'This Week' Transcript 12-3-23: White House NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Sen. James Lankford

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, December 3.

ByABC News
December 3, 2023, 9:41 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, December 3, 2023 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.




GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Breakdown. Israel and Hamas resume fighting, leaving the fate of hostages in doubt.

RAVINA SHAMDASANI, UNITED NATIONS OHCHR SPOKESPERSON: The resumption of hostilities in Gaza is catastrophic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: New reporting lays out stunning details of Israel’s intelligence failures.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is going to be plenty of opportunity for a full accounting of what happened.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A border security impasse in Congress stalls foreign aid.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It's the Republicans holding this up.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): National security begins here at home.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, we're live in Israel.

Plus, White House national security official John Kirby, Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, and Republican Senator James Lankford.

Ousted. The House expels Republican Congressman George Santos.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I have been convicted of no crimes.

REP. MARC MOLINARO (R-NY): He has manufactured his entire life to defraud the voters of his district.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And six weeks before the first votes, does Nikki Haley have momentum?

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans have said they don't want a Trump/Biden rematch.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable.

Plus --

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So you heard a sound, and you knew it was gunfire?

AALAYAH FULMORE, GUNSHOT SURVIVOR: Yes, it was loud. Like, so loud.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas reports on the impact of gun violence. One girl's survival story.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.

As we come on the air, Israel has intensified its air strikes on Gaza, the ceasefire and hostage negotiations have collapsed. Top U.S. officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are warning Israel that more civilian casualties will lead to a humanitarian and strategic calamity. Almost two months into the war, there is no end in sight. We'll speak with top U.S. and Israeli officials this morning.

Foreign correspondent Tom Soufi Burridge is on the scene in Israel.

Good morning, Tom.


Yes, we're about three miles from the Gaza Strip. We’ve been hearing Israeli artillery firing out into Gaza. You can see some smoke from explosions on the horizon there. And about a couple of hours ago we saw and heard several rockets being fired out from Gaza here into southern Israel, with the death toll inside the Gaza Strip this weekend quickly rising.


BURRIDGE (voice over): This week, that brief peace over Gaza evaporating with Israel saying it struck more than 400 terror targets in just 48 hours. Overnight, Hamas firing rockets at central Israel with Israeli officials confirming the negotiations with Hamas have completely halted.

This morning, battles raging with Israeli troops on the ground in northern Gaza. The IDF releasing this video claiming it struck Hamas command centers, ammo dumps, and tunnel shafts. Missiles smashing into this residential building in videos circulating online. Israel insisting it’s warning people to leave before it attacks.

Children rushed into Gaza’s already struggling hospitals. This mother crying as medics try and save her young daughter, and a girl in tears looking for her brothers. The Hamas-run health ministry saying more than 200 people killed and hundreds more injured since that week-long truce fell apart.

UNICEF’s James Elder inside Gaza saying so many children are being killed.

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: It is a war on children, and that is so clear in everything we see here.

BURRIDGE (voice over): The total death toll in Gaza, more than 15,000, and rising. This man emerging from the rubble screaming, you've killed our children. Where are the children? U.S. officials expressing concern, pressuring Israel to do more to limit the casualties.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.

BURRIDGE (voice over): And, this week, a breathtaking report suggesting a year ago Israeli officials knew exactly what type of tactics Hamas was planning. "The New York Times" obtaining a 40-page document detailing how Hamas intended to use a barrage of rockets, drones, and paragliders to burst into Israel. The exact type of tactics it used on October the 7th to kill 1,200 people and capture many more.

One hundred and ten of those hostages freed in return for 240 Palestinians released from Israeli jails. Emotional scenes in Tel Aviv. People rallying for the remaining 137 hostages, including eight Americans still held.

BURRIDGE: Well, the fate of the remaining hostages is now more uncertain. But you can feel the determination, the energy here to bring them home.

BURRIDGE (voice over): Among them, Keith Siegel from North Carolina. His brother Lee telling me he's focused on getting Keith freed and back home.

LEE SIEGEL, BROTHER OF HOSTAGE: Well, our message is and always has been, hostages are not released during hostilities. When guns are firing, hostages are not going to be released.


BURRIDGE (on camera): Well, the situation for those remaining hostages looks really uncertain. Israel pulling its negotiating team out of Qatar. And Hamas saying there will be no further exchanges until the war ends.

Israel, George, predicting a long war and saying, when it ends, it will create a security zone around the Gaza Strip to prevent future terror attacks. You can hear the war raging behind me.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, we sure can.

OK, Tom Soufi Burridge, thanks very much.

Let's bring in the top spokesman for White House National Security Council, John Kirby.

John, thank you for joining us again this morning.

So, the ceasefire and hostage negotiations have collapsed. Is there anything going on behind the scenes to get them back on track?

JOHN KIRBY, NSC COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Yes, sir. We're working at this literally by the hour at the National Security Council and all the way up the high levels of the administration to try to see hour by hour if we can get these discussions back going – going forward to see if we can get the pause back in place and get the hostages out.

But there’s a constant effort on the United States side to engage with our allies and partners to do exactly that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounds like both Israel and Hamas have given up on it.

