'This Week' Transcript 6-19-22: Secretary Janet Yellen & Rep. Adam Kinzinger

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, June 19.

ByABC News
June 19, 2022, 9:53 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, June 19, 2022 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST (voiceover): Financial fear.

JAY POWELL, CHAIR OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE OF THE UNITED STATES: The labor market is extremely tight and inflation is much too high.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Fed hikes interest rate as prices rise and stocks fall.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jobs are back, but prices are still too high, COVID is down but gas prices are up. Our work isn't done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will tainting (ph) inflation spark a recession? What's the president's plan for an unsettled economy? This morning, the woman at the center of it all, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a "This Week" exclusive.

CROWD: Bring out Pence! Bring him out! Bring out Pence!

STEPHANOPOULOS: Under threat.

REP. PETER AGUILAR, (D-CA): Forty feet between the vice president and the mob.

GREG JACOB, TOP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I could hear the din of the rioters in the building. I don’t think I was aware that they were as close as that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The January 6th Committee outlines Trump’s lawless pressure on Pence, laying the groundwork for criminal charges.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, (D-MS): He knew it was illegal, he knew it was wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger on what's ahead.

And --

RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Therefore I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the 50th anniversary of Watergate.

NIXON: -- in my public life.

BOB WOODWARD, AMERICAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Nixon and Trump are so alike in personality. It's all about Nixon. It's all about Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Plus our Powerhouse Roundtable on all the week's politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here, now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week." And to all the dads out there, happy Father’s Day.

As we head into summer, the U.S. economy has hit stiff headwinds, inflation continues to climb, the stock market is coming off its worse week since the pandemic, after the Fed announced its largest interest rate hike in nearly 30 years.

Top CEOs and economists now expect a recession soon as Americans start to pull back on spending. Consumer sentiment hit its lowest levels on record last month.

We're going to discuss it all with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after this report from Chief Business Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBECCA JARVIS, ABC NEWS CHIEF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): From gas prices to rent, soaring inflation forcing the Federal Reserve's hand this week. For the first time since Bill Clinton was in office nearly 30 years ago the Central Bank hiking interest rates three-quarters of a percent.

BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now what they’re responding to now is a robust and growing economy, of course it could be slowed down too much.

JARVIS: Now almost three decades later, with grocery prices up nearly 12 percent, airfares up almost 40, and gas up nearly 50 percent, voters again are heading from the pump to the polls with the economy top of mind.

The Fed’s aggressive shift, coupled with historic inflation that's costing American families an extra $350 a month already having an impact.

POWELL: The economy and the country have been through a lot over the past two-and-a-half years and have proved resilient. It is essential that we bring inflation down.

JARVIS: The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has jumped from 3 to more than 6 percent this year, stocks have plunged 23 percent, and just this week, early signs consumers are cutting back spending. With retail sales down .3 percent in May.

Now, there’s a real risk the Fed will have to induce a mild recession to stave off an even larger one. Which might be smart economics but not so great politics.

A prominent poll taken days before the 1994 midterm elections found voters concerned and anxious over the economy, and indicated broad disproof of the Democratic majority in power, that election flipped both the House and Senate, ushering in the largest GOP majority in decades.

Like then, recent polls indicate that voters from both parties consider the economy a major priority, listing it and inflation as their top concerns.

With many economists expecting a recession in the coming months the ever-present Russia/Ukraine conflict and continuing supply chain issues, the question remains, five months until the midterm elections, will Democrats face a similar fate?

For "This Week," Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News, New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Rebecca for that.

We're joined now by the Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen. Madam Secretary, thanks for joining us this morning.

“The Wall Street Journal” reported this morning that 44 percent of economists expect a recession in the next year. Is that what you expect as well?

JANET YELLEN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Well, I expect the economy to slow, it's been growing at a very rapid rate as the economy -- as the labor market has recovered and we have reached full employment, it's natural now that we expect to transition to steady and stable growth. But I don't think recession is at all inevitable.

Chair Powell, clearly inflation is unacceptably high. It’s President Biden's top priority to bring it down and Chair Powell has said that his goal is to bring inflation down while maintaining a strong labor market. That's going to take skill and luck, but, I believe it's possible. I don't think a recession is inevitable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it’s not inevitable, but I guess the question is, is it likely? We're already seeing consumers start to pull back on services, especially some signs that the job market may be slowing as well.

