'This Week' Transcript 6-4-17: Scott Pruitt, Al Gore, and Susan Rice

A rush transcript for "This Week" on June 6, 2017.

ByABC News
June 4, 2017, 9:49 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on June 4, 2017 and it will be updated.


ANNOUNCER: Starting right now on THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos.


ANNOUNCER: Terror in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep moving! Keep moving!

ANNOUNCER: A van slamming into pedestrians on London Bridge. Multiple stabbings. Seven dead; dozens more injured. Three suspects killed at the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was mass panic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People running, screaming.

ANNOUNCER: The latest on this deadly attack from Terry Moran in London.

And our exclusive interview with former national security adviser Susan Rice.

Plus, showdown -- just four days until the blockbuster hearing. James Comey going public on Capitol Hill.

JAMES COMEY, FMR. FBI DIRECTOR: We will follow the facts wherever they lead.

ANNOUNCER: Did the president pressure him over the Russian investigation? And will the White House use executive privilege to stop him from telling all? Jonathan Karl and Dan Abrams standing by with the latest reporting.

And --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

ANNOUNCER: The global backlash after Trump pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord. The head of the EPA and Al Gore, both here live.

From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Good morning. It has happened again. For the third time in three months, terrorists have struck at America's closest ally, Great Britain. This time, on a cool Saturday night in London. An attack that was crude, deadly, virtually impossible to stop.

First, three attackers in a white van mowed down scores of pedestrians walking on the iconic London Bridge. Then, wearing fake explosive vests, they set out on a stabbing spree at the Borough Market nearby, killing at least seven, injuring 48. Armed officers shot them dead on the scene.

The killers have not been identified. There are no claims of responsibility yet, but this comes on the heels of that ISIS-inspired suicide bombing in Manchester less than two weeks ago just ahead of the memorial concert taking place later today.

In her first response, British Prime Minister Theresa May defiant.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. As a country, our response must be, as it has always been, when we have been confronted by violence -- we must come together. We must pull together. And, united, we will take on and defeat our enemies.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Strong words there from the prime minister. Our chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran on the scene in London. Good morning, Terry. We heard the prime minister there saying life must go on. But she's also saying things are going to have to change.

TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: She is, George. That's absolutely right. Even while we are seeing forensic evidence technicians and police activities behind us, still about a block away from the scene of the attack here, the prime minister is trying to address not just the shock and the sorrow of her people, but the increasing frustration and even anger over this relentless series of attacks.

Perhaps the most striking thing she said -- things must change. And she's talking about the law. She's talking about enhanced resources for security services, to monitor the thousands of people who have fallen into the category of suspected extremism. She's talking about enhanced penalties, sentences for terrorism offenses and even for lesser offenses for those suspected of extremism.

She's also talking about international agreements to regulate cyberspace to reduce what she calls the safe spaces for ideology. What she's doing is hearing that people are -- can only deal with so much of that shock and sorrow. They want action.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They have not yet released the names of the attackers. And again, as we've said, no claim of responsibility. But London police have arrested 12 this morning?

MORAN: That's right. In the suburb of Barking, a raid and 12 arrests. That shows that they have, it seems, identified the attackers and arrested people they think are connected with this attack.

We saw the same thing in Manchester 12 day ago after the attack on that Ariana Grande concert. A series of arrests, almost as if the police, for all of the effort -- and it's a tremendous effort that the British government puts to keeping people safe here -- they're missing cells of people ready and willing to attack.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One more sign of that defiance you talked about. That concert, Ariana Grande concert, going forward tonight.

MORAN: That's right. And it can't be underestimated. The British people, Londoners, in particular, they have a heritage and a history here of dealing with violence, going back to the IRA and all the way back to World War II. It's this stiff upper lip. It's a bit of a caricature but it's not a myth. There is an effort here not to freak out, to keep calm and carry on. That was a saying in World War II. London can take it. And you do see people going about their business here. They are determined to get on top of this problem and not let it change what is one of the world's great cities.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Terry Moran, thanks very much.

President Trump has been tweeting about the attacks. One of the first ones, we need to be smart, vigilant, and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety.

This morning, “do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck.”

At least seven dead and 48 wounded in the terror attack. And mayor of London says thereis, quote, no reason to be alarmed. We asked the White House foreign national security guest to address the attacks this morning. They declined.

But we are joined by Susan Rice who served as national security adviser and UN ambassador under President Obama. Ambassador Rice, thank you for joining this morning.

To pick up on the president's last tweet right there, how alarmed should we be?

