'This Week' Transcript 2-19-17: Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Adam Schiff, Corey Lewandowski, and Robby Mook

A rush transcript for "This Week" on February 19, 2017.

ByABC News
February 19, 2017, 9:04 AM
In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Cliff Owen/AP Photo

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on February 19, 2017 and it will be updated.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will continue to win, win, win.


ANNOUNCER: Thirty days in, the unprecedented presidency.


TRUMP: You've seen what we've accomplished in a very short period of time.


ANNOUNCER: Critics call it chaos.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Obviously, there is a administration that is in significant disarray.


ANNOUNCER: But President Trump...


TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.


ANNOUNCER: -- still playing to his base and fighting back.


TRUMP: We are not going to let the fake news tell us what to do.


ANNOUNCER: Can Trump answer persistent questions about ties to Russia?

And will those mounting protests across the country derail Trump's agenda?

Tough questions ahead for Trump's one time rival, Senator Rand Paul.

And the top Democratic on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.

Plus, former campaign managers Robby Mook and Corey Lewandowski go head-to-head.

From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK.

Here now, chief White House correspondent, Jonathan Karl.


Thirty-one days in, liberals are freaking out. Trump die-hards fired up. But the one thing all of America can agree on -- we've never seen anything like it.

We're used to watching new presidents take office with choreographed policy plans rolled out with carefully chosen words.

But this?

A machine gun blast of big promises. The rhetoric loud, aggressive, chaotic.

The question -- is this a fine-tuned machine delivering promise after promise at a record pace or an administration careening out of control?

And if it is, how bad will the crash be?

We're getting to all of that this hour.

For the first time together since the election, Trump's fiery defender and former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and Hillary Clinton's battle-scarred general, Robby Mook, head-to-head.

And in a moment, Trump's former primary rival, Senator Rand Paul.

A year ago, he called candidate Trump a disaster.

What does he think of President Trump now?

And we had hoped to have Vice Admiral Bob Harward, who turned down the National Security job just this week. Harward had committed to appearing on this program, but just an hour ago, he told us he was unable to join.

we hope to have him in the near future.

But we begin with a reality check and Trump in his element.


TRUMP: This is the state where we all had great victory together.

KARL (voice-over): A classic, high energy show.

TRUMP: We will make America great again.

KARL: Crowds an instant antidote to the poisonous atmosphere back in Washington. And they love him now more than ever.

TRUMP: A star is born. A star is born.

KARL: It was as if he never had to fire Flynn or got smacked by the courts or lost a cabinet nominee, ran into waves of opposition in the streets and that deluge of damaging leaks.

Trump's search for his old winning ways started with that Thursday throwback.

TRUMP: I'm not ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good time doing it.

KARL: The most remarkable moment of that extraordinary event -- a complete rejection of any suggestion that anything was going wrong.

TRUMP: I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos, chaos. Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

KARL: Reality check -- Trump is making progress on some of his key promises -- tougher immigration, reworking his travel ban, cutting regulations, picking a conservative Supreme Court nominee.

But on many of the big ticket items, he's trading water -- the wall, tax cuts, ObamaCare, that infrastructure plan all still up in the air. And the main source of all of the chaos talk, the turmoil over national security.

TRUMP: Mike Flynn is a fine person and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it.

KARL: In Munich, Germany, at the International Security Conference, Vice President Pence tried to reassure NATO allies. But Pence's efforts to calm European anxieties were overshadowed by the star of the chaos theory camp, Senator John McCain.

In a headline grabbing speech, McCain asked a loaded question -- can the West survive?

He didn't mention Trump, but he didn't have to.

MCCAIN: In recent years, this question would invite accusations of hyperbole and alarmism, not this year. If ever there was a time to treat this question with a deadly seriousness, it is now.


KARL: All right, let's bring in Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Senator Paul, thank you for joining us.

And I want to start with what the president said. Fine-tuned machine over this first month. Is that what you're seeing?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And, from where I sit, we have done a lot of good things. You know, we've repealed regulations for the first time in 20 years using the Congressional Review Act. Three regulations that were going to cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. That is big progress. We're on schedule to repeal Obamacare. Big progress.

His cabinet picks, from a conservative point of view, have exceeded my expectations. I think Scott Pruitt is going to be great at EPA. I think we're really going to do some conservative things. Supreme Court justice, somebody I could have picked.

So, I'm actually very, very pleased with where we are.

KARL: Now, part of the kind of chaos theory stems from the president's words, what he said. I want to play something he said last night at his rally.


TRUMP: You look at what is happening last night in Sweden. Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible.


KARL: Now that was in a riff where he was talking about terror attacks. So we scrubbed the -- the records, scrubbed news reports out of Sweden. Do you have any idea what he was talking about?

PAUL: Well, I think there have been some altercations. There was a New Year's Eve altercation I think a year ago where there was quite a few things that were happening that did involve refugee populations. And I believe that was in Sweden.

