A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: No end in sight.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going anywhere. We're not changing our minds, the wall works.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The government shutdown hits day 23 now, the longest in U.S. history.
REP. STENY HOYER, (D) MARYLAND: This is not a partisan difference, this is a policy difference, and it is unacceptable.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: I don't even know if the president wants the wall. I think he just wants the debate on the wall.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All talks have stopped, neither side feels the need yet to bend. So what will it take to break the stalemate? And what will that mean for the 800,000 federal workers not getting paid?
CROWD: Pay the workers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We talk to two party leaders, both in the room for those closed door negotiations, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin.
Plus, two new blockbusters on Russia. The New York Times reports that the FBI investigated whether President Trump was working for Russia from the Oval Office. The Washington Post details how the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal his private conversations with Vladimir Putin.
That information all in Robert Mueller's hands now, also sparking calls for new investigations by the new Congress. Our Powerhouse Roundtable weighs in.
JOHN DELANEY, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think a headstart actually helps.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as more Democrats join the 2020 White House race, we talk to the man who got in first, Democrat John Delaney has been running hard in Iowa for 18 months. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's “This Week.” Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week. You know the last few years have been filled with firsts, and now we have another one: the longest government shutdown ever now entering its fourth week with no sign yet that official Washington is ready to end it.
Lawmakers left town Friday, the president is tweeting from the White House, the but the two sides aren't even talking about talking. The big question now: will public pressure force either side to bend?
Our brand new poll with the Washington Post shows that right now a majority of Americans, 53 percent, pin the blame on President Trump and Republicans in congress, just 29 percent blame the Democrats.
But support for the border wall is climbing. Last year, Americans opposed the wall by 29 points. The margin now just 12 points. And while the shutdown is starting to cause serious stress for those federal workers missing paychecks, the vast majority of Americans, 82 percent, say the stalemate in Washington hasn't inconvenienced them at all. Unless that changes, don't expect compromise soon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This morning, we're going to hear from two legislators who have been in the room for those negotiations, starting with the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin. Senator Durbin, thanks for joining us this morning.
I do want to get to the shutdown, but first those new stories from The New York Times and The Washington Post that the FBI was so concerned, said The New York Times, about president's dealings with Russia that they opened up a counterintelligence investigation while he's in the Oval Office; and the Post report detailing how the president has concealed his private conversations with Vladimir Putin.
We now know that all the relevant House Chairman say they're going to investigate these stories, think its worthy of investigation. What's going to happen to the Senate? And do you believe it's possible that President Trump has been compromised by Russia?
SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D) ILLINOIS: The senate is controlled by Republicans. We found in the last two years, they were unwilling to hold investigative hearings. The only exception, I might add, was a crime subcommittee in Judiciary, which was chaired by Lindsey Graham. Lindsey has now ascended into the position of chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's within his power to hold these investigations, and he should.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And what about the idea that President Trump might be compromised by the Russians?
DURBIN: You know, there's so many questions raised. Why is he so chummy with Vladimir Putin? This man who is a former KGB agent, never been a friend to the United States, invaded our allies, threatens us around the world, and tries his damndest to undermine our elections, why is this President Trump's best buddy? I don't get it. And when he takes the interpreters notes and wants to destroy them so no one can see what was said in written transcript, you know it raises serious questions about the relationship between this president and Putin.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, they’re going to open the confirmation hearings this week for the president’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr. Of course if confirmed, Mr. Barr will oversee the Russia investigation. What do you need to know about how he’s going to oversee that investigation and can you support him?
DURBIN: Well, the most interesting part of this, George, is the number one question on everyone’s mind -- will Bob Mueller be allowed to complete this investigation without political interference from the attorney general or president and will the results of it be made public so America can see for itself exactly what happened. Real serious questions arise because Bill Barr volunteered information in the past -- volunteered it, basically saying the president shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of investigation.
And I’ll just tell you, that’s the first line of questioning you can expect from most of the people on the panel.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think he can oversee the investigation in a fair way?
DURBIN: Well, I’m worried about it. I mean, clearly he’s a good lawyer. No question. But when it comes to this delicate political situation, the power of the presidency, whether this investigation is warranted, Bill Barr had better give us some rock -- ironclad rock bottom assurances in terms of his independence and his willingness to step back and let Mueller finish his job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about the shutdown. The president says it’s all on you now, all on the Democrats, it’s time for you to compromise. You prepared to make any new offers?
DURBIN: I can tell you this, George. Back in 1984, Senator Mitch McConnell was running for election in Kentucky and sent out a bloodhound looking for the Democratic senator. It’s time to send out that Kentucky bloodhound and look for Mitch McConnell. This week there’s Senate Republicans, the centrists who were trying to find some solution were shut down by the White House. It’s time for those centrists to speak up in their own Republican Senate caucus and tell Mitch McConnell the party’s over. We want this to end, there’s no excuse for the shutdown. The Republican-controlled Senate and a handful of senators will make that decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So could you support some kind of an overall compromise that would include more funding for the wall in -- say, in return for protections for the DREAMers?