KIRBY: Well, for now, neither side is willing to come back to the table. And I think it’s important to remember, George, how this fell apart. It fell apart because Hamas was unwilling and refused to come up with additional lists of women and children, which we know they are holding, and put them on the list so that Israel could evaluate that and we could get – and we could get them exchanged.

I do want to say one thing that hasn't stopped, and that is the humanitarian assistance going into Gaza. Now, the pause allowed us to increase that level. We are working with the Israelis to see if we can keep it at that increased level that we achieved over the last week continuing to go in. Food, water, medicine, and even fuel continues to get into Gaza.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What exactly do we know about how many hostages remain, particularly Americans?

KIRBY: Well, particularly on Americans, we think the number is about eight. We don't have perfect visibility on where they all are. We certainly don't have perfect visibility on their – on their physical or mental condition. We're trying to do that as best we can, but it's about eight. And now we also believe that the total population left is somewhere in the neighborhood of about 140.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've seen those warnings from Vice President Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about civilian casualties. Any sense that Israel is heeding those warnings?

KIRBY: Yes, sir. We believe that they have been receptive to our messages here in terms of trying to minimalize civilian casualties. And I would tell you, we saw that as they went into north Gaza. They did in a more precise way, a smaller way. And just in the last 24, 48 hours, George, they published online a map of – of places where people could go to avoid combat, and where they could go -- where they could find safety from combat. There's not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that. I mean that – that -- you know, so, to telegraph their punches in that way. So, they are making an effort.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Israel has ordered the evacuation of the south, as you've said. And there do seem to be increasing signs of a ground invasion. Is that what you expect at this point?

KIRBY: Well, I won’t get ahead of the Israelis. The Israeli Defense Forces. They’ve go to speak to their military operations. And I certainly would say nothing on TV that would – that would violate their operational security. But, again, we've urged them to, as they go south, we’ve said – we’ve said publicly, we don't want to see them moving into the south unless or until they have accounted for that additional now civilian population because they move folks out of the north into the south, hundreds of thousands of them. We want to make sure that they're properly accounted for.

And again, them publishing this map online and dropping leaflets and informing people of where not to go, I mean that is a step in the right direction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's the end game look like here? Is there a – in the end, is there a diplomatic solution that is still possible? Is the two-state solution still viable?

KIRBY: The president still believes in the power of a two-state solution, George. He still believes that we’ve got to have a independent state for the Palestinian people that they can live in peace and justice and security. He's not giving up on that effort. And we’re going to – we’re going to continue, as an administration, to continue to pursue that.

Now, look, part of that means that you’ve got to have an informed and revitalized Palestinian Authority. Whoever governance looks like I Gaza, George, it's got to be responsive to the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and it has to be representative of them. Right now the Palestinian Authority doesn't have that credibility. So, what we want to see is a reformed PA, a revitalized Palestinian Authority that can – that can have a voice and some measure of control over governance in Gaza.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Though Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to have ruled that out, having the PA oversee Gaza.

KIRBY: What he said was right now you've got an unreformed PA. And that that – that’s unacceptable to him. I would tell you that's unacceptable to us too. We don't believe the PA is in a position right now to be in – a credible control of governance in Gaza. But whatever it looks like, and I'm not saying it has to be just the Palestinian Authority. We think that they should have a role, certainly. Whatever it looks like, though, George, it's got to be responsive and representative of the Palestinian people, and certainly Hamas is not that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator James Lankford is coming up. He's in the middle of these negotiations over aid to Israel and Ukraine. He wants to tie them to border security. Will the president accept a package tied to border security, and what are the consequences if no deal is reached by the end of the year?

KIRBY: I won't get ahead of the president's decision-making, George.

I’ll tell you in that supplemental request that we put forward -- yep, there's money for Ukraine which we desperately need. There's money for Israel. There’s also money for border security.

On day one of this administration, he put forward an immigration reform plan that has yet be -- to be acted on. Congress basically ignored it.

If they're serious about immigration reform, they ought to take that proposal up by the president. They also ought to pass our supplemental request, all four of the major buckets in there, which also includes money for the Indo-Pacific, is important to our national security. We urge Congress to act on all of that immediately.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, this blockbuster "New York Times" report coming out -- coming into the weekend that Israel failed to heed intelligence about an attack by Hamas. What more have we learned about that? Did the United States have any advanced warning at all? Should we have?

KIRBY: Our intelligence community is taking a look into that. And right now, George, they have no indications that we, the United States intelligence community, had any knowledge of that document beforehand or any visibility into it.

Now, look, Israel -- they've already talked about this. President Netanyahu has said that there's obviously been some failures in the intelligence world when it came to October 7th. They're going to take a look at this.

They'll do the forensics. They'll do that and they’ll do it thoroughly. But right now, certainly on intelligence, the focus has got to be on making sure that Israel has what it needs to go after Hamas leadership.

They are taking out the leadership one by one, sometimes in small groups, but they are going after them. And we want to see that -- we want to see that progress continue, and that's really what the focus has got to be on right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. John Kirby, thanks very much for your time this morning.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in now, the Israel minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer.

Mr. Dermer, thank you for joining us this morning.

Let's begin with that intelligence report.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you for joining us.

Did Prime Minister Netanyahu see any of this intelligence warning of a Hamas attack?

