'This Week' Transcript 7-14-19: Ken Cuccinelli, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer

PHOTO: Acting Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Ken Cuccinelli leaves the lectern after speaking during a naturalization ceremony on July 2, 2019, in New York City.PlayDrew Angerer/Getty Images
WATCH Ken Cuccinelli on detained migrants: 'They can also go home'

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 14, 2019 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

JONATHAN KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Detention center outrage.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is tough stuff.

KARL: A tour designed to showcase the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants.

PENCE: Are you comfortable? Are you being well taken care of?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Si.

KARL: Also shows hundreds of men crammed into pens that look like cages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not a terrorist.

KARL: While back on Capitol Hill, lawmakers rail against what they’ve witnessed at the border.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Children being separated from their parents in front of an American flag.

KARL: This morning, a top Trump immigration official is here to answer questions about those detention centers and the deportation raids now reportedly underway. Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is standing by to respond. Plus one in, one out. A Congressman ends his White House run as an outspoken billionaire launches a long shot bid.

TOM STEYER, BILLIONAIRE: My name is Tom Steyer, I’m running for president.

KARL: Steyer joins us in a Sunday exclusive. Can a billionaire win over Democratic voters? And as more accusers come forward, the fallout over the Jeffrey Epstein case hits the White House.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: It would be selfish for me to stay in this position, and so I submitted my resignation to the president.

KARL: Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel join the powerhouse roundtable to tackle the week's biggest headlines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

KARL: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK. We begin with troubling new images from the border. Human beings held by the U.S. government in inhumane conditions. We have heard the horror stories for weeks. Sick children in unsanitary conditions. A migrant woman told to drink water from a toilet. The president called the reports phony and on Friday, the vice president and several Republican members of Congress went to the border to prove the critics wrong and to showcase the treatment of detained migrants.

It became a tale of two detention centers. At the first stop, the vice president toured a facility built just two months ago, housing children. It appeared clean and well-stocked with snacks and other supplies. Some children telling the vice president, they were being well cared for.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: Are they taking good care of you here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign Language)

PENCE: Very good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: But what came next, a haunting scene at a temporary overflow facility in McAllen, Texas, nearly 400 men packed behind cage-like fencing, no cots or beds to sleep on. Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey, who was traveling with the vice president put it this way -- some of the men were sleeping on concrete. When the men saw the press arrive, they began shouting and wanted to tell us they’d been in there for 40 days or longer. The men said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. It was sweltering hot. Agents were guarding the cages wearing facemasks.

All told, the cameras were only allowed inside for four minutes. The V.P. there for even less time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE: I was not surprised by what I saw. It's overwhelmed and that's why Congress has to act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: The vice president was in there for just 90 seconds, seeing one grim snapshot of a crisis that appears to have overwhelmed those responsible for dealing with it. For more on this, let’s bring in our first guest, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Thank you for joining us.

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, USCIS: My pleasure.

KARL: And I want to start with that video. I’d like you to take a look, watch these scenes from McAllen, Texas and I want to read a little bit more from Josh Dawsey’s report on what he saw. He writes -- a stench from body odor hung in the air, it was sweltering hot, the only water was outside the fences and they needed to ask permission from the Border Patrol agents to drink. According to one of those agents, many of those men had not had showers for 10 to 20 days. So I know the system’s overwhelmed. How can this happen in the United States of America?

CUCCINELLI: Well, because Congress has let it happen. It’s that simple. Look at just the supplemental appropriation last month. It was overwhelmingly focused on children -- and all of us prioritize care for children. And in one month we went from about 2,500 kids in overcrowded -- being in CBP detention facilities down to about 300-some-odd with only a handful of those past the 72-hour metric, that is when we try to ship kids out of -- of Border Patrol custody. So when Congress provides the professionals at the border what they need, success happens, success being measured as avoiding overcrowding.

KARL: But -- OK, so -- and I understand that there was a request from the administration back in February for 52,000 more beds. But how can you allow this to happen? If you don’t have the resources, you can’t detain these people, can you? Isn’t that a basic human --

CUCCINELLI: (LAUGHTER) Sure you can. No.

KARL: -- rights violation?

CUCCINELLI: No. I mean, they’re being fed, they’re being --

KARL: They don’t even have enough space to lie down.

CUCCINELLI: -- as you noted yourself -- well, you know, that’s -- that’s a reality of facilities not designed to handle the swamping at the border. We’ve had four months in a row with over 100,000 apprehensions. And May was the head -- was the lead spike in that and over 70 percent of that was families and children. What we’re -- worst designed to handle in terms of detention. And --

KARL: But can you --

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: And your alternative is to let them all go.

KARL: Exactly.

CUCCINELLI: And that is the wrong alternative. You have just said don’t worry about the law, we’re going to ignore the border. Well --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Isn’t there also a law about how you treat human beings? Aren’t there -- aren’t there -- aren’t there --

CUCCINELLI: There are standards, yes. Absolutely.

KARL: -- standards and -- and international standards, there are human rights -- you -- if you can’t detain them humanely, you have an alternative, which is what’s -- what was done for many years before, which is to release them and ask them to come back for -- for their asylum hearings.

