'This Week' Transcript 11-27-22: Rep. Michael McCaul, Rep. Mike Turner, and Dr. Ashish Jha

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, November 27.

ByABC News
November 27, 2022, 9:28 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 27, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST (voiceover): Left in the dark.

UNKNOWN MALE: This is going to be a long bloody war, freezing conditions, no electricity, it's really dire.

RADDATZ: As winter sets in, Russia continues its assault on citizens in Ukraine.

RADDATZ (on camera): The destruction is evident almost anywhere you go in Ukraine, the Russians targeting not only infrastructure but residential areas.

RADDATZ (voiceover): Will the new GOP-led Congress continue to send aid? We take it to the incoming chairman of two key national security committees, Republicans Michael McCaul and Mike Turner.

Tripledemic threat.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I did not imagine that we would see a three-year saga of suffering and death.

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: The single most important thing that people need to do is go get vaccinated.

RADDATZ: Three major respiratory viruses packing hospitals this holiday season, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, is here with the latest.

And ambitious agenda.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to try to get rid of assault weapons.

RADDATZ: After a wave of mass shootings, President Biden vows to push for further gun reform. But House Republicans signal very different priorities as they prepare to take control in January.

KEVIN MCCARTHY, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OR REPRESENTATIVES: House Republicans will investigation every order, every action and every failure.

RADDATZ: Our Powerhouse Roundtable covers it all.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ (on camera): Good morning and welcome to “This Week.”

We begin this holiday season on a different note than one year ago, when Omicron was sweeping across the nation. Officials still urging people to get vaccinated but Americans are once again traveling in record numbers to spend time with friends and family with few restrictions and cautious optimism that this winter will not be as dark as years past.

President Joe Biden spent the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in Nantucket vowing to push for an assault weapons ban in the final weeks of a lame-duck Congress, after a slew of tragic mass shootings in recent weeks.

That plea is likely to fall on deaf ears on Capitol Hill. Republicans will take over the House in January and plan to investigate Biden's handling of the pandemic, immigration, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and his family’s business dealings. The GOP also reviewing U.S. support for Ukraine as its war with Russia drags on.

This morning, we take stock of these major issues at home and abroad but we begin with Ukraine. I am just back from that war-torn country, my third visit since the conflict began, and while I have tracked what's happening over these many months, to once again see it up close is sobering. Russia using rockets to terrorize the population and target the country's power grid and infrastructure to undermine civilian support for the war while leaving millions without heat and electricity as the winter sets in.

Ukraine’s defenders are pushing forward, trying to advance against Russian forces as they also work to rebuild and rehabilitate communities freed from Russian control.


RADDATZ (voiceover): It has been nine months of fear, destruction and unimaginable loss. Indiscriminate Russian strikes this week pummeling residential areas, a maternity hospital, and power grids, blackouts again paralyzing cities and towns across Ukraine as winter takes a brutal hold. And the fight is far from over.

RADDATZ (on camera): These Ukrainian forces are constantly training, many of these soldiers have already been to the frontlines but many are going back.

RADDATZ (voiceover): They are citizens transformed, volunteers like Oleksandr, who runs a travel business has seen relentless fighting in the East.

RADDATZ (on camera): Thirty-eight-hour battle.

OLEKSANDR NOVIK, UKRAINIAN TERRITORIAL DEFENSE FORCE SOLDIER: Yes, and only two hour we have time for drink, for toilet and for sleeping. Very hard.

RADDATZ: Intense?


RADDATZ: And you would go back in a minute?

NOVIK: Yes, of course.

RADDATZ (voiceover): And Petro, who has a small business unbowed even after estimates of as many as100,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed on the battlefield.

RADDATZ (on camera): You will win?

PETRO: We will win.

RADDATZ: You will win. No matter what?

PETRO: No matter what. In Ukraine we say, (speaking in foreign language). It’s -- we say it like --

UNKNOWN FEMALE: Freedom or death.

PETRO: -- freedom or death.

RADDATZ: Freedom or death.

RADDATZ (voiceover): And helping to train many of the Ukrainian soldiers, a team led by British-born, retired U.S. Marine Andrew Milburn, who has seen the fighting perilously close.

Colonel Milburn had multiple combat deployments and fought in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.

ANDREW MILBURN, THE MOZART GROUP CEO: And Fallujah was my worst experience of, you know, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here though it's a different sort of fear, you're out in the open but once artillery starts coming down on you, it's the sense of absolute helplessness, absolute helplessness, unless you are near some kind of cover.

RADDATZ: And Milburn's team, the Mozart Group, does not carry weapons or join in the fighting. They train and they help evacuate citizens.

MILBURN: You know, we were pulling kids out of Lysychansk, Novoluhanske, as the Russians were closing in on the town. We don't have armored vehicles. You know, I mean, it’s -- the risk levels are off the charts for anyone who served in the western military. Yet we continue to do it because there's a need and as winter approaches that need is only going to get greater. You have to see these towns to believe in it (ph).

RADDATZ: Buildings destroyed and lives as well. The top U.S. Military official estimated 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed.