SUSAN RICE, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, George, unfortunately, this is -- something that the people of the United Kingdom have suffered now three times in the last three months. And it's important to begin by expressing our condolences and to say that our thoughts andprayers go out, yet again, to the people of London and the United Kingdom.

Clearly the terrorist threat is one we have been dealing with for many, many years both in Europe, and the Middle East, and of course in the United States. And what is important in these timesis to remain unified, to be vigilant, and to recognize that this is a long-term challenge to stamp out the threat of terrorism.

We are battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, al Qaeda and ISIS in Afghanistan. And we see elements of the terrorist threat in all parts of the world from Africa to the Middle East to Southeast Asia.

We need to remain very focused on dealing with that threat. But at the same time, we need torecognize that there will be homegrown extremists in all of our countries. And there is no easy way to predict and defeat every single one of them. And so we have to strengthen our intelligence, our law enforcement, and work together with critical partners like the United Kingdom.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard the president say that travel ban would bring an extra level of safety. Your response?

RICE: Well, George, there's really no evidence to suggest that by banning Muslims or banning Muslims from a particular set of six countries that we would make ours here in the United States safer. And that's, I believe, one of the major reasons why the courts thus far have been very skeptical of the travel ban.

Moreover, I think there's a very real risk that by stigmatizing and isolating Muslims from particular countries and Muslims in general that we alienate the very communities here in the United States whose cooperation we most need to detect and prevent these homegrown extremists from being able to carry out the attacks.

We need the cooperation of our Muslim communities. We need the cooperation of all Americans. They need to feel that they are valued and part of this challenge that we face together as nation. And by stigmatizing a subset of ourselves, or a subset even or foreigners, we make that muchmore difficult. It's counterproductive.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the wake of the Manchester attack two week ago, Britain was very upset with leaks from the American side. The president's team have been very upset from leaks from the intelligence community generally. How serious a breach is this? How much is it going to hurt cooperation with Great Britain? What can be done about it?

RICE: Well, these leaks are very concerning. We are able to work so closely and effectively with partners like the United Kingdom because they trust us and we trust them. And we are we're able to share for the most part without concern that leaks will find their way into the public domain at a time that compromising the progress of an investigation, or our shared ability to go after the threat.

So, this is very concerning. I think Prime Minister May was correct to express her concern tothe president. The president is correct to express his outrage at this. And it is incumbent upon the administration, as well as our state and local law enforcement, to hold carefully and closely confidential classified information.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More broadly on the president's foreign policy, you had a tough critique in The New York Times yesterday. And one of the things you wrote is that Russia has been a big winner under President Trump. How so?

RICE: Well, George, the United States has been the leader of the world because the world trusts and respects us, because we have an unprecedented network of alliances with close partners that work with us, whether it's to defeat ISIS, whether it's to deal with a threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, or to go after challenges of a new sort like pandemic disease or climate change. We need these partners.

And when we alienate our western allies, in particular when the president went to NATO andfailed to reaffirm, as every president has since 1948, that we're committed and remain committed to the defense of our NATO partners, he sent shockwaves through Europe. And that is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants. Because Putin's interests, as he actually reaffirmed just on Friday, is to see NATO weakened and ultimately destroyed.

And when the United States, the most important player in NATO, casts doubt about our commitment to that vital alliance, it undermines our security. It undermines the security of our closest allies. And it's a big win for Vladimir Putin.

STEPHANOPOULOS: On Friday, President Putin also continued to deny that his government has interfered in our elections. But he did for the first time say it might have been done by patriotic Russians. Is that as close to an admission of guilt we're going to get from President Putin?

RICE: I don't know what we'll hear from President Putin, George. But frankly, he's lying. The reality is, as all of our intelligence agencies have come together to affirm with high confidence, the Russian government, at the highest levels, was behind the very unprecedented effort to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.

And we need to understand exactly how and why that happened and whether or not there's any evidence to suggest that there were those on the American side who facilitated that meddling.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, with the benefit of hindsight, should President Obama and your team done more to blow the whistle on this Russian interference earlier in the campaign?

RICE: Well, George, we did blow the whistle as soon as we had a unified assessment from the intelligence agencies about the Russian role. And on October 7th, the director of national intelligence, with the secretary of homeland security, put out an unprecedented statement, very, very plain, saying to the American people, this interference is happening, and it's happening at the direction of the highest levels of the Russian government.

I think what's unfortunate is that that very important warning got lost in the coverage of other events that transpired. It was indeed later the very same day that the "Access Hollywood" videotape came out, more WikiLeaks came out.

