— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on June 18, 2017 and it will be updated.
ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS starts right now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST: The president's tweet, "I am being investigated", seeming to confirm he is now under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.
REPORTER: Are you under investigation by the FBI?
RADDATZ: President Trump now hiring more lawyers and fighting back, calling the Russia investigation the single greatest witch hunt in American political history. Attacking the special counsel as bad and conflicted. So will the president try to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
We'll ask our exclusive guest, Trump ally Newt Gingrich, one of Mueller's biggest critics.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Technically, the President of the United States cannot obstruct justice.
RADDATZ: Plus, where's the proof? The House Intel Committee giving the president until Friday to hand over any tapes.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When he's ready to discuss it, he will.
RADDATZ: Do those tapes exist? And if they do, will the president comply? We asked the top Democrat on that committee in an exclusive interview.
And will Trump's base stand by the president? I traveled to the heart of Trump country to find out.
Do you want to get to the truth about this? Do you care? Is it important?
Plus, insights and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable. Everything you need to know -- what happens after the President of the United States says I am being investigated.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning. And to all the fathers out there, a very Happy Father's Day. This week, a new sense of urgency over President Trump's future and the cost of political anger. The shock of that Wednesday morning shooting, a gunman targeting Republican members of Congress practicing for their annual charity baseball game.
Banner headlines across America, including a full front page of "The New Orleans Times-Picayune", hometown paper of Congressman Steve Scalise, still in the hospital facing more surgery and a long recovery. The hospital reports Scalise is doing better, that he is more responsive and is speaking with his loved ones.
The nation seemed to rebound in that uplifting Thursday night ball game, Republicans and Democrats praying together at second base, the position Scalise was supposed to play. It made for a great image for Friday's "Washington Post", but one column over, and here we go again -- President Trump lashing out at Special Counsel Mueller and his team of investigators.
Reconciliation and anger battling for space on the page and for hearts and mind. And with those Trump tweets aimed squarely at the special counsel and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, the heat is on high at the Department of Justice. So let's bring in ABC's Pierre Thomas.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good morning. The president in that tweet basically said he believes he's under investigation. That soon could become a reality. The former FBI director James Comey laid out what he believes is a disturbing case. He said that the president asked him for loyalty. Basically asked him to stop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And he said he was fired to change the course of the Russian investigation.
Now Mueller faces a huge decision? Does he believe the president, who says there's no wrongdoing here, or does he go after the president in the way James Comey wants him to do?
Now, my sources are telling me he's begun some preliminary planning. Plans to talk to some people in the administration. But he's not yet made that momentous decision to go for a full scale investigation.
RADDATZ: And how vast is this team? How vast are the personnel that Mueller is hiring? Give a sense of how big this investigation is and how it compares to others.
THOMAS: Martha, he's hired -- Mueller's hired 13 attorneys already with more in the pipeline, I'm being told. Now, he also has a platoon of FBI agents at his disposal. So it's fair to say that the Trump team and administration is going to face scrutiny that they've never seen before. These people, these prosecutors, are experts in conspiracies, experts in investigating the mafia and bringing down financial crimes like Enron. So a lot of pressure here.
RADDATZ: Now, our next guest, speaker Newt Gingrich, has said that the first few people that Mueller hired were Democrats or had given to Democratic candidates. Is that a fair issue to bring up?
THOMAS: Well, clearly, several of the people he's hired have made donations to Democrats in the past. But Justice Department guidelines say that Mueller cannot use that against people, in terms of whether they're Republicans or Democrats, in the hiring. So he's supposed to make the decisions based on their skills.
Now, one of the things I think we can say is fact: Bob Mueller is not seen, by and large, as a partisan figure. The man served as FBI director for ten years, was reconfirmed by the Senate 100-0.
RADDATZ: But he's starting to get some pushback from some.
THOMAS: Clearly, there's people who are pushing at Bob Mueller but, again, I'm not sure that dog's going to hunt.
RADDATZ: And what do you make of the tensions between the president and the Justice Department, especially Deputy AG Rosenstein.
THOMAS: Extraordinary. I talked to sources on Friday. They were perplexed, surprised by the president's tweet which basically called into question the integrity of Rosenstein. They didn't know quite what to make of it.
But Rosenstein is under extreme pressure. If Mueller decides to do a special counsel investigation of obstruction of justice involving the president and it involves the firing of Comey, then Rosenstein is a potential witness, so he may have to make a decision to recuse himself. And guess what, Martha, if he recuses himself, you would now the deputy attorney general and attorney general of the United States recusing themselves in a massive investigation.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much, Pierre.
And I'm joined now by Trump ally and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of Understanding Trump. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.
GINGRICH: Good morning.
RADDATZ: I want to start with the Russia investigation. Of course, we saw "The Washington Post" headline and attorney general Rod Rosenstein's cautioning people on reports from anonymous officials. But then, as the president tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.” We know people close to the president's legal team say he wasn't confirming any sort of investigation. And you just heard what Pierre said that President Trump was just commenting on The Washington Post headlines.
You're the man who wrote "Understanding Trump." How do you understand that tweet?
