A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, May 12, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Separation of powers showdown.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Trump is goading us to impeach him.
UNKNOWN: We are now in a constitutional crisis.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: As Democrats demand more on the Mueller probe, the GOP closes ranks behind Trump.
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MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The special counsel’s finding is clear. Case closed.
LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENATOR (R-SC): Have I been confusing on this? It’s over.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: The president is stonewalling and slow-walking congressional investigations, calling them pure politics. Democrats fighting back with contempt charges and calls to sue. Which side will prevail in the courts and the campaign trail? And Trump escalates a trade war with China.
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TRUMP: They started to renegotiate the deal. We can’t have that.
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STEPHANOPOLOUS: Slaps sanctions on Iran as North Korea launches new missiles. We tackle it all with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff; a key Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Rand Paul; and our powerhouse roundtable. Plus.
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CORY BOOKER, SENATOR (D-NJ): Hello, everybody.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Can Cory Booker break through in 2020?
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JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You’re kind of like nice guy, approachable (ph), in tune with where the base of the party is right now?
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Jon Karl is on the trail in South Carolina. We’ll break down the politics, smoke out the spin; the facts that matter this week.
VOICEOVER: From ABC News, it’s This Week. Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. Welcome to This Week and, to all the moms watching today, happy Mother’s Day. As we come on the air, the battle between President Trump and congressional Democrats has broken out into all-out war. A brand new analysis in the Washington Post shows the White House is blocking 20 separate congressional investigations by filing lawsuits, stopping aides from testifying, refusing dozens of requests for documents.
Stonewalling on a scale that Democrats say amounts to a constitutional crisis.
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PELOSI: The president is almost self-impeaching because he is, every day, demonstrating more obstruction of justice and disrespect for Congress’ legitimate role.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: The president defiant, calling the congressional investigations pure politics that will put him back in the White House.
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DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They want to do investigations instead of investments. They want to do what they’re doing, which looks so foolish – and maybe I read it wrong but I think it drives us right on to victory in 2020.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And we begin this week with one of the Democratic chairmen leading an investigation, Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us this morning. You heard the president right there, he says you all are going to elect him in 2020.
ADAM SCHIFF, CONGRESSMAN (D-CA): That’s not going to happen and I don’t think this country could survive another four years of a president like this who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us. He doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union. But that’s not at all where he’s coming from.
And he’s going to be defeated. He has to be defeated because I don’t know how much more our democratic institutions can take of this kind of attack on the rule of law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He has made it pretty clear he’s not going to cooperate with most of the congressional investigations going on right now. And during the Obama administration, he declared executive privilege this week on Attorney General Barr’s testimony. And during the Obama administration, when the House GOP held the attorney general in contempt, Eric Holder, in contempt for failing to turn over documents from the Fast and Furious program, you called it partisan abuse. Here’s what you said.
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SCHIFF: The Justice Department after providing 8,000 documents and extensive testimony is now being required to turn over privileged materials. And like all administrations before it, it has reluctantly used executive privilege to respectfully refuse to provide materials it cannot provide.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: This Department of Justice is making exactly the same argument right now. They’re saying they’ve turned over almost the entire Mueller report unredacted, the attorney general, William Barr, has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. They’re saying they’re prevented by law from giving over this grand jury information so what’s the difference here?
SCHIFF: There are categorical differences. So, first, the Obama administration made dozens of witnesses available to the Congress, provided numerous thousands of documents, as you just heard, to the Republicans in Congress. And yes, it made specific claims of privilege. But here, the Trump administration has decided to say a blanket no; no to any kind of oversight whatsoever, no witnesses, no documents, no nothing, claiming executive privilege over things that it knows there is no basis for. There’s no executive privilege over the hundreds of thousands of documents regarding events that took place before Donald Trump was president.
You can’t have a privilege – an executive privilege when you’re not the executive. So, they know that vast categories are inapplicable to the privilege here. So they’re just stonewalling. They want to draw this out as long as possible and we’re going to fight it, we are fighting it and we have to because if this president can show that Congress cannot enforce its oversight responsibility, something Barack Obama never tried to do and -- and he had respect for the separation of powers, it will mean not only that we can't conduct this investigation but that no future president can be held accountable for corruption or malfeasance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- but that's the big question, isn’t it? What can you do about it. I know that you've talked about under the Congress' power for inherent (ph) contempt that you can maybe fine officials. You're not going to get a -- get a U.S. attorney to prosecute the attorney general after you hold him or any other official in contempt, so what can you do? How can you be effective?
SCHIFF: Well, we're going to have to enforce so much of this in court, and we're seeing signs already and I think this is positive that the courts understand the urgency here. And the first case to get to the court involving the accountants, the House Oversight Committee, the judge has said essentially we're going to expedite the schedule, I'm going to give you a quick judgment on it. And look, we are going to have to consider other remedies like inherent (ph) contempt, where if the courts take too long we use our own judicial process within the Congress.
And look, I think if you fine someone $25,000 a day to their person until they comply, it gets their attention.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you can collect.