RADDATZ (on camera): This is Bucha, about 20 miles outside of Kyiv, behind me was once a mass grave containing the bodies of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians slaughtered by Russian troops. For those who remain in this town, the survivors, the pain is still vivid.

RADDATZ (voiceover): Life has resumed now that the Russians have been pushed out but in the town center, teams of psychologists help children deal with loss and trauma through play.


RADDATZ: The children choose toys according to what worries them, she says.

RADDATZ (on camera): So you've got fighter jets, you've got military vehicles.

ZAKHAROVA: (Speaking in foreign language) --

RADDATZ (voiceover): She says those are the toys most used by the kids.


RADDATZ: They even speak about the possibility of nuclear war.

One of the caseworkers wanted to show us exactly how this works for a child. There is a moment of silence at first. But then the psychologist's own memories quickly bring her to tears.


RADDATZ (on camera): That was very emotional for you and you do this all the time. What were you thinking?

VEZHYCHANIN: (Speaking in foreign language) --

RADDATZ (voiceover): She says she wanted to place two angels to symbolize the victims but then said she simply couldn't because she was there during the massacre, she helped people look for their missing loved ones and the memories were all too hard.

And it is, of course, not just the people of Bucha who have suffered, no starker example than this one, these five siblings now orphaned after a mortar took the life of their 37-year-old single mother. Eighteen-year-old Slava (ph) who watched his mother die beside him, the only one left to care for his young siblings. He does it while continuing his studies and working full time.

UNKNOWN MALE: (Speaking in foreign language) --

RADDATZ: Just believe in yourself he told me and this is how you can succeed.

RADDATZ (on camera): And your mother taught you that?

UNKNOWN MALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

RADDATZ (voiceover): You see that same determination everywhere you go in Ukraine, and yet Andrew Milburn worries that this war will grind on for months, for years to come.

RADDATZ (on camera): Right now, when you look at what the Ukrainian military strategy is, what is it?

MILBURN: That's a really good question, and I’m not sure that anyone can give a clear picture of that in order to conduct a really game-changing -- I keep using that term -- offensive, you need sufficient resources as far as manpower and weapons systems.

RADDATZ: When you look at where the Ukrainians are and the enormous amount of aid they’ve gotten, do you believe if they don't get more aid that it is conceivable, they can win?

MILBURN: It is conceivable. Look, the West has been extraordinarily helpful in providing high-end platforms but the Russians have adapted. This is not a criticism of U.S. foreign -- well, maybe it is. It’s just the sense that this is going to be a long, bloody war, Ukrainian victory is, in my mind, ultimately most likely, unless the West really embraces the prospect of Ukrainian victory and barring a black swan event, this is going to be a long, bloody slog.


RADDATZ (on camera): A long bloody conflict.

Joining me now are two congressmen who will have a key role in providing aid to Ukraine in the future, likely leading the national security committees when Republicans take control of the House in January, Congressman Michael McCaul of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Congressman Mike Turner of the Intelligence Committee.

Thank you both for being here.

And I -- and I want to pick up where Colonel Milburn left off. He believes that there should be longer range weapons sent to Ukraine. Would you approve of that?

REP MICHAEL MCCAUL, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER & (R) TEXAS: A hundred percent. He’s absolutely correct. I mean, I -- my criticism of this administration was before the invasion. We wouldn’t put weapons in.

And since the invasion, we slow-walked this process. You know, first it was Stingers. Then, it was Javelins. Then, HIMARS.

RADDATZ: Help -- help people understand that. Those are -- those are missiles that don’t go as far as the ones you think could solve the problem.

MCCAUL: Correct. So, what -- the problem right now is the Ukrainian drones are going into Crimea and the Ukrainians can’t hit those Ukrainian drones unless they have the longer-range artillery called the ATACMS.

For some reason -- I was with Secretary Austin at the Halifax National Security Forum. For some reason, they will not put those weapons into Ukraine. But we -- Martha, when we give them what they need, they win. And this could be not -- it doesn’t have to be a long (ph) --


RADDATZ: But does it further incite Russia if they do?

MCCAUL: Well, Crimea is not part of Russia under international law. So if they can hit into Crimea, I think that’s fair game.

I think the problem is they -- you know, they don’t want to be provocative and we -- we give them what they need, they win. If we don’t, it’s going to be a long, protracted war.

RADDATZ: And, Congressman Turner, you were recently in Ukraine, about a month ago. I know you’ve suggested that Republicans will make matters difficult for the White House to pass more Ukrainian aid.

Will you make it more difficult, and how do you view this?

REP MIKE TURNER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER & (R) OHIO: No, no, it’s not -- it’s not an issue of difficulty. It’s an issue actually just of -- of accountability.

Martha, first of all, thank you for going to Ukraine. I mean that -- your piece shows what Putin said with – the opposite of what Putin said, which is, they are a county. They do have spirit. And they are winning.

I went to Ukraine in a bipartisan group for the sole purposes of telling President Zelenskyy that he does have continued support and he will have bipartisan support.

