A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, April 7, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Oversight showdowns.
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NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER (D-CA): You’re not walking away just because you say no.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats demand Trump’s taxes.
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DONALD TRUMP, US PRESIDENT: I’m under audit.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Baloney. Audits don’t take forever.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Security clearance answers.
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REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): The system at the White House is so dysfunctional.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And the full Mueller report.
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REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): That’s imperative. Nothing else will substitute.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: The White House fighting back on all fronts, but the attorney general’s edited version of the Mueller report set to release as early as this week. The next move in a series of showdowns that could go all the way to the Supreme Court. The debates ahead with Jay Sekulow from the president’s legal team and two key Democrats at the center of the investigations.
Plus, the president backs off border closing.
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TRUMP: We’re going to give them a one-year warning.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Puts off healthcare.
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TRUMP: I will be asking that this be my first vote immediately after the election.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: As Joe Biden plays defense.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry I didn’t understand more. I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Biden’s up close and personal style fueling critics who say he’s out of touch. But the former veep signaling he’s ready for the debates already dividing Democrats. As the president tries to balance the demands of his base against his party’s establishment. Our powerhouse roundtable here to analyze all the fallout, plus presidential candidate Andrew Yang joins us live. We’ll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to this week. Two Sundays ago may have been President Trump’s sweetest day in the White House. Just minutes after Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of Robert Mueller’s 400-page report, the president declared victory and vowed revenge on his investigators. But this week, the first signs that at least some on Mueller’s team believe Barr’s bottom lines did not do justice to Mueller’s full report.
That has President Trump fuming on Twitter. And with Barr’s redacted version of Mueller’s report set for release by April 15th, Democrats are demanding to see the full report and the raw material Mueller collected. They’re also demanding answers from the White House on why 25 security clearances were granted over the objections of career security experts. Plus, the first official request for six years of Trump’s tax returns. A petition authorized by a 1924 law written after the Teapot Dome scandal.
The president signaling an all-out battle on every front, beefing up his legal team, rallying allies in Congress. And this morning, we dig in on the fights ahead and Jay Sekulow from the president’s private legal team, and Democrats from two key committees in the House, Dan Kildee from ways and means, and Pramila Jayapal from judiciary – judiciary, excuse me. They’re up first. Welcome to This Week, the both of you. And Congresswoman Jayapal, let me begin with you.
I want to start by, as you know, President Trump has been hitting back on Twitter on the Mueller investigation again and he also had this to say about Democrats.
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TRUMP: Anything we give them will never be enough. We could give them – it’s a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn’t be enough. They’ll always come back and say "it’s not enough."
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman Jayapal, how do you respond on – to that? And what exactly does Congress need to see?
PRAMILA JAYAPAL, CONGRESSWOMAN (D-WA): Well, he should test that theory by releasing the entire report and the underlying information. I think he’s not going to do that. It doesn’t seem like Barr is going to do that. And I think that there’s a real problem with a politically appointed attorney general who seems to have released a three-page report on the actual Mueller report, the only thing we’ve seen so far, that now is seeming to not comport with what Mueller and his team actually prepared.
So, we are very firm and we authorize – as you know, George, we authorized a subpoena. We haven’t used the subpoena yet but we did authorize a subpoena, multiple subpoenas this last week so that we can get the full report. I think the main thing here is, what is the president hiding? How do we make sure that we get everything that was produced. We have not seen a Mueller report, we’ve only seen a Barr report. So we’re going to stay firm on this, we’re going to push hard. We think there’s lots of judicial precedent for us in the past to be able to do this. And that’s really – that’s the main thing, is the majority of the American people want to see the report.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is …
JAYAPAL: And we have to do our job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is some precedent for Congress to get some of the grand jury information. The underlying information, of course, that happened in Watergate. But a federal appeals court ruling just this week reinforced that the release has to be a part of a judicial proceeding. That means, in effect, that Congress is going to have to open up a formal impeachment inquiry in order to get that grand jury information. Are you willing to do that?
JAYAPAL: It’s not clear that that’s what it means. I think that judicial proceeding could mean a number of different things. It doesn’t necessarily mean impeachment hearings but we are going to – I mean, the easiest thing here -- and actually, Chairman Nadler has asked Attorney General Barr to go to the court with him and say, look, we think that the public interest is very, very important, we believe that this material should be released to Congress, we understand that not all of it can be released to the public but we believe it should be released to Congress.
Because Judiciary Committee, as you know, has jurisdiction over a number of things and very important to know that we still don't know what was in the Mueller report. We don’t know what was in it around conspiracy -- and you know, we know what the president says was in it. And we certainly don't know what the underlying information was that attorney -- that Special Counsel Mueller felt he could not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. That's a critically serious charge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On another front, Michael Cohen, his attorney, this week sent a letter to Democrats on the Judiciary Committee asking you all to support a delay in him serving his prison sentence so he can continue to cooperating with your inquiries. It's my understanding that he's met with committee council to work through some of the, I guess 14 million files were turned in by prosecutors. Will committee Democrats support his request to petition for a delay in his reporting to prison?
