'This Week' Transcript 11-3-19: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Steve Scalise
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, November 3.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 3, 2019 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.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Historic vote.
NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What are we fighting for? Defending our democracy.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: No one is above the law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The House sets the rules on impeachment.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The American public must see all the evidence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the party line vote?
REP. LIZ CHENEY, WYOMING: This is a process that has been fundamentally tainted.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Process, process, process. Not one of them wants to talk about the president’s conduct.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump now the fourth American president to face impeachment.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The word impeachment, to me it’s a dirty word.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Public hearings the next big step. Will they sway public opinion and Republican senators? What will it mean for everything else on Washington's agenda and the race for 2020? Our guests, the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel and the number two Republican in the House, Steve Scalise. And one year from election day --
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 2020 is our time in history.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To create a political movement.
JOE BIDEN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to decide.
BUTTIGIEG: Let us make history together.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The race in Iowa tied at the top. Pete Buttigieg vaults to the top tier and he joins us live from Iowa. Plus the latest from our brand new poll, and insight and analysis on our powerhouse round table with Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel. We’ll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK. Election day exactly one year away and this morning our brand new policy with the Washington Post shows a top tier in the Democratic race pulling away from the rest of the pack. Joe Biden holds the lead at 28 percent, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 23, Bernie Sanders in 17, and Pete Buttigieg pulling past Kamala Harris for fourth place at nine percent. Harris and the remaining candidates all now at two percent or less among registered Democrats. Biden also maintains his edge on who has the best chance to defeat Trump. At 42 percent, he beats out the rest of the field by a wide margin.
But the race is still fluid. Just over half polled say they would consider another candidate. And in the first caucus state of Iowa, a New York Times poll shows a virtual tie at the top. With Biden and Sanders slumping, Warren and Buttigieg surging, the top four candidates now all within five points. And in a Showtime interview airing tonight, Mayor Pete is now suggesting the race is coming down to Elizabeth Warren and him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: I think this is getting to be a two-way. It’s early to say -- I’m not saying it is a two-way, but I think --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you see that? You see it’s coming into focus, you and Warren?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, and certainly a world where we're getting somewhere is that world. Where it’s coming down to the two of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mayor Buttigieg joins us live from his bus in Iowa right now. Mayor, thanks for joining us this morning. Two-way race?
BUTTIGIEG: Not yet, no. Look, there is a -- a tremendous amount of energy for a range of candidates who are extremely capable. I'm proud to be part of the most diverse field that -- I think ever in Democratic presidential politics and some formidable competition. But what I will say is there’s amazing energy behind our campaign right now. We're seeing it on the ground here in Iowa, we’re seeing it pick up in a lot of places. And I think voters are really narrowing down their choices and instead of just getting to know us, now they’re really making up their minds. And we're getting tremendous response for my message of bold changes that we can also get together around.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re talking --
BUTTIGIEG: My campaign is based on the idea --
STEPHANOPOULOS : Sorry. You're talking about contrasts with Elizabeth Warren. I want to get to Medicare for All, which is a major contrast. But -- but what -- lay out the broader case. What is the big difference between you and Elizabeth Warren?
BUTTIGIEG: I guess the biggest difference is I think we can deliver major, meaningful, bold change to move this country forward in a way that galvanizes an American majority instead of polarizing our country further. Look, I’m running not just to defeat President Trump -- and it's going to take a lot to do that -- but also to be the president that first day the sun comes up and Donald Trump is no longer in office. We’re going to need a president who can pick up the pieces, who can bring the country together and who -- who can do it while dealing with these major crises from climate to an economy that isn’t working for everybody, that haven’t taken a vacation during the impeachment process.
That's going to take a president who can be bold and unifying, and that’s what I’m offering. Plus, I’m offering a presidency where you can look at the White House and feel your blood pressure go down instead of up. We have got to find a way to come together and deliver bold solutions at the same time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have zeroed in on Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal. We did see Senators -- Senator Warren detail her $20 trillion proposal on Friday and respond to some of the criticism from you and Vice President Biden. Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democrats are not going to win by repeating Republican talking points and by dusting off the points of view of the giant insurance companies and the giant drug companies who don't want to see any change in the law that will bite into the profits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Making the arguments from Republicans and insurance companies is her charge.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, the insurance companies are fighting my proposal, because they don't want the competition. What is just not true is that hers is the only solution. This my way or the highway idea, that either you're for kicking everybody off their private plans in four years or you're for business as usual, it's just not true. I'm proposing Medicare for all who want it. Now, if we do that, that's the biggest change in American health care in 50 years. The difference is, the way I would do it, you get to keep your private plan if you want to. I trust you to make that decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You used to be for broader Medicare for all. You didn't qualify it in any way. Is your main argument against Medicare for all now that it can't get passed or that it won't work?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, I think it could very well be the long-run destination, but I think there's got to be some humility in our policy here. Let's put this out there and see if it's really the best plan for everybody. I think it will be the best plan, but I'm not willing to assume that it is the right plan for you out of Washington and order you to take it whether you want to or not. If it's the right plan, then everybody will move to it until it is the single payer. And if it's not the right plan for everybody, then we're going to be really glad we didn't kick some Americans off their private plans.