But you know I think that anybody who thinks that it has been seamless and no bumps in the road in Germany with allowing a million people to come in, no, I think there have been problems.

And I think there are legitimate concerns that get sloughed over here. For example, World War I, World War II, immigration came to a grinding halt in our country during these wars. And the question I ask is if someone wants to come from Aleppo tomorrow, how do you know who they are? There is almost nothing left in Aleppo. I don't know that there is paperwork. I don't know that you can ask people in Syria, where there is a dysfunctional government, to give you legitimate paperwork on people.

So, I think it is very, very difficult to vet people from there -- Yemen, Sudan, all these places that are engaged in war. I think those are legitimate concerns for our national security.

KARL: But Senator, I'm asking you about what the president said at his rally. He said what is happening last night in Sweden. We heard from the former prime minister of Sweden who tweeted after that Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.

I mean, isn't there a point of credibility? I mean, we also heard the president in the press conference say that he had the biggest electoral win since Reagan. It's not even close. So, what -- isn't there a credibility question?

PAUL: You know, I think there are -- there are other people that have looked at this and they say there are two levels you can analyze this administration on. One, words and Twitter, another on actions. And I tend to look at the actions. And like I say, I have my quibbles here and there with things that are said and yet I'm really pleased that we repealed a regulation that was going to be very, very damaging to my state.

The regulation. I went to the White House this week to see him sign. The repeal would have cost 77,000 jobs in the coal industry. So, I'm very, very happy, that wold have never happened probably under half a dozen other Republican nominees.

So, I mean, not everyone is perfect, but I think there's a lot of good things. And we shouldn't lose sight of the good things from a conservative point of view of what's happening in Washington.

KARL: No doubt.

But I want to play something that you said a year ago January. Now, obviously, at this point, you were running against Donald Trump. So you were in a different position. But I want to play something you said on "The Nightly Show" with Larry Wilmore.


PAUL: What worries me most about Trump, other than all of the other crazy things, is that I

believe that he wants power and I believe from my point of view that power corrupts, and that the whole purpose of our founding fathers and the country was to contain power.


KARL: So when you listen to the press conference on Thursday, and when you hear his attacks on the judiciary. And you hear his attacks on the press, do you still have any of those concerns?

PAUL: You know, I have a great deal of concern for any president and the amount of power they accumulate versus congress. I'm a stickler about the idea of separation of powers.

When you go back to James Madison, and he said we would pit ambition against ambition to try

to check and keep things in balance, I think that's incredibly important. And I think all presidents have

tried to gain too much power.

But this is more about the words and the personality of President Trump. I was very, very concerned about President Obama and how much executive order and how much executive power he tried to exert. But I think I want to be, and I think congress will be, a check on any executive, Republican or Democrat, that tries to grasp too much power. And really, a lot of the fault is not only presidents trying to take too much power, it's Congress giving up too much power.

We write only skeletons of bills, sort of outline of bills. Even Obamacare was just sort of an outline, 2,700-page outline. Then we sent it up there and the rest of it is written by bureaucrats, the permanent bureaucratic state.

And so, yes, there always has to be a pushback. And I think there needs to be a great deal more pushback from Congress on any president, but not just this president. I think probably 100 years worth of presidents have been usurping too much power.

KARL: And I think it’s fair to say that you are second to none in the Senate when it comes to fighting for civil liberties. So let me ask you about specifically what he's saying about the press. He is saying now that the news media is the enemy of the American people. Do you agree with that?

PAUL: It's not something that I would say. I would say that there is bias. And I think it's fair to point out that there is bias in the media on both sides, both right and left. And that it's very hard to find objective news because we have gotten, particularly as you watch cable news, it's so dominated by opinion.

And we are more polarized. And some of that comes from the people and some of that comes from the media.

But I would say that I don't see in his criticism, somehow, people think that the separation of powers means that the president can't criticize the judiciary. No, it has nothing to do with that. That's more sort of political sensibilities but has nothing to do with the Constitution or separation of powers.

We don't like it when they see it sort of treads on things. But the separation of powers is about legislative powers. It isn’t about discussion or words. So I would separate, once again, words from actual real legislative action.

If someone tries to put limits on the press, I'll be the first one standing up for the right of press, left and right, to continue saying and being part of the discussion and forwarding the discussion.

KARL: What would you make of McCain's statement that we're creeping towards a situation where people are potentially supportive of dictatorship in this country? Is that over the top or is there a concern?

PAUL: I think Senator McCain's perspective is colored by his disagreements with President Trump on foreign policy. If I were to look at foreign policy, I would say John McCain has been wrong on just about everything over the last four decades.

He advocated for the Iraq War, which I think destabilized the Middle East. If you look at the map, there's probably at least six different countries where John McCain has advocated for having U.S. boots on the ground.

