'This Week' Transcript 9-18-22: Mayor Eric Adams, Mayor Oscar Leeser and Amb. Oksana Markarova

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, September 18.

ByABC News
September 18, 2022, 9:07 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, September 18, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR (voice-over): Border antics.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens. It shouldn't all fall on a handful of red states.

KARL: Fifty-one days until the midterms, Republican governors play hardball on immigration. Migrants dropped off at the vice president's doorstep in Washington. Flights arriving unannounced in Martha's Vineyard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were told there was a surprise, and that there would be jobs and housing awaiting.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props.

KARL: This morning, an in-depth look at the unfolding humanitarian crisis and the politics of America's broken immigration system.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser on the crisis at the border, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams on his plea for help.

New threat.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think you'd have problems in this country.

KARL: Former President Trump hints of political violence if he's indicted. Our powerhouse roundtable covers all the political fallout.

And, Russia on notice.

BIDEN: You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.

KARL: President Biden warns Vladimir Putin not to use chemical or nuclear weapons as new evidence of Russian war crimes emerges.

Ukraine's ambassador to the United States joins us in studio with the very latest.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here, now, co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

KARL (on camera): Good morning and welcome to “This Week”.

With just 51 days until the midterm elections, two powerful Republican governors, both of them with political ambitions beyond their own states, are making an extraordinary gambit to put America's broken border as a front and center issue this fall -- dropping busloads of migrants without notice on a busy Washington street, right in front of the vice president's house, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott did this week, is a stunt pure and simple. So is chartering planes to transport migrants to Martha's Vineyard as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did.

But beyond the political gamesmanship and the cynical use of human beings as pawns is something all too real, America is the in midst of an immigration crisis, the number of undocumented migrants crossing the southern border, most of them fleeing violence and economic devastation and trying to find a better life their families is on track to hit 2 million this year, an all-time record.

The influx is overwhelming the already strained resources of the communities on the border and the Biden administration seems to have no real plan to address the crisis. Dropping buses of people in front of the vice president's home won't solve the problem, and neither will chartering a planes to an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

But those Republican governors are promising more of that to come.


DESANTIS: I got $12 million for us to use. And so, we are going to use it and you're going to see more and more. But I’m going to make sure that we exhaust all those funds.


KARL: The mayors of El Paso and New York are both standing by.

We begin with ABC News national correspondent Mireya Villarreal who's in Texas on the border with Mexico and tracking the very latest.

Good morning, Mireya.


Look, as you know, border crossings is nothing new. And politicians using immigration to rile up a certain amount of people, that is nothing new either. But I have lived on the border, grew on the border and having covered immigration for well over a decade. Right now, this busing situation, that is fairly new.

But for people living here in El Paso, the city leaders, this isn't about politics. This is absolutely about people.


VILLARREAL (voice-over): Martha's Vineyard, a remote island off the Massachusetts coast, is hardly the expected battleground for America's immigration crisis. But this week, it was after Florida Republican governor flew about 50 migrants to the island.

Governor Ron DeSantis taking ownership saying this draws attention to what he calls an ineffective immigration system.

DESANTIS: It's only when you have 50 illegal aliens end up in a very wealthy, rich sanctuary enclave that he decides to scramble on this.

VILLARREAL: El Paso now averaging 1,300 migrants a day, an influx so daunting the city had to open an emergency processing facility.

Is this city at a breaking point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We -- we're at critical point. We would need something to happen.

VILLARREAL: Most of these families are from Venezuela fleeing economic hardship and an oppressive government. El Paso now hiring its own charter buses to help move migrants north, most of them heading to New York. Since July, the city has spent more than a $1 million on bus transportation.

The active busing is a necessity for you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not have the shelter capacity and as you’ve seen, you know, on top of the people we're bringing in, and there’s over 1,000 releases to our community a day.

VILLARREAL: Separately, Texas Governor Abbott busing some 11,000 migrants north so far. New York's mayor says the city needs more resources.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: We need help. We have not been ashamed to say that we need help.

VILLARREAL: In the last month, migrants bused to Chicago and Washington, D.C.

And just one day after DeSantis flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard, another group from Texas sent by Governor Abbott dropped off right in front of Vice President Kamala Harris' home.

Many say they didn't expect to end up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): We didn’t know we were coming here.

VILLARREAL: Immigration attorneys working with the groups now say the migrants were lied to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were told there was a surprise present for them and there would be jobs and housing awaiting for them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie.

VILLARREAL: Governor DeSantis defending the tactic.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: They’re given a good ride. They’re given everything, and that’s, you know, it's the humane thing to do.

VILLARREAL: The president calling this a political stunt.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It’s un-American. It's reckless. And we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border.