I'm thinking, for example, about union members who fought and negotiated for good plans they have today. They don't want to have to abandon those plans because Washington tells them they must do that in four years or less. It doesn't make sense. And the most important thing is we can get to universal health care coverage without putting America through all of that, without kicking people off their private plans, without disagreements to the tune of $10 or $15 trillion over how much this is all going to cost, which is equivalent to the entire GDP of the country. We have a plan that is affordable, that is paid for, and that allows you to choose instead of Washington choosing for you. And it's the boldest thing we will have done to American health care in a half century.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Warren points to credible economists she says who supported President Obama's plan to say that the numbers she has do add up. Do you buy that she can pay for her plan without raising taxes on the middle class? That's what she says.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, the math is certainly controversial. Again, there are variations in the estimates in the trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. And we don't have to go there in order to deliver health care to everybody. My plan has a total cost over ten years of $1.5 trillion. It can be fully paid for with a combination of rolling back the corporate Trump tax cut rate cut, and the savings we're going to get for allowing Medicare to negotiate. So, it's paid for. It works. And it avoids these two major problems, the math problem that I think the economists are arguing over this weekend, and the problem of kicking Americans off their private plans, where not everybody wants to go.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you guarantee that a President Pete Buttigieg would not raise taxes on the middle class?
BUTTIGIEG: Everything that we have proposed has been paid for, and we have proposed no tax increase on the middle class. We don't have to do it in order to deliver these healthcare solutions.
There is a lot of money on the table from loopholes in the corporate tax system from the wealthiest among us who could and should pay more. And we don't have to look to the middle class in order to solve these problems.
But, it also means making sure that we make promises we can keep. It's one of the reasons why my vision on college affordability is different, making sure that it's free for low and middle income students, yes, but I don't think we have to pay all the way down to the last penny of tuition even for the children of millionaires and billionaires, and by not going that far there's a savings so that we don't have to keep looking for other sources of taxes in order to pay for it.
In order to make sure that what we do is responsible, we've got to make promises we can actually keep. And we've got to be willing to raise the revenue in order to do it. And, you know, another thing that's really important right now is to look at the debt and look at the deficits. I know that's not fashionable in the Democratic Party, but Republicans have made it clear when they take power they don't actually care about the debt. They've blown up a $1 trillion deficit right now, which means that if Democrats don't get into the business of paying attention to the debt, nobody will. And for my generation, that's a real problem, because I think these financial time bombs could very well go off in my lifetime.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say pay attention to the debt, but if all your plans are implemented, the debt and deficit is going to continue to go up as well, won't it?
BUTTIGIEG: Say again?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say pay attention to the debt and deficit, but if all your plans that you've put out there on the campaign trail are implemented, debt and deficit is going to go up, isn't it?
BUTTIGIEG: No. Everything that we have proposed will be neutral to the budget or savings to the budget. We can do that as long as we're willing to make reasonable moves for corporate taxes and wealthy individuals and make sure that we keep track of the promises that we're making. I'm not going to make a $20 trillion move on health care, when we can do the same thing for a fraction of the cost.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have been...
BUTTIGIEG: It's same thing on a lot of our other proposals.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have been rising in the polls, batting yourself in the top tier, but you're still lagging with African-American voters. Can you win without them? And how do you convince black voters to give you a shot?
BUTTIGIEG: I think the way to win black voters or any voters is to deserve to win.
And my message is of making sure that this is a country where we tear down systemic racism in all of its forms, because I think that threatens the entire republic. The plan I have put forward, the Douglass Plan, is as ambitious as the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe, but this time right here at home. And it's for the purpose of tearing down systemic racism. And it's not about any one piece alone. We have got to look at all of society, where this might as well be two countries for so many Americans. We have got to make sure that we're empowering black entrepreneurs, that the federal government is doing its part, purchasing, to the tune of 25 percent, from businesses owned by people who've been historically excluded. We have got to look at health, homeownership, criminal justice. We need a 21st century Voting Rights Act. All of these things have to go together. And we get a fantastic response whenever I share the Douglass Plan, whether it's with black audiences or majority white audiences...
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the...
BUTTIGIEG: ... because it's the most comprehensive vision in the 2020 cycle. But my responsibility is to go out there and communicate it, so that nobody could be -- could have any questions about what it is I seek to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But your -- your own focus groups have shown, according "The New York Times" -- this was leaked to "The New York Times" -- is that being gay is a barrier with black voters. In that "New York Times" poll we showed -- also showed that 55 percent of voters think it's harder to support you because you're gay. What can you do about that, if anything?
