'This Week' Transcript 1-28-24: Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Gavin Newsom & Gen. CQ Brown

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, January 28.

ByABC News
January 28, 2024, 9:11 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 28, 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.





DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a spectacular victory. Messages from the voters of our party is clear.

RADDATZ: After his triumph in New Hampshire, Donald Trump looks to finish out the race.

RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIR: Donald Trump is going to be the nominee.

RADDATZ: Nikki Haley presses on to South Carolina.

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: New Hampshire is first in the nation. It is not the last in the nation.

RADDATZ: And President Biden's re-election campaign ramps up.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are you ready to defend democracy? And are you ready to win this election?

RADDATZ: This morning, our exclusive interviews with Trump ally Senator Tim Scott and Biden ally Governor Gavin Newsom.

Plus, we're on the trail taking the pulse of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania.

How do you think Donald Trump is going to cure this kind of division?

And our powerhouse roundtable weighs in.

A storied career.

Call sign, “Swamp Thing.”


RADDATZ: What's that from?

BROWN: Struck by lightning, caught on fire ejected, ejected and spent about 15 minutes in the Everglades.

RADDATZ: Four months into his new job, our exclusive interview with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General CQ Brown.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.

We’re just two contests into the 2024 race, and many Republicans seem ready to all but declare the primary over. And no wonder after former President Donald Trump romped to a double-digit win in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, just one week after a 30-point landslide in the Iowa caucuses.

Trump's only remaining challenger, Nikki Haley, vowing to stay in the race until her home state of South Carolina votes next month and then onto Super Tuesday in early March. Haley arguing that the GOP contest should not be a coronation.

And Friday gave us another reminder of the many legal challenges Donald Trump could face in the coming months with a jury ordering Trump to pay a stunning $83 million to E. Jean Carroll in her defamation case against him. A judgment Trump is vowing to appeal.

So, can Haley make the case that it's time for the Republican Party to move on from Donald Trump, or is a Trump/Biden rematch inevitable?

In a moment, we'll hear from South Carolina Senator and Trump supporter Tim Scott, but first, let's bring in our ABC News political director Rick Klein for the latest on the state of the race.

And, Rick, Nikki Haley says she's going on to South Carolina, but she's trailing there by a wide margin.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Martha, the math is brutal here but the calendar could be her best friend or her worst enemy. The next contest up is in Nevada, February 8th, the caucuses. Nikki Haley isn’t even competing there because it’s so MAGA-friendly. She is competing, though, in her home state of South Carolina. That is the next contest up. And it's four whole weeks away.

Now, there hasn't been a lot of polling in South Carolina, but what's out there has not been great for Nikki Haley. She is down some 35 points in the FiveThirtyEight polling average, even though she was elected the governor there twice.

Now, the good news is, she gets to spend the next four weeks on the trail and not distracted with legal issues, like Donald Trump is. And a couple of Haley advisers have used the same kind of framing to me. They’ve said, look, this race starts now. We can – we can start things fresh right now. Of course, it has already begun. It is well upon us. But their view is, they can just start to build momentum, start to build out in Super Tuesday states and start to put the pieces in motion that would allow this to be a race if she gets past South Carolina.

RADDATZ: And she is raising a lot of money.

KLEIN: There is a big market both in small dollar donors and in big pocket -- deep-pocketed donors to stop Donald Trump. And she’s tapping into it. Some $4 million raised just since the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday and her super PAC raised in more than $50 million in the last six months of 2023. That's more even than Donald Trump's super PAC.

So, the bottom line is, this is a two-person race, just like Nikki Haley wanted. It, though, cuts both ways. She's going to be attacked from all sides. They’re even threatening to blackball its owners that go to her campaign. The Haley camp, though, says this works to their advantage, that this underscores why there needs to be an alternative to Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: And we know you’ll be keeping your eye on all of it. Thanks, Rick Klein.

KLEIN: Thanks, Martha.

RADDATZ: South Carolina Senator Tim Scott was standing with Trump as he declared victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday. And Senator Scott joins us now.

Thank you so much for being here.

Thank you so much for being here.


RADDATZ: I want to start with the breaking news on Friday, and that was that your candidate, former President Trump, was ordered by a jury to pay $83 million for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. He was also found before, as you know, liable for sexual abuse.

Does that give you any pause in your support?

SCOTT: You know, myself and all the voters that support Donald Trump, supports a return to normalcy, as it relates to what affects their kitchen table. The average person in our country, Martha, isn’t – they’re not talking about lawsuits. As a matter of fact, what I have seen, however, is that the perception that the legal system is being weaponized against Donald Trump is actually increasing his poll numbers.

RADDATZ: I understand that, but this was -- they were jury trials. They were jury trials. They started when Donald Trump was president. You -- that does – that gives you no pause whatsoever?

SCOTT: I don't have a -- the Democrats don't pause when they think about Hunter Biden and the challenges that – that he brings to his father. The one thing I think the electorate is thinking about most often is how in the world will the next president impact my quality of life? How will America regain its standing in this world? They were better off under Trump, and they're looking for four more years of low inflation, low crime, low unemployment, and high enthusiasm for our country. We haven't had that in the last four years.