JAYAPAL: I don't think we're there at that decision yet. We're evaluating what kind of information may be there. You know, we had put forward 81 requests for information around a whole series of things that the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction for, much broader than the Mueller report, and that is obstruction of justice, abuse of power and public corruption. And so some of what Cohen may have may be useful to those inquiries but we need to get all of our requests for information answered. They have not been yet answered. And then we need to start on the process of subpoenaing some of this information and in the course of that we can see whether there is something that Michael Cohen can still offer us that hasn't been provided yet in the underlying information.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Congresswoman. Thanks very much. Want to turn now to the request for President Trump’s taxes. Congressman Kildee. Let me begin. Thank you for joining us. I want to begin --
REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- with a letter sent by President Trump's attorneys this week on this request. They sent it to the Treasury Department in order to try to block the release of the president's return and they write it would be a gross abuse of power for the majority party to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, the ensuing tit for tat will do lasting damage to our nation. Your response?
KILDEE: Well it’s certainly not a Pandora’s box. This is legitimate authority that the Congress has. This president, by the way, is the least transparent president that we’ve had in half a century, he's broken precedent by not releasing his tax returns. We wouldn't need to go through this exercise if he had simply done what he had promised to do. But let’s be clear. Section 6103 of the tax code grants to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee the right to order a tax return of a taxpayer in order to inform him and the committee on a subject that we are deliberating over. We are looking very carefully right now as to whether or not the IRS is properly auditing and enforcing tax law on the president of the United States and we're considering legislative changes toward that end.
It is not up to President Trump, it is not up to some lawyer that President Trump hires, to determine whether or not this co-equal branch of government has the tools available to it to make the deliberations necessary in order to make policy. This is not an autocracy. The president does not get to decide for himself and for Congress what a legitimate subject of inquiry might be. That's left to the Congress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The courts may have to decide that. Meantime, the president's attorneys are questioning whether you have a legitimate legislative purpose involved here. They say you're focusing on the audits of the president. They say if that's your real concern, why not request information about audits of previous presidents or simply ask the IRS to come up to the committee and explain the policy.
KILDEE: Mainly because previous presidents in the last half century have released their tax returns and it would be easy for not just Congress but any member of the public to take a look at that and make determinations as to whether or not the tax laws of the United States are being properly administered and properly applied to the president. In this case, and particularly in this case, where you have a president that not only has very significant wealth, but made the unusual decision to continue to control that wealth and not to have a blind trust but to actually pass on to his family with his full involvement with his full involvement the ability to control his wealth, there's a real question, George, as to whether the president's personal financial interests impact his public decision-making.
The public has a right to know whether their president's interests are impacting the decisions that he makes using the authority that we have granted him by electing him as president.
So -- this is -- the unusual situation is not Congress using its authority to gain access legitimately under a very clear statute, the thing that's unusual is that Donald Trump has broken -- nearly 50 years of tradition by not being transparent with the American people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you worried at all about retaliation? Another section of that same law gives the president the right to ask for the returns of top Democrats.
KILDEE: The president and the congress have legitimate authority. The question is whether we're using that authority for legitimate purposes. We have a very legitimate public policy question that we are looking at, that's why Chairman Neal has been so careful about this.
Now, let's be clear, we're not asking for these returns to be made public. It's not even clear that other members of the committee, myself included, will ever see any of this information this is specific to Chairman Neal, because he needs this information in order to frame the questions that we're trying to answer and the policies that we are trying to potentially enact.
But, look, anybody who knows Donald Trump should be concerned about his abuse of authority. This wouldn't -- if he were to go down this path, it wouldn't be the only example. I can just speak for myself, and I know Chairman Neal, this is a guy, Chairman Neal that is, who has been criticized for being overly cautious in this matter. And I think he's been right on this, by the way.
This is a legitimate area of public policy and a legitimate inquiry. And the law is clear. Section 6103 says that he can order the tax return. It should be delivered to him. No lawyer for the president should interfere or direct the IRS or the Treasury Department to ignore the law.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let's get an answer now from a lawyer for the president. Thank you both very much.
We're going to bring in now Jay Sekulow, the president's attorney. You just heard the congressman right there, Jay, say, the law is pretty clear. And I have read the law, it does say the IRS shall turn over the returns after a legitimate request from the chairman.
JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP ATTORNEY: And the Supreme Court has said that you can do that if you have a legitimate legislative purpose. And with due respect to the congressman, he said there's been a lack of transparency. He thinks the president should have put forward his tax returns before he announced or when he announced his candidacy for president, which sounds interesting, but unfortunately it's not the law for the United States. We don't have a requirement that presidents do that. This president decided not to because he has an ongoing IRS audit, so that's number one. What is the legitimate legislative purpose?
Number two, is the Supreme Court has said that on multiple occasions that congressional oversight cannot become law enforcement. So this idea that the real reason that the Congress and Chairman Neal has asked for these documents is because they want to know if the IRS is doing its job and auditing the president, well, they could ask the IRS what job are they doing? What are their audit procedures?