BUTTIGIEG: I think the biggest question on any voter's mind when they're sizing us candidates up and thinking about how they're going to vote is this: How will my life be different if you're president vs. one of your competitors? That's the question we have got to answer. And when we have the best answer to that question, I think a lot of prejudices and a lot of those other considerations fall away, and it comes down to vision and results.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, President Trump, already turning to the general election, had that add in the World Series on Sunday night. Let's play a bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: President Trump is changing Washington, creating six million new jobs, 500,000 new manufacturing jobs, cutting illegal immigration in half, obliterating ISIS. He's no Mr. Nice Guy, but, sometimes, it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of Democratic campaign veterans looked at that ad on Sunday, and they said it's pretty effective. How would you respond?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's trying to put a tough guy coating on a very weak individual, somebody who was manipulated by Turkey into giving ISIS a new lease on life, somebody who can't seem to make a decision and stick to it. And I'm ready to go toe to toe with this president. He wants to talk about the economy, let's talk about the GM workers and other workers that he has sold out. He wants to talk about ISIS, let's talk about how his terrible decision to betray our allies allowed ISIS fighters to go free. This president has been a failure, even on its own terms, even by the promises that he made. And I am ready to have that fight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mayor Buttigieg, thanks for joining us this morning.
BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next Nate Silver’s take on 2020, plus two key house leaders on this week's historic vote on impeachment and what comes next, stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The first thing we have to do is get rid of Donald Trump. Get him out of office. And once that happens, the road is clear for significant change.
SANDERS: Now is the time to stand with the working families of our country and end the outrageous level of greed and corruption.
WARREN: Fear and complacency does not win elections. Hope and courage wins elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: All the top Democrats took the stage at Friday's Liberty and Justice Dinner in Iowa. Now that dinner has been a turning point. Hillary Clinton was leading Barack Obama when he electrified that crowd back in 2007. And with Joe Biden still the frontrunner in our latest national poll, we asked Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight to examine what polls have meant this far out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: Since we're one year away from the general election, let's take a step back and ask how accurate are polls at this stage of the primary campaign. Does a candidate leading in polls now usually go on to win their nomination? My colleagues at FiveThirtyEight took us back in time and looked at the polling in every competitive primary since 1980. There are 15 of these and the person leading in the polls at this point in time win the nomination eight times, or a bit more than half.
That includes both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016, plus some other obvious names. Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bob Dole in ’96, Al Gore in 2000, et cetera. That also means there were seven upsets, although some weren’t big upsets. Technically speaking, for example, Mitt Romney had fallen behind Herman Cane, of all people in 2012, but Romney had been ahead in the polls for most of the race. Obama in 2008 was not that big an upset either. He was in a strong second place, polling at 22 percent. Instead, Obama's position was more like the one that Elizabeth Warren finds herself in now.
But, there were other bigger upsets. John Kerry was poling at only 9 percent in 2004 before eventually overtaking over Howard Dean. John McCain had only 16 percent to Rudy Giuliani's 30 percent in 2008. And Bill Clinton had just 6 percent of the vote at this stage of 1992.
One more thing, we did not look at polls of the 1976 race, since there weren't a ton of polls back then, but Jimmy Carter clearly came from way, way behind, the low single digits based on polls we were able to find, which could be good news for Mayor Pete who is polling at around 7 percent. He could still come back and win his nomination too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate for that. You can read his analysis at FiveThirtyEight.com.
And up next, the latest on impeachment plus our Powerhouse Roundtable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Eliot Engel and Senator Steve Scalise are standing by with what comes next on impeachment. And all week long, you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Unless you have bipartisan consensus, you -- impeachment is a divisive issue in the country. Many people would think it was being done for political reasons.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen. You have to persuade enough of the opposition party voters, of Trump voters.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The only thing worse than putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment is putting the country through the trauma of a failed impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democratic leaders on the standards they had set for impeachment before. We're joined now by the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Eliot Engel. Chairman, thank you for joining us this morning. We saw that party-line vote this week. So, what changed? Why go forward, in the absence of Republican support?
ENGEL: Well, it's not a matter of Republican support. It's a matter of what the president did. I mean, let's -- let's look at what he's done. No other president in American history has done something like that. He -- he tried to essentially bribe a foreign power to interfere in U.S. elections on his side to go after one of his political opponents. The Congress appropriated money for foreign aid for Ukraine, and the president illegally withheld that money, and then threatened the Ukrainians by saying that...
ENGEL: Well, I -- I think it's illegal, because why -- why would you be allowed to just take that money and play with it as you -- as you please? First of all, the Ukraine, the president was saying, do us a favor to the president of Ukraine, asking him to interfere and smear Joe -- Joe Biden and his son. That's unprecedented. It's never been done in American history before, where you -- you essentially bribe a foreign power with money that's not the president's -- it's the country's -- and you try to get him to come against your political opponent.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The question, though, is, what will the outcome be? And I want to show everybody what you said back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was being impeached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DECEMBER 1998)
ENGEL: No one believes that the president will ultimately be removed from office. So we will have dragged this country through a six-month trial in the Senate, and Bill Clinton will still remain president. What good does that do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Aren't we facing a similar situation right now?
ENGEL: Well, we're not. First of all, I like the way I looked 20 years ago.
ENGEL: That was -- thank you for showing that.