John McCain’s complaint is we’re either not at war somewhere, or if we're at war, we leave too soon. So we're not there soon enough, and he wants us to stay forever wherever we send troops.

So that’s a foreign policy that is at odds with President Trump, and also the idea of engagement. The idea of foreign policy realism, I think, fits more neatly with President Trump. And with John McCain, the neoconservative label of let's make the world safe for democracy and we’re going to topple every regime hasn't worked.

I mean, our intervention to destabilize the Assad regime has really made the chaos worse in Syria. And if you were to get rid of Assad today, I would actually worry about the 2 million Christians that are protected by Assad.

So I think it's more a foreign policy debate. And Trump and McCain are on opposite sides of that debate. And I tend to sympathize more with the president that we need to change. We don't need to continue to have regime change throughout the world, nation-building.

It's expensive. And we don't have enough money to rebuild our own country if we're rebuilding everyone else's countries.

KARL: But just to clarify, what McCain said specifically is dictators get started by limiting freedom of the press. I imagine you agree with that.

PAUL: Well, the thing is, is I don't agree with his analysis and applying that to the president. I haven't seen any legislation coming forward that wants to limit the press. I see President Trump expressing his opinion, rather forceful in his own -- you know, his own distinct way.

But I see no evidence that anybody is putting forward any kind of legislation to limit the press. So I think people -- you know, this is colored by John McCain's disagreement with President Trump. It all is.

Everything that he says about the president is colored by his own personal dispute he has got running with President Trump. And it should be taken with a grain of salt because John McCain is the guy that has advocated for war everywhere. He would bankrupt the nation.

And actually we're very lucky John McCain is not in charge because I think we would be in perpetual war.

KARL: He certainly did talk about changing the libel laws during the campaign.

I want to turn to the firing of Michael Flynn. One of the candidates that the White House is now talking about as a possible replacement is John Bolton. Now, you adamantly opposed him when he was up for confirmation for another position. This obviously does not require confirmation, but would you have concerns about John Bolton as national security adviser?

PAUL: Yes, think the problem with John Bolton is he disagrees with President Trump's foreign policy. He would be closer to John McCain's foreign policy. John Bolton still believes the Iraq war was a good idea. He still believes that regime change is a good idea. He still believes that nation-building is a good idea.

So, no, I think John McCain -- I mean, John Bolton would be much closer to McCain than Trump. And I think that his history of sort of acting on his own, my fear is that secret wars would be developing around the globe. And so, no, I think he would be a bad choice.

KARL: OK, let's turn to Obamacare. You tweeted back in January that the president, quote, "fully supports my plan to replace Obamacare the same day we repeal it." We've heard some mixed signals out of the White House. Are you still confident that that's the case, that he fully supports your plan?

PAUL: Yes, I've discussed this with the vice president. I've discussed this with Congressman Price, or now secretary price. I think we need to do we repeal and replace on the same day. But I think we need to do complete repeal. My worry now is that many people are talking about a partial repeal of Obamacare. If you only repeal part of it and you leave if some sort of Obamacare light, which some are talking about, my fear is the situation actually gets worse.

Right now in the insurance markets, we have sort of a disaster unfolding, a downward spiral, adverse selection, premiums in the individual market going through the roof. People can't afford insurance and insurance companies are losing hundreds of millions of dollars. If you repeal part of Obamacare to get rid of the individual mandate but keep some of the ideas, that people can still buy insurance after they're sick, the situation gets extraordinarily worse. And so what we're seeing now could be tenfold greater if you only repeal part of Obamacare.

So about a year ago, we voted to repeal the whole thing. My advocacy and most of the conservatives I'm talking to in the House and the Senate are saying we've go to at least do what we did in 2015. And we're not into like replacing it with some federal programs. We want to repeal the whole thing and then have a replacement that helps to lower insurance costs for everybody.

KARL: Are you convinced that White House is on board with that? I mean, you know, the president said there would be a plan in March but he's also talked about maybe this would take more than a year to unfold.

PAUL: Well, the thing is, is, yes, all of it takes awhile to unfold. Legislatively, I think we will repeal Obamacare within the next one to two months. I'm pretty sure of that. There's a debate whether we repeal the whole thing or whether or not some, you know, of the big government Republicans want to keep Obamacare light.

The conservatives, we're ready for a fight. The House Freedom Caucus says they will not vote for partial repeal. I'm in the same camp. I'm not voting for partial repeal. It's got to be the same thing or better than what we voted on in 2015. And so there is going to be a discussion on how much we repeal, but I do believe it is repealed in the next one to two months. And the replacement part unfortunately requires the Democrats to help and I don't see help coming from Democrats, but we should offer the American public less expensive insurance and that does require a replacement bill.

KARL: We're almost out of time but I want to ask you about something else the president had said just last night about his plan for infrastructure, the infrastructure bill. Listen to this.


