'This Week' Transcript 8-14-22: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre & Gov. Larry Hogan
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, August 14.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, August 14, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR (voiceover): Unprecedented.
MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant.
KARL: The FBI's Mar-a-Lago search warrant unsealed, revealing explosive new details, former President Trump at the center of a criminal investigation, alleging mishandling some of America’s most sensitive intelligence.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC): Nobody's above the law. But the law needs to be above politics.
KARL: This morning the latest on the legal jeopardy, the national security concerns, the new warning from the FBI on increasing threats and the political fire storm. With Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams, Former DHS Counterterrorism Chief Elizabeth Neumann, plus Maryland’s GOP Governor Larry hogan.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY): It is the boldest climate package in U.S. history.
KARL: The House sends the landmark climate and tax bill to President Biden’s desk, a major win for the White House as gas prices drop and inflation worries ease.
Karine Jean-Pierre joins us right here on set, her first “Sunday Show” interview as White House Press Secretary, a "This Week" exclusive.
IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDNET: The situation here is only getting worse.
KARL: Chief Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell was in Afghanistan when the Taliban fled in 2001 and when they returned to power last year, now he's back with new reflections from Kabul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here, now, co-anchor Jonathan Karl.
KARL (on camera): Good morning and welcome to "This Week."
As we come on the air this morning, new details are emerging about the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, ABC News has confirmed "The New York Times" report that when a small team of federal investigators visited Donald Trump's Palm Beach home in June, a lawyer for the former president signed a declaration claiming that Donald Trump had turned over all items marked classified. That turned out to be far frm the truth.
In executing the search warrant Monday, the FBI seized a treasure trove of government documents allegedly taken from the White House; 27 boxes of material, including 11 sets of classified documents, 4 of them marked "top secret." And one at an even higher classification, TS/SCI, material that would be so damaging if it were revealed, it is only to be seen by select individuals in a secure location.
ABC News has also learned the FBI seized surveillance video, including footage of the areas around where the documents were stored. It all points to a gravely serious investigation centered on the former president.
For the most part, Republicans in Congress reacted to the news of the FBI search by rallying to Donald Trump's defense and attacking the FBI. A group of House Republicans met with him the following day, one of them posting this photo and declaring House conservatives are standing by Donald Trump.
Another House Republican declared “we must destroy the FBI,” Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader and quite possibly the next Speaker of the House, denounce what he called the, quote, weaponized politicization of the DOJ and he threatened the attorney general that Republicans will investigate him if they win the House.
In Cincinnati on Thursday, a reminder that rhetoric can have consequences, an armed man wearing body armor attempted to break into the FBI field office, dying in a shootout with federal agents. And now the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are issuing a joint bulletin to local law enforcement warning of a unprecedented numbers of threats again the FBI, adding, quote, statements by public officials which incite violence could escalate the threat environment.
The Mar-a-Lago search warrant cited three possible broken laws, including the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice, Republicans have to now decide how far to take their defense of the former president and their attacks on federal law enforcement.
We're going to cover all the angles this morning. Republican Governor Larry Hogan and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre are here and standing by, but we begin with ABC’s Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams and ABC National Security Analyst and former DHS Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Neumann.
Dan, let me start with you. We just don't know if the Justice Department has decided to pursue criminal charges despite this warrant, but given what you have seen, what you read in that warrant, what we know about the search, how likely is it that this would end with no criminal charges against Trump or anybody else in his inner circle?
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Look, that is still certainly possible. The first question becomes, what were they doing there? Was the number one concern pursuing potential criminal charges or was the number one concern getting the stuff back?
And I think when you're talking about evaluating this through a legal prism, the fundamental question is going to be intentionality. How much do they believe that they did this on purpose? Were they intentionally ignoring subpoenas? Were they literally destroying documents or mutilating, as one of the statute refers to? Were they concealing?
Those are going to be the sorts of legal questions that are going to have to be evaluated because when you’re talking about potentially indicting the former President of the United States, you don't just look at the words of the statute, you also have to be thinking about the big picture implications. And so I believe for them to indict the former president, they are going to have to believe that this has been ongoing, intentional conduct to flaunt (ph) the law.
KARL: The warrant cited three statutes, three laws, how serious are these crimes if he is found to have broken any of those three laws?
ABRAMS: Oh, they're very serious. And the one that’s being talked about most is this Espionage Act because it has the word "espionage" in it. But the truth is, that when it comes to potential criminal sentences the obstruction of justice statute is the one with the most potential prison time, there you're talking about up to 20 years behind bars.
So these are not sort of minor crimes we're talking about here, we're talking about the potential for serious felonies with regard to all three of the crimes being investigated.
KARL: And let me quickly ask you to clarify, we've heard from Trump's people that he declassified everything before he left office, there’s no evidence that that’s true, but quickly, would that even matter?
ABRAMS: Look, it matters in the court of public opinion, right, in terms of how bad it is that he took these documents but as a strictly legal matter there's an argument to be made that all three of the statutes they're investigating wouldn't require that the documents be classified. But again, this goes to the intentionality conduct. It goes back to the question of, how bad was it? Was it on purpose? And I think there it is kind of relevant in assessing the conduct. But strictly from a legal perspective, that’s not going to make or break.