GINGRICH: Trump has a compulsion to counterattack. And is very pugnacious. I don't think it serves him well. I don't think that tweet helped him. But it's almost like it's who he has been his whole life. I mean, he's been a fighter his whole life. He is infuriated, and legitimately, in my judgment, by this whole Russian baloney. And notice how it's evolving.
I mean, you started over here with Russia. Well, they don't have anything on Russia, but maybe, maybe there was obstruction. We may not get anything on obstruction, but maybe there is going to be perjury. And maybe there will be -- I mean, you go down the list, and we have been here before. We watched Comey appoint Patrick Fitzgerald, who was the godfather to Comey's children, and Fitzgerald knew there was no crime.
RADDATZ: But let's go back to what you just said, this Russian baloney. If people are involved in collusion with Russia, don't you want to know about that?
GINGRICH: There's no evidence. I mean, first of all, if you want to investigate Russia, fine. How about Bill Clinton's $500,000 speech. How about Podesta's brother who is a registered agent for a Russia bank. How about the Iranian deal.
RADDATZ: Let's stick with this for now.
GINGRICH: No, no. I'm just saying. I'm happy to look at Russia's relationship. I actually think it would be healthy to have congressional hearings on foreign influence peddling in the U.S. way beyond the Russians. I think that's important for the future of our democracy.
No one, and Comey himself said this in his last testimony, no one has suggested that Donald Trump had anything to do with colluding with the Russians. There's not a bit of evidence he did.
RADDATZ: Well, certainly we don't know what any evidence is so far. We don't know what's going on...
GINGRICH: Feingeint -- Senator Feinstein, the Democrat ranking member on intelligence said there is no evidence of collusion.
RADDATZ: I want to go back to the tweet for a second. Do you think he was confirming an investigation?
GINGRICH: I have no idea what he thought he was doing.
You said this week that the president cannot obstruct justice, but you led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton. You voted for article 3 of the House Impeachment of Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice. What is the difference here?
GINGRICH: Clinton had committed perjury. He ultimately lost his license to practice law. Perjury is a felony. It's the same thing with Nixon, and the Nixon people were involved in a crime.
Andy McCarthy, who is a former federal prosecutor who actually prosecuted the World Trade Center bombing in '93, McCarthy has made the point over and over again, if you don't have a crime, what is it you're investigating? We don't have any evidence that Donald Trump...
RADDATZ: But the president said that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. If the special counsel finds he impeded that investigation by firing Comey, how is that not obstruction?
GINGRICH: He didn't impede the investigation. There's no evidence. First of all, the FBI itself has said, they have all the money they have asked for. They have had no problems getting resources. I think he fired Comey because Comey's public behavior was so destructive.
RADDATZ: He said he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.
GINGRICH: Right, because Comey would not say in public what he was saying to Trump in private, which is you're not being investigated.
Trump just wanted people to understand, fine, there's a Russian investigation. It doesn't involve the president of the United States. And Comey apparently said that to him on three occasions.
RADDATZ: Let's talk about Bob Mueller. You have done a complete 180 on Bob Mueller. You heard what Pierre just said about Bob Mueller, highly respected man. In May you said he was a superb choice for special counsel with an impeccable reputation for honesty. Less than a month later, you say he won't be fair.
GINGRICH: Well, because, frankly, I switch, and I have no problem with Bob Mueller as a person. But I every problem with how he's -- what he's doing. I, frankly, began to switch the minute Comey, in his remarkable public statement, says, I deliberately leaked to a college professor to leak to The New York Times for the purpose of getting a special counsel.
OK, now the special counsel happens to be a close friend of Comey, which is weird, because under Justice Department rules, Mueller can't investigate Comey.
RADDATZ: But Mueller was appointed by Rosenstein.
GINGRICH: I know.
RADDATZ: Comey isn't under investigation.
GINGRICH: Comey may be under investigation. If you have an obstruction case, Comey has got to be one of the major witnesses. So then I look at who Mueller -- so I'm now curious. So I then look at who Mueller has hired. One of the lawyers he brought in has such a record of hiding evidence from the defense, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that when that lawyer participated in destroying Arthur Andersen, 85,000 jobs, that it wasn't a crime.
But he hid the evidence. He hid the evidence in Enron and four people who were innocent spent a year in jail.
Now you bring in head-hunters like that, the first four people he brought in, one was a person who had defended the Clinton Foundation against Freedom of Information Act.
RADDATZ: You heard what Pierre said. You now have 13 in there. And federal law and department policy prohibit the use of political -- ideological affiliations to assess applicants. This is effectively the way they choose...
GINGRICH: … these are people he's recruiting.
RADDATZ: And so you think Bob Mueller is politicizing this investigation, and that's why you don't trust him.
GINGRICH: You tell me why the first four names that came up, I don't know about the next nine, the first four names are all people who gave to Democrats. Two of them are people with a record of hiding evidence from the defense. And one of them is a person who defended the Clinton Foundation.
Now in this environment with a Justice Department where 97 percent of the donations last year went to Hillary, 97 percent, explain to me why I should relax as a Republican.
