'This Week' Transcript 3-17-19: Tom Bossert, Jeh Johnson, Sen. Chris Coons, Vicky Ward

This is a rush transcript for "This Week" airing Sunday, March 17, 2019.

ByABC News
March 17, 2019, 12:00 AM

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, March 17, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.


ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: This is one of New Zealand's darkest days.

STEPHANOPOULOS: 50 dead after a white supremacist guns down Muslims in prayer. The latest attack fueled by an online underground teaming with hate.

ARDERN: Rhetoric of racism, division, extremism has no place not only in New Zealand, but I would say in a society as a whole.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This racist movement a growing and global terror threat. Are we equipped to combat what some experts are calling a white ISIS? Is the president's rhetoric exacerbating the problem? What can be done when social media is weaponized? We’ll ask the experts who served as top homeland security officials for Presidents Obama and Trump, Jeh Johnson and Tom Bossert join us live. And Beto jumps in.

BETO O’ROURKE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running to serve you as president of the United States of America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden right on the edge.

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're literally in a battle for the soul of America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And President Trump responds to Republican defections on the border wall.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: This declaration is a dangerous precedent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: With his first veto.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless resolution.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our powerhouse roundtable tackles it all. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC NEWS, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK. As we come on the air this morning, New Zealand is reeling from the worst massacre in its history. It was an unprecedented act of terror for that peaceful island nation, but just the latest evidence that the global terror threat is not contained by borders or restricted by ideology. Islamic terror now increasingly matched by its mirror image, an emboldened and angry movement of white nationalists and neo Nazis. And that threat has hit home here in the U.S.

11 worshippers killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last October. Nine gunned down at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston back in 2015. The 2017 torchlight protests in Charlottesville that ended with the killing of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. On Friday, President Trump downplayed that threat.


ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT TERRY MORAN: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?

TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's a case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Our Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas starts us off. And Pierre, the killer in New Zealand so clearly a part of this white supremacist community that thrives on the internet, he fed off that world, sent his message right back into it.

PIERRE THOMAS, CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Yes, George, the alleged New Zealand killer appears to be fueled by anti-immigration sentiment and a deep-rooted belief in white supremacy. In online writings he spews hatred about non-white people invading western countries and there are chilling ties to the U.S. Obsessed with race, the New Zealand suspect writes of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered those nine parishioners at a South Carolina church in 2015. He also predicts that a fight over gun rights here in the U.S. will help ignite a civil war along racial and religious lines.

And it turns out that he was inspired by Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011 because of racial hatred. George, just a few weeks ago authorities stopped a lieutenant in the Coast Guard who was allegedly planning a massacre targeting top Democratic politicians. He too was researching Breivik. So the concern here is that white supremacists, just like the Islamic radicals, are using social media to spread their hate, develop recruits and is leading to actual violence, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it’s generally been treated as domestic terrorism but now going global.

THOMAS: George, unfortunately, hate is alive and well. According to the FBI, we’ve seen a dramatic spike in the number of hate crimes here in the U.S., an increase of about 17 percent when comparing 2016 to 2017, there were more than 8,000 victims and more than 6,000 suspects. 58 percent of the suspects were motivated by race, 22% motivated by religion. George, and there are some numbers that suggest that since 9/11, the attacks of far right radicals have been extremely active. In fact, between 2002 and 2016 far right radicals were involved in nearly three-fourths of the fatal attacks here at home though they killed slightly fewer people than Islamic radicals. This according to the GAO.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And posing a tough challenge for law enforcement.

THOMAS: It’s an extremely tough challenge. How do you deal with this, George? There are so -- so many people are using the internet. When does hate turn into actual violence? You don't know when that's actually going to happen, so police are -- here and around the world have to depend on the community to tell them when they feel like hate speech is evolving into something more sinister.

STEPHANPOULOS: OK. Pierre Thomas, thanks very much.

Let’s bring in now two officials who dealt with these threats in the White House, Jeh Johnson, the former homeland security secretary for President Obama, Tom Bossert who served as homeland security advisor for President Trump.

And Mr. Johnson, let me begin with you, you just heard some of the statistics that Pierre let out there. Are we equipped to deal with this threat?

JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: George, first of all, thanks for having me. We are equipped as long as we stay focused in my judgment.

Efforts against this kind of violent extremism began with good law enforcement, good investigative techniques, but we need to also rededicate ourselves to identifying violent extremism at local levels through community organizations and the like.

But then as you noted at the outset, this is an issue that also includes social media. Social media now there are very, very few barriers to entry and frankly standards for exit. And so it’s incumbent upon social media providers, internet service providers to do – to be vigilant when it comes to hate speech content that violates their very own terms of service.

George, I also believe there is a role for our leaders to play in – in raising the level of civil dialogue in our country and lowering the levels of extremist speech. Americans do listen to their leaders, and so as we enter this election season, I believe that the voters should demand that a prerequisite for office – for political office is that our leaders adopt a more civil tone in what they say.

