'This Week' Transcript 1-1-23: Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Rep.-elect Max Frost
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, January 1.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 1, 2023 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice over): Fresh start.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We are going to reclaim this body's integrity. Republicans will deliver.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Democrats, in the new year, will continue to fight.
KARL: Just days away from the beginning of the 118th Congress, a new majority, old divisions and fresh scandals.
REP.-ELECT GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I made a mistake. And I think humans are flawed. And we all make mistakes.
KARL: An incoming congressman under fire for lying.
And the former president's taxes revealed. We'll talk to Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson who says it's time for his party to turn the page.
And we sit down with Maxwell Frost, about to become the youngest member of Congress.
REP.-ELECT MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): It’s a class of firsts. A lot of history making in it.
KARL: Trail-blazing icon.
BARBARA WALTERS, JOURNALIST: And I'm Barbara Walters and this is "20/20."
KARL: The extraordinary career of Barbara Walters. The interviews with presidents and world leaders that helped shape history.
WALTERS: Are you sorry you didn't burn the tapes?
Mr. President, how important is it for the president to be a role model?
Is there anything that you want that you don't have?
KARL: And, gone to soon. We honor a beloved member of our THIS WEEK team, executive producer Dax Tejera, a good friend and a great journalist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, Jonathan Karl.
KARL: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.
We begin 2023 remembering two of our colleagues at ABC News, the pioneering Barbara Walters, whose interviews with world leaders, politicians and celebrities are legendary, and whose career paved the way for countless woman in journalism, and Dax Tejera, our talented and beloved executive producer who left us and his family far too soon. We will honor both of them this morning.
But we start with what is already, on day one, shaping up to be a fascinating uncertain and profoundly consequential year in American politics. In just two days, the House will gather to elect a speaker with no clear indication of whether Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy or anyone else has the votes. The uncertainty has major ramifications for Congress and the White House. Until a speaker is elected, the House can't operate, no committees can be formed, members can't even officially be sworn in. Quite a start for the new Republican majority. And when a speaker is finally chosen, President Biden faces a House determined to thwart his agenda and to investigation his administration and his family.
Against that backdrop, the maneuvering for the 2024 campaign is well underway. President Biden strongly suggesting he's likely to run for re-election. Something he said he’d be discussing with his family over the holidays.
And, of course, former President Trump is already a candidate. And at least a half dozen other Republicans are considering running against him.
One of those Republicans is Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is set to leave office later this month. He joins us now from Little Rock.
Good morning, Governor. Thank you for being here and Happy New Year.
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) ARKANSAS: Good morning to you. And Happy New Year to you as well.
KARL: So, I want to – I know you’re thinking about a run for president. I want to get to that.
But, first, it’s been six weeks since Donald Trump announced, and it’s been – it’s been quite a six weeks. He had dinner with an anti-Semite and a white supremacist. His tax returns have been released showing that he was awash in debt, losing money, not paying much in taxes, that he tried to trademark – tried to trademark the term “rigged election.” He floated the idea of nullifying part of the Constitution so that he could nullify the 2020 presidential election. And he hasn’t done a single event, at least that I can see, a public event, outside of – of the – outside of Mar-a-Lago.
What is your sense – Donald Trump is – is he, at this point, like some of the polls suggest, actually the frontrunner for the Republican nomination?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I – I think you have to start him out as the frontrunner simply because he’s polling that well. He’s the former president. But as I have said all through 2022, he does not define the Republican Party. And we have to have other voices. And, to me, that’s the key thing for the future. And whenever you look at what’s happened with Donald Trump since he announced that he’s going to run again for president is that you have continued chaos that has surrounded him. He has actually been fairly quiet.
And so it’s – it’s an opportunity for other voices to rise that’s going to be problem solving, common sense conservatives. And they can shape the future of the Republican Party but also provide the right counterbalance to Biden’s failed policies. And, to me, that’s what we have to do in 2023.
KARL: His popularity among Republicans has certainly come down, but it’s still -- he’s still overwhelmingly popular among Republican voters.
How does a – how does somebody – how does a fellow Republican challenge him, bring down that – bring down that popularity and beat him among Republican voters in a primary? What’s the key?
HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, you have to get in there. You have to endure. You have to realize it’s going to be a longer campaign most likely with a number of candidates in there. And then you have to also see that it’s different than 2016 when Donald Trump was new on the national scene. He was somebody that everybody liked. His anger, his – the chaos that he did create. And that’s not a new thing anymore. And so I think people move away from it rather than embrace it.
So, you need to have simply a message that’s authentic to yourself, a message that is problem solving and say, this is what we need to do as a country. And that, to me, is the right contrast. And we have to somehow figure out how to bring people together, both in our party, which is the biggest challenge for 2023, but also for our nation.
I do think people are ready to be – for a healing time in both politics but also in our – in our leadership that can work to solve the serious problems that face us from the border, to inflation, to the economy. These are issues that people care about and want leaders to address.
