A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, July 1, 2018 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: High stakes for the high court.
RADDATZ: President Trump hoping to solidify a conservative majority with his second Supreme Court selection.
TRUMP: One that's going to be there for 40 years, 45 years.
RADDATZ: Landmark cases like Roe V. Wade could hang in the balance. Democrats face an uphill battle to block Trump's nominee, but with a mere one vote majority in the Senate, Ran republicans stay united?
We'll talk with Republican Senator Susan Collins whose support for abortion rights makes her a critical swing vote.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: I always look for judges who respect precedent.
RADDATZ: A key Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Amy Klobuchar, joins us live.
Plus, America divided. We traveled almost 1,500 miles from Virginia...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Trump.
RADDATZ: How do you think he's done this president?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's done very well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really disheartening, it's very discouraging.
RADDATZ: What do voters really think about the president? Can a polarized nation come together? We take the the pulse of America.
Plus, insights and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable, from the White House to your House, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and thanks for joining us this July 4th holiday week. What a week in American politics. It began with a president in retreat after Trump changed course by ending his administration's widely criticized practice of separating families at the border.
We'll talk more about that and yesterday's nationwide protests in a moment, but this morning, the president is preparing to change the course of history as he considers his replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. An opportunity to reshape the court for a generation.
As Time magazine put it, it's Trump's court now.
The impact of the court was on full display this week, most notably in the 5-4 decision to uphold the president's travel ban. Kennedy was in the majority in that and several other highly consequential decisions. His replacement on the Supreme Court will likely solidify a conservative majority.
For Trump supporters, it's a dream come true. For his opponents, it's a nightmare.
We saw that firsthand as we traveled through the country this week talking to voters on both sides of the aisle. The latest dividing line in American politics will likely galvanize members of both parties to head to the polls in November. But until then, President Trump isn't wasting any time, moving forward to quickly select Justice Kennedy's replacement.
For the latest on the search, let's bring in Terry Moran who covers the Supreme Court for ABC News.
And good morning, Terry. The president says he'll nominate Justice Kennedy's replacement a week from tomorrow. What do we know about how he's narrowing that down?
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS: Well, he says he's got six or seven candidates that he's looking at. First he said five. He might add a couple. He's interviewing them over the next several days. This is a process he knows. He went through it with Neil Gorsuch, and that he seems to like.
He's looking for what he says are sterling credentials, that means alas Harvard and Yale who are already pretty well represented on the court. But the president is also looking for reliable conservatism, of course, but also the personal quality like other presidents. And what he wants is somebody, that as people who are in the process say, somebody who's not weak, somebody who's tough. He wants to make sure that his pick will be able to stand up to pressure.
RADDATZ: You know, we think of Justice Kennedy as the swing vote on the court, but on many issues he certainly sided with the conservatives -- the travel ban. So this is really about social issues if the court really moves to the right.
MORAN: That's where it will be most noticeable. Abortion for sure is up for grabs and targeted by conservatives. Some of the place of religion in public life and its relation to secular law. We'll see more cases like that -- the baker who didn't want to bake the wedding cake.
But there were other issues, it wasn't just social issues. On criminal law and prison reform Kennedy was an unpredictable vote. He was the guy who wrote the opinion holding that foreign terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay have a right, constitutional right, to make a case in the American court.
So, he had a big impact across the law. And more than anything, it was his approach. He was a case by case judge. And these days, it's much more ideological.
RADDATZ: You know, we’ve seen Republicans nominate justices for the Supreme Court in the past they thought were conservative, John Paul Stevens, David Souter. But you think that’s not going to happen this time?
MORAN: No. Those days are gone. The conservatives over the past 20, 30 years, in part because of that, have developed a kind of farm team system. They groomed candidates for judges. And those candidates themselves, people who -- who want to make an impact in the world that way, they see what happened Robert Bork, they see what happened to other ideological judges.
And so they keep their heads down, it’s about methodology, it’s about participating in those networks where conservatives know that if they come to be nominated, they’re reliable.
RADDATZ: OK, the vote is going to come down to a handful of moderate senators on both sides of the aisle, the left and the right, including Republican Senator Susan Collins, who we’re speaking to in a moment. What do you think the president is doing to secure their votes?
