'This Week' Transcript 1-1-17: Sean Spicer and Rep. Adam Schiff

PHOTO: Pictured (L-R) are Sean Spicer in New York, Nov. 14, 2016 and Rep. Adam Schiff in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.Reuters | Getty Images
Pictured (L-R) are Sean Spicer in New York, Nov. 14, 2016 and Rep. Adam Schiff in Philadelphia, July 27, 2016.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on January 1, 2017 and it will be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

Russian roulette: Vladimir Putin bets big on Donald Trump, refusing to retaliate against new U.S. sanctions. And with Russian diplomats moving out, Donald Trump is moving on.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think we ought to get on with our lives.

ANNOUNCER: But will Trump's own party follow his lead?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We will be urging increases on sanctions on Russia. It is a threat to the fundamentals of democracy.

ANNOUNCER: And with just three weeks to go, what will the new president do on day one? Incoming Trump press Secretary Sean Spicer is here.

Plus...

TRUMP: Make America great again.

ANNOUNCER: New year's revolution. 2016 broke all the rules. So what's next? Our powerhouse round table looks ahead to 2017.

And predictions from a pair of high powered insiders.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC HOST: When you look, Mr. Speaker, at the Trump presidency, what do you fear the most?

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Good morning. And welcome to the new year.

Breaking overnight, a nightclub massacre in Turkey. A gunman opened fire inside a crowded nightclub in Istanbul killing at least 39 people. In this surveillance footage you can see gunfire as the attacker shoots his way into the club.

Police are searching for the shooter. There has been no claim of responsibility. Turkey's president is calling it an act of terror.

We'll talk to are the top Democratic on the House intelligence committee in a few minutes on what we know about who is responsible for the attack.

But first, the big political story hanging over the new year, the hack of the Democratic Party. Last night at Mar-a-Lago, President-elect Trump once again made it clear he is still not convinced that Russia was behind the hack. He plans to meet with intelligence officials about it later this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I just want them to be sure, because it's a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure and I know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove, so it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don't know. And so they cannot be sure of the situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: But the White House is convinced. On Thursday the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a report explaining how they say the Russians did it. And President Obama hit back, closing down Russian compounds in the United States and kicking 35 Russian diplomats out of the country.

But instead of retaliating, Putin reached out directly to Donald Trump, saying while Russia has every right to respond, he's going to wait to work to restore Russia/U.S. relations based on Trump's policies, not Obama's. Trump's response on Twitter, "great move on delay by V. Putin. I always knew he was very smart."

We are joined now by Sean Spicer, the incoming White House communication director and press secretary in his first Sunday show interview since being tapped for the jobs by President-elect Donald Trump.

Sean, congratulations and thank you for being here.

SEAN SPICER, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You bet. Good morning, happy New Year.

KARL: Happy New Year. So let’s start right with the big news this week from President Obama, imposing those sanctions on Russia, expelling those diplomats. Does president-elect Trump agree with those moves? Or will he reverse them when he takes office?

SPICER: I think, as he said the other day, he's going to sit down with the intelligence committee heads next week, get a full briefing on the situation. I think one of the questions that we have is why the magnitude of this? I mean you look at 35 people being expelled, two sites being closed down, the question is, is that response in proportion to the actions taken? Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't but you have to think about that. That's nothing that we haven’t seen in modern history and when we look back

KARL: Well we’ve seen diplomats expelled…

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: No, no, but hold on let's look at this, in 2015, China took over a million records, sensitive data of people like me who had worked in the government at any time, classified or personal information, where we lived, things we had written down on our applications, our security clearances, and not, a White House statement wasn't even issued. No action publicly was taken. Nothing, nothing was taken when millions of people had their private information, including information on security clearances that was shared. Not one thing happened. So there is a question about whether there's a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response.

KARL: So it sounds like you think these measures may be too much?

SPICER: Well no, what I think is that…

KARL: And that reversing them is on the table?

SPICER: …the President Elect needs to sit down with the heads of the intelligence communities next week and get a full briefing on what they knew, why they knew it, whether or not the Obama administration's response was in proportion to the actions taken. Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't. We need to have that

briefing first. But I would argue that if you look at our history, you haven't seen a response like that in modern history for any action and when you look at the fact that China did something so egregious in 2015 and the White House did nothing publicly, not even issue a statement, except they sent everyone who had worked in the government a letter saying that you get free monitoring of your credit. That's all they did. They took action by sending a letter to us, not even taking an action against China. So what Russia did, we have to wait and see but it be interesting.

KARL: But it's interesting, though, because we've seen near universal support from the mainstream Republicans in Congress, in fact, Mitch McConnell called them a good first step and suggested that the Republicans in the Senate may actually move to impose stiffer sanctions as punishment for Russia. Does President Elect Trump oppose those efforts?

SPICER: No, I think what he is going to do, as I said, is sit down with the intelligence communities, get a full briefing on what they knew, whether or not they, and he can determine whether or not the actions were taken. But as you saw, President Putin said he's not going to retaliate in the way he initially suggested. He wants to wait for President Trump to come in. I think that that shows you the power that President Trump has. He's already had unbelievable success domestically with bringing back jobs to Carrier and Sprint. No, hold on, and I think that around the world, foreign leaders are seeing what we're seeing here in this country which is that business as usual is over, President Trump is not only going to put the American worker first, but he's going to restore America's place in the globe.