ENGEL: Look, we have a constitutional responsibility, as members of Congress. The president says that Article Article II of the Constitution allows him to do anything. But Congress is there to -- to -- to prevent the president from doing things that are illegal. We are a co-equal branch of government. Remember when you were a kid and you learned about checks and balances. Well throw that out the window. The president thinks he can rule by fiat. So it’s not a matter of will it be successful or whatever. That’s secondary. The question you have to ask is did the president really sell out his country with a bribe to a foreign power to get involved in the president's personal political election. That has never been done by any president in the history of this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, your Republican colleagues in the House have complained about the process that you’ve -- you’ve followed so far, including our next guest, Congressman Scalise, the number two Republican in the House. Here's what he had to say on the House floor this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCALISE: Maybe in the Soviet Union you do things like this where only you make the rules, where you reject the ability for the person you’re accusing to even be in the room, to question what’s going on, for anybody else to call witnesses, when only person has the right to call witnesses. What kind of fairness is that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a pretty serious charge right there.
ENGEL: Well I don't think any Republicans can really lecture us about the Soviet Union, since President Trump and Mr. Putin are buddy-buddies and Mr. Putin interfered in the 2016 election to help President Trump. So I think when you -- when you look at that, I -- I think the Republicans are the last ones to point --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what about the specifics, that -- that they -- they don't feel they have their full due process rights?
ENGEL: Well they -- they have the same due process that we’ve had in the Nixon and -- and the Clinton impeachments. You know, they can -- we took depositions for several weeks, they complained about that. This week we're releasing the transcripts of all the depositions and everything else is going to be -- be public. They’ll be able --
STEPHANOPOULOS: When will there be public hearings?
ENGEL: Well there will be public hearings very, very soon. This week we’re having the last of the witnesses come in, and then it’ll be released, the transcripts will be released. Everything is transparent. The Republicans keep moving the goal post. They tell -- they tell us they want us to be transparent, when we're transparent, it's not good enough. The president will have -- will have every right -- all his protections there. They can't complain about not having open hearings, and then when we have open hearings, complain about that as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, our new poll out this week shows that 50 percent of Americans disapprove of how the Democrats are handling impeachment so far. Fifty-one percent say they think it's more about hurting President Trump politically than defending the Constitution. How do you convince the country that you’re doing this in the right way for the right reasons?
ENGEL: Well I think sometimes you have to do the right thing and not worry so much about the polls. This is a president who abused power, who abused his office, again, who took money that was not his and tried to use it so that it could influence his re-election and -- and do dirt on his opponent. I don't think we can sit idly by and accept it. That has never been done before and it’s time we say stop. The impeachment proceedings will -- will have -- the president will have due rights, he'll have the same rights that -- that Clinton and Nixon had and the Republicans move the goal post because they can’t defend the behavior.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us this morning.
ENGEL: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're joined now by the number two Republican in the House, Steve Scalise. Congressman, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Chairman Engel right there saying you all are moving the goal post, that President Trump is going to have the same rights that President Clinton and President Nixon had once it gets to the Judiciary Committee.
SCALISE: Well good morning, George. And there were a lot of things there that need to be unraveled. First of all, this is nothing like the Clinton and the Nixon impeachment. Both sides got to call witnesses under Clinton and under Nixon. The president's legal counsel was in the room, able to ask questions to the witnesses --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the president’s going to have that right in the Judiciary Committee, isn’t he?
SCALISE: -- President Trump (inaudible).
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president is going to have that right once it gets to the Judiciary Committee.
SCALISE: Well there’s no guarantee of that. In fact, the resolution they just passed in a very partisan way gives the chairman the full discretion to kick the president’s legal counsel out of the room and to veto any witnesses that we would call. That was in the resolution. We had an amendment, by the way, George, to change that. They didn’t accept any Republican amendments, they didn’t negotiate with the White House on that resolution. Under Clinton and Nixon there was a bipartisan negotiation to at least have fair rules. They don't want fair rules, they just want to hurt President Trump’s chances to win reelection.
It’s all about reversing the results of the 2016 election. There are no high crimes or misdemeanors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You -- you just heard Chairman Engel say it's all about the president's conduct, and of course at issue is President -- President Trump’s attempts to get Ukraine to investigate his domestic political opponents. His own nominee for Ambassador to Russian, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan was asked about that on Capitol Hill this week. Let’s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Do you think it's ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponent?
JOHN SULLIVAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don't think that would be in accord with our values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Very clear statement right there from the deputy secretary of state that it's wrong for the president to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponents. Do you agree?
SCALISE: Well, first of all, that's not what was happening on the phone call. Even when the president said will you do me a favor, he then went on to ask about Crowdstrike, that wasn't about Joe Biden. And so taking that out of context...
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, it's a bout his domestic political opponents. And the transcript clearly shows the president was asking Ukrainian president to investigate his political opponents, both the Democrats in 2016, Joe Biden going forward. Do you think that was appropriate?
