'This Week' Transcript 1-8-23: Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, Rep. Scott Perry, Rep. Andy Barr and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, January 8.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 8, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS starts right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new speaker.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I hope one thing is clear after this week, I never give up.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Kevin McCarthy survives the most contentious vote in more than a century. Republican divisions on display.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not be able to fight the real conservative fights until we find a way to come together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks messy. But democracy is messy. Democracy is messy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But did he weaken the office, cripple his chances of governing. We cover it all this morning with Rachel Scott on Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Scott Perry and Andy Barr, plus our powerhouse roundtable.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration is taking several steps to stiffen enforcement for those who try to come without a legal right to stay.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden announces new immigration measures, makes his first trip to the southern border as president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me be clear, Title 42 or not, the border is not open.
STEPHANOPOULOS: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas joins us in a THIS WEEK exclusive
And, emotional scars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It broke me, you know. It broke me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Toll on those who defended the Capitol two years after the January 6th attacks. Pierre Thomas speaks with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.
On the second anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, Kevin McCarthy clinched his decade-long quest to be speaker of the House. It came with concessions to the most extreme members of his caucus, the help of the former president he denounced on the House floor two years ago, and the prospect of two more years of brinksmanship over his hold on the office, the fiscal security of the United States and the basics functions of governing.
Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott starts us off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the next speaker of the 118th Congress, Kevin McCarthy.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This morning, Speaker Kevin McCarthy settling into a role he's chased for more than a decade.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): That was easy, huh?
SCOTT: Surviving a once in a century fight with his own party to win the speaker's gavel.
MCCARTHY: It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
SCOTT: Five days, 15 ballots, the longest and most brutal speaker's contest since before the Civil War. Now second in line to the presidency, but at what cost?
REP. DON BACON (R-NE): We cannot allow a small group of folks to commit political terrorism.
SCOTT: To win over conservatives, McCarthy made major concessions, including one that would allow any member to force a vote to remove him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How confident are you that you will have this job for a full two-year term.
MCCARTHY: A thousand percent.
SCOTT: His predecessor, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, insisting the closed-door negotiations have led to incredibly shrinking speakership, calling out the potential gridlock.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It is a shame for the country. This is a great institution.
SCOTT: After being dealt one defeat after another –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not been –
Has not been –
A speaker has not been elected.
SCOTT: But McCarthy was confident that on the 14th ballot he would win, but he came up one vote short. Matt Gaetz delivered the final blow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gaetz.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): (INAUDIBLE).
SCOTT: Cameras capturing the dramatic standoff. McCarthy confronting Gaetz. Fingers pointed. Words exchanged. And then moments later, Mike Rogers, top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, physically restrained from going after Gaetz. Democrats shouting to stay civil.
REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): I rise to say, wow.
SCOTT: With the drama unfolding, Donald Trump stepping in to call on the Republican holdouts. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene spotted trying to pass her phone with the former president on the line.
Then suddenly, at midnight, a breakthrough. McCarthy winning over the final six holdouts in the 15th round.
MCCARTHY: We will use the power of the purse and the power of the subpoena to get the job done.
SCOTT: In his victory speech he pledged to put a check on the Biden administration.
MCCARTHY: Our system is built on checks and balances. It’s time for us to be a check and provide some balance to the president's policies.
SCOTT: But the path ahead could be another high-wire act where he will face aggressive, hard-right members spoiling for a fight over government spending, along with a Democrat-led Senate and White House. The concessions to the right that led to his victory could limit his control and leave him the weakest speaker in modern history.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are joined now by Congressman Scott Perry, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, and Congressman Andy Barr, who’s an ally of Kevin McCarthy.
And Congressman Perry, let me begin with you.
You finally voted for McCarthy on the 12th ballot on Friday. How did he change your mind?
REP. SCOTT PERRY, CHAIR, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS & (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Well, George, good morning.
Let me start with this. Frederick Douglas, who knew something about power, said, power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has and never will. This was never about Kevin McCarthy. This is about power for the American people. And with all due respect, Nancy Pelosi ran Congress like a – like a prison camp with no accountability. You know, the American people are very, very tired of this gang of seven, gang of eight, literally seven or eight people, or just a few people in Washington, D.C., running all of the policy for the American people.
So, when we had a framework of an agreement where the American people can be in charge, when their representatives can actually bring amendments to the floor in good faith, said, sure, if we can do that, then I'm all in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that was the one concession he made. Also, what were the other specific promises, particularly on the debt limit?
