'This Week' Transcript 2-13-22: Speaker Nancy Pelosi & Sen. Lindsey Graham
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, February 13.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, February 13, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice-over): On the brink.
JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The U.S., allies and Russia all order evacuation of embassies in Kyiv.
SULLIVAN: Our view, that military action could occur any day now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden and Putin speak in a last-ditch effort to avoid war.
We cover it all this morning was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and key Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, both "This Week" exclusives.
Plus: soaring inflation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you go to the supermarket with $100, it doesn't go as far as it used to.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): This situation is real. It's harming people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What can be done? How will it impact the midterms?
That and all the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable.
And 50 years after Watergate, a warning for those involved in the January 6 attacks in a new memoir from one of President Nixon's close aides.
DWIGHT CHAPIN, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Tell the truth, let the chips fall where they may. You can always recover. I'm living proof that you can recover.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
The big question as we come on the air, will Russia invade Ukraine this week? That's the warning right now from the White House. The U.S. and other Western nations are closing down their embassies in Kyiv, ordering personnel to leave the country, as more troops are sent to the region.
But diplomacy continues as well. President Biden held a one-hour phone call with Vladimir Putin yesterday, warning an invasion would trigger swift and severe costs. French President Macron also spoke with Putin. More talks are scheduled for this week.
The crisis is fluid, confusing and tense.
Our coverage begins this morning with Terry Moran in Kyiv, Mary Bruce at the White House.
Good morning, Mary.
MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George, good morning.
Well, the bottom line is that this phone call between Vladimir Putin and President Biden did not produce much progress. After speaking for a little over an hour, we were told there was no fundamental change.
Biden again stressed to Putin that invading Ukraine would lead to swift and severe costs to Russia. And he cautioned that there would be widespread human suffering. Biden, we're told, also was direct with Putin about his concerns for the safety and security of Americans in Ukraine as well.
Now, the Kremlin this morning says the U.S. is trying to create a sense of hysteria. But the White House says that Russia's actions speak louder than its words. And, right now, we are seeing that continued buildup along the border and a lack of de-escalation, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Mary, this is based on intelligence the White House has seen about a possible invasion this week?
BRUCE: It is.
And, George, look, we are told that the two teams agreed to continue to engage, but that does not mean that there won't be military action by the Russians. So, right now, the U.S. is continuing down these two paths of diplomacy and deterrence. And they simply say that they do not know if Putin has made up his mind whether to invade or not, but that he certainly could in the next few days, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce, thanks.
Let's go to Terry Moran in Kyiv.
And, Terry, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance between what we're hearing from the White House, what you're seeing on the ground there in Kyiv.
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's surreal, George.
In one sense, Ukraine is clearly a country on the knife's edge. Ukrainian forces are on high alert. Reservists are mobilized. The mayor of Kyiv has announced an evacuation plan for the city's three million citizens.
But life still feels normal here. People are still out and about last night, Saturday night. Sunday traffic is light, lines at the airport a little bit longer. But there's no rush for the borders.
And part of the reason for that is that the Ukrainian government has taken a very different view and a very different tone, President Zelensky of Ukraine saying that all the warnings of a Russian invasion are just sowing the seeds of fear. He says the U.S. is creating a panic, which he called -- quote -- "the best friend of our enemies."
Meanwhile, the Russian military buildup continues, more boots on the ground around the country's borders, more ships at sea off the coast. And now major airlines are considering the possibility of suspending flights into Ukraine, the Dutch carrier KLM already deciding to stop flights here.
And a Portuguese flight today to Ukraine was redirected in mid-flight to Moldova because the company's insurer had decided that it would not fly into Ukraine anymore.
But, as I said, the people here just don't really believe it. It may be wishful thinking. Last night, I was talking to a young man at a pub just down the street here, and he said: No invasion. There will be no invasion. This is all just an information war -- George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Terry Moran, thanks very much.
We're joined now by the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Madam Speaker, thank you for coming in again this morning.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): My pleasure. Good morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, we -- you just saw those reports right there.
The White House is warning of an imminent invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainians seem to think that that's all hype.
Are -- do you believe that Putin is poised to invade?
PELOSI: Well, I think we have to be prepared for it. And that is what the president is -- yes, I do believe that he is prepared for an invasion.
I also understand why the President of Ukraine wants to keep people calm and that he wants his economy not to suffer. But, on the other hand, if we were not threatening the sanctions and the rest, it would guarantee that Putin would invade. Let's hope that diplomacy works.
It's about diplomacy deterrence. Diplomacy deterrence. And the president’s made it very clear. There's a big price to pay for Russia to go there. So if Russia doesn't invade, it's not that he never intended to. It's just that the sanctions worked.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you convinced that President Biden is doing everything he can to prevent an invasion? Is Congress doing everything you can to prevent an invasion?