DURBIN: Let me tell you, George, remember a few years ago when we had comprehensive immigration reform? We sat down, Democrats and Republicans, worked for six months with John McCain and Chuck Schumer and others in the room, we came up with a package that dramatically invested in border security. Democrats believe in border security. We do not believe in government shutdowns as a threat to innocent federal workers and as a tool for the president to use over and over again to pressure Congress. Put an end to the shutdown and put everything on the table. We were willing to talk about more border security when we were talking about DACA and DREAMers and coming up with a border security plan that made sense, not some medieval wall.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But if you’re for border security, then why not make some moves now? You know one of the things the White House says is that the president in those meetings has accepted specific proposals from the Democrats, including one from you on detection technology at the border.
DURBIN: Well of course. And we offered $1.3 billion at the start for border security. But the president’s numbers have been wildly different. $25 billion, $11 billion. Mike Pence two weeks ago offered us $2.5 billion, within an hour the president said no, I won’t take that, it’s got to be $5.7 billion or nothing. We asked him how are you going to spend it. ‘Well, we can’t give you the details on this.’ Is it a national emergency? ‘Oh, of course it is.’ Well how soon could this wall of yours be built? ‘Two years?’ That’s a national emergency? Come on, let’s get down to business here. Open up this government tomorrow.
The president can do it and one phone call from Mitch McConnell can get it started.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One way the president can do it is to declare a national emergency. Is that the most likely way out?
DURBIN: I don’t know if it is a way out or not. Presidents have been very careful in using that. When George W. Bush faced 9/11 he asked us for national emergency powers, we gave it to him on a bipartisan basis, united as a country to fight off terrorism. But if this president is going to turn to national emergencies every time he disagrees with Congress, I’m against it. Let’s make sure the branches of government are bound by the same Constitution.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How does this end?
DURBIN: I think it ends when the Senate Republicans say we’ve had enough. We're not going to stand here and be blamed for this. We believe the government should be opened. There should be timely negotiations on border security after the government is open.
Once the president realizes he’s lost the Senate Republicans, we can roll up our sleeves, open the government and get down to business.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, thanks very much for your time this morning.
DURBIN: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s bring in the number two Republican in the House now, Steve Scalise. Congressman Scalise, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Senator Durbin right there. He says this is all up to Senate Republicans; if they make a move this can get solved. What do you think?
STEVE SCALISE, (R-LOUISIANA): Well, good morning, George, good to be with you. And first of all, Senator Durbin was in the room. Clearly you’ve seen a number of offers put on the table by President Trump to try to resolve this issue.
In fact, when the Democrats asked for a detailed breakdown of what that $5.7 billion would go towards, the Department of Homeland Security gave a very detailed breakdown and it includes border security, it’s wall funding, it’s more border agents, it’s more tools for our border agents who are being attacked at the border by the some of the criminals in this caravan. But ultimately, when President Trump looked at Nancy Pelosi and said, look, you’re stalling, you’re stalling, you’ve yet to put a single counter-offer on the table to all the various offers the president’s put on the table.
Nancy Pelosi said no when the president said, if we go another 30 days, keep everything funded even the things we disagree on, but at the end of that 30 days will you be willing to negotiate on these areas where we disagree, like the wall? And Nancy Pelosi said no emphatically. Ultimately, they don’t want to reach a solution.
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in every meeting I’ve been in -- we’ve had three meetings in the Situation Room, George, with all the principal negotiators, many times I’ve seen the president willing to negotiate on the definition of a wall. He even said he’d be willing to let them ban cement wall structures. They say -- he said he’d be willing to negotiate on how much it would cost but he’s got, from our security experts, a detailed breakdown of what it will take to secure America’s border. Not one single time, George, has Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer put a counter-offer on the table except a dollar. Nancy Pelosi said a dollar. That’s not serious, we all know that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman …
SCALISE: It’s time for them to come to the table.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … One of the -- one of the arguments they make, as you know, is the president promised again, and again, and again during the campaign -- I think some 212 times -- that Mexico would pay for the wall. So why should taxpayers foot the bill?
SCALISE: Well, they -- they’ve never been concerned about whether or not Mexico would pay for the wall. They’ve just been against the idea of a wall. The president talked about what Mexico’s going to pay for in the new agreement that we’ve got, the new renegotiated NAFTA if you want to call it that, USMCA.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that doesn’t include any provision for Mexico to pay for the wall, you know that.
SCALISE: Well, first of all, it hasn’t come to Congress yet. The president’s going to be submitting that. That’s never been the issue in any of the negotiations, George, it’s whether or not they would agree to any physical structure. And let’s keep in mind Chuck Schumer voted in 2006 for the fences act, which, by the way, the language that Chuck Schumer voted for according to Homeland Security would give them most of the abilities and tools they need to build that physical structure.