People do listen to their leaders and are influenced by them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot to tease out there, let’s get to it one at a time. And Tom, let me start with you on that second point that Mr. Johnson brought up, this role of social media. You know, one of the – one of the most chilling things about this attack, it was up for 17 minutes on Facebook before it came down.

We’re really seeing here Facebook and YouTube becoming force multipliers for a terrorist act, what do we do about it?

TOM BOSSERT, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Yes, it’s extremely difficult and I think the difference between content which is hard to monitor and police and video traffic might need to be explored a little here.

And I thought about this quite a bit, George, I think it might be time to think about delaying or forcing those providers to delay live broadcasting or live streaming. There’s a lot of benefits that can come from individuals broadcasting from their telephones.

There’s no negative or downside to forcing some delay into that broadcast. It’ll require some time and money, but I think it’s something that we should consider.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And is that something you think can be done, Mr. Johnson?

JOHNSON: I believe it can be done, I think we need to be careful in not having government agencies, and I know Tom appreciates this, going down the road of regulating speech or regulating political debate.

There is a line that has to be drawn there, and I think first and foremost it has to begin with self regulation by those who provide access to the internet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Tom, one of the things that your predecessor in the Obama White House Lisa Monaco said is that this actually does need a whole of government approach to take this on.

Generally domestic terrorism has been limited to the FBI. Is that something you think that President Trump might be resistant to?

BOSSERT: I don’t think he’s resistant, I think what we heard him voice was a common kind of difference between how Pierre reported this and how I looked at it as a policymaker and how Secretary Johnson had to face this.

I don’t think that there’s a comparison between the size of the threat between ISIS, which was a much larger, more organized threat to which we dedicated trillions of dollars in a global effort to reduce the outcome of violence.

But they’re also both morally repugnant and difficult challenges and so we don’t want to downplay it. So I think what the president said is it’s a smaller threat. I hope he doesn’t maintain the position that it’s not a threat at all.

Some resources are needed, clearly this is a trend that needs to be addressed, the FBI is not alone in this, the United States is different with our decentralized law enforcement, but the Department of Homeland Security and other government officials all have a role. I think Lisa was right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mr. Johnson, we’re also seeing, you know, a breakdown really in the sharing of intelligence about these kinds of threats across national borders.

JOHNSON: Well sharing of intelligence is vital, I can – I can testify from personal experience that intelligence sharing across governments does save lives, does interdict terrorist plots, but clearly when it comes to domestic-based extremism, this is something where I think intelligence communities need to take a hard look about ways in which we can see common trends and common threat streams.

And if I could go back to what Tom was saying, I do believe there is a role for the Department of Homeland Security when it comes to countering domestic based violent extremism, and as Tom knows, it’s something I spent a lot of time on when I was in office.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And was that picked up on, Tom, in your days in the – in the Trump White House?

BOSSERT: Yeah, there was a lot of reporting on that, George. And I think, as I said earlier, the reporting ended up missing the real debate we were having. And it was the amount of money and the amount of threat. So we were engaging in some kind of distribution question of how we allocate our resources, which are scarce to some degree, against all the different threats. We’ve got 70,000 people a year dying of drug overdoses. We’ve got people not dying at the highest rates that we saw in 2001 and before from terrorist attacks but that’s because we were applying resources.

So I think that this administration stands ready to invest more money. The question is how to effectively do that while also, as Secretary Johnson pointed out, not trampling on people’s constitutional rights. So we’re ready to spend more money if it’s effective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The other part – point that Secretary Johnson of course brings up is political rhetoric and of course no one is blaming the president for – for what happened here but he was held up, in the shooter’s words, as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose. To what extent does the president have to take this concern seriously and modify the way he talks about issues like this?

BOSSERT: Well – well I don’t think that the two threats are equal, ISIS and white supremacist. They’re – they’re equally repugnant but they’re not equal in size. I think what we can do and what the president has to do is combat the ideology of both. And so if he doesn’t renounce – and I think he’s done that, I think he can do a better job moving forward or redouble his efforts to make sure he’s heard when he does it. Often he condemns this violence in his rally speeches, it’s hard to cover those for two hours at times for the media.

But if we’re fair and we cover his words, and I think ABC has been, and if he redoubles his efforts to make that a point, he has a real responsibility to do it. He can denounce the ideology of both and do it pretty powerfully from his bully pulpit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you could wave a magic wand right now, Secretary Johnson, what would you have the president say?

JOHNSON: I would have the president say to all Americans, political leaders, candidates for political positions, that part of our responsibility as leaders, those of us with the largest microphones, have a duty to the American public to raise the level of civility in our dialogue. And that’s something that I think is fundamental to our civilian leadership in this country.