RADDATZ: I spoke to a lot of voters this week, and I do want to go back to Tuesday night and even before that. Donald Trump had an incredibly strong victory in Iowa. Of course, New Hampshire, a double-digit lead. He is clearly the frontrunner, but those are just two states.

SCOTT: Yes. Yes.

RADDATZ: And you just heard about Nikki Haley's fundraising ability.


RADDATZ: Why should she drop out?

SCOTT: Well, there's two things for sure. Number one, Donald Trump gets more earned media, probably a billion dollars already, because of who he is and what's going on around him, number one.

Number two, I think he was outspending Iowa and New Hampshire by his opponents. One thing we know for sure, as this race turns to South Carolina, that the enthusiasm in South Carolina for the former president has never been higher. I've seen polls that suggest he's up by 20 points. I would make a prediction that he wins by more than 20 percent in South Carolina.

But, yes, there's only been two competitions so far. Here's what I'll tell you. My theory is a simple one. When I dropped out of the race in November, it was because the writing was clear on the wall then. It is now more clear that what Republicans, conservatives, and a lot of independents want today is four more years of Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Trump showed weakness among independents, however, a group that he would need if he wins -- if he tries to win in November. Nikki Haley won 60 percent of self-identified independents in the state. How does he win over those voters?

SCOTT: Well, the numbers coming out of New Hampshire were really impressive. I'm not an analyst. You’re an expert at this, Martha. But I will say, one of the things I found to be surprising and positive is that amongst millennial voters, President Trump won 58 to 38. It was a 20-point gap among young voters. Among women voters, in New Hampshire, where liberal, Democrats and independents voted in the Republican primary, President Trump beat Nikki Haley among women.

So, when I think about the fact – when I think about the fact that African Americans, at the highest level in my lifetime, is looking at a Republican over 20 percent, Hispanics over 40 percent. This is a good time to be running as a Republican.

RADDATZ: OK. I want to stop you there –

SCOTT: Sure.

RADDATZ: Because again, the independent voters, and that is clearly something Donald Trump needs to get if he expects to win in November if he gets the nomination. I want you to listen to a bit of Donald Trump's speech after his win in New Hampshire.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can't let people get away with -- OK? You can't. You just can't do that. And when I watched her in the fancy dress, that probably wasn't so fancy, come up, I said, what's she doing? We won.


RADDATZ: He has also called Haley a bird brain, questioned whether she has the right to run for president because her immigrant parents were not yet legal citizens. How does that attract independents? How does that attract people who voted for Nikki Haley?

SCOTT: Well, here's what I can tell you, both candidates, and all candidates, should focus on the issues without any question. But Nikki Haley talks about the president's age and a competency test. I think that turns off senior voters. It's one of the reasons why --

RADDATZ: But go back to Donald Trump.

SCOTT: It’s –

RADDATZ: I want to talk about Donald Trump.

SCOTT: Well, it's one of the reasons why senior voters support Donald Trump.

Here's what we should ask ourselves. And I'm asking myself --

RADDATZ: Please -- please answer the question about him calling her a bird brain.

SCOTT: But let’s –

RADDATZ: You worked with her. She appointed you a senator. Do you like that kind of language?

SCOTT: His language is far more provocative than mine.

But this is not about simply my opinion of one candidate. I also think that talking about someone's age is inappropriate when especially they are competent, qualified, and ready to go to be the next president of the United States.

And, by the way, Martha, Republican primary contests are Republican primary contests. Seventy-plus percent of Republicans in New Hampshire supported the president. This race is over from a primary perspective.

RADDATZ: Okay, but --

SCOTT: We should turn our attention to Joe Biden. The economy is devastating for poor Americans.

RADDATZ: I want to -- I want to hit one more thing.

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am.

RADDATZ: You stated flatly after the 2020 election that Joe Biden is the legitimate president, saying, of course, he is. Donald Trump denies that.

Thirty-one percent of Republicans think Biden's election was legitimate.

Does that concern you for the Republican Party? That they're denying something you said was true?

SCOTT: Listen. I would love to spend -- if we have an hour to chat together, I’d spend lots of time breaking down who believes what. Here's what's more important than this --

RADDATZ: I just broke it down who believes what.

SCOTT: Yeah, actually --

RADDATZ: We know what you believe and we know what Donald Trump believes.

SCOTT: It's your show. You get to decide what we talk about.

I will simply say that the American people are more concerned about tomorrow than they are yesterday. And because of that, the race that we're seeing coming to light today is Joe Biden's four years versus Donald Trump's four years. We don’t need to litigate what happened in 2020.

What we should be focusing on, what I’m focusing on is what’s going to happen in 2024 and beyond for one reason. As a kid who grew up in poverty, in a single-parent household, the one thing I wondered in the poorest communities in North Charleston was, was the American dream real for a kid like me?

In today's America, the devastation of crime and chaos is eating the lunch of too many poor people living in tough neighborhoods. I want to make sure that we have law and order and opportunity, abundant opportunity for all Americans.

RADDATZ: Hey, thanks for joining us this morning, Senator.

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am. Thank you, Martha.

