February -- vaccine development, development of therapeutics like Remdesivir, and building up the capacity for things like N95 masks. And the work we did throughout February has borne beautiful fruit here in the spring, because what we saw on Friday in the Rose Garden was the announcement of a 14-company race to a vaccine, with the goal of December, what we have seen therapeutics like Remdesivir already going into hospitals right now to save American lives and we had company like Honeywell building two factories in five weeks, George, instead of nine months, five weeks, that's Trump time, to produce 20 million N95 masks a month.

So don't tell me we lost February, because I was there. I'm right here. And this president was directing us to move as quickly as possible, even as publicly we were trying to figure out in the fog of war just how serious this pandemic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you mentioned what was going on in the month of February. And it is true, according to all accounts, you were working quite hard during the month of February including the accounts of that whistle-blower Richard Bright talks about several meetings with you during the month of February on all the issues you just mention. He said you and he were allies on this trying to break through road blocks coming from HHS and other parts of the government.

Yet now you call him a deserter in the war against the virus, why?

NAVARRO: Let's be clear about this. I am -- I report directly to the president. I'm one of the top five policy advisers to the president, so everything I was doing with the help of Rick Bright and others during February, was the White House, was the Trump White House. It was all transparent with the task force.

Here's what happened with Rick Bright, and it's an American tragedy, George. This guy is quite talented, but he was asked to be the field commander over at NIH to storm the testing hill with a billion dollars behind him. Instead of accepting that mission, he deserted. He went into a fox hole, wrote up the complaint. And now he's part of a Capitol Hill partisan circus where he's just become another pawn in the game.

And the tragedy, George, is this man has talent. He's a smart man. We could have used him on the battlefield. He's not there now. And it was because of the decisions that he made. And it is a shame, George, that he’s doing --


STEPHANOPOULOS: His expertise is vaccines. He wants to work in vaccine development. They’re putting him in diagnostic testing.

Why shouldn’t a vaccine expert be working on vaccines?

NAVARRO: So, here's the thing, George, I was -- I’ve been with the president since the campaign, right? I came here to do trade policy, right? What am I now? A conscript in the war on the China virus. I’m like a quartermaster and a shipping clerk half the time.

Do I complain? No. That's my mission for this president, for this country. We do what we have to do when we have to do it for this country.

And Rick Bright, he made a choice. He could have been making a tremendous contribution over at NIH to testing and you and others have been complaining about testing. He could have been the field general. And now, he's off the battlefield and it was by his own choice, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the economic response. We saw some tough numbers at the end of the week on jobs, on manufacturing, on retail sales.

The House passed that $3 trillion, the next stimulus package on Friday. Is that a basis for negotiation? Is the president prepared to sign another relief package?

NAVARRO: So, Nancy Pelosi basically lost me with that package when she has $1,200 checks for illegal immigrants. And it just goes downhill from there.

What we have to do, George, is basically go with the fiscal and monetary stimulus that we’ve been going through. We’ve got a lot coursing through the system now.

We may need more. I’m going to let others above my pay grade negotiate that. What I’m focused on --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Fed Chairman Powell says we do need more.

NAVARRO: Well, what I’m focused on, George, and this is the real key to success -- is going to be the structural adjustments we’re going to have to make. For every service sector job we might loss as we adjust to this, this China virus, we're going to have replace that with manufacturing jobs, which do have a high multiplier in terms of creating service sector jobs again.

So, what I’m focused on with President Trump is a buy American, deregulate, innovate agenda, which will start with bringing our pharma supply chains home, bringing our medical supplies and equipment supply chains home. So, we build it here. That will be both good economics, but also good national security.

And from there, we're going to fan out and basically this president going back to him as a candidate promised to bring our jobs home, that's going to be key to the future with innovation. Innovation really is going to be key.

The General Motors plant for ventilators went up in 17 days in Kokomo, Indiana, through innovation. They not only assembled that factory in 17 days, they took 700 components of the supply chain to make up a ventilator, use their manufacturing might to replicate that, and tool and diametrics (ph) throughout that supply chain.

That was a miracle, George. That’s -- and we can replicate that throughout this economy, repurposing our factories. This is the jobs president, the innovation president, the manufacturing president, and this is how we're going to get through the other end of this -- this crisis here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, I want to get that firing of the State Department inspector general on Friday night, Steve Linick -- fourth inspector general removed by the president in the last several weeks.

