'This Week' Transcript 1-6-19: Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Liz Cheney and Julián Castro

PHOTO: House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney speaks during a press conference in the Will Rogers corridor in the Capitol, Jan. 4, 2019.PlayBill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
WATCH Trump shut down government to break promise that Mexico pays for wall: Top Dem

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, Jan. 6, 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: New year, new world in Washington.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: Nancy Pelosi, I extend to you this gavel.

(APPLAUSE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats take control of the House, take on the president.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D) MICHIGAN: President Trump has met his match.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D) GEORGIA: The people spoke.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D) TEXAS: A new day has dawned.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Both sides dug in as the shutdown enters its third week.

TRUMP: Call it whatever you want, the Schumer or the Pelosi or the Trump shutdown, it doesn't make any difference to me.

PELOSI: We're not doing a wall. Does anybody have any doubt that we are not doing a wall?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are these first days of divided government just a taste of things to come? Which side will blink? And after Robert Mueller's report, will the Democrats' calls for impeachment grind everything else to a halt?

We talk to two new power brokers in the House, the new chair of armed services Adam Smith and the newest member of the House GOP leadership, Liz Cheney.

And...

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: It is time to dream big, fight hard...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Elizabeth Warren jumps into the 2020 race. Could Julián Castro be next? He joins us live. Plus, our Powerhouse Roundtable.

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 a new year on This Week. As we start this new year, President Trump is facing a new reality in Washington, dealing with divided government for the first time. Consequences just starting to play out with new investigations coming in the House, Robert Mueller preparing his report, and the watch word right now: stalemate.

Day 16 of the government shutdown. No deal in sight to get 800,000 federal workers back to work and paid. The border wall promise that fueled Donald Trump's campaign has now stalled the government he leads.

Placeholder talks at the White House on Saturday made no progress, and another meeting set later today. One big question on the table, will President Trump defy congress by declaring a national emergency and ordering the military to build the wall he vowed Mexico would pay for?

Let's take that now to one of Washington's newer power brokers, the incoming chair of the House armed services committee, Adam Smith of Washington. Congressman, thank you for joining us this morning.

Let's get right to it, does President Trump have the ability, have the authority, to declare a national emergency, have the military build his wall?

REP. ADAM SMITH, (D) WASHINGTON: Well, unfortunately, the short answer is yes. There is a provision in law that says the president can declare an emergency. It's been done a number of times. But primarily it's been done to build facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency? You have to establish that in order to do this. But beyond that, this would be a terrible use of Department of Defense dollars. The president spends most of his time talking about how we're not spending enough on national security, now he wants to take $20 billion out of the defense budget to build a wall, which by the way is not going to improve our border security. The president seems unaware of this, but we have actually already built a wall across much of the border, and all border security experts that I talk to say, where a wall makes sense, it's already been built.

We should have a conversation about national security -- sorry, about border security, but first we should we open the government and start paying our border patrol agents and the other 800,000 federal employees who are furloughed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw the chief of staff, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney now say he is willing to give on a concrete wall, he wants it to be steel instead. Are they giving you something you can work with there?

SMITH: No. I mean, because the president really doesn't understand the issue -- and actually that was a great, great quote from Mulvaney from a couple of years ago, where he said, you know, he was critical of then candidate Trump's comments about a wall saying, look, a wall is sort of a childish response to the problem.

If you understand what's happened in border security -- we have like quintupled the border security budget in the last 15 years. And by the way, it's been fairly effective. But we have invested in patrol agents. We've invested in drones and airplanes and sensors, in technology. A concrete barrier is not going to automatically stop people from coming.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Democrats have supported some barriers and the president is out tweeting this morning. He said -- he is quoting President Barack Obama -- Senator Barack Obama in 2005. "We simply cannot allow to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked."

And then "I voted when I was Senator to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in," that's Hillary Clinton.

So, you voted for barriers in the past, so any concern that this hard line is going to backfire?

SMITH: Well, no because that's the point, the wall is not in itself a bad idea, it's just -- it's been done. And what the president has not done is he has not made the case that on the portions of the border where a wall has not been built, how is a wall going to actually enhance border security? There is no evidence whatsoever that that's necessary, and yet he is willing to shut down the government and stop paying border patrol agents, and, in many cases, you know, stop all the efforts that we have made to enhance border security over a campaign promise. And a campaign promise, as you pointed out, that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s --

SMITH: He is shutting down the government to break his signature campaign promise.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about --

SMITH: His signature campaign promise was that the taxpayers weren’t going to have to pay for it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about the broader agenda. You said you want to hold hearings in the Armed Services Committee on the President Trump’s politicization of the military. What does that mean exactly and who will you call?

SMITH: Well, what we’ve seen is when the president talks -- I mean he has campaign rallies when he -- when he’s talking to troops. I don't think you should use the military to advance your agenda. Every other president before this when they’ve worked with the military, when they’re talked to the troops, it's been about national security, it's been about their services -- their service. Sorry. But when President Trump talks, it's about his campaign, about how bad the Democrats are.