But this idea that you can use the IRS as a political weapon, which is what is happening here, is incorrect both as a matter of statutory law and constitutionally. We should not be in a situation where individual’s -- individual private tax returns are used for political purposes. As you just said, George, what stops another party from doing the same thing?
And by the way a lot of these congressman...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the president going to do that?
SEKULOW: No, no. He hasn't. Congress has.
A majority of the -- the majority party in the House has, the president has not. The president has not asked for Nancy Pelosi's tax returns, which, by the way, and it's in the letter that my colleague sent forward on this issue. They have not asked for or now for have produced, they have not produced their tax returns. It's not a requirement that they do, by the way.
So this idea that you're using a hearing, a Ways and Means hearing, about IRS enforcement as a way to get to the president's private individual and business tax returns makes no sense both constitutionally and statutorily. And, look, this I think this is going to be, if necessary, we're not at that point yet, if it has to be litigated, it will be litigated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is the decision of the IRS commissioner. Is the president going the order the IRS commissioner not to turn them over?
SEKULOW: The president isn't ordering anything. What we've done, and I disagree with the congressman here, George, as the president's counsel, we have the right adds the president's counsel we have the right to protect his interests as a private citizen and as president.
And so what you have to look at here is -- the idea that Congress would say, I'm not veryhappy with the way George Stephanopoulos is handling his interviews with various members of my party, I'm going to look at his tax returns, if I was your lawyer, I would be objecting. And by the way, I do have a right to object and my colleagues that authored the letter have the right to reject, and that's exactly what has been done here.
The constitution and the statutes need to be filed. 6103 by the way overall so you know is a confidentiality provision with limited exceptions and again there has to be a legitimate legislative purpose. There is not one here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well as you – as you heard, the congressman said that –
SEKULOW: And by the way – yes, go ahead, sorry.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The congressman said they’re not contemplating releasing it. He said this would just be for the chairman to review. I do want to turn onto the Mueller report –
SEKULOW: Well hold it, George, not contemplating they’re releasing it, they release it, it’s a felony. So of course they can’t release it. I mean so this idea – we’re not contemplating releasing it, they need to read section 6103, 6103 says if a person releases it, it’s a crime.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, they could vote to release it in closed session, but I take your point on that. Let’s move onto the Mueller investigation. It certainly seems from the president’s tweets over the last few days and his comments and those of your colleague Rudy Giuliani that there seems to be some concern that the full report may be more damaging than the summary there.
Do you share that?
SEKULOW: No, because there’s two conclusions that are important here to reiterate, and that is in – in General Barr’s letter, he said I’m only going to discuss the principle conclusions, and what were those principle collusions – conclusions?
No obstruction, no collusion. On the obstruction piece he noted that the Office of Special Counsel said there was difficult – that was their words – questions of law and fact and they would not make the determination.
They’re not saying the president committed a crime, they’re not saying that he was exonerated, which by the way, special counsels don’t exonerate, so I don’t even know why that line’s in there.
But nevertheless it is. So I think what you’re seeing in this discussion about people inside the Special Counsel’s office that are concerned is the – if this is true that they’re actually members of that team leaking their concerns about the way things have been phrased to the public, I think is problematic, number one.
But number two, look, they probably had legitimate disagreements inside the Department of Justice on how things should move forward one way or another, and the fact is that, you know, obstruction by tweet, which was one of the theories being advocated here I never took as a basis for obstruction.
And by the way, neither did the Special Counsel evidently because their report says they’re not making that conclusion and they said difficult questions of law and fact, and when you have difficult questions of law and fact, you know what you don’t do?
You don’t recommend prosecution.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well we don’t know exactly what they did recommend, we’re going to see that perhaps in the next week. But does the president still support the full release, the release of the full Mueller report and the underlying documents?
SEKULOW: Look, the president has said he turns this over to the attorney general, the attorney general pursuant to the regulations, George, makes the determination as to what’s released, how it’s released, you have the whole issue as you noted earlier with the grand jury material, you have that.
That has to be redacted, you can’t release grand jury material, that is also a felony. You have situations where people may have been looked at but not charged, that would be inappropriate, that was some of the criticism that was leveled at James Comey.
And then of course you’ve got methods regarding national security interests. So I’m – there’s a process going forward, I think it’s moving quickly, I mean the attorney general got out his letter, putting forward the principle conclusions very quickly.
He said you’ll have it by the 15th or sooner. That’s why I find it ironic that people are talking about subpoenas already for the document when we’re probably less than a week away or about a week away from getting them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: From some of the documents. Final question on Michael Cohen, we heard the congressman address that issue, in a memo that his attorneys had a accompanying that letter to the Congress, they – they point out evidence they believe shows evidence that he put forward of wrongdoing by the president and his allies.
One of them included this paragraph. It said Trump knew with certainty that Cohen continued to discuss the Moscow Trump Tower project well beyond January 31st, 2016. Yet after the testimony, Cohen received a call from Trump’s attorney who congratulated him on the testimony and said his client was happy with Cohen’s testimony.
They put this under the heading of suborning perjury that was part of an effort to suborn perjury. Were you that attorney and how do you respond?