YELLEN: Well, I think consumer spending remains very strong, there's month-to-month volatility, but overall spending is strong although patterns of spending are changing and higher food and energy prices are certainly affecting consumers and making them change their patterns of spending.

But bank balances are high, it's clear that most consumers, even lower income households, continue to have buffer stocks of savings that will enable them to maintain spending so I don't see a drop off in consumer spending as a likely cause of the recession in the months ahead and the labor market is very strong, arguably the strongest of the post-war period. Not only is the unemployment rate near historic lows but there are two job vacancies for every unemployed worker, so the labor market remains extremely strong, unemployment insurance claims near their lowest levels in history.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It turns out that you and the president, maybe even the Fed, were too optimistic about inflation last year. Concerned that may be happening again with your suggestion that a recession is not inevitable?

YELLEN: Well, inflation is really unacceptably high. Part of the reason is Russia’s war on Ukraine has boosted energy and food prices in the United States and globally. It's important to recognize that the United States is certainly not the only advanced economy suffering from high inflation. We see it in the UK, we see it in France, Germany, Italy, and the causes of it are global, not local.

Supply chain snarls partly resulting from lockdowns in China are also boosting inflation. And so, these factors are unlikely to diminish immediately but over time I certainly expect inflation to come down and I think it's possible to have that happen in the context of a strong labor market maintaining --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you expect it to come down but prices are going to go up before they go down, right? Again, most economists expect the inflation rate to move up to around 7 percent by the end of the year. Does that sound about right to you?

YELLEN: Well, we have had high inflation in first half of this year and that locks in high inflation really for the entire year, but I do expect in the months ahead that the pace of inflation -- it's likely to come down, although remember there are so many uncertainties relating to global developments and we're united with our allies in certainly wanting to take the steps necessary to address, to, you know, punish Russia for what it's doing in Ukraine and there are some spillovers to us as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say that inflation is a global problem, and it certainly is, but how do you explain the fact that Europe’s corn inflation last month was under 4 percent and the United States was at 6 percent?

YELLEN: So, you know, energy prices spillover is really half of inflation, food and energy, and there are spillovers because energy is an important input into almost everything in the economy. It is true that we've had corn inflation over and above that -- that is too high and the Fed will take steps to bring it down and President Biden believes there are other things the administration can do to support what the Fed will do.

He's had historic releases of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, that even though gas prices are high, they would be higher without those releases.

He stands ready to work and is encouraging producers of oil and refined products, gas, to work with him to increase supplies, to bring gas prices and energy prices down.

And if Congress will work with him to enact some of the administration's programs, we can bring down other costs that are burdening households, like prescription drugs, healthcare costs, increase the supply of affordable housing. We clearly have a housing problem in the United States, and we need to address it by building more affordable housing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The American Petroleum Institute is pushing back on the president’s call for refineries to increase production. I want to share what their president, Mike Sommers, said on Wednesday.

He said: The administration’s misguided policy agenda shifting away from domestic oil and natural gas has compounded inflationary pressures and added headwinds to companies’ daily efforts to meet growing energy needs while reducing emissions.

How do you respond to that?

YELLEN: Well, I -- I don't think that the policies are responsible for what's happening in the oil market. Actually, consumption of gas and fuels are currently at lower levels than pre-pandemic and what's happened is that production has gone down, refinery capacity has declined in the United States and oil production has declined.

I think that producers were partly caught unaware of the strength of the recovery in the economy and weren't ready to meet the needs of the economy, high prices should induce them to increase supplies over time.

And, look, it's a medium term matter. The way in which we can ensure reasonable energy expenses for households is to move to renewables, to address climate change, as a medium term matter. That’s a way to free (ph) us from geopolitical movements in oil prices.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the short term? Several in Congress are calling for gas tax holidays. Prices average around $5 a gallon. Is that on the table?

YELLEN: Well, look, we’re -- you know, President Biden wants to do anything he possibly can to help consumers. Gas prices have risen a great deal and it's clearly burdening households. So he stands ready to work with Congress and that's an idea that’s certainly worth considering.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about lifting -- this is separate from gas prices, but for broader consumers spending. How about lifting the tariffs on Chinese imports?