You can call it a wall. You can call it steel slats. The name’s not important. It’s the strength and ability to secure the border in between our ports of entry. Right now, we can control who’s coming in at ports of entry, it’s those hundreds of miles where there’ no border, there’s no wall to differentiate between the Mexico and the United States border. And we’re seeing -- by the way, we’re seeing over 90 percent of the heroin that comes into our country comes in through the Southern Border. There’s 17,000 …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but most of that, as you know, comes through …
SCALISE: … criminals, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … Most of that, as you know, comes in through valid points of entry.
I want to move on now. The president also …
SCALISE: That’s the areas we know about. We don’t know about what’s come across in the areas where we have no security.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s where the 90 percent figure comes from.
SCALISE: Well, but look at the 17,000 known convicted criminals, people with prior convicted criminal background that came across our southern border just last year. Those are only the ones we know about, George. So we know what’s coming across our border. There’s human trafficking, there’s crime, there’s hardened criminals, gang members coming across our border. We need to protect it.
If they say they’re for border security, which they say, but they’re yet to be willing to put a dollar offer on the table for what it’s going to cost to secure the border. We all know there’s a cost to this. They’ve got to put a counteroffer on the table.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president tweeted out yesterday that he has a plan to end this. Do you know what that plan is? And would you support a declaration of national emergency?
SCALISE: Well, the ultimate plan is for Congress to solve this. And the president’s been very clear, Congress needs to solve this. The only people that have been unwilling to put any kind of offer on the table have been Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The president’s put multiple offers on the table. We don’t want it to come down to a national emergency declaration. Clearly the president’s got authority under law but he’s said he doesn’t want it to come to that.
He wants Congress to solve this problem. Congress needs to solve this problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Senator Durbin’s response to those news stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post about the Russia investigation and the president. We do – we do know that the new House chairman of Foreign Affairs, of Intelligence, Judiciary, all going to be investigating these questions. And you heard Senator Durbin just say he has real questions about President Trump’s entire approach to Putin. What’s your response?
SCALISE: Well, look at the facts. And again, I mean, it seems like Democrats have this massive infatuation with Russia and Putin. Now, they didn’t seem to be concerned about Russia when Barack Obama was president and letting Russia run roughshod over Eastern Europe. President Trump has taken more steps to stand up against Russia than anybody we’ve seen in a long time.
Look at what he’s done with the Ukraine. Russia was running through the Ukraine when Barack Obama was president. The Ukrainians asked for help from America. They didn’t ask for troops. They said, look, send us some of the tank-busting missiles that you have so that we can stop Russia. Barack Obama said no. Donald Trump said yes and helped the Ukrainians to push back Russia out of the Ukraine. Look at what he’s done with Iran. And you’ve seen this partnership between Russia and Iran. President Trump has stood up against Iran, the bad deal that allows Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
You’ve seen time and time again with sanctions, with other things, President Trump standing up against Russia. This whole idea of collusion, they’ve investigated this, the Mueller investigation’s gone on for over a year, they found no collusion between Trump and Russia. The House did its own investigation and found no collusion. And so at some point, as they meander on looking for something, it looks like a witch hunt if they don’t put facts on the table. Have they found collusion? I’ve seen none, George.
They’ve put no facts on the table to show there’s collusion. There’s a strong record of President Trump standing up to Russia and pushing back and supporting our allies in Eastern Europe who’ve been looking for that for a long time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we go, I want to ask you about your colleague, Steve King. He’s caused quite a controversy with those comments he made to the New York Times saying white nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization. Has that language become offensive? I know you’ve condemned remarks, we’re seeing stronger calls from the Democrats in the House. Speaker Pelosi says she’s going to take action. The Congressional Black Caucus says that Congressman King should be denied his committee assignments.
Will Republicans take any action against Congressman King?
SCALISE: Well, you’ve seen all of our House leaders from Kevin McCarthy, myself, Liz Cheney, rejecting what Steve King said, pushing back and calling on him to come back and denounce it. I would recommend that Steve King go and read the op-ed by our colleague, Senator Tim Scott, which was very poignant. I will say, George, as they talk about Steve King on the Democrat side, we’ve pushed back against his comments.
There have been many Democrats who have said not only highly offensive things, align themselves with anti-Semites, have called on physical violence, they haven't pushed back on any of that language.
We've got to raise the bar on civility, George. We need to call it out on the Republican side and the Democrat side. I've been willing to call it out on both. It's time those Democrat leaders you just mentioned call it out when it happens on their side as well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But yes or no, will Republican leaders call for any action against Congressman King?
SCALISE: I would imagine we're going to continue talking about this. This just popped up on Friday. We were very quick to reject those comments. There is no place for hate, for bigotry, or anybody who supports that ideology. It's evil ideology. We all ought to stand up against it.
But it's easy when the Democrats condemn a Republican. I don't see the Democrats condemning Democrats on their side who are doing this kind of thing and using this kind of language, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Scalise, thanks for your time this morning.
SCALISE: Great being with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, the roundtable takes on those new reports about President Trump and Russia. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The day after you were fired, the president is meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister, calls you a nut job, says that the pressure on him has been relieved. What did you think when you saw that?