RADDATZ: OK. Former Republican Congressman Bob English, who helped draft President Clinton's impeachment articles says the charges against Trump are more serious than lying under oath. He writes that former President Clinton was impeached for charges less serious than the ones before us now. In the current case...
GINGRICH: Well, what are the charges?
RADDATZ: … Comey was exploring the possibility of American involvement in the Russian plot, a treasonous offense.
GINGRICH: What are the charges against Trump?
RADDATZ: There are no charges against Trump yet...
GINGRICH: Comey has -- Comey said three times...
RADDATZ: … but there is certainly talk about what they could investigate.
GINGRICH: Well, there's talk about what they could. But notice how the whole system, including you, moves the game. OK, there are no charges against Trump. Comey has said three times, there is no evidence of collusion with Trump.
Senator Feinstein, the ranking Democrat in the...
RADDATZ: Comey is no longer there. We know that.
GINGRICH: No. But he has said, after six months of looking, there is no evidence that Trump's involved. Senator Feinstein just said they have not found any evidence that Trump is involved. So what are the charges against Trump?
RADDATZ: Let's talk about Rosenstein. You talked to the president. Why is he or was he, in that tweet, publicly calling out his deputy attorney general? Has he lost confidence in him?
GINGRICH: I think he's furious. I think Trump sits there and says, let me get this straight, I know I didn't do anything with the Russians. Comey has said three times I didn't do anything with the Russians. Nobody on Capitol Hill has any proof I did anything with the Russians. And now I get an independent counsel who is going to mess up at least the next year, at a minimum, and who, by the way, you'll notice is expanding his charge.
I mean, now they're talking about not the Russians, they're talking about obstruction. Now they're talking about going and looking at financial files, if you believe the leak. And I said yesterday, you get two more leaks like this, Rosenstein is going to have to appoint a special counsel to investigate the special counsel.
RADDATZ: Do you think Rosenstein should recuse himself?
GINGRICH: No. I mean, I think this whole game of recusal now is -- this is a nightmare. And I don't think people realize this. You have this legalistic nightmare trying to block the Trump presidency on behalf of a department in which 97 percent of the money was given to Hillary.
And you want me to believe this is all just random behavior. As a historian, I don't believe it.
RADDATZ: And so what do you think should happen here? If you have allegations, if you've got people saying...
GINGRICH: What allegations?
RADDATZ: If you've got allegations of collusion, you say there is no evidence, but we don't know that.
GINGRICH: Show the evidence.
RADDATZ: So should they stop it down?
GINGRICH: No, show the evidence. If they have any evidence that Donald Trump personally is involved, show it. The country deserves...
RADDATZ: But we're not talking just about...
GINGRICH: … not to have a president...
RADDATZ: … Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: We're not just talking about Donald Trump.
GINGRICH: But Trump did nothing to slow down the investigation below Comey. No one has suggested he did anything to -- the regular FBI could go investigate to their heart's content, Trump said he wanted it done. He was angry at Comey. He wasn't angry at the investigation.
RADDATZ: We'll see how this all turns out.
GINGRICH: All right.
RADDATZ: I'm sure it will be many months of going back and forth. Thanks very much for joining us this morning.
GINGRICH: Good to be with you.
RADDATZ: Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, joins me now. Good morning, Congressman Schiff.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning.
RADDATZ: You heard Speaker Gingrich just say he doesn't trust Bob Mueller. But Bob Mueller is close to Comey. Does he have a point?
SCHIFF: No, he doesn't, and I found it very hard, actually, just to follow his argument, frankly. This is someone, as you pointed out, Newt Gingrich was extolling just a few weeks ago. Nothing has changed. Bob Mueller's investigation is only getting started. The only thing that really has changed is the president is attacking Bob Mueller and therefore Newt Gingrich is attacking Bob Mueller.
But the reality is that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle find Mr. Mueller to be a man of incredible integrity and courage who served his country with bravery in Vietnam, who served presidents of both parties, and it's going to take a lot more than a few presidential tweets, or Newt Gingrich, to try to besmear this very good man. So I -- I think he's --
RADDATZ: But let's talk about the Democrats he was talking about.
SCHIFF: -- the right man for the job. Yes.
RADDATZ: Congressman Schiff. Is that a point? If he's got Democrats in there, if he's got people who've given to Clinton and other Democrats?
SCHIFF: No, I think that anyone who knows Bob Mueller knows he is choosing the best people to serve on this investigative team, people that have experience in the issues that he wants to investigate and believes need to be investigated. As you and Pierre pointed out, he can't go through FEC filings to figure out should I hire this person, should I not hire them? So he's picking the best people. I think members of Congress have confidence in that.
But what's happening here is the president wants to take down Bob Mueller. His lawyer wants to take down Bob Mueller. And the question is why? And I think the answer is they want to lay the foundation to discredit whatever Bob Mueller comes up with. They're essentially engaging in a scorched earth litigation strategy that is beginning with trying to discredit the prosecutor. And that's all that's happening here. I don't think we should acquiesce in the besmirchment of this good man. And we ought to let him do his job. He is just getting started.
RADDATZ: Well, you said recently you thought there was evidence of collusion. What kind of evidence have you seen? What can you tell us?