And so, I think that it didn't get the attention that it deserved. But we worked also very closely with our 50 states to ensure that they were aware of the threat and took all the necessary precautions to protect the integrity of our voting system and our voter registration rolls.

So I think we did what we needed to do. And I'm -- I think it's regrettable that other issues clouded the focus on that very important statement.

STEPHANOPOULOS: After the election, President Obama also sanctioned the Russians, took back those compounds in Maryland and Long Island. Some talk now that the State Department of the Trump administration considering reversing that. Good idea?

RICE: No, George, not a good idea. Let's be clear. Russia is an adversary. Russia not only has invaded a sovereign country and annexed part of it in Ukraine and Crimea. It's not only in cahoots with a regime in Syria that uses chemical weapons, it has interfered directly and deliberately at the direction of the highest levels of its government in our democratic process.

That is a threat to the integrity of our democracy. That's a threat to our country on a bipartisan basis. And we need to hold Russia accountable.

President Obama rightly imposed strong sanctions in December for the election meddling. Those sanctions should remain because Russia hasn't changed its behavior. It has just denied and obfuscated and continued to behave badly.

So there's no reason to ease the sanctions. Indeed, I think, as some in Congress have suggested, it's time to consider strengthening sanctions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would it have been appropriate for Jared Kushner to have a back-channel during the transition? Your successor, General McMaster, has suggested there's nothing wrong with it.

RICE: Well, George, I think, these reports, if accurate, are concerning, not just because of communication between the Trump transition and the Russian government, and we do have communications between transition teams and foreign governments, but rarely with adversaries like the Russians, and rarely with the frequency that we have seen.

But what I found most concerning about that report, which, if true, is that Jared Kushner suggested to the Russian ambassador that they communicate using Russian communications in a Russian diplomatic facility to hide their conversation from the United States government.

That's extraordinary, if not mind-boggling from the point of view of a national security professional. I have worked in this field for 25 years. And I have never heard of such a thing.

The United States -- and from one administration to the next -- has one government, one president at a time. And we worked very hard to do a professional and effective handoff. A seamless one. We worked very hard in this transition to accomplish that and to do so transparently. And that's the hallmark of what make our democratic system resilient and our ability to endure as a leader and a democratic icon for the world.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, the chairman of the House Intelligence Community, Devin Nunes, subpoenaed the CIA, NSA, and the FBI, for any information they had about requests you may have made to quote, unmask U.S. individuals in intelligence reports. Do you have any objection to having these agencies comply with the subpoena? And what will the committee learn if they do?

RICE: I don't have of course any objection to the agencies being responsive to congressional oversight. That's what they're expected to do. And this, I think, is a question now between the House Intelligence Committee and the agencies.

I think what is unfortunate is that it appears that this request, or this subpoena rather, was issued on a unilateral basis by the chairman, not on a bipartisan basis. And I think, George, at this stage with our democracy being challenged and threatened directly by a foreign adversary, it points up the critical importance now more than ever of our working on a bipartisan basis, and our protecting and advancing our national security interests on a bipartisan basis. So I hope that, going forward, that can be the case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're confident those documents won't show that you did anything wrong?

RICE: I'm confident that those documents will show that I, like national security advisers before me, and other senior officials in positions of responsibility, whether at the State Department, Defense Department, or the intelligence community, were doing what we needed to do to do our jobs, which is to protect the American people, to protect classified information, to protect civil liberties. That's what those documents will show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Ambassador Rice, thanks for your time this morning.

RICE: Good to be with you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More on the Russian investigation now, and that looming showdown this week on Capitol Hill when former FBI director James Comey speaks out for the first time since President Obama (sic) fired him last month. Right after the president fired him, the president told the Russian foreign minister that firing Comey took the pressure off. But that pressure will be back on Thursday morning when Comey is front and center at the Senate Intelligence Committee telling his side of the story about that January dinner with Trump where sources say the president asked Comey if he was under investigation, pressed for a pledge of personal loyalty. Trump denies that allegation but what will Comey say in public under oath?

We also know that during an Oval Office meeting in February, Trump told his attorney general and vice president to leave the room before discussing the Russian investigation. According to a memo Comey wrote right after the meeting, Trump asked him to end the investigation into Michael Flynn. In the memo he wrote, "I hope you can let this go." On Thursday, Comey will say whether he considered that request an attempt to obstruct his investigation.

And finally, on the day he fired Comey, the president wrote that Comey informed him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation. Will Comey testify that the president is not telling the truth?

We're going to dig into all this now with our chief White House correspondent Jon Karl, our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.