YELLEN: Well, President Biden is reviewing tariff policy toward China. He inherited a set of tariffs from the Trump administration, many of which were put on as retaliation for China's failure to respond to abuses that weren't covered in a 301 investigation.

We all recognize that China engages in a range of unfair trade practices that it's important to address. But the tariffs we inherited, some serves no strategic purpose and raise costs to consumers. And so, reconfiguring some of those tariffs so they make more sense and reduce some unnecessary burdens is something that's under consideration --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We should expect that soon?

YELLEN: -- marginally on inflation.

It's under consideration. I don't want to get ahead of where the policy process is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Yellen, thanks so much for your time this morning.

YELLEN: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Coming up, Congressman Adam Kinzinger on the next round of hearings for the January 6th committee.

Plus, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward reflect on the 50th anniversary of Watergate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HON. J. MICHAEL LUTTIG, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: Had Vice President Pence obeyed the orders from his president, that declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis.

(END AUDIO VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Stunning testimony there from former federal Judge Michael Luttig, appointed by Republican presidents to the judiciary in the January 6th Committee hearing this week. I want to bring in Congressman Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republican members of that committee.

It was pretty stunning testimony. As you look at the hearings that have been held so far, what do you think is the bottom line takeaway for the American people?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Look, I think the bottom line to all this is, first off, nothing has changed in essence from those days. So we could very much do this, focus on this again, but I think -- the thing I think people need to stand out from these hearings how much the president was involved in the lead-up to January 6th, how we got to a position where so many people charged the Capitol because honestly they believed that the election was stolen. And I think, you know, in an American democracy, how we've been raised to believe how we were formed, you know, if you truly believe the deep state owned the election and the democracy was stolen and the election was stolen, that's the most logical outcome. And that's what I want people to see is, look the president knew what he was doing. There was a plan. But nothing has changed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say the president knew what he was doing, and six in 10 Americans, according to our new poll with Ipsos, believe the president should be criminally prosecuted for his role in the January 6th insurrection. But as you know, there are difficulties in prosecution as well. Proving state of mind. Proving intent is the key factor there. How do you do that?

KINZINGER: Look, I mean, what we can do, from the committee's perspective, is show, you know, as we have so far, for instance, the pressure that was coming down on Mike Pence and how the president knew what he was doing and how he had been stopped prior at other areas. We're going to be talking Thursday about some of the stuff with the DoJ. We're going to have a discussion Tuesday about state pressure. And so you can see where the president knew all of that stuff. We can, I think, show the American people that.

Now, what can the Department of Justice do in a court of law? That's up to them. They can, you know, have their own information. They'll be able to see what we're doing here. And it truly is unprecedented. But let's be honest, we -- this attack, this attack on January 6th is unprecedented, and the rot that led up to it is also unprecedented. It is an essential at this moment that we get a grip on this and figure out how to defend our democracy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's up to the Department of Justice in the end, but have you reached enough -- have you reached the conclusion that President Trump should be prosecuted?

KINZINGER: I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy, being involved in these, you know, kind of different segments of pressuring the DoJ, vice president, et cetera. Obviously you know we're not a criminal charges committee, so I want to be careful in specifically using that language. But I think what we're presenting before the American people certainly would rise to a level of criminal involvement by a president and definitely failure of the oath. The oath has to matter here. Your -- your personal demand to stand for the Constitution has to matter. And if you have people that don't regard that at all, there is no law in the world that we can pass that's going to make a bit of difference.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're in a small minority of -- among Republicans, only one of two Republicans on the committee. Our new poll also shows a huge partisan divide, 91 percent of Democrats believe that President Trump should be prosecuted, only 19 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats believe the president bears ultimate responsibility for what happened, only 21 percent of Republicans. How do you explain that gap? How do you explain the views of a majority of Republicans?

KINZINGER: Well, look, I would guess that before Nixon, you know, really resigned, you probably see something fairly similar. This is obviously -- we're in a way worse position I think today and I think this blows, actually, Watergate, you know, out of the water.

But how do I explain it? It’s leadership, lack of leadership in the Republican Party.

So if you have people that don't trust what they hear on the media. They don’t trust what they hear from certain leaders -- and everybody has people they trust and where they get their information.

But that whole segment of leaders that Republican voters trust, that includes Kevin McCarthy. Of course, that includes Donald Trump and others.