CUCCINELLI: And of course many of them never show up. And that --

KARL: But -- but -- but you --

CUCCINIELLI: -- and this president promised to change exactly that pattern of behavior that you just described. And he’s doing his best to achieve that. Some of what you describe has happened, even under President Trump, because of overwhelming numbers. At the same time, all of us in the Department of Homeland Security and beyond are trying to manage these numbers as best we can, by shortening processing times, by making ourselves more efficient on that front. And when Congress does help, as they did with children last month with appropriate facilities for the appropriate detainees.

But look, they can also go home, which is our preference, when they come illegally here. And the people -- I deal with asylum in my agency and the people really claiming asylum with no basis, just totally fraudulently, are clogging a system for legitimate asylum seekers.

They’re caught in this too, let’s not forget the people who are consistent with our laws, they’re swept up in this too.

KARL: But when you look at those conditions, I mean even the most hardened criminals in our criminal justice system are not treated like that. Death row inmates don’t live in conditions like that.

CUCCINELLI: Well that’s because we have a much slower flow of people coming into our prisons. There isn’t a sudden spike. I was – I was in El Paso two weeks ago where you followed the vice president around I believe, and they have gone in that sector of the border from the sixth busiest sector at the end of 2018 to number two in literally a matter of months.

So even when we look at more than the raw numbers coming across the border but how they’re shifting, and let’s not forget the drug cartels on the other side of the border have an awful lot to do with how those flows come over here.

And they are monetizing it, they’re making a killing off of these people.

KARL: So when is this going to end?

CUCCINELLI: This is going to end when we close asylum loopholes and we stop attracting people here illegally to try and –

KARL: So you’re saying that for the –

CUCCINELLI: -- let me finish, to try and overwhelm the system and do exactly what you described, and that’s just release them into the interior when they’ll never show up again for our hearings.

KARL: So this is going to go until Congress passes laws that show no sign of going anywhere right now.

CUCCINELLI: As you saw the June numbers came way down from May, we expect to be taking steps on the administration side to reduce the pull for folks to come here, even if Congress won’t act.

But look, there are things the Obama administration and the Trump administration agree on, things like keeping families together in detention, contrary and overdoing the Flores imposition by one judge.

The Obama administration opposed that, the Trump administration has sought to fix it, the same thing with children who are – or the question remains whether they’re trafficked – to determine whether they’re trafficked.

We – the Obama administration wanted to close the same loophole the Trump administration does. We can close those two loopholes on one piece of paper, one piece of paper.

And when the House schedule came out between now and when they go on vacation (CROSSTALK) is nowhere to be seen.

KARL: I mean – I mean the loophole you’re talking about is allowing families to be detained together, it’s still – it could be the same conditions, doesn’t deal with your overcrowding.

But I want to – I want to move on to the ICE raids. The president said that there would be a – you know, a big, new effort to – for mass deportations he suggested starting today. Is that going on? What’s happening?

CUCCINELLI: Well we never talk about the details of days and where –

KARL: Well the president did, he said it was going to start today.

CUCCINELLI: He’s the president, I’m not the president.

KARL: OK.

CUCCINELLI: And look, I have a lot of respect for our ICE officers, they’re loyal, they’re compassionate but they have a job to do and it’s a tough one and made a lot tougher when a lot of people in Congress throw the vitriol at them that they are unjust (ph) for doing their job and enforcing the laws of Congress. But it –

KARL: What’s going on? Why is the president telegraphing the – a big, new effort to deport people?

CUCCINELLI: Well look, if we don’t have interior enforcement, we don’t have deterrents. Then people think they can get by that first line just as you described earlier and they’re done, it’s over.

Well it isn’t over, and over a million people in this country have – who are here illegally have gone through extensive due process, have removal orders and have not left. That’s the pull –

KARL: How many of those people are you going to – how many people are you going to forcefully –

CUCCINELLI: Well we’ll see – we’ll see how many ICE rolls on with and it shows how far we’ve fallen that it’s even news that ICE is doing its job. This is their job every day is interior enforcement –

KARL: Well in fact, the numbers are fewer under – you have fewer people being deported under President Trump than under President Obama.

CUCCINELLI: That’s correct.

KARL: All right. Ken Cuccinelli, thank you for joining us here on THIS WEEK.

CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you.

KARL: I appreciate it. Now, let's turn to Democratic Senator and candidate for president Amy Klobuchar, Senator Klobuchar, thank you for joining us.

I want to start first with these ICE deportation raids. Can you, from your vantage point, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, what is going on? Because as you heard, we didn't really get answers from Ken Cuccinelli.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What do I think is going on? If you really wanted to go after security risks, and there are people who are security risks, why would you alert them and say you're doing this on a Sunday and do it two weekends in a row? Why, because you want to make news, right? It's not about giving people who are security risks deported, it's about scaring everyone in the country and it is also about changing the news from things like pharmaceutical prices that are going up at record levels, and this president has made endless promises that he's going to do something about it or that he's going to do something about infrastructure. And we’ve got electric grids catching on fire at power stations and levees bursting where I am right now in Iowa. That's what's happening right now. And that's what’s happening to people in their real lives.

So, no, I don't think this makes sense. I think that you do want to deport people who are security risks to people in our country. That is true. I think that we need comprehensive immigration reform, and the president knows this, but he refuses to act because it will piss off his base.

Most of the country would like to get rid of this chaos and have a much more orderly process where you take people who are following the laws, who are working, who have been in this country for years and allow them an arduous path to citizenship so they can keep working.