What do you say to Democratic critics who say what the president is doing is undermining any idea of independent oversight?

NAVARRO: See, this is my lane here, George. That’s way -- way out of my lane. The president clearly has the legal authority to do that.

What I can tell you, George, based on my experience here, and I don’t know if it was the same when you were here, there’s -- there's a bureaucracy out there. And there’s a lot of people in that bureaucracy who think that they got elected president, not Donald J. Trump.

And we had tremendous problem with -- you know, some people call it the deep state. I think that's apt.

So, I don't mourn the loss of people when they leave this bureaucracy. There's always going to be somebody better to replace them, somebody more loyal, not to president necessarily, but to the Trump agenda. That's what's important.

The Trump agenda -- this president has transformed the Republican Party into the party of the working class. And I’m here because the president loves creating good jobs for Americans who work with their hands.

And anybody in this bureaucracy who hates buy American, and bringing our domestic supply chains home, they don't really belong here. And I support whatever this president does in terms of his hiring and firing decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Peter Navarro, thanks for your time this morning.

NAVARRO: Thank you, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, the Democratic response from Senator Bernie Sanders in his first Sunday interview since leaving the race for president.



SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, let me state the obvious. What Nancy Pelosi is proposing will never pass the Senate.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): This is nothing more than a messaging exercise by House Democrats. They didn't have any input from Republicans.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's a parade -- a parade of absurdities that can hardly be taken seriously.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Republican senators there on the stimulus package passed by the House on Friday.

We are going to get more on all this now from Senator Bernie Sanders, joining us in his first Sunday interview since leaving the presidential race.

Senator Sanders, thanks for joining us this morning.

And I -- I do want to get to that.

But let's begin with where we just left off with Peter Navarro, the president's firing on Friday of the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick, now the fourth inspector general fired in several weeks.

You heard what Mr. Navarro said. He said he's worried about the deep state; the president deserves to have people loyal to his agenda.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Look, this president thinks he's above the law, he's above criticism. He wants to get away with anything that he can.

And he does not understand that, in the function of government, you have a Congress, you have inspector generals who say, by the way, Mr. President, what you're doing is wrong, and it may be illegal.

This has been his modus operandi from day one.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the economic stimulus package that was passed by the House on Friday.

It's the basis for negotiation with the Senate. We have heard, though, Senate Republican leaders not -- don't seem to be in any rush to pass anything. If this came to the Senate floor, would you vote for it?

SANDERS: I would vote for a very substantive piece of legislation.

And it really amazes me. Mr. Navarro talks about how the Republican Party is worried about the working class of this country.

Well, you know what, Mr. Navarro? In the last two months, 35 million people have lost their jobs. There are millions of people today who are hungry in America. They don't have food in their cupboards.

There are people today who cannot afford to go to a doctor, even when they have coronavirus symptoms. There are elderly people who are sitting home alone who are scared to death about the future.

If you're concerned about the working class of this country, understand the extraordinary suffering, unprecedented, that is now taking place. Demand that Congress act.

Now, I think what Pelosi did in the House, it is significant. It is important. I have some disagreements with it. And I want to see the Senate improve upon it.

Among other things, I happen to believe that we should go in the direction of a paycheck security process, similar to what has been done in Europe, which says to every worker in America, you will continue to receive your paycheck and the other benefits which you had when you were on the job, and when this crisis is over, hopefully sooner than later, you're just going to go back to work.

I also believe that, during this crisis, instead of funding the COBRA program, what we should do is make sure that all people in this country, including the 87 million who were uninsured or underinsured before the pandemic, have access to health care.

And you do that by allowing Medicare to fill in the gaps for the uninsured and the underinsured.

But I think Pelosi, at least, unlike the Republican leadership, said, you know what, we have terrible suffering in this country. We need to get money out to the cities and towns, to the hospitals. We need to protect working people.

And I would hope that the Republicans wake up and understand the severity of the crisis that we're facing and the suffering that now exists.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the other things we heard in Mr. Navarro's response, as you see, they're going to full bore on Vice President Biden and his relationship with China over the years. The point they're saying is that President Trump has been tough on China. Democrats led by Joe Biden have not.

SANDERS: Yes, right.

But, look, you’ve got a president who blames everybody in the world for the problems that we face except himself. Now, this is a guy who, you know, used to talk about that President Xi has been a great leader, good friend of his. The leader of North Korea, who was probably the worst dictator in the world, was a wonderful human being, and they wrote love letters to each other.