RADDATZ: New Hampshire's primary results do appear to have cemented Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party. So, we sat down with three of his staunchest supporters in Allentown, Pennsylvania, this week, to see what drives their devotion to the former president.

This is not a fact-check on their beliefs. There's no changing their finds, but more than 72 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020, and it is important to understand why. It's part of our coverage of "Your Voice, Your Vote".


RADDATZ: Tell me about yourself and how you came to like Donald Trump.

They are the definition of diehard Trump supporters. George Rivera, Jim Vinup and Angelic Schneider, three voters in the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Angelic, born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, a public school teacher for now 25 years.

ANGELIC SCHNEIDER, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I’ve seen education changed drastically over the last 25 years, but not as much as I’ve seen it in the last four years under President Biden, and I’ve seen a division in our country that I don't think he's going to be able to -- to unify.

I don't like the fact that because I say that I’m a conservative and because I say I’m a Republican, I’m treated with disdain. President Biden has stood up and talked about the MAGA Republicans and, you know, the just disdain that he has for the voter, and I represent Middle America.

I mean, I’m one of those voters, and I believe that Donald Trump, you know, for eight years, he's been attacked, and if he's elected president, I believe that he'll make, you know, he'll make policy change. He'll secure our borders.

RADDATZ: You heard some of his opponents during the last few months say the wall wasn't finished. Mexico didn't pay for a wall.

Does any of that reverberate with you and you wonder, can he get it done if he wins a second term?

SCHNEIDER: I think he can get it done. You know, he's not a career politician. He is, you know, a businessman and you might not always like the way he says things, but he gets things done.

RADDATZ: Restaurant managing partner George Rivera, at 43, has never voted in a presidential election before, but he says he's now all in for Trump.

GEORGE RIVERA, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: To me, he's anti-establishment. He's not with the status quo, and he's actually for the people. Having him elected back into office is the step that we need the take to fix -- to make this country great.

RADDATZ: And what was wrong with the country?

RIVERA: To me, what's wrong with the country is we're under financial tyranny. We're under corporate tyranny.

RADDATZ: What does that mean? Explain to that me.

RIVERA: I mean, we're overtaxed. It's hypertaxation.

RADDATZ: And you think Donald Trump can change that? And you blame Joe Biden for that?

RIVERA: Well, it’s – I don’t blame Joe Biden. I blame his failed policies. Just because the S&P 500’s at an all-time high doesn’t mean that gas isn’t higher than it was several years ago.

I run a restaurant. So, the cost of beef went up 5 to 6 percent.

RADDATZ (voice over): A life-long Republican, Jim Vinup says Trump hasn't let him down like other politicians he supported in the past.

JIM VINUP, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: When he came down the escalator, I thought, huh, this is crazy. You know, this guy, he'll never get anywhere. Well, as things went on, I became a diehard Donald Trump fan. Donald Trump does what he says. The only reason he didn't get a lot more done is because they gave him grief every minute of every day.

RADDATZ: So, here's this guy coming down the escalator, a rich guy, married three times, pretty foul mouth. What was it, and what is it about him?

VINUP: Has he made mistakes? Oh, my goodness, yes. But I do believe that his heart's in the right place for me. How many – how many presidents, how many politicians have come out on stage and hugged the American flag? That really means something to me.

RADDATZ: You've also heard though from former generals, from John Kelly, who was his chief of staff --


RADDATZ: Say he would never, ever vote for Donald Trump again –

VINUP: That’s right.

RADDATZ: Because of the way he treated veterans.

VINUP: But you’ve heard from other – you hear from other –

RADDATZ: Yes, but I – and you said that, and he hugged the American flag. But you've heard what he said through those people about the military, about wounded veterans, about Normandy. That doesn't bother you?

VINUP: Yes, things -- things he has said bother me. Am I giving him carte blanche, he can do anything he wants? No. No. Absolutely not. I mean I’ve said many times, geez, I wish he’d have said that.

But Kelly, I lost respect for Kelly. Mattis. I lost respect for Mattis. Milley. I lost respect for Milley. And these were people that he put his trust in. And you know what, they stabbed him in the back.

RADDATZ: You said something that interested me, which is, Donald Trump cares about me.


RADDATZ: What do you mean by that?

VINUP: Well, you know, the common man. I – I really think he has a heart for the common man. I really do. Did – did George Bush have a heart for the common man? I don't think so. He let me down. Mitt Romney let me down.

RADDATZ (voice over): Not only do these voters dismiss Trump's many legal challenges --

RIVERA: My opinion is that the justice system is being weaponized against certain individuals.

RADDATZ (voice over): They stand by Trump's false claim that Joe Biden lost the 2020 election. Even if it takes a minute.

RADDATZ: Do you think the election of 2020 was stolen?

SCHNEIDER: I don't know that it – I – I don’t think that it was – yes, I do. I think it was stolen. I – I – I don't believe that that many people voted for Joe Biden. I – I – I -- and I will never believe that. I – I don't believe that.

RADDATZ: No matter how many lawsuits or court cases there were?

SCHNEIDER: No matter how many lawsuits or court cases. When – when something is proven, I think you have to investigate the other side of it.