We’ve really got to rededicate ourselves to that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Johnson, Tom Bossert, thank you both very much.

Up next, Beto joins the 2020 race with Joe Biden, next. We’ll ask the man who holds Biden’s old Senate seat, Chris Coons, joins us live.


CHRIS COONS, SENATOR (D-DE): I’m confident that 598 days from now, we will together be celebrating – celebrating – a new president.


And I’m confident that’s our vice president, Joe Biden.




JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the most progressive record of anybody running for the -- anybody who would run. I didn't mean it -- of anybody who would run.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Correction there from Senator Joe Biden last night in Delaware.

We're joined now by the man who holds his old senate seat, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.And Senator, I know you were there last night. So was that really a Freudian slip or did Vice President Biden know exactly what he was doing?

SEN. CHRIS COONS, (D) DELAWARE: Well, I'm very optimistic that Joe Biden will soon formally announce his campaign for the presidency.

When he said last night to a cheering crowd of Democrats in Dover, Delaware, that he had the most progressive record of anyone running or who might run, what I think he was referring to was the very real record of the Obama/Biden administration, of tackling climate change, of advancing rights for LGBTQ community, of reigning in Wall Street, and of enacting the broadest expansion of access to health care of any administration in our lifetimes. That's the sort of real progressive record of accomplishment that Joe Biden could run on, and I hope will run on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's part of the record right there, but as you know, he's also -- part of -- what comes with long experience in politics is a long record to attack, and then the vice president is also going to come under pressure for issues like Anita Hill, the crime bill, and even going back to bussing and segregation in the 70s, how does he handle that?

BIDEN: Well, I think first Joe Biden is going to run a very forward-looking and optimistic campaign where he tries to heal the divisions in our country.

One of the most despicable things about President Trump's campaign and his actions as president has been the ways in which he has seen the divisions in our country and tried to crack them open more widely for his own partisan political advantage. Joe Biden won't do that. He will see the divisions in our country and inspire us to heal them, to work together across them and move us into a better future as a country for all of us.

There are things that he was involved in or said or voted for 25 or 30 or 40 years ago that I expect he will get asked about on the trail, but he has a real and solid record of stepping forward and being a champion for civil rights, for women's rights, for LGBTQ rights, and I think on the whole, the Democratic primary electorate will be very satisfied with Joe Biden's record and with his vision for our country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's one of the big questions out there. You talk about healing the divisions in the country, but in order to do that, he has to bridge these divides in the Democratic Party. And you already see the White House, President Trump, ready to attack the Democrats as socialists over issues like the Green New Deal and Medicare for all. How does the vice president bridge that divide inside the party?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, I think Joe Biden has a record that allows him to say that making big and bold progressive promises on the campaign trail is one thing, having a real record of actually delivering on those things is quite another. Real leadership is actually enacting legislation that advances access to health care, that reigns in Wall Street. And Joe Biden has a record as the vice president in the Obama/Biden administration that allows him to speak to that. I do think he'll also inspire a new and younger generation of political activists because Joe Biden's life history, his whole story is about getting up when life has knocked him down, about connecting with working families of all backgrounds across America, and of being a champion for civil rights, civil liberties, inclusion and justice in his decades in public leadership.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well it sounds like you're ready for him to go. I also want to ask you something about your seat --

COONS: I am.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- on the -- on the Senate Judiciary Committee. We saw the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week come out with those comments on impeachment. Want to show the audience right now. Impeachment is so divisive for the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country and he’s just not worth it. Some Democrats have looked at that and said she set the bar too high. Your response?

COONS: Well we haven't seen yet the outcome of the Mueller investigation and I think the first thing we need to do is to make sure that the Mueller report is protected and that it is promptly shared in full with the relevant committees of Congress. There may of course be some work product in that report that should be protected because it's either classified -- this is after all a national security investigation -- or because it might interfere with other ongoing investigations into the Trump organization or the Trump campaign in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere.

But I think once the Mueller report is completed, is reported, we can reach that judgment at that point. I agree that impeachment means overturning the results of an election, so it's something we should approach with -- with caution and with balance. There’s plenty of other things about the Trump administration and its activities that are worthy of investigation by the House and I think Speaker Pelosi is encouraging a measured and focused approach by the Democratic majority in the House.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to know what's going on with the release of a potential Mueller report. We saw the House vote 420 to nothing then the president had that tweet yesterday where he said he was encouraging them, the House members to vote for that, saying it makes us all look good and doesn't matter, play along with the game. Yet your chairman, Republican Lindsey Graham has blocked consideration of that measure in the Senate. So what is going on here?

What can you do if indeed the Mueller report is not released to the relevant committees in Congress?