PERRY: Well, as I said, their -- it's a framework of an agreement. So there are numerous things. It’s accountability for the speaker. It's about making sure that we have a budget that we can agree upon that doesn’t just continually increase spending, but then we appropriate to that budget. And – and so it’s a – it’s a whole host of things. It’s like single subject bills coming through Congress. Something that has never happened before in the history of Congress.
So the -- George, the American people, among other things, are tired of these Christmas tree bills with all these ornaments on them coming for -- in the middle of night, 4,000 pages, $1.7 trillion, 7,200 earmarks. Everything works perfectly for Washington, D.C., but there’s no presents under the tree for the American people. And so restraining those things and getting those things in order, it’s a -- it's an entire package. It’s not just one thing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I ask – but I – right, but I asked about the debt limit. Did he specifically say that he would not negotiate over the debt limit unless there’s a – unless it’s tied to a balanced budget?
PERRY: What we’re -- what we're talking about is a debt limit that – that if we're going to pass a debt limit increase that actually does something to drive the trajectory of the ever-increasing debt down. We can't just keep doing the same thing under the same conditions with the same management and expect different outcomes. The American people are sick and tired of this endless debt increasing.
While I've been in Congress, George, the debt has increased double. It’s gone from about $15 trillion to $31.5 trillion. Where is the end of it? And there’s been no mechanism in sight to rein that in. At least we have a mechanism now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that mean -- President Biden has said he’s not going to negotiate. So, are you prepared to have the United States default if he does not agree to your spending cuts.
PERRY: I think everybody should negotiate. I don’t know why President Biden says he’s not going to negotiate. I mean that's what this is all about, so that all the voices of the American citizens are being heard, not just the voices that voted for President Biden or, quite honestly, not just the voices that voted for Kevin McCarthy or Scott Perry, but every single voice. Saying you're not going to negotiate, I think, is an untenable and unacceptable position for almost every single American no matter if you're on the left, right, or on the center -- in the center.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask you about January 6th investigation. Department of Justice officials have seized your cell phone. They’ve gone over your e-mails. Have you also appeared before the grand jury?
PERRY: I have not appeared. But let me say – let me say this, George. For me it's always been about open, fair elections, where it's easy to vote, but it's really, really hard to cheat. That's where I've always been. Nothing has changed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but all – all the courts said that there was – there was no widespread fraud in the January 6th election. If you're called to appear before the grand jury, will you plead the Fifth?
PERRY: Look, I'm not going to speculate on what might or might not happen in the future. But, again, my position has been very clear. And, quite honestly, I think it’s the same position almost every single American has, should be easy to vote but should be really, really hard to cheat. And whether it's fraud or not is immaterial. There are things have been done that makes this vote more important than that vote. And that's not acceptable. Each vote should count the same.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The speaker has also reportedly said that he's going to appoint a church-style committee to investigate the investigations.
Since you’re part of the investigation by the Justice Department, will you – will you pledge not to serve on that committee?
PERRY: Well, why should I be limited – why should anybody be limited just because someone has made an accusation? Everybody in America is innocent until proven otherwise. And I would say this, the American people are really, really tired of the persecution and the instruments of federal power being used against them. We're talking about parents that go to school board meetings for the schools that they pay for with their taxes and having the temerity to question the curriculum, and then they're put on, you know, the red flagged, they’re flagged by the Department of Justice and the FBI for attending a meeting.
That's not what America is supposed to be about. That sounds like some tin horn third world dictatorship.
Sure, we're going investigate and we need to. We need to make sure that these agencies aren't running amuck and aren’t out of control which clearly they are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Doesn't that pose a conflict to you since you’re also part of the investigation?
PERRY: So, should everybody in Congress that disagrees with somebody be barred from doing the oversight and investigative powers that Congress has? That's our charge.
And again, that's appropriate for every single member regardless of what accusations that are being made. I get accused of all kinds of things every single day, as does every member that serves in the public eye. But that doesn't stop you from doing your job. It is our duty and it is my duty.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Perry, thanks for your time this morning.
PERRY: Thank you so much, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by Congressman Andy Barr.
Congressman Barr, let me begin with you. You're with Speaker McCarthy right from the start. You’re one of his strongest allies. Are you concerned that he gave away too much in order to get the gavel?
REP. ANDY BARR (R-KY): George, I’m really not, and I understand the American people's frustration with the delay in electing a speaker. Certainly, it's going to be a challenge to have a conference full of independent thinkers with a thin majority.