KARL: But what’s the bottom line. Just a yes or no answer. Does President Trump, President-elect Trump, now accept the fact that Russia was behind the DNC hack?

SPICER: Well I think that there’s a report that came out the other day, that got issued on the 29th, that the intelligence community has put out, and while the media played it up as this report about the hacking, what it actually is, if you look through it, and its available online, is a series of recommendations that should be taken, like changing passwords, changing administrative rights.

What it shows is that by all measures the Democratic National Committee had a very lax IT support. Now hacking is wrong by any standards. No one supports anyone hacking into any other entity, legal, domestically, or foreign, or anyone interfering with anything, but the fact of the matter is, what this report really does show is that there’s a need for them to go back in and look at their, what they’re doing IT wise to protect their system.

KARL: Absolutely, but you do see, I have the report too, you do see the headline, Russian malicious cyber activity. It makes it clear, and it names Russia, gives the IP addresses…

SPICER: And then it says, actions take, back up the system. Staff training…

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Absolutely. But does he accept that Russia was behind this?

SPICER: Well I think, like I said, he has to have the briefing first from the intelligence community next week.

KARL: So he’s still not there yet?

SPICER: It’s not a question of not there yet, Jonathan, it’s a question of getting the information. Everyone in the media wants to jump forward and make a conclusion based off other sourced information, you know anonymous sources that are coming out of the intelligence community, he’s going to do this right.

KARL: This is no longer anonymous, this is

SPICER: It is…

KARL: This is a public statement.

SPICER: What this says is that the DNC had a problem with their IT security and people tried to hack it and they need to do a better job of protecting it…

KARL: The Russians succeeding in hacking…

SPICER: But the fact of the matter is, but we’re having part of a conversation. Why aren’t we talking about the influence, other influences on the election? Why aren’t we talking about Hillary Clinton getting debate questions ahead of time? That’s a pretty valid attempt to influence an election. Somebody giving her the debate questions and the answers of an election. No, no, no. It’s not hey. We haven’t, no one’s asking those questions. And the fact is is that everyone wants to talk, make Donald Trump admit to certain things. When are we going to start talking about the other side of this. Which is what did Hillary Clinton do to influence the election? Is she being punished in any way? What are we doing to make sure that people don’t get the debate questions ahead of time, because I can tell you this, if my boss at the time, Reince Priebus, had gotten the debate questions, and handed them off, he would have been driven out of this town on a steak, and Donald Trump would have been vilified. No one wants to ask those questions now.

KARL: Just to be clear, that was during the Democratic primary, it was not in the debates with Donald Trump. But let me move on.

SPICER: So that makes it better?

KARL: No, I’m just, just want to be clear to what we’re talking about. You’re going back to the primary…

SPICER: No, no, I’m sorry that I’m going back to, cause that’s who ultimately ended up the Democratic nominee.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: So you can’t sort of say let’s go back only part way. The fact of the matter is Bernie Sanders gave her a heck of a run. If he had actually not had the same information, maybe he could of done, maybe not. But you can’t have a part of a conversation. I think we have to look at this holistically.

KARL: OK. So I want to ask you something, Donald Trump has had a lot to say about Russia over the past couple of weeks.

SPICER: Right.

KARL: In particular about Vladimir Putin. First he praised Putin for sending him a quote very nice letter saying he thought Putin’s thoughts were quote so correct. Then he agreed with Putin’s mocking of Hillary Clinton, saying it was, so true. And now we saw, most recently, praising Putin’s muted response to these new sanctions saying I always knew he was very smart. Sean, you’re a longtime Republican, party of Reagan, is there something a little strange to you to hear the incoming president offering so many words of praise to the Russian…

SPICER: Well let’s look at what happened, right? The United States says were going to impose these sanctions. Expel people, close down sites, et cetera, call out people by name. The Russian government says were going to retaliate in the equal sense. And then Vladimir Putin says, you know what, I’m actually going to wait until Donald Trump goes. That’s actually good for our country.

So the idea is everyone wants to talk about the tweets he sent. But I would actually focus on the action he's getting. Donald Trump is not president yet and he's getting action, successes and wins, both abroad and here at home.

Everything he does right now, he gets -- he speaks for the head of Sprint, gets 5,000 jobs moved from abroad. And everyone starts to mock him. Oh, those jobs were already announced. They weren't. The sales jobs have been a previous announce. These jobs were coming from abroad to America.

And instead of trying to mock him or undermine him, it's time that people started to give him credit for actually getting things done.

KARL: So a broader question about Russian-U.S. relations, Paul Ryan, in his statement in response to these sanctions, said, "Russia does not share America's interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them."

John McCain in response said, "Putin is a thug and a murderer."

Is there just a fundamental, different world view on Russia between these --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: -- Republican leaders and Donald Trump?

SPICER: It's an understanding of the role that Russia plays in our world right now. They have the most number of nuclear weapons in the world. You can sit back and say we're not going to have a relationship. They had a failed Russian reset the last eight years.

They wanted to have a relationship with Russia and they failed. This president is going to have a relationship with Russia and understand that it's in America's interest to have a relationship with Russia, where they don't pose a threat to our national economic interests. That benefits every American.