The issue, obviously, is this, we don’t need to pass $40 billion large Democrat bills that have been being passed to send $8 billion to Ukraine. What we’re going to do -- and it’s been very frustrating, obviously, even to the Ukrainians where they hear these large numbers in the United States as a result of the, you know, burgeoned Democrat bills and the little amount of aid that they receive. We’re going to make certain they get what they need.

And as you saw, and in your piece you said, the other think they’d need is air defense, and that actually is a vulnerability on our part. We need to -- our air defense systems are so complex, we need to make certain that we work with partners and pull together an air defense system that they can -- can put together to defend Kyiv, to defend their infrastructure.

RADDATZ: And we know what Leader McCarthy has said about this. He’s not going to write a blank check. And you have colleagues, like Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, Thomas Macy of Kentucky, who are unlikely to support more aid.

So are you really certain that Republicans will bring this to the floor?

MCCAUL: Well, I think, as Mike said, I think the majorities on both sides of the aisle support this effort. I think, you know, everybody has a voice in Congress. You know, and the fact is, we are going to provide more oversight, transparency and accountability. We’re not going to write a blank check.

You know, the last $40 billion package that passed, Martha, it was given to us the day of the vote. And members only had a matter of hours to go through all these pages of -- of $40 billion supplemental.

RADDATZ: Some of it’s long-term aid, though, it’s not just military aid.

MCCAUL: There was long-term. And -- and, to be honest, a lot of this went to backfill our stockpiles.

However, that’s not -- the Republicans are not going to rule like that. We have a voice now and we’re going to do this in an accountable way, with transparency to the American people. These are American taxpayer dollars going in.

Does that diminish our will to help the Ukraine people fight? No. But we’re going to do it in a responsible way. And I think it’s very important that the American people understand what’s at stake here. If we lose in Ukraine, Chairman Xi’s going to look at Taiwan. And the ayatollah is already all-in with Russia and China in this fight. And Kim Jong-un now is providing artillery shells to -- to Russia to fight the Ukrainians.

RADDATZ: And, Congressman Turner, you were in Madrid for NATO’s parliamentary assembly. Republicans have long said more NATO -- NATO members need to give more. How do you do that?

I mean, the -- President Biden has held that NATO alliance together. He’s got 40 nations who’ve all contributed. How do you get them to do more?

TURNER: Well, this -- well, they are doing more. And they are doing a lot. And there’s some exciting things happening in NATO.

Obviously, where, you know, Putin was saying that he was really fighting against the West, not just Ukraine and the expansion of NATO, he’s not going to be welcoming Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance. They were there as part of our meeting, being welcomed into joining NATO. Seeing the expansion of NATO’s got to be very difficult for Putin because he wanted the opposite.

The entire Ukrainian delegation was there and President Zelenskyy himself spoke at the meeting, as he has remotely. And the – this is very important because he continues to show, as you know, the resolve that – that they intend to win, that they are a country and they’re going to fight.

And you were talking about, you know, bipartisan support. The president’s got some difficulties in his own party. As you know, 30 members of his party sent a letter saying, although we’re for aid, you should immediately begin negotiating some form of surrender from Ukraine. The letter was --

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC THIS WEEK ANCHOR: They withdrew that letter, as you know.

TURNER: The letter was so embarrassing to the president that – that the 30 members who had signed onto it had to immediately withdrawal that letter. And what that letter said was, we’ve agreed to give them aid but the – but basically the White House should decide who lives under an authoritarian regime under Russia with these atrocities and the murderousness and who’s going to live under freedom. That certainly isn’t helpful to the White House.

RADDATZ: And I want to turn now to – to the next Congress. I know you, Congressman McCaul, want to look at Afghanistan and the withdrawal. That was clearly a deeply flawed withdrawal. But what is it exactly that you want to do and questions you want to ask about President Biden’s role?

REP MICHAEL MCCAUL, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER & (R) TEXAS: Well, like – you know, we – the veterans deserve this, first and foremost, Martha. You and I have spent a lot of time in Afghanistan. The way it was done was so – such a disaster and such a disgrace to our veterans that served in Afghanistan. They deserve answers to the many questions we have. Why wasn’t there a plan to evacuate? How did it go so wrong? Why did we – why can’t I have access to the cable – dissenting (ph) cable from the embassy from the 32 or 23 employees out of the embassy that basically disagreed with the administration’s policies. And we – and they were lied to, remember? We’re not going to fly out the top of the embassy like, you know, Saigon. You know, this is not going to be a disaster. And it was – this was a – this was a turning point. When Afghanistan fell, Putin looked at Ukraine and we saw the Russian Federation troop buildup around Ukraine right at the same time, around August, then Xi’s looking at Taiwan, ayatollah, Kim Jong-un, against the free world and democracy.

RADDATZ: And – and – and I want to move on to what else the Republicans might be looking at. We’ve heard about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Congressman Turner, do you view that as a matter for the Intelligence Committee. What are they looking at there?

TURNER: Right. So, I think, you know, one thing that’s going to be very, very positive about this Congress is, we’re going to get back to the committees working again. And what the committee is working, they’re going to be – be focusing on their areas of jurisdiction. We’re going to take the intelligence committee from what was an impeachment committee, a partisan committee, back to national security.