We don't have enough workers in our fields, and in our factories, in our nursing homes in the Midwest, this would be a much smarter way to do this, but instead, he simply wants that chaos and to distract people from the real things that they care about.

But he has not kept his promises. That's what I truly believe, he wants us to be talking about this today, and he uses these people as political pawns.

KARL: Now, Elizabeth Warren this week came out with a proposal following on what Julian Castro said in the debate to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings. You said you were going to look at that in the debate. Have you? Do you support that idea?

KLOBUCHAR: I support different enforcement priorities. And of course, I'll look at the statute to see if you can make changes depending on the level of a security risk. But no, I don't support open borders and simply getting rid of this statute.

I think the answer is to have a new president. The answer is when we are on the cusp of getting comprehensive reform done, which will be so much better for our economy, the 2013 bill brought the deficit down, according to every estimate, by over $150 billion in 10 years because people would start paying their taxes, then you take some of that money and you can use it for better order at the border, for targeted reasons and then you can also look at those countries that we're talking about where we have seen this surge of asylum seekers, let them seek asylum in the countries where they are. The Obama administration allowed that in limited circumstances, go back to that policy. That would help a lot. And then at the same time, work with our allies to get things under control in those countries.

None of that is going on right now. Again, the president wants these images, he wants chaos because it distracts everyone from all of these other things we should be talking about. I promise you, Jonathan, that's what he wants.

And it is so sad this humanitarian crisis that is happening right now, which could be prevented by some smart policies when we’ve got people on both sides of the aisle that want to let the DREAMers stay. That’s 2 million people. Right? You had Republican senators like Johnny Isakson and Mike Rounds leading the charge on that, or the people who are here legally in temporary status, like the Liberian community in Minnesota who’ve been here for decades, working in our hospitals and our nursing homes. They were just a few days away from deporting them this past year.

KARL: So -- so --

KLOBUCHAR: This is not what we stand for.

KARL: Well let me --

KLOBUCHAR: We need to move forward in our country, we need to move our economy forward. And I think you do that by tackling the challenges in front of us. Climate change, yes. Immigration reform, yes. Doing something about our health care costs. But instead, it's chaos every day and the people in a state like this, in Iowa, they are sick and tired of it.

KARL: So -- so as you look at those images of the humanitarian crisis on the border from the vice president's trip, what -- what -- what's your reaction? You see 400 men in that one -- again, we only saw a sliver of what was going on. A place that was, you know, pre-screened because the vice president was visiting it. What -- what -- what's your reaction to that?

KLOBUCHAR: I just think it is incredibly sad. I think that they got what they came for. You know, they claimed that they were going to show us how great things were down there and all these things they had done, and then you saw these people in cages. That's why we have been pushing for standards in place, by changing, as I just mentioned, the asylum process and by stopping this chaotic policy, because what happens is the traffickers say to the people in those countries, hey, the president’s changed the policy again, or a court changed it because the president did a policy that was illegal, and then they start coming up.

That is the kind of chaotic policy that he has created.

KARL: But -- but you --

KLOBUCHAR: And once again, if you really talk to people --

KARL: You heard Ken Cuccinelli say basically, it's your fault, it's Congress's fault. And -- and in fact, the Republicans did have a $4.2 billion request in back in February to have 52,000 additional beds at the detention facilities on the border. Was it a mistake for Democrats to oppose that back in February?

KLOBUCHAR: No. We just put out billions of dollars for the border and they know that and the president signed that into law. All right? He signed it into law and he just did it. And there have been repeated efforts for bipartisan compromises on a number of things like infrastructure, like pushing on the pharmaceutical prices, like doing something on immigration reform and instead he likes to govern by tweet at 5:00 in the morning in his bathrobe. And I have been in the Senate long enough, including when George Bush was president, to see that you can get things done when people of good faith want to work together for the good of this country.

I'm running for president because I truly believe that. I think the Americans are tired of -- people in this country are tired of broken promises. They want someone that can look them in the eye and tell them the truth. And everyone knows from the Kavanaugh hearing that is something that I do well. And I think we need someone who has a track record of bringing people together and this president just doesn't do that, he tries to divide people every single day. And the men in the cage, it’s incredibly sad, but that is what he wants us to see.

KARL: So before you go, the -- the fund-raising numbers are due tomorrow. You clearly know how much money you raised in the second quarter. Can you tell us here?

KLOBUCHAR: We’re going to put that all out tomorrow. I can just tell you that I am going to have enough money to win. I -- we had a good first quarter and we’ve continued to be smart about how we're spending our money. I know you're going to have another candidate on next and --

KARL: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, I don't have the kind of money he has and I welcome him to the race, but I’m telling you, the American people already have one multimillionaire in the White House. I don't think that should be the only criteria of who gets to be elected in this country. You know, I come from a different background. My grandpa was an iron ore miner, my dad was a newspaper man, my mom was a teacher. And America is about people who succeed, who come to the forefront and get things done.

KARL: Amy --

KLOBUCHAR: And I bet that they want something different than just having another wealthy person in the White House.

KARL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you for joining us on THIS WEEK. Appreciate your time.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

KARL: Coming up, billionaire Tom Steyer joins us for his first Sunday show interview since launching his presidential campaign. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: Power is back on in Manhattan this morning, but this was the scene for several hours last night after a fire at a sub station plunged more than 70,000 New Yorkers into darkness. The lights in Times Square dimmed and there were reports of people stuck in subway cars and on elevators.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was campaigning for president in Iowa yesterday and cut his trip short to return home to deal with the outage.