And I don't know why we wouldn't support that. At the end of the day --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: If you view this differently as Republican leaders --

SPICER: -- what he's viewing this as is a world leader who understands that the United States has two majors -- other growing superpowers, China and Russia.

And right now, to have a relationship with Russia, which we don't have because this administration had a failed reset that didn't go anywhere, and so right now they want to praise the fact that they don't have a relationship.

Donald Trump recognizes that a good leader is going to protect America's interests by making sure that we have a relationship with Russia, that our interests are protected, not theirs.

KARL: OK, I want to move on to the inauguration coming up. You’ve promised and we’ve heard from Trump talking about a big start to this administration.

SPICER: Right.

KARL: What is the one big thing we are going to see after he takes the oath of office?

SPICER: It’s going to be not one big thing; it’s going to be many big things. On day one, he’s going to sign a series of executive orders to do two things. One is repeal a lot of the regulations and actions that have been taken by this administration over the last eight years that have hampered both economic growth and job creation.

And then secondly, do the same on a forward-thinking thing. He's going to start implementing things. He's going to bring a new brand to Washington. He's going to institute a lobbying ban, five years. It's very forward thinking.

What we've had in the past is people who have looked in the rearview mirror. This time, we're thinking forward. If you want to serve in a Trump administration, you’re going to serve this country, not yourself.

So there’s going to be a five-year ban on people going off to be lobbyists or a lifetime ban on anyone who wants to serve a foreign government.

KARL: So you’re the incoming press secretary and communications director. I’ve got to ask you about what we saw in "The New York Times" last week, a headline about Trump talking about expanding U.S. nuclear ability.

But what struck me was the subhead, “Statement on Twitter.”

In the beginning of the second paragraph, “Mr. Trump’s statement in a midafternoon Twitter post.”

Here, big front-page headlines, generated by a midafternoon Twitter post.

Is that what we’re going to see?

I mean you’re the press secretary --

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Sure. Why not? But…

KARL: So major policy done via Twitter?

SPICER: You know, with all due respect, I think it freaks the mainstream media out that he has this following of over 45-plus million people that follow him on social media, that he can have a direct conversation. He doesn’t have to have it funneled through the media.

This is the -- this is going to be -- business as usual is over, as I’ve said before. There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s going to do things, first and foremost, for the American people --

KARL: So we’re still going to see a lot of Twitter as president?

SPICER: You’re going to see -- absolutely you’re going to see Twitter. Why wouldn’t --

KARL: He said he was -- well he had said on "60 Minutes" that he was going to cut back.

SPICER: No. You know what, the fact of the matter is that, when he tweets, he gets results. So whether it’s Twitter, holding a news conference, picking up the phone, having a meeting, he is going to make sure that he continues to fight for the American people every single day.

KARL: Bottom line, are you going to have regular White House press briefings, Sean Spicer?

SPICER: Absolutely, in some way. You know some of them will be on camera; some of them will be off. But absolutely. We understand the importance --

KARL: So no more daily televised press briefings?

SPICER: No, no. No decisions have been made. But we’re looking at every single facet of government and figuring it out.

Can we do it better?

We’ll sit down with the White House Correspondents Dinner, Correspondents Association. I’ve already had reporters reach out and say, hey, we’ve got some ideas.

This isn’t -- this is about we understand that we have a message to get out and successes to -- that we want the American people to understand. So we’ll use every tool possible. And, absolutely, we’ll sit down and make sure that, on a daily basis, the press is informed.

KARL: And regular presidential press conferences?

SPICER: Absolutely.

KARL: All right. Sean Spicer, incoming press secretary for the Trump administration, thank you for joining us.

SPICER: Happy New Year.

KARL: Happy New Year.

And we're joined now by Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, happy new year and thank you for joining us.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, good to be with you.

KARL: So let's pick up with the Russian hack. You heard from president-elect Trump last night saying he's still not convinced it's the Russians. He says hacking is a very hard thing to prove so it could be somebody else. OK. You have been briefed on the intelligence.

How solid is the evidence that it was the Russians?

SCHIFF: It's very solid. It's indeed overwhelming and the president-elect, as you know, also said that he knows things that other people don't know. He needs to stop talking this way.

If he's going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community. He's going to rely on them. He's going to have to rely on them.

And this is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans. None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump.

And this is the problem. There's only one thing worse than someone who wins elective office after everyone told them that they would win and that's someone who wins after everyone told them that they would not because they believe in the infallibility of their own judgment. And this is very dangerous.

KARL: But doesn't the incoming Trump press secretary have a point here on the response by the Obama administration?

We did have that hack by the Chinese, the OPM attack; this was 22 million federal employees affected. The Obama administration did nothing that we know of publicly.

Why did they do nothing about that huge hack done by China and then this, just on the way out the door, make this big statement about the Russia hack?

SCHIFF: Well, I think what Mr. Spicer fails to appreciate is there was one form of hacking for the purpose of foreign intelligence gathering and that's what the Chinese did with OPM. They gathered this information about federal employees that they could use for their foreign intelligence purposes.

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: That's a serious offense.

SCHIFF: It's very serious. All nations gather foreign intelligence information, all nations.

KARL: Steal data?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHIFF: And you're not going to -- well, you're not going to prevent foreign nations from stealing data that they think is in their interest. The best thing you can do is defend against it.