If you're going stand in front of those people and lie to them and tell them Donald Trump's right, the election was stolen, because that has you giving me $20 when I send you the next e-mail, or it’s way easier for my primary election, we can have no doubt that 80 percent of the country is going to believe what their leaders are saying.

This is where -- like if you're not willing to tell people the truth in America, you shouldn't run for Congress. Like go do -- go do something else. But this should be a position where you can tell the hard truth.

And, unfortunately, my party has utterly failed the American people at truth. It makes me sad, but it’s fact.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It makes you sad. It also puts you under some threat.

Your staff shared some communications you and your family have received. We can't put it on the screen, it's too ugly for that, too dangerous for that.

How worried are you about your personal safety?

KINZINGER: Look, I’m not worry personally. This threat that came in, it was mailed to my house. We got it a couple of days ago and it threatens to execute me, as well as my wife and 5-month-old child. We’ve never seen or had anything like that. It was sent from the local area.

I don't worry -- but now that I have a wife and kids, of course, it's a little different. There are people that -- there's violence in the future, I’m going to tell you. And until we get a grip on telling people the truth, we can't expect any differently.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All signs are pointing to the next election having a similar controversy at the end of the day. It's very possible. We're seeing allies of President Trump being elected to run elections in state after state. I’ve already pointed out the divide between Republicans and Democrats over what happened on January 6th.

How worried are you about 2024?

KINZINGER: Very worried.

You know, I have an organization, Country First, Country1st.com. One of the things we're focusing on are those election-level elections as well, the people that will determine whether they certify an election, you know, what kind of equipment is being used.

We just saw recently in New Mexico, people refusing to certify an election because they used Dominion voting machines which are actually really good voting machines. But they bought into this conspiracy.

And this is the untold thing. We focused so much on what goes on in D.C. and Congress and the Senate. But when you have these election judges that are going to people that don't believe basically in democracy, authoritarians, 2024 is going to be a mess.

And wake up, America. Wake up, Republicans, because this is not going to be good for you if you think it is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Kinzinger, thanks for your time this morning.

KINZINGER: You bet.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next.

And later, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward reflect on Watergate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is here and ready to go. We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: “This week” with George Stephanopoulos, sponsored by Charles Schwab, own your tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SHIELDS, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I believe politics is a peaceable (ph) resolution to conflict among legitimate competing interests and I don't know in a nation as big and brawling on this great continent which we occupy and diverse as ours, how to resolve our differences except through the commitment, the passion, the intelligence, the courage of those who are willing to practice the political process and achieve compromise.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mark Shields, long-time political commentator on PBS, former Democratic campaign manager, (inaudible) what's best about our politics. He passed away this weekend at the age of 85.

I'm here with our Roundtable, Chris Christie, Heidi Heitkamp, our political director here at ABC, Averi Harper, and Jon Karl. And, boy, Mark really did exemplify what was best about our politics. Didn’t he?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He was great. I had a chance to work with him back in my CNN days, and he was a guy that had a love for politics, he had clear views, he was a staunch liberal but he saw the humor in politics, he saw the humor in himself, never took himself too seriously, and some of his greatest admirers were conservatives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. Let’s try and bring that spirit to this Roundtable this morning.

Chris, let's start with the January 6th committee. You talked about it a lot. You're a former prosecutor. You’ve talked about the difficulties in prosecuting the former president.

But it does seem pretty clear that what the committee was trying to do this week is demonstrate clearly that President Trump knew or at best should have known what he was doing was wrong, was not legal.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Sure, they did that. And I think what they gave you also, just importantly for the people in the country, is a window into how the Trump White House was run -- and not just run between November and January of 2020 into 2021, but the entire time. That he did get some good people around him at times.

But when those good people gave him advice that he did not want to hear, he did two things -- he ignored it, and he even shopped it to get different advice, and then would go back to them and say, see, people are telling me, I’m hearing from others that you're wrong.

And that's exactly what he did, but the stakes from November to January were enormous and he never, ever stopped doing that kind of process, of rejecting good advice from good people if he didn't like it, and shopping and getting some of the -- what I call the crackpot squad in there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he do enough to meet that standard of willful blindness?

CHRISTIE: Look, I -- George, I think there’s two different ways to look at this as a prosecutor and this is where justice is not equal necessarily in our country. It's different prosecuting Jon Karl than it is prosecuting a former president of the United States.