Look, what they're trying to do now instead of address the pandemic that we have -- and I should say, George, that the scandal of the moment is that we don't have national policy. This is the president of the United States. We should have national policy based on science. We should have testing going on all over this country so that when we reopen the economy, workers understand that they're working in a safe environment.

Instead, you got 50 states going it alone because we don't have that national protocol based on science.

But, you know, Trump will blame everybody for everything instead of dealing with the crises that we face. And the crises that we face is reopening the economy safely, based on science, not 50 states doing it alone. Crisis we face is that Congress has to act now to address the enormous suffering and unemployment that is currently existing.

And I also think, George, to tell you the truth, that if there's any silver lining in this midst of this terrible, terrible, and unprecedented moment in American history in terms of the economy and in terms of the pandemic, is that maybe we start re-thinking some fundamental tenets about the way our government and society works.

And we should ask ourselves, among other things, is health care a human right that all of us deserve? Because we’re human beings. Or is it simply a health care benefit that somehow we lose when we lose our jobs?

You know, Mr. Navarro talked about the great economy, a beautiful economy that existed before the pandemic -- well, half of people in America were living paycheck to paycheck. I don't think it's beautiful economy that when paychecks stop for two weeks, millions and millions of people don't have enough money to buy the food that they need to feed their families.

We need an economy that works for all not just Trump and his billionaire friends. We need an economy that says we shouldn't have three people on top owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American society. We need an economy that says health care is a human right, like every other country. We’re not getting ripped off by the pharmaceutical industry.

There’s a lot to be done. And if there's anything that I hope we learn out of this horribly painful experience is that maybe we create an economy and a government that works for all, not just the few and wealthy campaign contributors.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the campaign. Your former campaign manager Jeff Weaver put out a memo this week where he warned that Vice President Biden is falling far short with your supporters, the supporters who supported you during the primary campaign that he's going to need in November.

Is he right about that? And what does the vice president have to do about it?

SANDERS: Look, I think at the end of the day, the vast majority of the people who voted for me, who supported me, will understand and do understand that Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. He's a pathological liar. He's a racist, and a sexist, a homophobe, et cetera.

And I think, at the end of day, they will be voting for Joe Biden.

But I think what Joe is going to have do and he’s beginning to move in that direction, is to say that those working class people, say to those young people, say to those minorities, listen, I understand your situation. You know, I understand that you're graduating college with tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I understand that you don't have any health insurance.

I understand that you're working at a job that's paying 12 bucks an hour. You can’t get by on that. We ought to raise that minimum wage to a living a wage.

You know, I understand that you're concerned about not only the pandemic but you’re concerned about climate change and how we make sure that the world comes together to address the existential threat, and in the process create millions and millions of good paying jobs. I understand that you're concerned about the racism within our criminal justice system and our immigration system.

So I think Joe and his staff understand that. I think they are going to reach out to our supporters and come up with agenda that speaks to the needs of working families, of young families, of minority communities.

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

SANDERS: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is up next.

We will be right back.



ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: They think they're taking away Donald Trump's greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time, right?

So, they will -- and you watch -- they will milk it every single day between now and November 3. And guess what? After November 3, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear. And everybody will be able to reopen.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Eric Trump on FOX News last night suggesting it was Democrats who are keeping President Trump off the campaign trail, one of the things we're going to talk about now on our roundtable.

Joined by Chris Christie, former Republican Governor New Jersey, Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago, also chief of staff to President Obama, former member of Congress, the CEO of Democracy for America, Yvette Simpson, and Republican strategist Sara Fagen, who was also White House political director under President George W. Bush.

Sara, thank you for joining us this morning.

Chris, let me begin with you.

That was sort of a new front opened up by Eric Trump last night. Now it's Democrats who are preventing the president from holding rallies.

I think it's the CDC that suggests that you can't fill up stadiums right now with people.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, George, what I think we really need to be focused on, both as a country and for my fellow Republicans, is the suffering that's going on for folks who are economically displaced.

We are seeing statistics now of increased drug addiction, increased domestic violence in a very serious way, and increased suicides. We to find the balance between what we're doing on the science side, as people are calling it, but also what effect this is having on people's health and well-being.