COONS: Well the ability to compel the release of that report will lie really in the House Democratic caucus in the -- excuse me, in the other chamber. I’ve been very disappointed at the ways in which the Republican majority in the Senate did not move forward with a thorough investigation on the judiciary committee in the last Congress. That's our responsibility. We’ve got clear allegations in public of obstruction of justice that the Senate Judiciary Committee should have thoroughly investigated but it ground to a halt in -- excuse me, in partisan bickering between the former chairman and ranking member.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been able to make real progress, but of course its work product is classified so the general public is not well informed about what's been going on in the Intelligence Committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, and before you go, the president also tweeting this morning -- second time in a couple of days in attacks on your former colleague, Senator John McCain, the late Senator John McCain. This morning’s tweet suggesting that Senator McCain turned over the Steele dossier to the FBI before the election. As far as we can tell, that is not true, it wasn’t turned over by Senator McCain in December. But now for the second time, President Trump continues to go after Senator McCain. Your reaction?

COONS: I’ve long thought that his personal and direct attacks on Senator McCain was one of the most detestable things about President Trump's conduct as a candidate. Senator McCain conveyed that report out of a sense of duty and he is someone who lived his entire life with a sense of honor and duty to our country. And I -- I frankly think the president’s continue to tax on now late Senator John McCain is something that's regrettable and for which he should apologize.

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

COONS: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, the round table weighs in on 2020. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable’s all ready to go and all week long, you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. We’ll be right back.



REPORTER: (Inaudible) your reaction to Beto O’Rourke’s announcement (inaudible).

TRUMP: Well I think he’s got a lot of hand movement, I’ve never seen so much hand movement. I said is he crazy or is that just the way he acts.

REPORTER: Who’s the bigger threat, Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden?

TRUMP: I just say whoever it is, I’ll take them on. OK, whoever it is, it makes no difference to me whatsoever.


STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump weighing in there on the 2020 Democratic race. Let’s talk about that on our roundtable, joined by Chris Christie, served as New Jersey governor, is also an advisor and friend to President Trump, author of "Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey" – it’s a long title – "and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics", Chris Christie.

Also Democrat Mitch Landrieu, former mayor of New Orleans, author of "In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History". Caitlin Dickerson, national immigration reporter for the New York Times, first appearance on "This Week", welcome.

ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, and GOP Strategist Alice Stewart also commentator with CNN. And Matt, let me begin with you. Chris Coons didn’t leave much to the imagination right there, sure sounds between that and what senator – Vice President Biden said last night that he’s in, Beto O’Rourke comes in on Friday.

Both white men, beyond that all kinds of contrasts.

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Oh yes, between the two of them, and I think we’re almost – I hope we’re almost at the point where the field is ultimately settled. I think this is going to be a fascinating race between this and obviously the contrast between Beto and Biden couldn’t be more dramatic and where they came from, who they are and all of that.

But I think what’s ultimately going to happen is is the – we basically have the top two candidates, which are Biden and Bernie. The question is is all the other candidates have to fight over the last two or three spots of how they get in and how they get Iowa and how they get out of New Hampshire.

But I think those debates that are starting in June are going to be really, really important for that. They’re really important for the candidates that aren’t well known, but they’re going to be incredibly important for Joe Biden, because I think Joe Biden has to figure out how does he present himself with all these other diverse candidates on stage and why is he the guy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you have some experience with that in those big debates last time around, and it is a challenge for the candidates who aren’t the front runners to stand out, and one of the things that President Trump actually benefited from, he was the frontrunner most of the way but never took many shots from his opponents on stage.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Well and sometimes it just doesn’t matter, George. I mean you would sit there and prepare for this, you wind up thinking to yourself you probably have about seven minutes total over a 90 minute debate to say whatever you were going to say.

And so you were – you were caught between do I try to say something from a substantive perspective with some style attached to it that will get the attention of the media, do I attack the guy who’s in front and make that my play, none of them worked, OK.

In our situation – I don’t think they have someone like Trump in this – in this field. But none of it worked because the media – the panelists only wanted to talk to Trump. They had questions that were designed to go get him, they had questions that were trying to drag some other people in into conflict.

So I think the interesting thing here is going to be what’s the strategy if you’re a second tier candidate, and I think Matt’s evaluation is right, everyone else is second tier other than Biden and Bernie Sanders.

How do you make a difference with the electorate who are listening in June, July and August, because that will lead to increasing the polls, increasing money, increasing attention.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And people will be watching outside Joe Biden as we just heard Chris Coon talk about how he thinks Biden should handle this Democratic divide.

This is a real issue inside the Democratic primaries right now. All the energy on social media behind the most progressive positions, Biden trying to hold the Senate, become the most electable candidate.

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Well I think that’s probably true, but it’s a very long race, you know, talk is cheap and now you’ve got to go out there and perform, and it’s a 15 month race, and the public’s going to expect something really thoughtful, something deep.