Jon, let me begin with you right now. Looming over this whole thing is whether or not the president and his team are going to try to prevent Comey from testifying by invoking executive privilege?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I have talked to several of the president's top aides who say there is no plan to do that. They believe that would be a tough case to make legally, and politically it will be a disaster. That said, George, there's no telling if the president himself will decide he wants to make that fight later on. But right now, the -- the opinion inside the West Wing is that Comey will testify and they will not try to stop it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's the White House strategy for taking on what is going to be certainly blockbuster testimony on every network?

KARL: It certainly will be blockbuster testimony. There is clearly a sense of that here at the White House. But, George, for all of the talk of setting up a big war room in the West Wing to deal with this, none of that has been put in place whatsoever. You saw Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, veterans of the campaign, have been here at the White House. I'm told them neither one of them are anywhere near coming in and are unlikely, in fact, to come in anytime soon. So there isn't much of a structure in place to have rapid response to Comey.

I think what you're going to see, though, is an effort to deflect. You're seeing that in the president's response to the London terror attacks. They're going to talk about infrastructure week this week, about getting -- reviving his plan for an infrastructure bill. And there is some discussion, George, among the president's aides about possibly taking a trip to London at the end of the week to show solidarity with the people of London against terrorism. That's just in the infancy stage but there is some discussion among the president's aides of (INAUDIBLE).

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're likely to see Comey's memos. Any talk of what would happen if there are indeed those tapes the president talked about, suggested he had, of his conversations with Comey?

KARL: No indication whatsoever that those tapes even exist, George. We know that Comey's memos exist. We know that Comey in real time wrote those memos to talk about what the discussions were with the president. But there's no indication, outside of those tweets from the president several weeks ago, that there are any tapes.

George, we also know that Comey has been described by people close to him as angry about the way the president has characterized their conversations. Again, another indication of just how blockbuster this testimony could be.


Let's get the legal side now from Dan Abrams, our chief legal analyst.

You know, the White House seems to be bowing to reality, according to Jon's reporting right there. Any claim of executive privilege here very weak.

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Very weak. Remember, the purpose of executive privilege is to protect confidential communications between the president and typically his cabinet.

He's got three problems here in this argument. Number one, the U.S. Supreme Court in theNixon case made it clear that you can't use executive privilege to try to cover up alleged misconduct. There would be an argument here that was the reason for it.

Number two, is the argument of waiver, meaning it's no longer a confidential communication when the president tweets about it, talks about it in interviews, and as a result, you can't invoke that privilege anymore. Number three is that Comey is no longer an employee. If he were still working for the government, President Trump could instruct him not to testify. He could say, I'm not allowing you to testify. He doesn't have that authority or power over James Comey anymore.

As a result of those three reasons, it would be a really weak legal argument to try to invoke executive privilege.

STEPHANOPOULOS; Some of the reporting on the meetings that Comey had with the president sounds pretty ominous on its face. I hope you will let him go on General Flynn. But that has led some allies of the president to say that if Comey really thought the president was doing something wrong, he should have resigned at the time.

ABRAMS: Let's distinguish between instructing him to end the investigation and encouraging him to end the investigation. If the president had instructed James Comey to end this investigation, it could a valid argument that how could he continue? He's being instructed by the president of the United States to end an investigation. How can he in good faith continue working for this man? That is very different than the president encouraging him -- Comey's position, I'm certain, will be, he encouraged me. But I felt like I could continue the investigation. I ignored those remarks. I moved forward.

Everything changes when Comey is fired. Because before Comey is fired, Comey's position is, yeah, he made these comments to me. I listened. I heard them. And I moved on with my investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does the fact that the special counsel, former FBI Director Mueller, isallowing Comey to testify suggest that Mueller is not looking at obstruction?

ABRAMS: No, not at all. I mean, look, all I think that -- remember, you have to remember this is, is two separate tracks. You've got the congressional investigation and you've got Mueller's investigation. And I think what they're recognizing here is just because Mueller's investigating that doesn't necessarily mean Comey can't discuss publicly anything about this. But he will not discuss the details of the Russian investigation. He will not discuss conclusionsthat his agents had drawn, et cetera.

I think he's going to keep it pretty focused on exactly what it is that the president said to him, because that's what the president has been talking about publicly. Comey's position will be, he was talking about it publicly, I'm going to talk about it publicly as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That will be a lot. Dan Abrams, thanks very much.

Up next, The Roundtable weighs in on Comey and more.

And later, the president's dramatic break from the Paris climate accord. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, former Vice President Al Gore join us live.


