'This Week' Transcript 6-9-19: Beto O'Rourke

This is a rush transcript for "This Week" airing Sunday, June 9.

ByABC News
June 9, 2019, 9:59 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, June 9, 2019 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.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will fight for your family as if it was my own.

BETO O’ROURKE, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will make sure that this country does not just tolerate or respect our differences, but that we fully embrace them.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Nineteen of the 23 Democratic Candidates have hit the Hawkeye State this weekend. How can they stand out in a crowded field? Who’s ready to take on front runner Joe Biden?

Beto O’Rourke joins us live from Iowa. And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mexico will take unprecedented steps.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump’s tariff threat gets him a deal with Mexico on migrants, as he takes on Nancy Pelosi from Normandy.

TRUMP: She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Insider analysis from our powerhouse Round Table. We’ll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From ABC News, it’s "This Week". Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to "This Week". It may be June, but this week it feels a bit more like January in Iowa. That huge Democratic field flooding the zone, 19 of the 23 candidates in the state this Sunday, and they’re going to share a stage later today, the biggest gathering of candidates so far.

And a brand new poll from the De Moines register shows where things stand just about two weeks before their first debate. Joe Biden leads the pack with 24 percent. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg basically tied for second, that’s a slip for Sanders, a surge for Mayor Pete since the last register poll in March.

Kamala Harris necks at seven percent, tied for six at two percent, Amy Klobuchar and our first guest this morning, Beto O’Rourke. He joins us now from Waterloo, Iowa. Beto, thank you for joining us this morning.

O’ROURKE: Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to start with that Des Moines register poll. Now we all know the polls like that can change pretty quickly, especially in Iowa, but the trend shows you’ve been going in the wrong direction.

Eleven percent back in December, five percent in March, now two percent. What’s your analysis of what’s gone wrong for your campaign, how do you turn it around?

O’ROURKE: You know, I don’t know that this many months out from the caucuses in Iowa that these polls really indicate what our prospects are. If I relied on polls in any race that I’d run, I never would have been able to serve in the United States Congress.

We never would have tried to take on Ted Cruz.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the trend matters, doesn’t it?

O’ROURKE: And we wouldn’t have been able to lead the largest grassroots effort in the history of the state of Texas. Well look, we’ve got an extraordinary team of volunteers and supporters here today.

I was just in Cedar Rapids yesterday, met a young woman, a student named Maggie who had just knocked on 100 doors. It’s those relationships that are made at somebody’s doorstep.

It’s the volunteers, it’s the phone calls, it’s the canvassing that allows us to connect with the people who will decide this election. So, you know, these polls this far out I really don’t think describe the full picture.

We’ve got a lot of time, a lot of work, but thankfully we have a number of extraordinary volunteers who are going to make this possible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you don’t think you need to do anything different then, than what you’ve been doing?

O’ROURKE: Look, I can do a much better job of engaging nationally, but we’ve held more town halls, answered more questions than any other candidate. And it’s what I enjoy doing the most, learning from the people whom I hope to serve.

I think engaging with you on this program and allowing Americans who aren’t able to attend one of these town halls to hear my answers to your questions, my vision for this country, what might set me apart from this extraordinary field of candidates who are running to defeat Trump and to bring this country together again.

Certainly I can do more of that, but again I think the fundamentals of this campaign, meeting people, being with them, showing up with the courage of our convictions and addressing how we’re going to make sure that healthcare is affordable, that everyone can participate in this economy, that we confront the challenge of climate before it’s too late and that we do this in a way that ensures that our democracy fully works.

We announced a set of bold Democracy reform proposals just this week to bring tens of millions more of our fellow Americans in and to remove barriers with a new Voting Rights Act that ensures that every vote counts and that every voice is heard.

If we match that with an end to gerrymandering and getting big, unaccountable money and PACs out of our politics, this Democracy is going to be up to the challenge. And no one has worked harder to make sure that this Democracy works for everyone than I have, whether it’s the campaign that we ran in Texas or my service in Congress.

This is what my life’s work has been about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s one of the ideas that sets you apart, that voting rights proposal you put forward this week. But one of the things we saw in the Des Moines Register poll, it’s reflected in other conversations with Democrats across the country, is they’re really looking for someone who first and foremost is best positioned to beat President Trump.

Why are you that person?

O’ROURKE: Look, when Donald Trump came to my hometown of El Paso, tried to use our community as a backdrop for the case that he wanted to make for a 2,000 mile wall, our community met him and really overpowered his presence with thousands of people who were not against Trump, not against anybody else, but for the best traditions of this country.

I live in and raising my kids on a beautiful part of the U.S. Mexico border at a time that this country’s attention is trained on it. I think I can tell a very powerful, compelling, positive message about the role that immigration and immigrants play that we don’t have to fear those who are coming here from other countries and we can do so in a way where we involve everyone.

And that Senate campaign, I went to each one of the 254 counties of Texas, won more votes than any Democrat has ever won, won Independents for the first time in decades, and brought along half a million Republicans as well.