Now, there certainly are issues with respect to Hunter Biden’s laptop that are going to have to be looked at but –

RADDATZ: Impeachment issues, you believe?

TURNER: No, no, I –

RADDATZ: Not at all?

TURNER: The impeachment issue was Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi.


TURNER: And where our committee was taken off the rails. Our committee is going to focus on national security and our adversaries. We have real adversaries where the committee hasn’t been focused again (ph).

We do need to, however, do oversight to the intelligence community as to what they are doing, and we will do that and we’ll do it vigorously. But we’re going to be their partner also in making sure they have the tools that we need. We need to move at the speed of our adversaries and we’re going to start doing that.

RADDATZ: Do you think that Kevin McCarthy will be the speaker of the House? Do you think he has the votes?

MCCAUL: You know, I do. And – because, first of all, I mean, Kevin has worked harder than any other candidate for speaker I've seen. I think he’s got the majority of our conference. And the fact is, what’s the alternative here? You know, Kevin has proven to be the leader of the Republican House and I do think he will get the votes, 218, on January 3rd.

RADDATZ: Do you agree?

TURNER: Absolutely. He is the leader. He’s been the – the leader of our team. And he’s going to stay the leader of our team. And I certainly look forward to, when we get past January 3rd, that we can get to work, get these committees back to doing the job that they’re supposed to do. And as you’ve been saying, turn back to national security.

When you introduced us, you introduced us as committees that focus on national security. We’re going to make certain that we’re back to doing that, that we actually look at our adversaries and we look at how we can make America strong.

RADDATZ: And – and, Congressman, just one quick question here about the border. You represent Texas. This week, on the border, Kevin McCarthy called on the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign, saying if he doesn’t he will seek to impeach him. Do you support those efforts?

MCCAUL: You know, look, you have to build a – I was a federal prosecutor, right? You’ve got to build a case. You need the facts, evidence before you indict. Has he been derelict in his responsibilities? I think so. I have a wide-open border in my home state. We have all these people coming in. We don’t know who they are. Terrorist watch list. Fentanyl is coming in killing more young people than ever before. Really almost 100,000 now, which, if you look at the Vietnam War equals what we lost in Vietnam over 20 years.

So I think, you know, they are complicit with the biggest human trafficking event of our lifetime. And I think the American people deserve some accountability.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us this morning, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

MCCAUL: Thank you.

TURNER: Thanks, Martha.

RADDATZ: Up next, Dr. Ashish Jha on the triple threat of COVID, flu and RSV this holiday season. And Trump is dealt another legal blow. How will it impact his re-election bid?

We're back in 60 seconds.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT: So my message, and my final message, maybe the final message I give you from this podium, is that, please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you're eligible.

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Well, hard to follow Dr. Fauci, who I would argue has been the most important, consequential public servant in the United States in the last half century and a leader and a role model for so many of us.

So, Tony, thank you.


RADDATZ: Dr. Anthony Fauci at his last White House briefing before he retires, urging Americans to get vaccinated as we head into the holiday season. As families gather and travel increases, fears that cases of COVID, flu and RSV could all rise at the same time. White House COVID response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha is here to discuss the latest.

Joining me now, it's very great to see you, and here in the studio, I think, for the first time.

So great to see you.

You heard Dr. Fauci. The administration is launching a new campaign urging people to get those flu shots, get those COVID boosters. But I think only about 11 percent have gotten the booster so far, and maybe 42 million the flu shot. We've talked about this so many times. People aren't listening. What do you do?

JHA: Well, first of all, good morning.

RADDATZ: Good morning.

JHA: Thank you for having me here. So, look, it's been obviously a long two and a half years for Americans. And we understand that, you know, people want to move on. The good news is, people can move on if they keep their immunity up to date. I really think, when you look historically, people tend to get their flu shot in November and December, into January. I think we're going to see a lot more people getting vaccinated in the upcoming weeks. This is why we're launching the campaign we are right now, because we think it's incredibly important as we head into the holidays for people to update their immunity, get the new COVID vaccine, get the flu shot. It's a great way to stay safe and healthy this holiday season.

RADDATZ: But there's also this UCLA study that says that adult flu vaccination rates have declined in states where COVID vaccination rates are also low. So are you concerned that the controversy and hesitancy over COVID vaccines is carrying over to flu vaccines?

JHA: So, look, here's what I -- what we know. We know these vaccines, first of all, are incredibly effective. They're very safe. So that's point number one. I think point number two is we know people get vaccinated when they hear it from trusted voices. So our strategy is get out into the community, talk to religious leaders, talk to civil society leaders, community-based organizations. Have them get out into the community and talk to people.

I really believe, if we do that and we continue pursuing that strategy, more and more Americans are going to get vaccinated.

RADDATZ: And there's this new subvariant of Omicron spreading in Massachusetts, your home state there. Experts say it accounts for nearly 40 percent of the cases there in the state. Do these updated vaccines help with that?

JHA: They do. They do. So--

RADDATZ: That's good news.


JHA: It is really good news, right?

