A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Split decision.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: We don't agonize, we organize.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats take back the House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is never any fight that is too big for us to pick.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Promise to take on Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, ready or not here we come.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president touts gains in the senate.
TRUMP: I thought it was a very close to a complete victory.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Takes aim at the House.
TRUMP: Being in the majority, I'm just going to blame them, you understand. I'm going to blame them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The stage now set for showdowns in Washington. Democrats vow to check Trump. The president warns that means war. Will either side prevail? Can they work together on anything? What will that mean for you? We talk to two new committee chairs who will investigate the Trump administration. Elijah Cummings will head Oversight, Jerry Nadler will chair the Judiciary Committee.
TRUMP: Matt Whittaker is a very smart man, very respected at the top of the line.
I think he'll do a very good job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump's choice to fill in for fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions already under fire.
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA: I think he has a clear conflict of interest.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the new attorney general be forced to recuse from the Russia investigation? If he stays, can he stop Mueller's work? How long will he hold the job? We ask White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, plus insight and analysis from our powerhouse round table.
We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Good morning and welcome to This Week. The midterms had something for everyone. Democrats take back the House with well north of 30 new members. Republicans solidify their hold on the senate. Two more seats right now.
And political junkies now have a recount in Florida to relish, bringing back those 2000 memories of butterfly ballots and hanging chads.
Tuesday night President Trump called the midterms a tremendous success. So, why was he so angry the rest of the week mocking Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mia Love gave me no love and she lost, too bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Attacking reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That's such a racist question.
What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And warning Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They can look at us, and we can look at them. And it will go back and forth.
All it is, is a war-like posture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, we start with two of the House Democrats who will have the power to investigate the president -- Jerrold Nalder, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Elijah Cummings who will chair the Oversight Committee.
And Congressman Cummings, let me begin with you this morning. You just heard the president right there. He said that if Democrats investigate it's going to be a war-like poster. Are you ready to go to war?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: I'm not going to war with anyone. What I am going to do is do what the American people said they wanted us to do through this election, even in Trump country, they basically are saying that we want transparency, we want honesty and we want integrity.
But they want something else, George, they want accountability with regard to this president. That is exactly what I'm going to do, if I'm blessed to have that opportunity and this is what the constitution requires of us.
And so we're going to do our part.
But George, I'm not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody's handing out candy on Halloween. I take this as a lawyer and as an officer of the court, I take subpoenas very seriously. And I plan to, if I have to use them, they will be used in a very -- in a methodical way and it must be in the public interest. And so -- but we’re going to -- we need -- we have got a lot to do. So, I'm laser focused -- laser focused on those issues that even President Trump says that he wants to work on, such as prescription drug prices, the high price of prescription drugs, such as making sure that we protect people with regard to pre-existing conditions.
I must admit that he just came late in saying that, but, you know, if he wants to do that, that's fine. But we've got a lot of work to do. And voting rights. We have got to deal with things like voting rights.
So, we've got a lot on our plate. We don't have time -- I'm not worried about the threats, I am -- I am -- again, I want to do what the American people sent us to Washington to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're saying you can investigate and work on policy at the same time. What are your top oversight priorities?
CUMMINGS: George, I really want to look at some things that affect people on a day to day basis such as, as I said drug prices and health care issues. But I also want to look at things like the census. We are having some problems right now with regard to the Trump administration wanting to put in a citizenship question, which we know will discourage people from participating in the census. Very important. That’s right around the corner.
Again, we’ve got to look at things like voter -- voter suppression. We cannot have a country where we do -- where we have -- it becomes normal to do everything in folk’s power to stop people from voting.
There’s no reason why in the United States of America people should be standing in line for four and five hours and -- and basically being pushed away from the polls. We’ve got to turn that around.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And when you’re in the minority as a Democrat over the last couple years, you’ve written a lot of letters talking about the need for oversight of the president, whether he’s in violation of the emoluments clause, other cabinet officials. Are those on the table as well?
CUMMINGS: Definitely. Definitely. We definitely want to look at the emolument clause, possible violations. I think there are probably many of them. We want to look at things like the FBI building fiasco where the president injected himself into that debate as to where it would be located, we think for his benefit. We got to figure out when is he acting on behalf of the American people in a lot of his decisions or -- or is he acting on his own behalf? But there’s something else that we’ve got to do.
The president has two years left in his term. He spent almost his entire campaign talking about our infrastructure. We have to sit down -- he says -- he claims -- he claims he wants to work with us. We need to sit down and address the issue of infrastructure. We’ve got bridges and roads that need to be repaired and we’ve got to do that -- and we can do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your colleague Adam Schiff said they want to look -- he also wants to look into the idea of Amazon, whether the president tried to retaliate against Amazon because Jeff Bezos, the owner, owns the Washington Post and involving the Postal Service there. Also whether he interfered in the merger -- in the Time Warner merger as a way to retaliate against CNN. Is that on the table?