KARL: So, are you going to run?
HUTCHINSON: Well, obviously, I'm going to Iowa later this month. I'm excited about that. But no decision has been made now. And we can’t make a decision until a little bit later.
But I want to be a part of the solutions for America. I want to showcase that there – you can have leaders that address problems and offer solutions and ideas. That’s why we had the Ideas Summit this year, to focus on problem solving. And that’s a kind of – what I want to offer this coming year.
KARL: So, if Trump does become the Republican nominee again, will you vote for him? Will you support him?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I'm going to do everything that we can to make sure there’s alternatives, that he is not the nominee. And, of course, that’s a – all depends upon who else is out there.
But I do not believe that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States. I think he’s had his opportunity there. I think January 6th really disqualifies him for the future. And so we move beyond that. And that’s what I'm going to be focused on.
KARL: So – so if – if January 6th disqualifies him, if you’re going to do everything you can to be sure he’s not president again, will you not support him if he is the Republican nominee? Just a simple question. Will you say, look, I’ll write in another Republican. You don’t have to support a Democrat. You can write in another Republican. That’s what Larry Hogan’s done twice. Will you say, I'm not going to support him no matter what?
HUTCHINSON: Well, I want to see what the alternatives are. And it’s premature, Jonathan, to get into what might happen in 2024. That issue will come up. But I want to see everything I can do to make sure there is the alternative, and that Donald Trump is not the nominee of the party. That’s the first thing. And let’s figure out how to do that.
KARL: Well, let me ask you, there’s been talk that the Republican National Committee may say that to – to be in a presidential debate in 2024 – for 2024, to even be on the stage, you must commit to supporting the eventual nominee. Do you think that would be a mistake? I mean it would – it would effectively tie everybody on that stage to supporting Trump if he wins.
HUTCHINSON: Well, I think it would be a mistake to do that. You know, there’s – I mean I think it’s obvious that you’ve got a divided party in the sense that you’ve got a base of loyal Trump supporters, but you’ve got a – a – what to me is even a larger majority of those that says we want to go a different direction. And so let’s not put up obstacles to, one, unifying the party, but, secondly, given every chance that another candidate can have to showcase their skills and leadership capability, and to minimize the chance that Trump is going to be the eventual nominee simply because the rules are creating that kind of environment. I think you have to avoid that.
KARL: Okay, hey, we're really out of time. But you're a former member of the House. I have to ask you -- what should they do about Representative-elect Santos, who's lied about his entire background? Should the Ethics Committee consider expelling him?
HUTCHINSON: There has to be accountability for that. That is unacceptable. You know, it -- I don't know whether you can go far as to not seat him. But certainly, the Ethics Committee should deal with this.
And he has to be held accountable for that. That’s unacceptable in politics. It breaches the trust between the electorate and their elected official.
But it’s -- we have to have more integrity in our political environment, in our elected leaders, and this destroys that confidence and undermines the integrity that’s needed.
KARL: All right. Governor Hutchinson, thank you very much for joining us and again, happy New Year.
HUTCHINSON: Thank you, Jonathan.
KARL: All right. Let's bring in the roundtable now.
Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, former Trump Justice Department spokesperson and ABC contributor Sarah Isgur, political director Rick Klein, and “Politico Playbook” co-author Rachael Bade, also the author of the great book, “Unchecked”, about the two impeachments -- of Donald Trump.
Sarah, I want to ask you about something he just said in that interview about the debate. He said it would be a mistake if the RNC requires, to be in a debate, you must agree to support the eventual nominee.
My understanding is that's exactly what the RNC is going to do. How is this going to play out?
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, there's so much unknown about how this cycle is going to play out for Republicans, is Donald Trump going to participate in debates? I wouldn't take that for granted.
But also, you think back to 2015, 2016 when I was doing this with Carly Fiorina, you know, they had people raise their hands. If you remember, the famous, you know, show of hands --
KARL: Right, the Fox debate.
ISGHUR: -- would you support the eventual nominee?
You know, it's not just that the RNC is going to knock out the Larry Hogans or Liz Cheneys who might be thinking about running, there's a lot of people on that stage who might not want to commit so far in advance to supporting someone who just in the last six weeks has had some major different types of news stories.
DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, my God, this is going to be quite a show to see all of these Republicans line up, to try to take down Donald Trump. Donald Trump is going to win the nomination, the more Republicans get --
KARL: He’s going to win, what, nomination?
BRAZILE: He's going to win the Republican nomination. The more Republicans get in the race, the greater the odds of Donald Trump being able to win, why, because the base loves Donald Trump.
KARL: I just don't see any evidence that he's even running except for the announcement. He hasn’t --
BRAZILE: He's raising money.
KARL: All right. Let’s -- yes, that's true. He also raises money.