TRUMP: We need members of both parties to join hands and work with us to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to build new roads and bridges and airports and tunnels and highways and railways all across our great nation.


KARL: OK, now I know you have a plan that would bring back through repatriation stuff that's -- money that's held overseas that would fund road repair maybe to the tune of $100 or $200 billion over five years. What'is your take on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan? Would you stand up and stop that?

PAUL: I think we have to debate the amount. But I am for rebuilding our infrastructure and I have a build that would encourage the American profit overseas to come home. There's about $2 trillion overseas and I

have a bipartisan bill that I will try to present to the president that I think will help in this method, but we have to pay for it. I'm not for borrowing the money. But I'm open to listening to what he has planned. I'm also wanting to offer some ideas I have for taking the repatriation money and putting it directly into a road fund.

KARL: But $1 trillion borrowed -- $1 trillion borrowed, you're not on board?

PAUL: We have to see how we're going pay for it. And it sounds like a number so large that it would incur more borrowing and I'm not for that.


PAUL: It has to be paid for, and I do have a pay for which is lowering the tax to bring American profit home. And I'd put that directly into the road fund.

KARL: OK, so one final question, and I know it's early so please forgive me, but the president did have a campaign rally, a reelection campaign rally last night. And a headline in the Lexington

Herald Leader, one of the top papers in your state caught my attention, Rand Paul in 2020. He's showing that independence streak again.

So, tell me, Senator Paul, do you rule out running against Donald Trump in the Republican

primary in 2020?

PAUL: Yeah, I have no intention of doing that. My goal right now is to actually help him. He's the Republican president. He's doing a lot of things that conservatives are for. I'm for. And so my goal is to help Kentucky by repealing regulations that are killing our coal industry. And I think on that, we're very much aligned.

KARL: All right, Senator Rand Paul, we'll ask you that question in a little while.

Senator rand paul.

Coming up, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee weighs in on Michael Flynn's resignation.

Plus, after a tumultuous first month, President Trump is already running for re-election. We'll dissect his first few weeks in office with a blockbuster debate. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook just ahead.



TRUMP: You know, they say I'm close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button. We had Hillary Clinton. Why didn't Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton.


KARL: Donald Trump is not letting go, name-checking Hillary Clinton more than 10 times in his Thursday press conference.

Coming up, one of the architects of Trump's winning campaign, Corey Lewandowski, head to head with former Clinton campaign manager, Robby Mook.

What do these former campaign managers have to say about Trump's first month in office? That's coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: were you here to discuss General Flynn?


KARL: There's FBI director James Comey leaving the Capitol Friday, after spending more than two hours briefing the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors., ignoring a question on if he was there to brief the senators on Michael Flynn.

And we are joined now by Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee. Congressman Schiff, thank you for joining us.


KARL: So I want to get to the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Russian interference into the elections, but first a more immediate issue -- the president has denounced ongoing leaks. He thinks they’re coming from the intelligence community.

But I want to ask you, doesn’t he have a point? We have a situation now where the president holds calls with foreign leaders, and not long after, the details of those calls are there to be read by everybody in the newspapers. Aren't you concerned about these leaks?

SCHIFF: Oh, I am concerned about the leaks, whether it’s on the phone calls or leaks pertaining to any investigation into Russian activities in United States or the Flynn investigation. So yes, there is a point.

At the same time, two things concern me. The first is that he turned these leaks, this problem with leaks, into attack on his enemies. He's now describing the press in terms that we’ve never heard, or at least not since Nixon, and probably not even in terms of Nixon would subscribe to. That is deeply concerning that he’s essentially using this to go after his enemies.

But more broadly than that, we cannot lose sight of what’s really at stake here, and that is that Russia is leading a movement around the world to spread autocracy and authoritarianism. They’re interfering obviously in our elections but in the elections here in Europe. Here in Munich, there is deep concern about Russia’s new bellicosity and the fact that they need a strong America to push back, and they need to be reassured of that. And when the president focuses on a fight with the press or investigating leaks but doesn’t seem committed to standing up to what Russia is doing at home and around the world, that is of profound concern.

KARL: But is it your sense that there are elements of the intelligence community that frankly are out to get the president? I mean, he clearly thinks so.

SCHIFF: No. I don’t have that understanding at all. The intelligence community is very professional, they do their jobs well, they're the best intelligence gatherers in the world. They're dedicated, patriotic Americans. They will work with any president. They want to have a good relationship with every president.

And I think these broadsides against the intelligence community are deeply counterproductive. They hurt morale and also make it difficult for our -- frankly our agents to do their jobs, our officers to do their jobs and

get out and recruit people around the world because they’re asking people to put their lives on the line. And how can they do that if they don’t believe the President of the United States is going to value the work product that comes out of those risks?

KARL: You called for General Flynn to testify before Congress. What do you want to ask him?