SCHIFF: Well, I think there is evidence. I can't go into the particulars of our closed investigation. But I also think there is also evidence of obstruction. But in both cases, I would say, whether there is some evidence doesn't mean there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
The same people that say that there's no evidence of collusion say there's no evidence of obstruction. And that the president, indeed, cannot commit obstruction. I don't buy that. If you look at James Comey's testimony and we were trying this in a court of law, no judge would exclude that. That would all be relevant evidence as to potential obstruction.
And the fact that the president can fire someone for good cause, or can fire someone with no cause, doesn't mean that he can fire someone for malicious cause. The fact that an employer can terminate an employee at will doesn't mean that he can fire an employee because the employee rejected his sexual advances. So I --
RADDATZ: Congressman, I want to go back to the collusion and the evidence. I know you can't talk about specific evidence, but he says -- Dianne Feinstein had said there's no evidence of collusion. So collusion between whom? Can you tell us that?
SCHIFF: Well, the allegation of course is that the Russians and the hacking and dumping of documents in the election had essentially relationships with Trump campaign people and coordinated those efforts. Now the FBI opened an investigation into that issue in July, well before Congress did. I think they did that for good reason in July. I think they maintain that investigation. It's ongoing for good reason as well.
But I'm not prepared to say that there's proof you could take to a jury. But I can say that there is enough that we ought to be investigating. Indeed, it would be negligent for us not to investigate. And the principle reason is, Martha, that if a foreign government -- in this case Russia -- has something that they can hang over the head of our president or our administration that can influence U.S. policy, it is very much in our national security interest to know it. And we need to conduct this investigation.
Now, Newt Gingrich and the president would like us to shut it down before it really is under way. And we are far closer to beginning of the investigation than we are to the end. But it would be the worst form of negligence to our republic for us to say we're going to close the investigation before we can determine whether there is merit to these allegations.
RADDATZ: ABC News has reported that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has started discussing whether to recuse himself. Do you think he should recuse himself given his role in justifying James Comey's firing?
SCHIFF: I think we ought to let Bob Mueller develop some of the evidence and determine what he needs to investigate. If Bob Mueller concludes that he needs to look into the circumstances, for example, in which Rod Rosenstein wrote that memo, if for example Bob Mueller were to conclude that there is evidence that Rod Rosenstein knew that the memo he was producing was going to be used as a pretext for the president to fire Comey for completely different reasons that the president was going to fire Comey to inhibit or obstruct the Russia investigation -- I'm not saying that this is the case. I can't say what Mueller may or may not be investigating. But if he should conclude that Rod Rosenstein's conduct may be culpable in some way, then I think he can't report to Rod Rosenstein. And, yes, Rosenstein would need to recuse himself. But there's no way for us to know that at this point.
RADDATZ: And you have asked for tapes, if tapes exist from the White House. We should know soon, at least President Trump said we'll know soon whether taps exist. Do you think they'll turn anything over? And if not, what happens?
SCHIFF: I don't know. I would certainly hope by the date that we set in our bipartisan letter the White House will respond that yes they have tapes, yes, they will preserve them as we have urged and required, and yes, they'll turn them over or that no, in fact, there are no tapes. It was an idle threat.
But one way or the other, we need an answer. And if we can't get an answer, then I think we need to -- we'll ultimately need to subpoena those potential documents to make sure that we have them.
RADDATZ: And you have said you believe James Comey's testimony, if accurate, was potential evidence of the president's obstruction of the investigation.
But absent those tapes, how is that verified?
SCHIEFF: There are a number of ways to verify it. And of course I think one of the most compelling pieces of evidence thus far is the fact that the president urged everybody else to leave the room. You don't do that unless you have a consciousness of the guilt of your actions, but we can talk to the people around James Comey, those that were in the FBI supervisory team, some of whom were in the room while James Comey was on the phone with the president and heard one end of the conversation.
We can also obviously look at those memoranda, which we are seeking the contemporaneous recollections of James Comey at the time of those meetings. We can also talk to the heads of the intelligence agencies and find out, did the president, or the White House intervene and ask them similarly to drop the Flynn case, or to weigh in with Comey to drop the Flynn case, or to help lift the cloud or to make public statements, anything that would corroborate James Comey. And, indeed, we have already had some corroboration in the testimony of Jeff Sessions who also said that...
RADDATZ: Very quickly, if I could, congressman, Paul Ryan says president Trump is new to this and just doesn't understand the protocol. Is that an explanation?
SCHIFF: No, it isn't at all. And we don't have one ethical standard for this president and a different ethical standard for other presidents. What's more, you know, again getting back to the fact that as Jeff Sessions corroborated, the president cleared the room of everyone except himself and James Comey. That signifies, I think, that this president knows all too well that it was inappropriate for him to asking the attorney general essentially to drop a criminal case against his most high profile surrogate, Michael Flynn, his national security adviser. So, I think there is ample indication the president knew exactly what he was doing.