But let's move on to a more immediate question which is the race for speaker of the House. Rachael, does McCarthy have the votes?
RACHAEL BADE, CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO PLAYBOOK: Not right now he doesn’t. And, you know, there are five -- five Republicans out there saying they won't vote for him. He can only lose four to get the gavel. And the reality is, there are more than that.
KARL: I heard it’s about eight, right?
BADE: There -- maybe ten, I mean, maybe more. I just got off the phone with who I’m pretty sure is going to be one of them. And the reality is that McCarthy, he's trying to do this sort of last-minute wheeling and dealing right now, with this pressure campaign on these members to get them in line, trying to give them these rules changes they want.
But the thing is, these guys don't trust him, and there's nothing that they -- that he can give these members in the next two days that is going to change their mind. I think he’s got a real problem --
KARL: And you’re hearing that people are reaching out to Scalise, the number two?
BADE: That's absolutely right. For the past -- for the past two days, conservative members have approached Scalise, among some of the Republicans to gauge whether he’d be interested.
And, you know, I’ve talked to people who are close to Scalise who think he would. He doesn't want to be seen as undermining McCarthy at all. So, he's very quiet and sitting back because, you know, if he were to step out now, obviously, some moderate Republicans who are loyal to McCarthy would turn on him and potentially not vote for him.
But the reality is, these conversations are ongoing right now and not just between conservatives and potential candidates, but between conservatives and moderate Republicans. I understand from talking to someone this morning about what are they going to do if McCarthy doesn't get the votes? Because right now, he doesn’t have them.
KARL: And, Rick, what happens, what happens if he loses? They get together, this is in two days. And the vote for speaker of the House happens before the new members are officially sworn in. So what happens if there is no speaker of the house.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Chaos. There's no amount of precedent for this. It’s been a century since we’ve seen more than one ballot. And, look, the first ballot --
KARL: 1855, right?
KLEIN: The first ballot goes forward and if he doesn’t get 218 then what will probably happen is you’ll see a motion to adjourn or to -- start to see some conversations around – around the sides because there’s nothing else they can do. As you said, Jon, no committees, no structure, no bills can get voted on. Nothing else, even the swearing in gets delayed.
Now, as you go through the balloting there can – you – there’s other things that can happen. You can start to cut deals. You can also change eventually the threshold to get someone with a plurality instead of the outright majority, but it’s going to be long and messy --
KARL: So, they can have a vote to change the threshold.
KLEIN: They can vote – look, Republicans don't want to give the speakership to Hakeem Jeffries. That’s not going to happen. And I think everyone recognizes that. And if there is no other viable alternative, then they’re going to get to a place where they’re going to have to swallow it.
But the longer it goes, the more McCarthy gives, the weaker he is as speaker, and potentially the less time he’d be able to serve as speaker because he may give away some things that would make it easier to depose him down the line. That’s the clearest path for him to get it is for him to allow members to take him down later.
KARL: And he needs a majority of the members that are voting -- are present and voting.
KARL: So, if – if some of these folks simply vote present, or, as I understand, there have been people that have suggested that McCarthy reach out to –
KARL: To -- not to support him but to vote present.
BADE: Yes. He – I mean he has said that he is not going to rely on Democrats or talk to them in any way to try to get them to help him get there.
KARL: He may say a lot of things.
BADE: I do – yes, of course.
I do think that they’re -- most Democrats, frankly, despise him and are going to just be enjoying this moment of chaos when he’s struggling on this. But, yes, I mean he’s – it’s going to be ugly. I – the question I have is, how long does this go for because, obviously, this is a big moment for Republicans, taking over the House, and that headline is going to be absolutely drowned out by this chaos on the House floor. I mean does he do it once? Does he do it twice? How long until members come forward and say, look, you are not entitled to the speakership and we need to look elsewhere. So, it's going to get really ugly. And if he does get it, I totally agree that you are right, I have heard from his allies that even if he gets it, they don't think he can stay speaker for longer than, you know, a year because of the motion to vacate helps (ph) him (ph).
KARL: What a – what a – what a Shakespearean drama (INAUDIBLE).
BADE: Yes. Yes.
BRAZILE: This is so wonderful (ph).
ISGUR: And just to emphasize something Rachael said
ISGUR: When you talk to Republican members in that caucus, what they'll tell you is, how can you trust someone who wants the job this badly. He’s willing to give away the House to get it. I mean, literally, figuratively. That’s why he won’t stay speaker for long. How can they trust that? And so even the people who would maybe otherwise be sympathetic to a McCarthy policy agenda, they don't trust him.
BRAZILE: Yes, he’s made so many concessions, I hear that he’s going to open up a stand pretty soon.
Look, the truth is, is that Kevin McCarthy has the most votes but can he get that -- those key votes? It's going to be very, very hard.