DERMER: Not that I’m aware of. I think the report that you're talking about is the "New York Times" report which dated it back over a year. So the prime minister wasn't prime minister at the time. It was -- it was a previous administration, but I don't know if they saw it.

And frankly, George, all these questions, we're going to have to get to the bottom of it. After the war, we're going to have a serious investigation. That's what Israel does, and we'll be able to answer all these questions.

But the first time I saw that report was when it was published in "The New York Times."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why wait until the end of the war? It seems like this war is going to be going on for some time.

DERMER: Well, because I think it's very important during a war to unite all the forces to achieve a common goal which we all have, which is to dismantle Hamas' military capabilities, to end its political rule in Gaza, and to ensure that Gaza doesn't represent a threat to Israel, and also to return the hostages.

And I want to use this opportunity, George, also to thank the Biden administration, President Biden, the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, the Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and also your CIA Director Bill Burns for the efforts that they put into ensuring this hostage deal would happen and we were able to bring 80 women and children home.

And I think that's quite an achievement, and I don't know if it would have happened to this extent without the direct engagement of the United States, starting with the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Any hope for getting those talks started again?

DERMER: We'll have to see. I think right now, as you know, a couple of days ago, Hamas did not put forward a list. There are women and children that have been left behind in Gaza. They're claiming that they're not there, but they are there.

We know they're there. America knows they're there. Even the Qataris know they're there. And they decided to not finish this deal, and perhaps move to another deal.

What we know is that the thing that brings Hamas to the table and its willingness -- and its willingness to make a deal is military pressure, and that military pressure continued on Friday and it will continue in the days and weeks ahead. And then we'll see if there will be open-mindedness on the part of Hamas to make further deals.

But, remember, we're going to achieve our military objective which is to dismantle Hamas' military capabilities in Gaza, to end its rule there. That's going to happen, and hopefully, we'll be able to bring all of our hostages home as well.

And you have eight hostages I think in Gaza still, Americans. There are people of many, many different nationalities, but we're trying to get everybody home.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How close are you to that goal of eliminating Hamas as a military threat?

DERMER: Well, we still have some ways to go. We operated largely in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. We're still operating in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

And we've told people in the southern part of the Gaza Strip to start getting out of harm's way. As Mr. Kirby said, we've -- we presented a map of where there's safe places for them to go. We hope they'll listen.

When we went into the northern part of the Gaza Strip with the ground operation, many, many people left the areas of conflict -- 200,000, 250,000, 300,000 people went south, and that was very good.

And as we're operating in the north, we, again, encourage everybody to get out of harm's way. We've provided these humanitarian safe corridors for people to go, and now that they have this map and we're calling on people to make sure that they're getting out of harm's way.

We don’t want to harm Palestinian civilians and we’re working very hard to achieve that goal. And here too, we appreciate the support of the United States, not just in helping us deal with the aid agencies within Gaza, the U.N. agencies within Gaza to ensure that there would be safe areas, but also for humanitarian assistance, because it's not just Israel that has to ensure and enable humanitarian assistance to flow, there’s Egypt, there’s other international organizations there. And here U.S. support has been critical as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Despite those calls, the civilian casualties continue to climb. We saw that UNICEF director there in Tom Soufi Burridge's piece. And we heard Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin say that if that continues, this could be not only humanitarian disaster, but a strategic calamity for Israel.

Your response?

DERMER: Well, listen, we're doing everything we can to keep civilians out of harm's way. I want the American people to understand this. This war is not going on thousands of miles away. It's going on literally hundreds of yards away. And it’s going on at a time when rockets are flying into our country and we have people running to bomb shelters.

I think what the Israeli army has done in – in prosecuting this war is unprecedented in the history of warfare. When you have an enemy right on your border, and you're doing everything to get the civilians of that enemy out of harm's way. I don't think any other country, including the United States -- I don't know if you ever faced a situation like this -- would take such great care.

So, we agree with the United States that we want to do everything we can to reduce civilian casualties and to ramp up humanitarian assistance, and we'll continue to do that as we prosecute this war.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you the same question I asked John Kirby, what is the diplomat end game here? Does Prime Minister Netanyahu agree with President Biden that a two-state solution is still viable?

DERMER: Well, what the prime minister has said for many years, and you've interviewed him over the years, is that we want the Palestinians to have all the powers to govern themselves, but none of the powers that they can use to threaten Israel. And that's something, when we get back to negotiations, we'll have to see how we do that. I know that everybody is racing forward right now to try to establish a Palestinian state. For the people of Israel, they don't even understand that because we just suffered the equivalent of 20 9/11s. And I think the last thing you want to do is send a message to any terror group that the way you’re going to achieve some sort of aim is to perpetrate a massive terror attack.

I think right now what we have to focus on is destroying Hamas, we have to get rid of this terror organization, this ruthless, brutal terror organization within Gaza. I think that's going to present many different opportunities. It's going to enhance Israel's security. It's going to be very good for the Palestinians of Gaza because they're not going to have to go through round after round. And I think it's going to open the door to a regional piece.

And in the context of that regional piece, we'll have to figure out how we can put ourselves on a path towards an ultimate political settlement with the Palestinians. That's what everybody wants, and I think we can get there. But the first thing we have to do is destroy Hamas, which is not interested in any peace, any two-state solution. They just want to destroy the state of Israel.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How long is that going to take? Is it really possible?