So this history of including people, making our Democracy work, and frankly, George, the fact that we can bring Texas and its 38 electoral votes with us shows that we are best prepared to take on Donald Trump, to defeat him in November of 2020 and then to bring this very divided country back together again in January of 2021.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned the border, you were opposed to President Trump’s tariff threat on Mexico. But to some degree didn’t that threat work in getting Mexico to at least accelerate agreements they had already made with the U.S.?

O’ROURKE: Yeah, I think the president has completely overblown what he reports to have achieved. These are agreements that Mexico had already made, in some cases months ago.

They might have accelerated the time table, but by and large the president achieved nothing except to jeopardize the most important trading relationship that the United States of America has.

There are 6 million jobs in this country that depend on U.S. Mexico trade, about 40 percent of the value of everything that we import from Mexico actually originated here in this country, on factory floors in Michigan, in Indiana and Ohio, farmers right here in Iowa who depend on those markets in Mexico that they’ve worked a lifetime to create.

These farmers who are already struggling under a trade war that this president started with China, reciprocal tariffs that are hammering them. They were already underwater, in debt, some of their fields are still underwater from recent flooding, they can’t take any more from this president.

So we need a leader in this country who’s going to make sure that we fight for those farmers for the American workers, that we strengthen our ties with Mexico and that we secure our connection with the rest of the world, not through walls or putting kids in cages.

But by investing in solutions in Central America to ensure that no family ever has to make that 2,000 mile journey because they’re fleeing the deadliest countries on the face of the planet today.

We can do a much better job leading on this issue, making sure that we’re secure and then fully living to our values and fulfilling this country’s promise.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw front runner Joe Biden this week change his position on the Hyde Amendment, federal funding, Medicaid funding for abortions. He’s now in line with most of the other Democrats.

What do you make of that movement, what does it say about him?

O’ROURKE: I can just tell you that I’ve always known what I’ve thought on this issue, that every single woman in this country should be able to make her own decisions about her own body.

Every single session in the United States Congress I voted to repeal the Hyde Amendment. I co-sponsored legislation to do the same, and as president not only will I ensure that we nominate justices who believe that the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, we will compliment that by statute with our partners in Congress to make sure that no state can deny any woman the ability to have access to the healthcare that she needs.

We’ll also roll back the gag rule and we’ll make sure that our Department of Justice vigorously defends women in every single courtroom. I think it’s time that more men join the leadership that women have provided on this issue and I have consistently been there and I want to make sure that as president, we do everything in our power to make sure that we stand with women in every single case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there any room in the Democratic Party now for those who oppose abortion?

O’ROURKE: Look, I think that’s a question that the candidates, including Vice President Biden are going to have to answer for themselves. I can just tell you that in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis in this country, three times as deadly for women of color, access to care is critically important.

In my home state of Texas, we saw more than a quarter of our family planning clinics close, it means not only that fewer women are able to access a safe legal abortion, but the cervical cancer screenings, the family planning help, the ability to see a provider of any kind, this is a life and death matter.

So it is very hard for me to believe that we could ever produce a nominee who would not believe in a woman’s right to choose and the ability to stand -- and -- and the mandate for us to stand with women in each and every instance. That's what I believe, that's part of why I’m running and I think that's a core value not just of the Democratic party but of the United States of America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you’ve been consistent on the issue of choice. You have moved on other issues since your time in Congress. The co-sponsorship of that Thin Blue Line bill, which called for death penalty for cop killers, drilling on the Gulf Coast, means (ph) testing for Social Security, and it's drawn some criticism, including from a political science professor at Rice University there in Texas, Mark Jones. Want to show you what he said. "A lot of the things that made Beto an attractive candidate against Ted Cruz in 2018 he's discarding by the side of the road as he travels through Iowa and New Hampshire. The idea of being pragmatic and a centrist.

He’s renouncing all the policies that made him a credible centrist for positions on the left. I think the Beto magic is probably gone". Do you agree with that -- I mean, what do you make of his take those shifts have undercut your appeal?

O’ROURKE: You know, I’ve always done what is right, not necessarily what is politically popular on the city council of El Paso. Ensuring that we extended healthcare benefits to the same sex partners of city employees, despite the recall elections and the blowback that followed, calling for an end to the war on drugs and an end of the prohibition on marijuana years before any other major candidate did it. For five years running now, haven't taken a dime from a single political action committee because I know that is inimical to our democracy and making sure that people instead of corporations and special interests are represented.

So I’ve always followed by conscience, I’ve always made sure that I put this country before my next election or any poll or even my own political party. And I will continue to do that as a candidate and I will continue to do that as president of the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're not shifting as the party shifts?

O’ROURKE: No. I am who I am. I'm certainly showing up and listening to people and learning from them in every community, but I’m also showing up with the courage of my convictions, the things that I strongly believe in. You can see examples of that in Texas. It may not have been the most popular thing in the world in a proud gun-owning state to be for universal background checks and to end the sale of assault weapons and weapons of war and a call for red flag laws, but I’ve got to live with my conscience and with my kids and approaching 40,000 gun deaths a year, I was moved to call this out and to make sure that describe the leadership that we want to provide to save more lives.