We have to balance between the victims of the coronavirus and the victims of the shutdown. And that's what we should be really focused on. We will have plenty of time for campaigning, I believe, in the fall.

But, right now, what we need to be focused on is getting people back to an American way of life and doing that in a way that makes sense and is in a balanced way, not overbalanced towards the shutdown, which I think is causing enormous damage, forget about just economically, George.

It's causing enormous damage psychologically to the American people and physically to them, with the mental health problems that are being caused by this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which governors are getting the balance right?

Chris, go ahead. Answer that first.

CHRISTIE: Well, I think you're starting to see a number of them.

For instance, I think -- sure.

George, I think that the first -- there's a number of them that are getting it right. So, if you look at Governor Polis in Colorado, I think he's done a very good job on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, I think you're seeing Larry Hogan hit a very good balance from the state of Maryland.

And so those are two examples of people who I think are getting it right from each party. And they're starting to move in that direction.

But we have got to start to move more quickly in that direction, George.

We have had an overbalance, in my view, towards -- towards the epidemiology side, and less of a consideration for the real mental health effects that this is having on the American people and the long-term impact that that will have, both on additional deaths and on how our country is going to be able to come back to its way of life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm Emanuel, do you agree that overall things have been out of balance?

EMANUEL: Well, look, here is what I would say about what Chris said is he's basically saying that the White House is too about conflict and not enough about compassion. And I would agree with him on that.

And I think on the Democratic side, on messaging we look a little too -- messaging -- too much about resistance, about reopening, too much about reluctance about reopening, and we should go to a message of rebuilding America. If the president wants to talk about reopening, we want to talk about rebuilding America in the relief.

Let's take the unemployed. If you're unemployed in the service sector, J.C. Penney, some of these others, those jobs aren't coming back, so we're going to give you a coupon, go become a computer coder in sixmonths. We'll pay for it. You don't have to pay a penny out of your pocket, go become somebody in cybersecurity in six months and get the certificate. We, the country, will pay. So when when we reemerged out of this, we have rebuilt America.

America never lost a challenge by investing in America and Americans. And that should become the Democratic mantra.

It's too much reopening, or reluctance and resistance. We have to go, you want reopening we want rebuilding. Rebuild our infrastructure right now. Rebuild the skills of America, that should be the tone which is affirmative.

And I do think that if you have a national crisis, we need a national response, not 50 different response. And there is an absence of leadership. And that, to me, is what's happening and what's wrong right now out of the White House -- too much energy on conflict, not enough about what it takes to rebuild this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yvette, you're a leader in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, does that sound like the right message?

SIMPSON: I think that's right. I mean, when we talk about how this is going to impact everyday Americans, you're talking about asking people to go back to work when daycare centers are not at full capacity, when kids are still not able to go to school. We're talking about reopening America when people are really concerned about health care and if they contract this disease, whether they are going to be able to get the kind of care they need. You're asking people to reopen when people are still very, very concerned about testing. They're concerned about a vaccine, how far away is that. People can't even get basic PPE.

And so what we're hearing people say is let's focus on making sure we're taking care of people, and then let's sure we're shifting our economy after that. People first, and then you can start talking about the financial stability of our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sara Fagen, one of the things we've seen -- there does seem a little bit of a disconnect between the way many Republican governors out in the country are dealing with this, or addressing with this, and what we're seeing from Washington. I'm thinking particularly Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio.

FAGEN: Well, look, I think Governor DeWine has handled this very well. He was very quick to shut down Ohio, but he has also been quick to open it and be smart about it.

Look, these two things can't be in conflict. We do need to open the economy. We do need to keep people safe. We do to espouse the value of masks and sanitizer and social distancing. And the governors that are doing that I think are serving their people very well.

And one of these things that is concerning me as a Republican are these attacks on some of these healthcare professionals, like Dr. Fauci. His job is to keep people safe. We should not as conservatives be attacking him or anyone serving in government.

It is up to our public leaders, our president, our governors, our mayors, to take all of the information in balance and then make the right decision for -- for their people.

But I agree with Governor Christie, we do need to get this economy going. There's immense suffering, not just on the immediate health front, but all of these other societal issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Christie, we did see this week, we saw Senator Rand Paul get into that with Dr. Fauci at the senate hearing this week. The president seemed at odds with Dr. Fauci on the issue of schools and how quickly schools can be reopened as well. Is there a danger here for Republicans to be seen taking on the scientific experts?