So we made a decision over the summer to update the vaccine with a BA.5 bivalent vaccine. The FDA made that decision. Now, these new subvariants that are coming out, BQ.11 -- again, there's an alphabet soup here. That is a derivative of BA.5. And the good news is that the vaccines hold up well against that subvariant and other subvariants we're seeing emerge across the country.

So one of the reasons, one of the many reasons why I think it's critical for Americans to go get the new updated COVID vaccine is it's not going to just protect you against the virus that's been out there but it's also going to protect you against these new subvariants that are emerging, just as we're heading into the holidays.

RADDATZ: That’s excellent news. Get those boosters.

Let's talk about this tripledemic, however. The flu, COVID, the respiratory virus RSV which is affecting children and the elderly. We’re seeing hospitals getting close to capacity. What should parents do in particular?

JHA: Yes, that’s a very good question. So here’s how I think about it. We do have three infectious respiratory viruses, as you said, flu, RSV, and COVID. All out there. The good news, Martha, is we have two highly effective vaccines against two of them.

So the first thing that I think every parent should do, what I've done with my children, what I recommended is get everybody in the family vaccinated for -- against flu and against COVID. That takes those two and takes them off the table in terms of causing serious illness.

RSV for most people, not a big deal, it's very mild. For the elderly and for the youngest kids it can be a problem. So then it's just about basic respiratory hygiene that we know about, right, avoiding sick contacts, if your kid is sick keeping them at home, washing your hands, cleaning surfaces, there's a set of things that really make a difference with RSV, and we think if that -- if people do that, it really can make a difference.

One bit of good news just in the last week, we've seen RSV peak and maybe turn down. I'm obviously hopeful that that trend is going to continue. If it does, I think we’re going to get through the next (inaudible) --

RADDATZ: And what about this shortage of amoxicillin and even ibuprofen in some places?

JHA: Yes.

RADDATZ: What do they do about that?

JHA: Yes, this is -- you know, we have -- we have some broader supply chain issues with our medications that we've had for decades. I have seen this as a practicing clinician. I often when I walk into the hospital find some normal medicine that I’m used to using not available.

We have got to continue working on that. We’ve made a lot of strides in this administration but our work here is not done. So we have got to continue making sure that these medicines are available.

I will tell you, the good news is, plenty of vaccines for flu and COVID, plenty of treatments for flu and COVID, those are still out there, we have plenty of those, but we’ve got to work on the other things as well.

RADDATZ: And I want to, finally, ask you about China. You've seen the protests just extreme lockdowns in China when they get cases, people really starting to rise up in a way. When you look at what they're doing, is that effective?

JHA: Yes, so China has pursued a zero COVID strategy, obviously that is not our strategy. We don’t think that’s realistic, certainly not realistic for the American people. Our strategy has been build up immunity in the population by getting people vaccinated. That's how you manage an incredibly contagious variant like Omicron.

I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for China to be able to contain this through their zero COVID strategy.

I would recommend that they pursue the strategy making sure everybody gets vaccinated, particularly their elderly. That I think is the path out of this virus. Lockdowns and zero COVID is going to be very difficult to sustain.

RADDATZ: That could have a worldwide effect. That’s for sure.

Great to see you as always --

JHA: Thank you.

RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Dr. Jha.

The Powerhouse Roundtable is up next. And later, a preview of the matchup between the United States and Iran, as geopolitics plays out at this year's World Cup.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: The powerhouse roundtable is here, standing by. That's coming up next.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick, just sick. It has no, no, no social redeeming values, zero, none. Not a single, solitary, rational for it except profit for the gun manufacturers.

REPORTER: Can you do anything about gun laws during the lame duck, sir?

BIDEN: I’m going to try.

REPORTER: What will you try and do?

BIDEN: I’m going to try to get rid of assault weapons.


RADDATZ: President Biden on Thanksgiving Day, addressing a wave of mass shootings over the past week, promising to go back to Congress and push for additional gun reform. But that’s a tall order with the GOP-controlled House he'll face in January.

Let's dig into that and more with our roundtable: former DNC chair and ABC contributor Donna Brazile; former Justice Department spokesperson and contributor Sarah Isgur; ABC political director Rick Klein; and “Washington Post Live” anchor Leigh Ann Caldwell.

Welcome to all of you this morning.

And, Donna, I want to start with you on these mass shootings.

It’s been a terrible year, a terrible month, a terrible week. You just heard Biden say he wants to have an assault weapons ban. Is there really any chance for that?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know I think it's going to be tough not only because of the makeup of the Congress but also because we know that on the Republican side they lack the political will. While Senator Chris Murphy was able to get bipartisan support with the Safer Communities Act, stopping gun violence is going to be more than just a political act. I think it’s going to be a societal moral issue. Over 39,000 people have lost their lives, 39,000, 600 mass shootings alone this month. If we don't begin to put our entire society behind stopping gun violence, stopping violence period, I'm afraid it's going to get even worse.

RADDATZ: And – and, Sarah, is there any political support with Republicans? We’ve heard this. We know this. We've known for this for so long.

SARAH ISGUR, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, and I think that when you're looking at something like the assault weapons ban, no, I don’t think there’s a lot of future for that.