RADDATZ: I take it you believe the election was stolen?

VINUP: Yes, I do. You know, people will say, well, there isn't – there isn’t enough to overturn this particular election. That -- really? You put it all together, I think there might be. Why aren't we looking at it?

RADDATZ: How do you bridge the divide in this country? You guys have very strong opinions. You have certainly heard people who do not like Donald Trump.

SCHNEIDER: I think if we really start to look at how we really have a lot more in common and we all really want the same goal. We want safety and security for our country. We want, you know, our children to thrive. We want, you know, to be able to pay our bills. I think we have to get control of the media. I think we really have to get control of the media if you want to unify people because I think they have a way of really controlling the narrative.


RADDATZ: When I asked Angelica about the First Amendment and freedom of the press, she said that should stand, but she wants just factual information.

Up next, Jonathan Karl is on the campaign trail with California Governor Gavin Newsom as he makes the case for President Biden in 2024.

We're back in just two minutes.



PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.: You're the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.


You're the reason Donald Trump is a loser. And you're the reason we're going to win and beat him again.



RADDATZ: President Biden in South Carolina last night, urging democrats to turn out for the party's first presidential primary this Saturday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom was also there this week, stumping for the Biden-Harris ticket at Morris College, an HBCU in Sumter, South Carolina.

"This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl sat down with the governor.


KARL: Michelle Obama, as I'm sure you saw, said that people should be terrified about what could possibly happen with the outcome of this election. Is she right to be terrified?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we all should be. I mean, what -- what more evidence do you need? I mean, here's a guy who lost the election, Trump, and tried to wreck the country. He's lighting democracy on fire. He's making democracy a partisan issue. I never imagined that in my lifetime.

So the consequences are profound and pronounced. And that's why I'm down here, because this race has started, and we need to lift up the issues, the successes -- the extraordinary successes of the last three years, the Biden-Harris administration, and then we drive contrast.

It's not even a complicated campaign. We have the receipts. We have the best three-year record of any modern American presidency, period, full stop. And you look at the issue, issue by issue, they poll overwhelmingly, the American people support --

KARL: Except for...

NEWSOM: ... what Biden has done.

KARL: Except for the big thing, approval.


KARL: Biden's approval is historically low. Why is that?

NEWSOM: Everybody -- everybody -- we're all -- everybody's approval, across the spectrum. You find exceptions to that. Look, it's been hard, globally, the last six, seven years. But, again, America stands tall with a tent pole, the world economy, no peers economically, again, a master class of delivery. The economy is booming. Inflation is cooling. And of course, the economic strategy, as this president's put together, were all things Republicans dreamt of, but never delivered. He's delivered.

KARL: Obviously, the border is -- is an issue. But let me ask you just a fundamental question and try to get beyond the politics for a second. You've had 6 million apprehensions at the border.

What ultimately should happen to all those people, you know, the people who don't qualify for asylum, or totally came in illegally?

I mean, should there be deportations? This is what Republicans are calling for, these mass roundups and deporting. But what -- what happens?

NEWSOM: Well, I think you have to deal with the cards that are dealt. You've got to deal with the reality on the ground. And you have to have a comprehensive conversation around this, across the spectrum, the push and the pull.

And that's around the fundamental issue, immigration reform. It's not just border security. The president put out a comprehensive strategy, a pathway to citizenship along with lines of their former hero, Ronald Reagan, to address the reality on the ground. We have a plan, a $14 billion plan, right now, to get more judges to process people more efficiently, more quickly, provide security down at the border, 2,300 new border agents.

That's what the president of the United States has put up in front of Congress. And they refuse to act. They're just promoting an agenda to disrupt and find a crowbar to put in the spokes of the wheels of the Biden administration to disrupt any progress on this because they don't want progress, period.

KARL: Let me ask you about Trump's legal problems, obviously four indictments, 91 counts, you know, taking classified documents out of the White House, undermining democracy, all of that. And he's out there...

NEWSOM: Disqualifying.

KARL: And he's out there saying he should have absolute immunity; a president should be above the law.

NEWSOM: Laughable. Laughable.

KARL: All of this.

So, why in light of all of that, why have we seen poll after poll -- and I know it's early but still -- poll after poll that shows Trump either beating Biden or essentially tied with him?

NEWSOM: And we’ve also seen poll after poll -- I’m not naive about this. I take the threat of Trump and Trump very seriously. I’ve never been on the other side of that argument.

That said, this is the weakest candidate to run a major party in my lifetime. He's coming in deeply damaged.

Democrats, we win. We keep winning. We've won all these elections. Post-Dobbs, different -- but hold on.

KARL: That makes my question even more relevant. Why is Biden not --


NEWSOM: But look at the polling -- look at the polling.

KARL: Yeah.

NEWSOM: Look underneath the hood on the polling. Look at the New Hampshire polls. Look at some of the national polls.

Republicans say if he's convicted -- all those things you said are true and he's convicted and the likelihood of conviction is, what, 98 percent?


KARL: By Election Day? You think it is?

NEWSOM: We’ll see.

KARL: By Election Day?