MORAN: So he’s taking a kind of good cop, bad cop approach. And he’s both cops. He is trying, on one hand, at his rallies and on Twitter, he’s calling out these crucial votes. The Democrats in red states -- Senator Heidi Heitkamp, when he was in North Dakota, her state, he called her out. And then he turned around, two days later, and he had a nice, cozy meeting in the White House, the soft cell, you might say, with the Democrats and these crucial Republican pro-choice women.
Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and many of whom you’re going to be talking to. There’s so much pressure on them. You can see it in the headlines out there. And their loyalties will be tested in many, many directions. So this is a process which the president is getting personally involved in, he seems to enjoy it. And he is -- no question he’s in charge of this. And he’s trying to already get those crucial votes on both sides of the aisle in his corral.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Terry. Really look forward to your coverage.
MORAN: You bet.
RADDATZ: And joining me now is Senator Susan Collins of Maine. And Senator, I want to start with your meeting with President Trump. You along with five other key senators met with him Thursday to talk about the Supreme Court vacancy. We know the interview process with potential nominees is about to get underway. What did you tell the president you were looking for in a nominee?
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I told him that I was looking for a nominee that would demonstrate a respect for precedence, a longstanding a vital tenet of our judicial system. I also suggested that he broaden his search beyond the list of 25 nominees. The White House counsel told me that there have been a few additional potential nominees added to that list.
But I think the president should not feel bound by that list and instead should seek out recommendations to ensure that he gets the best possible person.
RADDATZ: Did you get the sense he is bound by that list and there is -- is there anything that the president said to you that concerns you?
COLLINS: Well, I don’t want to get into the details of what was a private discussion. I was glad to hear that the list had been broadened somewhat, that five additional people had been added to it and that the president was listening to the five of us who had been asked to come to the White House and talk with him about what qualities that we would seek.
Obviously I mentioned judicial temperament, integrity, intellect, experience, qualifications, fidelity to the rule of law and the constitution. But most important of all, a respect for precedence.
RADDATZ: And I know you don’t want to divulge any private conversations but what sense did you get from the president about the kind of nominee he’s looking for?
COLLINS: The president listened very intently to what Lisa Murkowski and I said. And I got the feeling that he was still deliberating and had not yet reached a decision and that this was genuine outreach on his part.
RADDATZ: You know, you talk about that list of 25. That list was made public -- and I know you said you wanted the list expanded, the president has said he’s going to talk to six or seven people. But was there anybody on that list of those 25 that you outright objected to?
COLLINS: There are people on that list whom I could not support, because I believe that they have demonstrated a disrespect for the vital principle of stare decisis, which as Chief Justice Roberts has said, is a fundamental principle of our judicial system that promotes even-handedness and stability.
I’m -- I’m not going to go into which ones those are, but there are people on that list whom I could not vote for.
RADDATZ: Do you believe the confirmation has to take place before the mid terms? You’ve heard democrats talk about the McConnell rule when President Obama wanted his nominee to have a confirmation hearing in 2016. Does this have to take place, in your view, before the mid term?
COLLINS: Well first let me state that I strongly disagree with leader McConnell’s decision to not proceed with a vote on President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. I thought that that was wrong and I said so publicly.
When I look at the average amount of time between a nominee being sent to us and when there is a vote on the nominee, it’s 67 days. So we’ve just entered July, that would bring us into September, and that would allow a nominee to be confirmed before the Supreme Court reconvenes in early October.
So I don’t think that’s an unreasonable goal, this is not a case where a nominee is being put forth right before presidential elections, and right now I see no reason why we can’t meet the deadline of getting someone on the court so that the court will be at full strength by October -- the -- the October convening.
RADDATZ: You know, you voted last year to confirm Justice Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia, but that really didn’t alter the ideological balance of the court. That really could happen this time, especially for the future of cases like Roe v. Wade.
You talked about precedent, you support abortion rights. What will you do to ensure that remains in place with the nominee?
COLLINS: I’m going to have an in depth discussion with the nominee and I believe very much that Roe v. Wade is settled law, as it has been described by Chief Justice Roberts. It has been established as a constitutional right for 46 year -- 45 years, and was reaffirmed 26 years ago.
So a nominee position, whether or not they respect precedent, will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn Roe v. Wade. A candidate of this import position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.
And that would indicate to me a failure to respect precedent of fundamental tenet of our judicial system.