Meanwhile in Louisiana, Tropical Storm Barry knocked out power to some 150,000 residents, that storm bringing more than a foot of rain to some areas. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come with the potential for life-threatening flash flooding across the Gulf Coast.

Stay with ABC News for the latest on that storm. Still to come, here on “This Week”, billionaire Tom Steyer explains why he thinks there’s room in the Democratic primary for one more candidate.

Up next, we ask FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver do you buy that?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today ends our presidential campaign, but it is the beginning of an opportunity in Congress with a new perspective, shaped by the lives that have touched mine and our campaign throughout these last three months, to bring that promise of America to all Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: That was Congressman Eric Swalwell of California ending his run for the White House earlier this week. But with one candidate out, another one is in. Billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer officially joined the 2020 race.

Steyer is best known for his ad campaign calling for President Trump’s impeachment, and now he thinks there’s room for another Democratic presidential candidate. We asked FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver do you buy that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATE SILVER, FOUNDER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: So do I buy that Democrats need more candidates? Well Tom Steyer would be entering the most crowded field ever, he knows that, but his challenge is not just that the field is crowded but that it’s crowded with candidates that Democrats really like.

One poll back in March found that 68 percent of Democrats said they were satisfied or enthusiastic with their field and enthusiasm has only grown since then. The top four candidates, Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris all have net favorability ratings of plus 40 or higher among Democratic voters.

Voters really like those top four or five candidates. Next, being a billionaire might have helped Donald Trump win the Republican nomination, but Democrats you have Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders campaigning against the one percent, I’m not sure would help so much in a Democratic primary.

Steyer can emphasize impeachment in his anti-Washington corruption message, although only 37 percent of the public overall supports impeaching President Trump, 61 percent of Democrats do, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

But the Russia investigation and its aftermath isn't a top issue for voters. According to Gallup, it ranked as just the eighth most important issue for Democrats who voted in the 2018 midterm.

So one more thing, I don't want to reduce everything to race and gender, but it is worth noting that only about 25 percent of Democratic primary voters are white men, and yet about 60 percent of the declared candidates so far are white men. So if a candidate were to make a big splash, I might bet on someone like Georgia's Stacey Abrams instead who, in theory, could have a better chance of competing for women and non-white voters out of the gate, so I don't really buy that Tom Steyer can build the coalition he needs to win in 2020, but he does have a year and $100 million to spend to prove me wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And $100 million can go a long way. We will get Tom Steyer's response when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: Up next, Tom Steyer is here and ready to talk about his plans for 2020. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEYER: I am not running for president at this time. Instead, I’m strengthening my commitment to Need To Impeach in 2019. Until the House starts impeachment proceedings or Mr. Trump resigns. That's how we will define success.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: That was billionaire activist Tom Steyer back in January. This week he became the 25th Democrat to announce a campaign for president in 2020. Joins us right now. So, what changed? You said that unless impeachment proceedings start or Donald Trump resigned you weren't going to run, but you're running and neither one of things happened.

STEYER: Look, in January I said I wasn't going to run at that time because I felt I had an obligation to push impeachment. I'm continuing to fund Need To Impeach. I believe that in January we had 6 million people who’d signed, now we have 8 million and I believe we’ve won the argument. But in the ensuing --

KARL: Wait a minute, how can you say you’ve won the argument? If you look at the polls -- and Nate Silver referred to this -- 59 percent of Americans say they oppose impeachment. I mean, how -- how is that winning -- and in fact, if -- if you look at the trend, it's actually -- the number opposing impeachment has grown over the past year.

STEYER: The way that we will -- that -- that the American people will understand this, which we’ve been pushing for the whole time, Jon, is to have actual push the power down to the people, to have televised hearings. In the last six and a half months we’ve had one televised hearing, which was Michael Cohen back in February. So in fact, what we’ve been pushing for in terms of the argument that this president is corrupt, we all now know that, that this president is the most corrupt in American history and is a danger to the country and the Constitution and the American people, that argument we have won. However, we have not gotten more hearings.

KARL: But -- but it’s hard to say you’ve won if -- if -- if more of the public opposes the idea, and now you have barely a third of Democrats -- Democrats in Congress saying they favor impeachment. So I think it’s -- it’s a hard case to make. That you’ve won the argument.

STEYER: I don't think so. Every time we do research, what we see is Americans don't know the facts, that when we present them the facts very simply, they all say the same thing -- I didn’t know this, he's a liar and a cheat, if I did that I’d be in jail. The only way to actually push this the right way is what we’ve been saying, actual democracy. Get it on TV, let the American people see the facts and let them judge. That hasn't happened. And it's a failure of government because it could happen.

KARL: OK, let's -- let’s get to your campaign. You've been in less than a week and you’ve already received quite a bit of criticism from your now competitors. Let’s take a look at some of it. Governor Steve Bullock said, I don't think you should have to be a billionaire to run for president -- and actually, Amy Klobuchar said the same thing just a few minutes ago. Elizabeth Warren said we need our candidates to compete, to have the best ideas, not just write themselves the biggest check.

And then Bernie Sanders says billionaires trying to buy political power is nothing new, but it is tiring no matter what the political party. So what is your response to this criticism?