PELOSI: Well, look, I'm very proud of the work that the president has done. The unity of our allies and NATO to come to an agreement as to the severity of the sanctions is very, very important. And that is -- that is something that Putin should pay very close attention to.
Actually, our allies in Europe can suffer sometimes from some of the sanctions because of the impact it has on them and yet they are there fully on the sanctions front. Yes, we in Congress -- the sanctions are the tactic the president is taking. He can do that by executive order. It would be better if we could do it --
STEPHANOPOULOS: What should President Putin know from you, the Speaker of the House, about the consequences of an invasion?
PELOSI: Well, the fact is, is that we think that an assault on Ukraine is an assault on democracy. And that we are not -- we understand the loss of life, the damage, the collateral damage to civilians, to military, and the rest are severe, if he decides to invade.
The mothers in Russia don't like their children going into war. He’s (ph) had to experience that, forgive the expression, body bag from the moms before. So he has to know that war is not an answer. There are very severe consequences to his aggression and that we are united in using them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the situation here at home. Families are feeling the hit from the highest inflation in 40 years. Right now it costs the average American family about $275 a month. What can Congress do right now to bring those costs down?
PELOSI: Well, let me just talk about the inflation then. Because people are saying, well, what we're spending is causing -- the fact that people have jobs always contributes to increase in inflation. That's a good thing. But inflation is not a good -- you know, we have to contain that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Wages are not keeping up with prices.
PELOSI: That's right. And let me just say about what Congress has been doing. When we did the COMPETES Act last -- what contributes to inflation? More people having jobs, scarcity of products, which makes the prices go up, and the rest. So when we passed the COMPETES Act last Friday, this was a giant step forward. Now we have to go to conference with the Senate and we will shortly. We'll send it to the president's desk. But what that does is addresses the supply chain shortages that we have, and therefore, will decrease inflation.
Secondly, it's important to note this about the BBB, the BBB is a deficit reduction bill. It's a bill that -- some people say when you increase the national debt, you increase inflation. Seventeen Nobel laureates wrote that the -- the way the BBB was written with long-term investments and increasing the capacity of people to participate in our success is noninflationary.
In addition to that, the tax -- the Joint Tax Committee, which is the imprimatur (ph) on all these issues, the Joint Tax Committee says that BBB will reduce the national debt by $100 billion in the first 10 years and $1 trillion in the second 10 years. So what we are doing is, what are the three effects (ph)? More people going to work. That's a good thing. More product to lower the cost, you know, the supply side of -- the supply and more supply, lower costs.
And then third, and -- third, the terms of not increasing the national debt.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But as you know, Senator Manchin, who is the senator that matters right now because he's against it, disagrees. He said it's going to hurt inflation. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR JOE MANCHIN, (D-WV): This is not a time to be throwing more fuel on the fire. We have an inflate -- we have inflation and we have, basically, an economy that’s on fire. You don't throw more fuel on the fire that is already on fire causing the problems that we have. So we’ve got to get our House in order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Without his vote, this isn’t going anywhere.
PELOSI: Well, the fact is, is that -- clearly, he has -- you know, look, Joe Manchin, as you said, is the senator who counts, every senator counts. And we have legislation that is so transformative for our country.
When you see what President Biden has done in this year, whether it's the rescue package that has put money in people's pockets, taking people off poverty, vaccines in their arms and the rest, you know that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but people aren’t feeling it right now. They’re upset.
PELOSI: No, I understand that. No, I understand that, but there has to be a cumulative effect, a cumulative effect.
And part of the consequences of all of that investment, the infrastructure bill and the rest, is that more people have jobs and, therefore, inflation goes up. When I first went to Congress, you were there working for Dick Gephardt --
STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE) Dick Gephardt.
PELOSI: Yeah. We go all the way back. I went to my first meeting where the head of the Fed came in to talk about inflation and unemployment. That was a requirement that the chairman reported to Congress on that. And the first thing Chairman Greenspan said was, unemployment is dangerously low.
Well, if you're just measuring it by inflation. But the fact is, that the rise in employment and President Biden has nearly 7 million jobs in his year in office.
So, yes, we have inflation. It's very important for us to address it. We must bring it down.
And -- but is not -- it's not right -- with all the respect in the world for my friend Joe Manchin -- it's not right to say what we're doing is contributing to the inflation because it is exactly the opposite.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other thing that is weighing --
PELOSI: Seventeen Nobel laureate, the Joint Tax Committee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other thing that’s weighing on people right now is rising crime. And there appear to be some divisions among Democrats about how to handle it. Your colleague Karen Bass, running for mayor of Los Angeles, trying to increase the police force in L.A.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cori Bush, congresswoman from Missouri, is saying it’s time to defund the police. She’s sticking by that.
You're the speaker, how do you think Democrats should address rising crime?
PELOSI: Well, with all the respect in the world for Cori Bush, that is not the position of the Democratic Party. Community safety, to protect and defend in every way, is our oath of office.