Democrats are watching this. We're watching this with popcorn and also ready to go behind the scenes and help him up perhaps. Jim Clyburn and many others have been on the phone I hear talking to people who might be willing to talk to Democrats. But, in the end, I think Kevin McCarthy is going to squeak it out because enough Republicans will likely, you know, decide to hold their nose and just go on in.
KARL: OK, one – one –
ISGUR: It will be all weaker, by the way, if the Democrats vote present is what pushes him over with 210 votes.
KARL: I mean –
BADE: Yes. Yes.
KARL: So – so – also how amazing if Democrats were the ones that actually paved the way to a McCarthy speakership.
KARL: But one of the people that will be voting is a guy named George Santos, just electing to Congress on a completely false resume. He addressed this issue, of call places, on "The Tucker Carlson Show." This is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. -ELECT GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I think we can all look at ourselves in the mirror and admit that once in our life we made a mistake. I'm having to admit this on national television for the whole country to see. and I have the courage to do so because I believe that in order to move past this and move forward and be an effective member of Congress, I have to face my mistakes. And I'm facing them. The reality is, is that I remain committed to doing everything I set forward in my campaign. I'm not a fraud. I'm not a fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: I'm not a fraud. I'm not a fake. Now do you --
KARL: Tucker Carlson was not there. It was Tulsi Gabbard who did the interview.
BRAZILE: It was Tulsi Gabbard. Yes.
KARL: And really pushed back. But what – I mean what -- can he actually continue to be a member of Congress under these terms?
BRAZILE: I mean the litany of lies. The fact that the D.A. of Nassau County, which is a Republican, the D.A. of Queens, a Democrat, the New York state attorney general, probably – possibly the U.S. attorney. I mean this guy has made it up. He has faked it until he made it. And I think he's in lot of trouble.
ISGUR: I'm just looking forward to the Netflix series. It will be a fun time.
BADE: Oh, man.
ISGUR: This will be –
KARL: What’s it going to be called?
KLEIN: The fabulous (ph).
ISGUR: A lot of options here. Jewish.
Look, the question is, whether the House will vote to seat him. It is up to the House to determine their own members. Now, I think that someone embellishing their resume would be an odd line to pick, but they’re going to be not just maybe an indictment. I think the question is, how many indictments, how many charges, not on lying about your resume and whether you graduated from college, but a series of financial crimes and fraud.
KARL: But -- but he'll get seated because he won the election. The question is, can the Ethics Committee investigate him; can the House vote to expel him?
ISGUR: Well, they, in theory, could also not seat him.
KARL: And do you think an expulsion is -- is -- is likely?
ISGUR: I think they'll wait for indictments.
KLEIN: You know, I think, Jon, the reason that they can't really cope with this right now, there's a through-line here, and all the conversations we've had this morning is this Republican Party has not dealt with Donald Trump and the Trump era. That's why McCarthy's put in this tough spot. He needs that vote from George Santos.
KARL: Yeah. I mean...
KLEIN: And he needs the...
KARL: And he is supporting McCarthy, to be clear.
KARL: He got that vote.
BADE: There's a reason he tweeted -- yeah, there's a reason, as soon as these stories broke, that he tweeted his support for Kevin McCarthy, like, "Don't come after me; you need my vote." And he's right.
Also, I think that Democrats are divided on what to do about this guy, too, because, like, if they tried not to seat him or, you know, expel him, there's a concern that this could come back at them. I mean, obviously he lied about his resume, et cetera, but could there be Republicans in the future who say, "We don't want to seat a Democrat because of X, Y, or Z," potentially. So I think there's a bit of a slippery slope in Congress there.
ISGUR: Also, how outrageous -- the first thing I've done on every single campaign I've ever worked on, you do an opposition research binder on your own guy and you do one on the guy you're running against. This was a failure at every level...
KARL: Twice. He runs twice.
ISGUR: ... by the DCCC, by the Republican Congressional Committee, and by -- I mean, it's really, you know, the failure of local journalism as...
BRAZILE: The RNC, the Republican Congressional, did not vet him. The Democratic Campaign Committee did vet him, but they gave the information to the mainstream media, who did not expose...
KARL: Now, wait a minute, but they -- they didn't uncover all his frauds and his...
BRAZILE: Well, I mean, you -- there's so far you can dig when you just have a shovel, right?
But this guy has some surface dirt, some surface trash.
KARL: You could have used a backhoe for this one.
OK, we've got to -- we've got to take a quick break.
Coming up, we turn to the Democrats, in my interview with Congressman-elect Maxwell Frost, the party's newest and youngest member. Plus, we take a look at some of the biggest political interviews from Barbara Walters' storied career. You've got to see these. We're back in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: But this is pretty cool, right? So you're here...
REP.-ELECT MAXWELL FROST, (D) FLORIDA: Oh, yeah.
KARL: You've got the Capitol behind you. You've got the Supreme Court over here, Library of Congress. And walking out onto the floor the first time, what goes through your mind?