But more than that, I think it is a dodge unfortunately, by our speaker to suggest that we hold this president, or any president, to a lesser ethical standard. There is only one standard for a president of the United States.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Congressman Schiff.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
RADDATZ: When we come back, I travel to Trump country to see how his supporters view the latest headlines on the Russia investigation. Plus, the nation's former top diplomat to NATO on the continuing threat from Russia.
And the powerhouse roundtable looks ahead to next weeks' special election in Georgia. We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: The Roundtable is all here, ready to take on another busy week in politics. We're back in less than two minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT,: We are a very divided nation. I'm not a politician. And I have never wanted to be a politician, believe me.
TRUMP: But when I saw the trouble our country was in, I knew I couldn't stand by and watch any longer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: That was candidate Donald Trump last fall, speaking in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Wednesday's shooting on a baseball field in Virginia, seemingly motivated by political anger, exposed some of the deep divides in the wake of the election. So we traveled back to Gettysburg this week to get a sense how President Trump's supporters are viewing these tumultuous times.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is a charming, welcoming town, bordered by those vast fields that bear the scars and blood of battle. Tourists from across America flock here, many from solid Trump country, reflecting on where the country is today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we stand in Gettysburg, a place where brothers fought. Families were divided. I see that same thing happening in America today. And it concerns me greatly. And I think there's a lot of -- a lot of finger-pointing. And I think we have sort of lost our heart.
RADDATZ: Jim Halbert (ph) is a pastor from Idaho, wrapping up a cross-country trip with his friend, Gary Keeler (ph), retired from a career in law enforcement. Both men voted for Donald Trump. Jim is having second thoughts.
(on camera): If the election were held again today, would you vote for Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would vote for Pence. I don't know, it's -- it's hard.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Gary has an opposite reaction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have actually grown more to support Trump, just because of the extreme stuff that comes out against him. You know, it was so over the top with some of the coverage on, you know, even major networks. And I'm a stubborn person. That just made me want to support him more.
RADDATZ: But it was the pastor's views that seemed to echo along the streets here.
(on camera): You voted for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump.
RADDATZ: And how are you feeling about President Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good. Just not good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: Are you happy with the job he has done as president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- my opinion of him keeps going down every day.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Jill Dwyer (ph) from Cleveland says she's not happy about some of the things the president has done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of thing that have made us a laughing stock of the world. And I'm kind of upset about that.
RADDATZ: Most of those we talked to aren't paying particularly close attention to the latest twists and turns in the Russia investigation and don't agree about the significance of what they are tracking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There maybe be some smoke where there's fire. I will be very surprised if they come up with anything, certainly any kind of impeach-type movement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every president goes through something. This is his something. And he's just got to put on his man pants and go with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like he's just trying to -- I don't know. Not let the truth be known maybe?
RADDATZ: But everyone we spoke to visiting Gettysburg, including Nicole Elston (ph), from New York, showed real concern about where the divisiveness in the country will lead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's very sad. I think it's very sad because I feel like that's part of what our country has been built on, is people being able to have a difference in opinions. There's a lack of respect currently for that, as a person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look at somebody across the table and realize that we may not agree on something, but when we start hating each other for that, we're going to get right back to Gettysburg. And I think we need to be careful of that.
RADDATZ (on camera): And here to discuss those sentiments and all the week's politics, we're joined by the powerhouse roundtable, ABC News contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican strategist and pollster; Democratic pollster Margie Omero. Together, Kristen and Margie co-host "The Pollsters" podcast. CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill, author of "Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond", and ABC News political director, Rick Klein, who hosts the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.
Lots of podcasters here today.
Welcome, everybody. And Rick, I want to start with you in that, and those very moving words from the pastor. I was struck by that and by a lot of those voters and what they were saying. And they were Trump voters. It -- and of course we all think, I cannot believe it was just Wednesday, that terrible, horrific shooting on the baseball field. You saw that powerful image at Nationals Park of them praying together. But, will this last? Will this moment of coming together last? Gabby Giffords of course was shot before and it dissolved within years.
RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And we saw a moment this week, a real moment. But only a moment. It was remarkable to me. You know, time moves more quickly. News cycles move more quickly now, and the Trump era only exacerbates that. The president, even before that game, he'd moved on to attacking Hillary Clinton, to attacking the prosecutors who are on his case.
So there aren't a lot of people that I talked to who are optimistic about this being something that wakes everyone up and changes the tone.
One thing I am watching for, and I talked to a couple of lawmakers on both sides this week who said it's going to be up to us lawmakers to call out people on our own side when they go over the top. Because that's going to happen. You're going to have people who go too far. It's easy to say the other guys are doing too much, but can you go on your own side and say this is unacceptable? That to me will be the measuring point.
RADDATZ: And you talked about the president's tweets quickly turning to Hillary Clinton. Kristen, to what extent does this healing have to come from the top? And do you see -- I know Kellyanne Conway said this week he was healer-in-chief. Is that what you saw?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It would be lovely if the president could be the healer-in-chief, but I don't think it has to necessarily just be at the top. I think it has to come from everybody looking -- that folks on the other side of the aisle, and to quote something that I often hear, someone from the other side of the aisle, former Vice President Joe Biden say -- that we need to stop questioning the motives of the folks on the other side. That we can say I believe you're wrong. I believe your healthcare policy is bad. I believe your tax policy is bad. But that's different than saying I believe you want people to die, I believe you want people to be poor, I believe you are a bad person.