DERMER: It is definitely possible. I think we've shown over – remember, we've only been fighting for less than two months, and we just had a pause for about a week. We're going to achieve this goal. We're going to do it in the deliberate fashion because we are very conscious of having civilians there and getting them out of harm's way. If we want to do it fast, we'd harm a lot more civilians.

We're going to achieve that goal. I don't know how long it's going to take. I don't know if it's weeks. I don’t know if it’s going to be months. But it's going to take as long as it's going to take because we're not going to allow what happened on October 7th to happen again. We're going to rid Gaza of this organization, this terror organization, Hamas, free Gaza from Hamas and hopefully that will give hope to Palestinians, to Israelis, to everybody in the region who wants to go in a different direction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ron Dermer, thanks for your time this morning.

Let's bring in Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.

Senator Lankford, thank you for joining us this morning.

I want to get to the war and the negotiations over border security and foreign aid, but first, your party's leading candidate for president was on the stump yesterday repeating lies about the 2020 election. He's called those convicted in the January 6th insurrection hostages. He faces 91 separate felony counts himself. He's raised the prospect of executing the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and terminating parts of the Constitution. In the face of all that and more, are you prepared to support Donald Trump if he's your party's nominee?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE & (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE & (R) OKLAHOMA: Yes, we haven't had a single vote yet, George. This is still weeks and weeks away from our first votes that are happening actually in Iowa, then New Hampshire and South Carolina. And there are a lot of people that are going to make that decision. That's not going to be me making that decision, that's going to be the American people that actually make that decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s going to be Republican primary voters. You're a Republican senator. And I'm asking for your opinion. Given that record of Donald Trump, are you prepared to support him if he's the nominee of your party?

LANKFORD: I have not – I have not actually endorsed anyone for president this time. And I didn't during the 2016 time period either.

And so I've stayed out of this. Again, that's going to be Republican voters and the American people that are going to make that decision in the primary. And then in November, it will be the American voters as well.

The challenge right now is Americans are trying to be able to get information, trying to be able to make decisions. And they're going to make their own decisions on that. That's who we are as Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right -- right, I understand that, but I'm asking what your decision is. You're an elected official. You're a Republican Party official. I'm asking, can you support Donald Trump as the nominee, given his record?

LANKFORD: Yeah, if he ends up being the nominee, and I've got a choice between Donald Trump and Biden, I've got a choice between two different sets of policies, two different sets of ideas, two different ways to handle the economy, two different ways to be able to handle energy, two different ways to handle foreign policy, immigration -- when I've got two sets of policies between me, that is not a hard choice between those two sets of policies that would actually face us when we get to that November time period.

And if that ends up being the choice of the American people in both of those primaries, that two different sets of policies is not difficult for me because I've seen the difference between what happens at the border and security, what happens into our economy, what happens in foreign policy. Americans have seen a side-by-side on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if Donald Trump is convicted in one of these trials?

LANKFORD: We have a long way to go on that, George. I know you're trying to jump ahead through a lot of different things here. I understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in this process. We've got to be able to go through a lot of things. And again, we're back to the American people. The American people make this choice, and then we actually, as leaders, work with other leaders to be able to go through the process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you about these border security negotiations. I know you have been in the middle of them with Democrats and Republicans. Are you making progress?

Do you expect a deal before year's end?

LANKFORD: We are making progress on this. This is exceptionally important. When the administration actually put out their national security package, they asked for funding for Israel, for Ukraine, for Taiwan and for the border. And then literally two days later, after they put that proposal out in their request, they also put out a piece saying that the border funding element would be, quote/unquote -- this was their term -- a "tourniquet." What they really need is a change in policy, because that's the biggest issue that they need.

Secretary Mayorkas has come forward and said "We need a reform in the asylum system" -- that's his words -- "from top to bottom. We need to change how we handle recalcitrant countries like China and Nicaragua that will not take their individuals back. We need to change the way that we're doing this." And he's made the statement over and over again, "If you delay consequences for individuals that come across the border, it is no consequence."

So again, listen to Secretary Mayorkas and the statements that he's made, and they've made it very clear they're looking for changes in policies so we can actually secure the border. That means we've got to actually bring a proposal forward that will actually make that different, that could actually reform how we handle asylum, in his words, from top to bottom, that we can actually handle how we're actually handling the process of all those individuals, and that we're not just mass-releasing thousands of people.

Last week, George, we had more than 9,000 people a day that crossed our border -- last week, 9,000 a day. Those are epically high numbers that continue to accelerate, the highest number ever in September, highest October ever. It looks like November will be the highest ever in the history of the country. This continues to spiral out of control.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bipartisan agreement on these issues, as you know, has been devilishly tough for more than a decade, close to two decades right now. Can -- again, can you reach this deal before the end of the year?

Are you prepared to go forward with any kind of overseas aid if you can't?

LANKFORD: No. We're going to do this all together. That's been the agreement that -- again, from the White House, originally. It asked for all these things to be together. We have agreed to do all these things together. We can get this done by the end of the year.

There's a reason that this hasn't been done in decades, because it's hard. It's very technical work, and there's a lot of challenges that are in it. And any time you deal with border security, there are a lot of complicating features in this.

