'This Week' Transcript 6-12-22: Rep. Adam Schiff
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, June 12.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, June 12, 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST (voiceover): Carnage and chaos.
UNKNOWN MALE: We’re trying to hold the upper deck (ph). We are trying to hold the upper deck (ph) now.
CAROLINE EDWARDS, CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: I was slipping in people's blood.
RADDATZ: The January 6th Committee debuts its case aiming to pin the blame for the attack on the Capitol squarely on Former President Trump.
UNKNOWN MALE: Trump asked us to come.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, CHAIR, January 6 COMMITTEE: January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup.
RADDATZ: The key question, will the new evidence have any impact? Committee member Congressman Adam Schiff previews more hearings to come.
KIMBERLY RUBIO, PARENT OF ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM: I left my daughter at that school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life.
RADDATZ: After the Uvalde community shares its grief, will Congress finally act?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Making sure that this time the answer is not nothing.
RADDATZ: As students again march for their lives, what four survivors of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary have to say about guns in America.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: After 10 years of everyone saying enough is enough and never again after Sandy Hook, it happened again.
RADDATZ: And progressive rebuke?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Voters sent a clear message last night.
RADDATZ: Democrats face backlash in California over policing as gas prices reach $5 a gallon nationwide. Our Powerhouse Roundtable on what it means for the midterms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ (on camera): Good morning and welcome to "This Week."
The first public hearing from the select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol was billed as historic, momentous, invoking comparisons to Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings decades ago. Some 20 million Americans watched Thursday’s primetime hearing, the first of seven that will try to make the case that Donald Trump was at the center of the events leading up to and on that dark day in January.
But compared to the days of Watergate and Iran-Contra, America is now far more polarized and it remains to be seen whether dramatic video and revealing testimony will change any minds about what happened on January 6th and how significant of a role Former President Trump played in that threat to American democracy.
We'll talk with House Intelligence Committee Chairman and January 6th Committee Member Adam Schiff in a moment. But we begin this morning with Chief Washington Correspondent and Co-Anchor Jon Karl.
And, Jon, that was a very powerful presentation.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGOTN CORRESPONDENT: It sure was. The January 6th Committee, Martha, wants to set the record straight for history and to demonstrate that January 6th was the culmination of a brazen effort led by Donald Trump to overturn a presidential election. In other words, it was not just an attack on the Capitol. It was not just a riot. It was an attack on American democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL (voiceover): Taking the case to primetime, the January 6th committee revealed plenty of new information and new images of the attack on the Capitol.
UNKNOWN MALE: We have a breach of the Capitol. Breach of the Capitol.
KARL: In addition to the never before seen footage --
UNKNOWN FEMALE: It's going to happen. Something is going to happen.
KARL: -- by the documentary filmmaker embedded with the Proud Boys, the committee presented footage from all those surveillance cameras you see all over Capitol Hill, tracking the movement of the mob from every possible angle. But these hearings, this investigation is about much more than the horror of that day, the first and most important goal of the committee is to demonstrate Donald Trump's direct responsibility for what happened.
THOMPSON: January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup. The violence was no accident. It represents, Senate (ph), Trump's last stand, most desperate chance to halt the transfer of power.
KARL: Case in point, the rioter reading into a bull horn the tweet Donald Trump sent just as the mob broke into the Capitol Building and how the crowd reacted.
UNKNOWN MALE: Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previous certify. U.S. demands the truth.
UNKNOWN MALE: Bring out Pence!
UNKNOWN MALE: Bring him out!
UNKNOWN MALE: Bring out Pence!
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
KARL: Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney says the committee will reveal that those "Hang Mike Pence" chants were not only provoked by the president but endorsed by him too.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: And aware of the rioters' chants to hang Mike Pence, the president responded with this sentiment, quote, maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence, quote, deserves it.
KARL: After the hearing, Trump pushed back denying he ever said that but listen to what he told me last year just two months after he left The White House.
KARL: Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I thought he was well protected and I had heard that he was in good shape. No, I --
KARL: Because you heard those chants, that was terrible. I mean, you know, those --
TRUMP: He could have -- well, the people were very angry.
KARL: They were saying, “Hang Mike Pence.”
TRUMP: Because it's common sense -- how can you -- if you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?
KARL: The committee used the words of some of those closest to Trump to demonstrate the claims of a stolen election are simply not true.
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff which I told the president was bull (Expletive Deleted).
UNKNOWN MALE: How did that affect your perspective about the election when Attorney General Barr made that statement?
IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I respect Attorney General Barr so I accepted what he was saying.
KARL: But Cheney said it was a lie about the election more than anything that motivated the mob.
CHENEY: Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them, that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful president.
KARL: Yet even this week, on the day of the hearing, the Republican leader in the House would not set the record straight about the election.