VILLARREAL: Volunteers helping migrants now sleeping on the streets say that help can't come fast enough.

Any concern about how long this city can sustain helping the mass of the people that are coming through here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that’s always a concern. But it's a matter of just keeping it together and keep helping. Not just give up on them. Just -- you know, we'll find a way. We always do.


VILLARREAL (on camera): And, Jon, just to be very clear, these are not illegal aliens. It is not okay to say that. These are migrants, asylum seekers, that have been processed by our own very border patrol right here in El Paso.

I have to say also, for moving forward, El Paso says right now, they don't need a surge of people coming from the feds. What they do need is transportation. They’re even talking about setting up temporary shelter funded by the federal government. That is what they need right now on the border.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Mireya Villarreal, thank you.

We’re joined now by the mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.

The numbers that we’re seeing, that you saw Mireya speaking about, 1,300 migrants a day coming to your city. Describe for us the challenge. Do you have the resources you need to deal with this?

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER, EL PASO, TEXAS: Well, the numbers are not 1,300. The numbers are -- two days ago we had almost 2,000. We had a little bit over 1,900. Yesterday we had -- or the day before yesterday we had a little bit over 1,500. So, the numbers have been continuing to increase.

And, you know, that -- that’s continued, the rise. And that’s because a lot of the people in -- probably about 80 percent of them are coming from Venezuela. And -- and that -- that’s where a big part of the-- the -- the migrant surge is coming from.

KARL: And you’ve seen the reports -- and we’ve seen directly that Border Patrol dropping migrants off on the streets of El Paso. Do you have a sense that the Biden administration has a plan for how to address this?

LEESER: Well, and, you know, and that’s really something important. And I have a great, incredible working relationship with Chief Chavez (ph) from the Border Patrol. And our goal, and it will continue to be our goal, is never to drop anybody off in the streets of El Paso and make sure that no one’s homeless, no one’s hungry.

So we have our NGOs, which is non-governmental organizations that really have opened up their doors and we’ve gotten hotels. And in the last few days we’ve not had any people released into the streets of El Paso and we continue to work that way.

So, you know, it’s been an incredible working relationship between El Paso, the city of El Paso, and also the -- Chief Chavez and the Border Patrol. I spent about two, three hours yesterday driving to the border and talking to a lot of the migrants and talking to the Border Patrol agents that really are down here working today.

And if you drive through the streets right now, there’s no one on the street today. And we’ll continue to make sure that we find them a home and continue to work with them. So --

KARL: We’ve seen Governor Abbott, you know, making a point of busing migrants to the -- to the vice president’s residence in Washington. But -- and I know that you are also, the city is also arranging for transportation for the migrants to the north. Obviously, different than what’s happening with -- with the governor of Texas.

But explain to us what you're trying to do in terms of moving migrants out of El Paso.

LEESER: Okay, and that’s -- that's a great question, because if you look at -- the people are not coming to El Paso, they're coming to America, and that's something that's really important. And we look at them and we talk to them, and say, where do you want to go and what's your destination? And then we will take them and help them get to their destination.

The big difference that’s happening today that really was not normally was that about 95 percent of everyone coming had a sponsor. A sponsor is someone where it’s a family member or a friend, where they’ve arranged and they have transportation to go to their destination.

As we’ve seen now from Venezuela, they don't have sponsors. So, we have about 50 percent of the people today that do not have a sponsor, they don’t have money. So we're helping and working to get them to where they want to go.

So, that's been really important that we don't send anyone where they don't want to go. We make sure we help them and we put human beings and, you know, and we put them on buses with food and make sure they get to their destination where -- and make sure that we always continue to treat people like human beings.

KARL: All right. Mayor of El Paso, Texas, Oscar Lesser, thank you for joining us on "This Week."

Let's bring in the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.

Mayor Adams, thank you for joining us.

So you -- you have said that New York is overwhelmed by this crisis. What are you being told by the Biden administration what are they doing to alleviate the situation?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: A crisis calls for coordination, and I traveled to Washington last week, spoke with Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and other lawmakers and sat down with the Biden administration to talk about how do we coordinate and their goal is to make sure that we get the resources and the coordination that’s needed, as the mayor of El Paso stated.

These migrants and asylum seekers are not coming to any particular city. They're coming to America. This is an American crisis that we need to face, the humanitarian crisis that were made by human hands by some of the governors in our southern states.

KARL: You warned the other day that New York City is, quote, reaching a breaking point. It’s been 11,000 -- I believe you said -- 11,000 migrants that have come to New York since May.

But look at what we just heard for the mayor of El Paso. The other day, they had 2,000 in a single day. How is it that New York City is overwhelmed when it's a fraction of what we're seeing on the border?