So we're going through very, very detailed work, very, very detailed law. But the most important thing is to be able to get this right. The American people, whether Republican, Democrat or independent, just want a secure border. I don't run into many people that want no immigration. They just want legal immigration. People want a legal, orderly process, not the chaos that we currently have on our southern border. That shouldn't be too tall of an order to be able to fulfill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Lankford, thanks for your time this morning.

LANKFORD: You bet. Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is coming up. Plus, with gun violence now the leading cause of death for kids in the U.S., chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas reports on the staggering impact of one bullet on one child's life. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, a little boy is in the hospital after he was shot in the Bronx. The 8-year-old's crime? Standing on the street with his grandmother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police in Jacksonville, Florida, are investigating a 9-year-old who reportedly shot and killed a 6-year-old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man in Louisiana is now accused of shooting a 14-year-old girl who was playing hide and seek around his property.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Stark reminders there of how the nation's epidemic of gun violence is ravaging our children. So far this year, more than 1,500 American children have been killed by guns.

Chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas exposed the story of one girl shot over a year ago and the impact that one bullet has had on her life and the lives of those around her.


PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aalayah Fulmore was a typical 13-year-old.

AALAYAH FULMORE, GUNSHOT SURVIVOR: I want rice. I want cornbread.

THOMAS (voice-over): Loving life and loving family in suburban Concord, North Carolina.


THOMAS (voice-over): But that life was put in jeopardy when a nightmare began to unfold on July 8, 2022.

STACY FULMORE, AALAYAH’S MOM: Hey, I need 911. There’s something wrong with my daughter.

911 DISPATCHER: What's going on with her?

Is she bleeding anywhere, ma'am?

FULMORE: She's bleeding a little bit. I don't know what happened. What happened? Please hurry up. I don't know what's wrong with my baby.

THOMAS (voice-over): Within minutes, police are racing to the scene.

911 DISPATCHER: They're on the way. We got them on the way.

THOMAS (voice-over): Sergeant Larry Frye (ph) and Deputy Matthew Twigger (ph) are greeted by Aalayah’s twin sister Aaliyah (ph), frantic.

POLICE OFFICER: What’s going on?

AALAYAH’S SISTER: I don’t know what’s wrong with my sister.

THOMAS (voice-over): Inside, her mother confused and distraught.

REPORTER: Where is she?

POLICE OFFICER: She woke up hollering. She woke up hollering. I don't know what's wrong.

THOMAS (voice-over): Aalayah losing consciousness, lies between her bed and the wall. Each second critical, feeling like an eternity.

POLICE OFFICER: Aalayah, Aalayah, how old are you, baby? Talk to me.

THOMAS (voice-over): A hail of more than 30 bullets had pierced the Fulmore’s apartment that night, one of them striking Aalayah in the stomach.

POLICE OFFICER: There's no exit wound.

THOMAS (voice-over): One girl, one bullet. The moment in time that would change the lives of Aalayah and her family forever.

Gunfire now the leading cause of death for children, surpassing car accidents. It's actually worse than it was more than a decade ago, when all those children were massacred at Sandy Hook, and the gun control debate remains as divisive as it's ever been, with little changing.

ROSALIND RICHMOND, AUNT OF AALAYAH FULMORE: I think it's becoming normal. It's becoming, like, did you hear about the shooting down the street or did you hear about the shooting at the mall? Even if you are not directly impacted, you feel it.

THOMAS (voice-over): Every day, an average of 23 kids shot in the U.S. children like Aalayah.

A. FULMORE: I was going to sleep, and it was, like, boy, he was outside arguing. It was so loud. They were just cussing and shots just started happening. I felt something go through my stomach.

THOMAS: So you heard a sound, a series of sounds, and you knew it was gunfire?

A. FULMORE: Yeah. It was loud. Like, so loud.

THOMAS (voice-over): A single bullet left a trail of destruction inside her body. Ricocheting from organ to organ, tearing through her intestines, her colon, and the main artery carrying blood to her legs.

DR. DWIGHT BAILEY, LEVINE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL SPECIALTY MEDICAL DIRECTOR: There was a very high risk that she was not going to survive her initial injuries.

DR. WILLIAM MILES, TRAUMA SURGEON, ATRIUM HEALTH CABARRUS: Her heart stopped once in route and they were able to perform CPR, give her medication, restarted it. When she got to the Atrium Cabarrus facility in the emergency department, her heart stopped again. And they had to perform emergency surgery on her chest to open it up.

THOMAS (voice-over): Her life was literally hanging by a thread, and her mother knew it.

S. FULMORE: They were selling this young daughter is very sick. Like they were pretty much saying she's not going to make it because the more blood they gave her, the more blood she played out.

BAILEY: In that first five hours of resuscitation, she received greater than 50 units of blood product in total during that time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To put it in perspective, that amount of blood products is about 10 times her actual blood volume.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the bullet that is lodged in the back of her pelvic region.

THOMAS (voice-over): And to this day, it's still there, never removed out of fear that the extraction could cause more damage.

S. FULMORE: It was a nightmare. Because she had all these tubes, she had like chest tubes on inside, inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Aalayah's road to recovery would be a long one, two months in the hospital, and more than 20 surgeries, a dedicated medical staff and her loving family, always at her bedside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you Aalayah.