Talking about healthcare also meaning a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own body. We said that in the most rural, the reddest counties in the state of Texas. Universal guaranteed high-quality healthcare for all, comprehensive immigration reform. These are positions that I’ve consistently held because they are critical to the success of this country. Climate change. We've got to marshal every single resource, every single American in the 10 years that are left to us -- and I say this as a Texan -- we’ve got to free ourselves from a dependence on fossil fuels and fully embrace renewable energy, technology. And right here in Iowa, put farmers in the driver's seat, pay them for the environmental services that they provide, planting cover crops to pull more carbon out of the air, precision and no till farming, regenerative grazing to disturb less of the carbon that’s in the soil.

George, I’m all about bringing everyone into these solutions regardless of the differences between us and making sure that this badly damaged democracy fully works.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We heard Nancy Pelosi -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say this week that she wants to see the president in prison. Do you think the president committed crimes that could be prosecuted?

O’ROURKE: He did. I think that's clear from what we have learned from the Mueller report. But I think those crimes might extend beyond what we’ve seen in the Mueller report. Using public office for personal gain for himself and for his family, the -- the relationship that he has with -- with Vladimir Putin, which has never been properly explained from the invitation as a candidate to have Russia involve itself in our elections, his efforts to obstruct justice, the fact that he called Vladimir Putin after the Mueller report was released, called it a hoax, thereby giving him a green light to further participate in our democracy and in our elections.

If we do not hold the president accountable we will have set the precedent that some people in this country, because of their position of power, are in fact above the law. And if we do that, we will lose this democracy forever. So regardless of the popularity of the idea or what the polling shows us, we must proceed with impeachment so that we get the facts and the truth and at the end of the day there is justice for what was done to our Democracy in 2016 and the other potential crimes that this president has committed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If – it’s pretty clear that even if the House impeaches, the Senate is not going to convict the president. So if you win, if you become president in 2020, would you want your Justice Department to pursue charges against President Trump?

O’ROURKE: I would want my Justice Department, any future administration’s Justice Department to follow the facts and the truth and to make sure at the end of the day that there is accountability and justice without this – without that, this idea, this experiment of American Democracy comes to a close.

We were attacked unlike any other time in our 243 year history. And we have a president who has yet to acknowledge it and a president who has yet to be brought to justice. So yes, at the end of the day, justice is important.

In fact, foundational for the success of this country, no matter who that is, including the person who holds the most important office in the land.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Beto O’Rourke, thanks for your time this morning.

O’ROURKE: Thank you George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to have the Roundtable weigh in on 2020 next, we’ll be right back.



JOHN DELANEY (D), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who wakes up every day and tries to divide the American people.

GILLIBRAND: Right now we have a president, president of the United States, who bleeds hate and division.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who is so small minded and so petty in his instincts.

MAYOR PETE BITTIGIEG (D), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We in the LGBTQ community know when we hear phrases like make America great again, that that American past was never quite as great as advertised.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Nineteen Democrats in Iowa this weekend, pretty consistent message, you saw it right there about President Trump. Let’s talk about it on our Round Table, with our Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce, Eliana Johnson, White House correspondent for Politico, Chris Christie the former GOP governor of New Jersey, now an ABC News contributor and Patrick Gaspard, the president of the Open Society Foundation, served as White House political director and ambassador of South Africa under President Obama.

So put on your political director hat to begin with, Patrick. I take Beto’s point, these polls don’t mean all that much in June, but there is a trend there for Beto O’Rourke. When you look at the entire constellation of what we’re seeing in Iowa, what do you make of it?

PATRICK GASPARD, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION PRESIDENT AND FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: Well I think that the horserace I wouldn’t put too much stock in right now, it’s far too early. But there is really something interesting that emerged from that poll, two thirds of all likely Iowa caucus participants said that they would much rather have someone who they believe can beat Donald Trump in the fall of next year instead of somebody who shares their position on individual issues.

It’s really powerful and speaks to the fact that electability really seems to be cohering as a primary point for Democrats in the cycle against Donald Trump and you would suspect that should benefit a candidate like Joe Biden.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes and that is the question, Chris Christie, how long can Biden hold on? He’s one of the few Democrats not going to Iowa this week, instead he’s going to go there the same day as President Trump on Tuesday.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Listen, I think – I saw the same numbers Patrick saw, the question is what’s – how does that manifest itself?

Now when you look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren getting 31 percent of the vote combined in Iowa, that doesn’t speak to electability to me. Yes Biden still has a lead and it’s going to be a challenge for him to keep it.

But there is still enormous energy in the far left progressive side of this, and you can see that through a lot of these numbers. And so it’s going to be really interesting to see how Biden deals with that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: His divide and conquer work for him on this.

CHRISTIE: Well I think it – I – listen, the general strategy as you know would be keep them all in, try to – he won’t say a bad thing about anybody, he’ll be saying great things about everybody on that stage if he’s smart and keep them all in, keep them all active, divided up and – you know, in that instance, that 24 percent could win Iowa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It could. One of the things we saw, Mary, is that even though Beto was sliding a bit, Mayor Pete, big surge over the last several months.