Anybody who’s a flash in the pan today better kind of get with it and say look, this is how I’m going to run the country, and I think the country’s looking for experience. I think they’re looking for steady. And now these candidates have to go out there and perform.

He’s obviously got the best position right now, whether he holds it or not is anybody’s guess.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Alice, Beto also came out of the Senate campaign last year, losing to Ted Cruz, such a phenom on social media, learned a little bit about the challenges of stepping up onto the national stage in these first couple of days.

ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I love to see the excitement and the honeymoon phase of any presidential campaign, it's exciting. And seeing him hope on tables and connect with the people. Let's just check in with him after 99 counties and see if he's still just as enthusiastic.

But this is how you have to do it, you have to jump in there, you have to be enthusiastic. I think it's key that the governor hit on this, this is not just about who is ahead right now, it's slow and steady wins the race, it is about getting your message out there, it's about visiting with all of these counties.

But the key for Democrats, in my view, is not just pick who is the most progressive candidate that will lead to win in the primary, they need to pick a more moderating force. I would say someone like Joe Biden, that can also win the general.

But right now they're so focused on these progressive candidates that are about the Green New Deal, that are about free college for all, but it's more than winning the primary, it's about getting out there and who is going to be able to take on President Trump and not be too far to the left and bring in a lot of these independents.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Caitlin, one of the things we saw about President Trump this week, he is so focused on his base with that veto of the disapproval of his emergency declaration on the border wall, doubling, tripling down on holding on to those most inflamed by the issue of immigration.

CAITLIN DICKERSON, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That's right. So, we'll have the see what happens with the candidates and how they decide to approach the issue, because we have seen no sign that President Trump is going to stray from what has been his biggest political issue, a huge winner for him, and I think, you know, the wall, the idea of it has been very controversial. We saw legislators try to stop it, not just because many of them disagree with the fundamental notion that an emergency exists that could be helped by a wall, but also because of executive overreach.

And then I think you see Democratic candidates starting to talk about immigration. Most of them are sort of being very conservative and saying, you know, mostly we want to secure the borders, perhaps we want to do a little bit to help people with the Dreamers. We want to help children to make sure no more children die in border patrol custody. Then someone like Beto jumps in the race who, you know, in the past has actually been on the much more extreme end of open and inclusive immigration laws and it will be interesting to see whether he stays that way because I'm sure that President Trump will continue to make this...

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has moderated on a number of positions.

DOWD: Yeah, he has, but I think Beto -- I mean, and I know Beto -- and I think he is a phenom, but I think he's going to have to figure out -- he's going to have to give some substantive speeches that it's not just a waving his arms and, you know, being in touch with people.

I think the fascinating thing about Donald Trump to me strategically where I think they made a -- he has made a strategic failure, but it may just be him, which is while the Democrats are fighting and all of that, you would think the right strategy is how do I broaden my base, how do I grow the party while the other party is fighting and in the midst of all this struggle over where do we want to go, what do we want to do, the president seems completely incapable of rising above 40 percent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a big challenge for the president. He also doesn't seem fazed atall by the notion that 12 Republican senators defected.

CHRISTIE: He's fazed by it. He don't like it. But, you know, he also is smart enough to know that making -- putting a bigger spotlight on it is something that's not positive for him.

But here's the genius of him politically and why it was so hard to run against him, Democrats confided, Matt used his words. He talked about Beto O'Rourke, who he knows, and he goes he's got to more than just waving his arms.


CHRISTIE: Trump labels you, and he labels you in a way that is vivid and is stark and sticks.

Low energy Jeb, Little Marco, Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You never got a nickname.

CHRISTIE: I didn't get a nickname.

DOWD: Not yet.

CHRISTIE: Listen, if it hadn't come by now, it isn't coming, buddy.

DOWD: Publicly, he doesn't have a nickname.

CHRISTIE: There was a lot of language back and forth privately, but not nicknames ever.

You know, there's two reasons I think for that. You know, one is that, you know, he doesn't nickname -- we talked about this before, the people who really, really respects. You look at Pelosi. I mean, Crying Chuck Schumer has had that nickname for a long time. No nickname for Nancy Pelosi. In fact, he tweeted out Nancy Pelosi, who I refer to as Nancy, he doesn't mess with people like that, but he'll go on O'Rourke and other people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the personal --- he has in doing everything he can to label the Democratic Party, though, as socialist.

LANDRIEU: But you know he's the thing, the Democratic Party is likely to become a socialist party when Donald Trump learns how the tell the truth, which is never. And so that's the way it's going to be. So he can take one person and talk about that, but when a guy like Joe Biden gets in the race and starts articulating a moderate position, you may see the same thing from Beto O'Rourke. You may see -- you're going to see a fight for the marketplace of ideas. It's not going to be that easy to do that.