SCHIFF: Well, if you can collect but it affects, you know, whether they’re going to be facing ultimately hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. I don't know how many are going to want to take that risk for Donald Trump. But we're are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary. We're going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: More and more of your colleagues are saying in the face of the president's blanket no, as you put it, that it's time to open up impeachment proceedings and that would strengthen your hand in the courts. Now last year you wrote an op-ed saying Democrats don't take the bait on impeachment. You said that if it were seen as a political party exercise it simply couldn't work and -- and that Democrats shouldn't pursue it. Is it getting to the point where you're going to have to change your mind?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, I was arguing a year and a half ago, when I wrote that op-ed, that we ought to wait to see what Mueller reports. Now we have the Mueller report, although we still haven't heard from the man himself. And I think the first priority has to be get Mueller before the Congress and the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you convinced that's going to happen?
SCHIFF: I am convinced it’s going to happen. That is inexorable. The American people have every right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can't rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions. So he is going to testify. And yes, it's certainly true that these additional acts of obstruction, a president having obstructed the Justice Department investigation, now obstructing Congress, does add weight to impeachment. But you know, part of our reluctance is we are already a bitterly divided country and an impeachment process will divide us further.
Once we get started, it's like pushing a boulder off the side of a cliff, it gathers a certain momentum of its own until it hits rock bottom, which is the Senate. And then we're like Sisyphus trying to push that boulder back up the hill. But he may get us there. He certainly seems to be trying and maybe this is his perverse way of dividing us more, and as you heard in the clip earlier, he thinks that's to his political advantage but it's certainly not to the country's advantage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We also saw an effort this week by Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, to get the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden for his diplomacy in the Ukraine while his son was serving on the board of the largest natural gas producer there. And the president told Politico on Friday it would be appropriate for him to discuss a probe of Biden with the attorney general. Is it appropriate?
SCHIFF: Of course it's not appropriate and what is so shocking to me, I served for many years on a democracy commission in the Congress where we would partner with parliaments in emerging countries, emerging democracies and we would always say when you win an election you don't seek to jail the losing side. And here the president of the United States is saying it's perfectly OK for him -- and he has said this before -- to go to the attorney general and get them to open an investigation of his rivals. And sadly, this attorney general has turned out to be so political and partisan and so without -- frankly without integrity, he just might do it.
And you know, that does add to the sense of crisis that these democratic norms are being broken down every day. The fact that we're not even done with this investigation of the last foreign interference in our election and Giuliani, apparently with the president's -- at least initially (ph) -- knowledge and blessing, was going to get the help of another foreign government in a presidential election. You know, it -- it tells me that they not only think this -- there's nothing wrong with this. If that's true, there's something wrong with them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the underlying issue, though? There's no public evidence that the vice president -- former vice president took any inappropriate action to help his son, but was it right for Hunter Biden to take a job like that in Ukraine while his father was engaged in diplomacy there?
SCHIFF: I don't know the circumstances in which he took the job but I can say this vis-à-vis Joe Biden, there's no evidence nor has there ever been any evidence that he was doing anything but trying to get the Ukraine government to crack down on corruption. Now we’re providing generous support to Ukraine, we’re providing defensive weapons to Ukraine, we want Ukraine to be successful in its conflict with Russia. But part of that is happening in a government that the people of Ukraine are willing to fight for and protect.
And they’ve had an endemic corruption problem. That’s what Joe Biden was trying to address. So going after his son is just a method of going after someone the president believes is his most formidable opponent.
So yes, let the president go after him, but don’t seek the help of a foreign government in your election. And, you know, if this isn’t criminal and Bob Mueller said he could prove all the ailments of a crime, then maybe we need to change the ailments of that crime because we cannot make this the new norm that if you can’t win an election on your own, it’s fine to seek help from a foreign power.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chairman Schiff, thanks for joining us this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s get a Republican response now from Senator Rand Paul, the former Relations Committee, Senator Paul thanks for joining us. Just want to let me pick up where Chairman Schiff was –
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), K.Y.: Good morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- good morning, where Chairman Schiff just left off right there that perhaps Congress should consider making it illegal to engage foreign governments, foreign assistance in campaigns. You agree?
PAUL: Well I think the American people will be shocked and dismayed to know that Joe Biden’s son was making $50,000 a month just a couple of months after he was dishonorably discharged from the military for drugs.
$50,000 a month, I think most Americans will be dismayed that the president’s son was doing this while Joe Biden was actually lobbying to have this company, you know, go free of prosecution.
My understanding, this was reported in the New York Times, Joe Biden was asking the prosecutor to lay off of the company that Hunter Biden was working for for $50,000 a month –
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s – that’s not – that’s – that’s not –
PAUL: -- kicked out of the military, that’s extraordinary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s not what – that’s not what was reported, in fact he was on an anti-corruption drive.
PAUL: Well actually (ph) that’s exactly what was reported, yes, that he got $50,000 a month right after he was kicked out of the military. That’s exactly true and nobody disputes that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s very (inaudible) from what you just said about what the vice president was saying right there. How about this idea that the president can – could ask – it’s appropriate for him to ask the attorney general to investigate a former vice president?
PAUL: I think since the very beginning this all has been politically motivated, now both sides are doing it. I think it goes back even to the Clintons. This is why we shouldn’t have special prosecutors.
One of the things that Adam Schiff and the other partisans don’t understand is that if you’re accused of a crime by a grand jury and they don’t indict you, the prosecutor doesn’t go all over town saying we thought he did this, we thought he did this, this is all the evidence.
That’s why a grand jury is secret. See the Mueller investigation said that the president did not commit any underlying crime, and so now they’re all saying he obstructed justice about something that was not considered to be a crime.
So this is really I think degenerated into partisan politics and the best thing we could do at this point is say let’s get on with the country’s business. Are there some underlying constitutional issues, yes.