CUMMINGS: Yes, we may want to look into that. Keep in mind that the president has constantly been messing with our postal system. I don’t -- it seems as if he wants to privatize it. And we have legislation right now, George, that will cure that. We just got to put it on the floor. When -- with the Democrats in control we can get that postal bill on the floor and makes -- and save our postal system. And those are the kinds of things that I want to do. Not only -- I’m going to look at Trump -- President Trump, but I’m also -- but more importantly I’m going to try to work with our Republicans friends to do things for the American people. They’re tired of us not doing things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On that question of working with Republicans, are you willing to go back to the days where the subpoena power on the Oversight Committee and other committees was a shared responsibility with the minority?
CUMMINGS: I’m going to share to a certain degree. And again, I see subpoenas as really a method of last resort. As a lawyer, I know the power of a subpoena. Once you send somebody a subpoena, they’ve got to get a lawyer, and -- and it’s -- it’s a lot there. So what I’m going to try -- I’m hopefully -- I’m hoping that we’ll have consultation with the Republicans, where we could agree. But -- but if it comes down to me believing something is in the public interest, I want to do deliberately -- deliberatively. But I’m going to do what I think is best. And I’m going to do what the Constitution demands that we do.
And I would ask that the president not try to stand in our way of doing our job as members of the Congress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well I want to ask you about that. What are you going to do if the administration or the White House refuse to answer and comply with your subpoenas?
CUMMINGS: We will cross that bridge when we get to it. I’m not going to deal with that hypothetical because I’m -- I’m more optimistic than that. But I promise you we will deal with that when we get to it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader wants to run for speaker. Does she have your vote?
CUMMINGS: She’s got my vote. Nancy Pelosi has been battle-tested. I have watched her -- I’ve said it many times, she’s a phenomenal speaker. And so she -- she -- and now that we have all of these women coming into the Congress it would be a damn shame that you then replaced this fearless leader with a man. It is -- is -- it’s her time and again, she’s battle-tested and I’m looking forward to working with her as my speaker. And I’m going to vote for her and encourage all my colleagues to vote for her.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Cummings, thanks for your time this morning.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we’re joined now by the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York. Congressman, let’s pick up where we just left off with Congressman Cummings. Does Nancy Pelosi have your vote, will she be the next speaker?
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: I believe she will be the next speaker. I think Nancy was a wonderful speaker, she’s been a great minority leader and I think she’s one of the finest legislative craftspeople of our time. I think without her leadership we would not have had the Affordable Care Act, we wouldn’t have preexisting conditions, and she most certainly has my support.
I will do anything I can to make sure that she’s the speaker again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Several of these new members coming in, including your colleague from Staten Island, Max Rose, say they’re not going to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker.
How – how serious a threat is that?
NADLER: Well I think there are – there are a number people who won’t support her, but I think she will have the overwhelming support of the Democratic caucus and I think she will be elected speaker.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You chair – you will chair the Judiciary Committee, the president just announced that Matt Whitaker will be the acting attorney general. Do believe that appointment was legal?
NADLER: I don’t think it is legal because there’s no advice and consent. I don’t think the attorney general can – can – can be appointed without advice and consent of the – of the Senate, without the consent of the Senate.
But I’ll go further, the – his appointment is simply part of an attack on the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. It’s part of a pattern of interference by the president and part of a pattern of obstruction of that – attempt of obstruction of that investigation.
And that investigation is very important to assure the rule of law and to assure that we know what happened when the Russians attempted to subvert our election with the alleged complicity of people in the Trump campaign.
It’s very important that the integrity of our elections be assured. And so we have to protect that investigation for the reasons I just stated and to show that not – not the president, not anybody is above the law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say his choice is part of a pattern of obstruction. When you put all the pieces together over the last year and a half, do you believe the president has obstructed justice?
NADLER: I’m not prepared to say that yes – to say that yet. Let’s say that there’s a lot of evidence to that effect, but that’s what we will – we will be looking at. It’s what the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee should have been having proper investigations about but the Republicans in Congress did not want to hold the president accountable.
They surrendered their constitutional duty of – of providing a check and a balance. We will not. We will provide a check and a balance, we will hold the president accountable. He will learn that he is accountable, that he’s not above the law and that’s part of what we’ll have to look at.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So far Matt Whitaker says he’s not going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. If he restricts Mueller, if he blocks, for example, a subpoena of the president, if he refuses to release a final report from Robert Mueller, what recourse do you have?
NADLER: Well we could – we could subpoena the final report, we could subpoena Mueller and ask him in front of the committee what was in your final report, those are things we could do.
But the fact is any such interference would be part of a pattern – pattern of obstruction of justice, especially since – and he should recuse himself because he has expressed total hostilities, he’s – to the – to the investigation.
He has said the investigation shouldn’t go forward, and someone who said that should not be in charge of deciding on the investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if Matt Whitaker is still the acting attorney general when you become chair of the Judiciary Committee –
NADLER: We – we will make sure that Matt Whitaker immediately – one of our first orders of business will be to invite him and if necessary to subpoena him to appear – to appear before the committee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You would be responsible as chair of the Judiciary Committee for any potential impeachment hearings. And you’re facing a lot of cross pressures, you’ve got – see (ph) you just laughed at that idea.