NEWSOM: We’ll see. But I mean, at least to one of those four, right, of the 91 charges, one of those four.

The vast majority -- I mean, yes, a substantial plurality of Republicans now, at least a large percentage say no, no go. I think that's a huge red flag for Donald Trump.

He is weak. He is more unhinged than he's ever been. He's less disciplined than he’s ever been. He’s less interesting.

I find him less interesting. It's not even as entertaining as he was in 2020 or 2016.

KARL: How worried are you about a third party? There will be multiple third party candidates. So, it doesn't take a lot. I know a third party candidate isn't likely to be elected president, or beat either one. But I mean, how worried are you --

NEWSOM: Spoilers.

KARL: Yeah, how worried are you about that?

NEWSOM: I have to be, I’m worried. But you know what? You’ve got to control the controllables. Got to control what you have to control. Right now, it's getting the vote out.

KARL: Do you think it's a mistake then for Democrats to try to keep these third party candidates, No Labels, and the others off the ballot? We're seeing an effort --


KARL: -- to --

NEWSOM: Yeah, I think when you -- again, when you try to suppress choice and voice, it tends to backfire.

KARL: Especially when you’re talking about the importance of democracy, you try to keep people off the ballot.

NEWSOM: Yeah. So, I don’t get consumed by that. And I’m not here on behalf of the Biden administration thinking about that. I’m a simple guy, and --

KARL: But --

NEWSOM: But what I mean by that is I look at -- for example, let's look at No Labels. I took the time. I encouraged people to talk -- look up what are they for? And I thought, wow, this literally reads as the accomplishment list of the Biden/Harris administration. So, I -- they're a solution in search of problem I respectfully submit.

KARL: You -- you've taken on this fight with some of the red state governors, obviously, Ron DeSantis.

NEWSOM: I appreciate you noticing.

KARL: And you said you did it because you didn’t Democrats were fighting hard enough. Does that include the Biden administration? Biden --

NEWSOM: It was a year, it was a year and a half ago, and I don't feel that way anymore. Absolutely not.

Look, the -- when Dobbs hit, that was a wakeup call because one thing we’ve learned with this anger industry on the right wing is illusion dominates facts. It's narrative trumping facts.

That's why Trump himself uses the courtroom as a campaign stop. It's to dominate the narrative, and I would hope that Democrats learn a little bit about communication strategy by flooding the zone and starting to get back on our feet in terms of dominating the air. That’s exactly what Biden has been doing. It’s exactly what Harris has been doing on issues related to choice and it’s exactly why I’m here.

KARL: One other important thing kind of looming over this obviously. A lot of discussion of President Biden's age, which brings -- raises the question. If something were to happen to Biden --

NEWSOM: Okay. What would happen to any of us?

KARL: Right.

NEWSOM: All right.

KARL: So, what happens? Is it -- is it Kamala Harris?

NEWSOM: Well, we know that. She's the vice president of the United States, absolutely, by definition. If something happens to me, it’s the lieutenant governor of the state of California.

KARL: I’m talking about as the candidate, I mean --

NEWSOM: Oh, come on.

KARL: So, she’s the nominee?

NEWSOM: I mean, we spent -- and we’ve all spent time with Biden. Spent time with him for --

KARL: Yeah.

NEWSOM: I mean, three hours on photo lines and three events a day, and then giving speeches. Are you kidding? At 80 years old to be in that kind of health?

I have no issues whatsoever. And, by the way, I’m an old-fashioned guy. You know, I think Bobby Kennedy said it best. What the world needs are the qualities of youth. Not a time of life, a state of mind, a quality of imagination. That's Joe Biden.


RADDATZ: Our thanks to Jon Karl.

When we come back, my conversation with the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CQ Brown, on the global challenges he's now tackling as the top military adviser to the president.



GEN. CQ BROWN, JOINT OF CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Think about how fool I am with a motion not just for George Floyd, but the many African-Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.

And thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality.

I figured about my Air Force career where I was often the only African-American in my squadron or the senior officer the only African-American in the room.


RADDATZ: That was General CQ Brown back in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, he had just been nominated to be Air Force Chief of Staff and thought that tape might kill his nomination. He is now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the country.

We sat down with General Brown at the Pentagon this week to talk about that video, rising tensions in the Middle East and to learn more about this man who is the principal military adviser to the president.


RADDATZ (voice-over): From Air Force fighter pilot to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Charles Q. Brown's military career spans nearly 40 years. Known to his family and friends as CQ to his fellow Air Force pilots, he has another name.

RADDATZ: Callsign Swamp Thing.

BROWN: Right.

RADDATZ: What's that from?

BROWN: Flying up sixteens over out of Homestead Air Force Base in Florida back in the early '90s, struck by lightning, caught on fire, ejected and spent about 15 minutes in Everglades before I got picked up by Coast Guard helicopter.

RADDATZ: Only a fighter pilot could smile when -- when you say something like that. There was a swamp down (INAUDIBLE) --

BROWN: There's the swamp but there was that I didn't see the gators.

RADDATZ: That must have been quite the experience.

BROWN: A little bit, but you know all your training kicks in and the checklist says to fire persist eject. It was pretty easy to say.