CHRISTIE: Well, George, I think the danger is in how you do it. Listen, I have no complaint and argument with Dr. Fauci about what he's saying. That's what his training tells him, that's what his experience tells him. And he should be able to express that openly and inform everyone in the administration and across the country.

But he cannot be the final determiner of that. And what I think we're seeing sometimes in the media and in some parts of the Democratic Party is, if Dr. Fauci says it that's what we must do.

My argument with that is very akin to what Sara just said, which is Dr. Fauci and his opinions, and all of the other medical experts, are one part of this equation, but they're not the only part of the equation. And I think what you see real working class Americans struggling with right now is they're saying, okay, you want to continue to stay locked in, but we got to get our lives going. We're not putting food on the table. Our children are not being educated, and we need to get moving. We don't want to give away a year or more of our lives.

So, I don't think we should be attacking Dr. Fauci at all for what he's saying. He's saying what he believes based on his experience, but the job of leaders, governors and the president, is to take that as one element of what we need to consider while we factor in all of the other elements and then come to a decision that's reasonable and smart for the totality of the country.

And I think especially in the media, George, there's been too much emphasis on, well, if this is what Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx say, then this is what we must do. We didn't elect them president. We didn't elect them governor. Their voices are important, but their voices cannot be determinative.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yvette, I saw you shaking your head at least through part of that.

SIMPSON: You know, I'm in Ohio. And I want to make sure I respond to what Sara said. So, we reopened on Friday, and automatically, people started violating social distancing in restaurants. People were not doing what they were supposed to do. They were not wearing masks. And we have to remember that nearly 100,000 people have died from this disease, nearly 100,000, that's with social distancing, with staying in place. What do we expect is going to happen with a fast reopening, right?

People who are dead, people who have died, are not income producers, they cannot produce income. They are not taxpayers -- building an economy around a strategy where people are dying doesn't sound like a long-term strategy for me.

And I don't even believe that people, certainly people that I talk to across the country, have the security to believe that they even want to spend a dollar, so we're talking about reopening so that people can get haircuts, so that people will go to restaurants. And I don't know whether I can pay rent next month? I'm not going to feel confident enough to spend money.

So, I the balance should be on safety first. And so if our medical experts are saying, we're not ready, we're going to see a big spike, we're going to see a resurgence, we're going to all be back locked down in just a few months and we're going to lose a lot of people in the process. And so I do listen...STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm?

SIMPSON: ...to the experts. You continue to do that, until we get PPE, nationwide testing, and a vaccine on the horizon.


EMANUEL: Yeah, what Sara and Chris have implicitly said, is the fact is attacking a doctor or a scientist or a public health -- and there's a lot of different opinions there, is a wrong message and a wrong position for Republicans.

The fact is, and what's absent here, is presidential judgment and presidential leadership. And what I mean by that, if you'd listen on to the experts, John Kennedy would have had us in a nuclear war, which is what the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no replacing presidential leadership and judgment to take many different views from across different areas and come up with a set of plans.

President Kennedy once said to govern is to choose between bad and worse, and you need judgment. And what we're doing by holding up Dr. Fauci is somewhat a metaphor, a contrast, to the president is not exerting the type of judgment, leadership, inquiry, asking tough questions.

I have never left the cabinet room where there was a decision that was 100 percent you knew this was the right decision and 100 percent this was the wrong decision. It is a series of unknown in a fog and you try to look at data and come up with an idea that looks around the corner and leads America to a better place.

And what's absence, and the reason you see Dr. Fauci or other type of scientists, is the absence of any interest in data, medical information, economic information, and coming up with an integrated whole. And Sara and Chris basically, implicitly, by recognizing you shouldn't be attacking Dr. Fauci, the fact is there has been a total void of presidential leadership and using judgment and inquiry to come up with a set of decisions that aren't perfect, but are better than what we have today. And that is what we're missing.

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



REPORTER: What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obamagate. It's been going on for a long time. It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and you'll be seeing what's going on over the next -- over the coming weeks. And I wish you’d write honestly about it, but unfortunately you chose not do so.

REPORTER: What is the crime exactly that you’re accusing him of?

TRUMP: You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers except yours.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: President Trump in the Rose Garden this week.

Let’s talk about this with the roundtable right now.