KARL: And Elizabeth, let's turn to the gunman who attacked the FBI field office in Cincinnati. What do we know about him?
ELIZABETH NEUMANN, FORMER DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: Well, the investigation is still under way but we know he's 42 years old. We hear from “The Washington Post” that he is a former navy veteran, as well as a member of the Florida National Guard, and we know that the indications are that he may have had ties to Proud Boys and other extremist movements and the FBI was interested in him. They had done several inquiries into him, no specific credible threat, but they attempted to talk to him multiple times and were not able to.
KARL: And he had an account on Donald Trump's social media platform Truth Social, which was quite active, or at least an account with his name that was quite active before the attack in Cincinnati. The last posting on that account is a haunting one, it was while the attack was under way, it says, “If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the FBI.”
NEUMANN: That's right, and look, we know that there are a variety of underlining psycho/social that leads to somebody to cross that threshold into violence, but there is no doubt that what happened at Mar-a-Lago this week and really not the action itself of a search warrant being executed, but the way Trump framed it, the way Republican officials framed it, that was a trigger for him. That's what caused him, it appears based on these post --
KARL: Like -- so it’s a direct -- it’s the attack on the FBI by Trump's allies, it’s concern about that attack that led him to, in turn, go after the field office?
NEUMANN: Exactly, exactly.
KARL: And there's been some suggestion that he was actually there on January 6th --
NEUMANN: That --
KARL: -- with the rioters --
NEUMANN: That’s what --
KARL: -- at the Capitol January 6th, 2021. Is that right?
NEUMANN: That's right. We see in his social media feeds, claiming that he was there and we have examined some photographs, it does appear that he was there on January 6th.
KARL: His -- talk to me more about what we’ve seen in his social media postings and what we’ve seen on Truth Social generally -- even over the weekend, we saw trending topics, #FBIcorruption, defundthefbi. He’s not alone. I mean, there are a lot of people like him out there.
NEUMANN: That’s right. There have been multiple polls that have indicated that about a third of adult Americans believe that political violence may be necessary from time to time. That's a stunning number of people that believe that somehow violence is a way in which to achieve their political aims. We're in middle of an eight-year uptick of domestic terrorism activity. It is really stunning to me that in the midst of that environment, we have Republican officials that seemed to have not learned the lesson from the last six years that their rhetoric can incite violence. This is a time for being calm and not speculating and certainly not providing rhetoric that suggests that civil war or taking up arms is necessary.
KARL: Well, we'll see if there's a down tick in that rhetoric following what happened in Cincinnati.
Elizabeth Neumann, Dan Abrams, thank you both very much.
Donald Trump’s allies weren’t alone in raising concerns about the FBI’s execution of that search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who has long been one of Trump’s toughest critics within the party also expressed concerns that the action could divide the country.
Governor Hogan joins us now here in the studio.
Governor, let me ask you, you -- you are no friend of Donald Trump. That’s why when I saw your statement it really stood out. This is immediately following the search. You called for unprecedented transparency and then you said that if the administration could not provide overwhelming evidence as a result of all this, quote, only -- it would only undermine faith in democracy and the rule of law.
So, now, a few days later, we’ve seen the warrant’s been unsealed, Garland has spoken to this. Is that enough?
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: Well, those are -- look, I -- I still believe that transparency was -- was and is critically important. And I was not one of the people that was just reacting, you know, just defending Donald Trump, but I understood that without anyone understanding what this was about, that it was going to and could lead to even further division and angry rhetoric from both sides.
And so I was happy that they did come out and unseal the -- the documents for -- on the search. And I think it was a step in the right direction, but I think we still have a lot of unanswered questions and we’re going to continue until people understand more.
You know, there are -- the one side is going to say that this is just politically motivated and weaponization of the Justice Department, you know, but it’s also very serious charges about a very serious crime. Not charges, but, you know, that they’re investigating and they have probable cause to -- to come after him for -- for -- for things that could be really important.
KARL: Yes, when -- when you look at that list of items taken, and, again, it’s a general list, first of all, it’s -- so much of it’s classified, but -- but, you know, 27 boxes of material, after what -- what they had already turned over, 11 sets of classified documents, including this SCI -- TS/SCI material, it does look serious.
HOGAN: Well, I mean, any time you are being investigated for espionage and obstruction of justice, that’s -- I don’t -- that’s very serious. I mean --
KARL: Especially if you happen to be a former president.
KARL: I mean, it is unprecedented. How could they do this? I mean, this is --
HOGAN: It’s absolutely unprecedented.
KARL: Are you -- how concerned are you about the national security implications of -- of material at that high level of classification being at a -- basically a club -- a club in Florida?
HOGAN: It’s obviously a serious concern. And I think that’s what we have to find out more information about. What -- what really -- what are the documents and what are the implications from a national security standpoint?
I -- you know the -- on the one side, you could say, well, if the Justice Department, the FBI and the federal judge believe that they should do it, then it must be pretty serious. On the other hand, with -- in the absence of, you know, more transparency, people are going to continue to jump to conclusions.