SCHIFF: Well, I’d like to ask him whether that conversation he had with the Russian ambassador was a one-off conversation or there were others? Who in the White House instructed him to have those conversations? Whether he debriefed people in the administration after those conversations? Essentially, who was aware that he had reported falsely to the vice president, and then the vice president in turn had misled the American people.

I think central to the president calling for a leak investigation is the president didn’t want to fire Mike Flynn. But when the press exposed that falsehood, he felt compelled to do so, because, of course, the president knew weeks ago, and weeks before Flynn was let go, that he had misled the vice president and, in turn, misled the country. And the president was OK with that. It was only when it was disclosed that he had a problem.

And that’s what he’s upset about. And that makes this, I think, different in kind than some of the other leak investigations we’ve had, where we've investigated people who leaked secrets that undermined our country because they gave up valuable sources of information.

This is not in that category. This is in the category of wrongdoing that was exposed.

KARL: You’re in Munich now. You’re there for Senator McCain’s remarkable speech where he actually said -- suggested that the West itself may be at risk.

What was the p.m. from our European allies to what McCain had to say?

SCHIFF: You know, I read his speech. We were in flight at the time he gave it. And it was very powerful.

But I can tell you the p.m. to the vice president’s speech because I was there for that. And I have to say it was very subdued.

There’s a lot of concern here about just who speaks for the administration and certainly even when things -- when the vice president or others say the right things, they wonder does the president stand behind this?

I wish the vice president had given the kind of speech that John McCain gave, because I think that would have done a lot to reassure all of the NATO members, the European allies and others that are here today.

KARL: But wait a minute, Vice President Pence said quite clearly in that speech that the United States stands with NATO.

You’re saying that people didn’t buy it?

SCHIFF: Yes. And Nikki Haley said that, that we don’t recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But that still begs the question, is the vice president or Nikki Haley really speaking for the president?

I think certainly here at the conference when Mike Pence said that we want NATO members to pay up, they knew, in that case, he was speaking for the president. But when he talked about American commitment to NATO, when he talked about the commitment to Europe, I think there are still profound questions about whether he is, in those cases, really speaking for the president or speaking for himself.

KARL: And finally, I want to ask your p.m. to the president coming out and calling the news media quote, "The enemies of the American people."

SCHIFF: Well I didn’t think I could be shocked anymore by this president, but I have to say, of all the things he has said since he became president, or since the election, this, to me, was the most devastating and the most alarming, that he essentially views the First Amendment -- because that’s what these organizations represent -- as an enemy of the people.

This is something that you hear tin-pot dictators say when they want to control all of the information. It’s not something you have ever heard a president of the United States say. Not even Nixon went there. And it is deeply concerning. I hope it is repudiated by people from both parties because this is not America.

KARL: Well, as you know Senator McCain said that -- he warned it’s -- there’s this flirting with authoritarianism in the United States and said that dictators, quote, "Get started by suppressing free press."

I gather you don’t think that’s hyperbolic, you think there’s a risk of that actually here in the United States?

SCHIFF: I do think there’s a risk of that. I think John McCain is exactly right. And I think what we are confronting now is a new war of ideas. It’s not communism versus capitalism, but it is authoritarianism versus democracy and representative government. And that is a threat that here in Europe, they feel acutely. They’ve seen their countries interfered with, bombarded by cyber-attacks, by Russian propaganda, indeed, by Russian troops.

And in the United States there -- the admiration for Putin, the admiration for the architect of that has many subscribers -- in part, the president admires that.

So there is a risk. John McCain is exactly right. And the message he delivered here is exactly the message America needs to send to Europe, because it’s the right one.

KARL: That's quite an assessment.

Congressman Schiff, thank you for joining us.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

KARL: Coming up, just one month in, President Trump hits the campaign trail.

What's up with his weekend rally?

We'll be back with 2016 campaign managers Corey Lewandowski and Robby Mook.



ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The parallels to Watergate here are eerie, I have to say. This is about Donald Trump, his campaign, what he knew, and when he knew it, and whether they were actually coordinating with the Russians.


KARL: Down but not out, Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager Robby Mook still at it. He is here, ready to square off with Corey Lewandowski, both former campaign managers, head to head, here, coming up live.



TRUMP: We are here today to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I hear your demands. I hear your voices. And I promise you I will deliver. I promise that.


KARL: The president last night speaking directly to his base, trying to tune out the negativity. And despite all those headlines describing a presidency in crisis, Trump told the crowd he's doing great. And the crowd there clearly believed him.

Is it possible that Donald Trump knows something about the commitment and power of his core voters that Washington still doesn't get? Mary Bruce was at the rally and with those voters. Here's her report.


TRUMP: This is a state where we all had great victory together.

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a bruising week in Washington, President Trump escaped into the welcoming arms of thousands of supporters in Melbourne, Florida. Back in campaign mode, Trump was back in his element.

TRUMP: We will continue to win, win, win.