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it’s been really interesting to watch his trajectory too, he clearly is getting a lot of attention.

We saw him out there this weekend. When it comes to Biden, I do think it’s interesting the fact that he’s not showing up here, right. He’s been taking this really sort of hands off approach, this sort of wait and see style and it does seem to be working based on the polls.

He has that name recognition, he doesn’t have to go out and attract the same kind of attention. The question is how long can that last and whether it’ll hold up in a debate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Eliana, maybe hand off, but he certainly was listening this week. He first that position then he came out and said he supported the Hyde Amendment, and then every other candidate pounced and he shifted pretty quickly.

ELIANA JOHNSON, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Governor – I’ll be shocked if the president is lavishing praise on everybody on a – on a debate stage.

CHRISTIE: No, I meant Joe Biden.


CHRISTIE: I didn’t mean the president. No, no, no, we’d get to that later, Eliana. No way.


JOHNSON: But, you know, as for Biden and the Hyde Amendment, you know, you can change your position or not. The way – it comes down to how you handle it. And I don’t think Biden handled this with the – with the confidence of a front runner.

He took a couple days, he had Cedric Richmond, his campaign co-chairman go out and say he was maintaining his old position then came out and changed it. He looked weak I think and the Trump campaign’s theory has been that Biden’s going to have trouble surviving a Democratic primary because he’s going to be pulled to the left.

This is the first evidence I think we’ve seen of that, and if it continues I think it’s going to be difficult for him even if he does win the primary to challenge Trump in a general election. He’s considered the electable candidate because he's the most moderate of the bunch and I think this was a difficult instance for him.

GASPARD: That’s a -- that’s a -- that's a great point and I think that Biden's wobbliness on this issue really spoke to Elizabeth Warren's strength. She managed to take this issue and take it from one of reproductive freedom and turned it into an economic inclusion argument inside of the Democratic party and Joe Biden doesn't want to be on the wrong side of that equation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well there’s no way he could hold on to that position through the primaries. I guess you could -- the counterargument, Mary, is that it's June, it was two days. As long as it's not a long-term wound, better for him to get it over with now.

BRUCE: Yes, but it does raise a lot of questions going forward. Right? If his argument is that in some ways, he's that moderate who can appeal to those Trump voters, get them back over voting with Democrats, it raises questions if he's seen as being a shape shifter, right? If he’s seen as going to the left to try and appeal to those voters. That may help him in a primary but what does that mean in a general. And to Eliana’s point, it also questions about his campaign's handling of this. They still are struggling to answer what happened between Wednesday when he said he still supported this and Thursday, just 24 hours later, when he changed his position.

That raises questions about whether or not he can take on Trump and his argument that he simply is the best one to do so.


CHRISTIE: I think it’s a lot less substantive, George, than -- than it is a concern about Joe Biden personally. Right? The concern about Joe Biden is he never stays on the rails, that every time he's run for president he's gone off the rails on one issue or another and -- and this is a judgment issue on Joe Biden’s part. And let me say one other thing about Mayor Pete. I'm willing to predict today Mayor Pete is the new Beto. OK? Mayor Pete is going to have this surge, he’s had this surge now. But there’s no there there. And I think what you’re with him is the same thing you saw with -- are seeing with Beto O’Rourke, which is, you know, there’s a certain stylistic appeal to him but he is still the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

And when those lights get on, I suspect that it’s not going to be kind to him and I think he’s going to wind up in Beto territory much sooner than he’s going to wind up in Biden territory.

GASPARD: I don’t know. It may be way too early to make those kinds of forecasts, Governor, but you had another important point there, that this was a judgment issue for Joe Biden. I think the judgment is, yes, 55 percent of the likely Democratic electorate will be women. And that’s the judgment that he -- that he had to make --

CHRISTIE: Well what -- well what I’m saying is --

GASPARD: -- on his flip on the Hyde Amendment.

CHRISTIE: I’m -- that’s why I said not substantive, Patrick. What I’m saying is that this is -- this is about Joe Biden's style, the way he makes decisions and how he presents himself to the public. And his appeal is, he's the stable, steady, moderate guy who's going to be able to contrasted to a president who at times seems erratic and hyperbolic, right? If he loses that, it's over for him. Done. Because he doesn't appeal to where the energy is substantively in the Democratic party right now, so if he can't make that electability issue that two-thirds want, if he can’t make that argument, he’s -- he's done.

JOHNSON: Well I think that's exactly right. As an isolated incident, this might not matter, but I think it recalled the way Biden handled before he announced the allegations from these women, that he made them uncomfortable, where he went into hiding for five days and we weren’t sure what he was going to say. And he was a little wobbly when he came out then. So if this is a pattern, the way he handles controversial issues, that's going to be tough. It's not a good sign. If this is a one-off, it won't matter at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I think -- and that’s one of the questions, is how closely are people paying attention to all this happening right now, can he right the ship in time for the debates when people really start to focus in.