Where I think Republicans would be willing to come to the table is on beefing up a lot of the enforcement on the laws that we already have that we're not enforcing. You put a lot more money in police and prosecutors to take illegal guns off the street? I think Republicans will come to the table on something like that. The problem is that it’s so much more politically fun and palatable to talk about some new gun law you're going to pass. But if you don’t put the money behind enforcing it, we’ve got tons of gun laws, we’re not doing a whole lot with them.

RADDATZ: And – and, Leigh Ann, there have been a lot of accusations. There are a lot of reasons these things happen. But people are pointing to hate speech and political rhetoric being a motivation in some way.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, WASHINGTON POST LIVE ANCHOR: I think that what has been proven is that the gun violence issue is multifaceted. It's not just about guns, it's also about hate, hate speech. It's also about mental health. It's about social media. And so it's become a problem that has been almost impossible for Congress to solve.

As Donna mentioned, Congress passed the most expansive gun control legislation in two decades earlier this summer. We are still having mass shootings. The House of Representatives did pass an assault weapons ban in the past year. The chances of it passing in the Senate is very slim in the next – in the next – or impossible in the next few weeks before the Congress ends. But it might be an issue that is much bigger than Congress can solve.

RADDATZ: And – and, Rick, when you – when you look at the polls, in ABC polls, voters largely support gun control measures, 56-40 in the latest poll, but when you drill down on that it's – it’s really largely Democrats.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. And, look, and you see it even playing out in the elections earlier this month where you had new initiatives in Oregon and Iowa going in opposite directions on gun control at the – really on the same – on the same day.

I do think the action of the states is going to be more significant ultimately even though, as Sarah said, you’re not going to be able to legislate this always entirely.

There is still a window of opportunity for states to take some kind of an action. A lot of the failings that we've seen in – in Colorado, Virginia, have been about state laws that may or may not have been fully enforced. I think that’s where you’re going to see more movement.

I think President Biden knows the math on this and he'd like to see it happen but there’s a lot that has to happen in the next couple weeks and this is not going to likely be part of it.

RADDATZ: And, Leigh Ann, I want to go back to you because the assault weapons ban he’s trying for, but what else is President Biden going for in Congress and the Democrats in particular trying to get done in this lame-duck session?

CALDWELL: In the lame-duck session, I mean, putting guns aside, you have a whole list of things that they're trying to do. You have to pass government funding that expires December 16th or the government shuts down. They want to do a more permanent lifting of the debt limit so that the country can pay its credit card bills. And then you also have the national defense bill that is passed -- been passed every year for 60 years that they're also trying to pass. And those are the must-do things and then there are the things that might arise, too, like this rail strike that Congress might have to intervene in. And then there's the Electoral Count Act that they also want to pass to make sure January 6, 2021, doesn't happen again.

RADDATZ: And – and, Donna, I want to take that rail strike to you. That – that is looming large and could have a huge effect. What are they doing about it?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, the president said the other day that they're in the middle of negotiations. And I think this is one area where, once again, President Biden has shown that he understands how to bring both parties together, the unions who are really hell bent on making sure that their workers can get some paid sick leave. And, of course, the big companies, the rail companies, are saying, look, if we slow this down, if this doesn't happen, we're going to pay a hell of a price because of what we see on our rail tracks every day.

I want to also say, in addition to the rail strike, I mean, we'e got 22 judicial vacancies. Let's hope that the Senate will act on those vacancies and move them. Respect For Marriage Act, we saw Republicans in the House, at least 47, support that when it came through the House. Senator Collins and Senator Tammy Baldwin have really come up with a good plan. That's another area.

So I think that this is going to be probably one of the busiest lame-duck sessions we've seen in a long time.

RADDATZ: It sure is. But one thing we have seen, Sarah, is the student loan forgiveness program paused once again. This really has been, kind of, a mess for the administration. But is standing in the way of relieving debt for 40 million Americans a great strategy for Republicans?

ISGUR: At this point, I think a big problem for the administration is that this midterm election was in some ways the worst outcome for Joe Biden. He doesn't have a mandate on his legislative agenda. And on the other hand he also doesn't have a mandate to redraw the Democratic Party in his own image.

And so, sure, the lame duck has three weeks to get all of these things done, OK, but after that, you're going to have a president instead of -- and it's not just Joe Biden. This has been going on for 10, 15 years now. Instead of pursuing a compromise legislative agenda that could get through Congress, acting alone, doing executive orders that then get stalled in court. The student loan program at this point? It's not even looking like it could get resolved before the summer right now. That's no way to run a railroad, and it's no way to run a presidency.

RADDATZ: And -- and, Rick, you can respond to that, but--


-- but how big of a hit for the administration is -- is it without this student loan program?

KLEIN: I think they're -- the White House is very glad that we're on the other side of the midterms, to have to deal with this. They saw the pretty strong turnout for Democrats among -- among younger voters in particular.

I think where this begins to matter politically is that we're in a stage, still, where people are trying to figure out, on the Democratic side, is the Biden presidency a resounding success or is it, kind of, a middling thing, or is it a major disappointment?

And you've got voices on the left--

RADDATZ: Could be, depends on who you ask over on this side of the table.