FROST: I mean, damn, we made it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: I recently caught up with Democratic Congressman-elect Maxwell Frost in Washington, as he prepares to make history as the first member of Generation Z to serve in Congress. But first we asked Nate Silver to take a look at just what kind of an impact young voters had in the midterms.
NATE SILVER, FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Given how many close races they won in November, Democrats needed every vote they could get. But it's not clear to me that 2022 was really a story about turnout at all. Nationally, Republicans did a better job of turning out their voters. The two major exit polls showed that Republicans actually outnumbered Democrats in the electorate by three to six percentage points.
But Democrats did very well with independents in key races, like in the Arizona senate race, where Mark Kelly won independents by 16 points, or in Pennsylvania, where John Fetterman won them by 20.
But what about youth turnout specifically? Well, there's still not much evidence for a national youth turnout surge. According to those exit polls, only 12 percent to 13 percent of the electorate was aged 29 or younger. They made up about the same share of the electorate, 13 percent, in the 2014 and 2018 midterms according to exit polls from those cycles. Or, if you don't trust polls, you can look to a state like Georgia, which has hard data on every voter and is one of the youngest states in the country.
According to Georgia, about 430,000 people aged 29 or younger voted in November, which is not bad at all, But so did more than 800,000 voters in their fifties.
Everybody is showing up to vote these days, which, if you ask me, is a good sign for democracy. But, proportionately, youth turnout was no higher than usual. So, to be honest, I really just don't buy this story.
KARL: Our thanks to Nate.
At just 25 years old, Maxwell Frost became an overnight political sensation after winning a ten-way primary for an open House seat in Florida. When he takes office next week, the gun control activist and part-time Uber driver will become the youngest member of Congress, where the average lawmaker is more than twice his age.
We sat down together at the icon iconic Capitol Hill restaurant Bullfeathers, to talk about his new role and the future of the Democratic Party.
KARL: You haven’t been sworn in yet, but do you feel like a member of Congress yet?
REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): I’m definitely feeling the love, especially from a lot of the Democrats, especially in the different caucuses I’m joining.
KARL: And when you were running you had to do some Uber work, right? You worked as an Uber driver?
KARL: Because you needed to -- you needed to live while you were also running for --
KARL: -- for Congress. What’s it going to be like up here? I mean, this is not cheap. Do you have to --
FROST: Yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s not cheap. I’m dealing with it right now, getting denied from apartments, trying to figure out where to live because I have bad credit. I’m probably just going to have, like, couch surf for a little bit.
KARL: You -- you’re actually -- so, you’re 25, soon to be 26. But you’ve actually been at this a long time.
KARL: I mean, you’re kind of like a veteran political activist.
FROST: I’ve been in this for 10 years. Actually, just last night I spoke at the vigil for all victims of gun violence right down the road at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church. And I’ve been going to that vigil for 10 years, since I was 15 years old.
KARL: And it was Sandy Hook which was one of those tragedies that, you know, you can think, like, where were you when you heard the news of that horrific --
KARL: -- horrific massacre. But that’s what got you into this?
FROST: That’s what got me into it, yes. I mean, it was, I went to Arts high school and middle school. And before every jazz band concert, my best friends and I would go across the street to this restaurant, load up on a ton of junk food.
And I remember, they’re eating, and there was a silence that fell across the restaurant. We looked up at the television screens and saw that somebody walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 children and 6 teachers. And I remember at the show that night I was playing, couldn’t think straight, kept looking at the exits. I was very anxious. And it’s really what propelled me to come up here to the vigil and dedicated my life to fighting for a world where there’s no gun violence.
KARL: So I saw one of your campaign ads features this interaction you had with DeSantis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CAMPAIGN AD)
FROST: Two months ago, I confronted Governor DeSantis on ending gun violence and what did he say?
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Nobody wants to hear from you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: What was -- what was going on there?
FROST: Yes. So look, Governor DeSantis never comes to Orlando. And when he does, it's to either do a press conference where he’s spewing bigotry and hate or to make money for his friends, which is exactly what he was doing there. He was a special guest at a private thing for a podcaster. And so we -- in the -- in the spirit of direct action and protest, we decided to show up.
And look, I didn’t stand up and yell and curse at him or anything. I just stood up and said, you know, Governor, what’s your plan to end gun violence? We’re dying. And this was about a week and a half after the Uvalde shooting. He hadn’t said a single word about ending gun violence.
And so, we came to him more with a plea and what I got in return was “nobody wants to hear from you”, getting dragged out by security, having popcorn thrown at me and people yelling curse words and racial slurs.
KARL: And what was the reception that you got for -- for that ad? I mean -- I mean that kind of -- in the moment it went viral.
FROST: Yes. Yes.
KARL: I mean, getting shouted down by the Republican governor as a young candidate --
KARL: -- as a Democrat must actually not have been a bad thing.