You’ve got top Democrats like Tom Steyer, Op-Ed in the New York Times this week saying Democrats must pursue impeachment. You’ve got a lot of others warning that that would be overreach if you went too quickly. How are you going to balance that out?
NADLER: Well I think it’s too early to – to make that determination. You have to be very reluctant to do an impeachment. I criticized the Republicans 20 years ago for the Clinton impeachment because I thought it was not based.
We will have to see from the Mueller investigation, from whatever we find, because Congress should be active in our own investigations and our own upholding of our duty to hold the administration accountable and to provide a check and a balance.
We have to look into all kinds of questions. We’ll have to find out, if we find it – that the president has or has not committed apparently impeachable offenses and whether those impeachable offenses rise to the gravity which would necessitate putting together – putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment process.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what is your top oversight priority?
NADLER: Right now our top priority is to protect the Mueller investigation, to protect the integrity of that investigation from the White House attempt to stifle it and to – to interfere with it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Last time you were on the program before the elections, you talked about the possibilities of investigating Justice Kavanaugh. Is that still on the table?
NADLER: Well it’s not a question of investigating Justice Kavanaugh. We do have a responsibility I believe to investigate the – the process by which the FBI was stifled in its investigation by the White House.
When the FBI was asked to investigate, there was not a complete investigation, for the reasons I state then. A lot of witnesses who should’ve been – who volunteered to come forward weren’t – weren’t interviewed and so forth. But we have to invest -- look into that with a view toward making sure that future FBI investigations are not subject to the same kind of White House interference and -- and can be relied upon.
That’s the – the part that we – I think we have to look at, not with a view toward doing anything about Justice Kavanaugh there – he’s there, unfortunately – but with a view toward making sure that the integrity of the process for the future is restored.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The last couple weeks, you’ve seen two more deadly mass shootings in this country. Several of your colleagues, new Democrats in the House are elected, promising to pursue more serious gun control. That comes under the umbrella of the Judiciary Committee. What are you going to do?
NADLER: Well, we will certainly pursue sensible gun control legislation as one of our priorities. You know, we just elected – I campaigned in Georgia a few weeks ago for Lucy McBath who won her election in – in a district, which I think was originally Newt Gingrich’s…
NADLER: …District. She was a mother whose son was murdered with a gun six years ago in 2012 over a dispute over loud music. And she got involved in -- in gun control – in the gun control cause. She was involved especially after the Parkland shootings. And the fact that Congress has done nothing about this to protect the American people motivated her to run and she will be a very invaluable member of Congress for many reasons, but among others, for the personal experience she brings to bear upon this.
We’re having – we’re getting to the point now where we’re having mass shootings every week. It’s not even – it’s hardly news. You know, we have – we’re told that – by the NRA and others that the problem is mental health or whatever. But you look at Western Europe, you look at Japan and they have 50 gun deaths, 120 gun deaths, 150 gun deaths, we have 33,000 a year. It’s a slander on the American people to say that our people are 10,000 times as mentally ill as people in Western Europe or Japan.
The problem is the unfettered use of assault – of military-style weapons, the lack of appropriate background checks, and we will do – we will have to deal with this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Nadler, thanks for your time this morning.
NADLER: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, we have the White House response from Counsel Kellyanne Conway, plus our powerhouse roundtable. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well Matt Whitaker -- I don’t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions and he was always extremely highly thought of and he still is. But I didn’t know Matt Whitaker. I don’t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker has a great reputation and that’s what I wanted. In all fairness to Matt Whitaker -- who again, I didn’t know, OK? Other than through reputation. Matt Whitaker is a highly respected man, but I didn’t know Matt Whitaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the president on Friday talking about his pick for the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker. We’re joined now by the president’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway. Welcome back to THIS WEEK, Kellyanne. So we saw what the president said on Friday, which, you know, raised a lot of eyebrows because of what the president said earlier this month. Just want to show everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can tell you Matt Whitaker’s a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So why did the president change his story?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president is saying he didn’t know him before. I mean, he’s not slotting in just an old friend of his. He’s actually elevating --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I don’t know -- twice, just what we just showed.
CONWAY: But what he means is -- and I talked to him just this morning, he called me from Paris about this to say he’s got 100 percent confidence behind Matt Whitaker. The deputy attorney general has called Matt Whitaker a superb choice, says, quote, he knows the department, he knows the work. That’s important because Mr. Rosenstein has been overseeing the Mueller investigation and he’s still in place as the number two at Justice. What the president means is he’s not slotting in somebody that’s an old friend or somebody he thinks that he’s discussed the Mueller investigation with at length.
There’s actually no -- no evidence to me that Mr. Whitaker knows anything about the ongoing Mueller investigation. He’s been the chief of staff to the recused attorney general for 13 months. But the president wanted to have a continuum. He wanted to elevate somebody who’s already, in this case the chief of staff who’s been there for 13 months and keep the DAG in place also.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, but you know, there have been reports even predating the choice of -- of -- of Matt Whitaker that he had met with the president several times in the Oval Office, maybe a dozen times. New York Times said they had great chemistry, that’s one of the things the president liked about him. He clearly knew Matt Whitaker, was -- was familiar with his reputation, was familiar with his work, so we just don’t understand why he would tell the whole country I don’t know the man.