RADDATZ (voice-over): But there are no easy decisions in Brown's new role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations Chairman.

RADDATZ (voice-over): Sworn in just one week before the horrific Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and the violent intense retaliation that has followed. In the four months since the Hamas attacks, more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Iranian backed militants have attacked U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria more than 150 times. And in the Red Sea, Houthi rebels have launched missiles and drones toward commercial and Navy ships more than three dozen times. The U.S. retaliating against those attacks with a small number of counter strikes largely on storage facilities and missile launchers.

RADDATZ: It doesn't seem to be deterring the militants.

BROWN: Well, part of our work here is to make sure as we as things just happened in the Middle East is not to have the conflict broaden.

And so as I provide advice, when we think about the approach we take, we want to ensure that we take away capability while we protect our forces, at the same time not have this broaden into a – into a much wider conflict.

RADDATZ: When you walk this fine line of not wanting it to escalate, what would you say to those people who are – your critics who would say, look, they're not being tough enough on those militants? They're not being tough enough on Iran.

BROWN: I would also ask, would they -- do they want a broader conflict? Do you want us in a full-scale war? And that’s the goal is to deter them. And we don’t want to go down a path of greater escalation that drives to a much broader conflict within the region.

RADDATZ: When you look at the Houthis right now, how much of their capabilities do you think you have reduced?

BROWN: I know we’ve had an impact. You know, I won't – I won’t characterize, you know, how much. But we have had an impact on their – on their capabilities.

RADDATZ: The Iraqis have suggested that the presence of U.S. forces after there was a retaliatory strike there, should be reassessed or maybe leave. So do you see, in the future, us reducing our forces or having the American forces leave Iraq?

BROWN: Well, what I'll tell you is, you know, we're in Iraq by the invitation of the – the governor of Iraq. And I will also tell you that we will defend ourselves.

RADDATZ: Do you see us leaving? Is that what Iran would want?

BROWN: Well, I -- you know, I think that's what Iran would want.

RADDATZ: Do you think Iran wants war with the U.S.?

BROWN: No, I don't think so.

RADDATZ: I know you started this job a week before October 7th and the horrendous Hamas attacks on Israel, but you have certainly seen the response day after day, more than 25,000 killed, thousands of children, women. What are you doing to convey to the Israeli military to take more care in their war against Hamas?

BROWN: What I've communicated to them from the very beginning and through my most recent communications is, as you conduct your military operations, you've got to be sensitive to – and collateral damage. And, at the same time, you've got to bring humanitarian assistants. They've talked to me about their process and the -- you know, they've got a good process.

RADDATZ (voice over): Before taking the chairmanship, Brown served as chief of staff of the Air Force, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He served under former chairman General Mark Milley and former President Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: General Milley had a very rough go with Donald Trump, starting with that photo opportunity that he said was a huge mistake. The former president has since called him a traitor, saying in the past, the punishment would have been death. When you hear things like that, what do you think?

BROWN: I don't listen to it. I'm focused on doing my job. And when I focus on the aspect of doing my job, it's ensuring that we have a ready joint force.

RADDATZ: What did you learn from General Milley about working under Donald Trump that would be of value if he is elected again?

BROWN: What I'll tell you is, I've had a chance to talk to each one of my successors. I take in all that information to make myself a better leader in how I would provide advice. And I'm going to learn from my predecessors and the experiences they’ve had from – from all of them, and then be able to operate and support whoever the president may be.

RADDATZ: So, you wouldn't have concerns about working under a president who thinks the election was stolen?

BROWN: I'm going to work for the -- whatever president gets elected.

RADDATZ (voice over): Brown's confident leadership comes from deep within him. His rise through the ranks as a black officer was challenging to say the least. His experiences with racism in and out of the military bubbling up after the murder of George Floyd when he was still serving in the Pacific.

RADDATZ: Back in June of 2020, you released a deeply personal, emotional video after George Floyd was murdered. You talked about the racism you've experienced. You said, “I'm thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers.”

BROWN: I'm thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and being questioned by another military member, are you a pilot? I'm thinking about my mentors and how I -- rarely I had a mentor that looked like me.

I'm thinking about the pressure I felt to perform error free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less from me as an African American.

RADDATZ: That was a very powerful video. What really drove you to do that?

BROWN: My son. My son called me about four days prior to that video. He was very much struggling with the death of George Floyd. And he asked me a question. He said, dad, what is Pacific Air Forces going to say? As the commander of Pacific Air Force, what he’s really asking me is, dad, what are you going to say?

I was waiting for confirmation. So I was, kind of, torn about, you know, saying something. And then I just decided to say it, and if I didn't get confirmed, so be it. I had no intent for it to go as broad as it did, but I'm glad it did.

RADDATZ: What did your son say to you when he saw it?

BROWN: I think he felt pretty good about it.

RADDATZ: What do you think has to change?

BROWN: I, and I think everybody, wants to have a fair shot. I don't want to be disadvantaged or advantaged based on my background. You know, I want to be judged based on my own accomplishments, based on my merits, and given an opportunity. That's all I've asked for throughout my, you know, growing up. That's what I've asked for throughout my Air Force career. And hopefully, you know, I'm sitting in this chair as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs because, not because I'm African-American, but because I'm a quality officer. And that's what I want to be judged on.