KARL (on camera): Do you believe that Joe Biden was the legitimate victor of the 2020 election? And do you believe that Donald Trump is just flat wrong when he says the election was stolen?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Look, we've answered this question a long time -- Joe Biden is the president.
KARL: That wasn't my question. We know --
KARL: -- live in The White House. Was it legitimate? Is Donald Trump wrong when he says the election was stolen?
MCCARTHY: You know, Jonathan --
KARL: It’s a very simple question --
MCCARTHY: -- a long time, I’ve already answered that question.
KARL: No, no. But what was the answer?
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
KARL: Is Donald Trump wrong --
MCCARTHY: -- we’ll move on now --
KARL: -- when he says the election --
MCCARTHY: Thank you very --
KARL: -- was stolen?
MCCARTHY: -- thank you very much.
KARL: That’s the basis of this.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.
KARL: So you won’t answer that?
MCCARTHY: Jonathan, I've answered it numerous times. I know you have a microphone, I know what you want to do. I've already answered the question --
KARL: I just want to know --
KARL: -- is he wrong when he says --
MCCARTHY: Thank you for your time.
KARL: -- the election was stolen --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: And quite an interview, Jon. And on that note, it really looks like Republicans are doubling down. Donald Trump is doubling down and especially Kevin McCarthy.
KARL: Absolutely. And this question, Martha, is central. Because what we have learned is that the people that invaded the Capitol, that mob was motivated by the fact that they believed that the election had been stolen. They believed that lie. That's why they took that extraordinary step.
So for Kevin McCarthy not to come out and say, “No, that's not true,” think about it. Mitch McConnell has said it's not true. Bill Barr said it's not true. Even Ivanka Trump has said it's not true that the election was stolen but not Kevin McCarthy. Not the leader of the Republicans in the House. It's a really significant thing.
RADDATZ: It truly is, Jon. I also wanted to point out again to some of your reporting for your book "Betrayal," "The New York Times" cited it this weekend, saying that after January 6th Mike Pompeo, then the secretary of state, Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary then -- secretary then, discussed the 25th amendment that could have led to Trump's removal from office. What more can you tell us --
KARL: And he discussed it with Steven Mnuchin, who was the Treasury secretary and “The Times” also confirmed that reporting and also added that Betsy DeVos was talking about it as well. Other members of the Cabinet.
This is just absolutely remarkable, think about it. You have members of Trump's Cabinet, including two who are extremely close to the president and had served him for all four years, saying essentially that he was -- he may have been mentally unfit to be in office and should be removed. They were having that discussion.
What's interesting about this, Martha, is that in my reporting on this, Pompeo and Mnuchin, I tried, as you can imagine, over the course of several weeks to get them to comment on this. Mnuchin to this day has not denied this. Pompeo did not deny it until I talked to Donald Trump about it and I said, “Why don't they deny it?” And then I got a call from a Mnuchin spokesperson denying it. This is absolutely true. People close to him thought he was mentally unfit for office.
RADDATZ: And of course, we have more hearings this week. They're going to show photographs, you say, of Mike Pence on January 6th. You've already seen those photographs.
KARL: Yes. So one of the hearings, Thursday’s hearing is going to be all about the pressure campaign on Mike Pence. You're going to hear from some of his top advisers. You're going to hear what was going on. Part of the exhibit will be these photographs, he had a photographer with him, Pence did, throughout January 6th and you will see these photos.
They are remarkable. One of them, Martha, is taken just after he is taken off the Senate floor to a room behind the Senate floor and you see Pence looking intense on the phone, behind him is his wife Karen Pence, the second lady, closing the curtains because she can see the mob and she knows that means that they can see where he is.
RADDATZ: Fantastic reporting, Jon, thanks.
KARL: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: And joining me now is House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, a member of the January 6th Select Committee.
Good morning, Congressman Schiff.
I want to ask you --
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Good morning.
RADDATZ: -- did we hear your strongest evidence in the first hearing, or are there new revelations in the upcoming hearings that could offer hard proof that Donald Trump was responsible for what happened on January 6th?
SCHIFF: I think you heard a good sampling of what you're going to see in the hearings to come.
The evidence is very powerful that Donald Trump began telling this big lie even before the election that he was saying that any ballots counted after election day were going to be inherently suspect. That lie continued after the election and ultimately led to this mob assembling and attacking the Capitol.
And I think you heard just a few examples of what those witnesses have said behind closed doors. There's a lot more testimony where that came from. And I think most important is that we're weaving together how each line of effort to overturn the election led to another led to another, then ultimately culminated in that violent attack on January 6th.
RADDATZ: Would you like to see former President Trump criminally prosecuted? Would that be good for the country?