And that's where so much of our political discussion is today, which is what allows someone to go from being someone who's engaged in volunteering for a presidential campaign, and going and holing up signs, to becoming radicalized to the point of committing an act of violence.
RADDATZ: And Marc, certainly there's been vitriol in the past --
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
RADDATZ: -- in presidential administrations. But is this one different? Have things really changed or not?
HILL: Well, I think your first point is quite accurate. We can't be nostalgic about this. We can't pretend that there was a golden age, you know, where people were nice to each other and everyone was warm and fuzzy and they only disagreed on ideological grounds. It's always been personal. There have always been ad hominems. That's the nature of politics.
RADDATZ: Do you think it was this a turning point though?
HILL: I think do think that this last election cycle turned it up a notch. Part of it is the nature of who's running for office and part of it is the nature of new media. It increases the conversation -- it increases the speed of the conversation and it allows a different type of vitriol to become normalized. It allows a whole lot more people into the conversation, which makes it even more dangerous.
RADDATZ: And, Margie, one of the things about this shooting is usually there's a lot of discussion about tougher gun laws. There wasn't this time. Do you think that had to do with the fact that you had the Capitol Police officers there, the security detail, who really did stop this from being a much more tragic event?
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: We don't need to wait for more tragedies to take more action on guns. This is a way we can be healing, because voters are ready. We just did a poll. We did it in May in advance of, the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting that also happened last week, other shootings, dozens of shootings every day that don't make national news.
We found a majority of Americans want fewer guns. They want guns harder to get. And we tested 16 different proposals, majorities of Americans supported 15 even in gun households.
HILL: The problem is a majority of Americans don't vote in the GOP primary. So -- and I agree with everything you're saying. The problem, though, is that this is about politics, this has never been about what most Americans want. Most Americans want universal background checks. It still doesn't matter.
We have to find a way to get beyond the kind of power of particular lobbies if we want to get anywhere, and I think that's part of the danger. But if you are on the right this week, this was your perfect case study, the argument of a good guy with a gun beats a bad guy with a gun. I disagree with that argument, but this was a case it's almost hard for the left to push back, and we wanted to, but it was hard to.
RADDTAZ: And speaking politics, Georgia, the runoff this week. And that is a big one.
It is a bellwether. It is the canary in the coal mine. Talk a little bit about that race and what you're seeing and what it will mean if the Democrats don't win.
KLEIN: The pressure is on the Democrats now. On one level, this is Republican seat, Speaker Gingrich's old seat. And you would expect a Republican to OK there. Tom Price won so big.
But the Democrats have poured so much money into this race. This is the most expensive House race in the history of the country. They're not going to have an opportunity to elevate like this. And I think if they're not successful, polls suggest that Jon Ossoff is in a good spot. If they're not successful, it will actually exacerbate the Democratic civil war, because Ossoff has run a very moderate, mainstream, kind of typically suburban race. He's not fire and brimstone against Donald Trump. He is not Bernie-sized the anger. And you'll have people saying he should have if he didn't.
And I think you'll also have a lot of Republicans saying, look, we're showing you right now here in Georgia, their anger at Donald Trump, their anger at what's going on in the country, that's not enough to actually win elections.
RADDATZ: And Marc, you live in Georgia part of the week. What are you seeing?
HILL: I see a lot of people on the ground who are changing their vote, who are making -- people who are traditionally voting Republican are voting Democrat. I mean, the numbers look good for him.
I disagree with the idea that, though, that Democrats have to win. I actually think the pressure is on Republicans, money notwithstanding. And the reason I say that is this seat was won by 23 points last year. If Democrats even make this a race, I would be wildly optimistic as a Democrat that anything reasonable, we can win.
If we are winning the suburbs of Georgia, where I've never seen a Democrat have a shot, we can win in two years, that's what I would say if I were a Dem.
RADDATZ: And I want to ask you quickly about the Russia probe. We spent a lot of time on that this morning. Americans in Washington are riveted by this. But you saw some of the folks I talked to from around the country who were in Gettysburg, are we wrong to assume this is a big deal outside the beltway, Kristen.
ANDERSON: I think people are determining whether or not they approve of the job Donald Trump is doing based on how it is affecting their lives. And I think that's particularly true for his supporters. I think there are a lot of folks that don't like the president. He came into office, and they already disapproved of him. You know, only 8 percent of Democrats approve of the job Donald Trump is doing. Btu it's been that way his whole presidency.
I think for many folks this is baked into the cake, but there's a group of voters, like the ones that you talked you in Pennsylvania who are just waiting for things to get better in their own lives. They're waiting to see progress on things like health care reform, tax reform, the stuff that folks on Capitol Hill, Republicans on The Hill want to see advanced, that feels like it's getting -- there's a distraction here because of the Russia investigation, and that's what's causing so much frustration.
RADDATZ: But Donald Trump is running an ad on Facebook based on this with a witch hunt, so he clearly thinks this witch hunt, anyway, appeals to his base and talking about it.