BRUCE: Yes, and the debates. I mean, he goes into that with a giant target on his back, right? Everyone’s coming after him and he’s going to try and frame it as a debate between him and Donald Trump. Biden is prone to gaffs. Biden has also come under a lot of criticism, you know, can he withstand the pressure and the rigorous schedule of campaigning. How is he going to handle a stage where he is taking all of that oncoming fire?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Patrick, I wonder, you know, there's a lit bit of a hint of criticism from Beto of Joe Biden. So far, except for on that Hyde Amendment, the other candidates have not been willing to take him on frontally.

GASPARD: Not frontally, but increasingly you're hearing them make contrasts that are -- that are generational. Even -- even Bernie Sanders, who's not exactly a spring chicken --



GASPARD: -- just recently said, you know, we can't -- we can’t go back to the politics of the past in a clear direct reference to Joe Biden. So I that that's only going to increase and the debates will be like duck hunting season with -- with Joe Biden being the duck there. But you know, I -- I’ve worked closely with Joe Biden, have known him for a long time and one should not underestimate his toughness, his ability to adapt, and I will recall in 2016 when he saved Barack Obama, who had performed really poorly in the first debate and Joe Biden came out and just acquitted himself so well that it changed the narrative. I wouldn’t underestimate Joe Biden.

CHRISTIE: I think your point before, George, applies to what you just said about the -- about the candidates and how them going after Biden. It's too early. It’s too early for them to go after Biden and make themselves a target. You might remember 2016. Remember the early guys who went after Trump. Right? Rick Perry, dead. Rand Paul, dead. It's too early for that. And I think that Biden -- again, as I said before, he will try make it against Trump in the debate, but what he’s also going to do is he’s going to lavish praise on all them to make it more difficult for them to go after him. Oh, you know, Elizabeth, I loved when you -- when you supported this, this bill, you sponsored.

Oh, you know, Beto, you bring great energy to the campaign and you went after Ted Cruz and we all love that. And Joe Biden, as you know, has that personal affability that many of those other people on that stage don’t have.

BRUCE: But I will say this week, even if they’re not taking him on directly, there was a change in tone out on the campaign trail. I mean, whether or not they said Biden's name, they skewered him on the Hyde Amendment --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And they saw the opening. They saw the opening.

CHRISTIE: Well, that’s on the Hyde Amendment (ph). Yes.

BRUCE: -- and -- and -- and whether the campaign will admit it or not, that political pressure was pretty hard for him to ignore.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about it. Got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



LAURA INGRAHAM: Why does it seem like Mexico...

TRUMP: Well, because it's their fault, also, because they're letting millions of people walk up through their country and they shouldn't let anybody walk up through their country. I mean, frankly, we shouldn't even have to have border patrol.

MARTHA BARCENA, MEXICAN AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES: Mexico will take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular immigration. Those crossing the U.S. southern border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await their adjudication of their asylum claim.


STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump pulls back the tariff threat after Mexico agrees to accelerate those ideas to contain migrants inside Mexico. I want to talk about it more on our roundtable.

Eliana Johnson, let me start with you. The president in a long tweet this morning complaining about a New York Times story that basically Mexico just gave them what they had already agreed to. But we have seen something of a pattern here with the president.

JOHNSON: I was going to say, yeah, the president's negotiating style I think is becoming eerily familiar in Washington where he makes maximalist threats, whether it's on North Korea, or that he was going to close the southern border if Mexico didn't stop illegal immigrants --

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was in March.

JOHNSON: -- and drugs from coming in late March, into early April, or to impose an escalating series of tariffs just this past week, lasts about a week, and then he strikes an imperfect or constitutionally questionable deal, and declares victory, and savages the critics of that deal.

That's what happened just this past week. And I think it raises a question of whether his threats are going to have the desired effect going forward now that I think many people, including his negotiating partners across the table, have spotted the pattern.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In this case, Mary, he may not have had much of a choice, given what you were seeing on Capitol HIll -- the Republicans, this was their most defiant revolt yet, amongst Senate Republicans.

BRUCE: Yes. This was some really intense push back from the president's own party. Mitch McConnell -- as fired up as Mitch McConnell gets -- going out there and essentially saying, Mr. President, do not do this. I mean, even some of the president's allies like Ted Cruz were out there publicly blasting the move saying it would amount to a massive tax increase.

I think to Eliana's point, the more the president threatens, the more the pushback has to get ratcheted up as this kind of governing by threatening continues to happen over and over and over again. Republicans I've talked to this weekend are clearly breathing a very deep sigh of relief. But Democrats are quick to point out that, first of all, we don't know whether this deal is going to actually do anything to stop the flow of migrants across the border. And this threat is not off the table just yet. The president is still insisting --

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president has made that clear...

BRUCE: ...he could do this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He said that in the tweet this morning.

But Patrick, on the other hand, Mexico has accelerated these agreements, they’re putting them into place, they hadn’t put them into place before, isn’t a win a win?