KARL: And if you look at the way so many Republicans are responding, particularly House Republicans, I mean, you had -- you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene is now selling merchandise saying defend the -- defund --
KARL: I'm sorry, defund the FBI.
Gosar, with the, we must destroy the FBI, we must save America.
And even Rick Scott, I mean, this is a member of the Republican leadership in the House, suggesting this is the Gestapo at work.
HOGAN: It’s very concerning to me. It’s outrageous rhetoric.
KARL: Your father was an FBI agent.
HOGAN: Yes, my father, my uncle, two of my cousins were FBI agents. And I work with them on an ongoing basis. State police work with them every single day. These are dedicated law enforcement officers.
And, you know, it reminds me of one -- first, we had the left talking about defunding the police and attacking police officers, and now we have the right saying defund these federal law enforcement officers. And it’s absurd. And, you know, and it’s dangerous because we saw the one incident already, but there are threats all over the place.
And losing faith in our -- in our federal law enforcement officers and our justice system and our, you know, is a -- is a really serious problem for the county.
KARL: And what about Kevin McCarthy. I mean, he may be the next speaker of the House. I mean to see him come out and he’s -- and actually we’ve been trying to get a response to him and we -- we haven’t gotten any, to, you know, now that the warrant’s been unsealed. But – but him talking about the weaponized politicization of the FBI. I mean of the DOJ.
HOGAN: Well, again, it’s kind of jumping to conclusions without any information, which I think was wrong. And I – that’s why I was pushing for transparency. If, in fact, they do not have a serious case on serious, you know, federal law violations and potential felonies, then it would be – certainly people will make the argument that they were, you know, it was – it was all political. Why didn’t you do this for Hillary Clinton when she had confidential documents? You know, why aren’t people being treated fairly?
But, you know, this week’s news is not going to be the same as next months or next years.
HOGAN: There’s a lot more that has to come out. I would say, you know, this week it was actually a win for Donald Trump. It seemed to motivate his base and people were rushing to his defense and feeling as if he was being picked upon and martyred. But I don’t think, you know, we’ve seen the end of the story yet.
KARL: Yes, what do you make of that. We have – we saw the House Republicans who visited him the day after the search, you know, posting a photo, you know, there, you know, the thumbs up. We’re just getting –
HOGAN: I'm not sure history’s going to remember all of them fondly.
KARL: And – and they’re – you have, in one of them, in that picture, the guy on the right, Troy Nells (ph), said that they’re – they should clear the field. Donald Trump’s the guy. He should be the nominee in 2024.
HOGAN: Well, look, I think no man is above the law, but every – everybody’s innocent until proven guilty. So, we just have to see where this investigation leads.
KARL: And let me ask you quickly, because you were just in Iowa, you were at the Iowa State Fair, I want to ask you about the current president. You’ve been – you’ve been quite critical. You called him a failed president. And you’ve been critical of his handling of the economy.
We’ve seen some good economic news over the past week or so. Inflation seems to be waning, or at least a half in – in inflation. Gas prices below $4 a gallon. He’s had a big legislative win. Do you see things turning around for Biden?
HOGAN: Well, I – you know, look, I think the – Biden and the Democrats have a monopoly. They’re in – they’re in charge of everything now. They have the House, the Senate and the White House, and so –
KARL: A very narrow majority.
HOGAN: Yes, so whatever happens, you know, they are going to either get credit or – or get blamed. And I think it should be a pretty good year for Republicans unless we blow it.
KARL: But it’s hard to call him a failed president when you look at his legislative achievements. I mean you may disagree with the bills, but he’s –
HOGAN: He’s gotten some things done and he can point to that. We’ve got a couple of things done. But whether they’re actually good bills or not and whether the Inflation Reduction Act actually, you know, reduces or increases is what we’re going to have to find out.
KARL: Yes. OK, so you – as I said, you were at the Iowa State Fair. You running for president?
HOGAN: Well, I know one thing, I was eating pork chops and fried food and it was a great time. I got a chance to talk with voters.
HOGAN: But I'm going to finish my term as governor of Maryland till next January and see – you know, I'm out helping people in this November election all around the country. I’ve been to 10 or 12 states in the past few weeks. And I'm – it’s really great to be out there talking to people.
KARL: Doesn’t sound like a typical schedule for a governor in Maryland unless he’s got some other plans.
HOGAN: Well, I definitely am going to be a voice and I'm – I'm going to try to do what I can to get my party back on track because I want to win elections instead of lose elections.
KARL: Would you run as an independent?
HOGAN: That’s not something I’ve ever considered, no. But I can – I can tell you, I understand why all the people are talking about that because they’re frustrated with both parties and a majority of people are really kind of fed up with Democrats and Republican and all this angry rhetoric and toxic, divisive politics.
KARL: So, it doesn’t sound like you’re ruling it out. You just haven’t thought about it.
HOGAN: No, I – I haven’t given any thought to that.
KARL: OK, Governor Hogan, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
HOGAN: Thank you.
KARL: Coming up, President Biden is celebrating the passages of Democrats’ landmark climate, healthcare and tax bill. The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, joins us exclusively on set for her first Sunday show interview.