SCHIFF: I would like to see the Justice Department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump or anyone else. The rule of law needs to apply equally to everyone, and there are certain actions, parts of these different lines of effort to overturn the election that I don't see evidence the Justice Department is investigating.
And, of course, we have now a federal judge saying that he believes based on the limited set of evidence that he has seen which is far smaller than the body that we've accumulated that the president and others may have committed multiple federal crimes. So that should be investigated. Then, ultimately, once the evidence is accumulated by the Justice Department, it needs to make a decision about whether it can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the president's guilt or anyone else's. But they need to be investigated if there's credible evidence which I think there is.
RADDATZ: Chairman Bennie Thompson said the committee will directly link those two extremist groups, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, to those in Trump's orbit, that witnesses will describe actual conversations between them.
How close to Trump? How strong do you see that particular evidence?
SCHIFF: You know, this has been, of course, a clear focus of our investigative efforts, that is, the president's connection to the violence of that day.
And we'll be presenting what we found. I don't want to predetermine or prejudge the strength of what we will show you. We'll show you what we've been able to determine.
And we will also talk about the questions that remain unanswered. But I think when you look at the whole -- the course of the plot to overturn the election, the president's knowledge that the big lie that he was articulating was, in fact, a big lie, his willing to -- willingness to continue to use that big lie to pressure state legislators, to pressure the vice president, and ultimately to incite that mob tells you a lot about the president's responsibility.
And perhaps most powerful is the fact that while this attack was going on, he did nothing to stop it, to tell people to leave and to protect the vice president or members of condition or our democracy itself and the president’s inaction --
RADDATZ: Let me ask you again -- let me ask you again: is there an actual conversation between people in Trump's orbit and Proud Boys, Oath Keepers?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, as I think the committee’s already disclosed and has been publicly reported, of course, there are connections between these white nationalist groups and some in Trump's orbit.
Again, I don't want to get into specifics of the evidence. You'll just have to wait until we get to that point of our hearings. But I think what’s -- what's important again is the broad context of all of this. The knowledge prior to January 6th, that there were going to be violent white nationalist groups assembling along with others on that Mall, and the decision by the president nonetheless to incite that mob and do nothing while that attack was taking place.
You know, that dereliction of duty, I think, is a -- is as powerful as the president's actions, his inactions on that day.
RADDATZ: Republican Vice Chair Cheney said the committee's investigation found that multiple House Republicans sought pardons from the Trump White House for trying to overturn the election, including Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. A spokesperson for Perry called the allegation a soulless lie.
Do you have proof?
SCHIFF: We will show the evidence that we have that members of Congress were seeking pardons. To me, I think that is some of the most compelling evidence of a consciousness of guilt. Why would members do that if they felt that their involvement in this plot to overturn the election was somehow appropriate? So we'll present the evidence that we have, as the vice chair outlined, along with the evidence of other actions that were taken by members of the Congress.
But, again, I don't want to get too far ahead of the committee. And we'll be presenting that in the days and weeks to come.
RADDATZ: And, Congressman, just quickly, if you will, as Jon pointed out, Cheney also said that rioters chanted "hang Mike Pence." She said Trump responded with this sentiment: "Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves that." Is that an actual quote or just sentiment? And who said it? Why didn't you reveal that?
SCHIFF: You know, we will, I think, be demonstrating the proof behind that comment. Everything that the chair and vice chair said during our hearing was, you know, well-documented and analyzed and dotted every I and crossed every T in vetting what our committee would say. So we'll be presenting the evidence of that. And at this point we're not prepared to say who or when. But, you know, tragically as those events were going on and the president was watching from the safety of the White House, his aides were trying to implore him to do something, and others outside the White House were calling and texting White House staff and Mark Meadows to try to get them to do something to disperse the crowd, to tell them to go home. And, of course, it fell on deaf ears as the president watched this.
And, you know, that's perfectly tragically consistent with Donald Trump's character, which is, he doesn't care about anything but himself and so people who are attacking the Capitol on his behalf, well, you know, they were for him and that's all that seemed to matter to Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Congressman.
And a programming note, ABC News will carry tomorrow's hearing live starting at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Up next we travel to Newtown, Connecticut, to talk to four survivors of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly 10 years ago. What they bravely share about the trauma they've endured and their message to survivors in Uvalde.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIAH CERRILLO, ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: He shot my friend that was next to me. And I thought he was going to come back to the room so I grabbed the blood and I put it all over me. KIMBERLY RUBIO, PARENT OF ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIM: Somewhere out there there's a mom listening to our testimony, thinking, I can't even imagine their pain, not knowing that our reality will one day be hers unless we act now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: That was some of the emotional testimony from congressional hearings on gun violence this week. For survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, watching Uvalde unfold was excruciating.