BRUCE: Loyal supporters waited for hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're all here for Trump. We love him. He's doing great job. Yay Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump's the man! President Trump is my president. I love him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's coming in straight up, giving what the people want. I think he's doing a great job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing great job. Everything I think is going very well.

BRUCE (on camera): What is your message to him? Is there anything that you want him…

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That we stand behind him.

BRUCE: Is there anything that you want him to be doing differently now that we're a month in?



BRUCE (voice-over): In a line that stretched as far as the eye could see, many said they blame the media for misrepresenting the president's record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down with the mainstream media. Boo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys give Donald Trump a hard time. You dissect what he said. He's not a politician. He doesn't have the perfect thing to say. That we love the fact that he goes straight to us and we can decipher it.

BRUCE: Much of the praise goes beyond the president's specific actions to something else intangible.

(on camera): Do you feel real difference in the last month?


BRUCE: What is the difference?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hope. Hope again. He has brought hope to our country. He has brought respect already back to our country. He has -- he has brought smiles to our faces.

BRUCE (voice-over): The few complaints we heard were not about the substance but the president's style.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't need to hear about how good he's doing. We can see. Just do it. He doesn't need to tell us.

BRUCE (on camera): If you had one message for him today, it would be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop arguing with people and do your job.

BRUCE: Stop arguing with people and do your job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I would get fired if I was doing that at work, so.

BRUCE (voice-over): If you thought campaign rallies were off the radar for a few years, think again. Trump filed notice he was running in 2020 on the day he was inaugurated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2020, we're ready for next time.

BRUCE: Saturday's campaign rally strongly reminiscent of one just five short months ago in the same spot, perfectly timed entrance. This one was a little different, more impressive, now with Air Force One.

So is it too soon to be campaigning? The president says life is a campaign.

For THIS WEEK, Mary Bruce, ABC News, Melbourne, Florida.


KARL: Let's bring in two men who know what that never-ending campaign is like, Donald Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook.

So before we get to our discussion, I want to start with a couple of very specific questions to you, Corey, on this issue of Russian contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. You were his campaign manager for a time. Did you ever have any contacts with any Russians?


KARL: Never.


KARL: All right. Well, I want to play for you the way Donald Trump answered that question when I asked him at the press conference.


KARL: I just want to get you to clarify because it's a very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?

TRUMP: Well, I had nothing to do with it. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there. I have no anything.


KARL: OK. He didn't quite answer my question. You -- I asked you a different one about you specifically. What about others? Were others on the campaign or associated with the campaign at any time in contact with the Russians?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know of any person working on the campaign that ever had a contact with a Russian agent or a Russian affiliate or anybody that has to do with Russia. None whatsoever.

KARL: So you don't know of any. Is it possible that somebody that you didn't know of, maybe somebody the president didn't know of?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I have spent enormous amounts of time with candidate Trump during that campaign. Never ever during my time with him did I ever hear him, instruct him, see him ever ask somebody to reach out to anyone from a foreign country ever.

KARL: Trump.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's exactly right. And, look, I was a campaign manager for eighteen months. Never during my period of time --

KARL: But you can't speak for Paul Manafort, for other -- others?

LEWANDOWSKI: Listen, I don't know what people do when they're not in my presence. I don't know what they're doing in their own private time. I can tell you that, unequivocally, I have never seen anybody who I have directed, or the president directed, ever reach out to someone from Russia. Never been instructed to do so ever. Never.

MOOK: I believe Corey that he never reached out. He's not one of the names that was listed. But Paul Manafort's connections to the Russians are clear. They paid him a lot of money to help get candidates elected that they wanted in the Ukraine. It's not surprising to me that they might be trying the same thing here in the United States.

And what's particularly frightening to me about the situation is that these phone calls that Trump associates had with Russian agents were picked up because the NSA taps these Russian agents regularly. This isn't speculation. These are phone calls that were actually picked up. And what's also scary is that you saw the president kind of deflect the question. He won't answer it. And the more we learn about this, the closer and closer it gets to President Trump.

KARL:: Just to be clear, your allegation is that what the intelligence community says was clear evidence that Russians were behind the DNC hack? You believe that the truMp campaign was coordinating with the Russians?

MOOK: That's what we don't know.

KARL:: There's no evidence of that. Yet, that we have seen.

MOOK: There's none yet. But President Trump won't deny it. And we just don't know the facts. We haven't seen the transcripts of these phone calls. We need to get all the information out there. We need a 9/11-style bipartisan independent commission to sort through this, because this can never happen again.

LEWANDOWSKI: Jonathan, there's no evidence whatsoever by any intelligence agency that the Russians had anything to do with the outcome of the election. The outcome of the election was very clear.

Let me read to you what President Obama said on October 21st, 2016. He said that the U.S. election system is too big to hack, and a senior administration official, echoing the comments of Obama, said, quote, "It is so large, diffuse, and antiquated that altering the November 8 election would be practically impossible."