SEKULOW: Well look, George, I’m not going to discuss communications that may or may not have happened with any of us within the context of a joint defense. But let me be clear on something here, Michael Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said that it was Michael Cohen that drafted that particular aspect of – he drafted his entire testimony, including the timing of the reported project in Russia. So it was his words, he wouldn’t know if they were truthful or not.
No one else would have had that information.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’re not – you’re not denying that you might have been that attorney who made the phone call?
SEKULOW: I – I am – there is no lawyer that’s going to come on your program and discuss what may or may not have been discussed within the context of a possible joint defense. That’s just not going to happen. No lawyer would do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Jay Sekulow, thanks very much.
SEKULOW: And I’m certainly one of those lawyers that would not. Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for your time this morning. Coming up, Joe Biden facing his first test of 2020 and he’s not even a candidate yet, the Round Table weighs in next.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: I just want you to know I had permission to hug Lonnie. I --
BIDEN: By the way, he gave me permission to touch him.
BIDEN: It wasn't my intent to make light of anyone's discomfort. I realize my responsibility is to not invade the space of anyone who is uncomfortable.
REPORTER: But there’s some who’d want to hear directly, I am sorry. Are you sorry?
BIDEN: I'm sorry I didn't understand more. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything that I have ever done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Biden on Friday, been dealing with this issue all week long, women coming forward to say he touched them in ways that wasn’t sexual but also was not welcome. Going to talk about this on our roundtable with ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Cokie Roberts, Lanhee Chen, former policy director for the Romney 2012 campaign, now fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, and Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America.
Cokie, let me begin with you. Clearly the vice president struggled to deal with this all week long and it seems like the whole political culture is trying to figure out exactly what to make of this.
COKIE ROBERTS, ABC NEWS: How to handle it. Look, if -- if he runs for president, which I think he will, it’s going to break his heart. Because he's not going to be able to be Joe Biden. And that is the thing that is most appealing about him, is how genuine he is, what a regular guy he is. But he -- every time he tries to be himself he's getting himself in more trouble. And it really is a generational problem because a lot of young women think this is just creepy and don't like it a bit and -- and then when he tries to laugh about it, which is of course the way those of us of a certain age have gotten through life, you know, we’ve all had big tragedies in our lives and we get through it by humor. And that’s certainly true of Joe Biden.
But if he's not allowed to do that, it’s going to make his life absolutely miserable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And perhaps make him a less authentic candidate.
ROBERTS: Right. Exactly right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Or feel like he is. But Matt, addressing that question, I mean clearly the women who came forward feel very strongly --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- about -- about all this. It's hard for us in the media to figure out how to put it all in perspective, what kind of proportion to deal with it.
MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Well I think that’s a huge part of the problem in the course of this because I think what happens is, is there's no nuance in any this and it all gets conflated, and on the spectrum of things of invading your space and unwelcome sort of invasions of space and then sexual harassment -- which I find it --
ROBERTS: Or assault.
DOWD: -- exceedingly ironic that the president even come close to wanting to weigh in on this. But we have an inability to sort of measure this across the spectrum that there are certain things -- and what punishment should apply in politically in those, that all the same thing, shouldn't be applied the same punishment all this. The other part of this is I think it’s -- it's incumbent in this time to -- that -- to allow the vice president, who knows that he -- what he's done in the past, he's not in the -- in the -- he’s not in frame where he meets the moment right now, is -- is that he says he understands what he did, he says he will change but we don't allow anybody to even pause or think about it.
And I think the test for Joe Biden -- and go back to the moment -- I think the test for him, if he gets in this race and this is one of those tests, is -- is the measurement he will be judged on is the metric of can he meet this moment. Because this is a politician that was born before -- I mean, that started serving before technology, before the fax machine, before cable news. And can he meet this moment?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this generational?
YVETTE SIMPSON, CEO, DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA: You know, no. I mean, I -- I want to take it a slightly different direction. You know, if life is 10 percent what you do and 90 percent how you respond, he failed the response part. Right? He couldn't control the first part, right? Because he didn't expect it. But the idea women would come forward and say, you made me feel uncomfortable, I think most would have liked to have seen was for him to say, I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable. Right? Even if that wasn't his intention. Because in this day and age it’s not necessarily about that, it’s about owning up to the fact that you offended someone. And actually, he could have been a model here to say, you know what? I did grow up in a different generation and it’s not OK and we're in a new model now and I’m going to, like, show you the way.
Right? And I was looking for that from him because I -- you know, you know him to be sincere and the fact that he made light of it only made it worse.
LANHEE CHEN, FORMER CAMPAIGN POLICY DIRECTOR, ROMNEY-RYAN 2012 CAMPAIGN: Yes, the question, I think, to Cokie's point is, you’ve got a 20th century candidate running in what will be a 21st century cycle. Can he make that transition? But more importantly, if you look at the response, the way his team handled the response, I sort of question what kind of campaign they're going to run. Right?
CHEN: Because he comes out and he says, well I’m sorry, then we’ll do a video, then I’ll come out and I’ll make a joke but then the joke wasn't well received, so I'll come out again and I’ll apologize again. The whole thing seems rather ham-handed to me. So the bigger question, just in the politics of 2020 going forward is how is Joe Biden going to perform as a candidate? How is his team going to perform as a candidate?