OMERO: Well, it may for some voters. And for sure, there are -- for a lot of Americans, this is not the top priority, this is a priority, but maybe not the top priority, but we are just in the beginning of this. We're going to be talking about this for months. You still have a majority of Americans who feel that Trump has done some sort of obstruction of justice. You have a majority of Americans who feel that he doesn't respect democratic institutions. This is pretty -- 19 million people watched the Comey hearings.
So, we're at the beginning of this conversation, and it is not going anywhere. These numbers can change.
KLEIN: And Trump's message is always aimed at his base, that's the thing to understand about when he goes out like this.
RADDATZ: And that's a good point, Rick. But what does this do to the legislative agenda? We've got a lot happening on the Hill. We've got health care, tax reform. What does all this tweeting do?
KLEIN: So, Republicans on the Hill have gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing Trump. They can say, focus on what he does, not what on he tweets.
But this is problematic. This particular instance is problematic on a couple of levels. One, it's one thing to declare war on Democrats. But declaring war on Bob Mueller, after James Comey, Rod Rosenstein, you've got a lot of Republicans on the Hill who are not going to be comfortable with following him down that road.
The second thing is that these tweets, they are not just distractions, they are potentially evidence. And the fact that Donald Trump is building an obstruction case against himself with every tweet, that has them squirming on the Hill. So there is still a lot of unity on Capitol Hill about what they can get done, even some optimism on getting health care done before July 4th on the Senate side. But they are seeing a president they are not sure if he's pulling in the same direction. They're seeing distractions just about every day.
RADDATZ: Just quickly on...
OMERO: People agree in the polls that he should stop tweeting, and that he's not a good spokesperson.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yet almost every poll that Margie and I look at on our podcast, we see these big partisan divides with 90 percent of Democrats feeling one way, and 90 percent of Republicans feeling the other way.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Tweeting is the one issue where significant numbers of people across the political spectrum think Trump hurts himself more than he helps himself.
RADDATZ: Put that phone away.
Very quickly to you, Marc. Do you think Republicans can pull off both health care and tax reform?
HILL: Oh, yes. And immigration and fixing the deficit, everything. It all happens.
RADDATZ: I sense the sarcasm there.
HILL: (INAUDIBLE) the Middle East, it's going to be worked out by July 4th.
RADDATZ: OK. See? We're going to end on just such a high note, it will all be terrific. Thanks all of you for joining us.
When we come back, I'll talk to America's former top diplomat to NATO, which uses force and diplomacy to keep Russia contained. How concerned is he about the Trump administration's moves on the world stage? We'll be right back.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The yeas are 98, the nays are 2. And the bill as amended is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The Senate on Thursday overwhelming passing new sanctions on Russia in response to their interference in last year's election. But will the White House try to weaken the measure? I'll speak with former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Doug Lute next.
RADDATZ: I'm joined now by former U.S. ambassador to NATO Doug Lute. He previously served as Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan, serving under both Presidents Bush and Obama. He's now a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Ambassador Lute, welcome back to THIS WEEK. Good to see you and Happy Father's Day.
DOUGLAS LUTE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Thank you, Martha. Good to be with you.
RADDATZ: We're five months into the presidency. You were NATO ambassador for four years. Do you think the NATO countries and our allies and our adversaries really understand what President Trump's policy is towards NATO?
LUTE: Well, I think what they do understand is that, for the first time in 70 years, U.S. rock solid commitment to the alliance is in question. And that's very disorienting to our NATO allies. And beyond our allies themselves, this sort of unpredictability over the first five months of this administration possibly opens potential opportunities for opponents. Here, I think, Russia, in particular. But it also, because it's been so uncertain with the president saying one thing and then key advisers saying something else.
RADDATZ: I was just going to say that. You have key advisers, you have Mattis saying -- and Tillerson saying -- absolutely Article V. So how do they read that?
LUTE: Well, so you see the vice president and the secretary of state and the secretary of defense all going to NATO in the first several months of this administration and being very clear and unequivocal about U.S. commitment to the alliance. But then you have the president himself, for the first time, at NATO headquarters on May 25th, seemingly reversing all that. And deliberately not reaffirming U.S. commitment to the "attack on one is an attack on all" pledge, which is the bedrock pledge of the alliance. And frankly being rather disrespectful of allies in public, in a public presentation.
So allies are sort of whip sawed between key advisers and the president himself, and wonder, I think, who actually speaks for this administration?
RADDATZ: So what effect will this have? Is it dangerous? What will European allies do?
LUTE: Well, first of all, they will -- and I think here the president is right. They'll undoubtedly recommit to the commitments they made back in the Obama administration to increase defense spending. This is where the president is correct. We should press our NATO allies to do more. So I think they'll continue to do that.
But they will also begin to hedge their bets. Because they can't rely, they believe they can't rely on U.S. leadership as they have for the past 70 years. And we should think about what that 70 years has featured. It has featured U.S. leadership, which has been the backbone of recovery from World War II all the way seeing us all the way through the Cold War period.