COMEY: ‘Wow’ was my reaction. First of all, what are the Russians doing in the Oval Office? One, as a counterintelligence person, I’m thinking that’s crazy. Without Americans being present, one. And two, the pretense is melting away. The bit about you were fired because of how you handled the e-mail investigation is melting away. You were fired because of the Russia investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And now according to the New York Times, as that was happening, James Comey’s former colleagues in the FBI were opening up a counterintelligence investigation into the president. Let’s talk about that now on our roundtable. Joined by our Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, Alicia Menendez, co-host of Amanpour and Company on PBS, also a contributor at Bustle, Reihan Salam, executive editor at The National Review, Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey, now an ABC News contributor and the former Democratic senator from North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp.
Thanks for coming in this morning. So Jon, let’s start out with these two stories in The New York Times and the Washington Post over the weekend. We’ve seen President Trump’s reaction. Says being asked about it is insulting, was tweeting all morning yesterday, I think about a dozen tweets about The New York Times story. But what are you picking up from others inside the president’s orbit?
JONATHAN KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Well look, I mean the story in The New York Times was an extraordinary reflection of the level of distrust between the FBI leadership and the president and how suspicious the president’s behavior was, that they actually were at -- at the -- to the point of investigating whether or not --
STEPHANOPOULOS: The letters about firing Comey, the interview with Lester Holt.
KARL: Yes. And -- and -- and actually going to the point of investigating whether or not effectively the president was a Russian agent. But what I am getting is that this is all building up to the Mueller report and raising expectations of a bombshell report. And there have been expectations that have been building, of course, for over a year on this. But people who are closest to what Mueller has been doing, interacting with the special counsel caution me that this report is almost certain to be anti-climactic.
And if you look at what the FBI was investigating in that New York Times report, you look at what they were investigating, Mueller did not go anywhere with that investigation. He has been writing his report in real time through these indictments and we have seen nothing from Mueller on the central question of, was there any coordination, collusion, with the Russians in the effort to meddle in the elections? Or was there even any knowledge on the part of the president or anybody in his campaign with what the Russians were doing, there’s been no indication of that …
STEPHANOPOULOS: They hadn’t laid that out yet in the indictments but how do things like the Trump Tower meeting with Russians, Don Jr., Paul Manafort – Paul Manafort giving polling data to Ukrainian oligarchs, the pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow. How does that fit into this theory?
KARL: What we’ve certainly seen over and over again is the people around the president, first of all, have been willing to lie to investigation – investigators, and had their own dealings with Russians, had their own agendas with Russians. And Manafort was trying to get paid for his work on behalf of Ukraine. Flynn had his own dealings. But it is not added up to anything of the central question, again, was there anybody – was the Trump campaign aware of or coordinating with the Russians in their effort to meddle with the election. So far there’s been nothing on that and I’m led to believe – don’t expect there’s going to be anything.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Heitkamp, one of the things we’re seeing from this new Democrat chairman in control of the House is they’re going to – excuse me, pursue this on their own.
HEIDI HEITKAMP, FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR (D): Well, absolutely and they should. I mean, that’s part of the oversight, that’s part of the responsibility. But I think, speaking from the middle of the country, people are tired of hearing about things that are being reported in newspapers. They want a legitimate answer to these questions in the investigation. They want this to end, they want to make sure that they have all the facts in front of them.
And it’s frustrating when all you hear about is the New York Times reports, or the Washington Post reports. That’s important but it’s not definitive. And I think that the answer we have to have before we go into the 2020 cycle is we have to get this behind us so we can begin to govern. It is having an effect on everything that is going on. And I think, to add to the confusion, the Michael Cohen testimony is going to be – if you listen to experts, it’s going to be more significant than the Mueller report. So we’ll see what happens …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, when he testifies on February 7th, that is likely not to about the questions being investigated by Robert Mueller, but about other things that he worked on. Another factor here will be this – William Barr, who has his confirmation hearings this week for attorney general. He’ll oversee the Russia investigation. It certainly appears, right now at least, although no one really knows, that Robert Mueller won’t end his investigation until Barr is in place.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Yes, I think that’s probably true, George. And I – and on the New York Times story, I would say this. If I were the president, I’d embrace the story. Because it backs up his narrative. His narrative is that FBI agents were acting in a rogue manner, overstepping the normal course of business because they had something against him. And that story is an extraordinary story, that they would open a counterintelligence investigation against a president of the United States. And I think it backs up some of the narrative the president has talked about.
So if I were him, I wouldn’t be tweeting about the failing New York Times and how bad the story is and how insulted he is to be accused of that. I’d go the opposite tack and say, wait a second, this is what I’ve been saying all along. The FBI, under Jim Comey, was out of control. And I think what they’re going to find with Bill Barr is, Bill Barr is a standard issue Washington D.C. inside lawyer.
And what that means is, he’s going to oversee Bob Mueller and let Bob Mueller comes to the conclusion he needs to come to and let him issue his report publicly. And he won’t do anything different in my view.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should the president embrace the New York Times story?
MENENDEZ: That is certainly one argument. I think he also has to speak to this question of why he’s been taking notes from translators and it reopens that question …
CHRISTIE: Well, because he’s in a position – he doesn’t trust – he doesn’t trust these people around him, and the counterintelligence folks, he doesn’t trust them. That’s why he’s taking them.