ADAMS: Well, what's happening, a playbook that many of the Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbott are using is now to ship those migrants out to other states, particularly a place like New York.

As you saw the mayor of El Paso indicate that when you have sponsors, it's an easier transition. If we would have properly coordinated with the governors in these Southern states and state that, let’s find where the sponsors, we have large Venezuelan communities in America.

Let's coordinate in that fashion like we’ve done with others -- other large communities we have in New York City, where we're able to coordinate, get sponsors, work with our nongovernmental organizations. That is s what crisis calls for, it calls for coordination.

There was no coordination at all with Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis, just wanted to use this political ploy instead of understanding these are people, these are families, these are human beings.

KARL: Have you had any direct contact with either the governor of Florida or the governor of Texas? What's your message to them?

ADAMS: We reached out to Governor Abbott when we first discovered that he was compelling people to get on the bus, he was tagging them. He was sending them on a 45-hour ride, without any proper food, water or medical care.

We've reached out and stated that, let's coordinate and work together so we can deal with this crisis together. They refused to do so.

And this is really --


KARL: Excuse me, are you saying that they wouldn’t even take -- they wouldn't even take your call?

ADAMS: No, they did just the opposite. They took the call and stated that they would coordinate -- I’m talking about Governor Abbott. They would coordinate and they did not coordinate at all because I don’t think it was politically expedient for them to coordinate. It was more to do this basically political gamesmanship that you're seeing now.

KARL: You – you pledged, during your campaign, to keep New York City a sanctuary city. Are – do you have any concern that that policy is – is – is – is attracting more people to the border, more people to cross the border to make that dangerous trip?

ADAMS: No, not at all. This city has always been a sanctuary city and we’ve always managed those who wanted to come to New York City to pursue the American dream.

Let's be clear here, we've all come from somewhere. Our lineage came from a location and the pursuit of the American dream is what we’ve all fought for. It can be done correctly by making sure people legally entered the country and we coordinate in a proper way. That’s what we are – are stating. And I will always believe that this is a country where people want to pursue the American dream, and there are ways it can be done correctly.

KARL: So – so – so if I'm hearing your correctly, you say New York City is prepared to welcome more and more of these migrants, but you want the coordination with the border states and you want resources from the federal government?

ADAMS: No. No. What I'm saying, clearly, is what we've always done. New York City has always been a sanctuary city. A city with right to shelter. And we’re going to continue to do that. We have a moral and legal obligation to do so. We're not asking for people all over the country to send people to New York merely because they don't want to take on their responsibility to help those who are seeking this American dream. That is not what we're asking for.

We want to continue what we've always done, and that is ensure that people who came to this city were treated if a humane fashion. We’re not seeing that now. This humanitarian crisis was created by human hands. And I believe it was a political ploy to overlook some of the things we’ve done that dismantle human rights, everything from the women's right to choose, to gun control. This is the same playbook that we're seeing playing out.

KARL: Vice President Harris, one week ago, said that the border is secure. Do you agree with that? Do you think our southern border is secure?

ADAMS: I believe that we can continue to coordinate better to make sure that it is secured properly. And I think that is crucial that anyone that comes in this country should not be coming here to harm Americans no matter what entryway they're doing. And I think that the partnership that we've been working out with the White House is going to do everything possible to make sure that continues.

KARL: Governor Abbott has said that he has invited you to come to the border to see the situation for yourself. Any – any plans to do that?

ADAMS: I believe that Governor Abbott should coordinate with every city that the buses pass through to make sure that they ae informed of what he is doing. And there are ways to do that without any political ploy. We don't have to stand up on the border to state that the crisis he created is a real crisis. It is time for him to be the chief executive that he is and coordinate with every city and every state the buses pass through so we can properly coordinate as leaders of these major municipalities.

KARL: All right, Eric Adams the mayor of New York City, thank you for joining us.

ADAMS: Thank you. Take care.

KARL: Let's bring in the roundtable for analysis.

We have Marc Short, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, “Washington Post” congressional reporter Mariana Sotomayor, and “Politico” associate editor for global politics, Alex Burns.

So, Senator Heitkamp, let me start with – with you.

It is a stunt clearly that's being done by Adams – by – by DeSantis and by Abbott, but is it working?

HEIDI HEITKAMP, (D) FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it's working. And – and what’s really getting missed here is what's going on Venezuela. Why are we seeing these migrants? These migrants -- I – I was on the border two years ago between Colombia and Venezuela. Let me tell you, the steady stream of people coming into Colombia and then walking to Peru, walking to Ecuador, this was only a matter of time before these migrants basically found their way to our country. And so there was predictability in all of this and lack of preparation, I think.