And if you're a prosecutor looking at this, you cannot swing and miss if you're going to bring a case against the president of the United States. It has to be a 99.9 percent winner, because the damage you will do to the country if you swing and miss is incredible.

So, I think there's a different standard and that standard is going to be applied by institutionalists like Merrick Garland. And that’s why I think it’s unlikely that you’ll see the president prosecuted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Heidi Heitkamp -- go ahead.

KARL: So, there’s also a different standard for this committee than what there would be for the Justice Department.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely.

KARL: This committee is not about establishing a crime, something to be prosecuted. They don't prosecute. They don’t refer criminal recommendations. What they're trying to do is establish the truth both for history and for the American public today.

And I think they've done a very good and methodical job, especially, George, learning from all of the Republicans that were in Trump's orbit, virtually every witness to this committee have been a Republican, many of them appointed to positions of authority by Donald Trump or served as advisers to Donald Trump and hearing their words. A lot of this has been reported earlier. I mean, I went methodically in my book and talked about, you know, what was going on inside the Trump White House, inside the Trump campaign.

But now you see it on the record, in their own words that first of all, the idea that the election was stolen is complete bunk. This is Trump's inner circle saying that and the steps he was -- he was taking to try to overturn those election results were clearly illegal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So far, Heidi Heitkamp, that has not moved Republicans. I showed our poll to Adam Kinzinger.

HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Only 21 percent believe the president should be prosecuted or bears responsibility.

The poll also shows that most Americans are not paying close attention, only 9 percent paying close attention.

So, is it breaking through?

HEITKAMP: I think people don't see it as anything new. There's Jonathan's book. There was an impeachment hearing. You know, okay, we've be there, we've done this -- yes, partisans are both sides are watching it.

The point that I want to make, Chris, isn’t about, you know, this team normal, okay? All of these people surrounding him who are giving him advice. Were telling the American people that this could happen?

The outrage in this, and I think the lesson for a future staffer in the White House is don't sit back and just go, oh, my god, oh my god, what’s happening here? You've got to come out and you’ve got to be aggressive in protecting our democracy.

And so, this idea now we've got these good people, yes, they were good people and I know a lot of them. But you know what? They had an obligation behind whispering in the oval. They had an obligation to actually come out and say this is happening. We need to stop it in real time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Averi Harper, I know you’ve been talking to a lot of congressional candidates. What's your sense about how much this is going to play in the midterm elections?

AVERI HARPER, ABC NEWS DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right. When I talked to congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle and none of them are particularly worried about the January 6th hearings. They say that for the run-of-the-mill voter, this is probably not going to be top of mind when they are casting their ballots.

When you look at our latest ABC/Ipsos poll, you see that 51 percent of respondents say that it's not going to change the way they vote at all. And I think that’s really indicative of this sort of polarized nature of the moment that we find ourselves in. there are a lot of folks who’ve already chosen a side. There’s going to be a slice of the country that regardless of what evidence is put forward is not going to buy what the committee is selling.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that's probably right for the midterms.

And, Chris, I wonder one of the other findings in our poll shows that you've got the partisan divide, but independents seem to be agreeing with Democrats on the seriousness of the issue here. That could make a difference in '24.

CHRISTIE: Well, that's what I was going to say, George. This is not a '22 issue. This is a '24 issue. In 2022, when you have inflation running like it is, issues of crime, concerns about Ukraine and Russia, and all the rest of that, the American people are much more consumed with that and Donald Trump is not on the ballot. Now, if he decides to run in 2024, that's when this will become much, much more important, because I think what you see underlying that in those numbers is what Republicans are talking about right now, which is, he can't win a general election in '24. If independents believe what they believe in the poll, and if they're as concerned as they seem to be, then there's no way you can win as a Republican in this country for a presidential race if they have completely abandoned you.

And by the way, that's what all of those people were telling him in 2020, that folks, especially educated suburban white women, were abandoning him in droves. And he talked about it in his rallies. Remember he would say, you know, suburban women, please like me. OK, he knew. That was not -- he tries to make it now like it was a joke. I was there. It was no joke. He was saying that because he was being told that's what his problem was. That problem has not changed. And everything that's happening in this committee solidifies that, puts it in concrete. And that's why it's a '24 issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's '24, Heidi Heitkamp, is there anything Democrats can do to stop the wave in '22?