SCALISE: That wasn't, first of all, about political opponents. The law, George, requires President Trump, or any president, when they're sending foreign aid, tax payer money, to another country, to ensure that that country is rooting out corruption. He and Zelensky were talking about that on the phone call.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The only two instances he raised were Crowdstrike in 2016, involving the Democrats, Burisma in 2017 and '18 involving Joe Biden. And again it's just a very simple question, do you think it's appropriate for the president to ask the Ukrainians or the Chinese, which he's also done in public, to investigate his domestic political opponents?
SCALISE: Well, first of all on that call he was not talking about the 2020 election or political opponents, he was talking about corruption relating to the 2016 elections.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not what the transcript shows.
SCALISE: By the way, when Russian tried to interfere, George, when Russia tried to interfere with our election, it was Barack Obama who was president, not Donald Trump. President Trump has a legal requirement to ensure that the country given foreign aid, in this case Ukraine, is taking steps to root out corruption. And he and President Zelensky talked about that.
Zelensky, in fact, was asked did he think it was inappropriate? Was there pressure put on him, and President Zelensky said he wasn't pressured.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn't ask about pressure. I asked about the phone call, and actually all the other testimony that's come out this week in the last couple weeks from Ambassador Taylor, from Colonel Vindman, from Fiona Hill, they all show a process where the White House visit, military aid, was conditioned on the Ukrainians pursuing an investigation.
But I asked a question even a step removed from that, is it OK for the president to ask the Ukrainians to investigate...
SCALISE: But that's not accurate either, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it OK for the president to ask the Ukrainians to investigate his political opponents?
SCALISE: It wasn't about a political opponent, it was about corruption that had happened prior. First of all, Joe Biden, when he was vice president of the United States -- that's what we're talking about -- when he was vice president -- bragged that he went to Ukraine and withheld the money. He said I'm not leaving -- in six hours I'm leaving with the billion dollars that was our taxpayer money, unless you fire the prosecutor that happened to be looking into his son.
Joe Biden bragged about that. That's not a question of fact. It did happen. And so Ukraine had a lot of concerns about corruption. Zelensky got elected on a platform to root out corruption. And he was focused on that. They talked about that on the call.
In the meantime, President Trump had already authorized the sale of javelin missiles so that Ukraine could stand up to Russia. President Obama and Joe Biden would not send those javelin missiles to Ukraine. I don't know why they withheld them, but President Trump sold them to held Ukraine stand up to Russia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So your position is not that it's OK for the president to solicit political investigations into his opponents, you're saying according -- you believe it just didn't happen?
SCALISE: It wasn't about the 2020 election, it was about what happened prior in 2016, corruption in Ukraine. And again the law requires the president to certify that a country before they get foreign aid is actually taking steps to root out corruption.
Pelosi voted for that. Schiff voted for that. I would imagine Eliot Engel voted for that. But at the end of the day, the president was talking to Zelensky about rooting out corruption. And Zelensky himself said there was nothing wrong with the call. He wasn't pressured. And he got the money. He actually got the tax payer money.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He only mentioned Crowdsrike and the Bidens. So, there was also very clear example the president in public asking the Chinese to investigate Joe Biden. Is that OK?
SCALISE: That was a rhetorical thing that he threw out there I think more to get the press riled up, which clearly he did. But in the end, George, what you're seeing Democrats talk about is using impeachment to try to hurt Trump's chances in 2020. In fact, the lead author of the articles of impeachment said if they don't impeach President Trump he will get reelected. That's not why you have impeachment, it's for high crimes and misdemeanors. I mean, Alexander Hamilton warned about days like this where impeachment would be used for political reasons, not because there was a crime committed.
They have not laid out a crime. In fact, President Trump gave the money to Ukraine. Zelensky acknowledged that. He wasn't even aware it was withheld.
But law, current law, that Democrats voted for requires the president before he sends taxpayer money to Ukraine to ensure they're rooting out corruption. That's what they were talking about on the call.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and the Defense Department has certified that they were working to do that. Final question. You will have the chance to propose witnesses. Who do you want to call?
SCALISE: Well, there are a lot of people. I mean, the whistle-blower themselves, this is a person who claims to be a whistle-blower, but even the I.G. reported that this person has a political bias. There are many reports out there that the whistle-blower actually worked for Joe Biden. That concerns a lot of people. There are also a lot of reports that Adam Schiff and his staff coached the whistle-blower prior to the whistle-blower report being released.
Those are all serious questions when somebody behind closed doors, in secret, is trying to take out a sitting president. There are a lot of questions that haven't been answered. We can't see the transcripts still. I wish those were held in public, like the Nixon and the Clinton trials.
This is nothing like Nixon and Clinton. They're literally going behind closed doors to deny rights to not only the Republicans and President Trump, but to the American people.
The vast majority of the American people have no idea, except leaked reports that in many cases turned out to be invalid or false, when you talk to people that were actually in the room. But we can't see that because it's closed to the public.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Scalise, thanks for your time this morning.
SCALISE: Great to be with you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is up next.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While a large number of Baghdadi's fighters and companions were killed with him.
He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.
And he was very well-protected. He didn't expect this to happen, but tremendous protection. And he -- he died whimpering and crying.