And it is true that the president did that during the campaign last time, but now everybody knows who he is. They know him a lot better. And so the person that is running on the Democratic side now, I would caution them, is not running for the leader of the Democratic Party. They're running to be the president of the United States and the president of all the people.

DOWD: And don't underestimate the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. I mean, I think he is probably --


DOWD: -- a dark horse to be watched in this. His background, who he is, what -- what -- where he’s come from, he speaks six languages and all that. He is a new phenom, but he's also somebody that actually has a whole bunch of substance. Watch for Mayor Pete.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you say -- say -- and I want to bring this to you, Alice. You say watch for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, I agree, he’s -- he seems to have a lot of talent. We’ve been talking about Joe Biden, we’ve been talking about Beto O’Rourke. The surprising thing here, though is those are all, Alice, white men in a party now where a lot of the energy is wanting to get behind a woman candidate.

STEWART: Certainly. And -- and -- and we’ve seen great strides in the most recent election, certainly a tremendous number of women on the Democratic side now in Washington, which I think is great. I expect to see a woman on the ticket -- maybe not at the top of the ticket, but maybe as vice presidential candidate. But you can run away from the socialism label, you can run away from labels, but you can't deny the fact that the Democratic party is moving very, very far to the left. We're talking about the Green New Deal, we’re talking about free college education, we're talking about a lot of policies that are extremely left -- the Cortezes of Washington and the younger generation of Democrats are really causing a divide in the Democratic party --


DOWD: If you look at all the issues and where the public stands, the Democratic party is actually closer to the center than the Republican party is. The Democratic party is much closer to the center --

CHRISTIE: We’ll -- we’ll -- we’ll see about that, we’ll see who the nominee is. You know, here’s the thing. The party -- the party that does not have a president is -- is nothing until it has a nominee. And then when it has a nominee, that nominee is everything.

DOWD: Right.

CHRISTIE: Right? And that's what it's going to become. So I think it's going to matter who winds up winning this thing. And I think the difference -- you know, talking to two phenoms this morning, right? Beto and Mayor Pete. The difference is and what I’ve seen so far is Mayor Pete has some substance to him. Beto seems to have no -- when Beto says I’m running for president because first we must fix our democracy before we can do anything else. I mean, listen, that's fine, it’ll last for about an hour on the trail, but then people in Iowa and New Hampshire are going to start to ask you real questions and then when you can't answer them, that's going to be a problem. So it's going to be who they nominate, Matt. I think you’re right --

DOWD: I -- I agree with that --

CHRISTIE: -- as to where it goes.

DOWD: -- totally depends who they (ph) nominate.

LANDRIEU: You made two great points. First of all, there’s some other great candidates in the race. Kamala Harris has been performing very well, Amy, et cetera. But how much further to the right can could the Republican party go than it is right now? And everybody’s talking about the Democrats. When you think about where the Republicans are and where the proposals have been for the country, there’s a lot of room in -- in the American political scope to talk about other issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Chris, that’s what I want to bring to you. What is the issue that President Trump uses to move to the center? As Matt was saying, we haven't seen any major effort to try to build on his base at this point.

CHRISTIE: It’s -- George, I respectfully say that those labels don't matter for Donald Trump. We were wondering that the last time too, George. We were wondering that in 2016, when is he going to move to the center, when is he going to do the traditional Nixon to the right in the primary, to the center for the general? He doesn't define himself that way, people don't define him that way, they don't look at him as an ideologue. Those labels don’t matter for him. It was incredibly frustrating running against him that those labels didn’t matter. But they don’t matter with him.

People see him -- as Mitch said, they know who he is, he’s a personality, he ran as a personality and he's going to continue to run as a personality.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Got to take a break. More round table to come but up next, an inside look at Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. We're back in 60 seconds.



IVANKA TRUMP: I, on a personal level, have been the subject of -- of many leaks that I know not to be true because they were based on things that it was professed that I had said or -- or hadn't said or situations I had been or not been in. So I tend not to pay too much attention to -- to leaks and anonymous sourcing.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Ivanka Trump, speaking to Abby Huntsman of THE VIEW, may have more to deal with this week with the release of "Kushner Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump." It’s by investigative journalist Vicky Ward who joins us now, there’s the cover of the book. Your book is a tough take.


STEPHANOPOULOS: On Jared and Ivanka and their time in the White House. And Team Trump is fighting back very, very hard. I want to put up a statement from Peter Mirijanian. He’s a spokesperson for Jared Kushner’s lawyer. He says, "Every point that Ms. Ward mentioned in what she called her fact-checking stage was entirely false. It seems she has written a work of fiction rather than a serious attempt to get at the facts."

Brad Parscale, a campaign manager in 2020 for Trump also says "This book is a fantasy and simply a false narrative." Your response?