RADDATZ: I want to play something President Trump said from the 2016, the final presidential debate about Roe v. Wade. Let’s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, ACHOR, FOX NEWS: Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be -- that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president was of course very explicit there but this week on Fox, he seemed to change his tune. Let’s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to ask your nominees beforehand how they might vote on Roe versus Wade?
TRUMP: Well, that’s a big one. And probably not. They’re all saying don’t do that, you don’t do that, you shouldn’t do that. But I’m putting conservative people on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: So Senator Collins, you trust that he wouldn’t want to make sure Roe is overturned?
COLLINS: Well as I said, I don’t like to go into the details of my conversation with the president, but he did tell me that he would not be asking that question. And indeed, it would be inappropriate to ask a judge nominee on how they are going to vote in a future case.
A discussion of precedent, however, is very important. What I want to see is a nominee who regardless of his or her personal views on the very difficult and contentious life issue is going to respect precedent regardless.
I’ve had a number of judges who say to me that good judges are always unhappy with some of their decisions but they make the right call regardless of their personal views. And that’s what I want to see in this nominee.
COLLINS: Well, I’m very concerned about it. I had a lengthy discussion with the Secretary of Homeland Security and I really pressed her on this issue because so far, only 500 children, is my understanding, have been reunited with their parents and some 2,000 remain in detention centers. I think that’s traumatizing to these children and contrary to our American values.
Also overlooked is the fact that there are some 10,000 unaccompanied minors who came here without their children. This a problem that goes back into the Obama administration when we saw a flood of unaccompanied minors coming into this country and we do not seem to have a good plan for how to deal with those children either.
Part of the answer is clearly working with the leaders of the home countries, the three countries in Central America who are -- whose parents are sending these unaccompanied minors here or are accompanying them here.
So that is part of the answer. But I’m going to continue to press Secretary Nielsen on this very important issue. It is simply inconsistent with our American values to split up families.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much for joining us, Senator Collins.
COLLINS: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: And now let’s bring in Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. She’s a key Democrat on the Judiciary Committee set to question President Trump’s eventual Supreme Court pick. Senator Klobuchar, you just heard Senator Collins say there are some people on the President’s original list of candidates she could not support. What’s your reaction to that?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I thought her comments were very heartening. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski have shown time and time again that they’re willing to buck their party when it comes to important issues like supporting the Affordable Care Act, defending Planned Parenthood, defending women’s fundamental rights. They have done that and those were the words I was hearing from Senator Collins.
She is someone that respects precedent and that is what’s so important about this position. As you noted at the beginning, this is a position that will have consequences for generations. The court makes decisions in the last decades about who you can marry, where you can go to school, what your work’s going to be like. My grandpa was a miner 1,500 feet underground and court decisions made his workplace safer.
So this is an incredibly important job and when you look at the cases that are going to come up, Martha, including whether or not insurance companies can kick off people if they have a preexisting condition -- that was a case -- the administration just argued that down in Texas. That case is going to make its way to the court.
RADDATZ: Senator, we know you don’t really support President Trump. You know, you differ with him on major issues. But when you look at that list of 25, is there anyone on that you would support?
KLOBUCHAR: The ones I’ve seen, that have emerged to the top of the list, no. And a number of them I have voted on already because I’ve already seen that when you look back at their record, a number of them are writing concurrences where they go out of their way to try to make new law, just as you saw with what Justice Gorsuch did recently about the reasonable expectation of privacy in a dissent that he wrote or when he joined with Clarence Thomas on a issue about racial redistricting and racial voting rights.
You see this time and time again with some of these nominees and I think what you want --
RADDATZ: So do you think you can get a real stance (ph) --
KLOBUCHAR: -- is someone who’s not an ideologue.
RADDATZ: Go ahead with that --
KLOBUCHAR: Go ahead.
RADDATZ: -- but how do you get a real sense of someone who wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade?
KLOBUCHAR: You do that by asking questions, and the first fork in the road here is going to be people like Senator Collins, Republicans, and I wouldn’t just say the women, you know, let’s hear from some of these men, Senator Flake, Senator McCain, Senator Corker, others who weigh in that you want someone that’s going to hold -- uphold precedent.
Roe v. Wade, 45 years on the books as precedent, and the second thing you do then is when you have a nominee, is you ask those questions. And by the way, we just asked Brown v. Board of Education a number of nominees and they answered it if they thought that was a settled law of the land.