FROST: Yes. Well, you know, we decided to flip it on its head --
FROST: -- and use it. And we put it on broadcast in the district. We, you know, got nothing but people giving us calls and sending us messages saying “I saw your ad. I haven’t seen an ad like that, ever, or in a long time.”
KARL: But you -- you were also -- you were sent to campaign in Georgia.
KARL: You hadn’t even been sworn in yet as a -- as a member of Congress but you were campaigning for Raphael Warnock.
KARL: And I noticed you playing drums --
FROST: Oh, yeah.
KARL: -- at a -- at a Students for Warnock event.
FROST: That was in an indoor skate park. It’s one of the coolest campaign events I’ve ever been to.
KARL: So are we going to be seeing more of that? I mean, you were a -- you’re a -- you’re a jazz drummer?
FROST: Yes. Yes, I play jazz, hip-hop, different --
FROST: -- you know, styles. Yes, of course. I mean something that I want to work on, it’s a bit more extracurricular, is bringing the arts more on the Hill, having concerts on the Hill, stuff like that. I think it’s important. I -- the arts are -- it’s really important to me. I mean, it’s at the level of politics for me.
KARL: What do you want to kind of define your time in Congress?
FROST: Yes, I mean, I want to get things done, right. And I want to make sure that -- I know we have to compromise to get things done, especially in this next Congress. But I never want to lose sight of our North Star. I -- I think we’re in this politics now where people are scared to talk about their North Star, I mean, even in my own party, right. And I think it’s important that we not lose sight of that. Health care for everybody, ending gun violence, combating the climate crisis, these things are really important.
And even though we’re not going to get it next year, you can’t take a first step in a journey if you don’t know where you’re going, right.
KARL: With Democrats you have a debate between those that want to take the incremental win and those that say, no, we’ve got to hold out for something bigger.
FROST: Yeah, I mean, I think it can seem that way, and I think that's a part of it, but I think it's less of an ideological battle and more of a battle of figuring out how we're -- what are we talking about and what are we doing in this moment? It's not that progressives and -- it's not that me -- and that I don't believe in incremental change, right? I've been working in gun violence for 10 years.
FROST: We just got some incremental change with the bipartisan gun safety package that was passed. It wasn't everything that we need, but it's a good first step to ensuring that we end gun violence.
I think it's important to realize that it's OK to ask for a lot, in fact that's why people have sent us here. It doesn't mean we're not going to compromise for something else, but it means we shouldn't show up at the debate already at the compromise.
KARL: Our thanks to Maxwell Frost.
Coming up next, we pay tribute to our colleague Barbara Walters.
KARL: Up next, we dig deep into the ABC archives for some of Barbara Walters’ most unforgettable political interviews, including one with a 41-year-old Donald Trump, up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, JOURNALIST: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.
He is the freshest face in politics.
There's been so much anger and so much conflict, do you think it's going to change?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it happens in – in many presidencies. This isn't the first.
WALTERS: Your parents divorced when you were a year old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to cry, by the way. OK. Just --
WALTERS: How do you know I'm not going to make you cry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’re –
WALTERS: I'm not going to try to, Senator. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That was Barbara Walters when she anchored this program back in 2010. It seemed Barbara interviewed just about everybody who had an impact on our world, but it was her political interviews with some of the most influential leaders of our time that helped shape the course of history.
KARL (voice over): Barbara Walters was a pioneer. A legend in the fields of journalism and television, a woman who interviewed rock stars, kills, celebrities and scoundrels. At THIS WEEK we remember especially her ground-breaking political interviews.
She interviewed Richard Nixon, first as president, and then six years after he resigned in disgrace, a live, hour-long interview that was classic Barbara Walters.
WALTERS: People who were close to you in one way or another they say that you were cold, remote, and that they were unable to reach you.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Why are you interviewing me then?
WALTERS: But even people like – like Henry Kissinger, who knows you very well, talk about this remoteness, this inability to reach you.
NIXON: I like Henry very much.
WALTERS: Let us go on. In those days --
NIXON: Why don’t we get serious.
WALTERS: Well, because I think people are still – I am serious. People are interested in you. People are still trying to understand you.
NIXON: I know you’re serious but don’t over (INAUDIBLE) –
WALTER: I'm sorry you find it – that you find these questions unserious.
KARL: At the very end of the interview, a burning question for the president brought down because of the tapes of his Oval Office conversations.
WALTERS: In just the a few seconds we have left now, and it’s almost just time for yes and no, are you sorry you didn't burn the tapes?
NIXON: You know, interestingly enough, everybody in Europe that I talked to said, why didn't you burn the tapes? And the answer is, I probably should have (INAUDIBLE).
WALTERS: But if you had it to do all over again you’d burn them?
NIXON: Yes, I think so, because they were private conversations.