THOMAS (voice-over): Eventually tiny miracles. The first time this brave, resilient teenager, opened her eyes. And after a few weeks, finally being able to leave her hospital bed.

THOMAS: How did air feel on your face for the first time?

A. FULMORE: It felt good. And then I was talking to (INAUDIBLE). I just wanted to go home.

THOMAS (voice-over): Aalayah did go home but there have been months of rehab. She was still walking using crutches at the time of our interview, waiting for surgery to help fix her leg.

THOMAS: What do you want to be able to do freely without crutches?

A. FULMORE: Walk. As I've been wanting to do for the longest.

THOMAS (voice-over): Days of normalcy and joy have returned. Aalayah graduated from middle school and has celebrated her 14th birthday, a celebration that almost never happened.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And Pierre joins us now. Hard to believe this, but Aalayah is one of the lucky ones. Pierre, you've made a part of your life's work to cover this epidemic of guns -- gun violence, what stands out to you about this moment?

THOMAS: George, even as levels of overall gun violence have actually gone down in roughly the past two years, children are still facing an unbearable toll. I'm struck by the fact that since Newtown at Sandy Hook, gun violence against children is now worse. That raises questions about a society that we allow the youngest among us to be harmed this way. Are we really OK with this?

Congress did pass modest gun control legislation last year, after 30 years of nothing being done at the federal level. But there were many areas not addressed, including a national background check. And even after the most recent mass shooting in Maine, there's really no movement for further action right now.

But what we do know is the inevitable. There's going to be another day soon, where we have another mass casualty event in this country. And every single day, children are being shot paying a price, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you spoke with the country's youngest congressman about this.

THOMAS: Well, Congressman Maxwell Frost in a word is frustrated, George, frustrated at the same time, he's also optimistic that a new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention that he helped push for is a step in the right direction. At only 26, he's part of a younger generation that is persistent. And who says they won't stop until more is done to address this issue, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas, thanks.

The Roundtables next. We'll be right back.


GEORGE SANTOS (R), FORMER NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN: Every member expelled in history of this institution has been convicted of crimes or confederate turncoats guilty of treason. Neither of those apply to me, but here we are.

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): The facts and the evidence are clear. He can defend himself in a court of law, but for the purposes of this body, he's got to go.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And he did go. George Santos expelled on Friday. One of the things we're going to talk about on our roundtable.

We’re joined by the former DNC chair Donna Brazile, former Trump White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the executive editor of the AP Julie Pace, and “New York Times” senior political correspondent Maggie Haberman.

Julie, let me begin with you.

This decision of whether or not to expel George Santos split the Republican Party in the House.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It did. And you found one group that was largely holding on because of just this narrow majority that Republicans have. That's, I think, one of the main motivators for keeping him in, which was with him leaving, that majority was going to shrink even further.

But I think for the other half of the Republican Party this just became untenable. I mean there were – there were no significant grounds to defend him on, particularly after we saw that ethics report a fewweeks ago. Now, Santos is, of course, correct he has not been convicted in court, but the body of evidence against him had just become overwhelming.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, that is the one piece of ground he was standing on, the fact that he has not yet been convicted -- indicted, not convicted, the first person facing that who's ever been expelled.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He wanted to wait until he had that James Traficant moment, where he was convicted, and as a convicted felon, he wanted that written on his final resume. But, look, I think they did the right thing. I disagree with Steve Scalise and Mike Johnson, the leadership of the House, that it's setting a dangerous precedent. I think they should have taken this matter seriously much earlier.

But the Ethics Committee report -- I mean, George, I have filed a lot of reports as a congressional staffer and also as a campaign manager. I've never seen a member abuse the kind of money that he abused. It wasn't just the shoes. It was going to casinos and paying to be on a website that I don't want to mention for fear that one of my nieces and nephews might find out about it. So they did the right thing. Now it's time to move on for him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Reince Priebus, only a three -- three-person majority now for Republicans in the House. Is the House governable at this point?

REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER RNC CHAIR & FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF & ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, it's been tough from the beginning, right? I mean, when you don't have a significant majority, you've got problems, I think, in splits within your own party. Democrats have some of that, too, but certainly not as much as the Republicans.

It's going to be tough, and you're seeing it play out in the supplemental. You're seeing what will likely be a dead end in the Senate on -- on this budget negotiation. The -- the group will come to conference on all of these topics, and we don't know where it's going to go.

But as far as George Santos is concerned, you know, I tend to agree with you, Donna, but we are elected by people in our districts. True, he lied. He has a big mouth, all of these things. You know, I do think there is a concern with taking that power away from the people in the district and saying, "Look, your ethics problems are bad enough; you're out; yours are -- oh, they're not as bad, so we'll leave you alone."

He is -- he is a victim of himself. He committed all of these things, at least as what has been -- what's been described. But he is also paying the price for having a big mouth, for being almost a comedian in front of his colleagues, who are now his judges. And he paid the price. And that's a good lesson about, when you get in trouble, you keep your head down; you keep your mouth shut. He couldn't do it, and he's out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Maggie, there does seem to be a parallel there between George Santos and -- and Donald Trump, a lot of Republicans saying, "OK, he's been indicted but not convicted; it's up to the voters," as we just heard Reince Priebus say.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, NEW YORK TIMES SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And in fact, Donald Trump does the opposite of the playbook that Reince was just talking about, about keeping your head down and keep your mouth shut. Donald Trump is out there talking every day, as he has been indicted four times. But there certainly are parallels in terms of some of the accusations. There's not perfect symmetry.