KARL:: That's about the voting machines. But you don't doubt that the e-mails, the hacking of the e-mails, that was done by the Russians?

LEWANDOWSKI: I have no idea who it was done from.

KARL:: Well, the intelligence community said --

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't have any information other than what's publicly available.

KARL:: Do you doubt their findings?

LEWANDOWSKI: I have no idea what their information is. What is know is that the campaign had nothing to do with it. What I know is that the information hacked from WikiLeaks was proven to be 100 percent accurate, and all the Podesta e-mails which have come forward have never, ever been --

KARL:: Does the president believe it? Because the president said he believed it in that transition press conference, but he seems to be talking a lot about the fake news. Does he?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't -- look, what I know what the president said was that the e-mails from John Podesta have been authenticated, or have never been refused to be authentic. That's the truth.

MOOK: But this is the problem, Jonathan, is blame the victim. It's to say, OK, well, in fact the Russians stole John Podesta's e-mails. They put them out for the purpose of hurting Hillary Clinton. That's absolutely correct. And my point is -- and I think the point of the national intelligence community and everybody else -- is that's wrong. We cannot have foreign governments interceding in our elections.

KARL:: Let's get to the larger issue of Russia relations. I want to play something else the president said at the press conference.


TRUMP: Does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that, OK?


KARL:: You weren't in room but I imagine you think that.

MOOK: I absolutely think that. You know, the reason Vladimir Putin did this is because Hillary Clinton spoke out against him. She spoke out against frankly the same kind of behavior that we're starting to hear Donald Trump hint at. And when Donald Trump has been asked about Vladimir Putin, he's praised him. He's called him a strong leader. Gave him an A rating. When he was asked on the O'Reilly show about Putin's tactics of killing journalists, of intimidating journalists, of locking up and killing his opponents, he said that -- you know, he compared that to America. He said we're not that innocent either. I mean, the intelligence community said that it was the Russians. I mean, they wouldn't be doing this because --


LEWANDOWSKI: Jonathan, why -- why, as the world's greatest superpower that we are, don't we want to work with another superpower to eradicate ISIS and ISIL in places where we have a common goal? Why don't we want to do that? Hillary Clinton is saying we don't want to eradicate ISIS, is what she's saying by not wanting to work with --

KARL:: Well, she's not saying that.

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't understand! Look, if we can have a country that works with Russia for the same goal, which is to devastate, destroy, and kill ISIS in their place as opposed to them coming here, why isn't that a good thing? I'm missing it.

MOOK: The problem is that Vladimiur Putin devastates and destroys his enemies. He's been devastating and destroying the Syrian people. And Hillary Clinton spoke out against that. She had the courage to do that and she paid a price because Vladimir Putin interceded in this election.

LEWANDOWSKI: Hillary Clinton did not lose this election because of Vladimir Putin. Hillary Clinton lost this election because she couldn't connect with females. She lost this election because the African-American vote was down from the historic proportion where it was four and eight years ago. Hillary Clinton did this because she was a terrible campaigner. They ran a terrible campaign. They lost in states that Democrats hadn't lost in 30 years! That's a fact!

KARL:: Tell me, why is the president still obsessed with the election results? I mean, he's president.

LEWANDOWSKI: He's not obsessed. He's not obsessed!

KARL:: He brings it up all the time.

LEWANDOWSKI: But you have to understand the mainstream media, and many people here, and the people who usually host this show laughed that he would ever be run or be successful. And when he's done, he's proved all the pundits wrong.

KARL:: I interviewed him very early on.

LEWANDOWSKI: Vindication.

KARL:: I interviewed him very early on.

LEWANDOWSKI: I was there that day!


KARL:: Took him seriously as a candidate. And certainly now as the president.

But let's get to the first 100 day -- I mean, the first month. I may feel -- the first month in office.

The president says this is a fine-tuned machine.

First to you, Corey, do you think that's right? Do you think Reince Priebus is doing great job?

LEWANDOWSKI: What I think is the president is implementing the promises that he made on the campaign trail. 24 executive orders already signed into law, four visits from foreign leaders already, 14 cabinet members done. He has put out significant policy already. He has nominated a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy. If you look at what he is accomplishing, 24 days...

KARL: Who is in charge over there?

LEWANDOWSKI: President of the United States is in charge.

KARL: But in terms of the staff: Priebus, Bannon, Kushner?

LEWANDOWSKI: Jonathan, this is a narrative that only the Washington, D.C. community cares about.

KARL: But I'm just asking you...

LEWANDOWSKI: ...chief of staff. That is the person who runs the White House. There's no question about that.

And I think that the people in the White House have very different functions. Reince's job is to make sure that the White House is running effectively and efficiently, and that the president's legislative agenda is moving forward. That's exactly what's happening.

When you look at these executive orders the president is putting out, Reince is intimately

involved in making sure they're done properly.