But, you know, not only did the framers of our Constitution expect us to debate the operations of the House and the House rules and how we're going to function. That's what a healthy democracy actually requires.
And if you want to understand what happened on the House floor last week, you have to understand why the American people fired Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and elected a new Republican majority. It's because what Scott said, because Speaker Pelosi used the pandemic to lock down the House of Representatives, to use proxy voting and remote committee proceedings to consolidate power in herself and a few other leaders at the expense of rank and file members and the millions of Americans that they represented to eliminate transparency, to write thousand-page omnibus spending bills behind closed doors.
And so, the dysfunction was in the prior Congress. And the process that we went through this week was quite healthy from the standpoint of getting all of these issues resolved now, so that we can have a template going forward to come together as a conference.
We proved to ourselves, George, that we can with perseverance and a lot of hard work and a never give up attitude, we can come together and unify to advance our agenda. It will be a challenge, no doubt about it, with the diversity of opinions within our conference. But that was what was happening last week was to forge a consensus so that when reach issues like the debt limit, when we reach challenges, we've proven to ourselves that we can come together, we can set aside our differences and ultimately compromise to be an effective majority.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you really resolve them now, that any single member can bring a motion to vacate the speaker's office? You have -- the Freedom Caucus has been given basically a third of the positions on the Rules Committee which will undermine Speaker McCarthy's authority.
Aren’t you simply setting up a situation on every major spending bill, anything having to do with the debt limit, anything having to do with keeping the government open, you're going to be back in the same situation again?
BARR: Well, let's be clear, George, remember, this motion to vacate was only altered by Speaker Pelosi. We're just going back to the pre-Pelosi rule that was in place since 1910. I don't think that's an issue at all in terms of creating chaos. I think it's what the House has had ever term before Pelosi came into power.
The other thing about diversity of opinion on committees, I actually think this is going to strengthen us and not weaken us as a conference. It’s going to bring us together.
If there are issues, if there’s a difference of opinion, you want those differences of opinion be aired in committee on the front end, because you don't want those difficulties when the bill comes out of committee on the House floor.
Let's have the opportunity to have an open amendment process in committee so that you forge that consensus at the beginning of the legislative process, so that the bills that are brought to House floor actually have a meaningful chance of passing.
Again, this is why I think going through the difficulties of last week will serve this majority well. It will make us a more effective majority.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But – but – but didn’t the agreement also include an open amendment process on the floor, which sort of undermines that entire premise, doesn’t it?
BARR: Well, I think – look, as you pointed out, I'm a strong supporter of Kevin McCarthy for speaker. I think last week his patience, his willingness to be open minded and listen to all members, his good humor, the fact that he was – he was humble in his leadership style, his perseverance, all of those qualities were on full display for the American people. It’s precisely why he does need to be speaker in this majority.
But what I would say is, those of us who were with him from the start, and those like Scott who came onboard with some of the changes and reforms later on, I think we all agree that we need a better process and I think we ended up a stronger majority as a result of some of the reforms that were put into place. And – and I think we – we all are committed to being unified going forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Barr, thanks for your time this morning.
BARR: Good to be with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s coming up. Plus, as President Biden prepares to visit the southern border later today, we’re going to speak with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about the administration's latest effort to address the migrant crisis. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Let me be clear, Title 42 or not, the border is not open. We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws in a safe, orderly, and humane manner.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Candidly, I think what this proposal is going to do is to entice even more people to come here illegally. Biden has no plan to secure the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden unveiled his new plan to address the southern border crisis amid a record surge in illegal crossings and he'll visit the border for the first time since taking office later today.
Mireya Villarreal is on the scene in El Paso.
Good morning, Mireya.
MIREYA VILLARREAL, ABC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Good morning, George.
City leaders here in El Paso, they are eager to show the president what they have been dealing with for the last six months. Thousands of migrants surging across the border, many of them sleeping on the streets of El Paso. Shelters are at capacity and now community leaders are actually calling this city a modern-day Ellis Island and they are calling out the president for not being more compassionate and swift in his approach to address these immigration issues.
VILLARREAL (voice over): Ahead of his first week to the border as president, Biden, this week, announcing the administration's latest effort to curb the escalating migration crisis.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, these actions alone that I'm going to announce today aren't going to fix our entire immigration system, but they can help us a good deal in better managing what is a difficult challenge.
VILLARREAL: Part of that new plan, an agreement with Mexico for the U.S. to expel more migrants back there while expanding the policy to allow 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to seek asylum if they have an U.S. sponsor and enter through a legal port of entry.