The primary underlying constitutional issue here is whether or not the FISA court, which is supposed to spy on foreigners which has a lower constitutional standard, can you use the FISA court to spy on a presidential campaign? Can you use the FISA court to seek information about Americans?
That truly is a travesty and truly is unconstitutional and that’s the root of the problem we should be addressing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well as you know, there’s no requirement that there being an underlying crime for obstruction of justice to exist, and you’ve something like 800 former federal prosecutors who say they believe that the president would be prosecuted if indeed he weren’t president right now. So you’re not concerned about that at all?
PAUL: I think most Americans would disagree with that. I think most Americans would disagree with that. Most Americans would hate the idea that you’re called in to talk to the FBI and when you’re called in they say oh well, you know, what did you say on the phone to somebody two months ago?
And if you describe that inaccurately, then the government’s going to say oh we’re going to put you in jail even though there was no crime committed? You know, people are horrified by the idea that you could put someone in jail for obstructing justice on something where you didn’t commit the crime.
Think about it from the perspective of the president. He was falsely accused and he –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn’t that exactly what happened to Martha Stewart?
PAUL: -- well, yes, and it was wrong. What they did to Martha Stewart was an abomination. So when you’re accused falsely of a crime and you try to defend yourself, should you then be accused of another crime for trying to defend yourself against false accusations? I think its absurd.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this charge from Democrats, you just heard it from Adam Schiff saying that the president’s blanket no is basically amounting to another kind of obstruction of justice.
Is it appropriate to completely stonewall Congress across the board, not only in matters where they’re investigating the president’s personal finance, but also on matters of policy like immigration and healthcare?
PAUL: I think the clip you played of Adam Schiff showed it accurately. He’s a hypocrite, you know, he was against – he was all for President Obama using executive privilege and now he’s against this president.
The bottom line is we spent $35 million investigating the president, their conclusion was there was no underlying crime. This whole kibitzing about oh well, maybe he obstructed justice to try to hide an investigation about something he didn’t do.
This is absurd and the American people know it, people have gone to their corners on it, but it's important to remember that this was politically motivated from the very beginning from a political document, from the Hillary Clinton campaign, and that should be investigated because we cannot allow the incumbent parties to weaponize the intelligence communities to spy on Americans or on political candidates or potentially their donors. So there is a real danger to this and it is a constitutional one, but the Democrats have it completely upside down.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the clips go both ways. Back when President Obama was asserting executive power, you attacked him for acting like a king. Let's show that.
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PAUL: Someone who wants to bypass the constitution, bypass Congress, that's someone who wants to act like a monarch.
The president acts like he’s a king.
Not only is it an abuse of power, I think it’s almost leads us to a constitutional crisis of sorts. The president can't just do what he wants, he's not a king, he has to really get approval from Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: So why isn't that hypocritical?
PAUL: Right -- well, and for your viewers, you will also need to remind them that I opposed the president when he unconstitutionally -- Obama tried to make DACA or immigration law without Congress, I also opposed President Trump when he tried to spend money that wasn't appropriated. So I think I’m entirely consistent in saying no president should be king, that includes my president. So I took a lot of heat from people in my party by saying, well, you can't spend money that wasn't appropriated by Congress, but I did stand up with 12 other Republicans and say the same thing that I said for President Trump under President Obama. And I think that is consistent.
With regard to executive privilege, I never said one word about President Obama on -- on -- on whether or not he should have to divulge all the material within the administration, I said that he couldn't create immigration law without Congress first creating the law. I said the same to President Trump, you can't spend money without Congress first appropriating it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we go, I want to ask about the president’s imposing of new tariffs on China on Friday. It looks like that trade war with China is escalating. Last year you put out a tweet that said tariffs are taxes that punish American consumers and producers, if tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers, the answer is remove the tariffs.
Are you worried with this escalation from President Trump that he’s going to end up putting in permanent tariffs that are going to hurt the American?
PAUL: Yes. I know of a big company that told me that the tax cuts specifically helped them but that the tariffs are almost equal in punishing them. The farmers in Kentucky are concerned about the tariffs and I’ve talked to the administration about this. I've said my concern is that the great benefits of the tax cut, which have low unemployment and incredible economic growth, could be raised by this tariff war as we ratchet it up with China, I’m very concerned.
However, we're in the middle of this and the president is playing a -- a -- a negotiating battle with the Chinese and I think he feels that at this point they can't really back out. I think there are ways the Chinese market could open up and that would be good, but I still have advised the administration, get this done, because the longer we’re involved in a tariff battle or a trade war, the better chance there is that we could actually enter into a recession because of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Paul, thanks for joining us this morning.
PAUL: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Jon Karl on the trail in South Carolina with 2020 candidate Cory Booker. We’ll be right back.
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BOOKER: My daddy taught me that in life, people are going to talk down about you but you’ve got to stand up. In life you’re going to face racism and bigotry but you’ve got to stand up. But he told me that the greatest calling of all is not to just stand up for yourself, but to remember it was folks that stood for you before you were born, people that stood up and loved you, people that stood up and cared for you.
And so your greatest calling in life is not to stand up for yourself, but to stand up for other people.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s Cory Booker firing a commencement address at S.C. State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Booker also opened a new campaign office there this weekend because that first southern primary key to his 2020 strategy.
But right now Booker is well behind Joe Biden and other Democrats in all the early states. So when Jon Karl traveled there on Saturday, he began by asking Booker how he plans to take down the front runners.