But this is part of why Republicans wanted to move on. It's very hard to defend both Donald Trump and George Santos simultaneously. And to all of the points everyone had made, it's a very slim majority. It is going to stay a slim majority in either direction until there is redistricting the next time. And Republicans just didn't want to deal with this at a certain point.

And to the point about getting rid of him prior to a conviction or an adjudication in court, there is an argument that voters in the district did not have a lot of information about George Santos. This was not...



HABERMAN: Correct. And so I think that that factored -- factored heavily on the minds of Republicans, particularly in New York, like Mike Lawler, who you played video of before, saying, "Enough already, let's move on."

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're closing in on the Iowa Caucuses, Reince Priebus. Can anyone stop Donald Trump at this point?

We saw this big endorsement for Nikki Haley this week from the Koch brothers group, Americans For Prosperity. She seems to be gaining some ground. Does she have time? Is it possible?

PRIEBUS: Well, she is gaining momentum, but she's still sitting at 30 points down in Iowa, 27 in New Hampshire, 50 points nationally. If Donald Trump's people could map out how this race was going to go, that, as someone is getting consolidation, Nikki Haley, then the governor of Iowa then endorsed Ron DeSantis, and then Bob Vander Plaats would endorse Ron DeSantis, and then the Koch brothers would now say, "We're going to put money behind Nikki Haley," in a primary -- keep in mind, this is a primary in a Republican Party where generally plurality wins every delegate -- generally, there's exceptions...


PRIEBUS: ... you couldn't script it any better.

If Donald Trump said, "Here's how I want this to go," you could not map this out any better, given the primary rules in the Republican Party.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, it does seem like deja vu all over again?

BRAZILE: Oh, it really does. But, you know, I want to say something about Mr. DeSantis. These last few weeks, I've been trying to -- I'm trying to be generous to all the Republican candidates since Chris Christie is not, you know, capturing the crowd. So let me give Mr. DeSantis some love. He has completed the full Grassley, all 99 counties. He has the endorsement of the governor. He has the endorsement of the big evangelical leader.

So, I think he has a good advantage going into the Iowa caucuses because, as you well know, it's all about organization on the ground. You got to get people out on a cold, wintry night to caucus for you. So I give him an advantage, especially with the governors putting (inaudible) muscle behind him. Nikki Haley has capitalized on all of these debates. I said good things about her last week, but this week, she is going to face a lot next week -- next week, right?

HABERMAN: This week.

PRIEBUS: This week.

PACE: This week.

BRAZILE: This week. I've got to remember what week. My birthday's coming up. So I'm being forgetful.


BRAZILE: So, but she has a lot to show this coming week at the debate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Maggie, Donna pointed out some of the strengths that Ron DeSantis has. At the same time, you have been reporting on endless shakeups in the Super PACs supporting him.

HABERMAN: I've never seen anything like this.


HABERMAN: I mean, Super PACs are relatively a new existence in politics, but I can't really remember a situation where there has been this rolling series of departures and changes, the campaign had its own shakeups over the summer, and DeSantis has struggled as a candidate. I mean, some of this is just the campaign, and some of this apparatus around him, and some of it comes from the candidate, I think, including a culture around him.

To Donna's point, we don't know what this will look like on caucus night. It's very hard to tell what somebody's organization actually is. That's true of the Trump team, that's true of the DeSantis team. It's true of the Haley team. Although Haley, I think, we have a little bit of a better sense that she is starting from behind on that front. But DeSantis has not done a ton of favors for himself with these endless process stories. It hurts with donors in a real way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Julie, Reince is clearly right that Donald Trump-ship (ph) would be happy with the way this is scripting out. At this point, no one has ever had as big a lead as he has gone into Iowa, but we have been surprised before, and once momentum takes over, you don't know how the race is going to shake out.

PACE: There is that feeling where you just expect a surprise, somewhere along the way, right? If you look at all of the presidential campaigns that all of us have been involved in, at some point, there's a moment of surprise. It doesn't mean that the front-runner may not eventually win, I think the big question right now is all these things we're talking about, ground game organization, big endorsements, do those matter in a race where you have this cult of personality around, Donald Trump?

In some ways, they feel very pre-2016 when you talk about the potential advantages that they could give a candidate, certainly a DeSantis and a Haley hope that's not the case. But, you do wonder how much that matters when you have somebody at the front who is a former president and has so much support.

HABERMAN: Iowa is not a great state for Trump though. I want to make that point.


HABERMAN: I mean, we know, and his folks know that too. It doesn't mean it won't go well for him, it doesn't mean that we won't have an overwhelming win. People don't win the caucuses by 20 points historically. Whatever these polls are showing, number one and number two, he was really snake bit by that state in 2016, and he has been in this fight with the state's governor and other figures who have some power there. It doesn't mean that it will matter. Maybe it won't matter at all, but they don't know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, the Biden team does seem to have pivoted in the less couple of weeks, less about making the case for Joe Biden, more about putting Donald Trump front and center in voters' minds.