And I have sympathy -- I -- we're all concerned about mistreatment of people. And that's why Karen Bass had the Justice and Policing Act. And we would hope to get some of that done, whether it's no-knock, chokehold, or some of those issues, even if we can't get it all done.
But the -- but make no mistake, community safety is our responsibility. And I told one my colleagues from New York, Ritchie Torres, brand new member of Congress, way on the left, saying that defund the police is dead. That causes a concern with a few in our caucus.
But public safety is our responsibility. And I support what Karen Bass is doing and Mayor Adams of New York.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Inflation, the rising crime are both weighing down on President Biden's approval ratings. Right now, they’re weighing down on Democrats as we head into the midterms.
You say you're going to run again this year. But 29 of your fellow Democrats are not running for re-election.
How worried are you about the midterms right now?
PELOSI: I -- I don't agonize. I organize. And we are fully intent to win this election. Nothing less is at stake.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about debunking history?
PELOSI: Well, forget history. We're talking about future, you know? And when people say, well, the history says that the presidents lose seats in the off year. Presidents gain seat only (INAUDIBLE).
We didn't gain seats when President Biden won. We worked together to win the Senate, win the House, and win the White House. It was cumulative, but it wasn’t an increase.
And one of the reasons that, in part, the president's party loses seats in the off years because they gain so many in the on-year. We won 40 seats in '18, 31 in Trump districts. In this year with Trump on the ballot, we lost a third of those Trump seats.
However, the people who survived in those Trump seats with Trump on the ballot are in very good shape.
We take nothing for granted. We intend -- by redistricting, which did not do us harm, as people predicted, history and all that, by recruitment, great people coming forward believing that we can win, with raising of money and attracting the support, and about raising interest in the volunteers. We have every intention every single day to do everything in our power. We have decided to win and that's what we will do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, if you maintain control, are you going to run for speaker again?
PELOSI: That's not a question. My purpose right now is just to win that election. It's to win that election. Nothing less is at stake than the -- our democracy.
But, very important in all that is what it means personally to the American people, to their kitchen table issues. Whether it's whether they're going to be able to pay for food, for medicine, for rent, children's education, and the rest. So, our focus that unifies our Democrats -- you talked about what may have divided a few of them. What unifies us is the -- is the empathy that we have for America's working families and the priority of meeting their needs.
Lower cost, bigger paychecks, lower taxes, all paid for by making everyone pay their fair share with a great president. I think his message -- see, when we won in '06 and '08, we were left to our own devices. Just us kids. We didn't have a Democrat in the White House. Now we do. So even stronger in ability to win. And who is more empathetic than Joe Biden? Who has more -- a bigger vision, more knowledge, more strategic thinking about all this, more authenticity in associating with America's working families?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam speaker, thanks for your time this morning.
PELOSI: Yes. Onward to a great Democratic victory (ph). Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Lindsey Graham joining us next.
And, later, as the January 6th committee continues its investigation, a former Nixon aide who went to jail for the president shares his lessons learned from Watergate.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE & (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Trump and I, we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. Oh, my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he's been a consequential president. But, today, first thing you'll see. All I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Lindsey Graham on January 6, 2021. He joins us this morning from Jerusalem.
Senator Graham, thank you for joining us this morning.
We'll get to the events of January 6th later.
But I do want to begin with the -- what the White House says is an imminent invasion of Ukraine by President Putin.
Are you convinced that Putin's going to go in?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE & (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: No, I'm not, but I'm convinced that we could do more in Congress and should. We've been working in a bipartisan fashion for about three weeks now to come up with pre-invasion, post-invasion sanctions, and the White House keeps pushing back.
So, the best thing that could happen is for us to past this sanctions package, pre-invasion with a waiver, post-invasions sanctions that would destroy the ruble and cripple the Russian economy so Putin could see it in writing. That might help him decide not to invade
But we should be doing more in Congress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, I'm surprised that you haven't. I mean, as you said, the negotiations have been stalled...
GRAHAM: Me, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... in the Senate. You're saying the president is pushing back, but you also have some pushback from your Republican colleagues in the Senate?
GRAHAM: Yeah, but not in a real, meaningful way. There's 70 votes in the body for invasion sanctions, pre-invasion sanctions with a waiver, post-invasion sanctions. The problem has been secondary sanctions.
It's not just enough to sanction a Russian bank. You want to sanction anybody that does business with that bank. And we've really got to be hard on Nord Stream 2 as a cash cow for Putin, and we need to have a robust set of sanctions regarding the SWIFT program so that Putin would understand that the relationship with the United States would be forever changed.
And, finally, I want to make that point. This is not the last president America will have. If Russia invades the Ukraine, you will destroy the U.S.-Russian relationship for decades. And every president in the near term will be put in a box when it comes to dealing with Russia. So I hope Putin understands that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you make of this overall strategy we're seeing from the administration, releasing this intelligence about possible invasions, saying imminent invasions, saying maybe there will be a false flag operation? Do you think that maybe has been effective in pushing Putin back?