KARL: Robby.

MOOK: I have deep concerns on two levels. You know, actually to Corey's point, there's a lot

of stuff that people in D.C. care about, but what really matters and what Donald Trump promised was that he was going to mobilize this country to create jobs. And what have we seen in the first 30 days?

He put Goldman Sachs in charge of the Treasury Department, in charge of our economy. All he did on the campaign trail was attack Goldman Sachs.

He spent the taxpayers' money shuttling his kids around the world to pitch their businesses. Already, a member of his staff has been criticized for ethics breach for marketing his product.

He's having foreign leaders spend their money and our government spend their money on his properties. This is not the president of the United States helping create jobs for average Americans.

KARL: But he did withdraw from TPP. He has brought in these CEOs and Labor leaders.

MOOK: Sure, he's brought a lot of CEOs in, but he's divided the country. We don't see the congress mobilized around passing any jobs bill.

The first thing he's talking about is tax reform. What is he going to do? Cut corporate tax rates for millionaires?

LEWANDOWSKI: He put federal hiring freeze in. And for the first time since October 2009, the right track, wrong track in the country is actually a positive that people actually think we're going in the right direct. Since 2009 is not believed to be that way.

You saw it on the video. The American people have faith in Donald Trump. He's moving the country in the right direction.

KARL: Those were his core supporters.

But I want to ask about something that was said on this program just a week ago. Listen to this.


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: I have actually, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, I tell you that this issue of busing voters in to New Hampshire is widely known by anybody that has worked in New Hampshire politics. It's very real. It's very serious.


KARL: All right, we are lucky, we have two guys who are from New Hampshire, worked in New Hampshire politics.

Have you ever heard of voters being fraudulently brought in to vote fraudulently.

MOOK: Absolutely not.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, Jonathan, of course you have.

KARL: Really?

LEWANDOWSKI: We saw yesterday a story from the Associated Press that we have voter fraud in Texas. That's number one. No question about that. 800 people.

Number two in New Hampshire, the way the law is written, it's very clear. It is a state of mind, which means if you choose on that particular day, on election day.

KARL: You can vote in either party.

I was...


LEWANDOWSKI: Look, Joe Biden's daughter, eight years ago, said she became a New

Hampshire resident. She worked on the campaign for about three minutes, walked up there. She was living in...


LEWANDOWSKI: ...and decided to vote.

MOOK: Former GOP chair said this wasn't true, secretary of state said this wasn't true. And, again, I thought we were supposed to be talking about jobs, we're talking about an invented scandal that doesn't exist. The voter fraud doesn't exist.

LEWANDOWSKI: Anybody can come across the state of New Hampshire and vote on election

day. That is voter fraud.


KARL: All right. Corey Lewandowski, Robby Mook, much more to talk about. We'll get you guys back on.

MOOK: Let's talk about jobs.

KARL: Thank you very much. No doubt. We'll be right back.


KARL: There's been no shortage of outrage over the president's statements on the press. But I'd like to close with a little perspective. There is nothing new about a President of the United States criticizing or even vilifying the press. Even Thomas Jefferson, the same Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence and who, ten years after that, wrote, "Our liberty depends on freedom of the press" -- even Thomas Jefferson, when he was a few years into his own presidency, was so upset about what was being written about his administration that he flatly declared, "Nothing can now be believed that is seen in a newspaper."

Teddy Roosevelt, who now is next to Jefferson on Mt. Rushmore, once wrote, "To announce there must be no criticism of the president or that we are to stand with the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

I couldn't agree more. But I also know that T.R. wrote that nearly a decade after he left office. When he was still in the White House, he coined the term "muckrakers" to denounce investigative journalists who he felt were so obsessed with the negative that they were missing the good in the world, including the good he was doing as president. Such negativity in the press, Roosevelt said, is one of the most potent forms of evil.

And that brings me to President Donald Trump, who has taken presidential criticism of the news media to yet another level. In a way, it surprised me. The Donald Trump I knew as a young reporter in New York was nothing if not media friendly. And for most of the past Republican primary, he was the most accessible major candidate. No one else was close.

At Thursday's press conference, we saw flashes of that -- seventeen reporters called on, many that he knew would ask tough questions. But now the president has declared the press the enemy of the American people.

I've reported in countries where leaders not only complain about a critical press, but also try to shut it down, throwing reporters in prison or worse. I've seen my colleagues risk their lives and, with increasing frequency, lose their lives in their pursuit of the truth. We are not about to stop doing our jobs because yet another president is unhappy with what he reads or hears or sees on TV news. There is a reason the founders put freedom of the press in the very first amendment to the Constitution.

As long as American democracy remains healthy, there will be reporters willing to pursue the truth, even if that means incurring the wrath of the most powerful person in the world. A free press isn't the enemy of America; it's a big part of why makes America great.

That's all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and have a good day.