BIDEN: My message is this, if you're trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti, do not – do not just show up at the border. Stay where you are and apply legally from there.
VILLARREAL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott saying the plan doesn't go far enough.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Under the Trump administration we had the lowest border crossings in decades. It took only a year under the Biden administration to have the most illegal border crossings ever. And what Biden is laying out right now is not going to reduce that.
VILLARREAL: But immigration advocates are angry, accusing Biden of restricting the right to asylum. And some Democrats likening it to the Trump administration’s policies, continuing to use this failed and inhumane Trump-era policy put in place to address a public health crisis will do nothing to restore the rule of law at the border.
Encounters at the southern border have been surging, a record 2.3 million last fiscal year. Local communities are bearing the brunt of this border battle. In El Paso last month more than 2,500 migrants were crossing every day, shelter directors like Ruben Garcia frustrated with the continued lack of comprehensive immigration reform.
RUBEN GARCIA, ANNUNCIATION HOUSE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: The very unfortunate thing is that, because there hasn't been immigration reform, there are politicians that welcome the chaos; they welcome the crisis, because they convert that into votes.
VILLARREAL: President Biden and top DHS officials will be here on the ground in El Paso for several hours. They will be touring a processing facility. They will also be talking to local Border Patrol agents and local city leaders. As of right now, we understand he will then fly to Mexico City, where he plans to meet with the president there for several meetings with him and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the next several days. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mireya, thanks very much.
And of course the president will be joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who joins us now.
Secretary Mayorkas, thank you for joining us this morning.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Good morning, George. Thank you for having me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you know, the president’s come under fire from some of his closest allies over these new asylum policies. The ACLU. The head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Several Democratic senators, including Bob Menendez, who called it "an inhumane relic of the Trump administration’s racist immigration agenda." Your response?
MAYORKAS: George, I – you know, there are three core principles here. Number one, we are dealing within a broken immigration system that Congress has failed to repair for decades. And there is unanimity with respect to that reality. Number one.
Number two, the world is dealing with the greatest displacement of people since World War II in the Western Hemisphere. Our entire hemisphere is gripped with a migration challenge.
And, three, we, here in the United States, are premising our actions on the following. We want individuals who qualify for relief under our laws to come to the United States in a safe and orderly way. And that is why we are building lawful pathways so people do not have to place their lives and their life savings in the hands of ruthless smugglers. Those are the three core principles underlying our actions. That’s the reality that we are dealing with.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you know, Mr. Secretary, your allies say that the administration’s continued use of this Title 42 authority is what the problem is right now. And the administration has the ability to end that policy on its own.
MAYORKAS: George, we’ve tried to end the use of Title 42. We sought to end it, and we were prevented from doing so by a district court in Louisiana. So, we cannot use our ordinary immigration authorities to the fullest extent. We’ve tried to.
And so, under the court’s order, we are continuing to apply Title 42 until the Supreme Court’s ruling.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the Supreme Court does say you can act on your own.
MAYORKAS: But the district court in Louisiana does not. The district court in Louisiana, when we tried to use our ordinary immigration enforcement authorities under Title 8 of the United States code, prevented us from doing so and said that we had to employ Title 42 to the full extent of our capabilities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You really are taking it from both sides on this issue. The Texas governor -- we saw Greg Abbott in the piece there -- he calls this a Band-aid and he says you need to be adding more funding and resources to border enforcement right now.
MAYORKAS: Well, Governor Abbott is not collaborating with the federal government on an issue that requires collaboration. We cannot have the rights and the needs of individuals who are seeing humanitarian relief in the United States be exploited for political purposes. We cannot have unilateral governor action that is not coordinated with the federal government to address an issue that is of national importance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As of yesterday morning, Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House. And back in November, he suggested that you might be impeached if you don’t resign. Here’s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: What’s your response to the speaker?
MAYORKAS: I am joining the president today on his visit to El Paso, Texas. I've been to the border quite a number of times.
I'm joining the president at the North Mexican Leader’s Summit in Mexico City to work with our partners in Mexico and Canada to address the security of the homeland. I've got a lot of work to do. I'm proud to do it, alongside 250,000 incredibly dedicated and talented individuals in the Department of Homeland Security and I'm going to continue to do my work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you have no intention of resigning?
MAYORKAS: I do not. I've got a lot of work to do, and we’re going to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you prepared for the investigations?
MAYORKAS: I am. I will be. And I’ll continue to do my work throughout them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you said, you’re going to be joining the president today, both at the border and then on to Mexico. What do you hope to accomplish on this mission?