GRAHAM: I don't know. That's a really good question. I don't want to ring an alarm bell as much as take action. They're telling us the invasion is imminent. But they're not telling Putin with clarity what happens if you invade.
He should be punished now. What I can't get over is that the world is allowing him to do all this without consequence. The guy took the Crimea in 2014. He's got 100,000 troops amassed on the Ukrainian border and he's paying no price at all. So I'd like to hit him now for the provocation and have sanctions spelled out very clearly, what happens to the ruble and his oil and gas economy. I think that's what's missing.
We're talking way too much and we're doing too little.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's see what happens this week.
Senator, in the meantime, I do want to ask you, it's been several years since you've been on the program. So this is our first chance since...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the January 6th riots to ask about your relationship with President Trump and his leadership with the Republican Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we showed your comments from January 6th at the top. The next day you talked about the president's accountability for allowing the riot to happen. But you've also said the Republican Party can't win without him and the 2024 nomination is his for the taking.
So where do things stand with you and President Trump right now? Do you support his comeback in 2024?
GRAHAM: So, number one, it's his nomination for the taking in 2024, if he wants. If he wants to be the Republican nominee for the Republican Party, it's his for the taking. My floor comments were about the 2020 election. I am not contesting the 2020 election. I'd like to reform the system. The problems we found in 2020 need to be addressed. But the 2020 election is over for me. Donald Trump is the most consequential Republican in the Republican Party today. He has a great chance of being president again in 2024. If he'll start comparing what he did as president versus what's going on now and how to fix the mess we -- we're in. If he looks backward, I think he's hurting his chances.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've -- you said that to Bob Woodward as well. You said the president was going to have to change if he wanted to be competitive in 2024. He doesn't really show any signs of changing. He continues to lie about the 2020 election. A couple weeks ago he talked about pardoning the January 6th rioters. He called you a RINO...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Republican In Name Only...
... because you disagreed with that. There's no evidence that the president's going to change.
GRAHAM: Well, here's my statement about the president's situation right now. He's the most dominant figure in the Republican Party. I think Biden's approval ratings are in the tank because his policies are not working. For the president to win in 2024, he's got to talk about the future. He's got to talk about how to fix a broken border, how to repair the damage done through the Biden economic agenda and how to make the world a safer place.
I do believe, if he talked about what he's capable of doing and remind people what he did in the past, he has a chance to come back. If he continues to talk about the 2020 election, I think it hurts his cause and, quite frankly, it hurts the Republican Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He's planning to come to South Carolina and campaign for primary opponents of two of your members of Congress, Republican members of Congress, Nancy Mace and Tom Rice. Is that helpful?
GRAHAM: Well, again, it's up to him who he wants to campaign for. I'm not worried about us taking back the House. We're going to take back the House unless we really screw this thing up. What I'm looking for is that America First agenda, like we had a Contract With America. You remember 1994. What are we for as a Republican Party? How do we fix the problems created by the Biden administration?
That's what I think is missing. We need a positive agenda to talk about how we can fix the future for America, repair the damage, rather than trying to purge the party. I think the best thing for the Republican Party is to talk about policy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: If you do take the Senate back, will you vote for Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican leader?
In the past, you have said that he's got to fix his relationship with President Trump if he's going to earn your vote.
Yes, I think any Republican leader in the House or the Senate has to have a working relationship with President Trump, because most Republicans like President Trump's policies. A lot of us wish he would look forward, not backward. But he's very popular because he stands up to all the things that most Republicans believe need to be stood up to.
And so Mitch McConnell, if he runs, or anyone else, I think, would have to show a working relationship with the president. Here's the good news for the Republican Party. We're back in the game, folks, after January the 6th, but it's mainly due to Democratic failures. We're going to have to prove to people we can do more than just talk about the past.
We have got to prove to the people we can push forward a very positive future.
And I'm in Jerusalem for the Iranian nuclear discussions, are very concerning to the Israelis. And the world needs to tell Iran before it's too late, what are the red lines regarding their nuclear program? And if we don't give the Iranians red lines, we could have a war on our hands pretty quickly between Israel and Iran.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to ask you about one final issue at home, the Supreme Court.
President Biden has a vacancy he's trying to fill. Is Judge Michelle Childs of South Carolina the only Biden nominee you could support?
GRAHAM: I think she's the one that would get the most Republican votes.
I would be very inclined support her because of her background. She didn't go to Harvard and Yale, which I think is a plus. She went to University of South Carolina. But we will wait and see what President Biden does. But I have told him and his team that if you nominate, Michelle Childs, she will be in the liberal camp, for sure, but she has a hell of a story.
And she would be somebody, I think, that could bring the Senate together and probably get more than 60 votes. Anyone else would be problematic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, thanks for your time this morning. Safe travels.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next.