But here's what's different about what Russia did. They didn't just steal data; they weaponized it. They dumped it during an election with the specific intent of influencing the outcomes of that election and sowing discord in the United States. That is not something China has ever done. That is not something, frankly, Russia has ever done here, although it has done it in Europe.

And that is a very different situation than the mere stealing of information, as serious as it was in China's case. And that's why the administration handled both cases very differently and that makes all the sense in the world.

KARL: Has the Obama administration, though, given something of a gift to the incoming Trump administration on this?

They took measures that perhaps were not all that serious so that the Russians could kind of shrug them off, giving Trump an opportunity to kind of say what's done has been done and move on?

SCHIFF: If the Trump folks are smart or shrewd politically, they would view it that way. They would say he took care of the reprisals, it didn't really throw off relations with Russia in terms of how I'm going to start out my presidency. He cleaned the deck for me.

If he's smart, that's the view he'll take. Frankly, though, in Congress, we don't share that view. We think that more has to be done. We don't think that frankly the steps that have been taken are enough of a deterrent. And you're going to see bipartisan support in Congress for stronger sanctions against Russia.

KARL: And if Trump moves to undo what President Obama has done here, what's going to be the congressional response?

SCHIFF: The reaction is going to be even more vigorous, I'm convinced, in favor of stronger sanctions against Russia. You're going to see Democrats and Republicans, like McCain and Graham and others, come together with a strong sanctions package because frankly even though what the administration did was more than symbolic, it was very meaningful. It is not enough to deter Russia.

KARL: So if you looked through that FBI report, it is clear that this was not the most sophisticated hack. Basically these Democratic officials opened up suspicious attachments or gave their passwords when asked.

This was -- this could have been prevented with a little less carelessness on the part of the Democrats, isn't that right?

SCHIFF: You know, I'm not sure that that's right. And certainly there was carelessness and they didn't follow best practices.

The reality is, if Russia wants to get into a private organization, they're going to get in. If you launch enough spearfishing attacks, no matter how sophisticated you are, in your defense, an adversary like Russia is going to get in. So much as that might be a good argument for Sean Spicer and others to say, oh, the Democratic Party was negligent --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: But they were careless.

SCHIFF: -- they were careless. But that doesn't let Russia off the hook. Yes, it got them in the door. But Russia and Putin and the Kremlin, they are the ones that made a decision to dump and weaponize that information.

KARL: And I want to ask you about this horrific attack in Turkey, yet another shooting in a nightclub.

What do we know about who was responsible?

SCHIFF: Well, we still don't know yet. Obviously there are two parties that are the prime suspects. You have ISIS, which has urged attacks in Turkey, urged attacks in places where foreigners congregate, urged attacks around the holidays.

You also have Turkey very much at war with Kurdish militants. What you look at initially before there's a claim of responsibility or can follow the evidence trail is who were the targets. And these look more like ISIS targets than Kurdish targets. But that's far from definitive.

KARL: And if you look at this, it's really, unfortunately, not all that surprising. We got a State Department warning issued just 10 days ago, a non-specific, general warning to Americans in Turkey and other parts of Israel -- I mean other parts of -- of Europe, telling them to avoid crowded spaces and places where Westerners were gathered.

SCHIFF: That was true. Our State Department warnings have been tragically very much on point, as they were in Berlin, as they are here in Turkey. And unfortunately, this portends another very tumultuous and violent year in Turkey, as not only the gateway and the path for fighters going into Syria, but also the gateway for refugees coming out and massive security problems on their hands.

KARL: Right.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

KARL: And Happy New Year.

SCHIFF: To you, too.

KARL: Up next, predictions from the year ahead from the Powerhouse Roundtable.

Plus, Newt Gingrich and Donna Brazile reflect on 2016 and make a surprising New Year's resolution.

And we shout about inauguration pomp in Trump style with Sara Haines of "The View."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He's president until January 20th. And then after that, it's our turn. So we'll see what happens. I mean he's got to protect what he wants to do and perhaps you could say his legacy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: And there's President-elect Trump last night talking about the latest moves by President Obama.

I'm joined this first day of 2017 by NPR's Steve Inskeep, MoveOn.org's Karine Jean-Pierre, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, and our very own Congressional correspondent, Mary Bruce.

So, Steve, you are just back from your exit interview, extensive exit interview with President Obama.

What -- what's your sense, reading between the lines?

How does he feel this transition is going?

STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: Well, I hear from both sides, Jon, that in spite of some of the fireworks of recent days, that the logistics, the basic work of the transition is going on. People on both sides insist that on that mechanical level, it's fine.

But clearly, there's a slight difference of opinion on issue after issue after issue, which they're continuing to press.

And you heard President-elect Trump say in that clip just a second ago, he's president until January 20, referring to President Obama. That is exactly the way the current president sees it.

Obviously, he's been comfortable taking dramatic last minute actions about oil drilling, for example, about Israel, on some other issues, regarding the Russians, which you've been talking about, and their intent, as I understand it, is to keep going in that same way right up until the end. We could see more dramatics from this administration.

KARL: So it's extraordinary on both sides, because we -- we've had this tradition, Mary, of one president at a time and the tradition is that the outgoing president is, you know, kind of taking the foot off the gas. The incoming president doesn't comment on -- on foreign policy and other major issues.