STEPHANOPOULOS: "The Roundtable" is here, ready to weigh in on Comey, Russia, climate change, all the week's politics. And we're back in just two minutes.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Back now with "The Roundtable." Joined by Republican strategist, ABC News contributor Alex Castellanos. Jen Psaki, former Obama communications director, State Department spokesperson, now with CNN, first appearance on THIS WEEK, welcome.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Jonah Goldberg, senior editor of "The National Review". And Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation".

Let's begin with this testimony coming from James Comey this week, Alex. How big a threat to the administration? What should they do about it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think so far there's more evidence that James Comey colluded with the Russians than the Trump campaign. He's the one who acted on…



CASTELLANOS: He's the one who acted on what he knew to be fake Russian intelligence.

I think this is going to be a big dust-up for the Trump administration, once again. And what does it do? It distracts from anything they try to accomplish. But as far as real evidence of any collusion on the campaign's part, we have yet to see any.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what do they do about it?

CASTELLANOS: In their unique and inimitable style, nothing, chaos, there is no war room, as Jonathan Karl said. They take another beating. And this is -- the Trump administration seems to run a very small family business, not a large U.S. government. And it makes it very difficult to deal with ordinarily what would be small political threats.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jen, you have been a White House communications director. Is there anything they can do?

PSAKI: You know, this is a week where the anticipation in Washington is of a big moment. So Democrats I think are going to have to live up to that, or Comey will have to live up to that in some ways. I don't think there's a lot they can do to try to change the subject. The people are going to pay very close attention to what Comey says. This is the first time he's testifying since he was fired. He could come very close to the line of giving more information out there about the obstruction of justice. So not a lot they can do.

CASTELLANOS: But he can't really comment on the intelligence (ph).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not on the underlying investigation.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVAL, "THE NATION": So, of course we need an independent investigation into alleged Russian hacking and collusion.


VANDEN HEUVAL: And we have a special counsel now, which is there. And any president can't be happy to have a special counsel four months into his presidency. But I think Democrats are making a mistake going in Russia, Russia, Russia all the time. For two reasons. One, you're distracting from the Donald Trump and Republicans' mean-spirited, predatory agenda -- tax cuts for the richest, hurting the working class, building a military defense budget, squandering diplomacy, and deregulating the economy for the sake of the richest.

I think Democrats have to have a bold, inclusive, populist agenda. Get it out into the country, fight on health care, fight on jobs, fight on a different engagement with the world. And make sure that the climate issue is understood to be about economics but shafting working people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So don't let this overtake everything.

VANDEN HEUVAL: Don't let this overtake it. And I think that that's about a party of one that needs to be about proposition, not simply opposition. Resistance is not enough. Building political power will demand some --

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about risks for the Republicans, Jonah? I interviewed Kellyanne Conway on Friday. Her initial take was to attack James Comey. Risks there?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think there's enormous risk there when it -- first of all, look, I don't want to invoke too much social science, but this is a remarkably stupid time to be alive. Right?


GOLDBERG: And everything in Washington.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As if we have a choice.


GOLDBERG: I know. But I mean, everything in Washington is sort of a hot mess right now. And I think that, you know, the fact that the Trump White House couldn't give anybody to come on here and talk about terrorism is a sign of the disarray that they're in.

Anyway, so their actual attack mode I think all it does is please the people who are already in Donald Trump's column. And if it's a contest between James Comey's credibility and Donald Trump's, I think Comey's brand wins that, you know, 10 out of 10 times.

What I can't figure out for the life of me is why this White House doesn't want to try and figure out how to persuade people who aren't already persuaded. Instead, it's constantly a base strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the gig question, Alex Castellanos. You see the president's tweets, and even on the Paris climate change decision this week, hardening up their base. Locking in with their base. Not much broadening over the first four months.

CASTELLANOS: No. Ordinarily, you would think that would be the Republican Party's job, to try to reach across the middle, but there is no Republican Party. There is no Republican leader.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump smashed it.

CASTELLANOS: Trump crushed it. And by the way, there is no Democratic Party. I think Katrina just noted -- what is their agenda?


CASTELLANOS: Trump is such a polarizing figure that I don't know that he can reach across the middle in any way.

There's an opportunity for somebody to say, hey, let's talk about growth. Let's talk about what's over the horizon in this country. There's something better. Where is that part of "Let's make America great again"? We're not seeing that from --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Meanwhile, (INAUDIBLE), the ship has sailed on cooperation with the Democrats and the Trump administration?

PSAKI: Look, I think right now the Democrats have their backs up because they feel that Trump has not reached out to them. He hasn't made any effort to include them on health care and on many different issues.