GASPARD: No a win is not a win when it – he’s falsely hyping a deal that was struck some months ago that we know is probably insufficient to the – to the challenge. Let’s be clear about what’s really happening here. I know Americans through the news media are focused on Mexico and this challenge, but this story is really not about Mexico.

It’s about migrants who are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, from the Northern Triangle. And they’re – and they are a very different class of migrants than we saw in years passed.

You used to have lone Mexican men who would come, find work, send money back home. That’s not what you have now. You have whole families that are coming as a consequence of pressures of climate shifts in the Northern Triangle.

We have a five year drought there now and precipitation that’s moving to other parts of the region. Any president of the U.S. should be working with Mexico and with that region to mitigate the climate crisis and the crisis also in some of the human rights oppressions that exist in those countries.

We should be partnering with Mexico now, not making idle threats and lifting up deals that will do nothing to mitigate the crisis.

CHRISTIE: Listen, the president had a really good week George, and a win is a win. The fact is that he was on the world stage on the 75th anniversary of Normandy, gave a very good speech at Normandy, I think in regard to that anniversary had what was I think a really good visit with the royal family.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He seemed to love the queen.

CHRISTIE: Yes, listen, they seemed to get along really well and that’s in the reports I’m getting from inside as well were that they really did get along in a way that is – was very positive --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not so much the London mayor.

CHRISTIE: Well again, that’s pretty predictable. And so, you know, listen, the thing that I found most encouraging about the Mexico situation was who he had at the table. You know, he had the vice president there and he had the secretary of state, and I think those are the people with that type of experience and that type of background who we need to be negotiating these things going forward.

The fact is the president does better when he takes the best people from his administration and puts them up front. And on this instance I think the vice president and the secretary of state calmed this down and cooled it down.

And I – and that’s what the president wanted from the beginning anyway.

GASPARD: Puts them up front to accomplish what exactly? We already know that in the last year the result of the Trump tariffs have absolutely wiped out any gains from the lowering of taxes, and we – and we also know quite clearly that some of these tariffs are having their greatest impact on some of Donald Trump’s base in the heart line and – heartland and the border states.

But let me just go back to your point, Governor, about the trip overseas. It was really quite striking to see a president of the United States, sitting in front of the graves of American troops who lost their lives in Normandy, making the ultimate sacrifice and going after war veterans and heroes like Bob Mueller and making the kinds of statements that he was making about those who are coming from Latin America, seeking humanitarian relief.

That’s the real big takeaway shot from his trip overseas.

CHRISTIE: Listen, that’s not the big takeaway shot, that’s the big takeaway shot if you – if you – if you watch some of the networks that are clearly negative towards the president.

You can’t say that’s a bigger takeaway shot than him sitting with the queen, you can’t say it’s a bigger takeaway shot than him standing on Normandy or being with – or being with President Macron who again he had a very positive, productive conversation with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether it’s bigger or not, it was part of the story this week, and Mary one of the things we were seeing was he was attacking Nancy Pelosi. Let’s show that this was on Fox after she said he should be in prison.


TRUMP: I think she’s a disgrace, I actually don’t think she’s a talented person, I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would have liked to have gotten some deals done. She’s incapable of doing deals.

She is a terrible person and I’ll tell you her name, it’s nervous Nancy, because she’s a nervous wreck.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don’t talk about the president when I’m out of the country, that’s my principle.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But before she left she did say she wanted to see him in prison, and we’ve really seen an evolution of Nancy Pelosi’s discussions of the president and impeachment as she faces more pressure from her caucus.

BRUCE: Yes, in the matter of weeks she has gone from saying that the president isn’t even worth impeaching now to saying that he should be going to prison, and she thinks –

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because she wants to hold off impeachment.

BRUCE: Because she wants to hold off impeachment, I mean and she did take quite a whack at him right before he goes overseas and then she arrives overseas and says no, I’m not going to criticize him there.

But Pelosi is essentially trying to walk this fine line, she’s ratcheting up the rhetoric as the pressure gets ratcheted up on her, she’s throwing some red meat to the base and to those Democrats who are calling for impeachment, but she is not changing her position just by changing the rhetoric.

She still insists that they need to be pursuing the investigations.

GASPARD: But let’s be clear, we actually never – we actually never saw Nancy Pelosi make a statement about Donald Trump going to prison, that’s something that reportedly leaked out from a meeting with members of – with members of Congress.


BRUCE: But it was made in private and they don’t dispute it.


CHRISTIE: But come on, that’s not saying (ph) it.


GASPARD: It’s not the same as stating in front of graves of American troops at Normandy and blasting somebody in your – in your (INAUDIBLE).


CHRISTIE: She earned that one, Patrick, she earned it, OK. If you’re going to say you want to see the president of the United States in prison then she earned – then she earned a shot – earned a shot against her.


GASPARD: I know you were at a convention where the lock her up chant was common refrain, but, you know, I think there's quite a bit of difference between taking a shot from the president -- Donald Trump can attack Nancy Pelosi all his wants -- and doing that at that sacred site.