He spent his last miserable moments on earth cowering and trembling and crying in fear of the American warrior that was right there, going right up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump about the takedown of al-Baghdadi last week. Those details about whimpering and crying, apparently, only the president knows them. He has been disputed by the military saying they have no evidence of that at all. But we're going to get into all the politics of the week now with our roundtable, Chris Christie, our ABC contributor, former governor of New Jersey, Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago, chief of staff to Barack Obama, Julie Pace, the Washington bureau chief for the Washington -- for AP, and Alexi McCammond, the political reporter from Axios. And let's begin with impeachment. Chris, let me begin with you. We just saw Chairman Engel and Steve Scalise. And we're seeing definitely party-line vote on the next steps in this impeachment. It does appear that the Republicans, at least in the House, are settling on this strategy you can't believe what you saw with your own eyes.
CHRISTIE: Listen, and -- and, again, I think, for the American people -- and you see this in the polling -- it's political. The whole thing is politically driven. The Republicans' responses are politically driven. And you see Congressman Engel, who didn't answer the question either, when you showed exactly what he said 20 years ago.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What is the good of going forward?
CHRISTIE: What is the good of going forward when you know you're not going to be removed? Well, we're in the exact same situation now. And he didn't -- he wouldn't answer that either.
What that shows people, real people who are watching is, the hell with all of this. They don't -- they -- I'm telling you, George, I absolutely believe that, by the time you get to the end of this, people are going to be like, OK, the Democrats hate Trump, they want to get him out. Republicans are supporting him, no matter what happened. And so let's get to an election and decide ourselves.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even after public hearings?
CHRISTIE: I think so.
EMANUEL: I think -- well, first of all, I think it's very good clear that nobody is above the law. And here's really what you have, basically, when you step back and clear out all the dust and the fog. You have a president who said that this was a perfect phone call. We have every career foreign policy official, that’s ever served under both presidents, make a beeline to their lawyers. The lawyers make a beeline to the most secure computer in national security, and Republican Congress basically are like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Hero, I know nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing. And I actually think when it does get to the Senate, if the inquiry -- and remember, there’s not impeachment, it's an impeachment investigation. Whether it’s warranted. If it does get to the Senate, they’re not going to let him scot free. They are going to censure him for what he's done.
Because what he’s done is clearly against -- and it goes to the fundamental, is the president above the law. And the rules of the United States says nobody’s above the law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Julie Pace, you’ve done some reporting on this. It does -- Senate Republicans seem to be in a somewhat different place from House Republicans on this, not denying that it would be a serious matter if the president were soliciting or if there were any kind of a quid pro quo, but maybe getting to the point of saying yes, but it’s not an impeachable offense.
PACE: You do -- you do get a different sense from talking to Senate Republicans versus House Republicans. There’s -- there's more of a concern about the underlying behavior of the president from Senate Republicans. Of course their politics is different. Senators are elected statewide versus a lot of these -- these House Republicans who come from districts where the president is at 90 percent popularity and above with their -- with their voters. I do think, though, that unless Democrats can find a way to make this whole process look less partisan -- and last week's vote made that hard for them -- I do think that the number of Senate Republicans at this point who would be willing to go forward with -- with convicting the president is extremely low. One to two at most.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and Alexi, our poll does show that's a vulnerability for Democrats right now. I think one of the things they might be banking on is that these public hearings will make a difference.
MCCAMMOND: And we’ve seen the ways in which Democrats have hoped that people like Bob Mueller would be star witnesses in past investigations that they’ve conducted. So I don’t think that they can necessarily bank on the public hearings to be the blockbuster movie that they think will change public opinion. Public opinion is shifting in polls but you’re right, your poll shows, there's an A.P. poll that shows over 50 percent of Americans think that Democrats are acting on politically motivated ideals when they’re moving forward on something like impeachment.
When I was in Youngstown, Ohio last month voters were reflecting this message. And sure, that was at the beginning of all this impeachment situation, but voters there who voted for Obama and then voted for Trump, folks who voted for Romney and then voted for Clinton were saying that they felt like this was a distraction for Democrats, that they would be solely focused on impeachment rather than focusing on things that affect them, their personal financial situation, their healthcare.
And so I think it really is a messaging opportunity to tell them what they are doing in addition to impeachment.
EMANUEL: Well first of all, I think when the curtain gets raised publicly, we’re not going to be where we were. Like four weeks ago we weren’t how we were. It’s actually moving in the trajectory. I do think the soft underbelly for Democrats is if this blocks out any discussion of issues at all. The fact, though, if -- if you look at the basic round timeline, this will actually hurt the president but it won't beat the president. It is not a good thing to go and be a president that -- if it concludes -- and again, I want to -- this is an impeachment inquiry. It is not an impeachment. And that is a big fact that gets lost --
CHRISTIE: That’s very funny.
EMANUEL: No, it’s not --
CHRISTIE: It is. It’s very funny.
EMANUEL: -- if that’s where it goes.