ROBERTS: And this all reminds you of his age. It all adds up to the fact that he's 76 years old. And, you know, that is -- that’s a huge problem for him. Because the polling is slight, but the polling that's been done basically says that voters are more concerned about a candidate being old than a candidate being very young, and there are some very young Democratic candidates.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other thing that’s revealed, Matthew Dowd, as we were just talking about, the Democrats and Republicans dealing with these sorts of issues -- and I use that as a very wide umbrella here -- in very, very different ways. The president's tweet inserting himself in this issue. We’ve seen that Republicans have closed ranks after allegations have come forward. Democrats have looked to push -- push people out.
ROBERTS: Except in Virginia.
DOWD: Yes, well this is -- this is -- I think this is I think one of the incredible contrasts, I think. I mean, obviously this kind of behavior crosses all political bounds and all that and we -- we -- we should condemn any of this but again, I think we should also look at things and what level of punishment or what that condemnation is based upon the spectrum of this.
But I think one of the things this has revealed is that the Democrats are willing to hold their tribe accountable for behavior. Instead of just saying, we’re going to point our finger, point our finger, point at the other side, they're willing to hold their -- and they've done it on any number of issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Strength or weakness, though?
SIMPSON: Strength. I mean, at the end of the day Trump has modeled what not to do, right. Having a party that rallies behind a candidate and a president who has offended nearly every demographic, has been horrible on women, and has the nerve to challenge Joe Biden. You know, the Democrats are not asking for perfection at all, we're saying, when you make a mistake, own up to it, and pledge to change.
CHEN: It's a different Democratic Party than even when Joe Biden ran for vice president with Barack Obama in 2008, certainly a different Democratic Party than when Joe Biden served in the United States Senate. And I think that reality is going to catch up to him. And I think that is a big challenge.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the challenge for Joe Biden, but are Republicans closing off awhole generation of women here?
CHEN: Yeah, I do worry about, not just women, by the way, I think there's a lot of other demographics that Republicans are potentially struggling with.
But the challenge I think for Republicans going forward is how do they prosecute this case, potentially, against Joe Biden, given some of the challenges that they're seeing that they have to deal with.
ROBERTS: There are more guys named Greg and Mike in the Republican caucus than there are women, that's a problem.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a fact.
ROBERTS: It's a fact.
DOWD: I think in this time, we have all talked about the polarization and the great tribalization, but if we're going to really change, then the community that exists within a tribe, and we're a tribal country, we have been one for 240 years, is that you have to be able to confront the people in your own tribe.
Change only happens from within the community. And Republicans, it's not just on women, and it's not just on minorities, it's on any number of issues. They close ranks. They're unwilling to confront the people in their own tribe, which means, to me, that the Republican Party is not going to fundamentally change until leaders in their own party confront people in their own party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, one of the things we saw this week, President Trump saying he wants to nominate Herman Cain, whose campaign collapsed after sexual harassment allegations, for the Fed.
SIMPson: The 9-9-9 Herman Cain? You know, it's challenging. I mean, add it to the file of Donald Trump appointing people who don't have the right experience to the right position. I mean, I think it's real challenging. And it shows that he's operating politically. He's already thinking about the future rather than thinking about the integrity of a very important department in our country. And so I was shocked, but not surprised, unfortunately, about that appointment.
I think at this time, it's more important to make sure that appointments are, you know, are validated -- Herman Cain? I just want to leave it there, Herman Cain for federal reserve. It makes no sense to me.
CHEN: I worked for a candidate who ran in a primary against Herman Cain. The question is not in my mind Herman Cain's qualifications. I mean, he actually has been at a Federal Reserve bank. I think he understands these issues, the question is around the independence of the Federal Reserve, and do we want the president of the United States saying, hey, you know, Fed, you need to juice this a little bit, you need to juice the economy a little bit, that's the challenge...
ROBERTS: And presidents have been frustrated with the Fed forever. I mean, it's hardly new for a president to be frustrated.
But they don't generally respond in this fashion.
DOWD: Well, the combination of the nomination, potential nomination of Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, I mean, Lanhee would probably have freshman students in their economics class that are more qualified than Stephen Moore and Herman Cain to be in those positions.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll take a quick break. More roundtable later in the show up next. The unlikely 2020 candidate who is earning his way to the debate stage with one big idea. Andrew Yang is here live.
STEPHANOPOULOS: 2020 Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang is up next and all week long, you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. We’ll be right back.
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ANDREW YANG, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m Andrew Yang, I’m a serial entrepreneur, I’m not a politician …
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Meet Andrew Yang, you may not have heard of him before but the 44 year old tech exec has been running for president since 2017 on one big idea, universal basic income. He calls it the freedom dividend.
YANG: Imagine being able to look your teenage son or daughter in the – in the eye and say starting at age 18 you will receive $1,000 a month from your country, because your country loves you, your country values you and you are just as American as everyone else.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yang says it’s the best solution to future job loss from automation and artificial intelligence and he’s gaining traction thanks to an eclectic and growing army of supporters online.