But, you know, it doesn’t –

KARL: Lack of preparation by who? I mean that has to fall on the Biden administration, doesn’t it?

HEITKAMP: Well, I think – and on the – the previous administration. The – the migrant crisis in Venezuela started under the previous administration and Maduro. Maduro is a horrible communist dictator. We should – you look at the comparison between how we treated Cuba and Americans and how we’re treating the Venezuelans who are fleeing the same kind of dictatorial, communist regime and it’s completely different.

And so, you know what, if I were Joe Biden today, I would say, Governor Abbott, Governor DeSantis, let's all sit down. Call a big conference. Call a big summit. And sit down and actually talk about what we can do to solve the problem and quit treating people as pawns.

KARL: So...

HEITKAMP: And I think that's the right political response as well.

KARL: So -- so, Mark, Congressman Tony Gonzales is a Republican from the border region. Part of his district is El Paso. He's concerned about the border crisis, but he also doesn't like this strategy that we're seeing from -- from Governor Abbott. Here's what he told "The Hill."

"We have to be careful about turning politics into policy. And that's what I see. It's so close to the midterms and it's just dangerous."

Do you -- do you feel comfortable with this idea of -- I mean, you used to work for somebody that lived in the vice president's residence. Do you think this is a good idea, just dropping busloads of people, including, last night, there was a one-month-old baby, on a busy street in Washington?

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Jon, it wasn't happening during the previous administration because the previous administration actually secured the border. Let's be honest, I think that what...


SHORT: ... this is doing is this is highlighting the hypocrisy and, I think in many cases, fake outrage by those on the left and some in the media. The migrants in Florida, they're not arriving on the shores of Florida. They're not walking across the Florida-Georgia line. They're being flown in by the Biden administration.

So somehow it's OK to fly them across the interior of the United States, everywhere across the United States, but it's wrong for the governor to then send them to one of the wealthiest communities in America. I think it's highly...

HEITKAMP: But there's a difference between doing it in a coordinated fashion and just showing up at Martha's Vineyard with...


SHORT: Let's question how really coordinated it is that they're being dropped off all across the interior. And if we were really concerned about the humanitarian crisis, Jon, then actually what we would be doing is we'd be stopping the crisis at the border, where there's 200,000 migrants every month. And they estimate 50 percent of the young women are either raped or sexually molested making that long journey from Peru and Colombia up there.

If we actually had a policy in place that returned migrants to Mexico while they waited for their asylum appeals, as happened in the Trump-Pence administration, you wouldn't have the same humanitarian crisis we have today.

KARL: Marianna, what -- what did you see, is there a sense that there is a strategy from the administration on this?

SOTOMAYOR: Not as of right now. It seems like they are trying to control it. But, you know, there also is no strategy or conversation on Capitol Hill. This was developing, of course, when -- you know, we talk about fly-out days, both the Senate and the House going out of town for the weekend. It might be a topic of conversation this week. However, it's right around the midterms. No one wants to talk about this except Republicans, of course. They think that could, maybe, gin up some support.

But, in terms of legislation, actual concrete actions, they've tried and tried and tried again, and there's just no discussion right now about whether to actually engage in any changes.

KARL: By the way, we asked both Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott to come on this show this morning to explain what they're doing, and both declined.

ALEX BURNS, POLITICO ASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR GLOBAL POLITICS & COLUMNIST: Well, that really tells you a lot about who this is directed at, right, that it's governors of these states who are -- who are pulling this stunted. I wanted to speak to a cross-section of the American people about the situation at the border and put forward a set of policy recommendations that the Biden administration ought to really take seriously.

This is the kind of platform that they would be using to do that and, sort of, submit themselves to serious scrutiny and interrogation. They're not doing that, right? This is playing to gallery on the right in their own parties and in their own states, ahead of re-election votes that both of them are highly, highly likely to prevail in and then, maybe, turn around and run for president.

I think, look, the immigration situation in this country is a generational bipartisan policy failure. But what these governors are doing is not actually putting forward anything that the administration can take seriously.

KARL: And the administration is not putting forward any -- putting forward anything.

BURNS: I mean, that exchange between you and Mayor Adams just now is really, really telling, right, that "Do you agree with the vice president that the border is secure?" Didn't even pretend to answer the question.

KARL: All right. We have to take a quick break. The roundtable will be back for more. But first, as Ukrainian forces retake land occupied by the Russians, they're uncovering new evidence of Russian war crimes. We'll have a live report from the war zone and an exclusive interview with Ukraine's ambassador to the United States.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The view is very shocking, but it’s not shock for me because we – we began to see the same pictures from Bucha, from the first de-occupied (ph) territories. So, the same, destroyed buildings, killed people and what can I say.