We’re back in just 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): How long we have waited for this day to come. How long we have fought for it, to lower healthcare costs, to reduce the deficit and pay for it, to lower inflation, to save the planet.
PELOSI: And every single Republican in the House and in the Senate voted against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi after House Democrats passed their sweeping climate and healthcare bill Friday following 18 months of tense negotiations.
Here now to discuss that and more, in her first Sunday show interview as White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.
Karine, I've had the privilege of having the first interviews with several White House press secretaries...
KARL: ... Democrat and Republican. It's a privilege to have you here.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you so much, Jon, for having me.
KARL: Let me start with the Mar-a-Lago search, which I know you can't talk about the investigation. But how concerned is President Biden about the national security implications of such highly classified materials being down there?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, as you just stated, Jon, I cannot speak to that. It would be inappropriate to me to speak on that because the president has been very clear an unequivocal about this, is that, when it comes to law enforcement matters, investigation, the Department of Justice has complete, complete independence. And he has said that during his campaign; he has said that as president. We do not interfere. We do not get briefed. We do not get involved.
KARL: So I understand you can't talk about the investigation, but I'm asking you about the national security implications. As you know, top Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are calling on the Biden administration to do an assessment of -- of any national security challenges posed by this. Is the president concerned...
KARL: ... of the...
JEAN-PIERRE: I cannot -- I cannot, absolutely cannot...
KARL: You can't even talk...
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I cannot comment on this. It is an investigation that is currently happening. I hear your question.
JEAN-PIERRE: But it would be inappropriate for me as the press secretary to comment on this. It would be inappropriate for any of us, including the president or anyone in the administration, to comment on this. This is a law enforcement matter. And the Department of Justice is going to move forward as they see fit.
KARL: And -- and it's true that Biden, Joe Biden as a candidate, was consistent on this. As president he's always said independent Justice department, no politicization. But let me play something to you one of the top Republicans in the House had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK, (R) NEW YORK: President Donald Trump is Joe Biden's most likeliest political opponent in 2024. And this is less than 100 days from critical midterm elections. The FBI raid of President Trump is a complete abuse and over-reach of its authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: So he ran on not politicizing the DOJ. He has said that as president. But how concerned is he that -- to see this investigation play out in the middle of a campaign, at least raising the appearance of a politicized Department of Justice?
JEAN-PIERRE: So just to comment on what I just heard, this is not true. This is not something -- let me just step back even further. When the president, on January 7th, in 2021, when the president nominated Merrick Garland, he was very clear about this. He said that he believes in the rule of law. Merrick Garland would not be the president's lawyer; he would not be the vice president's lawyer; this is about the American people and doing what is right for the American people. The Department of Justice, when it comes to law enforcement, is independent. This is what we believe, and this is what the president has said. This is not about politicizing anything. That is not true at all. And I would remind our -- our folks on the other side that the FBI director was appointed by the president's predecessor.
JEAN-PIERRE: I would remind the folks on the other side that when Merrick Garland was indeed confirmed, it was a bipartisan fashion. So, again, this is not what this is about. We do not interfere. We do not get briefed. The Department of Justice, again, when it comes to law enforcement matters, it is independent, complete independence. And I'm just not going to comment on that. None of us will, because we're going to let Merrick Garland speak for himself and his department.
KARL: And even to this point, President Biden has not been briefed about any of this?
JEAN-PIERRE: Not been briefed. We have not interfered.
KARL: Not discussed it at all?
JEAN-PIERRE: Not discussed. We have...
KARL: No any of that stuff? Interesting.
JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to tell you, Jonathan, we have learned about all of this the same way the American people have learned about this, through public reports, through you -- your reporting and every -- every other reporter who has talked about this. That's how we have learned about -- about what is happening.
KARL: Let -- let me turn to the domestic agenda. So we saw our -- our poll that came out, ABC News/Ipsos, that came out last Sunday, showed that 37 percent of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of -- of the economy. Seventy percent say they felt the economy was getting worse.
Now, we have since learned that inflation actually abated in -- in July. But why is it that, if things are getting better, so many Americans are unhappy with President Biden's handling of it?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, we’ll say this, we have said this before, it’s like we get it, we understand what the American people are feeling at this time. This is a number one priority, inflation has been a number one priority for this president. Lowering costs has been a number one priority for this president.
If you look at everyday this summer we saw gas prices go down by more than a $1, saving Americans about -- a little bit more than 100 bucks a month, that matters, and that is because partly of the work that this president has done.
You just mentioned how inflation abated. You look at the CPI data last month in July, zero percent of inflation. And so that is the work that we will continue to do, and if you look at -- I know we're about to talk about what Congress did -- what Democrats in Congress did with this Inflation Reduction Act, the work of this president, this president -- when he announced back in 2019 he wanted to make sure that he had -- led with this conviction on what is needed for the American people, making sure that we build this economy from the bottom up and the middle out, do not leave anyone behind.
And you see that anti-inflation bill -- you see that it's going to lower costs for Americans, prescription drugs, energy costs, and also let’s not forget those 13 million Americans on the ACA, Affordable Care Act, who are now going to continue to see their premiums go down, that is important.