It's been almost a decade since a gunman murdered 20 first grade students and six educators with an assault-style weapon. We sat down with four students, now teenagers, to talk about how that day changed their lives forever and what it felt like to see another classroom attacked.
Three of the four have never shared their story before, and out of respect for their privacy, we are only using their first names.
RADDATZ (voice over): Andrew, Jackie, Nicole and Maggie were second and third graders when the gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School a decade ago -- children. Today they are teenagers, all students at nearby Newtown High School. But they all vividly remember the shooting in heartbreaking detail.
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: We heard the sounds pretty early on. And I remember looking at my teacher's face, and her shock, and just like, this -- we knew it wasn't a drill.
NICOLE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I do remember my thoughts of, "I'm -- I'm going to die and, like, I'm not going to make it out of this school, like, there's no way that I'm making it out."
RADDATZ (on camera): When you're seven years old and you think you're going to die, what -- what does that even mean?
NICOLE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I was towards the front, near the door, and I remember thinking, "If someone comes in our classroom, like. I'm going to be first. I'm not going to make it out."
RADDATZ (voice over): After just 4 1/2 minutes of shooting with an AR-15, 26 people, 20 children killed, the images from that day capturing the chaos and immeasurable pain of an entire community, the children too young at the time to fully realize the horror and brutality of what was unfolding around them.
(on camera): So you didn't imagine that it was a gunman? It just didn't ever enter your mind that a gun...
ANDREW, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: When they told me what happened, you know, I still had trouble comprehending exactly what happened. You know, you wouldn't expect a second grader to come to that conclusion on their own, really.
RADDATZ (voice over): All four lost classmates, friends and neighbors. For Maggie, the shooting claimed the life of her best friend, seven-year-old Daniel Barden.
MAGGIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: It was very traumatic for me because there was no comfort whatsoever. No one could comfort anyone else because it was just pure devastation and loss, and we all loved this boy so much. And I didn't know that those sounds I was listening to was my friend being murdered.
RADDATZ (on camera): Explain to people how this has changed you as a human being and altered your life.
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I think trauma stays with a person forever, and it finds a way to manifest itself into all aspects of everything.
RADDATZ: I know, when you walked out, you were told to close your eyes...
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: Yeah.
RADDATZ: ... put your hand on a friend in front of you so you wouldn't see anything. You opened your eyes.
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I did. I was -- I was told I was in the back of the line, and there was glass and obviously blood, and I didn't want to step on anything. So I did -- I did open my eyes, so, yeah.
RADDATZ: That's a thought that probably does not go away?
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: No.
RADDATZ: Do you think, if people saw what you saw, who don't want any tighter gun controls, they might change their mind?
JACKIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: Absolutely.
RADDATZ (voice over): That trauma, impossible to forget.
ANDREW, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I couldn't get the sounds out of my head during the night. I couldn't close my eyes without reliving it.
NICOLE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I remember being embarrassed because my friends would have sleepovers and I wouldn't be able to go because my anxiety just wouldn't let me be away from my family or by myself.
RADDATZ (on camera): When you heard about Uvalde and the kids, where were you and -- and what were you thinking?
MAGGIE, SANDY HOOK SURVIVOR: I was just thinking about all the families that are in their houses right now telling their children that their siblings and that their friends and their classmates are gone. And it just really broke me to know that, after 10 years of everyone giving us their thoughts and prayers and, you know, after 10 years of everyone saying, "Enough is enough" and "Never again," after Sandy Hook, it happened again, and so devastatingly.
RADDATZ (voice over): These survivors are furious that no compromise has come and that more lives have been lost.
ANDREW: Our government and just we as a nation, we know the solutions, we have proposed the solutions. We’ve proposed limited magazines, we’ve proposed changing ages for buying an assault rifle that you can buy at the age of 18. We've known about these issues. We've known the ways we can stop them. I think what we know just needs to come to fruition.
RADDATZ: All of these teens scarred by that 4-and-a-half minutes of terror and carnage, imagining what it was like for the students in Uvalde who had to endure more than an hour of waiting before police finally entered.
RADDATZ (on camera): What would you say to the survivors of Uvalde, the other children who saw horrible things and might have been in that classroom?
UNKNOWN FEMALE: It's hard thinking that they're going to have to live the rest of their lives with this trauma.
UNKNOWN FEMALE: We completely stand with them and support them and as devastating as it is, that they now have this community of people who have endured a tragedy, they have a community of people who understand them and I think that has been something that's kept me going is that the people around me know what I’m going through and I hate that they do and I hate that now these little kids are part of our community but we're here for them in any way they need. And I’m sorry that they're with us now.
RADDATZ (on camera): Our thanks to those courageous students.