Yes, you’re not supposed to ask questions and they’re not going to talk about cases that may come before them, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t ask about cases that are 50, 100 years old and how they would have voted on those cases.
That’s how you figure out whether they put their money where their mouth is, whether they’re really going to respect precedent.
RADDATZ: You know, the president met on Thursday evening with Senator Collins as well as three of your fellow Democrats who voted in favor of Justice Gorsuch, including North Dakota Senator Heitkamp.
She said of that meeting that she had urged the president to appoint someone who is, quote, “pragmatic, fair, compassionate, committed to justice and above politics.” But what do you say to your fellow Democrats up for reelection in red states that Trump dominated?
Wouldn’t they damage their chances of reelection if they do not support his nominee?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, these are senators that are going to do the right thing. Yes, they have blocked our party time and time again, and that’s part of who they are. They do what they feel is best for their state.
On the other hand, you have seen them united, all 48 Democrats from Bernie Sanders to Joe Manchin standing up to defend the Affordable Care Act so that people don’t get their healthcare taken away from them.
So I think what they’re doing is similar to what Senator Collins has just said, they’re saying we want someone who’s not an idea log on the bench. While Justice Kennedy has been very conservative at times, he wrote the opinion on marriage equality.
He was the deciding vote in the Casey case that upheld Roe v. Wade. That was him, and so if you look at his -- the arc of his decisions and what he’s done (ph), he wants someone that’s going to show that kind of independence and is not going to set us back to a time when a woman was made a criminal just for exercising her own reproductive rights, and when you look at what we’ve seen --
RADDATZ: Senator Klobuchar, I -- I -- I just want to make sure we -- we move on a little bit here. Beyond trying to sway public opinion, can you get the nominee to be delayed until after the mid terms?
How can you really do that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well procedurally that’s going to be up to when the -- the majority leader brings this forward, but we can make this case that this is an ancient precedent, in 2016 the Republicans took the position, you shouldn’t vote on a nominee in an election year.
And it wasn’t just because it was a presidential election, you’ve got Senator Hatch saying you shouldn’t do it in a political year, we have Roger Wicker saying that it -- the election will determine the type of Senate that we will have, his words.
So we should wait until after the election year. So we will be strongly making that case and taking our -- every single senator should be able to meet with the nominee. And while Senator Collins used that figure, 65 days, I believe it’s longer when you look back through history at how long it has taken for a judge to actually have a vote on the floor.
And we want to make sure --
RADDATZ: Justice Gorsuch, 66 days -- Justice Sotomeyer, 66 days. But I want to move on to this -- are you saying that the court should start without a full bench, or that Justice Kennedy should stay beyond his retirement date of July 31st?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I’m saying that certainly the Republicans made the argument in 2016 that they could take their time and you could have eight on the bench, I didn’t agree with them back then but they set a new precedent.
So all we’re saying is you should let the people have a say in this critical position and have this vote after the election. But to me, what’s more important is the decision that’s being made right now by the president, and that we must continue to weigh in on having a balanced person that’s going to look at the law and look at precedent and make decisions based on the law.
RADDATZ: And -- and I want to just get you quickly on immigration, you too saw those protests I’m sure this weekend, and calls to abolish ICE. Do you think ICE should be abolished, Immigration Customs Enforcement?
KLOBUCHAR: I think what has to change are the policies and the people that are making these policies are making horrendous decisions like separating kids from their parents.
We are always going to need immigration enforcement, Martha. I think we know that. We about as -- we are a major country with major borders.
So to me, the issue is what are those policies and please let’s get comprehensive immigration reform, something I’ve strongly supported for years. We passed a bill out of the Senate that not only involved order at the border and funding for that, it also involved a path to citizenship for people who obey the law, for people who learn to speak English, for people who are part of this country for decades.
And that’s what I think we need, which of course includes the DREAMers, includes people who have been here legally. That is what we need to do. And I am just appalled by how this administration has been talking about immigrants. They don’t diminish America, they are America.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Senator Klobuchar. Up next, the view of the Trump presidency from outside Washington. I go on the road from Virginia to Tennessee to Texas to take the nation’s pulse on trade, the Supreme Court and the debate over civility. And later, the powerhouse roundtable weighs in on the debate over immigration. We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: Almost every Sunday we come to the end of the week finding it difficult to remember how the week began. The Trump administration, the news cycle moving so fast here in Washington that it is easy to forget how many monumental issues we face each week and how much those issues affect us all.