JOHNSON: Well, one thing that struck me about Pelosi's approach with dealing with Trump that I think could be a lesson for Democratic presidential candidates is that she hasn't reacted to every Trump provocation by lavishing him with attention or ratcheting up the rhetoric against him, the prison thing aside. I mean, she -- she was saying that to fend off calls of impeachment from her caucus.

She's generally treated him like he's not worth giving attention to, or like he's beneath contempt. And that seems to be effective with him.

BRUCE: She also certainly knows --

CHRISTIE: I love hearing the prison thing aside. The prison thing aside -- you can't put the prison aside.

JOHNSON: Yeah, but she’s saying --

CHRISTIE: When you say you want -- you think the president of the United States belongs in prison, you want to see him in prison, you have got to expect a reaction to that. And that's what she wanted. Because she is succumbing to her own political pressure.

So, that's not an excuse, it's an explanation, but it's not an excuse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who did it help when the president spoke out? Indeed, it had helped Nancy Pelosi, not the president.

BRUCE: Pelosi knows exactly what she's doing, right. She may not respond from every provocation from the president, but she knows very well how to get under his skin. And she clearly is doing that. She now has a nickname, that's a clear sign of that.

The putting him in prison thing is Pelosi trying to make the argument, right, she's trying to satisfy all of this increasing pressure, but also buy herself some time essentially. And the sooner...

CHRISTIE: That's an explanation, not an excuse. Once you decide to make that statement, you're going to get a reaction.

Now, I also think, George, that the president's press staff served him poorly in two instances in Europe -- putting him front of Piers Morgan and putting him in that interview at that site with Laura Ingraham. That does not serve the president well. When you give that long period of time to do those kind of things, and they're going to ask those kind of questions and follow up. That's what -- you know this, I know this, anybody knows who has been in political campaigns, and political situations.

The staff's job is not to put the principle in a situation where you put him at greater risk of harm than greater risk of benefit. And I'd argue that when Sarah Sanders, whoever made those decisions, to put him in those positions, put him there, they ill-served him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is the last word for today, thank you all very much. Great roundtable.

Up next, Pierre Thomas, powerful conversation with leaders of American houses of worship. We'll be right back.



REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D) MICHIGAN: "The tension Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ragheads Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, I was totally excited and please when I heard about 49 Muslims were killed and many --


Many more were wounded in New Zealand. This is a great start. Let's hope and pray that it continues here in the Good Old USA. The -- the -- the only good Muslim is a dead one."


STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib reading hate mail she received in the wake of a devastating mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques. And now that terror target of sanctuaries has hit home here in the U.S., crimes motivated by religious hate on the rise. Our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is here.

And Pierre, you sat down with the leaders of three congregations shattered by violence.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. Sadly, mass shootings have become a part of American culture. More than 150 cases so far this year.

No location is immune, not even houses of worship.



PIERRE THOMAS VOICEOVER: Houses of worship are supposed to be places of refuge, of spiritual renewal, of peace, joy, sanctuaries to seek God. They’re not supposed to be war zones.


THOMAS VO: But recently, a massacre at two mosques in New Zealand.

And here at home, attempted mass murder at a California synagogue that left one dead and three wounded.


REV. ERIC MANNING, EMANUELl AME CHURCH, CHARLESTON, SC: This is something now that is going worldwide.

PASTOR FRANK POMERY, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, SUTHERLAND SPRINGS,TX : Complacency is your enemy. We need to be vigilant not, not fearful, but vigilant.


THOMAS VO: These stark warnings for the millions of Americans who go to houses of worship each weekend from religious leaders whose congregations suffered three of the worst attacks on houses of worship in American history.

911 CALL FROM DAY OF EMANUEL CHURCH SHOOTING, BROADCASTIFY: Please. Emanuel Church. There's plenty people shot down here. Please send somebody right away.

THOMAS VO: Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. 9 African American Parishioners gunned down during prayer meeting by a white supremacist.

First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas

(NATS FROM DAY OF THE ATTACK): We have 6 ambulances in route.

THOMAS VO: Twenty-six murdered during Sunday morning services, many of them children.

Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eleven shot to death during Saturday morning worship.

911 CALL DAY OF SHOOTING, BROADCASTIFY: …suspect 's talking about all these Jews need to die.

F. POMEROY: The aftermath hurt almost as much as what the shooter did in our church.

THOMAS VO: Frank Pomeroy is the pastor of First Baptist Sutherland Springs. His daughter Annabelle, only 14, was among those killed. He and his wife Sherri were both out of town at the time of the massacre. He is still pained by having to tell his wife over the phone about their daughter’s death when she was at an airport.

F. POMEROY: Sorry. I had to call her -- tell her over the -- tell her by phone that Bell was gone.

SHERRI POMEROY: As I was at the security table about to walk through security, and I just fell to my knees.

THOMAS VO: The memories painful. Healing never easy, especially since these kinds of attacks on houses of worship keep coming.


THOMAS VO: When that synagogue in California was recently attacked, Alan Hausman says the reaction at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh was immediate.