HEITKAMP: It -- right now, the one thing I would disagree with you all on is that every moment that we're spending here talking about the January 6th Commission, we're not talking about $5 gas. We're not talking inflation. That is...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not going to help Democrats, talking about $5 gas.

HEITKAMP: No, no. What I'm saying, you don't want to be talking, you want the airwaves to be talking about this because it reminds the voters why they voted for Joe Biden. The danger that we were in, I think, you know, I remember, George, about a year ago when we saw the first poll where the president's numbers were really starting to go to the negative. We asked the question, what should he do today? He didn't really do enough at that point in time. Right now this is a base play in the midterms. You are not going to change hearts and minds. And people who think that money makes a difference, always remind them I had plenty of money and I didn't get re-elected. And so at this point the cake is baked on where you are. The only bright side is when you nominate people like Herschel Walker, when you nominate people like the Republican nominee in Pennsylvania, it gives Democrats an opening they wouldn't...

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, I want to bring that to you, Jon Karl, because you've pointed out that Democrats seem to have absorbed that, they think their best hope is have extreme candidates on the Republican side and they're actually getting involved in those races, playing with fire?

KARL: This is a really dangerous game, George, you are seeing Democratic interest groups getting involved in Republican primaries trying to secretly, below the radar, with lots of money spent on advertising, support the extreme candidate in hopes of nominating -- Republicans nominate someone that can be beaten...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why isn't that good strategy?

KARL: Well, let's take one example, in Colorado there's a group called Democratic Colorado, they have already dumped more than $2 million into a Republican primary there in support of a guy named Ron Hanks. This is a guy who bragged about being a part of the group that marched on the Capitol. He is somebody that says the election was stolen. He is somebody that says the election was stolen in Colorado, which is not even one of the frontline states. And he wants to ban mail-in voting. He wants to ban all voting except for voting on Election Day in-person. And he is lockstep with the most extreme views on the election. So they want -- they figure if you nominate him, you know what, we can beat him. Well, guess what? You might not. So you may be sending to Washington candidates that are lockstep with the Big Lie.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... pushing back on this?

HARPER: Well, what I hear from Democratic candidates is that, again, these are issues that are not close to home for many of these voters. They're hearing more about issues pertaining to inflation and the economy, the soaring cost of living that is going up across our country. And what I have heard from them is that they have not even -- they couldn't even think of conversations that they've had with voters about January 6th or about the dangers to the democracy. They acknowledge that it's important to have all this information out there but they think that inflation, these -- run of the mill, these wallet -- these pocketbook issues are the ones that are going to be the most important.

CHRISTIE: Look, two points. One, as you pointed out earlier in the poll, only 9 percent are following the January 6th stuff closely. So we've talked more about it this morning than probably anybody around their kitchen table is talking about it this morning. Secondly, this shows that the Democrats have no message that they think can win when they're playing around in Republican primaries and hoping to nominate the most extreme, what they consider the most vulnerable candidates. And it’s the most cynical type of politics you can possibly engage in.

Like, okay, I can't win on my own steam, I’ve got $5 gas, I’ve got runaway crime, bad inflation in the supermarket, I don't have a message that can win in a base election, so therefore I’ve got to go and get involved in the other guys to try to get the worst candidate.

And Jon's right, here's the risk of that, you do that and that person wins in a wave election you are further, further polarizing Washington, D.C., and that shouldn't be what either party is looking to try to do by engaging in mischief in the other one.

HEITKAMP: Either that or you are basically telling people who the Republican Party is. These are Republicans. They go to Washington and they do things like lift up a fist on January 6th that's who they are, and so when you're looking at 2024 you want the -- you want a definitional campaign, this is them and this is you.

(CROSSTALK)

HEITKAMP: I disagree that we don’t have a message.

CHRISTIE: There’s all different kinds of Republicans like there’s all different kinds of Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: And you've got to -- if you are in the other party's primaries starting to play games, you are playing with fire.

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- all different kinds but it -- the idea that the election was stolen has taken hold among plurality of Republicans. That --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: -- there’s no doubt that if the former President of the United States continues to tell people in his party that the election was stolen that -- a president's words have impact, but, George, the amount of people who believe that today versus the amount of people believed it a year ago is less and a year beyond that is less.