And then beyond the Cold War, seeing NATO as a stabilizing force outside NATO boundaries, so in the Balkans. And today, even today, in Afghanistan.
RADDATZ: And when Russia is watching this -- I mean, we had Russia hacking into our elections. What else did you see the Russians doing during your time there, and how do you think they're reacting to this?
LUTE: So, Americans are obviously centered on what the Russian did with regard to try to erode the confidence and credibility of our own election process last year. But that really is just the latest gamut. This game began at least in 2014 when Russia seized a sovereign part of a neighboring state, Ukraine, the Crimea peninsula. Russia holds that peninsula today. It has also destabilized eastern Ukraine with Russian troops and propaganda and so forth. It's conducted a series of large no-notice exercises right on NATO's periphery. These are exercises that should be announced in advance and should feature Russia inviting NATO observers to stabilize the situation. Russia has ignored both of those requirements. It has modernized its military. It has promoted very dangerous incidents at sea and in the air over the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.
So there's a whole pattern of things into which this election controversy falls.
RADDATZ: And when they hear President Trump talk about Russia, what do you think is going through the minds of Russians? What do you think Putin thinks of that?
LUTE: Well, first of all I think -- I suspect he sees an opportunity to do what military force alone could never do, and that is crack the NATO alliance. If he can crack it politically or if he can provoke internal fissures inside the alliance, then Putin sees enormous opportunity to achieve a long-standing Russian goal.
RADDATZ: I want to ask you something about National Security Adviser McMaster. He's active duty military. I think we forget that, because he doesn't have his uniform on anymore. But he is still active duty, a general that was -- I think the first day when they made the announcement, since then he's been in civilian clothes.
You were active duty, same thing, three star active duty army general when you were in the White House. Is that a tough line to tow? Are there things that an active duty military general should not do when they're in the White House, should not say, should not -- do you have to stay in certain lanes?
LUTE: Well, first of all, I think that H.R. McMaster today sits in the most difficult position in Washington. So, whether he's an active duty officer or not this is a really tough job. And so -- and I think he's up to it.
But I think his job is complicated by the fact that he's still on active duty. Why do I say that? An active duty military officer, like the lowest private in the army, must all abide by the chain of command. So, as an active duty officer, H.R. remains in the chain of command. And I think that somewhat complicates his role in the national security arena.
RADDATZ: And what about talking about policy or defending the president? Is that all fine for active duty?
LUTE: I think to some extent, this puts him on a tight rope that he's trying to walk between being on the one hand apolitical, and I don't think you can be apolitical in the White House. Everything in the White House is political, and at the same time, nonpartisan, which is a long-standing divide where our active duty forces remain nonpartisan. So, he is, I think, there's an internal tension that has got to deal with between politics and partisanship.
RADDATZ: And I want to ask you just one final question. We have just not very long here on -- about ISIS. Moving into Mosul, into Raqqa, there were reports, not confirmed at all, about al Baghdadi being killed. The Russians said that. What do you see happening after that?
LUTE: Well, first of all, it's very good progress in terms of eroding the caliphate, as they declared three years ago. And it was Baghdadi, of course, who declared the caliphate in Mosul. So, as ISIS loses territory in both Iraq and Syria, but also potentially loses key leaders, I think some of the credibility, some of this image of invulnerability of ISIS will begin to erode.
But we shouldn't be mistaken here, Martha, this is not the end of ISIS . The ideology exists, and frankly thousands of foreign fighters who have pledged allegiance to the ideology, also exist.
RADDATZ: Thank you for joining us here.
LUTE: It's good to be with you.
RADDATZ: It's great to have you back.
I'll be right back with a closing thought on this week's shooting of members of Congress.
RADDATZ: We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.
RADDATZ: As we have noted, there was a striking show of unity after that shooting at an early morning baseball practice for Republican members of Congress. Lawmakers joining together in a moment of prayer on the baseball field before the annual charity game went on as planned.
But one player says he felt conflicted about being there as a fellow member of Congress was lying in the hospital in critical condition. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy has played on the Democratic team for the past decade. On Facebook, he asked: “What does it say about us as a country that we can so easily move on from such a seemingly cataclysmic event? Are we so jaundiced to gun violence and mass shootings that it only takes us 24 hours now to revert back to business as usual?”
Senator Murphy is right, we have become too numb to it all, massively desensitized to the carnage, as he put it. That, perhaps, includes us as journalists who rush to cover the latest shooting and then move on to the next headline.
We have marked the anniversary of some of those most devastating attacks recently. Last Monday, one year since the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, 49 killed in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. And yesterday marked two years since nine were killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Those mass shootings are seared in our collective memory. But in the past week alone, 262 people have lost their lives to gun violence across the U.S., 559 more wounded. Consider that, 262 killed in one week.
So today, we think of Congressman Steve Scalise, as well as Matt Mika and Capitol Police Officer Crystal Greiner, who are all still hospitalized after Wednesday's senseless shooting. But we should also pause this morning to remember each and every life cut short by violence in our country, because, as House Speaker Paul Ryan put it this week, an attack on of one of us is an attack on all of us.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “WORLD NEWS TONIGHT.” And have a great day.