You know, we need civilian control of the military and we need to separate those things. But the main thing that I want to focus on in the hearings that we have coming up once we get our committee set is transparency and oversight. You know, why did the president send 5,600 troops -- active duty troops to the border? What was the purpose of it? What is his policy in Syria and Afghanistan as he’s now talking about pulling out? There’s been a lack of transparency and an explanation for what his national security strategy is.

We want to make sure that the officials at the Pentagon and the White House let Congress know and that we work together to develop a coherent national security strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned Syria. We all know that the former defense secretary, James Mattis, General Mattis resigned in protest in part of the Syrian decision, also made it clear he can no longer go along with the president's approach of treating our allies and dealing with our adversaries. Will you call former Secretary Mattis?

SMITH: I would like to. Now, I -- I understand and I respect that a president has a right to private counsel from his top advisers. I'm not going to call former Secretary Mattis to say, you know, what did the president say about this, what did he do about that? But Secretary Mattis is one of the most knowledgeable, capable experts we have on defense policy and foreign policy.

His views on what we should be doing around the world would be invaluable for members of our committee. So we’d love to get his perspective on a wide variety of issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what should we be doing in Syria right now? The president announced he wanted to withdraw, but we just saw the national security advisor John Bolton today say that the United States now is not going to withdraw our troops until Turkey promises to protect the Kurds, until we're certain that ISIS is defeated. Do you know what the policy is right now and do you support it?

SMITH: I don't think anybody knows what the policy is right now. That's part of the problem and what I think Secretary Mattis did a decent job. Our allies matter enormously, and the president treats them like dirt. He insults them regularly, does not consult them, makes radical decisions via Twitter and then changes his mind the next day. Look, the world is big and complicated. The U.S. is not able to do everything on our own. We need allies, we need people to support us.

He’s -- he’s alienated them across the board. And in Syria, the two points that John Bolton made are obvious. Those are the two biggest concerns we have. We don't want ISIS to rise again and be a transnational terrorist threat and we don't want our allies, the Kurds, to be slaughtered by Erdogan in Turkey. I mean, that -- that -- that was obvious how many ever weeks ago it was when President Trump apparently on a whim tweeted out, we're getting out of Syria.

So, you know, I’m pleased that John Bolton has recognized the national security interest, but that’s what we want to have on the Armed Services Committee, not a tweet going, eh, let's get out of Syria. Let's have a discussion about all the different pieces that are necessary to meet U.S. National security interests and make an informed decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, let's talk about impeachment. A couple of your Democratic colleagues have already filed articles of impeachment in the House. We also saw your new colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: I stand by impeaching the president of the United States. I ran on that. It’s probably exactly how my grandmother, if she was alive, would say it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the cleaned up version of what she said to -- to move on. What was your reaction to that, and are you concerned that Democrats may be pushing this too far too fast?

SMITH: I don't think we're pushing it too far too fast. The congresswoman represents a constituency that has every -- every right to be angry at President Trump. And many politicians throughout the history -- in fact, I think Vice President Cheney very famously used a similar word to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the United States Senate. People get passionate about their politics, so I don't think it makes a great deal of difference exactly how she said it.

I wouldn't have said it that way, but the most important point here is impeachment is an unbelievably serious undertaking. No president has ever been removed from office. And if you do this, you are -- you are substituting the judgment of the voters for the judgment of Congress. Now, if the crimes are serious enough it needs to be done, but we need to be very deliberate, very serious and very careful about how we do this, mindful that the president will not be removed from office unless -- unless 67 senators affirm or convict on the impeachment. So we need to see Mueller’s report and we need to make a very, very strong case if there is one to be made. This is not something that should be rushed or done hastily. But it’s a serious obligation of Congress. If the president has committed the crimes that we’ve seen considerable evidence that he has committed, we need to take that seriously. But it’s something that – we’re going to have to wait for Mueller’s report and do it in a serious way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman, thanks for your time this morning. Let’s bring in now the new chair of the House Republican Congress, Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Congresswoman, thanks for joining us this morning. You just heard your colleague invoke your father in this debate over vulgarity and impeachment. And I know you’ve said this, that some of the rhetoric you’ve seen over the last week shows the Democrats are radical and out of touch but do you think this is something you all can push successfully given the president’s own record?

CHENEY: Hey, George, well thanks for having me on. You know, I think that the key thing about what we heard from the congresswoman this week is the fact that she’s very focused on a politically motivated impeachment. I think what Adam Smith was saying in terms of the seriousness of impeachment is absolutely true. So I think we’ve got to all look at exactly what the Democrats plan to do here.

You know, you had Speaker Pelosi in her remarks accepting the speakership, talk about the importance of working across the aisle to get things done. And then just a mere few hours later you had video of Congresswoman Tlaib. So look, I think that at the end of the day they need to understand and recognize that impeachment is not a political thing, it never should be, that it tears at the very fabric of our constitution if it is.

And to be pronouncing on that issue just having been sworn in without having any evidence at all can’t be anything but political. So I think that’s the key thing in terms of what we saw over the course of the last few days.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about the shutdown. You just heard Congressman Smith say that he does believe the president does have the power, the legal authority to declare a national emergency, have the military build the wall. Should he invoke it?