STEYER: Very simply, we have a broken government, it’s been corrupted by corporate money, we need to push the power back to the American people, retake the democracy. And I’ve been doing that successfully from the outside for 10 years.

If you look at my record, I’ve been taking on the oil companies directly, I’ve been taking on the tobacco companies directly, I’ve been taking on the drug companies and winning. And I’ve also set up the biggest grassroots organization in the United States, NextGen, to organize people around the country to win elections, and I’ve got more than 8 million people who’ve signed NTI.

The question is if we’re going to take back this democracy, is someone going to lead it who’s successfully done it from the outside or a bunch of people from Washington D.C., the insiders, going to reform the government that is failing the American people and that everybody knows is failing?

KARL: So let’s face it, the biggest thing you have going for you though is you’re saying you’re going to spend more than $100 million. To get in the debate, you’re going to also need to raise money, I mean not because you need the money on – to spend on your campaign, but you need 130,000 donors.

So are you going to be out there asking people to give money to your campaign?

STEYER: Absolutely. I know I need those donations, so of course we are. But the real question here, Jon, is going to be do I have a vision and an explanation for what’s wrong that’s practical?

Instead of talking about 19 different policy issues and the nuances of those, there’s a real question in front of the American people, which is the government is failing, not which Green New Deal is the best, not which healthcare proposal is the best, but how are we going to get any Green New Deal, any healthcare proposal in a government that’s controlled by corporate money?

KARL: Well some would say you’d be better off putting your money into winning Senate seats, because you’re not going to get anywhere without a Republican Senate, you just – some have said you’d be better off doing voter registration stuff.

I mean you could spend that $100 million a lot of other ways than your own – your own campaign.

STEYER: You know Jon, it’s interesting that you say that, since we’re the people who registered the most voters in the United States. We’re the biggest –

KARL: Yes so why not re-double that effort?

STEYER: We are doing that, I’ve guaranteed that I’ll continue doing all the grassroots work we’ve been doing, and so when you say we should do that the answer is thank you very much.

We’ve done that, we’re the people who have been doing that and I’ve guaranteed that I’d continue doing it.

KARL: Now you mentioned going after the coal and fossil fuel companies, and there’s no doubt that you have done – you’ve put a lot of money into that effort over the last few years.

But your old hedge fund, the one you started, invested millions of dollars reportedly in coal mines and power plants in Indonesia, China, Australia. You basically built your fortune did you not in part through fossil fuels?

STEYER: Look, in our business we invested in every part of the economy, including fossil fuels. When I realized what a threat this was that we – that it was to our environment and to the people of the United States and people around the world, I changed.

I divested from all of that stuff, I left my business, I took the Giving Pledge to give my money to good causes and I’m asking every American to do exactly what I did. What I did was –

(CROSS TALK)

KARL: But wait a minute –-

STEYER: -- deal with the information and I have been pushing hard on climate change for over 10 years because I realize the threat that it is. Everyone in the United States is involved in an economy that is fueled by fossil fuels. We need to make a change.

KARL: OK but you also have a record, everybody has a record that is going to be looked at, you’re going to run on, and I understand you sold your investments off in those fossil fuel companies.

But the New York Times reported that the coal-related projects your firm bankrolled will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years if not decades to come. Are Democrats really going to rally behind somebody who’s work continues to pollute the environment, even if you’re no longer making money from those investments?

What you put into effect continues to contribute to climate change.

STEYER: Jon, when we – climate change is absolutely critical, it’s an emergency. The United States needs to change as a society and we need to do a gigantic across-the-board investment to change how this society runs, what actually powers this society.

We need to actually put this into the government. What I did 10 years ago or 12 years ago, I changed because I realize that in fact this needs – we need to have a completely different attitude.

I have one, the country has to come along. I’ve been pushing for 10 years, directly against those companies and I’ve been beating them. That is exactly what we need to do, make a change, address those companies that dominate our politics, that don't let us do any of the things we need to do, and win, and that's what I have been doing from the outside for 10 years successfully.

KARL: All right, Tom Steyer, thank you for joining us on This Week. We look forward to seeing you out on the campaign trail.

STEYER: Jon, nice to see you.

KARL: Appreciate it. The roundtable’s up next. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: Back now with the Roundtable -- Chris Christie, ABC News contributor, former Republican governor of New Jersey; Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff and former Democratic mayor of Chicago, and most importantly now an ABC News contributor; Rachael Bade, congressional reporter for The Washington Post; and Alexi McCammond in her debut appearance here on This Week, national political reporter with Axios.

So, Governor Christie, we had another departure. The labor secretary is now gone. I've got a list now of the acting cabinet officials in this government, and it is a long list. I think we can put it up on the screen.

You've got -- and this is just cabinet-level officials. Obviously, there's a lot of actings in other places in this government. What's going on?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It all goes back to the transition and how poorly the transition was run. These people were not vetted appropriately and the president wound up watching them in action. They were vetted while they were doing the jobs and they wound up being deficient, many of them.

KARL: Because he's broken a record now. We’ve never seen so many --

CHRISTIE: I understand. I read about it. And -- but I have been saying two-and-a-half years now this was predictable. If you don't run a professional transition you wind up with people who are not up to the job. When you wind up with people who are not up to the job, you have to get rid of them when you see them not being able to do the job.