RADDATZ: Our thanks to General Brown.


RADDAZTS: Coming up, the powerhouse roundtable on the 2024 race and the battle over the border. We're back in a moment.


RADDATZ: The roundtable's all here, ready to take on all the week's politics. We'll be right back.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R-UT): The fact that he would communicate to Republican Senators and Congress people that he doesn't want us to solve the border problem because he wants to blame Biden for it is really appalling.

RADDATZ: That was Senator Mitt Romney responding to reports that Former President Trump has urged Republicans not to pass a border deal with President Biden. Let's bring in our Powerhouse Round Table, Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Former Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, National Review Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, and NPR 'All Things Considered' Co-Host Juana Summers. Welcome to you all and good morning.

And Juana, I want to start with you, talk about that border security bill. It really looks like it's breaking down. First, tell us what you know about what Donald Trump has done, and what's in the bill.

JUANA SUMMERS, NPR "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED" CO-HOST: So first of all, we should just point out that this is unreleased legislation, no one has seen legislative text yet. It is still under discussion. We know that it unites border security measures with Ukraine war funding which is obviously a priority of President Biden and Democrats. It includes measures to make it harder to secure asylum and increase detention facilities.

And the big thing that's been of talk over the weekend is a clause that where the administration would be required to shut down the border to migrants attempting to cross without prior authorization if daily crossings go above the number of 5,000 crossings. President Biden has called it one of the toughest and fairest bipartisan reform, says if the bill passes Congress, he will sign it.

But I think it's really important to talk about the politics here. You've heard House Speaker Johnson say this bill is dead on arrival in his chamber. You've heard Former President Trump say it's a bad deal and that he -- there's no way that could not support to the politics here, frankly, quite challenging for these negotiators, who I think have been in a good faith negotiation of trying to bring something to the floor for -- something that everyone on all sides does agree is a real crisis at the southern border.

RADDATZ: And Ramesh, when you look at this, it really does look like it would be dead on arrival, as you said, the speaker saying what he has said. But, even Lindsey Graham said you couldn't get a better deal for Republicans at this point.

PONNURU: Well, of course, Lindsey Graham has been a longtime advocate of comprehensive immigration reform and there are a lot of people in the Republican Party who don't see things the same way Lindsey Graham does in immigration, and don't trust him on this issue because they don't agree with him.

You're hearing a lot of opposition. That number 5,000, a lot of Republicans think that is too high. You've got, of course, the Trump opposition, but you've got this more basic thing, which a lot of Republicans say, if the problem is Biden is not enforcing the laws that are already on the books, which is what they have been saying for months, then passing a new law isn't a solution to that problem.

RADDATZ: But Donna, talk about the politics of this. With Donald Trump saying basically, I don't want this deal, and Joe Biden clearly thinking it's a pretty good deal, even though it's much tougher.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, and I totally agree that the politics of this really stinks, you know? I've read Speaker Johnson's letter, and this was not part of my weekend reading, but I'm like, this speaker has a historic opportunity to get a really good, strong deal. Now, you're not going to get a deal if Democrats take control of the Congress next year in terms of the House.

And so, why not go ahead and pass this bill? The Senate has brokered this deal for over two months, they have been in negotiation. President Biden said he's willing to sign it. But clearly, what Speaker Johnson is afraid of is the former president coming down hard and saying, "Don't support it."

So, I think it's a bad mistake by the Republicans not to take this deal. It's a good deal. The border is an issue. We know it's been broken for decades. Why not go ahead and support this bill?

RADDATZ: And all that's going on the Hill -- on the Hill or not going on -- on the Hill. Republicans in the House have also just introduced two articles of impeachment against Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Is that a winning political strategy? And where do you think that goes?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: We'll listen, you know, for Republicans who are in those swing seats. And obviously, there's a very small majority for House Republicans. What they need is this border deal along with the Ukraine money, and the Israel money. And this is a good border deal that supported by conservatives like -- like -- like Senator Lankford of Oklahoma, Thom Tillis of North Carolina. And you know, what, we don't know all the details of it, that's who's behind it along with Lindsey Graham.

And so, if you're a swing seat Republican, you won this deal, along with that other support, not to have to vote on an impeachment. So, if you want to have a House majority next year, you need to cut this deal now.

RADDATZ: And what is with the impeachment? It's obviously all about the border.

COMSTOCK: That's not the way you're going to have a, you know, get a deal here. And it's only going to shrink your majority next year, which is going to make border deal much more difficult to get out.

BRAZILE: It is a political stunt. So let me just come out and say it. We haven't had an impeachment of a cabinet secretary since the Civil War. I had to really go back and look that up. And so, what is this about? They don't want to legislate. Martha, they have not passed, what 25, 30 pieces of legislation, Barbara, you need to go back to Congress, maybe. They've run out of post offices to name, they're running out of coins to MIT (ph), but they will not sit down and craft the deal that can stop the crisis at the border.