CONWAY: Well he’s saying -- no, no, he’s saying I don’t know him, he’s saying I don’t him well or I didn’t know him before. He said in your last part of the clip I didn’t know him before except that he was the chief of staff and that he’s highly respected. That’s all he means. And I think it’s important to show that the president is trying to have a continuum because we’ve already been very compliant with the Mueller investigation. 1.4 million pieces of paper produced, 33 and counting individuals who either have been interviewed or asked to produce information. Everybody has been very compliant.
And I would point out, though, according to your own ABC News poll released this week, you know two data points in there that are instructive. One is 42 percent approve of the way Mr. Mueller is handling the investigation, 46 percent now disapprove. That's different. And in the separate question, according to the poll you released, 41 percent believe it's a justified investigation, and 54 percent call it politically motivated.
We've been compliant. It's going to go on. Nobody’s interrupting it and interfering with it, but I think many Americans have a legitimate question when will this end?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, has the president asked Matt Whitaker not to interfere with the Mueller investigation?
CONWAY: I am not aware of that. I doubt that he would do that, because it would just -- it would prolong it. And Congress, the Democratic Congress, I don't think a Republicans Congress would allow that, George. We've been nothing but compliant.
But let's go back, too, to what the president said on Wednesday in that stem winder (ph) of a press conference, he answered 68 questions from 35 reporters, and a few of them had to do with the Mueller investigation and also with Russia collusion. He's saying what he said all along, there is no collusion with Russia. And if this investigation has taken other areas, gone down other avenues, that's -- that’s -- that’s again, away from what we were all promised from the beginning which is the campaign that I ran to a successful part somehow colluded with Russia. We did not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that everybody has been waiting for is whether the president answer the questions of Robert Mueller. Does the president intend to submit written answers to the questions from Mueller. Will he meet with him in person?
CONWAY: Well, you’d have to ask his outside counsel that. But I don't know -- I can't really blame the president if he doesn't just because of everything that has happened with this investigation.
But at the same time, he has always said he would be willing to answer the questions. I read a report this week. And I'm careful not to ask for verification of the report one way or the other, I work in the White House. I'm not the president's outside counsel, George, that the president may be submitting answers to questions. So, we'll see what happens.
But I have to repeat it, 1.4 million pieces of paper and over 33 people have met with Mr. Mueller in some type of capacity. We've been nothing but helpful here.
And I think comments that Matt Whitaker made as a private citizen on cable TV does not disqualify him from being fair and impartial by overseeing this investigation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the president does not want him to recuse from the Mueller investigation?
CONWAY: The president has not discussed that with me. In fact, this morning when he called me from Paris he said I'm 100 percent -- we were talking about other things, but I'm 100 percent behind Matt Whitaker, and he's never asked him to recuse -- in fact, I've never heard the president mention Matt Whitaker and Bob Mueller in the same sentence in my presence. And I've been in some of those meetings in the Oval Office with Matt Whitaker. He's there doing the Justice Department's business.
The Justice Department does an awful lot more for this country beyond the Mueller investigation, and we should remember that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's also the question of whether or not the appointment of Mr. Whitaker is legal. You saw Jerrold Nadler say he doesn't think it is. Your own husband raised this question in an op-ed in The New York Times. I want to read that for everyone. He said that Mr. Trump's installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional, it's illegal, and it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does or tries to do in that position is invalid.
And at the same press conference on Friday the president was asked about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellyanne Conway's husband..
TRUMP: You mean Mr. Kellyanne Conway?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE; He wrote that you were unconstitutionally appointing...
TRUMP: He's trying to get publicity for himself. Why don't you do this, why don't you -- why don’t you ask Kellyanne that question, all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: So, here we are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Here we are.
CONWAY: So, a few things, people disagree -- spouses disagree every day. I'm sure you can appreciate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you don't agree with your husband's argument?
CONWAY: No, I don't. But it's also not relevant. In other words, people disagree on the constitution, that's why we have a U.S. circuit court system and indeed a United States Supreme Court. They are there to interpret the law and they disagree about the Constitution regularly.
When the president -- but I think there's something also instructive here. The president's lawyers apparently have told him that he's got -- it's constitutional. There's a statute from 1998, obviously, the vacancies statute. There is the DOJ opinion from 2003, and there's also, I think as they said, Supreme Court precedent.
But more to this point, the journalist asking the president of the United States the question referred to him as Kellyanne's husband. And he is referred to Kellyanne Conway's husband, or Kellyanne's husband far more often than he's referred to even by his first name.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the president makes that Mr. Kellyanne Conway.
CONWAY: Which is -- I'm sure the feminists are very proud of me, George, that I'm an independent thinker who has a strong, powerful position in this United States government, counselor for the president. I offer my advice and opinion to the president in private. I don't need to put on the op-ed pages of any -- and by the way, none of this will be litigated in newspapers, or on TV.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't that hard for you? Like you say, spouses disagree all the time, that's exactly right. My wife is a comedian. We basically stay in our own lanes. I stay out of comedy, she stays out of politics. Isn't it hard for you to have your husband writing an op-ed like that disagreeing with the president?