I mean...

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Not so much.

KARL: I mean on...

(CROSSTALK)

BRUCE: Not so much this time around.

KARL: Yes.

BRUCE: And, you know, this White House is reminding publicly of that protocol, that tradition, that there is one president at a time. But you hear from Trump's team, well, they respect that, but this certainly -- Donald Trump, as they say, is not someone who's going to sit idly by. He's going to act. He's going to take action.

And as Steve mentions, you're seeing President Obama do that, as well. He is throwing up, you know, roadblock after roadblock, as many will criticize him for doing.

But there's a precedent for that, as well. Many presidents have certainly tried to cement their legacy, tried to get a lot of things done as the clock ticks down to their departure.

KARL: So, Karine, though, when you look toward these first 100 days and the confirmation battles ahead, those hearings are actually going to start before Trump is sworn in, what -- where are the Democrats going to pick their biggest fights?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MOVEON.ORG: It's hard to tell right now where the -- the biggest fights are going to happen, because, hey, the new Congress hasn't even been confirmed yet. But I will say that they will ask some pointed serious questions, right?

When you have -- you have many questionable cabinet picks, like Tillerson, right, where you hear Senators McCain and Marco Rubio even, and Graham, saying hey, we're -- we're not comfortable with this guy who has close relationships with Russia and also if he becomes secretary of State, he will be the first secretary of State that doesn't have government experience and has never been in the military.

KARL: So is he the one that they're going to put forward (INAUDIBLE)...

JEAN-PIERRE: I think I -- I think there might be some bipartisan consensus on that one.

And then for me, Sessions, right, who has had some questionable kind of stands on racial issues in this country.

You have -- you have at HHS, Ben Carson, whose own -- whose own spokesperson...

KARL: HUD.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, HUD. Whose own spokesperson said, hey, you know what, he is not even ready. He could -- he shouldn't be leading an agency.

So I think there is going to be some strong pointed questions that the Democrats will ask. And I think the other part of it, too, is the conflict of interest, if that's not dealt with by Donald Trump, which is what constitutional lawyers and folks from the White House who served on both sides of the aisle, have said, you need to divest from your businesses in order to not have conflicts, it will be interesting to see if Congress is going to do their duty and really ask those strong questions (INAUDIBLE)...

KARL: But -- but the cabinet is going to take what five Republicans, assuming all the Democrats remain united to defeat any one of these nominees.

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Right. And I don't see that happening.

KARL: Yes.

MADDEN: I do agree that many Democrats see that, particularly against the backdrop of the allegations of Russian hacking right now, the -- the confirmation hearings with Rex Tillerson as one of the areas where maybe you have a nominee who is vulnerable from criticism inside their own party.

And I do believe that the culture wars will be very hard to resist up on Capitol Hill with regard to the nomination of Jeff Sessions.

But I think if you look at the numbers across the board from -- from -- from the Republican -- inside the Republican Party up on Capitol Hill, I think the numbers are there for a pretty safe confirmation of those two nominees.

KARL: But where's the biggest battle going to be?

I'm not so much interested in where the Democrats are going to go after Trump. That's predictable.

But where is the biggest battle with the Republicans?

MADDEN: Well...

KARL: Is it on the trillion dollar infrastructure plan he's talking about doing?

MADDEN: Yes.

KARL: Or is it on this Russia stuff?

KARL: Well, I think the Russia stuff -- I do think there's a leadership test for Republicans here.

Are we going to see a party sort of resort to partisan tribalism and just defend the -- the incoming president because he happens to be of the same party?

Or is this an opportunity to really demonstrate that they have a better way forward on things like national security and foreign policy?

That will be a big test.

KARL: And...

BRUCE: And...

KARL: Well, go ahead.

BRUCE: Well, I think the sanctions -- I think what you're seeing right now, what President Obama has just done on Russia, it puts Republicans now on a collision course with President Trump. This is the first big break. And you're already seeing signs of that.

I mean so far, Republicans have been walking this fine line. They've been careful to make clear where they disagree with the president-elect, but they haven't been criticizing him.

And you're seeing that start to change every time he comes out and praises Putin, every time he questions U.S. intelligence...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BRUCE: -- that starts to crack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BRUCE: Add to that all of these calls for even tougher sanctions and the honeymoon may be over.

INSKEEP: In principal, what the president-elect is trying to do makes sense and is within -- within the bounds of what previous presidents have done. You heard Sean Spicer say it earlier. He was saying the president-elect just wants a better relationship with Russia. It's in U.S. interests.

And if you talk with people who are around Trump, they will say, look, Russia is an important country, China is an important country. We want to play one off the other. That's what they'll say.

But there's a tone in the president-elect's remarks that has concerned a lot of people. And there is something happening in the Republican Party within the Republican Party as regards Putin and Russia.

There's a guy named Mike Gonzalez. He writes for the Heritage Foundation...

KARL: Right.

INSKEEP: -- who put out a thing the other day pointing out that there are a lot of people within the Republican Party who have become enamored of Putin, who portrays himself with -- as a defender of Christian Western civilization, values that conservatives would hold dear.

But it's Vladimir Putin, as this guy points out, and that's causing a real fraction within the Republican Party that's reflected in some of the remarks the president-elect makes.