Of course, after every mass shooting in America comes renewed promises by lawmakers to pass federal gun legislation. But none has come. A group of bipartisan senators working to negotiate a deal after Uvalde have yet to reach an agreement.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, Connecticut passed sweeping gun reform legislation. We spoke with the state's governor, Ned Lamont, about his belief that Connecticut’s legislation serves as a model for the rest of the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ (voiceover): Four months after the Sandy Hook massacre, Connecticut passed some of the strictest gun laws in the country, Instituting mandatory background checks, banning the sale of high-capacity magazines, creating a dangerous weapon registry and broadening what classifies as an assault weapon.
GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): I'd like to think that if the rest of the country had followed that lead, we'd have more people alive today.
RADDATZ: Many thought Sandy Hook would be the turning point in America. President Obama in 2012 calling on Congress to act.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there's even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town, then surely we have an obligation to try.
RADDATZ: But that federal effort, like others, ultimately failed. Now nearly a decade later, gun violence is at a 30-year high. Connecticut's governor defending his state's restrictions saying, they don't infringe on the second amendment. Instead, he said, they protect residents.
LAMONT: We put in place some reasonable gun laws that keep you safe, keep your family safe. Red flag laws keep your family safe. That's suicide in many cases. Nobody is taking away your guns. You're still hunting, doing that safely. You got to understand that we can get the right balance. These slippery slope arguments kill a lot of reasonable compromise.
RADDATZ: But passing national gun reform is difficult. Senators would need 60 votes to clear the filibuster threshold, a high bar for such a polarizing subject. And amidst powerful pressure from the gun lobby. The National Shooting Sports Federation outspent the NRA for the first time this year. We asked their spokesman what, if anything, they'd support from U.S. lawmakers.
MARK OLIVA, NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION: They're looking at maybe improving the accuracy of the background checks system. They're looking at, you know, possibilities of, you know, working with states to get them to write their own red flag laws. Those are ideas that we could get behind. Those are ideas that we could support.
RADDATZ (on camera): State by state.
OLIVA: State by state.
RADDATZ: Not federally. You heard the doctor testify this week, the Uvalde pediatrician, that those children’s bodies were decimated and decapitated by that AR-15. Why does anyone need a weapon like that? Why does any civilian need a weapon like that?
OLIVA: Yes, so I think there’s a couple of questions, what we’re actually asking here is, are we willing to take away people’s fundamental civil liberties? Are we willing to take away people’s rights because of the actions of a criminal?
RADDATZ (voiceover): If senators fail to reach a deal, it would be up to states to take individual action. Governor Lamont hopeful that any federal legislation would be better than nothing.
RADDATZ (on camera): Is making a little bit of progress better than nothing or do you hold out for everything?
LAMONT: No, a little bit of progress is always worth it. Fight for what you can get and then come back next year for a little bit more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ (on camera): And coming up, the average price of gasoline is now topping $5 a gallon, as the stock market tumbles on news of a 40-year high in inflation that president admits isn't going away any time soon.
RADDATZ: The roundtable is here and ready to go.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: Despite being a Democratic stronghold, voters in California sent a stark message Tuesday, including the surprise recall of San Francisco's progressive district attorney, sparking concerns of a progressive backlash that could affect Democrats nationwide come November. Here's ABC's Zohreen Shah.
ZOHREEN SHAH, ABC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tuesday night in California, the voters made their voices heard.
UNKNOWN: Recall Chesa! Recall Chesa!
SHAH: The Golden State still leans heavily Democratic, but the primary results appearing to slow down the progressives' march, echoing a centrist agenda held by President Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Voters sent a clear message last night, both parties have to step up and do something about crime.
SHAH: To that end, San Francisco's district attorney's race recalling progressive D.A. Chesa Boudin, elected three years ago to reduce prison rates and reform the criminal justice system. But high-profile smash and grab cases and home invasion cases leaving residents unnerved amid actions like eliminating cash bail and refusing to charge juveniles as adults.
MICHAEL HSU, BUSINESS OWNER: If there's no consequences to these actions, what is it telling our community? It's also telling the perpetrators they can do this over and over again.
SHAH: Los Angeles's mayoral race showed an even starker result, pitting Rick Caruso against establishment favorite Democratic Representative Karen Bass in a runoff in November. The billionaire Caruso running on law and order and promising to beef up the Los Angeles Police Department to its largest size ever.
RICK CARUSO (D), L.A. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: They're upset about the problems of crime and corruption. What voters are saying tonight, it does not have to be this way.
SHAH (on camera): Protests against police violence in Los Angeles left many businesses vandalized, looted, or closed. Now the loudest voices are calling for more policing.
(voice-over): While California Governor Newsom and Senator Padilla easily won their races, are the results from L.A. and San Francisco a harbinger for progressives in November's midterms?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I think the uber progressive movement had a huge setback. We have to wait to see what happens in November.