KARL: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy this week. After visiting the city of Izium after Ukrainian forces liberated the city last week from Russian control, they discovered a mass burial site with 440 mostly unmarked graves, indicating possible Russian war crimes.

ABC’s Tom Sofi Burridge is in eastern Ukraine, just back from visiting Izium.

Good morning, Tom.


The rows of largely unmarked graves at that mass burial site are hard to process. Officials this morning saying the ongoing exhumation of hundreds of bodies there will probably take weeks.

Ukraine began this week celebrating the fact its forces has recaptured a large swath of territory in this region. It ended the week investigating the deaths and mourning the victims of Russian rule.


BURRIDGE (voice over): This week, chilling evidence of a Russian killing spree in northeastern Ukraine. Investigators digging up bodies at a mass burial site in Izium, recently liberated from the Russians after a stunning Ukrainian counteroffensive. Investigators here saying many of the bodies showing signs of torture.

BURRIDGE (on camera): Well, the forensic team here have just removed the body of a man from one of the unmarked graves. And it’s obvious that he had his hands tied behind his back.

BURRIDGE (voice over): Ukraine’s military success revealing the horror, a forest with endless rows of wooden crosses. Most of them only marked with numbers.

Overnight, President Zelenskyy saying, ten torture chambers have been discovered in the newly liberated area of the Kharkiv region. Saying, torture was a widespread practice there under Russian rule. Adding, that's what the Nazis did.

This week, Ukraine saying its offensive in the northeast liberating more than 3,000 square miles, including 380 communities. A U.S. official saying a relatively small Ukrainian force managed to break through the Russian front line. The U.S. providing vital intelligence and conducting war game scenarios with the Ukrainians to help plan the attack.

COL. STEVE GANYARD, U.S. MARINE CORPS. (RET): The Russians get s sucker punched. The Ukrainians talked for a month about how they were going to start a big offensive in the south. The Russians moved troops out of the north, down to reenforce in the south. And as soon as the Ukrainian saw the weak lines, they counterattacked in the north with that left hook.

BURRIDGE: Izium badly wreaked now but still the most strategic gain of the Ukrainian offensive. Without the city, Putin's primary aim of taking Ukraine's entire eastern Donbas region now in disarray. And Russia’s failure on the battlefield setting the scene as Putin went face to face with his key ally, China's President Xi, conceding that President Xi has questions and concerns about the war in Ukraine.

Later, an apparent public rebuke from India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, telling Putin, today's era is not of war.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think what you're hearing from China, from India, is reflective of concerns around the world about the effects of Russia's aggression on Ukraine.

BURRIDGE: Meanwhile, this week, the U.S. committing more military aid to Ukraine. Another $600 million, including artillery and mortar ammunitions, additional missiles for HIMARS and funding for training, bringing the total U.S. spent since January to $13.5 billion.

That U.S. support vital in the battle for Izium, where the true extent of suffering and killing under the Russians is still emerging. Sergei (ph) telling us entire families were killed here, buried now in that massive unmarked graves in the forest nearby.

BURRIDGE (on camera): Some of the people who died in your apartment block are buried in the forest. We went there ourselves.


BURRIDGE: How does that make you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel nothing. But now, empty. All tears fall down.


BURRIDGE: Jon, western officials telling us this week the Ukrainian offensive in this region is over for now. Ukrainian forces thought to be consolidating gains not far from here. A grinding offensive also still continuing in southern Ukraine. And Ukrainian officials pressing the U.S. for longer-range missiles for those U.S. supplied HIMARS. So far, the Biden administration resisting those calls.


KARL: A horrifying scene in Izium.

Thank you, Tom.

We're joined now by Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.

Madam Ambassador, thank you for being with us here this morning.

We just saw Tom’s report about -- about what you have uncovered in Izium and no doubt there are more in the other areas that have now been liberated.

Tell us, what are you seeing in terms of evidence of Russian war crimes?

OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Thank you for having me, Jon, and thank you for being on the ground.

It’s so important for everyone to see the true face of this aggression and terrorist attack Russia is waging. Unfortunately, what we see in Izium, what we saw in Bucha before, and we can only imagine the situation in Mariupol and other places, which are still under occupation. But it’s tortures, rapes, killings, war crimes of a massive proportions.

That’s why we need to liberate the whole territory of Ukraine as soon as possible because clearly Russians are targeting all Ukrainians. Whole families. Children. So, there is no war logic in all of this. It’s simply terrorizing and committing genocide against Ukrainians.

KARL: Do you have a handle in terms of those mass graves of who the victims are? And is this including Russian troops that were killed as well? Do we know?