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BOOKER: I’m a former track guy. I get in the blocks. There’s a lot of athletes next to me. I don't look at the lane to the right or the left -- I run my race. And in many ways this was a race -- this is a race I feel very confident about, not just here in South Carolina, but New Hampshire, Iowa and -- and Nevada as well. Because to me, these are races where you're going to have to earn people's votes. We know historically the front runners at this far out are often not the people that end up winning those early primaries.
KARL: But Biden’s somebody who obviously voted for the free trade agreements. He's somebody who voted for the Iraq war. You know well his record on -- on criminal justice issues. Is that the record of a -- of a Democratic standard bearer?
BOOKER: Joe Biden's going to have to defend his record and talk about what he stands for. I plan on focusing on my record and I'm very proud of that. Running into some of our country's toughest problems, I didn't pick an easy way in American politics, even coming out when I started working in the nonprofit sector. I went to the toughest neighborhood I could find in Newark, New Jersey and joined with that community.
It’s a community I still live in today and I'm very proud of my neighbors and my neighborhood and what we've accomplished together, doing things other people said couldn't be done.
KARL: So you're not going to take on your fellow Democrats? I mean, I hear a reluctance to engage, to criticize.
BOOKER: I can't campaign in a divisive way. I always say you can't campaign wrong and think you're going to govern right. I'm governing to unite this country again, to reignite senses of civic grace, a more courageous empathy for one another, so that we can deal with the persistent injustices in our nation.
KARL: And I've heard you say the same thing about Trump. You say you don't want to fight fire with fire. But there was a headline in Politico quoting a local Iowa Democrat leader, saying, "the Democratic base is angry as hell, Cory Booker's message of love falls flat."
Democrats in this country are angry and they're angry at President Trump. Is your kind of like nice guy approach really in tune with where the base of the party is right now?
BOOKER: Well, I think you mistake this in understanding that to be strong, you don't have to be mean. To be tough, you don't have to be cruel. We're here in South Carolina, on a historically black college -- historical black university, where some of the greatest strength was shown through the civil rights activism where people didn’t raise a fist. We didn't beat Bull Connor by bringing bigger dogs and more powerful hoses. You beat demagogues by -- by expanding the moral imagination of the country, bringing people together to overcome them.
Look, I had a guy when I walked into a town hall put his arm around me and said, I want you to punch Trump in the face. And I looked at him and I just smiled and said, hey man that's a felony, and us black guys, we don't get away with that that often. The reality is, is Trump wants us to fight him on his turf, and his term. He wants to pull our party down. We will not succeed by showing the worst of who we are, but the best of who we are.
KARL: So you just outlined a 14-point gun -- plan on guns that has been called the most ambitious effort to deal with the gun issue of any of the Democratic candidates. How are you going to get this done?
BOOKER: Well the first way you get this done is stop having a debate on the corporate gun lobby's terms. They've been forming this debate and telling us what we can’t do. American history is a testimony to doing things people said was impossible.
My parents and the folks that I know personally who were fighting in the civil rights movement, and gave up when Congress couldn’t pass civil rights legislation. Again and again, it failed. The longest filibuster, Strom Thurmond’s filibuster against civil rights movement. People thought that was impossible, but they changed the terms of the debate by expanding the moral imagination of this country. Now I know in the United States of America, in my short time on this planet, 50 years, we've had more people killed by gun violence than every single war combined from the Revolutionary War through World War I, World War II, Vietnam, all the wars combined, more people killed the last 50 years by gun violence.
That has been normalized. And what have we done? Massacre in the synagogue. We do nothing. Massacre here in South Carolina in a church. We do nothing. Massacre in my mom’s city of Las Vegas. We do nothing.
KARL: But look at how Obama, after Newtown, he went to try to just get tougher background checks, which is, which is just a fraction of --
BOOKER: You sound like what I encountered when I first took over city hall as chief executive.
KARL: I know but are you saying that Obama didn't try hard enough? You're looking at a Senate that is going to be every bit as as tough as the Senate that Barack Obama faced.
BOOKER: Well, again, when I became mayor of the city of Newark - one of the things I used to not not tolerate was people telling me: "Hey, we tried this before. We couldn’t get it done."
KARL: I’m just asking how you’re going to do it.
BOOKER: What you're saying is that, hey -- we have carnage in this country, like it's a uniquely American problem. And we can't solve it. I don't accept that at all. When Connecticut did licensing, their shootings dropped, their murders dropped 40%. Suicides dropped 15%. These are things that have been tried and done and that work.
KARL: Let me ask you about healthcare. You are a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders Medicare for All. But you also say that you don't want to eliminate private health insurance.
BOOKER: I think we need --
KARL: Explain that because his plan eliminates private health insurance.
BOOKER: Well, I support what all Americans I think support, which is this idea in the wealthiest nation on the planet Earth, everyone should have access to health care. I think the best way to get there is Medicare for All and I'm going to work towards that goal.
KARL: OK so that means ultimately you are fine with eliminating all private health insurance including what’s been negotiated by unions?
BOOKER: No, I never said that and you know this, you know this.
KARL: Bernie Sanders bill does say that there will be no duplicative private health insurance. It’s right there. It’s right there. You’re a co-sponsor.
BOOKER: And what I'm -- what I'm going to say to you as president of the United States.