We will be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is here and ready to go. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: New Yorkers, this is what we're waiting for -- tremendous progress after two long years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With our numbers continue to drop and having the second highest vaccination rate in the country, we can safely make this shift.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now is the appropriate time for me to announce rescind the mask mandate, effective immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governors across the country dropping mask mandates this week ahead of the Biden administration.
We'll talk about that on our roundtable, joined by Chris Christie, Donald Brazile, Sara Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department and now an analyst for ABC News, and Patrick Gaspar, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.
Welcome to you all.
Donna, let me begin with you. We saw those Democratic governors. A lot of data go out this week ahead of President Biden.
Are we in a decisive new phase of this pandemic?
BRAZILE: I think so. We've seen 3 percent less deaths, 43 percent less hospitalization. The cases are going down.
But I think we should always be cautious about COVID. This is a virus that has been unpredictable in the past. We saw it from beta to delta to omicron. God knows we don't want to get to omega or anything else in the Greek alphabet.
But I think the governors are doing it right. With public health officials saying, look, it’s -- it's decreasing. Maybe we should take steps to return to normal. But I -- I don't know what normal looks like until it's over.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were a governor. Governors have been driving this change from the start.
CHRISTIE: Well, they have been and they should be, because as we know, different regions of the country have been impacted by this in different ways and at different paces. So there could be a national overarching strategy about how you do things. But the execution of individual strategies has to be done by the governors.
But let's be clear, the science that drove what happened this week was political science. Okay? Phil Murphy decides to withdraw the mask mandate --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor of New Jersey.
CHRISTIE: -- in New Jersey, right, because he had a near-death experience on Election Day in November.
And it's now come public that they ran focus groups. That the Murphy administration in New Jersey ran focus groups post the election to find out what was bothering people the most. Mask mandates was at the top of that list. And, all of a sudden, Phil Murphy, who’s had the most severe lockdowns in -- in all the states in the country --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But circumstances have changed.
CHRISTIE: But,, George, they haven't changed that significantly on the ground yet in many places. And -- and what drove this was politics. They're seeing how unpopular it is and they're moving away from it. That's the nature of our system.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden is staying cautious.
GASPARD: He's staying cautious because you have to at the national level. Any conversation about Covid should begin with the fact that over 900,000 Americans have perished from this disease. Huge, huge number and deepest respect, Governor, I agree with you that decisions have to be made on the state by state regional basis, but it's profoundly cynical to say that Phil Murphy made this decision because of politics. They've seen a 70 percent reduction in Covid rates over the last six weeks, a 70 percent reduction in new -- in new infections, right?
CHRISTIE: After he did focus groups.
GASPARD: That's why they're making this decision. They followed the data very, very closely, and they -- they're -- they're marrying the data to economic consequences and consequences in education as well. So they're following the trajectory of the science.
CHRISTIE: It's -- George, I -- you know, I don't want (INAUDIBLE) your show, as much as I might like to, but -- but it's simply not true. And when -- and when Governor Murphy was --
GASPARD: Seventy percent reduction in six weeks. That's -- that is a fact. That is a fact.
CHRISTIE: Excuse me, when Governor Murphy was on national shows this week and was asked why, sir, if the mask mandates should be lifted, why are you delaying it a month? He had -- what's the scientific reason for delaying it a month? He had no answer. You can go back and look at the tape. So, if he has scientific reason for doing it, he would give that scientific reason. He doesn't have one. Maybe he should hire Patrick to give him the scientific reason.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Sarah, the truth --
CHRISTIE: But he doesn't have one with the staff he has in Trenton.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's always going to be some degree of uncertainty with the science.
ISGUR: I think that's true, but if it really were based on science, then they would put out the numbers. Once we get hospitalizations below this rate, then the mask mandates will lift. You haven't seen a single governor give out the metrics that they will use in advance of them -- them using it. And the truth is that the only science that has changed, in my view, is actually around mask mandates in schools. Something we've known for quite a long time but this isn't June 2020. I think every American is fine with what happened in June 2020. But we now know that mask mandates in schools are doing nothing except learning loss. I mean imagine kids trying to understand, elementary school kids understanding what you're saying without being able to read your lips, emotional loss of not being able to read facial expressions. That's the science that we're going to find out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's not the only science we have. And I think you're right about the science right there. You also have science that the vaccinations worked, that the boosters work.
ISGUR: Yes, and when you look at polling, it gets pretty nuanced. Most Americans want everyone to be vaccinated. Most Americans are fine with some mask mandates. But they also now are starting to understand the trade-offs of that, they're frustrated about the school learning loss, and they think that everyone's had the opportunity to get vaccinated. And if they're not going to, fine. Move on. And that's the political science when you're heading into the midterms that Democrats, I think, know that they're looking at very frustrated Americans.