KARL: But let me ask you, it's called the Inflation Reduction Act but the Congressional Budget Act -- Office, which is nonpartisan, said that there would be a negligible impact on inflation this year and barely impact inflation at all next year. I mean, isn't it almost Orwellian -- how can you call it Inflation Reduction Act --
KARL: -- when the nonpartisan experts say it’s not going to --
JEAN-PIERRE: So I appreciate that --
JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate the question. We've actually addressed this, the CBO. It was the top line number, there's more in there that shows that it will have the money from -- remember how we're doing this, too, it's making sure that billionaires in corporate America are paying their fair share, making sure that it’s -- that the tax code is a little bit more fair, and so when you do that, when you put it in its totality, you will see that it will -- it will bring down -- lower the deficit, which will help fight inflation.
Look, here’s the thing. We have 126 economists, both Republicans, both Democrats who have said it's going to fight inflation. We have five former Secretaries --
KARL: So you disagree --
KARL: -- assessment of --
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, there’s more to it. It’s just -- it was -- the way that Republicans did was so that it could make an argument that is false. It is going to fight inflation. It has -- we -- it has been proven, it has been said by economists across the board on the Republican side and the Democrat -- on the Democrat side.
KARL: So before you go, you have seen a lot of Democrats raise -- or at least some Democrats in elected office say that Joe Biden shouldn't run for re-election. That it's time for younger, newer leadership. I'm not going to ask you if he’s going to run because he’s already said that he’s going to run --
JEAN-PIERRE: He intends to run. He intends to run.
KARL: -- let me ask you -- this was a Maureen Dowd column last Sunday where she said that he shouldn't run but made this point, I thought this was interesting, usually being a lame-duck weakens you but in Biden’s case it could strengthen him. We live in a Washington where people too often put power over principle. So many Republicans have behaved grotesquely out of a fear Trump will turn on them. So the act of leaving could elevate Biden, freeing him from typical re-election pressures, so his team could do what they really thought was right rather than what was politically expedient.
So let me just ask you --
KARL: -- very quickly -- we really are out of time, but --
KARL: -- is it possible that if he decides not to run that as a lame-duck president, you wouldn’t be so lame? It might actually be better for him not to be running --
JEAN-PIERRE: I mean --
KARL: -- you feel (ph) like?
JEAN-PIERRE: But here’s the thing about that argument, Jon, first of all, as you said, he intends to run -- we’re not even focused on 2024. We’re focusing on the moment right now --
JEAN-PIERRE: -- in 2022. This is a president that -- who passed the American Rescue Plan with all Democrats, who passed a bipartisan infrastructure legislation which people said it would not happen which is going to --
KARL: He’s got a lot of --
KARL: -- no question --
JEAN-PIERRE: Wait, wait. And now we’re talking about Chips Act, which is going to bring in made in America manufacturing --
JEAN-PIERRE: -- jobs, right? Lower the cost of automobiles, and let's not forget what we were able to do for veterans, right, which is our obligation. The president believes he has an obligation to veterans and now you have this anti-inflation bill. That is more legislation -- historic legislation than I would argue, many would argue since LBJ, that matters.
JEAN-PIERRE: That matters for the American people.
KARL: All right. Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you very much --
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much, Jon --
KARL: -- for being here --
KARL: -- first “Sunday Show” interview. Appreciate it.
JEAN-PIERRE: I appreciate it.
KARL: The Roundtable is coming up, plus a year after the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ian Pannell reports from Kabul on how life has changed under Taliban rule. Stay with us.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: The roundtable is here, ready to go. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we received another outstanding jobs report, 528,000 jobs were added.
Today I'm signing a law the Chips and Science Act. Aa once in a generation investment.
And today we take another important step toward bringing Sweden and Finland into NATO.
This is the most significant law our nation has ever passed, to help millions of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: President Biden celebrating a recent string of legislative and political victories.
Let's bring in the roundtable.
"New York Times" political correspondent Alex Burns, former DNC chair Donna Brazile, Sarah Isgur, veteran of the Trump Justice Department and now an ABC News analyst, and “Washington Post” syndicated columnist Dana Milbank, author of the new book “The Deconstructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party.”
Deconstructionist – what did I say, construction?
DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST SYNDICATED COLUMNIST & AUTHOR, 'THE DESTRUCTIONISTS': Destructionists, yes.
KARL: Deconstructionist, OK. Destructionists. OK. OK, I'm with you.
OK, Alex, let me – let me just ask you, you're talking to Republicans on The Hill. It was notable the way they all came out to attack the FBI and the Justice Department, defend Donald Trump after the raid on – on Monday. But I haven't heard much over – you know, since we've seen the warrant.
What – what – what is going on? Where are we going to see Kevin McCarthy and the others go?
ALEX BURNS, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT & CO-AUTHOR, 'THIS WILL NOT PASS': Look, I think there’s a real sense at this point that, you know, this wasn't just a political stunt by the Justice Department, but, you know, maybe you don't want to go too far out on the limb of defending President Trump before you know the real details of what's going on here.
At the same time, there's no appetite in the Republican Party to denounce Donald Trump or to sort of get ahead of the game as they see it and sort of presume that he probably did something inappropriate.