COMSTOCK: And then obviously will go nowhere in the Senate.

RADDATZ: And Juana, you pretty much got gridlock on the Hill at this point. You've got Mitch McConnell kind of throwing up his hands. He's the only person out there who really hasn't endorsed Donald Trump, not the only person. But good luck.

SUMMERS: Yes, I mean, it's really tricky. I mean, Republicans obviously want to bring their attention to this impeachment, despite the fact that they've struggled up until this point, at least, to provide any clear and compelling evidence that this is there's actually nothing that's impeachable happened here. So, I think this is an attempt to coalesce their base around this issue of immigration, just say, look over here.

And the fact that matters is, as Donna points out, this has been a historically unproductive Congress heading into a very divisive election year with not a lot to show on the Hill.

RADDATZ: And Barbara, I want to -- I want to go back here to the election, you're supporting Nikki Haley, she's now looking towards her home state of South Carolina, but those numbers are not great for her. You heard what Rick Klein said, maybe she has a shot. What are you looking at there?

COMSTOCK: Well, look, she -- she should stay in and she's in there and she's joyful, and she is campaigning hard. I think she's the only one now in there who's never lost a general election. And she's also she's, you know, she's raised $4 million, as he's pointed out. And, you know, the party has split half for Trump, he's obviously solidified that base, but he is the weak, you know, with essentially an incumbent, and he's performing under incumbent levels. And we know Donald Trump doesn't do well with strong women.

And this week, we saw what happened with strong women. Nikki's looking like a winner. And that frustrates him. And he was not doing well. You know, he was petty, he was small. And then he ended the week losing, you know, $83 million in his lawsuit. And now you go forward over the next month with Judge Chutkan and with Letitia James, he's got a lot of women coming forward in the next month.

RADDATZ: But Donna, New Hampshire was the ideal place for Nikki Haley with independence. You saw me try to press Tim Scott on the idea of the independence and would -- and Donald Trump needs them.

BRAZILE: Let me look, let's go back to Iowa, only 15 percent of registered Republicans showed up. And we know Trump won by over 50 percent. But he's not really showing any growth and independents or even moderate Republicans. And so yes, there's a lot that Haley must do, she must campaign do a lot of retail politics.

But don't forget Donald Trump has only earned 32 delegates, he needs 1,215 in order to secure the nomination. She's earned 17. So, she's 15 delegates now. Did I do the math, right?


BRAZILE: I guess education I received. So, here's the point. Haley should stay in it. We don't ask some man to leave at the -- he's accrued --

COMSTOCK: And Ted Cruz stayed until the convention.

BRAZILE: Absolutely. So, she's (INAUDIBLE).

PONNURU: Well, I just think she's going to be under a lot of pressure to get out, I think that it's not just elected officials, but there are a lot of Republican voters who are saying, look Trump is going to be the the nominee, so let's just get this over with and move on to the general election. And one of the things that we are going to have to see is whether there are persuadable voters still out there who want to let this keep going.

RADDATZ: You wrote this week that the big winner of the 2024 GOP Primary was the big lie, about the elections. You've heard me talk to Tim Scott about that and all those voters.

PONNURU: That's right, because if people had accepted the idea that Trump lost in 2020, this would be a completely different election because he would be seen by Republicans as a loser. He would be looking for the lessons of why they lost in 2020. Instead by creating this mythology that he actually won, he preserved his viability. It wasn't just about his ego, it has allowed him to get this far in this nomination contest.

RADDATZ: And Juana, what's the sense of Democrats facing Donald Trump?

SUMMERS: I mean, first of all, you heard President Biden's campaign very quickly make that sharp turn after the New Hampshire victory to say, we're in general election mode right now. They believe they have a compelling…

RADDATZ: Gavin Newsom, yeah.

SUMMERS: Exactly. And they believe they have a compelling theory of the case, the fact that their party has -- we've had -- there were fears of recession last year. There has been no recession and the economy outperformed in the last three months of the year. And there was unexpected growth, so they think they have that in their column. They think they've shown results for the American people, their climate policy they would point for (ph). They believe they have a strong theory of the case to voters.

They believe they are sending the right validators out into key states as the election moves now to South Carolina where Democrats will have their first votes in about a week. They think they have a strong theory of the case. I think the question is though, when I go out and when I talk to voters, some of the things that the campaign is running on what they (ph) say are their successes, things they have done for voters, many voters aren't feeling those things at home. And I think that's the challenge for the Biden campaign, is to be able to translate and effectively message the legislative successes that they have had.

RADDATZ: And Donna, we have about 30 seconds, but pick up on that. Not only do they -- is the message not getting out to some people I've talked to as well, but people just don't want this rematch.

BRAZILE: No, they don't want a do-over. They don't want to see round two. They want new faces. And you know what? Joe Biden is just going to have to go out every day and prove that he has what it takes to lead this country.

COMSTOCK: And Nikki Haley has pointed out she does the best…

PONNURU: She's in news again (ph).

COMSTOCK: …against Biden and that's why she's still in the race.

RADDATZ: OK. We've got to stop you there. We've got many weeks, many months to go on all of this. We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight" and have a great day.