Climate change could have actually been an interesting moment for Trump. He's had a mixed record on this over the past. The fact is, as a business guy, he could have gone out there and said, I'm going to level with the American public. I'm going to truth tell. This is where growth is and where the opportunity is. Democrats probably would have embraced that. That could've been a moment. He didn't do that; he went to the base, a very small political base.

So, yes, Democrats' backs are up. Progressives are excited out there. It's going to take a lot to get them back to the table.

VANDEN HEUVAL: So I think what we're going to see is Donald Trump goes out to the world that's become this Hobbesian, competitive, transactional realism. And he's opened the door now for Europe to lead on its own. And in this country, cities are rising. Mayors, governors, business figures, are going to take it in their hands to drive this country into the future. And to do so -- and to do so by investing in jobs.

Trump, as you know, what did he say when he announced his climate withdrawal? He said I'm standing with the people of Pittsburgh not France? Well, the major of Pittsburgh --


VANDEN HEUVAL: -- same day, executive order to comply with the Paris agreement. And Pittsburgh will be the first city in this country to power itself on renewables.

GOLDBERG: I thought it was perfectly fine for Trump to get out of the Paris accord. I thought he did it for weird, wrong reasons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why should he have done it?

GOLDBERG: Well, because first of all, the idea that somehow this is really vital, important agreement that virtually every country in the world agrees with and all big businesses agree with kind of suggests it's not that onerous or binding. And what he said...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's entirely voluntary.

GOLDBERG: Well, that's the point. He goes out and says it costs us all this money, and it's this huge a drag on the economy. In reality, it's not. It doesn't do much. But this idea, which we're hearing a lot of, and I think Katrina is alluding to that somehow America's global leadership is put at risk because of this strikes me as somewhat ridiculous. We're the only country in the world that can protect forests, we're largest economy in the world. Those -- when there's a terror attack, when there's -- Russia invades Ukraine, the world isn't going to stop looking to us because of the Paris accord.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, Alex, but in making this decision the president defied theadvice of his secretary of state, his secretary of defense, his national security adviser, apparently his daughter as well.

CASTELLANOS: And a lot of Republicans are going to be very happy about it, because they see this as an eco swindle, as an eco scam. They see this as a toothless agreement that did nothing for climate. And while at the same time did impose real cost on the United States. And they see this as battle between nationalism and nationhood, American identity and this mushy globalism that lets a global elite prance around, offer these pretend solutions but impose real costs on working people.

VANDEN HEUVEL: The Republican Party is oil...

CASTELLANOS: This demonstrates strength on Trump's part, and any time Donald Trump demonstrates strength, he wins.

VANDEN HEUVEL: All right. But this Republican Party is an oil, coal-soaked party. The money -- the money -- the money driving through the Republican Party, coursing through it, I believe the Republican Party received 86 percent of all fuel, oil and gas contributions.

That's very important. Because I think the predatory agenda of the Republican Party -- and why are we surprised he pulled out? 22 Republican Senators...

PSAKI: I just want to jump in here, because I think there is a real global leadership issue here. I understand that a lot of Republicans are saying there isn't. But China has been sitting in the wings. They've been wanting to build a relationship with the EU. They've been wanting to be out there and say look at us, we are going to build this coalition. We're going to be ahead. It's not just about climate change, it's also about global leadership. And when the United States steps back, other countries are going to step forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to have to be the last word. We actually have Scott Pruitt and Al Gore standing by for more on this. We're going to hear from both sides of the debate over climate change in just a moment.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Al Gore, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt take on the Paris Climate Accord decision.



TRUMP: Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and -- a lot of it's a hoax, it's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, OK?

I'm not a believer in global warming. I'm not a believer in man-made global warming. I believe there's weather. I believe there's change. And I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again.

But I am not a believer. And we have much bigger problems.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was President Trump during the presidential campaign, setting the stage for that dramatic decision this week to exit the Paris Climate Accords. And we're joined now by one of his top advisers on that, the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt.

Mr. Pruitt, thank you for joining us this morning.


STEPHANOPOULOS: So we just played those clips from the president back in 2015 during the campaign. Is it fair to assume that is still is the president's belief?

PRUITT: I think the president made it clear in that statement that the climate changes. And I think what needs to be emphasized here, George, is that our focus, with respect to the Paris Accord, was about the agreement, the efficacy of the agreement as it relates to the environment, how it impacts the economy.

The president said on Thursday that engagement internationally is something that's going to continue. But what Paris represents is a bad deal for this country. And as such, we need to exit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But doesn't it matter whether or not the president believes there is man-made climate change, whether he believes it's a hoax? That is the predicate for the entire decision.