MARKAROVA: We already have teams of investigators there and we are getting a lot of support from the United States in this effort, preparing not only our national criminal cases against Russians, but also international courts and other country’s investigations. So, the work is done as we speak there.

The majority of them, of course, Ukrainians. We did not see yet the Russian troops there in the -- in the graves, but it’s horrifying. Some of them are families of like everyone in the family is killed for no reason. And the majority of them, as your report already said, was clear signs of torture and, you know?

KARL: One of the remarkable things about this counteroffensive, where you recaptured so much territory in the Northeast, is you did it with a relatively small number of armed forces. Do you have the manpower to hold this territory and to continue to push the Russian’s back?

MARKAROVA: Thank you. Well, in general, our force is much slower than Russian force. But the reason why they can’t hold the ground and we can retake it, and we will retake it, is because they are not only fighting with our brave president and our armed forces, they are fighting with all Ukrainians. So, all 40 million of Ukrainians are fighting for our loved ones and homes.

Therefore, you saw how the people in Kharkiv oblast were greeting our armed forces. All of them were waiting for liberation. All of them are now very busy in helping the -- not only the investigators but the police and others to get back to normal as -- as normal as it could be.

So, we don’t need to hold this ground. They are ours. These people are ours.

KARL: Right.

MARKAROVA: They craved for Ukraine to come back during this horrible six months of occupation.

KARL: You’ve seen what the Russians have said. Putin says they’re regrouping. That’s what’s going on. I mean, obviously, that wasn’t exactly what was going on. But do you fear what Putin will do now?

I mean, he’s been pushed back. We saw that very stern warning coming from President Biden against using chemical or nuclear weapons.

What do you worry that Russia will do in response?

MARKAROVA: For all years that Putin is in power, they tried to scare the world and they tried to get all of us thinking what he will do next. I think we should focus on what we together, as democratic world should do. And we should get -- make this place, our planet, a safer place. It means Russia has to lose from what they’ve done to us. It means we have to win.

So, we just have to continue on pushing, liberating Ukraine. We just have to clearly and all together say to Putin, and to all Russians who support this, that it’s not OK in the 21st century to attack a peaceful neighboring -- neighboring country. So, let’s not worry about what Putin thinks he should do. Let’s all stay the course, provide more support to Ukraine, because it’s going to be much cheaper and better for the democratic world to win this war while it’s still in Ukraine.

KARL: All right. Madam Ambassador, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it.

MARKAROVA: Thank you very much.

KARL: Coming up, with the midterms just over 50 days away, the January 6th committee is preparing for its next public hearing. And Donald Trump is issuing a new threat about what will happen if he is indicted. The roundtable weighs in on all the week’s politics, next.


KARL: The roundtable is here and ready for more.

We'll be right back.


DON BOLDUC (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE NOMINEE: I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Trump won the election. And, damn it, I stand by my (INAUDIBLE). And I'm not switching horses, baby.

And I've done a lot of research on this and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking the granite state, is all over the state from, you know, every party and I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this, the election was not stolen.


KARL: Now, that's a flip-flop. Pro-Trump New Hampshire Senate GOP nominee Dan Bolduc, who is now claiming the 2020 presidential election was not stolen after spending more than a year saying it was. His race marked the end of a primary season with a familiar headline, a sweep for Donald Trump through New Hampshire.

We're now back with the roundtable.

So, Alex, we had Governor Hogan of Maryland on this show, Republican Governor Hogan, earlier this week, obviously a Trump critic and he said, we will know by the end of the primary season how much of a hold Donald Trump has on the Republican Party.

Do we have our answer?

BURNS: I think we sure do, Jon. I think it's a pretty tight hold.

Look, I -- Trump did not sweep literally every primary in the country and in a lot of places, including in New Hampshire. His – the sort of most Trump -- the Trumpist candidate got through in part because of a fragmented and weak field of candidate, right? You saw this over and over again, Blake Masters in Arizona, other states where, again, the candidate he endorsed or the candidate who ran closest to Donald Trump prevailed against fractured opposition. That’s how Donald Trump got the Republican nomination for president in the first place. It’s how he could get it again in 2024.

So, for the forces in the Republican Party, like Governor Hogan, that hope that the Republican base is ready to turn the page, there's evidence out there that there’s a significant population of Republican voters that is, but they’re not driving the car right now.

KARL: And, Marianna, one of the thing that Donald Trump did during this primary season was effectively to keep out Republicans that were critics. I mean, Ducey didn't run for Senate in Arizona. Hogan didn't run for Senate in Maryland. Sununu didn’t run for Senate in New Hampshire.