KLEIN: -- may have some thoughts on it.

But, look, there's an argument to be made about how productive this -- this Congress has been and how productive Biden has been and what he's been able to do. There's also a case to be made about promises unkept and liberal fantasies and dreams that are -- that are unmet. And this is going to bleed into the 2024 conversation. Because President Biden, of course, has not made an actual announcement as to whether he's going to run or not.

It doesn't appear like there's likely to be major primary challengers to him, but people are still deciding, on the Democratic side, was this election a validation, or vindication, or not, and what does it mean for the -- for the president's prospects going forward?

So you have a stalled action item like this, a promise that was not delivered, it's -- it's harmful.

RADDATZ: So does he turn to executive orders, like Trump and Obama?

CALDWELL: I think so. He's already used executive orders, as we mentioned on the student loans. I think that that's -- the next two years is going to be pure gridlock. We are going to see very little legislation coming through Congress, with a Republican House and a Democratic Senate. And so the president's only option at this point is executive orders.

Now, the last two administrations have used them in a much greater capacity than previous administrations. We'll see if he continues on that track. But if he wants to try to deliver for the American people ahead of 2024, especially if he's running again, he's going to have to do that.


RADDATZ: Go ahead.

ISGUR: A Full Employment Act For Lawyers--


-- when administrations do that. I mean, the number of nationwide injunctions increased hugely in the Obama administration, even more in the Trump administration. We're seeing it again now.

He does have an opportunity. Work with the Congress you have, not the Congress you want. Stop trying to fulfill every wish list.

BRAZILE: I mean, you talk about a Republican Caucus that has a split personality. One--


One side of it wants to just investigate, retaliate and just practice the politics of revenge. And the other side, I think, with some of the Republicans who won in so-called Biden districts, they may decide that they want to work with this administration. Let's see what will happen.

RADDATZ: OK. Let's go back to Donald Trump. You brought it up.


He's running again. But his legal problems really did get worse this week, the Supreme Court ordering that he turn over his tax returns. DOJ just appointed the special counsel. What is he doing in all this?

He had the early announcement. Did he get a bump?

KLEIN: Yeah, in addition to a bad dinner, in the last couple days--

RADDATZ: Yeah, we're going to bring that up.

KLEIN: Look, I think -- I think there's an argument in Trump world that said "Get ahead of everyone else in the field. Try to scare out some of the other candidates, and try to force the Justice Department into an awkward position where they can't really prosecute someone who's a candidate."

Now, I think both of those things may have backfired, one with the special counsel announcements. That means you've got someone who's a bulldog, going to go after the president and find if there's -- if there's something there.

And the other thing is, it's clear now that he's not going to have this primary field to himself. I mean, you've seen Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley on down, Mike Pompeo, people that work for him, were loyal to him, saying they are in regardless of whether Donald Trump is in.

And, frankly, the events of the last couple weeks, between the legal challenges and some ill-advised political moves, have only fueled their determination and made it more obvious to the Republican base that, yeah, whether or not you think he's going to fall for any of these legal issues, he is just a flawed individual.

RADDATZ: And speaking of ill-advised moves, Donna, I'm going to turn to you on this. The dinner with formerly known as Kanye West, now Ye, and Nicholas Fuentes, an extremist right-wing commentator --


RADDATZ: -- that Donald Trump had dinner with.

BRAZILE: You know when you go into a hotel, the first thing I look for is that privacy little door hanger. Like -- where is his privacy door hanger? I mean, who vetted these two individuals? An open bigot, an antisemite, a Holocaust denier. Seriously?

I mean, I would give him a gift card to McDonald’s to avoid that type of commitment and dinner. I want to quote my colleague Chris Christie, and he said, this is just awful. Unacceptable conduct from anyone, but most from a former president and current candidate.

That says it all.

RADDATZ: And Trump's former ambassador to Israel. So --

BRAZILE: David Friedman --

RADDATZ: -- how did this happen and do you buy the excuse, hey, I didn't even know this Fuentes guy?

BRAZILE: Oh, please.

SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, we’re sort of over those type of statements.

I think that Donald Trump -- it's interesting, he's showing himself as a more flawed candidate here in the run-up to 2024 than we saw, frankly, in 2016 or 2020. And you have a lot of Republican voters who like Donald Trump, who are realizing he cannot win in 2024 and I think there will be a shopping period in the Republican primary.

What’s interesting to me is do we have this as sort of a 2016 cattle call where everyone’s fighting with each other to get that one-on-one with Donald Trump? We know how that turned out. Or is this more like 2008 where the narrative is constantly around Trump versus DeSantis and no one else can kind of get their balloon back up in the air?

RADDATZ: I want to take that to you, Leigh Ann.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, WASHINGTON POST LIVE ANCHOR: Yes, I think that -- kind of echoing what Rick said, the investigations have shown that there is a weakness with Trump. Even though his supporters might dismiss him as political witch hunts but polls have shown that a majority of people, up to 58 percent, want the investigations to continue.

Yes, most of those are Democrats but what I notice, there's 20 percent to 22 percent of Republicans who also think the same. And so you're seeing a softening of support of Donald Trump and that's why these Republican challengers are willing to perhaps challenge him in 2024.