YANG: This is truly democracy in action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just this week he announced over 80,000 campaign donors, crossing a DNC threshold for the first debate in June.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And Andrew Yang is here live this morning, welcome to "This Week". So if you make it onto that stage, what is going to be your argument for why you’re best qualified to take the White House?
YANG: Well we have to solve the problems that got Donald Trump elected in 2016, and to me the main driver of his victory was that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, the swing states you needed to win.
We’re in the third inning of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of the country, and we need to evolve to the next form of our economy in order for Americans to have a path forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of your solutions is universal basic income, $12,000 to every American adult. So first off, why should well-off people like you and me get $12,000 a year from the government?
YANG: Well this has been in place in one state, Alaska, for almost 40 years, where it’s universal, everyone in the state gets between $1,000 and $2,000 a year from oil money. And because it’s universal, there’s no stigma attached, it’s not a rich to poor transfer and it’s wildly popular in a conservative state.
So what we have to do is we have to make it a right of citizenship for all Americans and do what they are doing in Alaska with oil money with technology money for all – for everyone around the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They had that surplus, this is going to cost $2 trillion to $3 trillion, more than half the federal government’s current spending. So how are you going to pay for it?
YANG: Well if you look around, who are going to be the biggest winners from A.I. and new technologies? It’s going to be Amazon, Google, Facebook and we all can see that Amazon paid $0 in federal taxes last year.
So what we have to do is we have to join every other advanced economy and have a value added tax that would fall on the Amazons of the world. And because our economy is now so vast that $20 trillion, up $5 trillion in the last 12 years, a value added tax at even half the European level would generate over $800 billion in new revenue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The value added tax could end up hurting people at the lower end of the income scale, you also want to consolidate welfare programs and the $1,000 would make up – would be offset against any other federal benefits people get.
So couldn’t that end up helping – helping well-off people much more than those at the lower end of the income scale?
YANG: You know, the – people at the top end of the – the income scale consume a lot more, and you can actually make the VAT so it falls more heavily on luxury goods as opposed to consumer staples.
So the – the way for us to get this money is really to go to where the money is, and where the money is is in the hands of the Amazons and the Googles and Facebooks of the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You also have come out for pardoning all non-violent drug offenders, here you are at the National Action Network this week.
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YANG: And I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent drug related offense. I would pardon them all on April 20th, 2021 and I would high five them on the way out of jail.
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That include cocaine dealers, opioid dealers?
YANG: Well one of the things we have to do is we have to confront the opioid epidemic, the plague in our country. Eight Americans are dying of drug overdoses every hour. So I would decriminalize opioids, but in that particular segment I was referring to marijuana related drug offenses specifically.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So only marijuana, not all non-violent drug offenders.
YANG: Yes, that’s correct.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Another – you’ve also mentioned Facebook and Amazon, they’ve done – been winners in this economy. I spoke with Mark Zuckerberg this week and he’s now come out and it’s something you write about in your book, he’s now come out for some government regulation of Facebook. Let’s take a look.
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MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: It’s not clear to me after working on this for a few years now, that we want a private company to be making that kind of a fundamental decision about, you know, what is political speech and how should that be regulated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And how do you respond though to some who say, but wait a second, that’s your responsibility, it’s your platform, it’s your company?
ZUCKERBERG: Well I think broadly we would say that that setting the rules around political advertising is not a company’s job. Right, I mean there have been plenty of rules in the past, it’s just at this point they’re not updated to the modern threats that we face.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: I see you nodding your head, kind of surprised to see Mark Zuckerberg calling for regulation, but you say that we – that we should go even farther and have a department – an entire department overseeing social media?
YANG: Yes, department of the attention economy, because the data clearly shows that in addition to the problems in our democracy because people are getting information through social media, we’re also seeing a huge surge in a depression, anxiety and emotional issues, particularly among adolescent girls.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He was saying that that -- that research isn’t that clear. You disagree?
YANG: Yes, I disagree. I mean, the data is very clear and if you look you see that the surge in anxiety and depression among teenage girls in particular is coincident with smartphone adoption and social media.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things that -- that has been a surprise in your campaign is some of the support you’ve -- you’ve been getting from members of the alt-right and white supremacists like Richard Spencer. Here he was on a podcast.
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RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE SUPREMACIST: Now we have Andrew Yang, who’s -- who’s conventionally liberal on a whole host of issues but who will offer us a thousand bucks a month. Trump offer us -- offers us, you know, bluster and [ bleep ] and no -- and no dollars per month, Andrew Yang comes in and offers us this. Why don't we just get in on the Yang gang?
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STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you said you don’t want support from white supremacists, but do you understand why they're drawn to you and -- and do you need to do more separate from them?
YANG: Well, you know what? I’ve completely disavowed any support from anyone who holds to some sort of hateful or racist ideology. I mean, I’m the son of immigrants myself and that’s antithetical to what I believe. But I do want to stay focused on trying to solve the problems of the American people and we are destroying many, many communities' paths forward in the 21st century. 30 percent of malls are going to close in the next four years because of Amazon sucking up $20 billion in commerce each year. And working in retail is still the most common job in our economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you translate this online support you’ve been getting into votes?