SHAH: Tuesday's outcome suggests voters who might hold lofty ideas also want results on the streets.
For "This Week," Zohreen Shah, ABC News, Los Angeles.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Zohreen. Here to discuss all that and more, ABC News chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce, our political director Rick Klein, and Washington Post congressional reporter Marianna Sotomayor.
Thanks, all of you, for joining us this morning.
And, Pierre, I want to start with you. Before we get into the politics of all of this, this is obviously a concern based on reality and not just in California.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the major drivers of how Americans feel about crime relates to gun deaths and shootings. And if you look at what happened in 2019 compared to 2020, gun deaths went up by 30 percent. Also over that time frame, mass shootings went up by 60 percent. So Americans feel a certain way about crime because the crime has been going up in terms of violence. Now, that said, you're not going to see any law enforcement officials or the public crying for defund the police. That's just not going to happen in this current environment. But at the same time they also know we have issues of bias in policing, and that I've seen too many cases where I have had to cover personally where, you know, Black men and brown men are being treated unfairly by police. Police are going to have to deal with both of these issues simultaneously, that's just the bottom line.
RADDATZ: And, Marianna, you wrote this week that this concern over crime will really haunt Democrats going into November.
MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Absolutely, you know, even House Democrats back in 2020, they blamed the losses -- those surprise losses on that progressive chant "defund the police." And Republicans have really capitalized on that and have continued to frame Democrats in that way. So a lot of these especially more vulnerable Democrats in the House are spending as much time as possible with law enforcement making the case, introducing themselves, and saying, you know what, I don't actually like defunding the police, here's what we're trying to do, we're pushing leadership to actually hold votes on such legislation to fund police.
RADDATZ: And, Mary, President Biden said it himself on Tuesday showing that voters want candidates who are tough on crime. So how does the administration prepare for this going into the fall, walking that kind of fine line?
MARY BRUCE, ABC SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it is interesting that the president on Wednesday morning made a point of going out of his way to stop on the tarmac to make this point directly to the cameras. And they know, the White House knows this, the president knows this, Democrats know this, that crime is going to be a big issue going into the midterms and that they have to do a better job of really articulating their stance. The president reminding Americans that he passed billions of dollars for policing in the American Rescue Plan. He says states aren't using that yet. And I think you're going to hear him hammer again and again that he's not for defunding the police -- the opposite, that he says fund the police; don't defund them.
But I think it does get to a broader challenge here. And Marianna's written about this as well, that it goes beyond just crime, right? This is also an issue of homelessness, about the economy, of inflation. Americans are feeling uneasy. And the president has...
RADDATZ: Especially in California...
BRUCE: Especially in California. And the president and Democrats have to do a better job of showing that they're on top of those issues as well.
RADDATZ: And, Rick, of other elections on Tuesday night, what happened? Give us a rundown of what happened Tuesday. I know some non-Trump supported candidates won?
KLEIN: Yeah, you're seeing a real split in the Republican Party and some moderates that are starting to emerge out of these primaries. And Donald Trump was so upset at a bunch of Republicans. He targeted a whole -- a whole -- a whole group of them in California, in South Dakota, in Iowa, in New Jersey. And in almost all of those cases, at least this past week, the -- the incumbents or the more electable candidates ended up winning. They went against Trump's wishes on this.
And it tells you that, for all the talk about Trump's power and the party, and it's real, there are still limits to it. And you're seeing voters go in a different direction. Big test case this coming Tuesday in South Carolina; he's got a target on the back of Nancy Mace and Tom Rice, who we profiled here on the show just last week. And if both of them were...
RADDATZ: Jon Karl talked to him last -- last week.
KLEIN: Yeah, and he's defiant. He'd said he would vote for impeachment all over again. And if -- and if the Trump candidates again strike out there, I think you'll have a bit of a recalibration about what his power means. He's swinging and missing in some very big races.
RADDATZ: And, meanwhile, let's go towards 2024. You've had this kind of shadow race being reported for the 2024 Republican nomination. You have Pence, Senator Tom Cotton, Rick DeSantis in Florida.
Talk about that, a little bit, and what's going on behind the scenes or not so behind the scenes, I guess?
SOTOMAYOR: Yeah, we have been seeing, for the last couple months, a number of these candidates really positioning themselves -- not candidates yet, but who want to be candidates. And a lot of the attention is obviously on Trump. What are his moves? Is he actually going to jump in?
And I think you see, especially someone like Ron DeSantis, another Floridian, who is, kind of, waiting in the wings, but already taking steps, wading into those culture wars, really trying to amp up the Republican base in ways that, if Trump for some reason were to bow out, they can step in and really try and cultivate that Republican base that Trump has made.