And Chris Christie, perhaps maybe he’s going to be another one --


ISGUR: The worst moment for Donald Trump this week was not at the Supreme Court, where they told him to turn over his tax returns, it was not the DOJ special counsel. It was that Eleventh Circuit hearing over the Mar-a-Lago classified documents. Those were three Republican-appointed judges, two Trump-appointed judges, and it could not have gone worse for that Trump legal team. They were being asked nearly embarrassing level questions of how many different ways they’re going to lose that.

RADDATZ: And where do you see that going?

ISGUR: It means that the DOJ investigation into those classified documents is about to get a turbo boost because it’s no longer going to be delayed in that Florida special counsel separate lawsuit.

RADDATZ: Nobody better at explaining these things then you Sarah.

But I want to turn to the other guy, President Biden said this week -- or this weekend in Nantucket that he was really thinking about whether he would run or not. I think we have about 30 seconds here, Donna.

BRAZILE: He's bought time to make up his mind but at some point this weekend Gavin Newsom pledged his support to Joe Biden but I still believe it's an open question on whether or not he will decide to run. If he chooses --

ISGUR: He has said in the past --


ISGUR: -- I'm going to run --


BRAZILE: -- always say that before an election. The election is now over. Now he has to decide if he's ready for two more grueling years of campaigning and governing at the same time.

RADDATZ: And they will be grueling indeed.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

RADDATZ: And you guys (ph) will be tracking it all the way.

Thanks so much for coming in on a holiday weekend.

KLEIN: (Inaudible) --

RADDATZ: Great to see you all.

Coming up, the politics and protests playing out at the World Cup, we'll get the latest from Qatar when we come back.



ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am a lifelong lover of football, a very mediocre player, but a lover of the sport.

One of the things that we -- that we do is we engage in what we call sports diplomacy. We use sports as a way of connecting people, connecting people to our country. Whenever I go around the world, whatever again our differences may be, sports brings us together, unites us, connects us.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighting the unifying power of sports as he took in a World Cup match in Qatar earlier this week.

But the tournament has been engulfed in controversy since Qatar was announced as the host. Protests have erupted over the Gulf nation’s human rights violations and FIFA has placed unusual restrictions on teams, trying to prevent them from making statements on social justice issues. And with the United States set to take on Iran on Tuesday, politics has been playing out on the soccer pitch.

Will Reeve is in Doha with the latest.

Good morning, Will.


FIFA and Qatari officials insist that we focus on soccer and its supposed powers to unite the world and not on the record of the country where the World Cup is being played or how it got here in the first place.

And the soccer has been excellent, great goals, big upsets, passion on and off the pitch but if soccer is a unifier, it's also a magnifier and politics are under the microscope.


REEVE (voice-over): The World Cup in Qatar has delivered moments of glory and of political significance.

While Iran roils with protest after the detention and death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the country’s soccer team has been one of the surprise stories of this World Cup, the team with a chance to advance to knockout stage for the first time in its history. Already under pressure on the pitch, they raised the stakes off the field by wading into politics before their first game against England, pointedly silent for their national anthem.

Amid reported threats of reprisal from the Iranian government, the players then halfheartedly sang their anthem before their historic win against Wales. While Iranians in Ahmad bin Ali Stadium booed the anthem. Some fans, confronted by security for displaying political shirts and signs.

In an apparent nod of support for Iranian protests, the U.S. men’s national team removing the Islamic emblem from Iran's flag in social media promotions of their upcoming group stage game. Iran striking back, threatening to sue the U.S. over the American team's statement. Rainbow imagery a sudden flashpoint after FIFA demanded the captains of seven European teams not wear this armband in support of LGBTQ causes, insisting the captains wear FIFA-sanctioned bands, warning teams that anyone wearing the rainbow band in a game would get an automatic yellow card and other severe, unspecified punishment.

The political turmoil surrounding this World Cup began 12 years ago, when some FIFA officials were accused of taking bribes to vote for Qatar, the tiny gas-rich nation, the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup.

REEVE (on camera): In many visually obvious and stunning ways, Doha is every bit the modern city. But for the World Cup, how it was built and by whom has drawn fire.

REEVE (voice over): Qatar built much of its World Cup infrastructure from scratch. Numerous human rights organizations allege, many of the migrant laborers doing the work suffered brutal working conditions. Qatar has disputed the claim that thousands of migrant workers died on World Cup specific projects. But the chorus of global voices criticizing the country for its human rights record, particularly on women’s and LGBTQ rights, has crescendoed.


REEVE: On Tuesday, the United States men's national team plays Iran in its final group stage game. And the stakes, in strictly soccer terms, could not be higher. But because it is soccer, a win for either side will likely be imbued with much more meaning.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: Yes, Will. And this is it for the U.S. They need to win on Tuesday in order to even stay in the tournament, right?

REEVE: Yes, it's win or go home. They have to win or the U.S.'s World Cup is over.

RADDATZ: We’ll all be watching. Thanks so much, Will.

And we'll be right back.


RADDATZ: That's all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us on this Thanksgiving weekend. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and have a great day.