CONWAY: I will tell you this, it is -- with the president -- when the president says Mr. Kellyanne Conway and ask Kellyanne, the president is never worried how it affects him. He's always worried about how it affects me.
And I really appreciate that from my boss, from the president. He is really great to the women who work for him and he also is pointing out that I – that he – again, my – my husband’s known as me.
I’ll keep that – I’ll keep the rest of the question private. I don’t think it’s nice and I think people questioning publicly aspects of our marriage and the rest of our life is very inappropriate because I stay out of other people’s lives.
But on this one, I think what people write is – rational people, reasonable people disagree about the Constitution every single day. And I choose, because I’m in a position to do so, to give my advice and opinion to the president privately.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We have recounts now in the state of Florida, governor and Senate races, agriculture as well. The president put out a tweet on that yesterday, "Trying to steal two big elections in Florida. We are watching closely".
Does the president have any evidence the Democrats are trying to steal those elections? The Secretary of State says there is none.
CONWAY: Well the evidence is that Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis have won. In fact, Andrew Gillum conceded on the night of the election, now we’re going backwards.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well they’re both underneath the threshold for an automatic recount.
CONWAY: Now – maybe now they are, but there has been no recount that has ever turned around a total as large as we have now in either of those races. I’d say the agriculture race is even – agriculture commissioner race is even closer.
But so no – and even Marc Elias, the attorney for –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrat’s attorney.
CONWAY: Yes, Democrat’s attorney, has stated in the past that margins like this can’t be overcome. He also made a very peculiar comment saying that we’re going to win this. That’s not really what people should be worried about here.
People should be worried about a fair process. And George, we just can’t –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Any evidence – any evidence this is being stolen? One piece of evidence?
CONWAY: Well yes, we have – we have boxes of votes just appearing out of nowhere. We have Brenda Snipes who obviously has been sued successfully by a primary opponent to Debbie Wasserman Schultz for shenanigans that happened there years ago.
She probably shouldn’t still be in that position so maybe new governor –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Appointed by a Republican.
CONWAY: -- new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will do something about that. But she’s – she’s obviously someone who’s had past practices that have come under criticism by Democrats and Republicans.
And I – I think that Scott – Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis will prevail here. And we’re looking at that. But – but also look at the rules, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida has been very clear about this, George.
He has said if you look at the rules, we’re not still counting votes like they are in Arizona for example. The vote count is over and those provisional ballots had to be in by a time certain, that is not five days after the election which is what today. Also I say something about Senator Bill Nelson.
The last time he ran in 2012, he won by 1.1 million votes, clearly the people of Florida don’t want him to be their senator anymore and he should go out a little bit more gracefully. They want fresh blood.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is in the threshold for recount. We’ll see how that turns out. Kellyanne Conway, thanks for your time this morning.
CONWAY: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next, we’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), SENATE CANDIDATE, FL: I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida.
BILL NELSON, SENATOR (D-FL): Rick Scott is trying to stop all the votes from being counted and he’s impeding the democratic process.
RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GOVERNOR-ELECT: It is important that everyone involved in the election process strictly adhere to the rule of law.
ANDREW GILLUM, FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Always comes down to Florida, always takes a long time, recounts now in that state. Let’s talk about it on our roundtable with our senior congressional correspondent, Mary Bruce; our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd; Republican strategist, Sara Fagen, also a CNBC contributor; Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor, also an ABC news contributor; and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. So I’ve got two veterans of the 2000 recount, I don’t want to give you any PTSD.
So let’s start out – Matt, just talk overall about the midterms; your big takeaway from what we saw on Tuesday night.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you have to put – well, first of all, this is like 12 days of Christmas where as each day goes on, it keeps getting better for the Democrats as each race turns and the congressional races turns. I think from – for this vantage point, this was a bad day for the Republicans. It wasn’t a split decision, it wasn’t the president did well. If you take a look at all the data, the Democrats are going to have picked up more seats than they’ve picked up since Watergate.
The Democrats are going to have a larger popular margin in a midterm since 1986. The Democrats all picked up more governorships – net governorships since 1982. And so when you look at that expanse, and then put it into context, the last president with a job – with an economy like this had a 20-point-higher job approval rating and their incumbent – their incumbent party gained…
STEPHANOPOULOS: All true, but how rare is it for a president to lose seats in the House, pick up seats in the Senate?
DOWD: I think that’s reflective – I actually think that’s one of the things that came out of election night, which we saw in 2016, which is the country is incredibly divided both geographically and demographically. And so I think more and more you’re having places that are red become redder and places that are blue become bluer.
SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It was a good night for Republicans in the Senate. And the fact of the matter is they were expected to break even, maybe pick up one. It looks like they’re going to pick up two, maybe more, depending upon how these – these uncalled races end up turning out. And I do agree with Matt; it does speak to the polarization of the country. People are sorting themselves geographically. They live by people like them.