But, I mean, to his point, what do you make of – of, you’ve got a guy who won, you know, as Trumpy as they get, now moving away from him. What’s going on?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, WASHINGTON POST CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, you have seen a number of these Republicans. We’ve also seen it with House Republican candidates who are scrubbing even, you know, Trump off their Twitter pages. We’ve seen a lot of evidence of that.

It's interesting, you mentioned how, you know, Trump, obviously, did get involved, made some endorsements. But since I’ve been tracking a lot of House races, you have someone like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, obviously wants to be speaker of the House, and he also has been, you know, going out there trying to get less MAGA conservative Republicans because he's looking at it as not just how large of a majority can I get, but I need a governing majority. Someone that is actually going to try and pass policies and now be leadership’s thorn on our sides every single day on every single issue. So it will be interesting to see how all that plays out, too.

KARL: I mean, Heidi, to look ahead to 2024, and we don't know if Trump is going to run again, we have to assume based on what we've seen that he would be the overwhelming favorite in a Republican nomination, at least on today's facts. There was a poll this week, “New York Times”/Sienna (ph) poll, that had Biden at 45 percent, Trump at 42 percent. That's got to scare you because that's a -- that's a – that’s the formula for a popular vote win again potentially.

HEITKAMP: Well, I know. And – and everybody who says Donald Trump can't, I want to say, Donald Trump did. And you cannot take -- you cannot underestimate his pull. You can't underestimate what he's able on do.

But in the midterms, I think what you're seeing right now, Jonathan, is you are seeing people really saying, look, it's a little toxic. I can't win in a state like New Hampshire. I can't win in Arizona. I can't maybe win in Pennsylvania if I'm pro-Trump, if that's all I am. And they're fleeing away from him. And so I think it's also informative, not – never mind the polls, but it’s informative for the Republican Party that Donald Trump is not a positive. The chaos of the last administration is not a formula for a win in 2024. And if you want to repeat that, you're going to get the same result. And I think Biden, in spite of it all, would probably win again.

KARL: Marc, your thoughts on this?

SHORT: Well, sure, Jon. I mean, I think that the reality is in many of these head-to-head matchup polls, other Republicans do beat Joe Biden. And I think the reality is as we head to the midterms, that this is a referendum on Joe Biden, and the fact that there's crime rising in America, there’s a border crisis we’ve already discussed, there’s a recession we're getting deeper into, and I think Republicans will do great.

If instead we're talking about Mar-a-Lago or the events around January 6th, it's a distraction, and I think that it does damage Republican chances of the midterms.

KARL: So, will Trump pay a price among Republican voters if Republicans don't win back the Senate, if the gains in the House aren't as high, given that he played such a dominant role in picking these candidates?

SHORT: Well, I think, look, he obviously has a huge influence inside our party. And yes, he is responsible for these candidates. But usually, once the candidate's the nominee, then they usually win or lose on their own. And so, I’m not sure that if they don't survive, that there will be a cost for President Trump.

But I’m also confident that I think if we're able to make this referendum on Joe Biden, many of these candidates will actually come across and win.

KARL: But just to put a point on this, if Republicans don't win the Senate, Trump is in large part to blame, is he not?

SHORT: I think there’d be a lot of media criticism that says that. I don't think that’s where many of the Republican voters will be.

HEITKAMP: I think the race really to watch is Ohio, is Tim Ryan who is, you know, new deal, you know, blue-collar Democrat, you could not cast him better for I think the politics of Ohio, can he win? And if he wins, it means a substantial portion of Trump's base in Ohio has moved away to vote for a Democrat.

And I think -- so, it's not just about Donald Trump. It's about how do you win back rural voters, how do you win back blue-collar voters, how do you better among Hispanic voters that we haven't done that well with? And so, I think that's the other lesson in the midterm, which is, has Trump's base eroded in some of these places where he picked the candidate in Ohio, right? J.D. Vance, he’s riding against that --


SHORT: I think Ohio's a great example, though.

BURNS: That to me is one of the sort of cautionary tales, though, for Democrats in these midterms, right? That there are a bunch of places, probably a place like Arizona, probably a place like New Hampshire, where vulnerable Democratic senators are likely to win re-election or against severely compromised Republican candidates.

But when you look at the underlining structure of American politics, and those rural states that you’re talking about, states like your own North Dakota, the states that are going to dominant the Senate map two years from now, I don't know if we have a lot of evidence that Democrats have solved their problems, right? And yes --

HEITKAMP: But they’re already represented by Republicans.

BURNS: Sure. But if Tim Ryan were to -- if Tim Ryan were to win that race, it would be an earthquake. I think that’s a really steep climb, but, yeah, that’s a kind of event that I think would shake Republicans up to the point of maybe speaking out against Trump more.