CHRISTIE: It's an impeachment. They're going to impeach him. I mean, this is -- this is --
EMANUEL: That’s why -- that’s why the Democrats got to be --
CHRISTIE: -- pre-determined, it’s done.
EMANUEL: No. The Democrats got to be clear they're looking for the answers. I do think a public hearing, when you get everybody out there that’s a foreign policy official --
CHRISTIE: Rahm --
EMANUEL: -- that is a -- going to set a precedent that's going to keep the numbers moving the way they’re moving.
CHRISTIE: Rahm, you listen to Adam Schiff, who is the guy who is running this, and he’s already determined the president's to be impeached. The guy who is supposed to be presiding over hearings that are going to be, you know, both sides get to bring in their witnesses, that’s supposed to be fair, you have a chairman who has, you know, absolutely determined that the president’s to be impeached. He said it publicly a number of times. So let's stop the charade of what’s going to happen here. He’s going to be impeached --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but -- but --
CHRISTIE: -- and then he’s not going to be removed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But fast forward -- fast forward for a second --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- to the actual hearings. If you have a Colonel Vindman, if you have Ambassador Taylor getting up and -- and -- and telling their stories in public. The question I have is -- is about the White House strategy. We’ve seen past presidents -- Bill Clinton apologized, it helped give his supporters something to hold onto. Ronald Reagan during Iran-Contra apologized, gave his supporters something to hold onto. It doesn’t appear that President Trump is going to do anything but stand by the idea that this phone call was perfect. Is that enough?
CHRISTIE: Well first off, remember when those apologies occurred. The Clinton apology and the Reagan apology happened after was after everything was over, after everything was done. And so we don’t know what the president’s going to do. Based on his past actions do we think it’s likely that Donald Trump will apologize? I’ve known him for 18 years --
EMANUEL: Don’t go out on a limb here.
CHRISTIE: I’ve known him for 18 years --
EMANUEL: Hold on, hold on -- go (ph).
CHRISTIE: -- I think it’s unlikely for him to apologize.
EMANUEL: Thanks for clarifying that.
CHRISTIE: So -- but also -- but also, it’s unlikely, as we’ve seen, now that he pursues the strategy that Clinton pursued successfully in ’98, which was to compartmentalize this. Right? Trump is fighting this every day with every tweet, even this morning, continues to push. That’s his style, that’s who he is. And anybody who thinks they're going to go into the White House and convince Donald Trump to say, let's talk about something else, is going to lose.
MCCAMMOND: But that's the problem for Senate Republicans, who according to our --
MCCAMMOND: -- our reporting, shows that they're frustrated by the fact that the White House is not giving them any messaging guidance on impeachment.
CHRISTIE: Oh, they're giving it to them. Fight.
MCCAMMOND: Well, first, exactly. But how long can you sustain a message that’s just I'm fighting against the Democrats in the same way that Democrats just can't say we're fighting against Republicans?
PACE: For President Trump, though, that's the re-election strategy. If you look at the polling right now, this is an extremely polarized country where you have Democrats who are virtually unanimously opposed to this president and Republicans who are almost unanimously supportive. So he knows that his best chance of getting reelected is to hold those Republicans together, not to grow the base, not to try to convince independents or moderate Republicans that he did nothing wrong here, or to maybe perhaps apologize and try to beg forgiveness, it's to hold that Republican base, and fighting is the way he's going to try to do that.
EMANUEL: The biggest poll number this week was not Iowa, it was that national Democratic poll, was that 74 percent of the Republicans...
EMANUEL: 87. And that has every Senate Republican in a marginal district, in a competitive Senate race, looking at that number going -- beep, 74, beep. And I believe when the curtain gets raised and the hearings happen, it's not going from 74 back up to 87, it's dropping.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the Democratic race now as well. We saw the field start to come down. This week, Tim Ryan dropped out and also Beto O'Rourke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE, FORMER 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't have the means to pursue this campaign successfully. And my service will not be as a candidate, nor as a nominee of this party for the presidency.
Though this is the end of this campaign, we are right in the middle of this fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alexi, it does seem that Mayor Pete has taken that space that Beto thought he was going to have at the beginning of the campaign. And we are getting some clarity at the top of the field.
MCCAMMOND: Well, that's right. But I think the interesting thing about these polls, especially from the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, is that it's not necessarily about Pete's rise, it's the fact that Pete is alone in the middle tier of this field. He is the only person in the middle of the pack. So, it's really -- if it's a two-way race, as he likes to sort of characterize it, between himself and Warren, I think if anything it's a two-way race between the three frontrunners -- Warren, Bernie, Biden -- and Mayor Pete who is in the middle. Everyone else is in single digits. And it's amazing that Beto O'Rourke says, you know, we don't have the means to move forward. That saying, I've been polling between 1 and 2 percent this entire race.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, he's 30 years younger than that top tier.
EMANUEL: Well, look, I think when you look at the poll that came out, basically voters are still unsure. They're not anchored to any candidate. And this is an incredibly fluid race. And I will say -- I will predict that one of the candidates coming out what will be called the second tier, although I don't think that's a good term, are going to come out and emerge and surprise people and have a ticket on the train out of Iowa.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mean even the ones at 2 and 1 percent right?