BOOKER: The first thing I'm going to do is to dramatically lower costs for Americans, and expand insurance and create a glide path towards an eventual goal.
KARL: You won't be pushing for Medicare for All, in the beginning, and the elimination –
BOOKER: I want to be pushing on a pathway towards getting to everyone having coverage, and part of that is going to be Medicare for all who want it. We could create a really good –
KARL: Well that's -- Medicare for all who want it is not Medicare for all, its Medicare -- that's called the public option. It’s not for all.
BOOKER: Again, as I’m telling you, I have a clear goal in mind that I share with all Americans, healthcare as a right. I think the best way to get there is Medicare for All. I'm also a realist. As a former mayor who got things done who knows that you can't hold progress hostage for some purity.
KARL: So, I want to ask, Chris Hughes who helped co-found Facebook has now come out to say that it should be broken up. He says that it is unprecedented and un-American to have this much power in one company. Where do you stand on breaking up Facebook?
BOOKER: I don't care if it's Facebook, the pharma industry, even the agricultural industry. We've had a problem in America with corporate consolidation, that is having really ill effects.
And we should have – if I’m president of the United States, I will have a Justice Department that uses antitrust legislation to do the proper investigations and to hold industries accountable for corporate consolidation.
KARL: So, Elizabeth Warren's already out there saying break up Facebook, break up Google …
BOOKER: But I -- I don’t think that …
KARL: Break up Amazon.
BOOKER: Right, but I don't think that a president should be running around, pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without any kind of process here.
It's not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks. That sounds more like a Donald Trump thing to say, I'm going to break up you guys, I’m going to break – no.
We need to create systems and processes that work …
KARL: You just compared Elizabeth Warren to Donald Trump, that’s …
BOOKER: I – I – I most certainly did not, she is my friend.
KARL: Well, that’s what she’s saying. She’s the one that’s saying that.
BOOKER: Well again, she has – let her discuss and debate her positions. I'm telling you right now, we do not need a president that is going to use their own personal beliefs and tell you which companies we should break up. We need a president that's going to enforce antitrust laws in this country, and I will be that person.
KARL: And last question – are we going to see Rosario Dawson out on the campaign trail with you?
BOOKER: You know, right now, I'm looking as I'm running around this country campaigning just to see Rosario Dawson. I was with her a few days ago for her 40th Birthday. Happy Birthday, honey. And so, let us work on our relationship, and we'll deal with the world as we continue to build this incredible love affair.
KARL: All right, Senator Booker. Thank you, really enjoyed talking to you. Appreciate it.
BOOKER: Thank you so much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Booker keeping things in perspective right there. Thanks to Jon Karl for that, the roundtable’s up next. We’ll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable’s here and ready to go. 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.
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RAHM EMANUEL: I look at what he’s doing and I have a theory that he’s trying to goad us to impeach him.
PELOSI: Oh sure.
EMANUEL: That’s what – yes, that he –
PELOSI: You’re absolutely right, I say –
EMANUEL: -- not just because he doesn’t want you to have the information.
PELOSI: No, well that’s about power, it’s all about power, but that’s why I’ve said when people keep after me on the impeachment, he’s not worth it. He’s not worth it because he wants us to go to that place so that we’re not focusing on whatever else.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the podcast of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel who joins our round table this morning. Also former New Jersey governor, ABC contributor Chris Christie, Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for the New York Times, and Seung Min Kim, White House reporter for the Washington Post.
And Maggie, we just Rahm and the House speaker right there saying the president’s trying to goad them into impeachment, that’s exactly what you reported in the New York Times this week.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, or at least trying to goad them into saying that’s what they’re doing. I think that there is an effort by the people around the president to make Democrats have to provide a stark choice.
Yes this is what we are doing, this is how we are going about it, and they think, the president’s folks, this will be politically damaging for Democrats. I think that the House speaker feels the same way.
She made that pretty clear in her podcast with you. I don’t think that it’s going to end up going to that point, but I do think you are going to see the White House essentially just draw a line in the sand, we’re not cooperating because this is what you’re trying to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Seung Min, that’s exactly what you reported on this morning in the Washington Post detailing out 20 different investigations that the White House is stonewalling basically with what Adam Schiff said were across the board no’s. And that is propelling more Democrats to say we might have to move to impeachment proceedings.
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Exactly. I mean, it’s -- we've focused a lot on matters involving the Mueller investigation and other related issues for the last several days, but the lack of cooperation by this administration on matters directly related to the White House, to the president, to his personal finances is pretty vast. I mean, they' are investigating his immigration policies, have not heard a lot at all investigating the federal response to Puerto Rico, even Jared Kushner's trip to Saudi Arabia, conversations between the president and Vladimir Putin in the Helsinki summit last -- last summer.
But this is why you've heard kind of a shift in -- or more of an uptick in rhetoric from Democrats on why they might have to pursue -- why impeachment might be at the end of the road, because you've heard Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler keep saying things like the lack of cooperation is kind of the bigger issue for us right now, not necessarily his conduct.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Rahm, it did seem this week that that pressure was building at the base of the House Democrats saying, you know, Nancy, we might not have a choice.
RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: Well here's the thing, you got -- a couple things. One, I would have, in the House, pull back, recalibrate totally on Mueller and his presentation. Two, on all the obstructions or all the pieces in which the administration’s fighting, sequence them. They’re not all equal, all 20 that were written today in the Post. Which one is the best one to win the legal case? The first one. That sets the precedent for all the other 19 that follow. Third, you know, Democrats have this gene, it's in our DNA, of responsibility. Then all we hear is the presidential election, which is the single most overarching thing for the base.