So, you know, this all goes back to that and that issue. And I think there's no way, and the president himself has said, I think in his interview with George, about what his biggest mistake was, he said was personnel in the first part of his presidency. And I think that's a perfect example of it.

RAHM EMANUEL, FORMER CHICAGO MAYOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's actually a layer deeper. Longest period of time without a secretary of defense, and now we have a confrontation both with North Korea and Iran, we have quote/unquote, a crisis at the border, no homeland security. We have climate change events, like what's going on in New Orleans, you don't have anybody running FEMA.

And in fact it's not just that they're acting, we have major crises, you have people that not in charge, and then also the problem, and I think this is why it's actually going to be bipartisan, because if you don't get confirmation the ability of members of the House and Senate to actually have influence and ability to hold you accountable is diminished, and then members of Congress of both parties -- remember your loyalty is more to what side of Pennsylvania Avenue you are than anything else -- they're going to react to that.

But you actually have to think of this in the sense of the impact on policy. We have a situation right now with Iran, and it's the longest period of time in American history without a secretary of defense. Forget North Carolina -- or rather North Korea, for one second -- we have a quote/unquote a border crisis.

KARL: We're on our second acting secretary of defense.

EMANUEL: No ICE, no Homeland Security, (inaudible) you have obviously New Orleans and everything like that, and you have no FEMA director, just to take those crises with people who are actually not qualified to be in the positions that they're running.

CHRISTIE: Wait a second, Jon, the only thing I'd say about that is, you can't extrapolate because they're acting. The only thing I'd say about that is just because they're acting doesn't mean they're not qualified. And in fact, I would argue -- wait a second, some of the people they have now are more...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: But that's a whole other thing. Congress and the Senate, the Republican Senate should push to have confirmation hearings, but it doesn't mean because someone is an acting -- you know, in at lot of these instances they're more qualified than the people they replaced.

EMANUEL: That is just not true.

KARL: So, Republicans, what are you hearing?

RACHAEL BADE, WASHINGTON POST CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Oh, yeah, Senate Republicans, I mean, they have been pushing the White House on this for a while, but it doesn't matter. I mean, Trump has said I like acting positions because I can move quickly. And he clearly has no problem just putting people in for temporary positions. So, Republicans concerns, it’s not just Democrats. It’s bipartisan. This is the Senate. This is what they're supposed to do. They’re supposed to be confirming these positions. But it doesn't matter to Trump.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: And I don't think those two points can be overstated enough, both the diminished role that Congress faces because these folks are not confirmed by the Senate and the vetting mess. Jonathan Swan, my colleague is the one who reported on these vetting docs and these emails that were leaked from folks going through this Trump transition and how they were basically just throwing shots in the dark trying to figure out whether or not these people were qualified.

And as you said, Governor Christie, in some ways they are going through the vetting process while they're on the job, and we're seeing the sort of fallout from that, as Alexander Acosta is just the latest high profile cabinet member, or person in Trump world to leave. And I think the bottom line is that if you get a job in Trump world, you should expect not to keep that job unless you're his family member.

EMANUEL: I would also probably not put it on my resume because it’s not a resume experience.

KARL: All right. All right. I -- I -- I want to move to -- to the -- one of the other major stories this week, which is Nancy Pelosi versus the base. Or, you know, the -- the -- the progressives, the squad. You actually had this amazing situation, I believe, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a freshman member of Congress, from Queens and the Bronx actually suggest that Nancy Pelosi -- well, let me read her quote and you can tell me what it suggests. Here it goes.

“It got to the point where it was just outright disrespectful, the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

She’s directly talking about what Pelosi said about the squad. So you’ve been reporting on this. You --

BADE: Yes. Yeah, it's like high school. It's like Mean Girls. I mean, the -- the Democratic party on the Hill right now is a total mess in terms of infighting. I mean, this all started a weekend ago when Pelosi made this sort of snide comment about AOC and these three other liberal freshman, saying they have no power in the House. And that's not -- it was not the first time she's done that. She's done that multiple times in recent weeks. I sought out AOC on the Hill and I was like, what is up with this, I mean, what is your relationship like with Pelosi? Turns out they don’t have one, they haven't spoken since February.

And she took that shot at Pelosi, saying she's undermining women of color. But then, the CBC, the Congressional Black Caucus was furious that she would even suggest that, because they’re close to Pelosi and they say back off. And yesterday we saw another member of the squad, who is a black lawmaker, first female black lawmaker from her district, Ayanna Pressley. She said -- we don’t need any more black faces that don’t want to be black voices -- at a rally, a progressive rally.

So it is -- it is incredibly ugly and it shows both the generational and political divide in the party but I also think -- last point here -- is that it shows that the squad and these new progressives, they don't know how Washington works. This is not going to help them in terms of, you know of accusing Speaker Pelosi of having some sort of racial basis. This is not going to help them try to cajole her to their side and try to move policy left. It’s just going to backfire and it is backfiring.

MCCAMMOND: And that’s what’s interesting in Speaker Pelosi's comments, right? In Washington, success is based on legislative wins. And her comments about AOC, not matter how they’re being taken by the folks she was talking about or others online, Pelosi was talking about it from a purely legislative standpoint, that they had four votes and no one followed them and that’s how she’s viewing the situation. It is an objective fact that she singled out four women of color, yes. I don’t know that that necessarily means she’s criticizing them for their race or their gender, but she --

KARL: Well, she’s not. If she was (ph) --

MCCAMMOND: Yes.