So we wanted to head out on a cross-country drive at the beginning of the week to experience headlines outside of Washington, a view that can be very different from that in the nation's capital, and a view that reminded us that despite the missteps, the chaos, the divide that splits this nation, Donald Trump is seen by many as a hugely successful president.
RADDATZ: Our week began in rural Virginia 200 miles from Washington, but smack in the middle of one of the latest controversies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically we were hoping it would be a way to show our support for what this little tiny restaurant did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can refused to bake a cake for a gay couple, because that's your right, then why can't the Red Hen tell Sarah Huckabee Sanders that they don't want to serve her?
RADDATZ: Five short days ago, this block was the epicenter of the national divide. And talking to people on the street was unsettling.
Somebody just gave us the finger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, exactly. Instead of saying, hey, let's sit down and figure out how we can make this thing work, everybody -- we're starting to polarize in the country.
UNIDENTIIFED MALE: She needs to go back where she came from.
RADDATZ; where was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, from what I hear, New York, Meryl Streep's kin and all them other trash up there.
RADDATZ: The divide was no less apparent as we headed southwest to our next stop in Tennessee where the topic was tariffs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We make rum, gin, vodka, bourbon and moonshine.
RADDATZ: Kent Merit, who voted for Gary Johnson in 2016, is worried about the effect of Trump's tariffs.
What might it do to your business? Are you talking about losing employees? Are you...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's possible.
I understand that there are issues with the trade imbalance that we have with other countries, but this is going to hurt this industry. Adding tariffs adds cost on every side.
RADDATZ: We continued our journey along the streets of Nashville, across farm country, through violent storms, to Dixon County, Tennessee which backed Trump 70 percent in the election.
Tim Span owns a men's wear store on Main Street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy is doing better than it was previously, so when the economy is doing better, I'm doing better.
RADDATZ: And you've actually seen that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. People spend more money.
RADDATZ: Twila Snyder loves that Donald Trump speaks his mind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it that he's not controlled by the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, he's -- he is a very different personality and it makes him uniquely suited for the job., and he doesn't give a crap what anyone thinks.
RADDATZ: That is one of the many Trump messages, like mistrust of the media and government institutions, that supporters here are getting loud and clear.
William Turner is a registered Democrat who voted for Trump.
RADDATZ: If tomorrow Robert Mueller said there was collusion in the Trump campaign, there was obstruction of justice, would you believe it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
RADDATZ: Why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just have that much faith in Donald Trump, right or wrong.
RADDATZ: Back on the road and heading for Dallas, when the biggest news of the week breaks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announcing he will retire. This leaves a major opening.
RADDATZ: The Supreme Court just upheld the president's travel ban against Muslims. And for Kamil Chelleck (ph), a Muslim immigrant from Turkey who's lived in the U.S. for 15 years, Trump policies, whether targeting illegal immigration or legal immigration, have had a chilling effect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm registered as a Republican, just so you know. Since he started running the campaign and targeting Muslims -- I'm a Muslim, by the way -- then yes, there's been fear. There's been fear, but -- especially my kid's school, too. They are not comfortable telling other people that they're Muslims.
So, I think it comes to what makes America great, in my opinion, it is the diverse thought and diverse belief and that I think...
RADDATZ: For others we met in Plano, Texas, another big issue could be at stake with the Supreme Court turnover...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do believe that it is a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body.
RADDATZ: 20-year-old college student Siete White (ph) was a Clinton supporter.
There's lots of talk about overturning Roe V. Wade.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It frightens me as a young female, just knowing that that right is possibly just going to go out the window.
RADDATZ: Stacey Shelby (ph) from Louisiana is interning in Dallas this summer, like Siete (ph) she feels vulnerable in Trump’s America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it’s been very tiring, I think is a word I would use, and like disheartening, and I feel like it’s had a negative effect on me as a student and on me as like an African American woman just because I feel like people -- they feel more empowered to say things that are -- can be hurtful to various communities.