BRAZILE: And George, I have to tell you, that was a prayer answered, because they spent the entire summer not talking about Donald Trump. They didn't want to get involved in all of his litigation and all of his indictments, and all of a sudden, we found ourselves, like, what are we supposed to talk about, you know? This is not a rose garden out here in the streets when people want to know, what are you doing for me?

So, I'm glad that they've pivoted towards talking about Donald Trump and the future he has painted for all of us as Americans. I hope they continue to draw sharp lines because Joe Biden will need that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One gift that Donald Trump seems to have given the Biden team, Reince Priebus, is his call to repeal Obamacare.

PRIEBUS: Well, I mean, we've talked about that in 2016. He won in 2016. I just don't buy this democracy on the ballot and all of it -- all of this nonsense about Trump when the Democrats are sitting there with a candidate that hasn't been…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nonsense about Trump? What's the nonsense?

PRIEBUS: What, no, I mean about how democracy is on the ballot. If democracy was on the ballot, the Democrats wouldn't be sitting there with a candidate with the worst numbers since they've been taking polling. And worst yet, people will say, well, this has happened before. Barack Obama had bad polling. Trump had bad polling, but Democrats loved Obama, but 90 percent, 95 percent. Same thing with Trump. He's in the tank with Democrats. Now, how they can claim on one hand democracy is on the ballot and sit there with a historically weak candidate is unbelievable, and I don't buy it.

HABERMAN: I think we have seen over and over again. We saw it in 2020 and we saw it in 2022, and I don't think it was by massive margins, but there are enough independent and swing voters who are concerned about democracy being on the ballot, who are concerned about the fact that Trump endorsed all these candidates last year, who echoed his lies about the election, and many of them lost, if not all of them. I would have to go back and look at the numbers. Trump is putting the 2020 election front and center again in many of his speeches.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I was going to say in -- last night in Iowa, Julie Pace, it seems he want (ph) putting democracy on the ballot in an effort, you know, it's a kind of projection accusing Joe Biden of doing what he's been accused.

PACE: And whether that was strategic or not in the camp, the Trump campaign is feeling like they, they have a weakness there, I think will be interesting to see how long they run that message out. But it did feel like that was that first moment where we saw that direct kind of tit for tat between where Joe Biden wants to take this campaign and where Trump is responding.

And I do think to Donna's point, I mean, Democrats know very clearly, they need to make this a choice election, this has to be a choice between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, whatever you think about Joe Biden, they know that that's the way that they can think of this (ph).

PRIEBUS: Here's their big problem. If they want to make the selection about Trump. There's going to be Biden and Trump. And then there's going to be a couple other non-Trump candidates that are going to be on the ballot. So, you make this about Trump. I think it plays in perfectly into how this election is moving forward, because they're not going to -- if people don't want to go to Biden are going to say, oh, here's Cornel West. Oh, here's the Jill Stein. Here's the no labels.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're totally comfortable going to the election with a -- with a candidate has been accused of 91 felonies?

PRIEBUS: We I'm comfortable if that's what the Republican Party wants to move forward with. Sure, 110 percent I would take Donald Trump over Joe Biden every single day of the week, no problem. Because where this country has gone and how far we've gone downhill in the last three years is a place that most Republicans aren't willing to go. And if they're that worried about it, then go get a different candidate. If you think that you have Joe Biden (INAUDIBLE).

BRAZILE: You know, I recognize that Joe Biden might not be -- might not be your cup of tea or even your bowl of soup. But you know what he is? He is somebody who's steady, somebody who understands the issues, as somebody who's fighting for America --


STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm afraid that's all we have time for today. Thank you all very much.

We'll be right back.

BRAZILE: George, I didn't see you.



RONALD REAGAN, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I will send to the Senate a nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor of Arizona Court of Appeals for confirmation as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. She is truly a person for all seasons, possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity, and devotion to the public good, which have characterized the 101 brethren who appreciated her.


STEPHANOPOULOS: President Ronald Reagan nominating Sandra Day O'Connor to serve as the woman on the Supreme Court. O'Connor who passed away at 93 on Friday was a decisive vote for two decades, writing landmark opinions on abortion and affirmative action. 20 years ago, in the first interview with the sitting justice on a Sunday show, I spoke to Justice O'Connor alongside Justice Stephen Breyer about her service and her legacy.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Justice O'Connor, you have been on the court now a little over 20 years. How has your decision-making changed over the course of those 20 years?

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, FORMER ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I don't know that the decision-making has changed, but I've learned something during those years. I find that I'm still learning new things with many of the cases that come to us. A new subject matter of the law, a new approach, a new question we haven't previously addressed, that's why the job is interesting, because there are so many new things to learn.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does it get easier?

O'CONNOR: No. I think not. The one aspect of the work that got easier over time was the review of the thousands and thousands of petitions for (inaudible). Some of them are repetitive in nature and you learn over time how to deal with them more quickly than when I first started.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn finally to your legacy. When President Reagan nominated you for the court, he paraphrased Longfellow, saying that Supreme Court justices truly leave footprints on the sands of time. What do you expect your footprints to be?

O'CONNOR: I've tried to deal with the tombstone question in the past and I've always just said that I hope at the end of the day, it can be said on my tombstone, here lies a good judge.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight." And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."