PRUITT: With respect to the Paris Accord, the focus is on the efficacy, the merits of the deal, and the demerits of the deal.

The president indicated very clearly that engagement by this country, internationally, is going to continue. As you know, George, we are part of the UNFCCC. That's a treaty that was ratified in the early 1990s. We have shown leadership, actually substantial leadership, as a country with respect to our CO2 reductions. We're at pre-1994 levels today with respect to our CO2 reductions. In fact, we were there before the Paris Accord was ever executed by this country. And when you look at the years from 2000 and 2014, we reduced CO2 emissions by over 18 percent.

So we're leading by example. I mean, as I indicated late last week, and as the president indicated in his speech as well, we are leading with action, not words. And you look at Paris, frankly, when you look at what was supposed to be achieved there by other nations across the glob, it was very little. It was criticized by the environmental left.


PRUITT: The head of -- James Hansen, who is a NASA scientist, called it a fake and a fraud.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But so, a pretty simple question, why can't the president just say whether or not he believes in man-made client change? You speak for the president. You're the EPA administrator. Do you know what the president believes?

PRUITT: Well, frankly, George, I think the whole question is an effort to get it off the point and the issue of whether Paris is good for this country or not. And the president has indicated the climate changes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot of it depends on whether climate change is man-made.

PRUITT: But George -- George, what matters is what you do about it. What matters is what you steps you take to address CO2 reductions. And what matters, when you look at Paris, is that China and India didn't take any steps while this country did.

And the environmental left has a very short memory. When Paris was executed by this country, they criticized the agreement. Said it did not hold China and India accountable. And at the same we were reducing -- we're reducing our CO2 footprint substantially.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to move on. But just very simply, do you -- do you know if President Trump still believes that climate change is a hoax?

PRUITT: Our discussion, George, has been about the agreement, the efficacy of the agreement. That's what he spent the last several weeks focused upon, the merits and demerits of the Paris agreement. He put America first. He said that he's going to put jobs, and the environment first by the way, by making the decision that he did on Thursday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, you've received a lot of backlash from the business community. Twenty-five businesses have signed a letter to the president, saying this is not good for the economy. Here's what they wrote.

They say, "By expanding markets for innovative, clean technologies, the agreement generates jobs and economic growth. U.S. companies are well positioned to lead in these markets. Withdrawing from the agreement will limit our access to them and could expose us to retaliatory measures."

They believe it's going to be bad for the economy to pull out.

PRUITT: Well, when you look at -- even "The New York Times" had an article I think within the last couple of days that talked about small business celebrating, euphoria, with respect to the Paris -- the president's decision. I mean, it's very speculative, in my estimation, George, for those multinational companies to say this is going to somehow impact the exporting of green technology across the globe.

What we do know -- what we do know, objectively, is that the Paris agreement represented a $2.5 trillion reduction in our gross domestic product over two years -- ten years. What we do know is that it impacted up to 400,000 jobs as well. And so this was something that was bad for our country. This makes common sense, that when you take energy sector jobs and say we're no longer going to produce energy in those sectors, that it's going to impact the manufacturing base and the energy jobs in this country.

We've had over 50,000 jobs since last quarter -- coal jobs, mining jobs -- created in this country. We had almost 7,000 mining and coal jobs created in the month of May alone. The unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, as you know, George. This president's deregulation agenda, particularly in the energy space, is making a substantial impact on the jobs across this country and giving people hope.

And I will say this. It's also rejecting the previous administration's view that you can't grow jobs and protect the environment. Because, as I indicated earlier, we've reduced our CO2 footprint with action from 2000 to 2014 by over 18 percent, through innovation and technology.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also, in the Rose Garden on Thursday, suggested that we could go farther in reducing carbon emissions. Here's what he had to say about the agreement.


TRUMP: It is estimated it would only produce a 0.2 of one degree -- think of that, this much -- Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The authors of the study the president cited from MIT dispute his interpretation there. But I want to go and take it a different step. Is the president saying that he wants to get more carbon reduction than is met for in the agreement?

PRUITT: George, I think what he's saying is that the cost that was going to be borne by this country, over as I indicated $2.5 trillion of gross domestic product over ten years, for a reduction of less than 0.2 of one degree by the year 2100 is just simply a bad deal for this country. There were other studies, by the way -- I know that the MIT study is something that people are pointing to, that that person has changed the review. There was the global policy publication that came out at the same time. near the same time. You had the Heritage and (INAUDIBLE) studies that focused on the economic impacts.