MAYORKAS: I have been to El Paso as recently as just a few weeks ago. I've been there quite a number of times. I've spoken with the president. He has requested my visits to the border. I have gone on my own, of course.
And I want him to see the extraordinary work of the men and women of the United States Border Patrol, of Customs and Border Protection’s field operations, how we have surged resources to address a challenge that is not unique to the southern border of the United States. It’s a challenge that is really gripping our entire hemisphere.
You know, George, I was in Columbia just a few weeks ago, the country of Columbia. And there are 2.4 million Venezuelans in Columbia now. I was in Costa Rica a few months ago, and Costa Rica’s population is increasing in the number of Nicaraguans. I was in Ecuador a few weeks ago and they too are really experiencing unprecedented migration challenges.
This is something that is not unique to the United States. It’s gripping the hemisphere. And a regional challenge requires a regional solution. And that’s one of the elements of the North American Leader’s Summit that we look forward to addressing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Mayorkas, thanks for your time this morning.
MAYORKAS: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s next. We’ll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is coming right up. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I do want to especially thank President Trump. I don't think anyone should doubt his influence. He was with me from the beginning. Somebody wrote, they doubt if whether he was there. He was all in. He would call me and he would call others.
We got to do so much work to do and he was great influence to make that all happen. So, thank you, President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kevin McCarthy on Saturday morning, the new speaker of the House.
Let's talk about this on our roundtable. I’m joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, “New York Times” senior political reporter Maggie Haberman, and the Washington bureau chief for “USA Today”, Susan Page.
And, Chris, let me begin with you. Fifteen ballots, I guess on the 16th, they finally got through for Kevin McCarthy. He clearly thinks it was worth it. But did he give up too much?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think that in Washington, George, it’s a zero-sum game, right? Either you win or you lose. And winning is better than losing.
So, if you’re Kevin McCarthy this morning, you got to be happy. And I think three things about this, first, it showed how tough he is. That’s to sit there --
STEPHANOPOULOS: It didn’t have to take a lot over the week, no question about that.
CHRISTIE: Yeah, right? So, he’s doing that and it shows his toughness which he's going to need over the next two years.
Second, I think it's important to note, over 15 ballots, he lost two votes. He went from 202 to 200. To keep those 200 people on his team was quite a feat as well.
But now, here's the real point, which is, you got to govern now. And so the challenge is going to be, how do you lead a group like that to getting to 218 on a number of issues that you care about and a number of issues you want to play defense on? And that's going to be interesting to watch over the next two years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Because Susan Page, of course, in the end, he didn't have 218 “yes” votes. He had a lot of people take a walk at the end which got him over the line.
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Of course, Nancy Pelosi went with 216 votes last time around and it was seen as a show of strength because she did it behind closed doors and without giving things up, in the same way Kevin McCarthy did. I think the new speaker's problem is, he didn't resolve the divide in the Republican Party, he empowered the insurgents so that Scott Perry, who you just interviewed, is almost as powerful as Kevin McCarthy in this next Congress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you did hear, Donna Brazile, Mr. Perry say that this is just going back to the rules that they did have before, in the old days. Any member could bring a motion to vacate the office --
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: George, in the old days before cable television, before social media. You know, he quoted Frederick Douglas. Frederick Douglas, a great abolitionist, a great speaker, who once also said, it's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. That Republican caucus is broken. It's broken because it has a split personality. The Freedom Caucus, unlike the Progressive Caucus that Nancy Pelosi could bring to the table, the Freedom Caucus held out because they want committee slots, they want to run the Rules Committee, which is a very powerful committee, they want to make sure that they're on the so-called Appropriations Committee, the Budget Committee. They are going to create havoc, not just for Kevin McCarthy, but for the United States of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Maggie, and we heard Speaker McCarthy right there say that Donald Trump deserves a lot of credit. Does he?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER & AUTHOR, 'CONFIDENCE MAN': I don't know about a lot, you know, considering that he had endorsed McCarthy and early in the week made a public push for him that he hadn’t wanted to make. He had to do it because he gave some mealy mouth comment to an NBC reporter. And that didn’t do anything. But he – he did matter at the end, in that very final motion to adjourn right before they voted in McCarthy, he did make calls to people like Matt Gaetz and he did have some influence there. That's a problem for Kevin McCarthy is that it’s not just Scott Perry and the House Freedom Caucus, it’s this Matt Gaetz group. And Matt Gaetz he kept his folks together. And he is now in a pretty strong position with McCarthy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Chris, let's talk a little bit more about what's going to happen going forward. Open amendments on every spending bill. Clearly he made a promise about the debt limit, that he was going to have to tie it to spending cuts, which President Biden has absolutely ruled out.