GASPARD: Oh, Sarah, Sarah, they -- Sarah, let's -- let's be clear, you're right that the polling is nuanced but it's also changed about a dozen times in the last 10 months or so. And we all know that if there's another variant, if there's any sense that the numbers are slipping, that Americans are going to shift again on mask mandates and vaccinations. So let's not say quickly that they want to move on from -- from -- from all of this and --
ISGUR: They do now. Things could change. Of course they could change. But right now.
GASPARD: Now. In the moment. As the president of the United States, Joe Biden can't just focus on the now. He has to make certain that we're prepared for any variants (ph) that may come in the near future, on economics and on health science.
ISGUR: Then why did they send out the tests last year? Why didn't they send out masks last year? Why doesn't every American have a stack of N-95s?
GASPARD: We -- we -- we have to -- we --
BRAZILE: But, you know what, they did do? They did -- they did -- they did send state and localities money.
GASPARD: They did, which every Republican voted against.
BRAZILE: And they also gave governors and others the right to figure out how to use that money. I mean, I keep saying, in D.C., our mayor, who is like our governor, she did the right thing, free testing, made sure that -- that test kits were available. So, the fact that these states are now looking at the science and the data and they're saying, look, we have fewer hospitalizations, we have fewer deaths, maybe it's time to start bringing it down a little bit. But, again, this is going to -- this is going to be state by state, governor by governor. And we're going to have to figure out what the new test metrics will be as we lower these mandates.
CHRISTIE: And -- and I don't think we can be -- I don't think we can be naive about the fact that there are 36 governor's races coming up in the next seven or eight months.
GASPARD: That's right.
CHRISTIE: And that there is a political element to this. And Sarah is right, that the American people are frustrated by this. They don't want to deal with this any longer. They do feel like the vaccines have now been available for a long time. And if certain Americans have decided not to be vaccinated, that's their choice and they want to move on, if they have been.
And so, you know, the politics of this are -- always been an element of it. Not maybe in May or June of 2020, but certainly since that time, politics have been an element of it and we have to be aware of that.
BRAZILE: Yes, we weaponized it. We weaponized public health. We've weaponized, you know, basic science so that people are afraid. The disinformation on the vaccines is still running rampant in our communities across the country.
CHRISTIE: It's not running rampant, Donna.
BRAZILE: It is.
CHRISTIE: You have a -- you have an overwhelming majority of the American people who are vaccinated. So if this information was working, the overwhelming majority of the American people who are vaccinated. So if this information was working, the overwhelming majority of people in this country would not be vaccinated.
BRAZILE: Well, then why are...
BRAZILE: ... parents hesitant to get their kids...
CHRISTIE: So if you want to focus on the minority of people who are saying no, but the fact is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That group's never going to change.
CHRISTIE: But that's my point, is like, that doesn't show disinformation is working. Guess what, in our society, finding any issue where 85 percent or 90 percent of the American people agree with each other...
GASPARD: Governor -- Governor, let's be clear that this disinformation did work until many employees in the private sector and the public sector were forced to get vaccinated as a consequence of some of these mandates. So let's not just say it didn't have any effect at all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on to inflation. Donna, you know, watching the Democrats, watching President Biden, first inflation was transitory; now it seems like it's here to stay, at least for awhile. And it doesn't appear that Democrats have an answer beyond Build Back Better.
BRAZILE: First of all, inflation is a global problem. And it's -- and it's also a problem that I think the president is rightfully addressing with the supply chain issue. He's also addressing it with every tool at his disposal to try to work with corporations to lower the prices of fuel at the gas pump and also to ensure we have, you know, our food supplies in stock.
This is a global problem that was exposed during the pandemic. And the fact is, I think the president is going to work extremely hard to try to get more legislation on the books that will try to reduce some of these causes. But we've got to -- there's another bigger story here. And that is the economy is doing well. But inflation is eating at all of us.
CHRISTIE: George, look, let's start with the gas pumps. If President Biden would put aside his environmental agenda for a moment, if he wants to deal with inflation, I spoke to the governor of North Dakota two weeks ago. He is being forced by the Biden administration to keep 500,000 barrels of oil a day in the ground in North Dakota.
If those 500,000 barrels of oil a day were allowed to be produced, two things would happen. It would help the price on gas. And, two, we wouldn't have Joe Biden begging OPEC to increase.
Look, if you're worried about global warming, you'd say "I want to keep the oil in the ground." Whether the oil comes out of the ground in Saudi Arabia or North Dakota, it has the same effect on global warming. But Joe Biden doesn't want to do that inside America and he's being a hypocrite about it.
Let North Dakota, let Pennsylvania, let Texas reach their quotas and have a greater supply. And I don't know, Donna, I took basic economics in college. Greater supply deals with this demand we have and will lower prices.
GASPARD: That is basic economics, Governor. You're right about that.
CHRISTIE: It is.
GASPARD: And we all know that inflation has been caused by the global economies shutting down all at once, reopening all at once. And the fact of the matter is, as Donnas said, that the U.S. economy is recovering at a far faster pace than any other country in the OECD. That is -- that is an absolute fact.