YANG: Well the great thing, George, is that, you know, I'm already polling nationally at one percent to three percent depending upon the poll and most people have still never heard of me. So as more people hear about me and my message and my vision for a trickle-up economy from people and families and communities up, our support will keep on going. I’ve a CNN town hall next Sunday that’s going to be a great opportunity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Andrew Yang, thanks for coming in this morning.
YANG: Oh it’s been a pleasure. Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: More roundtable coming up. We'll be right back.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We’ll be the party of healthcare. Republicans should not run away from healthcare. You can't do it. We're going keep the Senate and we're going to keep the presidency and we're going to bring back the House. So essentially what I’m saying is we're going to come up with a healthcare plan, we're not going to vote on it until after the election, we'll all promise it's going to be our first vote. Because we blew it the last time.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And we're back with the roundtable right now. I want to start with Lanhee Chen here. You’re a healthcare expert. But we saw a little bit of a pattern this week from the president. One, he had first said -- you know, he came out, he had his administration join the court case trying to overturn Obamacare, said they were going to vote on it right away, come up with a new plan, Mitch McConnell says no, also wants to close the border, members of Congress go nuts on that as well, the economic community goes nuts, he backs off that. Are these -- does he want these issues to be front and center in the next campaign?
CHEN: Well I -- I think he wants immigration to be front and center. I think that’s an issue he feels like will benefit him because it galvanizes his base of support and -- and it’s been the signature issue for him --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Even if he doesn't have the solutions?
CHEN: That is I think less consequential. I mean, he -- he’s going to get out there and say, look, I’ve built the wall, I've continued to fight for border security, he's going to make the case on immigration.
Healthcare’s a little tougher to figure out but I think in the long run, saying that Republicans need to get together on this is actually not a bad thing. I think it's a catalyzing thing in a lot of ways. Obviously, Mitch McConnell didn't feel the Republicans were ready to do it, but fundamentally pushing Republicans on health care I don't think is a bad thing.
ROBERTS: Well, except that everybody is going to say what's your plan? And people are going to be -- if, in fact, the court does overturn Obamacare, a lot of people will be without health care. And then what are the Republicans going to say?
CHEN: But better to have that discussion now than two or three years from now when it happens. And I think that's the point is it's better, at least now, to force members of Congress and his own administration, frankly, to decide what they want to do than wait.
ROBERTS: They don’t know what they want to do.
DOWD: The problem the president has, you said even if he doesn't have a solution, Donald Trump likes to talk about these things, because he doesn't have a solution, because there's nothing firm in this. There was a test case for just this campaign on immigration, on the wall, and on health care.
STEPHANOPOULOS: 2018 midterms.
DOWD: Just happened, midterms, and Democrats won it by 10 million votes, an historic margin, and almost every single close race in the House was decided on what Trump was doing at the border and on health care, and both of it went against the Republicans.
I don't think the president is -- ultimately wants to run on health care. He going to -- as Lanhee said, he wants to run on immigration. The problem for him is it impacts about a third of is -- about a third of the country loves that, but a huge majority of the country doesn't.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He may want to run against Medicare for All, call it socialized medicine. But I think Democrats were kind of salivating when they heard the president saying health care will be the center of the campaign.
SIMPSON: Oh, absolutely, let's have that conversation, because as, you know, my fellow panelists has said he has no plan, and he has no credibility. I mean, when they had both chambers of Congress, they did nothing but try to destroy the health care plan that we had. And so the idea that he cares now about the health care and the lives of Americans is not true. I mean, he was touting at the State of the Union, a child who had to do a GoFundMe for cancer, that's the Republican plan for health care right now. And meanwhile, he's mocking the fact that many Americans right now are facing bankruptcy under the weight of rising medical costs.
So, we want to have that conversation, because Medicare for All is a better solution, and we want to figure out what the Republicans really think about it rather than characterizing it under this umbrella of socialism.
ROBERTS: If I were the Democrats, I would spend this Congress not investigating the president, but investigating all the things this administration is doing to weaken our health and safety laws. The environment is just being allowed to be polluted, drilling off our coasts, food safety.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You can do both, can't you?
ROBERTS: You can do both, but I would emphasize the things that affect people's daily lives much more.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Barack Obama, former president Barack Obama, weighing in on the Democratic debate over these divisions over things like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. He spoke in Berlin yesterday.
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BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Among progressives in the United States we start sometimes creating what's called a circular firing squad where -- you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity. And when that happens, typically, the overall effort and movement weakens.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: It's a pretty strong warning there to a very large Democratic field.
DOWD: I think he's right to make a preemptive warning. But from my observation of the Democrats right now, there's a lot of big ideas that are being presented. It's not been personalized in a way that you could think would do lasting harm.
I think actually right now, it's a healthy debate. And it seems the division, which I actually think is a representative of the kind of leaders we need, are the people that push the art of the impossible, or sort of the big idea that they know it's going to take some time to get there, and the people that say we need to do what is practical and be able to get the things done. And I actually think that conversation, he's right to weigh in and say, don't let it go too far, but debating big ideas is a good thing.