KARL: She would go on to interview Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, who she visited at his California ranch. Both Bushs and every president up to Barack Obama.
In 1996, she asked a particularly prescient question to Bill Clinton.
WALTERS: Mr. President, character is set to be a major issue in this campaign. How important it is for the president to be a role model?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it's important for the president to be a role model as a leader for the country.
KARL: Three years later, she interviewed Monica Lewinsky.
WALTERS: Did you ever tell Bill Clinton that you were in love with him?
MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE INTERN: Yes.
WALTERS: You did. What did he say?
LEWINSKY: He said, "That means a lot to me."
WALTERS: Did he ever tell you that he was in love with you?
KARL: She took most pride in her interviews with foreign leaders, a ground-breaking one with Fidel Castro in 1977.
WALTERS: Do you feel funny crossing the Bay of Pigs with an American?
FIDEL CASTRO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF CUBA: You didn't come here to invade the country.
KARL: A joint interview with Israeli leader Menachem Begin and Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat.
She interviewed Moammar Gadhafi and Vladimir Putin, not holding back one bit.
WALTERS: I'm going to ask you a terrible question. Did you ever order anyone killed?
KARL: In 2011, already in her 80s, she made a dangerous trip into war-torn Syria for an interview with dictator Bashar al-Assad.
WALTERS: Much of the world regards you as a dictator and a tyrant. What do you say to that?
ASSAD: Well, it's important how the Syrian people look at you, not how you look at yourself.
KARL: Barbara interviewed Donald Trump many times before he was president, asking questions that resonate years later.
This was an interview in 1987, when Trump was just 41 years old.
WALTERS: If you could be appointed president and didn't have to run, would you like to be president?
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: I don't know, interestingly. You know, part of the enjoyment of something, and part of the whole -- the whole thing is the battle. And if you could be appointed, I'm not sure that that would be the same ballgame.
It's the quest that really -- I believe it's the hunt that I believe that I love.
KARL: Three years later she interviewed him again, grilling him on his debts and his bankruptcies.
WALTERS: Being on the verge of bankruptcy, being bailed out by the banks...
TRUMP: Well, you don't have to say...
WALTERS: ... skating on thin ice and almost drowning, that is -- that's a businessman to be admired?
TRUMP: You say "on the verge of bankruptcy," Barbara, and you talk "on the verge," and you listen to what people are saying.
WALTERS: I talked to your bankers.
TRUMP: Well, that's fine. And what did they say? I mean, you know, depending on which banker you're talking to, what did they say?
ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week," with ABC's Barbara Walters, live.
KARL: We also remember that Barbara Walters guest-hosted this very program in January 2010, scoring the first interview with Republican Scott Brown after he upended congressional politics by winning Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat.
FORMER SENATOR SCOTT BROWN, (R) MASSACHUSETTS: I'm not going to cry, by the way.
OK, just to...
WALTERS: How do you know I'm not going to make you cry?
KARL: Here's how she signed off that show.
WALTERS: I'm Barbara Walters, for ABC News. Thank you for sharing your Sunday with us.
KARL: A remarkable career.
We'll be right back with the roundtable.
WALTERS: You have said that Governor Palin is the greatest vice president in the history of the United States -- the greatest vice presidential candidate. That's not a little strong?
FORMER SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We politicians are never given to exaggeration or hyperbole, as you know.
WALTERS: Do you really think that being on the show with a bunch of women, five women, who never shut up, is going to be calming?
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Look, I was trying to find a show that Michelle actually watched.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": The first interview he's given since he announced, please welcome former Vice President Joe Biden.
KARL: Presidential candidates there in the hot seat on "The View."
The roundtable is back. Donna, you and I had a chance to be on set with Barbara Walters, election night 2012, among other times. What was it like? What would you make of Barbara Walters?
BRAZILE: Well, I was in awe. I couldn't believe that I was on the same set with Barbara Walters, after spending practically my childhood. I know, Sarah. I had one.
Watching this amazing woman. She was phenomenal in every sense of the word. She had grace. She had wit. She was smart. And she knew how to follow up. She was someone who I believe many women admired because Barbara Walters could command the room and yet make everyone feel at home.
KARL: And, Rick, you -- I'll never forget when you helped her prepare for her last presidential interview with Barack Obama.
KLEIN: Yeah, yeah.
KARL: Quite a story. Yeah, tell us about that.
KLEIN: They always happened at the end of the year. So it was one of those fiscal cliff deals, you know. Big story in Washington was, "Are we going to shut down the government? Are you going to cut a deal?"
So I'm in the room with her going through questions, saying, "You've got to ask, 'Are you going to cut a deal with John Boehner? Are you going to allow this to happen?"
And she looks at me and she goes, "Rick, Rick, Rick, this is not 'Meet the Press.'"
"This is the Barbara Walters holiday with the Obamas, OK?"
"Let's -- let's be realistic." She knew exactly what she needed out of those interviews. The way she charted those interviews with those index cards.