And, Sara Fagen, I want to begin with you. You saw the president there, he couldn't specify the crime he's accusing President Obama of committing. But it’s a clearly campaign he’s pretty committed to. We’ve counted up about 150 -- more than 150 tweets by the president since last Sunday on this -- on this issue.

He clearly seems to think this is going to work even though he can't specify a crime.

SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the focus here should be really on his opponent, on Joe Biden. We haven't seen much evidence from Lindsey Graham or Bob Barr that there have been any interests in calling the former president in for questioning.

But, look, it is very relevant for his opponent, Joe Biden. What did he know? What happened in that January 5th meeting in the Oval Office about the investigation into the Trump and Russia collusion issue? Did they pursue aggressively General Flynn?

And, you know, we know now based on all of the things that have transpired since the beginning of the Trump administration to now, that there was some serious, serious prosecutorial mishandling of this entire situation where we’re leading with --


STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me ask you about the question then there, what is the evidence of a crime? You know, did -- you had transcripts of a conversation between an official speaking with a Russia official, officials who are authorized to ask for the identity of the person speaking to Russian official, asked for it, it was done by the book. It's been done thousands of time during the Obama administration, even more during the Trump administration.

Where is the crime?

FAGEN: So to me, the potential crime, we don't know that -- we'll see what these investigations bring forward including the John Durham investigation, and whether there are any prosecutions out of that, which has not yet been put out there. But if you go back to the whole interview with Michael Flynn, it should never have happened.

You know, he was basically cleared of the pre-investigation of the Mueller investigation and James Comey himself admitted on national TV, yes, you know, we -- I wouldn't have gotten away with this in a different White House and more experienced administration.

So, you have FBI agents who have text messages saying, can we still do this? Is Flynn even open? We know now it wasn't opened.

Michael Flynn was not involved in any conversation or concern about collusion with Russia, none whatsoever.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me --

FAGEN: We need to say, though, Comey went in and interviewed him and then of course led him into witness leak (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring this -- I want to bring this to Rahm Emanuel.

A couple of things here, what Comey admitted to is that he should have given a heads-up perhaps to the White House. He didn’t say there was anything wrong with asking Michael Flynn questions. The investigation had not been closed.

In fact, the reason they had to ask the questions was because they came across this transcript with -- of his conversation with the ambassador.


EMANUEL: Yes, just blow the smokescreen away.

Michael Flynn had an option to tell the truth. He chose to lie. And the history is, if you lie to the FBI, you die.

Number two, President Trump, when he fired Mike Flynn, said he fired him because he lied to the FBI. Number three, President Obama in his first meeting with president-elect Donald Trump warned him not to hire Michael Flynn.

Number four, President Obama was criticized back then for not being more overt about what Russia was trying to do, not this effort.

This is all a smokescreen to actually cover up and, in fact, deny what happened in the first nine weeks of dealing with the flu and this virus. So, the president is now trying to create a distraction.

And I would just remind you, Watergate was a crime looking for a cover-up. This is -- quote, unquote -- "cover-up" in search of a crime.

The president can't even acknowledge, and nor can Sara right here or anybody, what happened here. And I know the former U.S. attorney, Chris Christie, if you lied to the FBI, he would have prosecuted you.

He chose -- he could have told the truth. He chose to lie. And that has consequences in a country based on the law. Mike Flynn lied, full stop.


CHRISTIE: Well, let me give Rahm a little lesson, since he invoked my U.S. attorney days.

The first thing you don't do is allow FBI agents...

EMANUEL: I hope I pass the bar now.

CHRISTIE: ... to conduct themselves in the way these folks did.

No. Well, you didn't prosecute anything, Rahm, so will get to that for a second.

EMANUEL: Thank God.


CHRISTIE: The fact of the matter is that you don't allow, you do not allow FBI agents to conduct themselves in this way.

You don't allow them to go in there and set a perjury trap, which is what they did.

Now, I have said all along that Mike Flynn is wrong for having lied to the vice president. And I don't know how he explains that. But he would have to explain that to Mike Pence himself.

But what we're seeing here -- and, believe me, I have been a victim of it, and people in my administration have been a victim of it also. This is an Obama Justice Department that was led by Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch and Jim Comey that politicized and weaponized the Justice Department.

They did it -- the Supreme Court just reversed what happened to my administration 9-0. Mike Flynn now is going to have this matter dismissed. And so, George, what we're looking at here, and, Rahm, what we're looking at here is prosecutorial and investigative misconduct.