We have to -- between those two goal posts, we have to kick perfectly and you have to keep moving without the investigation overwhelming the legislating. And that is what it's doing right now.
CHRISTIE: Yes, listen, the -- the problem is that they've not shown the discipline to be able to pull that off. He's right in --
EMANUEL: They haven't hit the (ph) goal post yet.
CHRISTIE: No, not yet, but the -- but the problem is that they’re -- they’re -- they're jumping towards the bait. They haven't bitten it yet, but they're jumping out of the water like a fish towards the bait. And -- and this encourages the president to do what he's doing. Now listen, I think there are things that are divisible. I think, you know, some of those investigations that were written about this morning, the White House shouldn't stonewall some of those.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Healthcare, immigration --
CHRISTIE: Healthcare, immigration on the substance, because the president has substantive things to say on those issues, go out and defend your position. Now, you know, on the tax returns and the other things, I understand the position he's taking and -- and he --
EMANUEL: But you would agree that he's decided an absolutist approach is -- and that's where the mistake will be -- that’s where his fault will be.
CHRISTIE: Well, it may be depending upon the Democrats' reaction. Now, if they take the reaction that you suggest, then it will turn out to be a mistake for the president. If they take the reaction he’s anticipating -- and you can see because of all these different little fiefdoms within the House, they all want to have their moment -- Adam Schiff on here this morning, Jerry Nadler --
EMANUEL: So unlike --
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things I wonder -- and I want to bring this to Maggie -- is that I wonder, though, if the courts are going to provide the protection that the president is looking for. Not necessarily that they think they’re going to win all these cases, in fact they’re on weak ground on several of them, but hoping to delay through the election. We are seeing more evidence from the courts that they're prepared to move more quickly.
HABERMAN: We are, but I don't know how quickly that's going to be and we don't know what it's going to look like on appeal and we don't know how long that’s going to last. Donald Trump, as long as I have covered him, which is a fairly long time at this point, has always used the courts as a way to mitigate all manner of disputes and he's essentially treating it the same way. One of the interesting things about how he's going about this is he is trying to act both as president and private citizen. So when it comes to his taxes he's acting as a private citizen. When it comes to the investigations, he's acting as a president but suggesting things like healthcare on issues of policy, but they are suggesting there's an overreach by the House.
And one of the ways that Donald Trump navigates politics is he turns everything into an up down referendum on himself. That’s what he’s doing right now, he’s trying to make it a stark choice. He is not recognizing the institutional authority of the House on any level and he is going to look towards the courts to try to deal with that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what if they strike him down?
EMANUEL: Strike the president down? Well, that’s -- we’ll (ph) keep going. Here's what I would say as a guiding north star for the Democrats. Little less on Trump and a lot more on the American people. Focus on where they are in their healthcare. That's how we won in 2018. Where are they on affording college for their children? Where are they in making sure that they have the skills they need or the infrastructure of transportation system they can get from home to work, et cetera. A lot of this, for a narcissist like the president, he's just loving this. Less on him and more on the American people.
CHRISTIE: And by the way, Booker’s -- Booker was trying to say that in the interview. I think one of the things that Cory did well in that interview was he was trying to talk more about issues and less about the president. But let's go back to -- to where this all really started. And when the president looks back on this, if he does get struck down, you know, he's carping about Don McGahn in a -- in a -- in a tweet yesterday. The people he should really be talking to are John Dowd and Ty Cobb, who gave the screwiest advice I’ve ever seen to a sitting executive by saying –
STEPHANOPOULOS: To cooperate in part with the investigation.
CHRISTIE: -- let the White House Council go in and give all the testimony he wants without restriction.
EMANUEL: He needs his money back for that advice.
CHRISTIE: Insane, let me tell you something, I said to you, you remember, on this show that they were a C level legal team at best, on their best day, and let me tell you something, what’s going on right now shows that I had great infliction.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on, but let me tell you before we move on and then let me play devil’s advocate on that point, let’s say that they had decided to hold the line and in the face of holding the line, Mueller does in fact subpoena the president, does in fact subpoena these White House aids and that – and that makes the president, we all know the president, blow up and fire Robert Mueller.
He’d be much worse shape right now.
CHRISTIE: Listen, I just don’t – Donald Trump’s self preservation gene would never have permitted him to fire Bob Mueller, never have permitted him to do it, George. I mean there’s not much that I’m confident on –
STEPHANOPOULOS: He tried.
CHRISTIE: No, no, he didn’t try, he did what Donald Trump does.
EMANUEL: He blew up.
CHRISTIE: Which is to blow off steam and if someone wants to go and do it, well then go ahead and do it, why – that’s not what I meant.
EMANUEL: Two things – two things –
HABERMAN: That’s (inaudible) the argument from a lot of people around him. He did touch the hot stove with Comey and I think he saw that there was an add (ph) lesson from that.
CHRISTIE: That’s a big lesson he learned from that.
HABERMAN: Yes, and it – and it taught him to (inaudible).
EMANUEL: Number one, get Mueller in front of Congress, number two the legal team should have known what McGahn was saying from day one, whether – and not find out until after the report.
CHRISTIE: No one interviewed Don McGahn before he got interviewed by Bob Mueller. Imagine the malpractice there, Donald Trump needs a malpractice suit against John Dowd.