It’s going to continue to go down because there is no evidence that it was stolen. In fact, all the evidence is to the contrary and when you get to compete in ’24, if Donald Trump’s in that race, that’s going to be a much different conversation about 2020 than the one you’re having hypothetically now.

HEITKAMP: And --

KARL: But it’s astoundingly large still, isn’t it? I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: To me it is, yes --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: -- the number of Republicans that still believe this stuff.

HEITKAMP: Yes.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

HEITKAMP: And in the Republican Convention in Texas, over the weekend, they previewed 2,000 mules (ph), right? So that has been completely debunked but yet that becomes the standard discussion within the Republican GOP Convention in Texas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Down in Texas --

HEITKAMP: That's who they are.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Down in Texas, Senator John Cornyn, who’s one of the lead Republican negotiators on this gun control package they’ve agreed to, at least among a group of negotiators in the Senate, got booed when he talked about it. Is the package in trouble?

HARPER: I think there’s still a lot of sensitive negotiations that going on. I spoke with an official at The White House yesterday and I think there’s a lot of people who are going to be holding their breath until the president can sign on the dotted line.

Look, when you look at Senator Cornyn being audibly booed by his own party in his own state, it just demonstrates the sensitivities and treacherous nature of these negotiations for Republicans who want to engage in these conversations about reform.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So far Mitch McConnell still supporting the deal?

KARL: Still giving it the green light to do it. He hasn’t actually come out and said he’s going to vote for this deal but giving the green light to do it.

And I think there's reason for that. I think that Republicans want the midterms to be run on inflation, on the economy, economic anxiety, and if they can take the gun issue off the table and say, look, we've done something -- and I think this is something, it’s far short of what Democrats would -- how far they would like to go, but it is something. If they can take that issue off the table, they can have a clearer shot to run a campaign based on the economy.

CHRISTIE: You know, George, it’s standard negotiating, right? If you're Cornyn right now, you want to make people believe you may walk -- have to walk away so they don't ask for more at the end. So then people go like, oh well, at least we got -- okay, good. He’s hanging in there. We got this. This is standard political negotiating.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We only have about 30 seconds left. Do you think it goes through?

HEITKAMP: I think it goes through. And I think that one of the things that Cornyn said afterwards was 80 percent of the country believes in this. I think they know, especially on the red flag which was the big touching point for the convention, the red flag laws are absolutely essential, they get it, it merges that gun restriction with mental health and that's the sweet spot.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to be the last word today. Thank you all very much.

Up next, 50 years after Watergate, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reflect on Richard Nixon’s downfall and the parallels to Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM DONALDSON, FORMER ABC NEWS ANCHOR: The Democratic National Committee is trying to solve the spy mystery, it began before dawn Saturday when five intruders were captured by police inside the offices of the committee in Washington. The five men carried cameras and apparently had planted electronic bugs, one of them had several crisp new $100 bills in his pocket. The police said they were thoroughly professional. The suspects are saying nothing. The Democrats say they have no idea who would want to spy on them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Sam Donaldson delivering ABC’s first report on Watergate 50 years ago. The investigative work of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward at “The Washington Post” uncovered the scandal that caused Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Here they reflect on their work and how it echoes today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNKNOWN MALE: The shadowy tale of the Watergate caper veered closer to The White House today.

BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR: We didn't bring down the president, we just did the reporting.

CARL BERNSTEIN, FORMER WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: Nixon brought Nixon down.

WOODWARD: What he had done is set up a campaign of espionage and sabotage and cover-up to essentially select who he's going to run against. It was an attack on the fundamental system of selecting a nominee for each party and the actual campaign itself. And when you pick it apart, it's the ugliest, dirtiest thing a president could ever do at that point.

BERNSTEIN: Well, what’s the essential element of democracy? It's free and fair election. And he undermined that.

UNKNOWN MALE: The matter of Watergate indubitably has tarnished the prestige and put in question the credibility of the presidency of Richard Nixon.

BERNSTEIN: How did Watergate change the presidency or this country? I think that already with the Vietnam War there was starting to be a decline in trust in the presidency. This took it to another level. Because never before had we had an overtly criminal president in the United States. Richard Nixon was a criminal. And part of the reason he was perceived as a criminal president is because his own party toward the end said, hey, these are horrible acts, these are acts against the Constitution, against our system of government, and so what you have is an understanding by the people of the country as to what he is doing to destroy American democracy.