And so suburban Democrats voted for the House, conservative Republicans voted for the Republican Senate. And I think that if you think about 2020, particularly if Republicans hold the two seats, it gets hard for Democrats to take back the Senate in the next election which means Republicans are going to have a strong voice for a long time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On the governor’s race, Chris, we were talking about this a lot on Tuesday night. Democrats did well across the Midwest but did not get that big prize of Ohio and we’ll see what happens with Florida.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NJ GOVERNOR (R) AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, and listen, Republicans were at a 100-year historic high with 33 of the 50 governorships. I mean, there was only one way to go and it was down. And the fact is, when you also – and we talked about this on Tuesday night; when you have open seats, you know, we -- Republicans were defending 26, you know, 12 of them were open seats, those are hard to win.
And so, you know, the fact is that you’d love to hold 33 seats even if the Republicans all the time are not going to, even after this, you’re still going to have a majority of the governorships being held by Republicans.
RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: Well, I think there’s a blue wave with a red undertow. And both parties have something to crow about, both parties have something to be concerned about. For the Democrats, there’s no business winning the House. With this type of unemployment and a gerrymandered map, a wave reflects that you have a force bigger than structural impediments…
STEPHANOPOULOS: They seem to be mostly Republican – I mean, mostly seats that Hillary Clinton won.
EMANUEL: No, but also – listen, they’re – they’ve secured and they’re starting to secure the majority in the suburbs and some exurbs areas. The governorships is a significant gain for them. The biggest win for the Democrats, we finally got a farm team after a big drought. And that’s a big, big announcement. And the Republicans have something to crow about which is they are starting to solidify a position in Ohio. When you look at the entire Midwest, that is a flashing yellow light for us.
What’s a flashing yellow light for the Republican party, is you are losing – losing and losing bad in the suburbs and there’s a new metropolitan majority, in my view, that Democrats, if we’re smart, will block the wedge issues of the Republicans and start to solidify on healthcare costs, infrastructure, education access, and I think that’s a possibility for us to build.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you saw a lot of newcomers talking about that -- that -- that Democratic rise in suburbs mainly fueled by Repub – I mean women candidates, over 100 coming into the House right now.
MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It’s completely reshaped what the halls of Congress are going to look like. I mean, you have more than 100 women coming in; Muslim women, Native American women, the diversity is really tremendous and it does, in many ways, change the way that business does get done in Washington to a certain extent. Women, for instance, are known for getting more legislation through than -- than men.
It will be interesting to see whether any of that comes to fruition because the change now that we have in Washington is gridlock, gridlock, gridlock.
FAGEN: One more point on the midterms. I actually think Democrats should have picked up more seats in the House. When you think about where the president’s numbers were, the other environmental factors politically, Democrats didn’t do as well in the House as they could have because of a very strong economy. And this something, in -- in my view, hasn’t been talked about as much. I think Democrats should have picked up north of 40 seats. But Republicans benefitted from …
FAGEN: … the fact that the economy is so strong, unemployment is so low and if you look at the exit polling, all those voters who said the economy was good or excellent broke heavily to the Republicans.
EMANUEL: Wait -- look, wait a second, ’82, ’94, ’06, and ’10. Those were all with a bad economy. At 3.7 percent we had no business taking the House. Donald Trump was on the ballot in every congressional district and he lost. That it -- is unbelievably -- it’s a gerrymandered map, I picked the lock once in ’06. The Democrats picked the lock again and they did it in a face of the best employment. Republicans wanted to run on the economy, two months out, Donald Trump said I’m going to run on immigration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can also look at this way, Democrats should have done better given how unpopular President Trump is. Republicans should have done better given how -- how strong the economy is.
DOWD: Well, I mean, as -- as Rahm said, there was much to -- much to learn on each side. And I have a feeling that both sides may be taking the wrong lessons from this election.
EMANUEL: That’s so unusual for us…
DOWD: I -- I think what’s really the fundamental reality in the aftermath of this election which we saw in the aftermath of 2016 is Democrats have a short-term problem. And the short-term problem is their ability to appeal to a vast swath of the country geographically which is reflected in the states. It’s a short-term problem. They have to figure out a fix.
The Republicans, on the other hand, have a huge long-term problem which is their inability to win the national popular vote. They’ve only done it once in seven presidencies. They lost badly. It’s going to probably be 7 million votes of popular vote loss. And every major group that is the fastest growing group in America is becoming more and more part of a solid constituency. And George, one other thing is that the Congress now, for the first time in our country’s history, looks more like America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and I want to get to that as we look -- look ahead to 2020. Before we get there though, we -- I -- I can’t waste time and, Chris Christie, you’re on the roundtable today. Given the fact that the president is …
CHRISTIE: It’s never a waste, George, never a waste! STEPHANOPOULOS: … acting attorney general, he has not picked a permanent attorney general. People are talking about you -- talking about you for that job. Are you interested? Has he asked?
CHRISTIE: He hasn’t asked and we haven’t even spoken about it. So I was in the White House Thursday for a previously scheduled meeting on prison reform and sentencing reform which we did a lot of in New Jersey, it’s been really successful. And so the White House has asked me to help with what they’re trying to do on the national level. And that’s what I was doing there; I didn’t even see the president or speak to him.
So you know, listen, I’ve been through this dance a lot of times before. You know, the fact is the president makes his own decisions on these things and I’m -- I’m thrilled being here with you, George, so why would I want to leave?
STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but setting aside your personal …
EMANUEL: But what about us?
CHRISTIE: I’ll -- I’ll -- I’ll reserve on you, Rahm.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … setting aside your …
STEPHANOPOULOS: … personal situation, obviously Matt Whitaker under fire, calls to recusal. Some saying he doesn’t -- his appointment isn’t even legal. How long can he -- can he effectively serve as acting attorney general?
CHRISTIE: Well, by the law, 210 days. But I -- I think he’s really there to land the Mueller investigation, to get it done. I think the president, I think wisely, did not want to bring a new person into the mix who was not already in the Department.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tough for anybody to get confirmed in that situation…
CHRISTIE: Yes. And this -- and -- and -- and, plus, I don’t think you’d want to do that to -- to a new attorney general, to have them have to take on the responsibility of the Mueller investigation. Now, if they have to, they have to. But I think what the president’s attempting to do here is to have someone’s who’s already been involved, to get the Mueller investigation to its completion, and then to turn the page for a new Justice Department afterwards.
EMANUEL: Look, I think that the only reason Sessions is out is because of what he did on the Mueller investigation. And the only reason Whitaker is being asked to serve is because of the Mueller investigation. And I think he has to recuse himself because, I think, it’s a very, very dangerous point for America that’s beyond this moment. And I think the real challenge is going to be for the Senate Republicans. Are they going to find their voice on actually being advise and consent or not? And the real --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But Mitch McConnell has already answered that question.
BRUCE: Mitch McConnell has made very clear that they’re not going to be passing any kind of investigation to protect Mueller, even though he feels that the investigation should be allowed to continue unimpeded. He hasn’t said yet, though, and he’s been asked repeatedly what assurances he’s been given that make him feel that the investigation doesn’t need that kind of protection …
EMANUEL: Well, mark -- mark my words, some Republican Senate -- senators underneath him are going to feel the heat on this and be keened up …
STEPHANOPOULOS: If there’s an interference not, you know, …
BRUCE: … Right.
CHRISTIE: The assurance is that this has been going on now for quite some time. And despite some tweeting and some other things that have gone on, the president hasn’t interfered. The president hasn’t fired Bob Mueller. And so the fact is that when you’re this close to what it looks like is the conclusion, and I think most people observe this and watch how Bob Mueller’s acting, sending prosecutors back to U.S. attorney’s offices, et cetera, he’s near the end. The -- I -- I just don’t believe that the president having shown restraint to this point is going to stop showing restraint now.
FAGEN: I -- I think that Chris’ point is the right one, which is this has gone on 18 months, Bob Mueller has gotten almost …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not that long by special counsel standards.
FAGEN: … Well, but -- okay, but they’ve -- they’ve indicted three dozen people, they’ve gotten eight convictions, hundreds of Justice Department lawyers and FBI agents have been involved in this, not to mention all the witnesses and their lawyers. There’s no stopping the train that is going to the Mueller report. Matt Whitaker can’t sit on it. There’s a Democratic Congress now. So even if they did try to sit on it, this is coming out.
DOWD: I totally agree with this. What’s going to happen is we can speculate and all on what’s going to happen and all that but when Bob Mueller submits his report it’s going to drop like a thud in Washington. And it’s either going to happen right before the Democrats take the House where they have all the committees or right after they take the House. And this idea that somebody’s going to be able to control the story or somebody’s going to limit what’s in there, that’s going to drop and then every -- that’s a huge splash in the pond and then everybody’s going to have to deal with it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, pretty clear -- we all -- we heard that from Congressman Nadler. We also saw both Cummings and Nadler try to say listen, this is not the only thing we’re going to be doing. Democrats are sensitive to that charge.
BRUCE: Well, because Democrats are in real danger that they’ve become too investigative. If they just investigate and don’t legislate, that’s a problem for them. And they’ve trying to say whoa, whoa, whoa, no, we’re -- we have priorities here, we’re going to rein things in, we’re going to do this in an orderly fashion. But even if you listen to just the priorities laid out in your interviews this morning -- I mean, they range from looking into the census to conflicts of interest to the Amazon deal. I mean, there are a lot of things that this Congress wants to look into and Nancy Pelosi, if she is speaker, which it does seem likely, is going to have to find a way to corral all of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You served with her. What should the priorities be right now?
EMANUEL: Well a couple things. One is I would actually refocus the -- you know, look, here’s the thing. You can look into Trump but if I were in those investigatory and oversight committees, I would look out for America. That would be my guiding light. I would haul in all the pharmaceutical executives and talk about pricing and collusion there, I would actually deal with the antitrust elements that Congress can do. I would not make Trump being totally your focus.
I would make it about your agenda as it relates to the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Realistically, though, while you do that -- anything you do on Trump is what’s going to get all the attention.
EMANUEL: Well that may be but you -- George, like, the questions to all the members of Congress are about the investigation of Trump. I actually think there’s a lot of questions as it relates to what’s going on at EPA and -- then -- in the interest of environmental polluters, why isn’t the Justice Department and EPA doing their job there, there’s a lot to be done on healthcare costs as it relates to pharmaceutical insurance companies and I would look out for America with the oversight, not just look at Trump.