I think your interview with Governor Hogan just now is really quite revealing, right, that one of the most strenuous critics of Donald Trump within the party basically taking a wait and see approach. And what you’re hearing across the board from Republicans, I think you’ll continue to hear this from Republicans as just sort of differing tones of demands for more information, right? There's the outrage demand for more information, that truly the Justice Department is probably full of it and they need to give it more information, versus the Larry Hogan, sort of, more measured, you know, I sure would like to have more of the facts here. But that’s basically the spectrum of responses you’re going to get.
KARL: But, Donna, I mean, obviously, some of this defund the FBI thing, I mean, is -- is – is over the top. But -- but are you concerned about the way the country is divided on something like this? You see, you know, these -- these – these impassioned supporters of Donald Trump making these – these allegations about our legal -- about our law enforcement.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: What concerns me, as you well know, is the threats. The threats to law enforcement. You had the defund the police. Now defund the FBI. Who's condemning that? When a small minority of Democratic lawmakers and others, activists said defund the police, everybody was outraged. How dare you. Well, how dare you threaten the highest order in our country, the FBI. And Republicans are mainly solid.
Here it is, a country that is, right now, border – and it is, the violence is out there. The threats out there. Just like the threats was out there leading up to January 6th.
So, it's time to pull back. It's time to respect the rule of law. It's time to let all of the information, all of the investigations – you know, as I was flying back home, you know, when you’re -- you're flying back home you want to cruise and – and I'm coming from Africa, from Kenya, their elections, the last one was nullified and it – and we were preaching over there, be calm, be patient. And here I'm flying back to the turbulence.
BRAZILE: It is just outrageous that when I saw Republican lawmakers, leaders of their party, out there basically targeting law enforcement for doing their job and the president -- the former president, let's start calling him the former president.
BRAZILE: Stop calling him the president, he's the former president, is acting and behaving like a toddler.
KARL: The defeated former president.
But -- but, Sarah, you – you are a former spokesperson for the office (ph) pre-Trump. How – how long -- how much longer will the party apparatus, the party leader, kind of -- leaders basically defend Trump without knowing what is there.
SARAH ISGUR, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, I don’t think that that’s in question at this point. You have to put it in the larger context of the primaries that we’ve seen lately. You know, when Donald Trump has gone up against Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, other, like, leaders, people who want to run for president, it hasn't been 100 percent. But by and large you have to say that Donald Trump has won those primaries.
You know, it's interesting because, actually, the test shoudl be whether those candidates then can win in a general election with general election voters, not just the Republican base. But these folks are concerned about the Republican base. And the Republican base is standing with Donald Trump. He has solidified his support through the spring and summer, undoubtedly, and this was icing on that support cake. You're not going to see Republicans come out and say, "Well, this was the straw; I guess we're going to turn against Trump." You didn't see it on January 6th and you're not going to see it now.
KARL: But I'm not asking that. I'm asking, the kind of immediate knee-jerk "defend him at all costs"...
ISGUR: Welcome to partisan politics, Jon.
I mean, think about...
KARL: I mean...
ISGUR: ... "What about her e-mails?" Do Democrats now believe that mishandling of classified information is as serious as we should all think it is? We should think it's serious when Hillary does it, when, you know, she had seven top-secret e-mails on -- conversations on her server. She had declassifying authority. We should have thought that was serious. We should think this is serious. But now it's partisan politics.
KARL: This is different, though...
BURNS: I think what Democrats will acknowledge in private -- they won't say it in public; they won't say that these are equivalent cases, and they're not equivalent cases, based on the information we have. But what Democrats will acknowledge in private is that it was a mistake to turn a blind eye to the political ramifications of that story for as long as they did. And it's a lesson that Republicans might take today, right...
ISGUR: We heard that with Bill Clinton and "Me, Too" stuff recently, too.
ISGUR: "Oh, we should have taken that more seriously."
KARL: Dana, you're -- you're dying to jump in here.
MILBANK: I am dying to jump in here. Look, this has been a horrific week in the sense of the threat to the rule of law. I mean, Republicans with their violent talk, with actual violence, have lit a bonfire under the threat of the rule of law.
Earlier Governor Hogan was saying he thinks this week was a win for Donald Trump. I think it's exactly the opposite. We can talk about the -- motivating Donald Trump's base. Guess what? They were already motivated. But what's happening now is they are putting Donald Trump on the ballot, because of the way the Republicans have all come grasped around him, the way they're going to knock out nine of 10 of the House Republicans who voted for impeachment, because of the Dobbs decision, because of the January 6th hearings. More and more, the midterm elections are looking less like a referendum on the Biden administration and more like "Do you want MAGA back?" And I think that is going to be the long-term takeaway from this week.
KARL: And, by the way, I'm sorry for mangling the title of your book and saying "Deconstructionists," but they are, kind of?
I mean, there's a war on the truth.
You know, I mean, it's -- destructionist is the phrase, but there is, kind of, like the truth doesn't matter?