RADDATZ: It’s that hurt, that split we saw from the beginning to the end of the trip, these young law students who met at a Dallas food store say they are struggling but determined to bridge the gap with Texas native Kirsti Wallace (ph) offering an emotional, eloquent conclusion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something I’ve battled with personally is not losing faith in my fellow Americans and just recognizing that Trump is striking a cord with certain people for people for particular reasons and it’s very easy to vilify them.
And I struggle with that a lot, a lot of bitterness and resentment of like how could you, you know, support this man and his policies. And so it’s been a hard like for me to walk, and I’m still figuring out how to do it with grace and understanding.
RADDATZ: Grace and understanding, something we could all work on. Up next, the round table weighs in on the political divide from the immigration protests we saw across the country this weekend to the looming battle over the Supreme Court.
We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: And the round table is standing by. Matt, we’re excited to have Shawna Thomas, of Vice News, Cokie, Governor Chris Christie, all ready to take on the week. And all week long you can get the latest on politics in the White House with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. Multi-task. Download it during the break.
RADDATZ: Let’s bring in our powerhouse roundtable. ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd. Shawna Thomas, we welcome, Washington bureau chief for Vice News, ABC News’ Cokie Roberts and Former New Jersey Governor and ABC News Contributor Chris Christie. Welcome all of you.
Chris Christie, I want to start with you. You -- you just heard what Senator Collins said. This Supreme Court nominee is so important. She said she could not support anyone who wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, CONTRIBUTOR, ABC NEWS: Well listen, I think that everyone’s going to have their own view on this and -- and -- and I -- I don’t think you’re going to have anybody who’s going to be that outright about giving their opinion on that case or any other case.
And so Senator Collins is going to have to do what every other senator’s going to have to do, which is look back at the person’s record as a judge, if they’ve been on the bench for any kind of long period of time, look at their record, their writings and everything else and try to divine from that what they think might happen.
I think in the end, though, what the president is most likely to do is to pick someone who he believes takes the right type of judicial approach but has a judicial temperament that’s going to be very difficult to attack.
RADDATZ: It doesn’t seem there’s any indication that he’s going to choose someone who’s more moderate, like Justice Kennedy.
CHRISTIE: Well, no, I don't think so. And by the way, you know, I kind of laugh about this a little bit as a Republican, like who's the moderate on the Democratic side that has been selected lately? I mean, you might be able to argue Justice Breyer every once in a while, but certainly not Kagan orGinsburg or Sotomayor.
ROBERTS: President Clinton thought Ginsberg was. You know, he was...
CHRISTIE: Good luck.
ROBERTS: He was unhappy about that.
But I think the notion of Donald Trump judging somebody's temperament is somewhat odd and I'm not sure that that's something he's able to do. I think that it's going to be very much advice coming from people in the Senate.
RADDATZ: And Matt, do Democrats really have any power to defeat Trump's nominee?
DOWD: Well, this is an exclamation point of why elections have consequences.
DOWD: And the president has a complete right to nominate a conservative judge to the court. Democrats had that right when they held presidential office.
I do think -- but the Democrats have an obligation and a right of advice and consent and to raise concerns and to generate enthusiasm for what their beliefs are in this.
I do think we've come to a point, and reflected in your piece of how divided the country is, is that I would hope the president would consider possibly nominating somebody that would get more than 50 or 51 votes, because I think that's the problem we're in.
ROBERTS: Good luck with that though.
DOWD: But I think that's the problem.
CHRISTIE: Listen, we have people -- my own senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, has already said that there's no one the president could nominate that he would vote for, so how do you get...
ROBERTS: He'd get killed in the Democratic Party if he did.
CHRISTIE: I'm not saying it's not smart, just the reality of today.
THOMAS: From a campaigning point of view, the Democrats, they know there's nothing they can do, right? So it's how long can we have this conversation about the next time around making sure there are more Democratic senators, that kind of thing.
All they can do is use it to campaign in 2018 at this point. And so I think one of the things is we're not going to see any kind of hearings until probably, what, October? They will be able to keep making this an issue, that's about it.
RADDATZ: You've looked into what kind of potential cases the court could take up.
RADDATZ: This isn't just about Roe V. Wade.
THOMAS: No, it's not, it's about a lot of little cases that are working their way through the courts right now that deal with abortion, that deal with gerrymandering, that deal with all these things. And those are the things -- and we saw it. We saw it on Thursday when you had Senator Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, all these people in front of the Supreme Court railing about they have to do everything.