WARD: Well, I’d be curious if Brad Parscale has actually read it because it’s not out yet, George, it comes out on Tuesday. Look, Jared and Ivanka famously don’t like it if people don’t say great things about them. I wasn’t expecting them to turn around and say "Oh, she makes some good points." You know, I spent two years researching this. I interviewed 220 individual people, 118 of those multiple times. I recognize that the book does have a lot of anonymous sources but I make it a point of principle when reporting to make sure that every seed has at least two sources.

It’s not just based on one person’s recollection of events. It has to be double-sourced. That’s what – the only way you can really deal with anonymous sources.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about their point on the fact checking? The White House is maintaining that you didn’t call Jared or Ivanka’s offices in the White House for a response?

WARD: That’s rubbish. That is absolute rubbish. I called – I actually – it took me a long time to even get Abbe Lowell on the phone. He wouldn’t respond to several e-mails. I finally got him last summer and he said that he would, on behalf of Jared and Ivanka, respond to fact-checking questions. When I then sent the fact-checking questions – there were like seven or eight of them which basically had – they needed yes or no answers. And they then delivered their rather ludicrous statement that it would take too much time.

So look, it is what it is. I mean, this White House is known for knocking down anyone who reports about it and I think Jared and Ivanka are obsessed with public relations, more so than anyone else. And I think that, you know, there’s been this myth out there, I think the theme of the book is that these are two people who are not what we hoped they would be. They’re not the moral center of this administration. They’re not the moderating influence …

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think they’re enablers?

WARD: I think they’re almost worse than enablers. I think that most people go into government for public service. I think they’ve gone into self-service.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that gets to what really is the most loaded charge, it’s right on the cover of your book; corruption. I mean, that implies …

WARD: Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … Criminality. As you know, Jared spent …

WARD: Well, …

STEPHANOPOULOS: … Dozens of hours with prosecutors being investigated, being interviewed. No charges have been brought. What evidence do you have that they are guilty of something that would require charges on the issue of corruption?

WARD: Right. So let’s begin the very first weekend of the transition. Jared Kushner does not tell anyone else on the transition that he is having a meeting with his father and with other executives of his New York real estate company, Kushner Companies, with a major Chinese insurance firm, Anbang, to try to sell their very troubled trophy building in New York, 666 Fifth Avenue.

At the same time, on behalf of the transition, he is holding meetings with Chinese government officials and not – and keeping all this completely – his business dealings close to his vest. When Gary Cohn …

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president’s incoming national economic advisor …

WARD: Yes, and Steve Bannon – when all the – his transition colleagues heard about this, they were horrified. Gary Cohn said to him, "Jared, you realize that from now on, everything you do makes it look as if you are in government purely to enrich yourself." I think that that is the appearance of corruption, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gary Cohn is quoted several times in the book with quite critical statements …

WARD: Yes, he is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … Including after Charlottesville. He’s put out a public statement saying they’ve worked well together, continue to be friends to this day.

WARD: Yes, that’s not saying that it didn’t happen, though, is it, George?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s my question to you.


Did he tell you these things?

WARD: Look, I’m a journalist, I protect my sources. But he’s not saying it didn’t happen. And if I – you know, you could phone Gary Cohn.



Vicky Ward, thanks very much.

We'll be back with more roundtable after this.



MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president is not a white supremacist. I'm not sure how many times we have to say that, and to simply ask the question every time something like this happens overseas or even domestically to say, oh my goodness, it must somehow be the president's fault, speaks to a politicization of everything that I think is undermining sort of the institutions that we have in the country today.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Forceful response there from Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, to the comments about the president coming out of the attack in New Zealand this week. And this is such a complicated problem, Matthew Dowd, we're seeing the acceleration on social media.

There’s no question that we see times where terrorists echo the language of politicians in their -- in their manifestos and whatnot. The question is how do we deal with it?

DOWD: Well, I mean, I think -- what we have seen over the course of the last few years is we have seen this radical white supremacy, radical white nationalism, that has arised. It's now killed people in a mosque, it's killed people in a Jewish temple, it's killed people in a Christian church in Charleston, and it's killed people in a Sikh church in Wisconsin, so it's broadened base -- it's killed people in Norway, it's killed people in France, it's killed people in England in this.

To me when you look at this, there are three things that I think are causing this, there are -- to touch on that actually we have to deal with. One, global communications, as you talked about -- it was talked about on the piece at the start of the show is that the radicalization of people that have these feelings now being able to connect to each other in a much deeper way because of technology.

Two is we don't prioritize our resources in the government in dealing with this issue. As the stats have shown, 75 percent of the people that have been killed by terrorism in the United States of America have been by white nationalists in this country, not by ISIS, not by radical Islam, but by white nationalism, we don't -- we spend billions and billions and billions of dollars against radical Islam and not on white nationalists.