MENENDEZ: I think all of this, though, adds fire to – as we go into these Barr confirmation hearings, to questions that we’re going to hear over and over again from Democrats. One, will you allow the special counsel to continue the investigation unabated and, second, when the report is finally released will you make that report public? Those are questions we knew we were going to hear and this just adds fuel to the fire.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it sounds like if Jon’s reporting is correct, then the president’s guys would want the report to be public.
KARL: Well, again, George, this is on the central big question of was there any coordination, collusion with the Russian’s on what they were doing in -- in the election. There’s plenty that’s already been out publicly that it -- it’s highly embarrassing to the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On obstruction?
KARL: Yes, on -- on -- on obstruction and on the -- the -- the activities of those in his innermost circle, criminal activities of those in his innermost circle.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to pick up on the -- on the -- on the translator story as well, Reihan. I mean, it is true that the president has good reason for those inside the government, no question about that. But he has had a number of one-on-one meetings alone with Vladimir Putin. And according to one detail in The Washington Post, the translator was able to brief colleagues saying that when the president asked Putin did you interfere in our elections, he said no. The president responded I believe you. It runs counter to the administration position.
SALAM: Well, one thing that I do know is that, as Steve Scalise pointed out earlier on, the Trump administration has taken a more hawkish stance on great power competition, including with Russia. That doesn’t really square with the narrative that there’s some kind of long standing cooperation.
I’m also struck by the fact that there are efforts to preemptively undermine the Mueller report beforehand on the grounds that perhaps it is not going to be as explosive as some might have hoped, as some might have expected. With regard to these private …
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe those reports?
SALAM: Do I believe those reports? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that Robert Mueller is a professional. I know this is a well-resourced, serious investigation. It seems to me as though if the counterintelligence angle were a serious one that he would pursue it seriously on the grounds of his long experience and on the grounds of his deep concern about American national security. So I don’t think it makes sense to preemptively undermine that or to assume that he wouldn’t have taken it seriously.
As for these personal meetings, frankly, it’s part of what makes many people deeply uncomfortable about President Trump. His incredibly unconventional approach to diplomacy that he underscored as a presidential candidate that he’s pursued since then, it makes many of his -- many of his own appointees deeply uncomfortable, but it is of a pattern with what he himself has said about his approach to diplomacy. So it’s not entirely surprising in that regard.
KARL: And George, there’s an important context here with The Washington Post’s report on the president’s one-on-one meetings with Vladimir Putin. This is something that he does. He has met with other world leaders one-on-one; it’s not unique to Putin.
It is certainly a break with what his predecessors did. You know, it -- it -- it avoids the entire national security process, it may be troubling in that regard but it is not unique to Putin. He met with Kim Jong-Un one-on-one in Singapore. He met with President Xi at Mar-a-Lago one-on-one. He has phone calls sometimes from the residence because he’s worried about the Oval Office being bugged, again, with (inaudible) …
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does that make the story better or worse?
KARL: … Well, no. What it -- I’m not saying good or bad. But what I’m saying is it’s not unique to Putin. This is the way he conducts foreign affairs.
CHRISTIE: And this is not -- George, this is completely consistent with the way the president thinks about himself. Remember his convention speech? Only I can fix it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I alone can fix it.
CHRISTIE: I alone can fix it. And he honestly believes that everybody else doesn’t have the ability that he has. Now, he may be -- he may be right sometimes, he may be wrong other times, I think he’s been both but in the end, he believes that. So I think I agree with Jon that this is consistent -- and Reihan, it’s consistent with who he is. We may be uncomfortable with it, those of us who believe foreign policy should be more conventionally pursued, but that’s who he is.
HEITKAMP: But what does it say about the leader of the free world that he doesn’t trust anyone around him? That he -- he’s been there for two years. He should be able to assemble a team that he trusts and that is a big concern for a lot of people, both in and out of the Beltway (ph) …
CHRISTIE: Well, you know, I’ve said at this table he’s made some really bad personnel choices over -- over the last couple of years. And I think part of his own concern about this now is the result of making some bad personnel choices right from the beginning.
HEITKAMP: But good leaders don’t make that personnel …
STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re starting up by not letting you run the transition as you were scheduled to do. We got to take a quick break, we’ll be back in a moment to talk about the fallout from the longest shutdown ever.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We have more roundtable coming up. And all week long, you can get the latest on politics with the breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SOUTH CAROLINA): Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we’re almost there, I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time like three weeks before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off. See if he can do it by himself through the emergency powers. That’s my recommendation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Some news there from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Fox News Sunday this morning, proposing a new compromise for the president to accept.
Heidi Heitkamp, let me bring this to you. You’re a former senator, you worked with a lot of these -- is this the answer right now -- do you think, as we heard Senator Durbin say, it’s up to Republican Senators to push the president towards a compromise? Is this the answer maybe that you would …
HEITKAMP: I -- I think they need a cooling off period. And one of the things that -- the legislation that’s pending right now would open up every branch except DHS, which would then be given a continuing resolution. I think what Lindsey’s saying there is that everything should just get advanced on a continuing resolution, which will keep the pressure on, will take an opportunity for everybody to cool down a little bit and start negotiating.