Are we heading towards a major fiscal crisis sooner rather than later?
CHRISTIE: Well, George, I’ll tell you, I –I governed for eight years in New Jersey with a Democratic legislation. And if I ever stood up and said on the budget, for instance, I'm not negotiating, I'm not negotiating. This is – this is my budget. This -- I'm not negotiating. People would say I was an obstructionist.
President Biden, to say he's not going to negotiate, defies the reality of his situation. He lost the House. He's got to negotiate. And so to say that the Republicans would be the obstructionists, well, now you have divided government and you have to -- both sides are going to have to give. Chuck Schumer is going to have to give. Joe Biden is going to have to give. And Kevin McCarthy’s going to have to give ultimately.
So, if we have a fiscal disaster because of some of these things, it's going to be us judging who's been willing to negotiate and who hasn't. There are lot of things I had to give as governor that I didn't want to give, but the people elected a Democratic legislature in the very same way Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer may not want to give on some of these spending issues, but the people elected a Republican House. They’re going to have to get real about it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It does appear we’re going to have a game of chicken going on here, Donna.
BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely, George. I mean I -- probably the reason why I got this hair color is because I spent so many of my formative years, like you did, on the House. And you knew about how contentious these battles can become. But even on a discharge position – and I don’t want to get wonky about the House rules – but even on a discharge position, it –
STEPHANOPOULOS: You should explain what it was, the discharge –
BRAZILE: Well, this is when you’re trying to get a major piece of legislation, like a -- the debt ceiling. You’ve got to get the majority of the House. If -- if Kevin McCarthy, as speaker, says, well, I'm -- I'm not for it, then how do you get over the 218 threshold?
So, I do believe that Kevin McCarthy is going to have a very difficult job maintaining the unity of the Republican caucus – I don’t even know why I can put “unity” and “Republican” in the same breath. I mean Hakeem Jeffries is going to have a unified caucus. I don't believe that Kevin McCarthy will be able to get the votes he need on the debt ceiling, on the functioning of government, which is to keep it funded, and on any major crisis that might come before us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Susan Page, one of the other big questions is going to be, do the House Republicans align with the Senate Republicans? We did see President Biden made a point this week of traveling to be with Senator Mitch McConnell to talk about infrastructure projects, spending, that some Republicans voted for.
PAGE: You know, senators and members of the House often do not align in either party. You know that. The attitudes that members of the two bodies can have to each other. So, I'm – I'm not sure I think that’s – that’s the case.
I think it's interesting, though, that we're talking, not about any new legislation, we’re talking about, can we keep the government functioning for the next two years? Can we raise the debt ceiling later this summer? Can there be financing for the government?
And I think maybe the question we ought to ask is not if Kevin McCarthy can hold his group together to get something through that could get through the Senate, could get signed by the president. Could there be a coalition of the more moderate Republicans and the more moderate Democrats to get things through in the House?
That's not something we saw happen in the speaker's fight. I think that is possible that we could see it...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it certainly seems possible in the Senate, but in the House it wasn't even under consideration when they were going through these speaker negotiations.
PAGE: So how did -- so how do you get -- raise the debt ceiling in a way that is acceptable to the Freedom Caucus and acceptable to the president of the United States? That is a really hard question to answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All against the backdrop, Maggie Haberman, of the looming presidential campaign. Certainly President Biden is indicating that he's full steam ahead.
HABERMAN: Yeah, he seems to be running. I think anybody who is questioning that Biden is actually running right now is kidding themselves. Every move he is making is toward that.
The thing we have not discussed, that this Congress is looking at, that these Republicans are looking at, are investigating the investigators. You asked about Donald Trump. You talked to Scott Perry about this earlier. That's going to be a big focus. A lot of the reason that Donald Trump got involved in this and people around him got involved in this is they want to start pushing back on these investigations. And these investigations are a backdrop to this presidential campaign as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Chris Christie, isn't that, sort of, at odds with what worked for the Republicans, or didn't work for the Republicans, in the presidential election. Looking back at January 6th certainly seemed to hurt them in -- in the 2020 -- in the midterms.