KARL: And as I recall, you -- you showed up with her at the northwest gate of the White House. She forgot her license.
KLEIN: Yeah. It's like going through TSA. You're supposed to show your -- she forgets her driver's license and they're radioing in. The Secret Service is a little freaked out. What do you do? Barbara Walters is there interviewing the Obamas. Finally, they let her in.
We clear the security and I start walking with the crew up the path that takes you to the -- to the press office. She starts walking up the grass of the White House, toward the ceremonial front door.
KARL: Of course, because Barbara Walters goes in the front door.
KLEIN: And Secret Service say, "No, ma'am, ma'am!"
And she was saying "I have been walking this way since Lyndon Johnson was president."
KLEIN: She got in.
KARL: What -- what do you make of Barbara Walters?
BADE: I mean, look, she was a trailblazer for female journalists like myself. I mean, I'm reminded of one of her last appearances, maybe her last appearance on "The View," when they brought out all these big-name female...
KARL: Diane and Katie...
BADE: Exactly, Katie Couric, Savannah Guthrie.
KARL: Gayle King.
BADE: Exactly. And that is specifically because she really much, you know, blazed this path in a career dominated by men for women like myself.
But, beyond being a woman, I mean, put that aside; put gender aside for a minute. Her interviews, you know, she was just incredible at, you know, getting people to open up and, sort of, commanding the room. I'm reminded of, you know, the Monica Lewinsky interview she did where she point-blank asked her, what gave you the nerve to show the president your thong underwear? I mean, amazing.
KARL: It’s a question nobody asked, nobody has been able to ask --
BADE: Amazing that she asked that question. Yeah, exactly, that no one would ask, but she did. Yeah.
ISGUR: You know, I grew up with women as network news anchors, that was not unusual because of Barbara Walter. And I remember in junior high doing some class project and, you know, at that point, SNL was so ubiquitous in their Barbara Walter spoof that I played Barbara Walters in a class project. You know, Barbara Wawa, this is 20/20.
And book end that with running Carly Fiorina's campaign, we had to go on "The View." I mean, that was, you know, candidate must go through and it was, you know, somewhat brutal and absolutely worth it, and she created that not as just another women chitchatting about shoes or fashion, it was a serious show because of Barbara Walters.
KARL: Yeah, no, incredible. And again, one of the real honors of my career here is to have worked with Barbara Walters, just as hard to -- hard to overstate that.
Thank you to the roundtable.
We will be right back.
KARL: And, finally, we close with a tribute to the man who has led this show for nearly three years, guiding us through some of the most important, consequential, and difficult stories “This Week” has ever taken on.
Dax Tejera became our executive producer just a couple weeks after his 35th birthday, and a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the United States. He led our coverage of that pandemic, of January 6th, and so much more.
He took this show to Ukraine before and after the Russian invasion.
He believed our mission was to be tough but fair, to hold those in power accountable and never losing sight that our most important audience is outside of Washington.
It breaks my heart to say that two days before Christmas, Dax died suddenly. The news was a gut punch. I still can't believe it, and not just because he was just 37 years old, but because Dax was as full of life as anybody I’ve ever known.
His time on Earth was too short but he lived like every moment counted. In college, he served as the publisher of his school's newspaper, “The Dartmouth”. He loved it. There was no doubt journalism would be his calling.
He worked at NBC, launching two new shows while he was still in his 20s. And at Fusion, ABC’s joint venture with Univision, he served as executive producer for one of journalism’s true pioneers, Jorge Ramos.
Jorge and I had the opportunity to toast Dax just before Christmas, both agreeing we had been lucky to work with him and to count him as a friend.
Dax was passionate about his work and even more so about his family. Speaking to a group of ABC News colleagues just last month, he noted the big changes in his life since he started to work at ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAX TEJERA, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THIS WEEK: In my time at ABC, I’ve gotten married. I’ve had two children. One turns 5 months tomorrow. One turns 2 today.
So, I’m going to bolt out to try to blow out the candles. Thank you, Kim, for having me. Thank you all for your support of the Sunday show.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: The love of Dax’s life was his wife, Veronica, and their two children, Sofia and Ella. It was with great pride that Dax brought Sofia and Ella to THIS WEEK in September. He was happy, living the life of his dreams. Ella and Sofia, I want you to know, your father was a great talent, but more importantly he was a good man. And he loved the two of you and your mother more than anything in the world.
Dax was as competitive as anybody in a field filled with competitive people. He was also fun, vibrant and endlessly energetic. A mentor to young people on this staff, at his alma mater, and throughout this business.
The very last project Dax worked on was the closing credits to today's show. It’s that time at the end of one year and the beginning of a new one where we recognize the hard work of the people who make this show possible each and every week. So, I bid you farewell with Dax's final tribute to the people he worked with and who miss him more than words can express.
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