And I think that it's not a bad proposal, the problem that you have is that if the president decides he's for it and then tomorrow decides he's against it, then he's left all of his Republican senators out there in the cold and they're stuck trying to explain to their base why they're against the president, because that's what happened in December.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess the question is, could someone -- Lindsey Graham has become in some ways the president's best friend in the Senate. Can someone like him convince the president to accept something he doesn't want to accept?
CHRISTIE: He could. I'm told this morning that the president is rejecting the idea. Now, he could change his mind, and Lindsey could change his mind, but right now I'm told real-time this morning that he doesn't like the idea and wouldn't do it.
And I think in the end, you know, I've talked a couple times on this show, George, about a couple of things that I know that the president truly believes in: the trade issue we've talked about before, he's been talking about it for years, and this immigration issue is another one that he really, truly believes in. And I think he thinks its core to his existence as a political...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hence the wall is about the politics, though, of holding the base to him.
But how does he explain this idea that he promised 212 times that Mexico would pay for it?
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think in the end they're now having an evolving answer on that, as we've seen over the course of time. And I think it's something they should have evolved to a long time ago, which is to say, listen, if we get a better trade deal with Mexico, more money will be coming in to the United States economy and more money as a...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even though it's not Mexico paying for it...
CHRISTIE: Right. I think you could say because I was tough with Mexico, we got greater revenue with the United States. But that should have happened a long time ago, because it hasn't happened until now, it's going to be a lot harder to convince people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Alicia, one of the things we've seen in our poll this morning, overwhelming numbers of Americans a huge gap between those who blame Republicans and those who blame the Democrats. But it interesting to see in that poll that Americans believe that the Democrats should compromise, even people who are against the wall say the Democrats should compromise. So when do Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer start to feel the pressure.
MENENDEZ: I think right now they believe they hold all of the cards, and they believe that they have come in good faith and negotiated this going back to last January when there was a deal in place for DACA, and the president stepped away from this.
I do think, though, there are more complicated contours to this debate than we've talked about. So, for example, as soon as Monday the Supreme Court could announce whether or not it's going to take up the repeal of DACA. The president has said repeatedly that he is very confident that the Supreme Court will take up the case, that they will rule in his favor, quote, "overwhelmingly," and that if they do that they will be able to put together a DACA/Wall plan.
What immigration advocates are even more concerned about is that he will use the 700,000 Dreamers, whose life will be tossed into disarray even more than it already has been, and try to make changes to legal immigration, specifically changes to asylum proceedings in the U.S. such that it will make it nearly impossible for these Central American migrants to seek asylum in the U.S.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we do know the president wants to make changes for skilled immigrants.
SALAM: That's right. He recently announced that he wants to implement sweeping reforms to the H1B program, and to provide what he called a path to citizenship for skilled foreign workers. This is a pretty big change rhetorically, but it's also something that complicates the politics of immigration in an interesting way. As there are those who believe that we need to rebalance immigration in a more skilled direction. You see many employers arguing in that vein. And if the president were to take that stance, as it seems he's preparing to do, that really does split the opposition to his larger agenda in some ways.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a different question. You are editor of The National Review, you know, large numbers of the president's base read The National Review. Is he right on the politics of this? Do the president's supporters care about the wall as much as he thinks they do?
SALAM: I believe that this is very dynamic. If you look at what's happened over the course of the shutdown, you see a shift in opinion on the wall. Essentially, his base voters are hardening on the issue, moderate voters are softening their opposition, as we saw in The Washington Post/ABC poll, and it's also very striking to see that he's talking about an issue where he feels comfortable, where he feels he has a solid position, where he's strengthening his position among his base supporters, whereas Democrats are not able to discuss their priority issues.
In 2018, Democrats very shrewdly focused on the Obamacare debate. It’s a debate that the president was not entirely comfortable talking about. Certainly Congressional Republicans were not at all comfortable talking about. And he saw the power in emphasizing one issue rather than another. And while I might question the wisdom of this as a long term strategy for the president achieving his objectives on immigration reform, it does seem that there’s some evidence that this is moving the politics.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that’s hard to read, Jon, this week is where the president actually stands on this idea of declaring a national emergency as the way out. He’s been on both sides of that issue several times this week. It does appear that by the end of the week he had been convinced that this could cause more trouble with Republicans in Congress than he first thought.
KARL: What he has heard is there is virtually no support among the Republicans, certainly Republicans in the Senate, where he needs the most support, in support of the national emergency idea. The opposition -- and he’s also been told by his own legal team that if he goes with this, he almost certainly -- he’s -- he’s going to face a legal challenge and he is almost certainly going to lose that legal challenge, so what’s the point. But my sense is that there’s like a fringe benefit, the president believes, to this battle. He gets to fight day after day talking about the wall, talking about border security, it takes all the oxygen from the rest of the debates, the investigations, the House Democrats are eager to get up and going, are effectively delayed, the other issues that he’s less comfortable talking about.