On your -- your -- what you just said about oil, this is not a choice between inflation and climate and environmentalism. It just isn't. Strategic reserves have been released and steps have been taken to mitigate some of these costs.
And we also appreciate that there are some real legitimate limitations to what the president of the United States and Congress can do in this moment. However, they have to think long-term in the future of bringing down costs. Donna is right that some elements in BBB will certainly bring down family care costs and pharmaceutical costs and energy costs, as well, and should be passed.
But let's talk about what Republicans are doing. The 2008 Trump tax cut, for instance...
GASPARD: In 2018 -- incentivized corporations to move jobs overseas, to move industry overseas, in a way that has blocked up supplies here in the U.S. now today, has contributed to the inflation.
It's true, Governor. It's actually the case.
ISGUR: We're talking about inflation from this very large perspective. Gas prices matter. But, look, you want to talk about the politics of the midterm elections, the 2008 financial crisis, which was also a global phenomenon, was largely felt by men in the economy. I think, when we look back at the time in history, we will see the Trump phenomenon actually being far more related to the 2008 financial crisis than anything else.
This pandemic is about labor shortages now. That's what's driving inflation, and that is being driven by women out of the work force, at this point, because of child care issues, because schools are closing, open, closing, open, because of inflation now, that they can't afford the groceries. That's what's going to drive these midterm elections when we look back on it, is the labor shortages caused by women, caused by schools. And they're going to hold Democrats responsible for that.
GASPARD: Sarah is completely right that the -- the circumstances for women in this economy absolutely driving some of the challenges that we have in the workforce. Democrats clearly have a solution around some of the care economy proposals that Biden and...
ISGUR: They're not standing up to the teachers union. That's what would help a lot, is having -- women having regular education access.
GASPARD: Sarah, that is...
GASPARD: That's pretty myopic. This has almost literally nothing to do...
ISGUR: The head of the teachers union is still saying mask mandates are necessary, that school closures are necessary.
GASPARD: ... with the fight with the teachers union right now. We have these -- we had these challenges around women and the economy and the care economy before the pandemic.
And there are...
ISGUR: Not nearly at this level.
BRAZILE: And there's another bill on Capitol Hill, the American Competitive Act -- the speaker spoke to it earlier today -- that would also reduce prices and give Americans more relief.
The fact is, we have got to start producing things at home. We have a supply chain problem because...
BRAZILE: ... as Patrick mentioned, the 2018 Trump tax cuts, which incentivized people to offshore many of our products.
CHRISTIE: Donna, I listened to the speaker in your interview.
When a speaker is looking in the camera, and her message for the American people this morning is, don't worry about it because 17 Nobel laureates agree with us, you know what they say? I went to the gas station and tried to get gas and, in the Northeast right now, it's $1 a gallon more than it was a year ago.
That's what they understand.
ISGUR: Chicken is $8.
CHRISTIE: So, that's what they understand.
ISGUR: Can't get broccoli.
CHRISTIE: This is a political truism. When the economy and things are going well, the president gets undue credit.
CHRISTIE: And when they're going poorly, he's got to take the responsibility.
And when he's keeping oil in the ground in the United States and begging OPEC for more, that's bad policy.
GASPARD: Governor, it's also a political truism that you can't beat something with nothing.
When we get to November, Americans are going to be helped to understand that there is a comparative analysis here. Every Democrat voted for a stimulus package, voted for being able to get resources into the hands of Americans, so that, in 2021, the average American family had $340 more per month than they did before the pandemic in '20 and 2019.
And that's when you account for inflation as well. Every single Republican voted against those measures, every last one. That matters.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Sarah, that's the positive Democratic message right there.
I think a lot of Democrats are also hoping that President Trump stays in the way.
ISGUR: 2022, if it's a referendum on Joe Biden's economy, Joe Biden's agenda, Democrats are going to lose the House and the Senate.
However, if Republicans keep talking about 2020, and the election being stolen, and thinking that Donald Trump -- these voters existed before Donald Trump. He is the result of these voters. He didn't create these voters. And so if they keep kowtowing to that, Republicans make it a referendum about themselves, I think Patrick's exactly right. They will not take back the Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even Lindsey Graham had a warning for the president there.
CHRISTIE: Well, he -- in Lindsey Graham's way, he did.
GASPARD: Even while saluting him.
CHRISTIE: While fulsomely praising him, he did have a warning.
CHRISTIE: But you need a Lindsey Graham translator, and to listen to it.
What Lindsey Graham was saying was exactly right, and what many of us have been saying for a long time. Politicians, no matter who you are, Donald Trump or anybody else, who looks backwards are losers. The politicians who put forward a plan for the future and look forward are the ones who have a chance to win.
And so Republicans have to decide, what do we want to be, losers or winners?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I have to ask you a question.
Do you think Donald Trump wants Republicans to win if he's not the head of the party?