SIMPSON: Well, I think the irony of President Obama's statement, which, you know, love Michelle Obama, love President Obama, is that he was the hope and change candidate. He was the organizer who talked about becoming a, you know, a representative in Chicago, becoming a senator, and then the president. And the very individuals who are representing now are -- were inspired by him.
And so they are the hope and change of now. They are the ones who rose up after Trump and decided regular, everyday Americans to run for Congress. And frankly, to put a wet blanket on that doesn't seem right to me when, frankly, most Americans believe have the same values.
So, shared values for Medicare for All, believe we need to do something right now. And they support many of these candidates that he's talking about as dividing the party. You need that energy in your party.
CHEN: This is what primaries are about. Primaries are about fighting on very narrow turf. How are you going to distinguish on very narrow turf? You either distinguish on matters of character and politics or on matters of policy. And what we're seeing now is policy distinction.
Look, there are some Democrats out there fighting for Medicare for All system, which will destroy our health care system. That's fine...
SIMPSON: I would disagree with that.
CHEN: They're free to do that.
But then there are others who are saying, look, let's reaffirm the Affordable Care Act. In a similar way, you have some pushing for aggressive regulation of tech, like Elizabeth Warren. You've got big ideas, like this universal basic income idea that Andrew Yang was talking about. So there are big ideas out there but I think the ideas contrast is actually a really healthy one for the Democratic party to be having. And …
ROBERTS: And so long as they don’t …
CHEN: … It’s natural.
ROBERTS: Again, as long as they don’t depart from issues people care about. I mean, talking about getting rid of the electoral college, talking about getting rid of filibusters, talking about all kinds of things that are just not …
SIMPSON: Inside politics (ph).
ROBERTS: Exactly, they don’t affect you.
DOWD: I actually disagree with that because I actually think the path to get to the big ideas has to begin with some government reform in a system that no longer is functional. I mean, our democracy is fundamentally broken when 70 percent of the ideas that the American public support can’t get through. But I think the thing about the Democratic primary, it’s going to be nonlinear. And the idea that anybody can predict today that Bernie Sanders or Biden – it’s not – there’s no predictability.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is such a good point. One of the things we’re seeing, every candidate is having their moment. This week is Mayor Pete’s – Mayor Pete’s moment. He’s sort of rising up. Kamala Harris has had a moment. We can expect that everyone, as they come forward with these ideas, is going to get some attention.
SIMPSON: Lots of ebb and flow, right, as the American people …
SIMPSON: … Get to challenge the ideals of these people, look at their history. I mean, this is going to be a very long primary and, actually, I think it’s a good thing. I mean, for the progressive side of our party, the idea that we can challenge these – these candidates and find out where they really stand on the issues that matter, and are they going to fight – not only to make sure that we win against Trump but fight for the ideals that matter to most Americans; like healthcare, education, you know, income inequality. Very important issues that matter …
CHEN: The – the metrics, at the end of the day, you know, we’re going to get to next March and there will be a few Democrats standing. And the metrics that we use, who’s got a good message, who’s able to raise money, who’s got good organization on the ground? You know, who’s out there deploying and getting people …
DOWD: The debates are really going to matter.
ROBERTS: They are going to matter …
CHEN: They’re – they’re going to matter and those conventional metrics, I mean, as much as we talk about a different kind of campaign cycle, those metrics, those traditional metrics are still going to matter.
ROBERTS: But if you’ve got – people actually have to start voting. That is the only way we’re going to know what’s going to happen here, is to see what the voters do. And that’s going to start happening, you know, pretty soon.
DOWD: But there is going to be attention. I mean, the real tension is there’s going to be people pushing big ideas but, ultimately, the majority of the Democratic party wants to beat Donald Trump. And the question becomes, is – can you – can somebody match those two things together. Because you talk about Joe Biden, Joe Biden looks like the best, or a good general election candidate against Donald Trump, but Duke might be able to beat Virginia in a final. But they have to beat Michigan State in a pre-game and that’s …
… What Joe Biden has to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it going to be – at some point – a lot of Democrats saying we can’t have someone who called himself a socialist be the nominee.
SIMPSON: Absolutely not. I mean, I think we’re in a new wave, right? So, people are really trying to figure out who’s best positioned to not only beat Donald Trump, which I think a person who also supports these ideals can, so to answer your question, but also, like, who’s going to really make change? People are fed up, frankly. They – they …
ROBERTS: But they weren’t so …
SIMPSON: They’re fed up with …
ROBERTS: They – independent – 75 percent of independents say that they are uncomfortable with the word socialist or anybody who’s – embraces socialism …
SIMPSON: But at the end of the day, it’s not about what you call it, right? Give me my healthcare (ph) …
CHEN: It’s what Donald Trump will call it.
DOWD: Progressive policies – progressive policies can win. Being branded as a socialist is problematic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is going to have to be the last word for today. And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve in sacrifice.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: In the month of March, four service members died overseas supporting operations in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: 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.