KARL: I want to flash back to a moment in the 2012 campaign. If you remember, Mitt Romney said that Russia is America's biggest -- greatest geopolitical foe, and this is from President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Romney, I'm glad that you recognize al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked the biggest geopolitical threat facing America you said Russia, not al Qaeda, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: I mean, the amazing thing here is Obama seems to be channels a future President-elect Trump.

MADDEN: Well, look, that's why there is a bit of the White House right now does have a credibility crisis on this. They did for very long mock anybody who criticized their position on Putin, particularly during the 2011 win he proclaimed he wanted to be more flexible with the then President Medvedev.

So, this is a particular problem. That's why I think the actions right now that you see in the twilight of the Obama presidency do look like they're somewhat toothless.

INSKEEP: Can I mention, though, I don't think the current president has really changed his view of Russia. He's continued to say even in recent days these people aren't that strong. They don't make anything important. They're not that great a country, but we need to deal with them as a threat.

KARL: So, he still doesn't see Russia as our big geopolitical...

INSKEEP: I'm not sure that he does see Russia as a big problem, but obviously Russia has made itself a big problem, that the United States has not figured out under this president how to deal with.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I would have to say the only difference is that Russia has actually tried to undermine our democracy, right, and this is why the reaction of the president has been such as it is. And I mean the thing, too, is on the Republican side, the person who is the leader of their party is tweeting how wonderful Vladimir Putin is, and that is a problem for Republicans. How are they going to deal with that?

And you had a question earlier, Jonathan, about what's going to be the big fight. Here's the thing, Trump's campaign rhetoric is going to bump against Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and what

they want to do in their budget, especially when it comes to things like Social Security and Medicare. Trump had said I don't want to touch those things.

So, what is that going to look like as we get...

MADDEN: I think that is an important point, how long the price tag of populism can last up on Capitol Hill before there's a collision with the fiscal hawks up on Capitol Hill?

INSKEEP: Let me mention a Trump team spin, if I can, very briefly if that's the word of the way that Trump has spoken about Putin. One way to portray that is he's trying to get Putin to trust him, that's the way it is described sometimes by people around Mr. Trump.

But then you have to ask is Putin ever going to trust the United States and can the United

States ever trust Putin? That's going to be the challenge.

KARL: Let's move on to the Democrats, because, you know, this was a tough election, right?

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely.

KARL: This was a tough election for Democrats. Who is right now the leading spokesperson for the Democratic Party? Is it the kind of Warren, Bernie Sanders wing, is Joe Biden still out there? What role is Obama going to play? I mean, what -- who leads the charge?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, right now President Obama is the leader of the Democratic Party.

KARL: For 20 or so days.

JEAN-PIERRE: For 20 or so days and we have seen what he's planning to do which is trying to put an organization to really deal with 2020 redistricting, which I think will be very important, will help rebuild the Democratic Party.

Look, I think the way that I see it is the Democrats need to come together and be -- and create a national resistance and it's going to start in the states and we have 2018 coming around and that's going to be important to build what's going on, you know, get back the state legislators, these gubernatorial races. And it's going to lead not just 2020 election, but also redirecting, as I just mentioned, but lastly voter suppression is going to be really key. And that's where I believe the Democrats should be trying to really get behind.

KARL: What about this notion of a new outsider, like taken a page out of the Republican playbook? It's the Republican playbook, but somebody -- I mean, it doesn't have to be...

JEAN-PIERRE: A CEO.

KARL: Or a Mark Cuban.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

KARL: Kanye is out there, you know.

But seriously, Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks stepping down in April I believe it is. Ready to go maybe? Maybe?

BRUCE: It certainly is a possibility, and Donald Trump has shown that that playbook can be followed. I mean, Democrats have a big bench problem. I mean, even Harry Reid reportedly joking it looks like an old folks' home. They have a big issue here. And what are they going to do to fill that? And if you look, even at the leaders in congress, especially if you looked at the committees, right, look at who is on what committees right now. You've got Warren on armed services, Corey Booker on foreign relations, Klobuchar on Armed Services, they're all on these committees now that are stepping stones, right, they're resume boosters.

KARL: We're almost out of time, but I've got to get some predictions. So, to all of you, first of all I want to ask, what will be the biggest Trump promise that he delivers on and what will be the biggest one that he fails to deliver on?

Steven Inskeep?

INSKEEP: There will be an increase in manufacturing jobs, but surely not to the grand dimensions that the president-elect promised during his campaign, because trade has not been, according to economists, the real cause of the loss of manufacturing jobs. Something that he'll keep, I think he is going to change the tone of the political conversation, force Democrats to compete differently and change American politics in a tremendous way, let's say great. Good or bad, I don't know, it's going to be huge.

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think unfortunately for a lot of Americans, Donald Trump does have the votes in congress to repeal, to take away, health care for many Americans. So, I think that could potentially happen, something he delivers on.

The other thing is, you know, for all those folks who were chanting at his rallies, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. That is not going to happen.

KARL: OK, no wall.

MADDEN: I actually agree with both of those. The repeal of ACA I think is going to happen very quickly. It's not only a priority of a President Trump, but of the congress and then I think, the idea we're going to see a physical wall is not one -- I think that's something they're going to walk back on right away.

KARL: Very quickly.