KARL: -- Nancy Pelosi’s criticizing them because of their race?

MCCAMMOND: Right. No, no, no. Exactly.

BADE: No, but she is making --

MCCAMMOND: But it is an objective fact --

BADE: She has made a number of comments about these four women.

MCCAMMOND: Right.

BADE: And the reason she's doing it is because she's worried and her majority. These women, AOC, the squad, they have become, you know, top targets for Republicans who are saying, oh, all these moderate Democrats from Trump districts, you're just like AOC. And so Pelosi has been knocking them a little bit because she doesn't want them to be seen -- or Democrats from moderate districts to be tied to AOC. But these women are getting frustrated and they don’t know what to do about it.

CHRISTIE: Jon, you got to love -- you got to love AOC. You really do. Because she's the only person in Washington --

KARL: Chris Christie’s got to love it.

CHRISTIE: You know -- but the only person in Washington who can bring Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi together. You know, so you have Donald Trump on the lawn of the White House defending Nancy Pelosi and saying, you know, I don’t --

KARL: For very different reasons.

CHRISTIE: Well I understand -- but my point is that -- that this the optics it's creates. I’m not saying it’s real. It's the optics it creates. And what AOC and these folks who are complete political amateurs and show themselves every day to be political amateurs, what they’re doing is creating unrest in their own caucus and creating more opportunities for a president who seizes on those opportunities. And so I say let’s AOC -- let’s have her on the show every week, make her a part of the panel, keep her talking. It’s great news for Republicans.

KARL: All right. Mayor, nobody knows Nancy Pelosi at this table better than you. How’s this playing?

EMANUEL: Well first of all, I mean, a couple of things I would say on this basis. For Nancy inside the caucus, fabulous. OK? Because you have -- majoritys built in general elections, not in primaries. And in the last cycle, Nancy was seeing -- the Republicans said they were going to run (ph) Nancy Pelosi in these districts and she would be a liability for these candidates. That's not the case anymore. Second is I do want to say one thing, is -- and this is very, very important -- is that the quote/unquote four members of Congress have to make a decision -- and the net routes (ph) where the comment was made by Pressley. Do you want to beat Donald Trump or do you want to beat the moderates in the Democratic Party? Because everybody’s focus needs to be on one thing in the next 18 months –

(CROSS TALK)

KARL: Now I’ll tell you because – yes.

EMANUEL: Number -- number two, I want to say one other thing. You made a comment, and this is a myth I think that exists --

KARL: OK.

EMANUEL: That the base of the party is this voice. And what I would say in politics, if I run, is sound not always equals fury. And in fact is there’s a big moderate wing of the party, not being spoken to even in the presidential. The presidential right now looks like 3rd grade soccer, everybody’s running to one ball. And somebody both in the presidential and also –

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: It looks like they’re running at the same ball that AOC is –

EMANUEL: I agree with you. And the fact is there is this – listen, 35 percent of Democratic primary voters self-describe themselves as moderates, another 20 percent describe themselves as conservative. That is – that is unscratched real estate and everybody’s going to one side.

And I would just say to you, that’s both on the presidential. And the congressional piece of this is the fact is there is a big moderate wing and candidates in marginal districts should not be in a position to go home every weekend where they’re doing town halls, et cetera, and answer for a colleague from another part of the country. They have their agenda they have to run on. And that -- and what they’ve done for their district. And it is a liability and we -- what we got to have to focus on is Donald Trump and not each other.

CHRISTIE: And Jon --

EMANUEL: -- more about the American people and less about our party differences.

CHRISTIE: He’s -- he's got it exactly right and this is why the president is optimistic right now, because what you see -- what we saw in those last debates and what I anticipate we’re going to see in Detroit is more hands raised for Medicare for All, more hands raised for Green New Deal, more hands raised for things that are in the far, far left. And what’s going to happen is those people who describe themselves as moderates and conservatives in the Democratic party, they’re going to wind up either staying home or voting for Donald Trump.

MCCAMMOND: Yes, we have a new poll in Axios today that I think is fascinating, and it’s with I think the most consequential swing voters for Democrats. It’s white folks who have two years or less of college, they went to Trump in droves. And they -- 74 percent of these folks we -- not polled, but we (inaudible) this poll, said they recognize AOC. Only 22 percent said they have a favorable view of her. That presents a clear problem to Democrats not just for the presidential but for hoping to keep onto the House and make gains in the Senate when swing voters are telling them we know and extremely dislike socialism and we don’t want a party that stands for that.

So I think whether we're talking about the presidential candidates or folks running in these red to blue districts, we need to think about whether and how they're talking about this idea of socialism that I think is getting baked into voters’ minds, both from the right and the left.

EMANUEL: Jon, here's the thing, I mean, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida. Everything we do as a party has to be looking right at those four states and then the voters. Now here's what I would say one of the biggest things. We’re talking about working class, et cetera voters and the candidates. There are two events that were very, very important that I think matter to politics going forward. One is the way the president dissed our national -- our soccer team. Then you have this Epstein situation, a cultural. And you have two men that basically look like they dissed and dismissed a lot of women.

And I would just say to you, the biggest group of voters that broke from Trump between 2016 and 2018 were women voters. And if they ignore it like we ignored working voters, hear them roar come 2020.