CHRISTIE: Oh, well, look, I have -- you're asking me to get inside that and figure that out?
CHRISTIE: I don't know.
But I will tell you this, George.
GASPARD: Yes, you do.
CHRISTIE: I think what he has shown...
GASPARD: Yes, you do, Governor.
CHRISTIE: I think what he has shown is, he has shown that what he cares about the most is himself and vindication for what he believes happened to him in 2020. He's wrong about that.
And that's what he cares about the most. And when he's calling Mitch McConnell names and doing all this stuff that he's been doing, look, it's not helpful for the Republican Party.
ISGUR: Fascinating data now, when Donald Trump endorses a candidate, it actually doesn't do much to help them.
When he attacks a candidate, it can hurt them in the primary, unquestionably. But Republicans need to think about, what does that mean about these voters? And what does it mean about Donald Trump as the leader of the party?
ISGUR: If his endorsement doesn't mean anything, these voters aren't following Donald Trump. It is something...
CHRISTIE: Look at what has happened to Brian Kemp in Georgia, OK?
The last poll that came out, Brian Kemp is beating David Perdue by seven points in Georgia. He's beating Stacey Abrams by five points.
GASPARD: Yes. Yes.
CHRISTIE: Perdue, with the Trump endorsement, is behind Kemp in the primary and even with Stacey Abrams in a general poll. That tells you something about what the endorsement means.
BRAZILE: But, Chris, Governor, he's causing chaos.
We know what happens when you take -- when you take positions in a primary. He's causing chaos and division within the Republican Party.
I think what the Republican Party needs to figure out is whether or not they are going to be a party that stands for something or just stands for the former president. And that is a challenge, because what you see in Washington is that people are afraid to step over that bright red line of challenging Trump.
And, therefore, what they're doing is...
ISGUR: Less than before. Pence. McConnell.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is going to have to be...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the last word.
Thank you all very much.
Up next, 50 years since Watergate, and one of the President Nixon's top aides on the lessons he learned, why they might be relevant today.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: Dwight Chapin just 21 years old when he went to work for Richard Nixon in 1962, 34 when he went to prison for him -- convicted of lying to a grand jury about Watergate.
In his new book, “The President’s Man: The Memoir’s of Nixon’s Trusted Aide”, Chapin details life inside the White House and the lessons he learned 50 years ago that are so relevant today.
Our political director Rick Klein spoke with him.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR (voice-over): As special assistant to the president, Dwight Chapin’s job to anticipate Richard Nixon's every move. But not necessarily follow his command.
DWIGHT CHAPIN, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I worked for him over such a long period of time that it was almost second nature to me. I knew how he thought or what he -- how he would want a certain situation to unfold. And that became, really, my credential, if you will, because I was able to anticipate the exactly where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do.
KLEIN: You said that often that people around Nixon were saving Nixon from Nixon. Haldeman’s words, right. What did that mean in practice?
CHAPIN: What it means is, that sometimes the president would ask that something be done and it was important not necessarily to follow through.
KLEIN: The White House aide was at Nixon’s side for key moments in history, including that historic first trip to China.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We have been here a week. This was the week that changed the world.
CHAPIN: The China opening in 1972 needs to be remembered for what it was, which was the most dramatic, diplomatic trip in the history of any president. And its -- the consequences of it have been immense. And, of course, we're in the middle of this now.
When Nixon went, it was a geopolitical thing where he was dealing with Russia on one side and China on the other. It's kind of interesting to look at the Olympics that are about ready to end and the fact that Putin and the China leader are there together and the United States is kind of missing from action in terms of any official what role and that's not what Nixon would have wanted.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR (voice over): Nixon's foreign policy accomplishments were eclipsed by the scandal that took down his presidency, along with much of his inner circle.
CHAPIN: I was a political football. I ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The name of the game was not to get Dwight Chapin. The name of the game was to bring down Richard Nixon.
KLEIN: The first to go on trial in connection with to the Watergate break in, Chapin writes that Nixon could be unsentimental in his use of people, but harbors no regrets about his years of loyal service.
KLEIN (on camera): He was pardoned and it's never bothered you that he was part while you and others went to prison defending him?
CHAPIN: It's never bothered me. And I would say that anyone that thinks about it, the fact that he had to resign and leave office put him through his own hell. That was his incarceration.
KLEIN (voice over): He sees parallels to today with the political scandal involving White House records, congressional and criminal probes, and aides caught in the middle.
KLEIN (on camera): There's so many people now, many of them as young as you were then, who are caught up in all of these investigations and they're being subpoenaed by congressional committees. So many people in former President Trump's orbit are now caught up in this maustrum (ph) that seems like it's a never ending thing. What -- what do you say to them?
CHAPIN: Bottom line, honesty. Tell the truth. Let the chips fall where they may. You can always recover. I'm living proof that you can recover.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Rick Klein for that.
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."