EMANUEL: Yes. Because here's the thing, it was Nate did this earlier, John Kerry was poling at 5 or 4 percent. I think people are looking not ideologically who is the best person to beat Donald Trump, that is the ideological North Star for Democrats. And they're still in the hunt trying to figure out who that is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, our poll shows on that number it's still Joe Biden, but he seems to be falling on all the other qualities.
CHRISTIE: Well, but no, but also strong leader. He comes through well ahead of any of the other people on strong leader. So, if you're looking at Rahm's philosophy here who can beat Donald Trump and being strong, who can stand up to Donald Trump on that debate stage, Biden is still well ahead like 2-1 over either Warren or Sanders and even more over Mayor Pete. But the biggest event of the week was Elizabeth Warren because made herself less electable. Less electable by a big margin with what she did this week. She now owns this issue. She owns Medicare for All, forget Bernie Sanders. It doesn't matter anymore. It's all Elizabeth Warren. And a third of her plan, a third of her plan, is based upon unexplained savings. $7 trillion on unexplained savings and the rest of it on tax increases, including, George, remember this, as a governor I'm sensitive to this, $6.1 trillion in added expenses to state governments. You know what that's going to mean for everybody out there? Higher middle class taxes that are going to be passed not by the federal governments, but by state governments, because they're going to have to pay this tab for the feds.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Also a tax on every employer. Julie Pace, she is making a huge bet on this proposal.
PACE: She absolutely is. And it's one she was trying to avoid. I mean, she was basically hoping to side up to Bernie Sanders on Medicare for All, latch on to his plan, and get through this primary without having to lay out her own details. What I'm struck by in this plan if you accept her top line number, there are a lot of economists and health care experts who don't. But if you do, and you dig into how she wants to accomplish this, there are some pretty big steps that have to get through congress first before she could even get here. Comprehensive immigration reform. To get that through, you probably would have to do filibuster reform, which is deeply controversial. So, those are two major pieces of legislation she would have to enact before she would even get to Medicare for All.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, you didn't mince any words in "The Washington Post" this week. You called it a pipe dream.
EMANUEL: Yes. Well, look, here's the thing. She was drafting behind Bernie. This was Bernie's idea. And now she owns this idea. And what she did today is take it from a health care idea to a tax idea. And that is not a place you want to be. And I still believe every argument about the -- not about 2 percent on people earning about $50 million or some type of corruption issue. If this issue is not going to happen -- and it's not the way you actually argue health care. Having done the ACA for Obama, kids health care for President Clinton, the re-importation of pharmaceutical products in the House, when we beat Tom DeLay, the politics of this is, she's making this more difficult than it needs to be on the very issue of cost control.
It is a pipe dream. You are not -- we couldn't get -- when we had 58 who were Democratic senators, we couldn't get a public option. What makes you think -- and I say this in the piece -- give me the nine Republicans that are going to vote for Medicare for all, and I will declare New York pizza better than Chicago pizza.
EMANUEL: And it's not going to happen.
CHRISTIE: And, George, remember something else. When you start to look through the specifics of her plan, one of the things she says is, $1.4 trillion in higher taxes -- in more taxes, because people aren't going to be paying for premiums, where they're going to pay it to the government.
I'm going to ask people out there if they really think the government has ever run anything more efficiently and effectively than the private sector has. And you start paying that, those are middle-class people who are going to be paying more money than they're paying in premiums right now.
EMANUEL: Here's the problem for Democrats.
If you make -- we're believed on health care by 20 percent. If we fail on health care, fail, then our base gets depressed. They don't turn out in the midterms. They don't turn in the next elections. And you're going to -- all the other things we want to do on climate change, education, social justice, all fly by the wayside.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have spent some time in Iowa. Elizabeth Warren's argument is that you need a big, bold proposal like this to energize the voters. Is that what you're seeing?
MCCAMMOND: We certainly see an energy by Elizabeth Warren, but I don't know if it's because of a big, bold idea on something like Medicare for all. And I think that is also reflected in the specific language in her policy paper, which refers to Medicare for all as a long-term goal. That's also how she's been talking about it behind the scenes, behind closed doors with labor unions, who are otherwise skeptical of this idea of her Medicare for all plan. She has been referring to it as a long-term goal, not on the national debate stage, but in these smaller groups with more skeptical voters. Now we see that in her policy paper. And I think that reflects the reality that she knows this is not going to get passed. It's not going to get passed in her lifetime.
CHRISTIE: Let me tell you how the president's going to play this.Those very people, the operating engineers, the carpenters, the ironworkers, the steelworkers, who have good private health plans through their union, are going to -- he's going to go to them and say, she is taking away your health care. And that's -- where do those folks live? Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio. This is a huge problem and a great opportunity for the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I see Rahm nodding his head, but we're out of time right now.
EMANUEL: ... say this is -- this is a battle now between revolution vs. reform.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you all very much. Great discussion. And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of October, one service member died overseas supporting operations in Iraq. 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."