I think that he feels that this can go on for a long time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You come from a -- you come from a Trump state, North Dakota, on the one hand. I suppose there was support for the wall during the campaign, but a lot of farmers are going to get hurt if this shutdown keeps going.
HEITKAMP: Well that’s absolutely true. And the real casualty in all of this is governing. Do we talk about infrastructure? Do we talk about debt and deficit? Are we talking about healthcare with the demographic changes that are going to blow up our healthcare system? No, we’re not talking about any of that. We’re talking about an issue that could easily be resolved if we quit talking about a wall and started talking about border security. Because everybody’s for border security, right? There is a deal to be had here. We -- everybody forgets that in January, we -- actually February, we actually voted $25 billion for the wall. And the president walked away from it, the Republican party walked away from it because it was a deal that they didn’t want on immigration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This does seem to have become zero sum for the president.
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, George, I think, as Jon said, he’s comfortable arguing on this basis and he’s staying away from a lot of other things where there’s not an obvious solution. There’s not an obvious solution on the healthcare issue that everyone’s going to accept. There’s not an obvious solution on infrastructure, given some of the deficits already and all the rest of it. And I think that the fundamental mistake that the Democrats are making here is that they’re playing -- allowing him to play on this playing field where he feels very safe, very secure, very confident about what he believes. And when he does that, he’s a much more convincing salesman.
Now in the end, I don’t know how that brings us to a resolution, but the president may not be worried about a resolution at the moment. Maybe -- what he may be more concerned about is the politics of consolidation after having a difficult midterm election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you any sign that Nancy Pelosi will break on this?
MENENDEZ: No. And I think especially because she feels tremendous pressure from the left of her party to hold the line on this.
CHRISTIE: There’s going to be about 30, though, Democrats in the House who are in Trump either won or leaning districts that are going to start to put some pressure on her too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s going to be --
HEITKAMP: This is the casualty of the loss of moderates. When you don’t have moderates who say look, you know, I’ve got to answer to both sides, I’ve got a very nuanced state. You don’t have that. Joe Donnelly’s gone, Claire McCaskill’s gone, I’m gone. The people who opened up government in ’13 -- you know, John McCain’s gone. They’re gone. And so who’s going to step up into that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And from what we’ve heard all morning, Jon, it then seems like which -- which group is going to matter more, those new moderates elected Democrats in the House or all those Republican senators who are up in primaries --
KARL: Yes, which is a new dynamic this time, but that new freshman class in the House includes some of the real progressives, the -- you know, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but it also includes those -- those Democrats that -- who are moderate, who are elected representing Trump areas and I think there is something (inaudible) …
SALAM: And you see a new generation of rhetoric for that reason among Democrats, some saying, hey, we want enhanced border fencing, we want border security. And you have others who talk about this being immoral. That’s a big difference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s the last word today. Thank you all very much. Up next, he was the first Democratic candidate to enter the 2020 race; former Maryland Congressman John Delaney’s going to join us when we come back.
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ANNOUNCER: John Delaney said a dirty word in Davenport then repeated it in Des Moines and Sioux City, too. In fact, he’s been saying it all across the state, unabashedly telling people he’s a firm believer in, well.
JOHN DELANEY, FORMER MARYLAND CONGRESSMAN (D) AND 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bipartisanship.
ANNOUNCER: It might be a dirty word in Washington, but it seems to be awfully refreshing right here in Iowa.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: That ad played during last year’s Super Bowl, the first ad of the 2020 cycle. We’re joined now by the first candidate contender of the Democratic race, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney. He announced his run back in July 2017. Welcome to “This Week.”
JOHN DELANEY, FORMER MARYLAND CONGRESSMAN (D) AND 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re 534-days in, how’s it going?
DELANEY: I think it’s going great. I mean, we’ve spent a lot of time in Iowa. We’ve done 21 trips there, 12 to New Hampshire. And I think my message which is about bringing this terribly divided nation back together, solving real problems that are facing workers and families -- particularly in light of how technology is changing the workforce, getting big things done to build a better future and restoring a sense of almost moral aspiration to our political discourse. I think that message is cutting through very well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No bipartisanship in Washington right now. So let’s put -- put your ideas to the test.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, how would you solve the shutdown?
DELANEY: Well, I wouldn’t have caused the shutdown, right? So I think -- look, and I think it’s pretty clear the Senate Republicans have to reopen up the government, I mean, that’s the obvious path.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we saw that from Lindsey Graham . But a broader question now, you are trying to talk about healing the divide. The last now 10 years in this country, over the space of eight years we saw the country elect Barack Obama president and Donald Trump president. You couldn’t imagine, really, two more different people to hold that office. So how do you speak to that divide?