CHRISTIE: There's no doubt that it did. But, George, it depends on, when you do these investigations, how you do them. If they are purely looking backwards and trying to shoot holes in things, that's going to be counterproductive. If, though, you're looking at conduct of some people in the FBI or the Department of Justice, to say "We have to stop this from happening in the future," well, then that's a different kind of looking, investigation...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... spent the last three years investigating the FBI and coming up with zero?
CHRISTIE: Well, look, it won't be the first time that Congress didn't believe something the executive branch did, right?
So Congress wants to learn, and we also know that members of Congress want to be able to exercise their muscles, a little bit, especially a new majority.
But one thing on Kevin McCarthy, in all this. You know, people were talking about him like he got elected president. He didn't. He got elected speaker. He's not prime minister. In the end Joe Biden is the president of the United States. And so if consensus is going to be built here, that Susan talked about, and everything else, the president's going to have to try to force that consensus in a divided government. He's going to have to try to convince Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats to do things.
And let's not forget. He was often not successful at that when it was dealing with Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. So there's whole bunch of challenges that are not just Kevin McCarthy's. They're Joe Biden's, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and, most especially, Donna, if indeed there's a fiscal crisis this year, that could plunge us into a recession, as the president is hoping, to face re-election.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. Look, I can't stop reading the House rules package.
I mean this is getting...
CHRISTIE: Donna -- you need a life, Donna, if you can't stop reading the House rules package.
BRAZILE: No, I'm going to watch football later, OK. I love...
CHRISTIE: You've got to stop. Come on.
I'm taking you back to my house. We're going to watch some football this afternoon. Put that away.
CHRISTIE: And, look, please let me do the cooking.
But, look, George, they're going to establish a select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government to investigate the full extent of the Biden administration assault on the constitutional rights of of American citizens. This is going to be high drama. I mean, we're going to have to turn off all our cable channels now to focus on what they're doing in the Congress. This is going to be a lot of drama.
And, yes, you are absolutely right. It's about Donald Trump because he remains a very potent factor in the Republican Party. And you saw that when Marjorie Taylor Greene -- I don't even know her that well -- she was passing around her cell phone. I saw so many calls.
HABERMAN: Yeah, but you could read that two ways, because she was also approaching a congressman who said "Don't put me in that position" and brushed the phone off. And I thought that was the split screen that we saw with Trump in this past week.
BRAZILE: That's right.
HABERMAN: He definitely still has influence; he's definitely still important, but he's not president anymore, and he's not what he was.
CHRISTIE: That wouldn't have happened three years ago.
BRAZILE: It wouldn't have happened. But they are going to try to weaponize. You see this. This is in writing. And next week, when they finally decide on the rules package and all of the committee chairs, George, they're -- they still have what they call this -- this -- a roundabout who's going to run these various committees, because Kevin McCarthy could not agree to anything until he had the hardliners on board.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Susan Page, that could -- that could have a real impact on the White House. We know they're staffing up the counsel's office now to deal with all these investigations. Is that going to impose a kind of paralysis as well?
PAGE: Well, it can. Of course, White Houses have a lot of modern experience in compartmentalizing investigations and scandal from -- from doing government.
You know, I think the Biden White House actually feels as good as you can feel having lost a branch -- the House of Representatives. Because they have some things that were passed in the first few years that they can talk about. Witness the infrastructure bill that we saw, that split screen event with -- in Kentucky and Ohio.
And so they'll talk about the achievements of the past and they'll count on House Republicans going too far. You know, if House Republicans talk about constraining federal spending, that's popular. If they talk about defending Donald Trump against Department of Justice investigations, that is not popular.
HABERMAN: And they are going to talk about...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Or if they talk about...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, though, Donald Trump's presidential campaign doesn't really seem to be going anywhere.
HABERMAN: Well, it may go somewhere now that we're in a new year. He's the only declared candidate, so I don't think we can ignore that part. But I've certainly never seen anything like this; I don't think any of us have, where somebody announces for president and then basically does nothing. Now, he is still commanding a decent chunk of the Republican primary electorate. So you can't say that he done. But he is certainly not being handed anything. And as we saw over the past week, he just doesn't have the same fear factor with his party that he had once upon a time.
I don't know if it's going anywhere or not. We're not going to know a lot until we know whether he is facing any potential criminal...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Which could come pretty soon, both in Fulton County in Georgia and with this...
HABERMAN: No question.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... working right now.
Chris, how does this impact those who, some say, you, are looking at the possibility of running for president next time around as well?
CHRISTIE: I don't think much. In fact, I think this is going to be a slow-moving race and not a quickly moving one. And I think what Donald Trump did by declaring really early was give anybody else who's considering it a pass to wait and see how things go.