CHRISTIE: Let me say one other thing, Jon, anecdotally, that I was driving yesterday from the Jersey Shore to get on the train to come down here. New Jersey a very reliably blue state and I think will go for whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2020.

KARL: It’s a pretty safe bet.

CHRISTIE: Huge -- huge flag on a big flag pole on Route 34 in New Jersey. Underneath the American flag said socialism with the international “no” sign over it. Now, if that kind of flag’s flying in New Jersey -- those states, this is a big problem. And that's why I think you should have AOC as a co-host here as a Republican, because that's a good thing for Republicans.

EMANUEL: If he -- if he read that sign, it means he was keeping the speed limit. That’s --

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: Unusual for me, Rahm, but yes, it happened to be that time.

(CROSSTALK)

EMANUEL: -- speed limit.

KARL: There was also some drama on the other side. Paul Ryan -- you remember him?

MCCALLEN: Ugh.

BADE: I’ve known him for years, yes.

KARL: He -- he came out with an interesting quote on -- on President Trump, saying, those of us around him really helped stop him from making bad decisions all the time. We helped him make such -- make better decisions, which were contrary to the kind of -- what his knee-jerk reaction was. First of all -- and -- and he went on to really criticize Trump in a way that frankly, we didn’t hear when he was Speaker of the House.

BADE: Yes, exactly. I mean, I covered him for several years when he was Speaker and we always heard from his top allies and his aides how frustrated he was with the president. I mean, these are very different type of Republicans. I mean, Paul Ryan sort of paints himself to be this sort of morally convicted conservative. We got to help the poor, we got to stay traditional to, you know, supply side economics, no tariffs. And Trump is super divisive. He hated that rhetoric, he didn’t like the things Trump said or the policies he embraced.

But instead of criticizing him, which a lot of traditionals -- traditional Republicans, especially like Never Trump types, wanted Ryan to do, he did this thing where he tried to be friends with Trump to try to persuade him to his side. I mean, people on The Hill called it his, quote, pact with the devil, where he was trying to get policies he wanted passed done by working with Trump, instead of criticizing him, such as tax reform.

But, you know, a lot of people thought after he announced his retirement, he would start pushing back on Trump more in public, and he never did. And so now I think you're finally seeing him be honest about how he feels, and he's never been a...

KARL: But what did he stop? What did he stop?

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAMMOND: In some ways it's laughable. You said this earlier, Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. We have seen Republicans have fall in line since President Trump was elected and sort of coalesce around him.

Sure, maybe there were things he's wanted to do in a more extreme way, or that he wanted to do in general that he didn't get done, but we've basically seen President Trump move forward on a lot of the most bombastic and sort of extreme things that he's wanted to do that I'm still not really sure what Paul Ryan feels that he stopped.

CHRISTIE: Let me say this, the ridiculous part of that quote from Paul Ryan is, Paul Ryan was the architect of attacking Obamacare as the first thing that Donald Trump did out of the box. That was a defining moment for the Trump presidency in that first six months in a bad way. That was not what the president wanted to do. I know that for a fact from talking to the president.

KARL: You're saying Ryan was part of the problem.

CHRISTIE: Well, let me tell you something, Ryan is now trying to make himself look like, oh, I was the guy who was controlling everything. He was one of the propeller heads who got this president to go after Obamacare as the first thing out of the box. It was a monumental legislative failure off the box and wasted a ton of political capital the president could have spent on tax cuts and infrastructure rather than on a divisive issue like that.

EMANUEL: Let me pick up -- I wasn't going to do this -- Chris is right. It pains me.

KARL: You guys are agreeing way too much.

CHRISTIE: Summertime, and the living is easy, Jon.

EMANUEL: Here's the tactical, had the president come out with infrastructure, it would have divided Democrats. He came out with healthcare on Obamacare repeal and it united us at a very point. It would not only divided Democrats, it would have divided us from our base about working with him. And it was a very major strategic mistake and it took a lot of oxygen, a lot of political capital.

But I also take note on all this, Rex Tillerson walks out of the White House, calls a guy a moron.

The ambassador from the UK...

KARL: I think he was still in the administration when he said that, by the way.

EMANUEL: It was capital M when he walked out.

The ambassador of England, same observation. Paul Ryan, basically the same observation. Anybody who works with this guy...

BADE: John Kelly had said similar things.

EMANUEL: That's right, anybody that works with this guy up close says, you have the most incompetent basically moron in the Oval Office. That is their conclusion. And at some point, the emperor wears no clothes and it's going to become obvious.

KARL: It's a lot of friendly fire, governor.

CHRISTIE: No, it's not really.

I mean, listen, I told the president from the beginning that Paul Ryan was not someone as the speaker that he could trust and trust his judgment. There's no -- listen, Paul's a very good policy guy.

KARL: Does Paul know that?

CHRISTIE: He's not very good politically. And we’ve proven that --

MCCAMMOND: How did the president respond to that?

CHRISTIE: The president responded to that by listening to Reince Priebus and trusting Paul Ryan on that issue...

EMANUEL: Jon, here is the thing that is happened in megapolitics, you have the president and Ryan, you have Nancy Pelosi and AOC, and time period where Ross Perot died, and it was the first moment of the break-up of the parties, this is the breakup of the traditional parties as we see them.

KARL: All right, we will see. That is all the time we have, thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. And have a great day.