NIXON: Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

WOODWARD: Nixon and Trump are so alike in personalities, so this is something from Nixon’s secret tape recordings that didn't come out until much later, he says according to the tape, to his aides --

NIXON: Remember, we're going to be around and outlive our enemies. And also never forget, the press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy.

WOODWARD: The press is the enemy. Are these themes? They're not unique to Nixon. They are Donald Trump.

BERNSTEIN: And instead of using the presidency for great ends, his character, his paranoia, his hate -- his absolute hate for professors, the press, et cetera, took over, became who he was and it was always there. But never had it come out like this before and there you draw, as Bob is saying, the straight line to Donald Trump.

WOODWARD: When you hate it erodes your sense of who you are and what your purpose is.

BERNSTEIN: Until the Nixon tapes we didn't have really an idea of how deep that hatred was and how it permeated everything that he did. Whereas with Trump we've seen the hate from beginning.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Mexico sends its people, they're bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

BERNSTEIN: So over those 50 years we had a cold civil war in this country, and Trump ignited that cold civil war and I think in the ignition of it we saw the country break even farther into two camps essentially. The Republican Party is a captive to Donald Trump and his authoritarianism, his demagoguery.

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

BERNSTEIN: January 6th investigation into probably the most overt act against this nation.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON, (D-MS): January 6th was the culmination of an attempted coup.

BERNSTEIN: And yet, no Republicans in numbers voted to undertake this investigation. So how do we get to a place where these people are so craven and so captured by Trump and his movement that they won't do the right thing?

WOODWARD: George Washington’s farewell address 1796 and he warned in that speech that democracy is fragile, and unprincipled men will seek and take the presidency and we have to be worried about it. And we looked at that and Nixon and then you see Trump comes along with his own version of unprincipled (ph).

BERNSTEIN: Watergate had a profound effect on the United States and on our government and on our culture and it continues to half a century later. Will democracy survive, question mark?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names, Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today, a national holiday.

We have come far and we have far to go, but today is a day of celebration. It is not only a day of pride, it is also a day for us to reaffirm and rededicate ourselves to action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Harris last year when Juneteenth became America's newest federal holiday. It commemorates the day Black Americans were informed of their freedom at the end of the Civil War. And a new ABC special is looking at freedom and pride in music, strikingly exemplified by Prince, whose fight to own his copyrights paved the way for a generation of Black artists.

Here's Janai Norman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED: With regard to owning one's own sounds, one's own masters, the most influential in the history of music is Prince.

JANAI NORMAN, ABC CORRESPONDENT: Why do you think it was so important for Prince to own his masters?

L. LONDELL MCMILLAN, PRINCE'S ATTORNEY & MANAGER: As he says, if you don't own your masters, your masters own you.

The music industry up until that point never had a free agent that was a superstar, and definitely not a Black one.

UNIDENTIFIED: Prince felt as if you create your art you should own your art.

He went to Warner Brothers and said, I want to put my art out whenever I want to. And they said no, you're going to do things the way you're contractually bound to do things. And Prince said, well, this for me feels like modern-day slavery.

PRINCE, MUSICIAN: Prince, in concert, perfectly free. On record, slave.

UNIDENTIFIED: People didn't understand it.

UNIDENTIFIED: He said music is intuitive. Music is spiritual. Music isn't supposed to be contained, in his opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED: This man is selling out arenas around the world. So for him to be at a point where he's writing "slave" on his actual skin, my heart was breaking and I definitely was paying attention.

MCMILLAN: When I met Prince, I asked him how we get "slave" off your face, he says, well, you get me free, I'll take it off.

NORMAN: I have a clip that we want to show you. It's Prince at the Soul Train Awards.

PRINCE: Check this out, as long as you're signed to a contract, you're going to take a minority share of the winnings.

MCMILLAN: I just think of what a powerful moment that was culturally.

PRINCE: Imagine what we'll all be like in our own game. Peace and love for one another.

UNIDENTIFIED: Prince fought for years and ultimately saw a result with Warner Brothers where he was able to take control of his masters.

MCMILLAN: He ended up re-signing with Warner Brothers after that whole thing was done, that next weekend the "slave" was gone. And it never showed up again. And that made me -- made me proud.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: "Sound of Freedom," a Juneteenth special, is streaming now on Hulu.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight" and I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.

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