And so I don't think it's going to very quickly moving, and I also don't think it's going to be a very large field. I don't think it's going to be more than seven or eight people, max. And so all that's going to take time to develop. I wouldn't expect a field to fully develop until the end of June. Because the RNC has said the first debates are going to be in July, in Milwaukee. And I don't think anybody is going to feel any compulsion to get in...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there something to be gained, though, by being the first person out to challenge him?
CHRISTIE: Heck, no. I think the...
I think the exact opposite.
CHRISTIE: Donald Trump has nothing to do right now, right? And in part because he has no one to shoot at. He has no opponent.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CHRISTIE: So who wants to be the first one in the pool, to be the one who's the target? I think this is going to be a "hang around the rim" enterprise.
Everyone's going to be waiting to see which way the rebound goes and whether they want to grab it or they don't want to grab it. And I think, to go in early, huge political strategic mistake.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, we only have about 30 seconds left. Has President Biden foreclosed a challenge right now?
BRAZILE: So far, I think he's running. And let me tell you why. This past week, that bipartisan event he had -- he had in Ohio, or Kentucky, wherever; also, going to the border, that's another sign. And I'll tell one last sign. The calendar still works in his favor.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very...
CHRISTIE: You're going to see a meeting in Philadelphia in February. Get ready.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, two years after the January 6th insurrection, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn describes the recurring trauma of that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Private First Class Harry Dunn from the United States Capitol Police, 14 years on the force. On that day, he was outside Speaker Pelosi's office. He stood guard protecting fellow officers who already injured. He was fighting back insurrectionists across the Capitol while being called the vilest, racist names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian honor, to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and other officers for defending the Capitol during the January 6th insurrection.
Chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas spoke with Dunn about that day.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: January 6th. Give me some words that come to mind.
HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Horror. Dark. Anger. Betrayal.
THOMAS: When the dark moments come, how do they manifest? Do you have flashbacks?
DUNN: I never lost sight of those visions that you had the flash bangs, the smoke, the calls on the radio.
THOMAS: You posted something on Twitter back in September that, you know, stopped me in my tracks.
Quote, I’ve been struggling the last few days. This weekend, I had PTSD flare up, it was scary. I share this with the hope that someone who might read this who has been struggling also will come to realize that even strong people need help.
DUNN: That moment in time hit me so hard because I made such good progress to heal and to be able to deal with these emotions and these feelings. You know, I could walk in and not be fazed by seeing somebody in a MAGA hat or a Confederate flag.
But it was just like out of nowhere just ripped away from me and it broke me. You know, it broke me.
THOMAS: How did you find enough strength in a moment like that to tweet and think about other people, you said I’m not putting this out just for me?
DUNN: If I can show my vulnerability in that and through that encourages somebody else makes me feel good.
Mental health is health, period. Just like we take care of our bodies, we got to take care of our minds.
THOMAS: January 6th has been a part of your life. I have those images of you in my mind of being at every single public hearing.
DUNN: Accountability matters to me. And accountability I think will bring healing.
THOMAS: Some want to minimize January 6th and act like it is something we should get past. Don't think about it, minimize it.
DUNN: Normally, I would, you know, get angry and I’m not going argue with individuals anymore, especially over facts. I’m not going to continue ramming my head into this wall expecting that wall to move.
THOMAS: Former President Trump has been very vocal. How responsible is he?
DUNN: There were criminal things that the former president has done and I don't see how you cannot hold him accountable for that day.
The people there were terrorists. Look up the definition of domestic terrorism. That’s what it was. They incited fear. They tried to overturn the will of the American people. There wasn't a fake election. So they were up there based on a lie.
THOMAS: I'm still haunted by you being called the "n" word.
DUNN: A word’s a weapon. And on that day, it was used as a weapon.
THOMAS: It’s a weapon but yet I still stand.
DUNN: And tall. I stand tall.
But I definitely make it a point now every day to walk through the Rotunda of the Capitol. You know, our ancestors, they built it.
THOMAS: Our black ancestors.
DUNN: Exactly. It’s how it came full circle. You know, they built it and now I'm entrusted to protect it. I look at it and I just marvel at it. People wanted to topple it.
THOMAS: You had a moment in our first interview when you – you asked the question, is this America?
DUNN: This is America. This is America. And through my experience, I've realized that there are more good people out there than bad people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Pierre Thomas for that.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and I’ll see you tomorrow on "GMA."