MILBANK: It -- we have reached that point where the truth doesn't matter. I'd argue that it started 25 years ago. Remember Vince -- Vince Foster's so-called murder. But now we're talking about -- I mean, come on, that the -- that the FBI had a court-ordered search, and it's a raid, and the FBI is planting evidence. I mean, we're -- we're in the twilight zone.
KARL: What about, Sarah, this argument that -- that John Solomon put forward, one of the president's allies, one of the people designated to deal with the archives on his behalf, that the president had a standing policy that anything he took out of the Oval Office was declassified.
BRAZILE: Anything he touched.
ISGUR: First of all, legally, that's just interesting to debate on its own. But set aside the legality of it; let's talk practically. So every time the president went to Mar-a-Lago, which he went to frequently, no matter how serious the conversation, the topic was, everything became declassified, which meant it could be turned over to the public immediately? I simply don't believe that a U.S. president would do that.
KARL: When he walks out with his mil aide with the nuclear football?
ISGUR: But, regardless, also, the current president can reclassify. So a sitting president has classification and declassification authority, limited by Congress, by the way. The Atomic Energy Act limits the president's power. I've heard no serious constitutional argument why that's not valid.
So -- but, again, it gets into this weeds that you thought it was serious when Hillary Clinton did it on her server. The argument that there were Secret Service guards there didn't make any difference because the server was attached to the Internet. We don't know what these documents were. We don't know who had access to those rooms in Mar-a-Lago. And we don't know what efforts the Department of Justice made, post-subpoena, to get those documents.
KARL: I mean, just the tonnage of it is, kind of, amazing, isn't it?
KARL: I mean, 27 boxes, not all of it classified, obviously. But this is after he already said, "Oh, I forgot, you know, this was the stuff I was supposed to turn over." I mean, this was a lot of stuff. I never -- I didn't know Donald Trump was like a -- was a hoarder, or what is this?
BURNS: And it is one of the things that, when you talk to Republicans, particularly the last few days, I think there's the initial response of a sort of shock and defensiveness around the FBI searching Mar-a-Lago. But every successive day, the former president and his legal team, such as it is, have been out there making these arguments that, as Sarah is just saying, are just, sort of -- you know, stretch the bounds of credulity on...
ISGUR: Ketchup against the wall, if you will.
BURNS: Right. And if you're a politician in a competitive race today, or an ambitious politician who expects to be in a competitive race down the line, again, how far do you want to go out on the limb with a set of people who seem to be --
MILBANK: -- gone out that far, now everything in those 15 boxes, whether it's nuclear secrets, whether it’s dirt on the President of France, you’ve basically said, this is okay, I’m standing with Donald Trump, the FBI needs to be destroyed, they're declaring war on you, the Donald Trump supporters --
ISGUR: But also acknowledge that if it's not those things, you have opened a Pandora's box into searching Joe Biden’s house for evidence of Hunter’s cocaine use in two years, five years, whatever that may be --
KARL: I mean, this appears to be something entirely beyond that. But, I mean, we may not know. I mean, the very nature of this is classified material --
ISGUR: -- less.
BRAZILE: -- I've been reading a lot of your coverage and thank you for doing such an excellent job, but it looks as though the archivists (ph), they were not planning to go to Disney Land, they really had a mission to go and retrieve documents and someone signed -- a Trump lawyer, that everything had been provided back to the government and yet it wasn't.
So why is that this former president believes that he is above the law, he’s above the rules? He can break any norms and still get away with it? This is an opportunity for us to learn as Americans that no one, that no one is above the law.
KARL: Do you feel though, Donna, that almost like we fell into a vortex here this past week and we emerged in 2017 again and all the stories are about Donald Trump? I mean, this has got to be -- this has got to be frustrating to the Biden White House, you can't get through him. He's had a string of significant victories --
BRAZILE: I would say that over the last 30 days the president has once again hit his stride and this ability to focus on the long-term, to invest in the American people, to really help ordinary Americans, I think that is breaking through, it's going to break through -- it’s going to be slow, it’s going to be like molasses not --
BRAZILE: -- going to spread (ph).
MILBANK: And this is exactly where the Biden folks want to be right now, making this election about Donald Trump. Look --
KARL: Not about his string of -- all the stuff we heard --
MILBANK: -- that will take some of the air out of complaining about inflation. That inflation is better, there’s a string of achievements. But we're seeing an extraordinary thing now in the momentum, Democrats have gone from minus 2 on the generic ballot, meaning there were behind, to plus 1 in a midterm election, this momentum has never gone in that direction back since 1998 when they started counting it -- when the incumbent president’s party is actually gaining.
So I think they’re -- they’ve actually gotten themselves, thanks to Donald Trump and extreme reaction, into a place where they want to be combined with --
BRAZILE: And Sarah's right, Sarah’s right. The fall is not just Democrats and Republicans, it's Independents, and those swing voters will swing hard for the truth and for our future.
KARL: Sarah, you raised the point of these -- Trump has dominated these primaries, the Senate primaries, a number of these House primaries, and it will be a question, how do those candidates do in the fall?