RADDATZ: And, Mary, we've been -- we've been talking about crime. And that's certainly an issue. But we have inflation, those gas prices, shocking gas prices, at $5 a gallon nationwide, as an average. So what do you think will be the big, big topics? It has to be that?
BRUCE: It has to be. I mean, it absolutely has to be, because inflation, the state of the economy, is going to be at the top of voters' minds in November. The White House knows that. They are making a big push on this. And I think you did see a bit of a more aggressive tone from the president this week on this, especially as those brutal gas prices are hitting everyone. And we know his Playbook, right? He's going to continue to blame Putin and the war in Ukraine, understandably, for the impact that that's having on gas prices. He's going to be going after corporate greed a lot, and then also the pandemic and, sort of, hangover effects of that.
But the president does have a challenge here, right? He has to be empathetic; he has to come out and say he understands the challenges that Americans are facing, showcase that, you know, "Kitchen Table Joe" side of him that resonates so well. But he also has to show that he's doing enough here to tackle this, so that people feel that he can really make a difference. And he's going to continue to argue that Republicans, he says, they don't have any better answers, either.
But the bottom line -- we know this -- it's going to come down to how voters are feeling, what their bank accounts look like and what their wallets are feeling in November. And the president has got to really at least hope that, even if prices are high, that if they're coming down a little bit, the White House hopes that, if the trend is heading in the right direction, that voters will reward Democrats for it.
RADDATZ: And we'll see about that, Rick, of course, but meanwhile the New York Times had a piece this weekend, headlined "Should Biden run in 2024? Democratic whispers of 'no' start to rise," and going on to say, "As the challenges facing the nation mount and fatigued base voters show low enthusiasm, Democrats in union meetings, the back rooms of Capitol Hill and party gatherings from coast to coast are quietly worrying about Mr. Biden's leadership, his age and his capability to take the fight to former President Donald J. Trump another time."
KLEIN: Yeah, that is...
RADDATZ: That's not a good headline...
RADDATZ: ... for a president.
KLEIN: ... but, I'll tell you, from the White House perspective, they're not too concerned about the dynamic, for two main reasons. One is, the whispers haven't become shouts, and people aren't saying it very loudly. And one reason is that there isn't an obvious heir apparent for a lot of Democrats. A lot of people feel like Kamala Harris would be a flawed (ph) candidate. So there isn’t an obvious someone that could step in.
And I think the second main thing, is that Joe Biden did beat Donald Trump last time and if Donald Trump remains a major presence, there's a lot of Democrats who feel like there's really only one guy that's ever beat him and that's Biden.
And The White House view, to Mary’s point, is they are going to continue to signal that they get it when it comes to inflation and gas prices, and they think the president's standings is closely tied to how people are living their lives. And if they can show progress, show that he met the moment, show that he gets it, show that he is addressing it, they think the numbers can get enough better that maybe the midterms aren't quite as bad as it looks right now and that will change perspectives around 2024.
SOTOMAYOR: Yes, no. I completely agree. And that’s the thing, that Biden even -- seeing him change his tone a little bit when talking about inflation. Because in the beginning a lot of Democrats were saying, hey, look, the economy it’s doing great. It's the best in, you know, record number of years, and people weren't feeling that. People were saying, why are you telling me it's good when all these prices are going up.
So you are starting to see Democrats shift the messaging a little bit to talk more about and have that empathy but whether that is a little too late, we're still a couple months away, but it could be a little too late for a lot of these people who are saying we need help now.
RADDATZ: Pierre, I want to turn to the January 6th investigation. Sorry, the hearings. What's the Justice Department looking at here? You heard Adam Schiff talk about he thinks it should be -- President Trump being investigated. How hard is the pressure on Merrick Garland, the attorney general?
THOMAS: Well, the attorney general is going to be watching as much as he can. That's the guidance we have. We know that prosecutors will be watching.
And I think it’s -- we need to think about two things. Number one, the Justice Department feels like it has proven that there were two conspiracies involving the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers where they planned well in advance to attack the U.S. Capitol.
In fact, the Proud Boys had something called the Ministry of Self-Defense and two days before the insurrection, January 4th, they were talking about how they were going to attack the Capitol. Also, they had a written detailed plan about how they were going to occupy buildings in Washington, D.C. The Oath Keepers had amassed an arsenal.
So DOJ says we can prove this because we already have four people with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers who have pled guilty; who said, yes, there was a conspiracy, I was a part of it.
The key thing they’re going to be looking for, Martha, is will the hearings shed any light on was there a convergence between the people who organized the rally and the people who organized the violence.
RADDATZ: And Mary, we saw several key members of President Trump's inner circle say they did not believe the election was stolen. You had Bill Barr, you had Ivanka Trump saying that. How significant is that?