What they can do is keep talking and keeping yelling about it and make sure that people know that some of those cases, like what we see in Iowa with the 72-hour ban, what we see in Mississippi as well as Louisiana, that people have those cases in mind, that they know that they need to go to the ballot box to vote for something and this is a step towards 2020.
ROBERTS: And really, you know, elections do have consequences when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. I covered the Bork nomination.
RADDATZ: Remind us about that.
ROBERTS: Well, so what happened was Robert Bork was nominated by President Reagan and was a very conservative justice and people think that he did himself in in the hearings because he did behave in the hearings in a way that was quite arrogant. And I remember when he was asked why do you want this job? Instead of saying I want to serve the public, all that, he said it's an intellectual feast. So it was all about him. And that didn't work for him.
But the truth is, he had lost before the hearings because of the election.
RADDATZ: So what are the lessons learned there?
ROBERTS: And the lessons learned were, that I remember talking to a southern moderate Democrat when such things existed, and I expected him to say I'm for Bork and he said I was elected by women and blacks, that's who elected me. Who's against Bork? Women and blacks.
DOWD: Let me wax philosophical for just a second.
ROBERTS: Oh, no.
THOMAS: Oh wow.
RADDATZ: You can jump in later.
DOWD: If we eliminate the expectation that we can't have nominees anymore that can bridge the divide, then we basically have decided the country is so divided that we may not bother anymore. And today is the anniversary of Gettysburg, right, and in a time with incredible divisions, the greatest battle loss of any battle in the history of the country. And Lincoln's words at the Gettysburg, part of that address that he gave, where he said we are now engaged in a great civil war, testing the idea, the proposition that a country so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. And I think if once we say there's no way, the country is too divided, we've got to do this, this is the way it's going to be, I think there should be an expectation of the president that he nominate somebody that is able to get Democratic votes.
I think we should keep that expectation.
RADDATZ: You can wax philosophical all you want -- I just want say on this 1,500 mile drive that divide was so stark, people so dug in, it was really eye opening.
DOWD: It’s the greatest danger to our republic. That is the greatest danger --
THOMAS: Wasn’t Merrick Garland the example of what you’re saying already?
DOWD: Yes, and look what happened.
DOWD: Yes, but look what happened.
ROBERTS: Thank god we have no huge moral issue like slavery when there can be nothing like slavery.
DOWD: We have a moral -- we have many moral issues. Immigration is a moral issue.
ROBERTS: -- but it -- I agree with you completely, but it’s not something that we’re going to go to war over.
RADDATZ: -- Donald Trump take any blame for this division?
CHRISTIE: Listen, everybody is involved and public (ph) life to explain (ph). I mean, let’s face it, every who’s involved in public life today takes a piece of the blame for where we are, and I don’t think it’s just the president, although he’s the president so everybody wants to talk about that.
But I’ve also -- maybe because I’m from New Jersey, but I do believe that there -- this country was -- was founded on the idea of arguments. It was far -- it was founded on that idea of debate, division at times, and --
ROBERTS: But then it came -- but then came together --
CHRISTIE: -- but I don’t believe that 51 votes is not coming together. You know, in the end -- in the end, for this and -- and -- and for Supreme Court nominees that are in this time where the issues are so stark, you’re not going to find that any longer.
And I would also --
DOWD: But it wasn’t until recently they made it -- it used to be 60 votes.
CHRISTIE: -- we’re talking about -- we’re --
ROBERTS: And talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
CHRISTIE: We’re talking about 25 years or so, Matt. Not a recent development since we’ve had that.
DOWD: No, the 60 votes in within the last six years, five years, 60 votes the last five years.
RADDATZ: Shawna, when -- when they turn the cameras off on the Hill and elsewhere, is it different? Do you -- do you sense that it’s different, there’s more -- I will say on this trip that the camera’s on you’re fake news, you’re this, you’re that.
But people were so kind to me and -- and welcoming, I mean there were two women, one woman who just absolutely loved Trump walking with her friend who absolutely loved Hillary Clinton.
So the country’s divided in some places, but are they behind the scenes?
THOMAS: I think behind the scenes, especially the senators who have been there a long time, I think they’re still somewhat friendly. I think they still somewhat like each other. I think they want to figure out a better way to do this, but they also, when the cameras are on or they’re back in their home districts or they know they have an election coming up, they have to say what they have to say.