And the third is the words we use, and the rhetoric that's done. When you bash immigrants, when you bash refugees, when you say, we want to put up a wall, when you say we want to ban all Muslims, it's not responsible for it, but it does cause this cauldron of it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Caitlin, this is an issue you deal with every day, immigration reporter for The New York Times. And it was eerie in some ways how the focus on immigration inside the manifesto of this latest killer matches the kind of rhetoric we hear every day.

DICKERSON: It really does. It's very similar. And I think just in the same way that Governor Christie before was talking about the labeling that President Trump specifically does, if we want to talk about him, it doesn't just apply to people, it applies to issues. And it's something that he goes back to continuously.

With immigration specifically, I see as an immigration reporter, him appealing to voters on their emotions about immigrants, and not on the data and not on the numbers. And in doing so, creates narratives in people's minds that for certain people make them want to support legislation that's harsher, but for other people, make them want to radicalize.

And so I think it's really important -- you know, I can try my best in the newspaper to try to tug people's heels back down to the ground and make sure that they really understand what we're talking about, you know, as you pointed out, radical Islam and the impact of it, compared to radical white nationalism, they are not comparable. But it's a challenge for people like me to make that clear when we have politicians who are doing the opposite.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Chris I get why the president bristles whenever this conversation actually comes up. But at the same time, it is hard to ignore how the rhetoric is pervasive.

CHRISTIE: Well, it's pervasive around the world. It was -- as you know, George, it was happening before Donald Trump became president.

But on Matt's point, I think, you know, the reason why radical Islam is killing less people in the United States now than -- than it was well before is because we spent those resources, because we did things. I was there as U.S. attorney, I got nominated the day before 9/11. And so our assignment when we came in was wholly focused on that threat, analyzing that threat, putting the resources on that threat. And as a result, I think that we have diminished that threat significantly.

Now we need to take a look at, another threat is rising, do we need to put similar type of resources on suppressing that threat, dealing with it from a law enforcement perspective, while respecting people’s civil liberties.

We can do that. We did it in the main when the Bush Justice Department in – in the post 9/11 period, we can do it in this one as well with the president and the Congress has to decide it’s what they want to do.

STEWART: I think it’s – irresponsible, often times what we’re seeing in the last few days is pointing fingers as a result of this. There are two people to blame for this tragedy in New Zealand, it is the – the gunman and the double.

There’s no two ways about it. I agree with Secretary Johnson at the top of your show that says we need to lower the tone and the rhetoric of the dialogue that we have across the country and across the world. But the end of the day, these types of incidents are the result and the fault of the person behind the gun.

Look – and to Matt’s point about white nationalism, the rise of globalism has caused a lot – a great deal of concern across this country, but I think you can say as a – as a person, as someone that supports my nation and this country, I can also be supportive of my nation but also want to protect my boundaries, those two concepts are not mutually exclusive and I think that needs to be considered.

LANDRIEU: Well I don’t disagree with you, I think you made some excellent points. However, the president’s rhetoric when he first started this campaign and throughout his presidency and when he calls all Muslims terrorists, Mexicans rapist, African Americans criminals, he begins to judge people or anybody begins to judge people based on race, creed, color, nation of origin, sexual orientation, it does create -- in a moment in the country when there’s a rise of white nationalism, kind of -- that it’s OK to act that way.

We have a – we have a huge problem in this country that has been with us for some time that we need to focus on, and I think Matt laid out very clearly that in America, there’s been a rise of white nationalism, white supremacy, and at a minimum the president and the speaker of the House and everybody else in this country has to call that our for what it is and speak to it because it is – it is viral and it will continue to get--.

You’re right, the person – the responsibility lies with the person that did it and it’s not just in New Zealand, but in America let us be clear, it’s been with us for a very, very long time, it’s still here and it’s getting worse.

DOWD: I want to add something to what the – the mayor said and what he wrote about in his book and the wonderful speech you gave in New Orleans about, this is not new in America, it seems that every time America is changing and every time a new group gets power that wasn’t at the start of the country, so when slavery ended, when blacks became citizens, when women got the right to vote, when the civil rights legislation was pushed through.

At every moment there’s fear in America, America is changing – is America changing, and then there’s a backlash. What our leaders are responsible to do is not appear to the fear – not appeal to the fear of Americans, but the inclusiveness that really recognizes us and the love that we share together in a sense of community.

We have a president today that seems incapable. He criticized Barack Obama on a daily basis for saying how can you deal with terrorism if you’re unwilling to call it radical Islam? He said that every day. He’s unwilling to call this radical white nationalism.

CHRISTIE: Listen, a few things, I think it’s – the thing that’s made us different when we deal with these challenges in this country has been the people of this country. You haven’t seen what happened in Europe when he had the rise of this any number of times over our history or in other parts of the world.

Americans understand how to deal with each other and they – they teach our leaders more than our leaders teach us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t want the computer to cut you off, but that is all the time we have today, thank you all, thanks to all of you for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events