BRUCE: I'm with Steve, I think the change in tone, you're seeing that. He's shaking things up, that's for sure. Muslim ban, not going to happen.

KARL: All right, that's all the time we have. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: When we come back, Donna Brazile and Newt Gingrich reflect on a wild 2016 and look forward to what's in store for 2017.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: 2016 was a brutal year for political operatives on all sides, with deeply divisive and highly personal battles. I recently got together with two of the most prominent combatants in 2016, Democratic Party chairman, Donna Brazile, and former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Donna Brazile, Newt Gingrich, thank you for joining us. So, here we are, just weeks away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Newt, not even you thought this was going to happen.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No, early on, I thought he was serious but I wouldn't have told you that he was inevitable. And he wasn't inevitable. It was a very close election. People forget not many votes had to change in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

KARL: Was there a moment, Donna, where you looked at what was happening and thought, this is more than just a celebrity phenomenon; that this is -- that he had actually tapped into a legitimate, real movement?

DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIRWOMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think that my early indication was back in the summer of 2015, when, just a few weeks after his announcement, he was already drawing big crowds. He was already dominating the electoral landscape in terms of the media.

And I think he put, in the beginning, the conservative movement on notice and then the Republican establishment.

But at the end of the day, I agree with Newt, it was a close election; 112,000 votes. I mean that is the real margin. I mean, Donald Trump broke the blue wall. He cracked it and then he broke it wide open.

And siphoned off enough votes with disenchanted Democrats, independents and others that allowed him to win the electoral vote.

KARL: He wins in Wisconsin, which Republicans hadn't carried since '84; he wins in Michigan; he wins in Pennsylvania. These are states that --

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: He wins in Iowa.

KARL: -- these are states that haven't gone Republican in a generation or more.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: And I don’t see any other Republican who could have carried it because they would've run a normal campaign.

These were not people who were Republican. They are not people who are attracted to Republicans. But they had a gut feeling that his years of working with blue collar workers in building buildings, which is -- remember he's not a financier. He actually built buildings.

He actually was out with blue collar people. They had this gut sense that he was somehow -- he was a sign of hope that somebody cared in a way that I don't think any other Republican could've communicated.

BRAZILE: 2016 will go down as the year where the rules changed. Everywhere I went -- and blue states especially, in so-called blue states -- and I kept phoning back to Brooklyn, "Hey, guys, there are Trump posters all over, all over the place."

And I kept saying, this is -- don't make fun of it because that's a sign. That's a sign that those -- the people working for Donald Trump or the people volunteering, they are out in the community, putting up yard signs, communicating with people.

He ran a non-traditional campaign. I give him credit for that. That said, you have to give credit to the campaign that had a consistent message 100 percent of the time, "Make America Great."

OK?

KARL: "Again."

BRAZILE: A slogan that became the message, that became the song. And you got a song, you got a melody.

KARL: Let's get to the issue that Donna raised, the popular vote. Now I understand, that's not how we elect presidents.

GINGRICH: It a non-issue.

KARL: But isn't it an issue that 3 million more people, almost 3 million more, voted for Trump's opponent?

GINGRICH: No.

KARL: So you're telling me that if Donald Trump had won the popular vote by 3 million votes and had lost the Electoral College, that you wouldn't be raising questions about what kind of a mandate Hillary Clinton had?

GINGRICH: No, I'm not telling you anything. I’m saying that the rules of the game as they were played -

KARL: I understand --

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: -- meant that Donald Trump was president. When you’re president, you’re president. You have the mandate of being president.

Now, whether he uses that mandate to unify the country and bring us together, which he should, is not a function of the size of the popular vote. It is a function of what does a good president do. A good president tries to represent all of America.

KARL: What can he do to reach out?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I think it depends on what you mean by reach out. I mean, Trump is not interested in doing what George W. Bush did. George W. Bush --

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: -- no, but George W. Bush came into office and promptly reached out to Teddy Kennedy, who wanted an education bill that Teddy Kennedy loved. Now if you were conservative, that horrified to you. It didn’t make you feel better.

BRAZILE: Well, if it's my way or the highway, then what you’re going to see again is another round of gridlock in Washington, D.C. You’re going to see retribution and retaliation.

He has an enormous opportunity, as every president in the first 100 days, to show that he is eager to find common ground, to meet with Democrats.

Chuck Schumer, I mean, Chuck Schumer knows Donald Trump, both New Yorkers. Have him over for breakfast, have him over for afternoon tea and see if you can find common ground.

KARL: So what do Democrats do?

Do they stop Trump?

Do they fight him tooth and nail on everything?

Or do they try to reach out and try to work with him?

BRAZILE: It all depends. Look --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: Because I hear both from -- and I hear a lot of, "We are going to fight him; he is not a legitimate president, not my president; we're going to stop him at every turn."

You hear a lot of that from Democrats.

BRAZILE: Well, no question, I mean, look, I’ve heard from Elizabeth Warren, I’ve heard from Bernie Sanders. I’ve heard from a number of Democrats that will fight.

But there are also other Democrats who are saying, look, put something on the table. Let us work together. We have a lot at stake in terms of the economy. President Obama is leaving the White House and leaving the economy in much better shape than what he found it back in 2009.

We are not hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. The economy is growing, albeit not as fast as most Americans would like it to.

But let's see what Donald Trump will propose. Let's see what he will propose on education. Let's see what he intends to do in terms of ObamaCare.