And that misconduct needs to be investigated in exactly the same way and with the same measure that Mike Flynn was investigated, that Bob Mueller investigated all the people in Russia, that Ukraine was investigated.

Prosecutorial misconduct is an awful, awful thing because of the power of the federal government's Justice Department.



STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get -- I want to get -- bring Yvette in.

But, Chris, let just ask you...


CHRISTIE: Let's blow that smokescreen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- prosecutorial misconduct, that's your argument.

But I do have to press you on one point there. The president keeps saying that it was President Obama who committed a crime. Is there any evidence whatsoever anywhere that President Obama committed a crime here?

CHRISTIE: Listen, there -- George, at this point, we don't know what all the evidence is. We don't know what happened in that January 5 meeting.

So, you know, everybody wanted to rush to judgment during the Russia investigation. Everyone wanted to rush to judgment during the Ukraine investigation. And I said it was wrong in both of those.

We shouldn't rush to judgment as to the things that we don't yet know as to what happened in that January 5 meeting and what the president's involvement was and what the vice president's involvement in was.

Let's have John Durham do the investigation he needs to do, and let's come to a fair conclusion. That's what the American people want, is a fair investigation. And nobody on either side -- you don't see me blowing this off, the same way I did not blow off Mike Flynn investigation.

EMANUEL: You couldn't get fair in this environment, in this administration.


CHRISTIE: I didn't blow either one of them off, and I don't think they should be.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring Yvette in on this.


SIMPSON: Thank you, George.

I want to answer the question that Chris and Sara did not answer. Is there evidence of any crime? Absolutely not.

We know that Donald Trump is obsessed with Obama. He cannot stop blaming Obama for everything that's ever happened in the history of the world, let alone the last three years of the Trump administration.

And so let's be clear. The most brazenly corrupt president in a generation should not be coming for the most popular and well-respected president in a generation.

Donald Trump makes President Nixon look like a Boy Scout. So, any time he's saying Obama has done something wrong, we know what it is, distract and project.

He is trying to project the very corruption that his administration is responsible for onto the president. There is no evidence that he committed a crime. If so, he would have made it.

And so I want us to just be clear. I want to go back, too, to what Sara said. We're less than six months away from a presidential campaign, right, for the election. Why is this something he's focused on?

I don't know how this serves him. I think it really is a bad move.

FAGEN: It increasingly looks like the interview with Michael Flynn was really about moving forward with a Russia investigation...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm afraid that's all we have -- Rahm, I've got to stop you there -- it's all we have time for right now, but thank you all very much. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver is next with a look at the complicated, and now political, question of calculating Coronavirus fatalities.


STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the most unsettling signs of America's partisan divide is revealed by how people perceive the tragic death toll of the virus. Both sides doubt the official numbers, but Democrats think it's likely too low, Republicans too high, keying off the president's suggestion that his political enemies are inflating the mortality rate.

We asked FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver to weigh in.


NATE SILVER, FOUNDER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: It's an important question, and I have a simple answer: I do not buy that COVID deaths are over-counted. In fact, I think the opposite is probably true and that deaths have been undercounted instead.

A lot of COVID deaths are not occurring in hospitals, 50 percent in Connecticut have been in nursing homes for example. And some people may have died before they could be tested for COVID. Remember, there has been a shortage of tests.

New York City, for instance, has about 15,000 confirmed deaths but an additional 5,000 probable deaths, cases where doctors or medical examiners list the cause of death as COVID, even though no laboratory tests have been completed.

So, how do we know those probable deaths probably were COVID? Well, we can look at something called excess mortality, which is the measure of how many more people are dying of any cause and it’s typical for a certain part of the year?

In Illinois, for example, there are more than 3,000 excess deaths through late April, but only 1,900 have been confirmed to be COVID. So, something that could be too conservative in counting deaths.

Human error can also be at play. Doctors might enter coronavirus instead of COVID-19 on a death certificate, for example. That case might be missed until something goes back and double checks it later.

Nationwide, in fact, experts think the real number could be closer to 100,000 COVID deaths already.

One small silver lining is that a death that gets confirmed today may actually have occurred a few weeks ago, which could mean that the curve has been slipping down a little faster than we thought, but it doesn't change the fact that a lot of Americans are dying, probably more than the official numbers indicate.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Thanks to Nate for that. And we'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight", and I’ll see you tomorrow on "GMA."