CHRISTIE: And by the way, I agree with Rahm on this. I mean, we’re going to see how smart the Democrats are in having this new bit of authority, because I guarantee you if they decide to make this about the president, that is what the president is dreaming about.
EMANUEL: One word -- judicious. Right? The moment you break that, you’re in trouble.
CHRISTIE: If they -- if they give Donald Trump the opportunity to look like a martyr, he’s going to take it.
DOWD: And there’s evidence -- there’s -- there’s one thing that has not been talked about from the election, which is great evidence for them -- for the Democrats doing something affirmatively on this, is the series of progressive policies that were passed on election day in red states. So the minimum wage was raised, opposed by Republicans, in Missouri and Arkansas, it was raised. Medicaid was expanded in three red states, Nebraska, Idaho and Utah.
Gun control passed in Washington by a larger margin than anybody else got elected to and felons in Florida, by a huge margin, were given the opportunity to be able to vote. And so this idea that America’s opposed to progressive policies -- when the policies are put on the ballot without attached to party, Americans in red states vote for them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But here’s the question -- and then I want to go to Sarah and Mary -- do the Democrats focus on those things that they can pass in the House but they aren’t going to go through the Senate or do they focus on things where there might be some possibility of actually legislating, for example, maybe infrastructure if you can find the money.
DOWD: I think if they were -- if they were smart and they do this, I think they -- they -- they do the investigations but pass a series of policies and make the Senate vote them down. Pass a series of policies and make the Senate vote it down.
FAGEN: I think the mayor’s right. If Democrats want to be smart about their approach, they will focus on their agenda, they will focus first on trying to do an infrastructure bill, first on doing something on healthcare. It doesn’t seem to me -- I mean when you look at both of your Democratic headliners today, they were talking investigations first and --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well to be fair, I was asking questions about investigations.
FAGEN: He -- you -- you -- you were, but 52 times in this Congress they have tried to subpoena. Of course Republicans have kicked those down. They are not going to be able to resist the urge to make this about every -- I mean, talking about the emoluments clause? Really? We want to have an investigation on that?
DOWD: George --
FAGEN: That tells you everything you need to know about --
DOWD: -- they should pass gun reform and raising the minimum wage within two weeks of taking office.
BRUCE: Well, and I think you’re going to see both. Right? They’re going to be plowing ahead on their legislative priorities and tackling these investigations and I think you’re going to see issues like healthcare, where you had so many Republicans come out and say they want to do something to protect pre-existing conditions. I think Democrats are going to say OK, you know, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? And also I think on -- on -- on gun control you’re likely to see very quickly something on that.
CHRISTIE: One of the single biggest mistakes the Trump administration made at the beginning was leading with healthcare.
CHRISTIE: You know, I was saying --
STEPHANOPOULOS: They own it now.
CHRISTIE: -- right from the -- well, yes. And I’ve said right from the beginning lead with the tax cut first and then go to infrastructure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It reminds me of you and President Obama, right.
CHRISTIE: We agree again, don't we, Rahm.
EMANUEL: Don't tell my mother.
CHRISTIE: I won't.
The big mistake for the Democrats would be to just do what Matt's saying to do, just pass a bunch of things that all of you will be saying, well, the Senate is never going to pass it. Force the Senate on something that the president is actually saying saying he might be willing to consider. Like infrastructure--
EMANUEL: This is the key point, the Democrats should triangulate. They should find everything that Mitch McConnell and the president don't agree on and go right at it, because that will force a division in the Republican Party and bring in whatever moderate wings of the Republicans are left and bring them over to the Democratic...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do they have the discipline to do that?
EMANUEL: Well, that's a more than a $64,000 question. And that's a very -- no, do they have the discipline? And I actually think strategically this is where I give Speaker Pelosi -- and I'm going to say I think she will be the speaker, the credit, because she was from day one in 2016 after all the shambles, she has been unbelievably strategically disciplined as you saw when she talked about on impeachment, to focus like a laser on the core issues that I think matter.
I do think it's important wherever Mitch McConnell is against something -- minimum wage, health care cost, pre-existing conditions, and the president is for it, you drive like 64,000 miles an hour right there and you hit it.
CHRISTIE: Who is going to triangulate, the Democrats or the president? And I think that's going to determine a lot of what's going to happen. And I think if you look at Donald Trump's history, with the exception of trade, his positions have been fairly flexible over time and that’s going to allow you--
DOWD: Yeah, right.
CHRISTIE: You disagree with that, Matt?
DOWD: No, I don't disagree with that at all.
CHRISTIE: My point is that allows someone...
DOWD: He's firm in his opinions, it's the principles that he’s flexible on.
CHRISTIE: Rahm worked for a president who had that same ability in Bill Clinton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are out of time. We're going to have to end on that remarkable understatement from Chris Christie. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On this Veteran's Day, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.
In the month of October, one service member died in Afghanistan.
That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. And tune in tonight for Robin Roberts' conversation with Michelle Obama, it's an ABC News special at 9:00 eastern.
I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.