ISGUR: That's right, I mean, when we talk about the House, I still think Democrats are going to lose the House, I don’t think there’s much argument around that, although things could shift. But the Senate is where you're looking at this and thinking, my god, once again, will Republicans not win back the Senate when it's firmly in their power to do so? In 2020, Donald Trump lost those two seats in Georgia and this time around, the Trump-endorsed candidates are just looking incredibly weaker than we expected them to look -- in Pennsylvania, in Georgia --
KARL: I mean, if they don't win the Senate, will it be because of Donald Trump?
ISGUR: At this point, absolutely. You have every bit of momentum on your side, the one thing is gas prices going down, certainly that will help Democrats, but that alone in a midterm election, with a president with a 40 percent or lower approval rating should not be a losing message for Republicans.
BURNS: Jon, I remember having a conversation with a prominent Democratic strategist after the 2012 election, when against the odds they gained seats in the Senate, saying, you know, you guys have had a couple of above -- expectations beating Senate campaigns. But you know, you guys can’t just run cycle-after-cycle counting on the Republicans to nominate a bunch of extreme and --
KARL: -- maybe they can.
BURNS: We’re 10 years later and it's still happening, right? And I think the point that Sarah made about Trump, you know he is affecting the cycle in so many ways, right? He’s affecting it in a narrow way, in installing these Senate candidates and we should add a gubernatorial candidates who look terribly damaged and terribly outside the mainstream --
ISGUR: And are pulling down Senate candidates --
BURNS: -- in a macro way, too, the way Dana is describing.
BRAZILE: And remember, this is about election-deniers. They have put forward people who don’t believe in the credibility of --
ISGUR: With the Democrats help --
BRAZILE: -- last election. Look, only one case appears to --
ISGUR: Not in one case --
BRAZILE: Here’s the good news, Democrats are --
KARL: Donna, Donna, unfortunately we are out of time.
Thank you all, great Roundtable.
Ian Pannell reports from Kabul up next, one year after the Taliban takeover.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made a commitment to the American people when I ran for president that I’d bring America's military involvement in Afghanistan to an end. While it's been hard and messy and, yes, far from perfect, I’ve honored that commitment. I know my decision would be criticized, but I would rather take all that criticism and than pass this decision on to another president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That’s President Biden one year ago this week as American troops rushed to leave Afghanistan while the Taliban retook power. And while new intelligence assessment this morning finds that al Qaeda has not regrouped in the country, despite the presence of the group's top leader who was killed in a CIA drone strike last month, the country remains a dangerous place.
Our chief foreign correspondent Ian Pannell is on the ground reporting on how life has changed since the takeover.
And, Ian, you were right there in the middle of it all as Kabul fell, how does it look a year later?
PANNELL: Yeah, I mean, I think for many people, the worse case scenario has come to pass. I mean, on one level, of course, the very people that we spent 20 years fighting against are now the governments here.
I mean, these are Taliban fighters behind me here. You see them riding around the streets in pickup trucks, some of them carrying American-made weapons.
They’re also having to face an insurgency of their own. You got ISIS-K, ISIS Khorasan active in the country, suicide bomb attacks, targeted assassinations. And as you were reporting there, of course, we have al Qaeda in the country and some other terrorist groups.
We spoke to Abdul Qahar Balkhi. He’s a spokesman for the foreign minister. He’s insisting that they still don’t know that Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda, the world's most wanted terrorist who was killed in that U.S. drone strike, was even here in Kabul. I made the point to him that you can't travel 200 meters -- 200 yards without being stopped by the Taliban here, it seems impossible that they couldn't have known that he was in town. But he doesn't deny that they have a safe haven here, but he led this U.S. intelligence assessment, insists that they don't represent a threat.
I think the biggest change, though, is in terms of the economy and women's rights. On the economy, over 90 percent now lack reliable access to food, and that has got significantly worse. You’re seeing a 60 percent rise in food insecurity, for example. But the situation for women and girls is dire.
We saw protests here on the streets just in the last 24 hours, 40 women bravely taking to the streets calling for bread, freedom and work. And the response of the Taliban was to open fire over their heads. We saw these horrible scenes, some of the women apparently beaten, as we’ve seen in other instance.
KARL: And I’ve seen reports that 900,000 Afghans have lost their jobs over the past year. You mentioned it being an impoverished country. It’s actually been impoverished. Is it – it’s actually worse now?
PANNELL: Yes, I think it is. I mean there is discussion that unemployment could reach 40 percent. I mean that figure is hard to comprehend. You know, a significant portion of the population living on less than $1.90 a day. Many people with absolutely nothing. We’ve seen food handouts, for example, from the World Food Program. For many people, that is their only form of sustenance.
We’re also seeing these programs to try and train women and girls to give them some skills so they can earn money, and a lot of them have to now go to work because their husbands have lost jobs in this unemployment sweep that’s going on across the country.
I think the biggest impact, though, is in terms of hunger. We visited – I mean there were tragic scenes. This maternity hospital that was packed with severely malnourished babies, many of them two to three in a bed, and the numbers of people waiting to get in are much greater than the numbers of people admitted and taken care of.
And the trend here is much worse because the amount of aid is going down and the demand, the humanitarian crisis, is getting worse.
KARL: Ian, thank you for that report. And, please, stay safe over there.
We'll be right back.
KARL: That's all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and have a great day.
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