BRUCE: I think it's huge. And it's effective for the committee. I mean, for them to be able to say, don't take our word for it, right, listen to these people who were in Trump's inner circle. They are trying to incriminate the former president with, you know, the words of his own Cabinet officials and even his own daughter.
And I think it lets the committee get at what is really at the core here, right, which is the fact that there was no fraud and they're arguing and showing that those close to the president, probably the president himself, knew that but they are going to argue that the president ignored the truth, ignored that fact and went ahead to try to overturn the election anyway because they are arguing that he wanted to hold on to power no matter what.
And it's not just about building a case, I think, against the president, right? It's also -- as you and Jon Karl were talking about earlier, about making a case for Republicans still in office or those running for office who continue to stand by or perpetuate the big lie, like Kevin McCarthy who still won't say that Biden was legitimately elected, but it's hard when you still have Trump out there and, you know, Trump pointing --
RADDATZ: Exactly --
BRUCE: -- naming names and throwing his own daughter under the bus.
RADDATZ: And Trump saying exactly that.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump saying, “The so-called ‘Rush on the Capitol’ was not caused by me, it was caused by a rigged and stolen election!” “Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at or studying election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as attorney general.” I won't add that last line.
So, Rick Klein, I mean, he is going to continue this. This is his rallying cry.
KLEIN: He is making the point about why these hearings are so important. He in real time with his commentary is reminding people of why this is not just something that’s happened in the history books, this is something that could happen again. It’s a present and future potential threat to democracy.
And I think the point about accountability for people who knew better, people that knew that this election wasn't stolen. And that's why Barr and Ivanka are important in this because they made a calculation -- they were very loyal to President Trump but they said, wait a sec. I'm not going there. There’s places I won’t go. There were members of Congress, there were elected officials, there were many others who would go even further than that.
And the point that I think has to happen out of all of this is accountability for them. When Liz Cheney said that there were several Republican members of Congress who asked for pardons in the closing days, that is at least a tacit admission that they knew they were doing something wrong. People knew that this election wasn’t stolen, that what they were lying about wasn’t just political spin. They were lying about who was the rightfully elected president.
That has to be an important takeaway. And I think tomorrow's hearing establishing that Trump and his circle knew will be critical in putting that together.
RADDATZ: And, Pierre, I just want to end with gun reform. You saw those moving interviews. You saw the parents this week from Uvalde talk. It was so heartbreaking.
Where does this stand and is there a chance this could go forward?
THOMAS: Well, clearly, Congress is moving towards, the Senate is moving toward some sort of compromise. It won't go as far as many people want. It won't raise the age limit to buy assault weapons from 18 to 21.
But the conversation about red flag laws in terms of improving them, catching people before when they're showing signs of just being de-stable, unstable, that is critical.
And talking to law enforcement, they just want something. Any kind of incremental increase to help keep guns out of the hands of people that would go into a classroom and murder children, they say, is needed.
RADDATZ: Especially those assault-style weapons.
Thank you all for joining us this morning. A great conversation.
Coming up, our revealing interview with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first all three of those to hold this position. I would not be here today if it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me. I stand on their shoulders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: At her first press conference back in May, newly appointed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre marked the many firsts she brings to her role. In a new ABC News special "Pride: To Be Seen," correspondent Gio Benitez sat down with Jean-Pierre at the White House to discuss how her LGBTQ+ identity has shaped her and the unique position she's now in.
GIO BENITEZ, ABC CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing so many laws across the country that many see as anti-LGBTQ+. I wonder for you, as a mother what, do you think?
JEAN-PIERRE: I am always concerned as a mom because you're trying to raise a little person that's going to be the best of themselves. I see those laws and I feel for young people who are in school, right, who are trying to just be who they are. That's why I'm here, to continue to fight and to make sure that we hopefully deliver and change things and make people's lives better.
BIDEN: I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ Americans.
BENITEZ (voice-over): President Biden has urged Congress to protect LGBTQ+ rights with legislation like the Equality Act, which has passed the House of Representatives but stalled in the 50/50 divided Senate.
(on camera): The Equality Act is something that the president called the top priority for the first 100 days of the presidency. But he hasn't been able to push that through Congress. Did he underestimate how hard that would be to pass?
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I don't think so he underestimated it, because, remember, he used to be in Congress. He knows how the Senate works. He knows it takes time. But he knows you have to keep fighting to get things done. Him calling on Congress to act does matter. Is it going to take time? Unfortunately, it will. But does it mean that we stop fighting? Absolutely not.
RADDATZ: Gio's full interview with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the entire "Pride: To Be Seen" special are streaming now exclusively on Hulu.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight." And have a great day.