I think it’s a little different in the House because there’s so many new people and we’re probably going to have a lot of turnover again, but there --
-- I play in a congressional softball game, and on the other side are women from Congress who are Republicans and Democrats, and they enjoy hanging out (inaudible).
ROBERTS: I know, but you know what, it’s much truer (inaudible) (ph) of the women, much truer. And the -- the -- really the last bit of bipartisanship in the Senate is (inaudible) women --
CHRISTIE: By the way, you know, I mean, we’re focused on the elected officials, I think your point is much more important. Among the American people, we still like each other. We can have these political arguments and we can have disagreements and -- and it’s only the extremes in both sides who make this a make or break issue at every cocktail party, at every barbecue.
THOMAS: I think there’s a fear among people, and this is totally anecdotal, but I see my mom 70 something years old in Texas, southern black woman, lived through the civil rights era.
And she is -- is scared, and some of this is watching too much MSNBC, don’t get me wrong.
But she is worried about where the country is going, more so worried than during the civil rights era, which I was not alive for clearly, and that -- that worry is going to continue to tear people apart further on (ph).
DOWD: Well there’s this major consensus, the thing is the voters are united in -- in many ways on many things. There’s major consensus on a whole series of issues. There’s major consensus in the country on what we should do about immigration.
There’s major consensus on what we should do about guns. There’s major consensus on many things on what we should do on the economy. The problem is, is that our institutions and our politics no longer pays attention to what the major consensus is.
So we have a practice of politics in Washington, where if they went along with what 70 percent of the country would -- wanted to do, all of these things would be solved, but they don’t.
ROBERTS: But you see -- but you see why when you see the example in New York’s 14th district. Fewer than five percent of the eligible voters turned out to vote. And what you have then is the most extreme people turning out to vote, and then those are the people who are elected.
RADDATZ: And quickly in New York, big surprise in New York --
CHRISTIE: Yes, but no, in today’s environment, party primaries are the most dangerous territory for anybody to try to navigate right now. Joe Crowley learned it this past week, and let me tell you --
-- not only did he (ph) have to campaign, but sometimes in this environment, the most extreme are rewarded, and we see that --
DOWD: -- she was much more culturally in line with that district, she really was much more culturally in line in (ph) that district. And much has been made about her stand on certain issues.
Her stand on Medicare for all and her stand on single payer is way more supported by the country than Donald Trump’s tax cuts, than Donald Trump’s immigration plan, and then Donald Trump’s stand on guns.
ROBERTS: Abolish ICE.
RADDATZ: Yes, do you think that’s a good way to campaign? I mean that seems crazy --
CHRISTIE: It’s crazy
DOWD: Listen, abolishing a state -- well, if we want to talk about a state agency we should look at, let’s also look at TSA for all of us who travel.
ROBERTS: Right. Now they’re taking our snacks.
DOWD: I think the question to be raised -- obviously ICE and the people that work for ICE are -- are a function of the leadership. And a function of what they do is the function of what they’re being told to do and what they’re encouraged to do and what --
CHRISTIE: I mean -- and here’s what’s the problem (ph) with our politics today, real quick. So she wins the primary by saying abolish ICE. So what happens? Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s supposed to be smarter, says abolish ICE. Kamala Harris that comes out that says -- and the lemmings start following down the line because they’re following what they think was the result of a primary and they want to run for president.
That’s not leadership. And that’s why people are cynical. Stuff like that -- no one thinks we should abolish Immigration Customs Enforcement. Come on.
RADDATZ: OK. And that’s going to be the final word. Happy Fourth of July.
RADDATZ: -- thanks for coming out today. We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of June, one soldier died overseas supporting operations in Somalia. And a final note. I have covered conflict around the world for decades, losing many colleagues in war zones along the way. But to see my fellow journalists gunned down on U.S. soil while sitting in a small town newspaper office less than 50 miles from here was simply devastating.
I hope everyone can appreciate and respect the work they did, the work journalists try to do every day. Please keep those five who lost their lives, their families and the surviving staff that still managed to put out a newspaper the next day in your thoughts and prayers as we celebrate America’s freedom this week. Thanks for joining us and have a happy and safe July Fourth.