HAUSMAN: And it essentially just opens the wounds again. It's really, really hard to see -- see your folks almost reliving the entire event.

THOMAS VO: And the healing can be challenging when their congregations continue to receive threats.

THOMAS: Have you received some since?

MANNING: I received one as recent as three weeks ago.

THOMAS: Hate doesn't take a vacation, does it?

MANNING: No, hate does not take a vacation.


THOMAS VO: They say with a nation so divided, religious leaders and people of faith, must do more to bridge gaps.

F. POMEROY: We need to quit being so biased and start holding and loving one another. And having actual discourse and conversation.

MANNING: Before you say ‘you're wrong,’ be able to say to that person, ‘I respect you. I love you, and I appreciate who you are.’

THOMAS VO: But these leaders also say that in the face of the ongoing threat, congregations needed more than words and prayers.

MANNING: Well, of course, first thing that we did, was deployed a bank of cameras. The doors were locked. You can only access the church if there is security there. Or if you have an appointment.

THOMAS VO: At Tree Of Life and Sutherland Springs.

HAUSMAN: The building we're in is secure. Armed security. Any type of special event, we have uniformed police officers there. If people come in and we don't recognize them, their bags or are searched.

F. POMEROY: We have done the cameras, the security barriers, several barriers.

THOMAS VO: In some cases, the issue of security is quite personal.

S. POMEROY: He bought me a gun for Christmas and we both thought that was the right thing at the time. I’ve still not touched it.

THOMAS VO: But with all the pain and challenges, the worship leaders have been struck by the resilience of their congregations. Any real healing sparked by their faith.

THOMAS: How does one heal? How does one forgive?

F. POMEROY: You really can't. It's not until you choose to let the love of God within you to manifest through you.

THOMAS VO: Rev. Manning’s answer came from the families of those who were killed during the shooter’s bond hearing..

VOICE OF VICTIM’S FAMILY MEMBER, FROM THE TELEVISED BOND HEARING: I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you.

MANNING: We have not seen that level of forgiveness so quickly. Usually, of course, it takes some people some time and as I said before, some members of Emanuel haven’t even gotten there yet.

THOMAS VO: Make no mistake, the road to healing is usually never straight.

S. POMEROY: I'm just recently beginning to say I'm OK.

F. POMEROY: For a while there, she wouldn't get out of bed, wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep.

HAUSMAN: It's OK to tell everyone you're not okay, and it's okay to ask for help.

F. POMEROY: And I can't stress the importance of counselors.

THOMAS VO: In the end, these leaders just won’t give in to the darkness.

HAUSMAN: We're here because there is far more good in the world than there is evil.

F. POMEROY: If you choose hope and mercy and grace over pessimism and hate and divisiveness, you're going to heal and you're going to be able to move forward.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre, they say they’re not going to give in, but they’re very open there about how hard this healing is.

THOMAS: I was struck by how candid they were. They said they didn’t just fall on their knees, pray, get up and they were OK, that this was profoundly personal for them. The wife of the pastor from Texas talked about how not only did she lost her own daughter, but that she’s been inspired by the fact that so many in her church are moving forward.

She spoke of one woman who lost an 18 month old toddler.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh my goodness.

THOMAS: And she said if she can get up and go to church and worship and move on, so can she.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But then you hear about all the steps they’re taking, security cameras, guards outside the sanctuaries. It cuts against the idea that these are sanctuaries.

THOMAS: That’s right. I was recently at church with my wife and we were walking through the lobby and there was a police officer, patrol car stationed outside. And I was thinking to myself, 10 years ago you would never even think to have security in a church, but I think sadly many houses of worship will be going this direction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You cover this beat every single day. One of the things we’re seeing in recent years, hate crimes on the rise now becoming the real national security threat. And -- and -- and a lot more focus on domestic terrorism.

THOMAS: That’s right. I was at a FBI briefing recently and the officials said that since October there’s been a 30 percent increase in the number of cases involving white supremacists, people who believe in white superiority.

It’s ongoing concern. They’re talking about different things that they can do on a domestic terrorism front, but they say it’s as active a period that they’ve seen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we – one of the things we’ve seen, obviously there’s more focus now on gun safety, although there’s real gridlock in Congress over the issue, some progress in the states.

What other kinds of solutions are officials looking at?

THOMAS: One of the things that people keep talking about is that they have to do a better job of identifying people who are troubled, who have issues before they act. In case after case, you see these missed warning signs, so law enforcement officials are talking about how can they connect better with communities and pursue these kinds of cases before people can act out.

The other thing that’s being discussed is the fact that maybe domestic terrorism laws need to be more specific to give police and law enforcement more tools to act. Free speech is a really prickly issue though.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Real prickly issue, but one of the other things we’re seeing is it all grows out of these deep divisions right now in our country.

THOMAS: Well and speaking with those religious leaders, they talked about the fact that they feel like the country is more divided, they can feel it. And they believe that there needs to be more dialogue, more people talking openly about their disagreements in a more loving way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas, thanks for bringing us that.

And 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”.