I mean, what we do know is this: we know that the environmental left was as critical of Paris as those on the right were as far as it violating process and the cost that was going to be borne by this country. They thought it was a bad deal. As I indicated, James Hansen called it a fake and a fraud. So, there's very much short memory being applied here with respect to the efficacy of environmental protect coming out of Paris.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Pruitt, thanks for your time this morning.

PRUITT: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And for more on this, we're now joined by Al Gore, the former vice president now chair of the Climate Reality Project, also has a new film in theaters in July “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Mr. Vice President, thank you for joining us this morning.

You just heard Administrator Pruitt right there. He said whether or not the president believes in manmade climate change doesn't matter. The United States is leading by example.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Administrator Pruitt has a difficult job. The administration comes off as tongue-tied and confused about the climate crisis because the truth is still inconvenient for the large carbon polluters and they don't want to stop polluting the atmosphere, it interferes with their business plan.

But meanwhile we're creating jobs in this country in the solar industry at a rate 17 times faster than other jobs. The number one fastest growing job is wind power technician. The renewable energy sector and the sustainability revolution are the brightest spot for economic growth and prosperity in this country. The rest of the world is moving forward. President Trump isolated the United States with his reckless and indefensible decision.

But if he won't lead, the American people will. And we're seeing governors and majors and business leaders step forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, does it really make all that much difference, then, if the UnitedStates pulls out of Paris climate accord. Remember back, you know, the United States under George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto, yet the innovation continued after that.

GORE: Well, we lost a lot of time when the U.S. did not join the rest of the world community then. And while it is true that we have the sustainability revolution underway, and it's very exciting, it has the magnitude of the industrial revolution but the speed of the digital revolution. But we're still not changing fast enough, because it's not just the scientific community warning us now, it's mother nature. Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the book of revelation.

70 percent of Florida is in drought right now. Missouri just declared an emergency with another one of these historic climate-related downpours. We have had 11 once in a 1,000 year downpours in less than ten years in the United States. So, we have to move faster.

It's good news that the rest of the world is, it's good news that states and cities and businesses are, but we need presidential leadership. We're going to -- since he's not going to lead, the Americanpeople are stepping up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You lobbied the president on this, spoke with him back in Trump Tower in December, spoke with him on the phone in May, as well. What can you tell us about those exchanges? And what the president understands about this issue and his approach?

GORE: Well, I have honored a commitment to keep those conversations private. I'll tell you nothing would surprise you about them. I presented all of the reasons I felt and still feel it would bein the best interests of our country to say in the Paris agreement. But, the president made the wrong decision in my view, and in the view of most Americans.

You know, a majority in every one of our 50 states wanted the U.S. to stay in the agreement. A majority of President Trump's supporters and voters wanted us to stay in. 70 percent of the American people.

So, it was a reckless decision. But, the good news is, we are going to continue moving forward. It would be better if we could move faster.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You talk about the majority of American people, even a majority of Republicans saying they believe in this and they want -- we've also seen this whole idea that President Trump expressed during the campaign that climate change, manmade climate change is a hoax really take hold among a large sector of the public. How do you explain that?

GORE: I don't thing it's true among a large sector of the public. It's definitely true among asmall sector. And, you know, in Tennessee, we have a saying if you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be pretty sure it didn't get there by itself. And similarly, if you see levels of climate denial in the U.S. that aren't true anywhere else in the world, you can be pretty sure that didn't happen by itself.

"The New York Times" this morning traces it in part to the Citizens United decision that opened this flood of dark money, a lot of it coming from the carbon polluters to try to use the playbook of the tobacco industry decades ago to try to submerge the truth and put out a false set of alternative facts.

But the American people are beginning to see through this. And the overwhelming majority already have.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, on the whole issue of how this affects our relationship with our allies. You saw the president come back from Europe, meeting with the pope, meeting with the French president, meeting with Angela Merkel, the German president. All of them pressing him very hard on this.

Can this issue be compartmentalized or is there going to be collateral damage with our allies?

GORE: I'm afraid there will be, because it comes in the context of the president also undermining NATO and our relationship with our allies.

We're going to face some challenges in the years ahead. The isolation of America from the rest of the world is not in the interests of our country. The rest of the world is moving on climate, George.

India just announced that within 13 years, 100 percent of all their cars are going to be electric vehicles. China has reduced emissions four years in a row. We're seeing a massive shift to solar and wind.

And we in the United states ought to be leading this revolution and creating even more of the new good jobs here in the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time this morning.

GORE: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And now, we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of May, two service members died overseas in Syria and Somalia.

We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. And be sure to tune in Thursday morning at 10:00 Eastern when I'll be anchoring our live coverage of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."