EMANUEL: I’m not even a lawyer and I know you’re not supposed to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m going to move onto the trade war right now, we saw the president prove (ph) tariffs on China on Friday. And Seung Min, you wrote about this this week as well, again calculated it appears (ph) political strategy by the president, perhaps hoping in the end this will force a deal.
But if not, he seems pretty happy to take this to the voters.
KIM: Exactly, and I think it’s his approach to trade has been really interesting and the reaction from Republicans has been interesting as well because I mean talking to a lot of Republican senators, they are not happy clearly with the president’s trade policy, his protectionist stances.
But they have made a little bit of a distinction between how he’s approaching these trade talks with China versus for example the proposed auto tariffs or the steel and aluminum tariffs, which they all hate and are warning the president off of.
And I think the president and some Republican senators even from those farm states do see a little bit of a political advantage to showing that he’s tough on China and he’s getting – and he’s – and he’s cracking down on their – on the policies of the past but I’m talking to a lot of ag state – ag state Republican senators and they say the farmers are still with you now, but there is a point where they may lose their patients.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President’s got Chuck Schumer with him on China.
CHRISTIE: Here’s a (ph) rave.
EMANUEL: (Inaudible) but here – here’s what I would say, and I would go after the president for, there are four wars, you got China trade war, you got Iran, you got Venezuela, you got North Korea, now you decided you want a secretary of defense?
You should have been planning – you should have had a secretary of defense before you decided to have military confrontations and every one of them, not China yet, but all you need right now is one mistake over one of the islands near China, one naval ship that goes a little too far.
I think it’s really – talk about – forget all the obstruction of justice, forget all that, what a malpractice of politics to literally have a confrontation going now between North Korea, you just took the coal ship, Iran you sent another aircraft carrier and a whole squadron there, you have Venezuela in a standoff and now is when you want the secretary of defense?
You should have had this a year ago.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president does seem reluctant to getting pushed into a confrontation in Venezuela, does seem reluctant clearly with North Korea, less so with Iran.
CHRISTIE: This is his personality. I mean listen, he –
EMANUEL: Yes, but we need a foreign policy, not a personality.
CHRISTIE: I understand that, but I’m trying to explain this to you, Rahm, so hang in there OK?
EMANUEL: Yes, well I’m impatient (inaudible).
CHRISTIE: I understand, this is his personality, he is not a confrontational person despite what you see on Twitter, despite all those other things that you see. He is not a confrontational person in that type of way.
So these situations are difficult for him. And I think the other thing that you see going on here on China is no one should be surprised at this. If there’s one thing he has been philosophically consistent on for 30 years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thirty years, absolutely.
CHRISTIE: Has been trade and using tariffs and that we’re getting ripped off, first it was the Japanese, now it’s the Chinese and he’s been completely consistent on that. So no Republican sitting in Congress should be saying I can’t believe this is happening. It’s who they voted for.
EMANUEL: But Chris, here’s the differences, he may not want a confrontation but Bolton and Pompeo – and the secretary of state, they clearly want a very heads on –
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s Iran and North Korea. I do want to stick on China for just a second, put this to Maggie because I think this is going to put the president’s principles to the test.
What do they call it on Wall Street now, the Trump put (ph), that he’s not going to allow the stock market to fall too far, so far it appears that the finance community believes that he is going to get a deal, that he’s not going to keep on pushing these tariffs. Hard to know.
HABERMAN: Could end up like the farmers, at what point do they end up moving away from him? We don’t know how far he’s going to push this. And I think one of the difficulties in assessing his policies on any issue, on trade, on foreign policy is he has this series of competing impulses.
He had this competing impulse that wanted to go for the tax bill and it helped a lot of people in parts of the country that are now getting hit by these tariffs.
So, I don’t think he has a long-term strategy for this. I don’t think he has a long-term strategy for most of these ends. I think he is doing what he has to do to get through small increments of time and I’m not sure where this ends.
CHRISTIE: Let’s keep using the market analogy and here’s the hedge on the Trump put; the infrastructure bill. There’s no doubt in my mind that the reason he’s pushing for that now is because he’s concerned that because of the tariff policy there might be some slowdown on it so what he wants to do is pump $2 trillion into the economy through infrastructure which will help the hedge against any damage to tariff …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is he going to get Republicans in Congress to go along with that is one of the big questions …
KIM: Not for $2 trillion, no. No way.
EMANUEL: I don’t think he can figure out Republicans for a $2 bill on the infrastructure. It was a trillion, now it’s $2 trillion. He still hasn’t found the money for the first trillion. This is a joke. Everybody knows it’s a joke. He – in a meeting by himself, he went from a trillion to $2 trillion and Nancy and Chuck to their credit said, very simply, show us the money.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Show us how to pay for it.
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, and I think what you’re going to see is the president try to push Republicans in the direction of – he doesn’t – he knows he’s not going to get $2 trillion so it’s kind of typical President Trump material. We’ll start with $2 trillion and he’ll declare victory at $1 trillion and he has the Democrats saying that they’re for it. Thank about that. If he gets a bipartisan win on infrastructure, gets a trillion dollars pumped into the economy pre-election …
EMANUEL: He’ll be – he’ll be a dictator (ph) …
… Child of Kaine’s (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: Big if but that would be a big victory for him. One thing, Maggie, the president does seem to have also decided, that Joe Biden is the candidate that’s most like him running for president this time around which makes him his prime enemy.