Will he just repeal it without putting up an alternative that will strengthen it?

Or will he continue to just say I'm going to just get rid of it?

KARL: OK, let me turn this around a little bit.

When you look, Mr. Speaker, at the prospects of the Trump presidency, what do you fear the most?

GINGRICH: That they will lose their nerve. Look, they're going to arrive in Washington and, for them to be successful, they have to stake out positions that Donna will not like and the Left will hate.

And my deepest concern is that they're going to arrive and you're going to have the Greens going crazy over the EPA and Interior. You going to have the government employee unions going crazy about civil service reform.

You’re going to have the teachers' union going crazy over school choice. And these are pretty nonnegotiable. I mean, if you're serious about school choice, there is no agreement with the teachers' union.

KARL: You are worried that he is going to get squishy, that he…

GINGRICH: I'm worried that when they realize how big the problem is, that they decide that they're just going to do the best they can and give in.

BRAZILE: You asked what do people fear the most, is that he will never rise to the occasion. And that is what people fear because we've watched him after winning the Electoral College, we've watched him continue to attack, to demonize.

We have not seen this bigger, larger presence of a, you know, the next commander in chief of the entire United States.

Look, but guess what, I still have hope. I have hope. I believe that one day we might see a new Donald Trump emerge. I'm not putting any of my money on it. But I do believe that perhaps he will wake up to the fact that he is President of United States of America.

KARL: All right. Well, thank you both very much.

GINGRICH: Thank you.

KARL: Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: When we come back, a look ahead to Trump's inaugural, now just three weeks away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," COURTESY NBC)

KATE MCKINNON, ACTOR: I've put together a list of people who have agreed to perform at your inauguration. It's a...

(LAUGHTER)

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: So many great names here, really. I love them both.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: There are the stars of "Saturday Night Live" with their take on the planning now underway for the Trump inauguration. January 20 is fast approaching.

So let's go to the one and only Sara Haines, co-host of "The View" and a certified expert on all things pop politics for a preview -- Sara, welcome to THIS WEEK.

SARA HAINES, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Thank you, Jon.

You read it just like I wrote it, certified expert.

KARL: No doubt.

HAINES: It has a ring.

KARL: No doubt.

So here we are. They like -- this inauguration is going to be huge. It's the first time we've had a reality TV star getting sworn in as the president of the United States.

There had been talk of Elton John performing, Celine Dion. None of that panned out.

So what -- what are we going to see, entertainment-wise?

HAINES: Well, you may recall, President Obama had some big hitters. He had Aretha Franklin and Beyonce.

I mean how do you top that?

They performed at his inauguration ceremonies.

But for Trump's big day, there could be less of that star power, which is surprising considering he himself might be the star.

Elton John, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli were names that floated, as you mentioned, as performers, but they reportedly turned down invites.

KARL: Wow!

HAINES: We do know that Jackie Evanko, the 63-year-old opera singer that rose to fame appearing on "America's Got Talent," will be there. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Rockettes have also been booked.

KARL: And then looking forward past the inauguration, this is going to be -- obviously, this is a -- the most dramatic change in power that we have ever seen, at least in -- in our lifetimes, but also a change in style.

What kind of -- what kind of style is the Trump family going to bring to the White House?

HAINES: Well, it's going to be a different kind of style, for sure. Of course, Michelle Obama had top designers lining up to dress here and there were some unforgettable moments. We all talked about them.

But there's been some resistance against the Trumps. Quite a few designers saying they disagree with the president's politics and have no interest in working with Melania.

But the White House is a big lure. And plenty of top designers, like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, they've already said they would love to work with the Trumps.

So you can bet there will be more to follow.

KARL: Before you go, Sara Haines, your last appearance -- first appear -- not last, first appearance here on THIS WEEK, first of many, I am sure.

HAINES: First of many.

Thank you.

KARL: First I assume.

Look back at 2016.

What -- what was your favorite pop politics moment of 2016?

HAINES: I -- it's kind of my favorite pop moment every year is always "Saturday Night Live." And on it -- in an election year, it takes the cake, week after week, the impersonations, the playouts of the debates were some of my favorites.

I am, for just comedic relief, hoping that Sarah Palin gets appointed to something, because if Tina Fey came back, dreams would come true.

So yes, it's where I get my politics, right behind THIS WEEK.

KARL: I don't...

HAINES: And I'm sure, you, too, have gotten some nuggets of information on "Saturday Night Live."

KARL: No question.

And we can't forget that this started -- this campaign started with Trump appearing on "Saturday Night Live."

HAINES: Yes.

KARL: And ended with him maybe the harshest critic of "Saturday Night Live" and Alec Baldwin's...

HAINES: That was back when he liked the show, Jon.

KARL: Yes. Yes.

Sara Haines from "The View" and ABC News.

Thank you for joining us on THIS WEEK.

HAINES: Thank you.

Happy New Year.

KARL: Happy New Year. And we'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.

In the month of December, one service member died supporting operations in Afghanistan.

That's all for us today.

Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Before we go, on behalf of George, Martha and our entire ABC News on-air team, a big thank you to everyone who works hard behind the scenes to bring you THIS WEEK every week.

We leave you now with a performance from The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage by the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Band.

Have a healthy and Happy New Year.