DELANEY: Well I just think it takes leadership. What the American people are really looking for is a leader to try to bring us together, not actually talk like half the country’s entirely wrong about everything they believe, focus on where we have common ground, talk about big things for our future and really do things differently. One of the things I’ve pledged is in my first hundred days only to do bipartisan proposals. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a president looked at the American people at the inauguration and said, I represent every one of you whether you voted for me or not and this is how I’m going to prove it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But then doesn’t that cut against what a lot of Democrats are expecting. If you’re only putting bipartisan legislation on the floor, that means no Medicare for All, no Green New Deal, no $15 an hour minimum wage.
DELANEY: Well first of all, there’s things we agree with. Right? Building infrastructure, comprehensive immigration reform was bipartisan, fixing our broken and immoral criminal justice system is bipartisan. Things like national service. Right? Giving the opportunity for young people who graduate from high school to serve their country --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’d put other Democrat priorities on the backburner?
DELANEY: The first hundred days -- right -- you prove to the American people that we can actually start solving problems and getting things done. Then you start talking about some of the big things we need to do to build a better future. Universal healthcare I fully support. And I believe there’s ways of getting that done. I introduced the first bipartisan carbon tax bill in the Congress of the United States last year to show that climate change -- which is a huge threat to our prosperity, to our national security -- we can actually come together and solve that problem. So I think there’s a pathway to do big things together as a country.
But there’s also, in the short term, there’s a lot of things we agree with each other that have to get done and we need a leader that wants to actually start bringing the country together, restoring a sense of this, as I say, moral aspiration to who we are as a country. And that’s what the American people are looking for. They’re tired of being divided.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You had a very successful career on Wall Street before you became --
DELANEY: Not on Wall Street.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In business before you --
DELANEY: In business. Yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- before you became a member of Congress. And George Will in a very highly complimentary column about you also said this. He said white male businessman, those three words. In a Democratic primary, those are three strikes against you. Is he right about that this year?
DELANEY: I don’t think he’s right about that. Look, I’m not a person of color and I’m not a woman and I appreciate the fact that I have had different experiences and haven’t had to deal with some of the challenges that people of color in our country have had to deal with and women have had to deal with. But I think at the end of the day what the Democratic primary voters are going to look for is a leader, someone who can lead our country into the future with a real vision as to how to create a more prosperous, just and secure future for all Americans.
They’re looking for leadership, particularly in the context of what they’re seeing now. So I believe the Democratic primary voters are going to look for that leadership, who has a positive view of the future, who understands how technology, automation, global interconnections are fundamentally changing everything in our society and who has real plans to solve real problems, get things done to improve the lives of our citizens.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve been paying a large measure of your own campaign. You can afford it right now. Elizabeth Warren says that there shouldn’t be self-funding. How do you respond to that?
DELANEY: Well I don’t think -- I mean, I think -- I don’t think that’s true. I think people are fine with people investing in their campaigns. I also raised money from people, so I’m not entirely self-funding my campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the idea we heard from the new Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying that the marginal tax rate on those earning about $10 million a year should be 70 percent.
DELANEY: I think marginal tax rate should be higher but if we actually want to create more fairness in our tax code, we would also start taxing investment income more similar to what workers get paid at. There’s a massive kind of unfairness between the amount of taxes people pay who invest for a living, versus people who pay who work for a living. And I think that can generate more revenues for the government.
So, directionally, I think there's huge kind of structural unfairness in our country right now, whether it's through the tax code, whether it's through our environmental policies, whether it's in our criminal justice system, our immigration system.
My wife and I were at the border two weeks ago. We took 14 law students down to Dilley, Texas where the largest detention facility is in this country to hear asylum cases for a week, right.
So, if you go through immigration, criminal justice, the taxes, there's huge structural unfairness in this country and we've got to reform it, and the tax code is part of that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What qualifies you to be commander-in-chief?
DELANEY: Well, I've served in the congress for the last six years, so I understand how our federal government works. I've spent a lot of time with our military. I have a strong view about what the U.S.'s role is internationally. I generally believe what the post-World War II model for U.S. leadership. And I think I'm in a very good position to be the commander-in-chief.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, before we go, I want to ask you about those other headlines this morning about President Trump. There is a report in The New York Times that he was investigated by the FBI, also concealing his conversations with Vladimir Putin. Do you believe he is compromised by Vladimir Putin?
DELANEY: Well, that's what -- that's for Mr. Mueller to determine.
I mean, it's highly suspicious, his behavior. We haven't had a president who has been as supportive as Vladimir Putin in decades -- or Russian government, in decades. So, it's highly suspicious. I think his business dealings in the past are highly suspicious. I know from my experience in the private sector, no one in the United States would actually invest in him or lend money to him, so he had to go abroad to get his financing for his projects. So I think there's a lot of flashing yellow lights. But what we should do is we should wait for the results of that report to determine. And they're obviously investigating it.
And I trust the special counsel's work. I mean, I think he's been terrific. There's been no leaks. He's obviously been very thorough. He's uncovered a lot of, you know, highly suspicious activity and a lot of people who are very close to the president obviously have been charged with crimes, so...
STEPHANOPOULOS: John Delaney, thanks for coming in this morning.
DELANEY: Thanks for having me, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. And I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.