HABERMAN: Yes, and I was a little perplexed by that statement, candidly. Because there is no way in which Joe Biden is like the president other than being …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except being the frontrunner, that was …
HABERMAN: That means leading the early polls and that is literally it. It has aggravated a number of the president’s political advisors that he is elevating Joe Biden in this way and essentially turning him into the general election candidate. Now, Joe Biden has a primary that could be very difficult for him to get through. And a lot of the president’s advisors are saying "just hang back, stop zeroing in only on …"
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in the short term, Rahm, it does appear to have been a boom to Joe Biden to have the president going after him. I mean, I think people expected him to come into the race perhaps as a frontrunner but he’s gone far beyond what a lot of people thought he’d go beyond in these early stages.
EMANUEL: The lesson so far is Joe Biden, to all – everybody that analyzes, talks about politics, Democrats are more pragmatic than those who are actually on the base quote, unquote, "screaming." As I always say in politics, sound is not always fury. It is not always fury. And my point, Joe Biden’s move – here’s the overarching ideological goal for Democrats; winning. Everything else is just shades of gray. That’s what they care about.
And what Biden shows right now, there’s a pragmatic center, pragmatic, that says we want to win. And if Biden’s the ticket, we’re going right there. And to everybody that says "Oh, this is what the base wants," show me the votes. Show me what you got.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So (inaudible) other Democrats struggling to even get heard at this point.
CHRISTIE: Well, that’s true but I still think I’m one of those advisors who thinks it’s a mistake for the president to do this. I could pick, of the 22, I could pick probably 21 others I’d rather run against if I were Donald Trump to Joe Biden. And I – and I just think that …
EMANUEL: Nineteen to count.
CHRISTIE: I just think that it’s a mistake – I think it’s a mistake for him to be doing what he’s doing. Now, listen, there’s a lot of things that I thought he did mistakenly in 2016. He wound up winning and don’t remind me of that when we get off the air. But …
But the point is that I think Joe Biden’s the one guy, and I’ve said this all along, who can go into Michigan and Wisconsin and Ohio and Pennsylvania and appeal to white working class voters. The president doesn’t need that type of opponent. He needs an opponent who will repel those white working class voters and keep his …
CHRISTIE: … Coalition together, absolutely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is creating a dilemma for the other Democrats, particularly those Democrats who got almost 10 of them in the House and the Senate just struggling to get some kind of attention, hoping that their policy proposals would get some traction.
KIM: Exactly. And I think – I mean, when you’re in a field that vast, you need to find a way to create your own lane. And you know, obviously the interview with Senator Booker was fascinating where he’s been trying to be the candidate of hope and love and all this fuzziness where – and it doesn’t seem to be gaining traction right now. It does make you wonder whether he does tack towards a more confrontational approach if he realizes isn’t working. But they’re all trying to find their own lane and it’s just not (inaudible) …
HABERMAN: The debates start in a month. I think we’re going to have a much clearer sense of what’s happening in the Democratic primary when the debates begin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And so – yeah, they – they are going to start to winnow down the field …
EMANUEL: The two things is – six weeks ago, eight weeks ago, Bernie Sanders set the pace. Biden’s now setting the pace. Biggest deal. If you’re on the panel of the debate in a month from now and you’re not with Joe Biden, nobody’s going to see or hear you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, see that’s – that was what I wanted to pick up on …
EMANUEL: Nobody will see and hear you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … And you’re (ph) right there, you know, we know the first debates you're going to have 10 -- 10 candidates over -- over two nights, 10 candidates each night. It's possible that even though we think they're going to be the big events that they may not turn out to be the events that the people expect because it just gets all muddied up over two nights.
CHRISTIE: Well if you look back on '16 and that race and -- and the 10 candidates who were there on the first stage in August in Cleveland, nine candidates didn't matter. Donald Trump that night was the only candidate who mattered and I was standing on the stage and feeling it the way lots of other people were. Is Joe Biden going to be able to dominate in that same way? I don't think so. And I think the reason these are going to be important is because someone else will emerge. I don't know who, but someone else will. Biden does not have the type of personality that will dominate the way that -- that Trump did.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but -- but does he have to dominate the debate if it's over two nights, if no one else breaks out?
EMANUEL: I -- here's the thing. He's going to focus on Trump, Trump is going to focus on him and he's going to be the center of energy. Yes, somebody will emerge and that's the process. And first of all, everybody -- I have to take this advice myself -- we’re -- these are like every 25 feet on a -- literally a 26-mile --
EMANUEL: We don’t need to get (ph) our medication early, OK?
CHRISTIE: Four years ago it was President Jeb Bush, right?
HABERMAN: But that’s -- I do think the governor's right, is I think that why the energy was all on Donald Trump was he was willing to do things that no other candidate was willing to do during those debates and everybody else got up on stage knowing he could train the insult gun at them at any moment and Joe Biden’s not going to do that, so I just think you’re crazy (ph) --
EMANUEL: But here’s one thing (ph) that Biden will do. Biden will talk about trump --
HABERMAN: Yes --
EMANUEL: -- and everybody will try to make Biden bait them and he is going to (inaudible). Look, there’s a long way to go --
HABERMAN: Look --
EMANUEL: -- and it’s great for (ph) the vice president is --
STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s a long way to go for the campaign but we're out of time. So that’s --
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.
CHRISTIE: -- is that what you’re telling me?
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s 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.