SOTOMAYOR: I think there's a difference between Trump and Trump-backed candidates, because a lot of voters, especially like in Pennsylvania, for example, they don't want to be vote for someone who's trying to be like Trump. They like Trump. They might not like some of the things he said.

But a lot of voters and places that I’ve traveled to around the country are saying, I don't want the guy who's trying to be exactly like him. This guy is authentic on his own that’s why I like him. But these guys are trying to copy Trump, the playbook, give me something a little bit more authentic about you.

SHORT: Tim Ryan is a great example, Jon, because the reality is, he actually said, I’m not going to campaign with Joe Biden in Ohio. If you look at his website, he's embraced many of the Trump's policies. He’s basically complimented Trump on his policies toward China.

So, many people actually like the Trump policies. The reservation is on the personality.

HEITKAMP: If I could say, a lot of those Trump policies are classic Democratic policies. You know, you’ve been for fair trade, guess Trump wasn’t free trade. You’ve been, let's open the door to China, aka, Nixon, Democrats have cautioned about that.

KARL: So, the weird thing is we have this background of the criminal investigation. We have the January 6th committee restarting.

I want to play something that Liz Cheney said to me when I asked her about Vice President Pence possibly coming before that committee.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): When the country has been through something as grave as this was, everyone who has information has an obligation to set forward. I would hope that he will understand how important it is for the American people to know every aspect of the truth about what happened that day.


KARL: So, does Vice President Pence understand the importance of what happened that day? Will he appear before the January 6th Committee?

SHORT: I don’t think those are the same question. I think obviously Mike Pence understands the importance of that day, he lived that day. I think the severe constitutional questions about a vice president testifying about personal conversations with the president --


SHORT: Vice President Pence wrote open letters to the American people explaining his decision that were published on January 69th. He was very open about why he reached a conclusion that he was following the Constitution, but if a vice president is forced to testify about personal conversations, it will change the role of vice president forever.


KARL: Didn't he suggest that he was open to it?

SHORT: He suggests that he would look at it if he got a formal invitation. He and his counsel will look at it. But I think, Jonathan, there are severe constitutional questions about that kind of testimony.

KARL: Yeah.

Meanwhile, we have -- Donald Trump made some comments to Hugh Hewitt that were -- that were quite eerie, saying that terrible things will happen, there’ll be big problems in the country if he’s -- if he is indicted.

I mean, what your sense of how worried -- how a message like that plays?

BURNS: Look, I think there’s real concern certainly in Washington law enforcement about the effect of Donald Trump ginning up people like that. We’ve obviously seen it happened already in the aftermath of the search of Mar-a-Lago.

And it is why I think, you know, the constitutional issue with the Mike Pence going before the committee are what they are. But people in that administration, including the former vice president, it's up to them if they want to go on television and do sort of minute by minute of what happened that day and what they saw that day. If you don't want to deal with the constitutional issues around subpoena, there are other options available to you.

KARL: All right. We’re out of time for the roundtable.

Up next, candid thoughts on Hollywood and identity from actor and producer, Diego Luna.

We'll be right back.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank you, the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. All you here tonight embodied the same theme rooted in the strength of our achieving our dreams.

The nation always, always a work in progress, creating the possibilities and fulfillment of promise. That's been the American story, rooted in the strength of achieving our dreams.


KARL: President Biden at the 45th Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month. And in celebration, ABC News Emmy nominated “Soul of A Nation” is presenting a one-hour special “Mi Gente: Groundbreakers and Changemakers,” spotlighting three key figures in the Hispanic and Latin community.

Here's a special look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But is it better now? Is Hollywood more accepting?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think Hollywood exists anymore in the – in the way we – we used to say Hollywood. What Hollywood meant, a man behind a desk, you know, saying, people don't want to see that. People want to see this. You know, like, that doesn't exist anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that’s a good thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think – I think it's a great thing, you know? I think today the connection with the audience is shorter, is faster. We have to convince still that our stories matter. I think of the boycott that Caesar Chavez (ph) –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With grapes and lettuce (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was talking about the consumer. The power of the consumer, you know, and it's important to remind ourselves that as audience, if you buy a ticket, if you click watch, you're sending a message. The industry will react, is reacting. What stories do you want to have access to? The studios and the platforms are listening. Let's make sure we support all the – all the people that have something to do with us, that understand our context, that comes from where we come from. Let's make sure we support their stories, we support their voices, you know. We can be a part of change. Change is happening.


KARL: “Mi Gente: Groundbreakers and Changemakers” is streaming now on Hulu.

We'll be right back.


KARL: That's all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

And before we go, a programming note. ABC News will have live coverage of Queen Elizabeth's funeral beginning tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m.

Have a great day.