CHENEY: You know, nobody wants him to invoke it and I don’t believe the president wants to invoke it. We all hoped, frankly, that once Speaker Pelosi had secured the votes to become speaker on the floor that her willingness to negotiate would be more evident, that she would be willing to come to the table to do what’s right for the American people. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last few days is she’s very much just completely captive to the far left of her party.

So where I was interested to hear my colleague on the Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Smith talk about the fact that there already is a wall, that’s a very different point than the one that Speaker Pelosi continues to make which is that a wall is immoral.

What we believe in the Republican side of the House is, what’s immoral is not to secure our borders, not to protect the people of this nation. The president has no more important obligation, those of us who are elected officials in Congress have no more important obligation, we absolutely have got to secure the borders. And at this point, the Democrats continue to play games.

We had -- there were meetings yesterday where Secretary Nielsen was able to lay out the security concerns at the border, the very real security concerns -- drugs, crime, human trafficking -- and we’re hopeful. There’s going to be another meeting again today but -- but we’ve got to see the games stop. And this is not an issue of, you know, who’s doing what and who has the upper hand. The border has got to be secure that’s what …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and -- and -- you…

CHENEY: … the American people want to see and they want the partisanship to end.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … and you -- you -- you saw Congressman Smith say that they’ve -- he believes the Democrats have paid attention to border security. How do you answer his broader point that the president is asking the American taxpayers to pay for a campaign promise he broke that Mexico would pay for the wall?

CHENEY: You know, the president has talked about that. The president has talked about the extent to which we’re going to see increased economic benefit from the renegotiated trade agreements with Mexico. But I’m sure that the Democrats are not taking the position that we should sit by and do nothing. I can’t believe that that’s the position that they plan to take to the voters.

So I -- I think, especially when you look at the fact that in the past many of them including their current leadership have voted for a barrier, for a wall, for border security, have bragged about the fact that they’ve done that, there’s no question that when you’ve got caravans, when you’ve got illegal immigrants, when you’ve got our Border Patrol agents being attacked, when you’ve got our Border Patrol agents asking for enhanced security at the border including a wall, including barriers, that’s what we ought to be doing. And we really need to stop playing these political games and just get it done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they would -- they would say they’re ready to approve at least $1 billion in border security. It does seem that there’s, right now, some breaks in the Republican ranks. Three Republican senators have now said they want the government to open first and then you can continue negotiations. Your own colleague in the House, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick says it’s Congress’ basic job to fund the government. This should happen on a different track. What’s your answer to that?

CHENEY: It -- it is our job to fund the government and it is also our job to make sure that we secure that we secure the border, to make sure that we provide for the security of the nation.

And the Democrats, you know, could any moment now -- they control now the floor of the House. So instead of playing games where they strip out one bill, and strip out another bill and try to play, you know, partisanship on the floor of the House, they ought to do what they’ve agreed to do in the past and that is provide the appropriations to secure the border.

We’ve got a huge number of critically important national security issues we’re facing. This is one of them. We are facing a huge challenge from China, from Russia, from Iran, from ISIS, we need to be in a position where we can turn our attention to those, where we can make sure that we’ve got the border secured and that we’re doing everything possible to -- to provide the security the nation needs as a whole and stop with the political games.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president talked about national security this week as well. We just heard Congressman Smith on Syria. I want to show what the president said in -- in the cabinet meeting about Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. The reason Russia was in -- in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going in to Russia, they were right to be there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Russia right to be in Afghanistan?

CHENEY: No. Obviously, I -- I disagree with the president’s assessment of the history there. The -- the Soviets went in to Afghanistan as part of the Brezhnev Doctrine; they were determined to spread communism around the globe.

And what bankrupted the Soviet Union was Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan and his determination to support those who were fighting on behalf of freedom around the globe to fight back against the Soviet communists, and also his determination to build the Strategic Defense Initiative, to -- to bankrupt the Soviets by forcing them to have to put more and more resources into their military. So I think, at the end of the day, that’s clearly what bankrupted the Soviet Union and that’s -- they -- they were in Afghanistan because they were, you know, very much adherence to the Brezhnev Doctrine.

But I would also say, when I listened to my colleague Congressman Smith talk about what the Armed Services Committee is going to be focused on, I really do hope that he will not direct the committee to be focused simply on, you know, political attacks on President Trump. I think that we as a nation face too many huge challenges. And it is certainly the role of the House Armed Services Committee to conduct oversight but it’s also, as we do that, our role to make sure that the Defense Department is doing everything it needs to do to modernize. I am certainly hopeful that we will not see Congressman Smith support cutting the Defense budget, we’ve just begun to rebuild after the devastation of the Obama years, and we’ve got to continue on that trajectory and on that path.

We face tremendous challenges from adversaries who have got weapon systems we cannot defend against. And we will be falling down in our duty if we fail to -- to do what’s right, to make sure we’re conducting oversight and appropriations to continue to keep the nation safe.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the administration in the right place now on Syria?

CHENEY: I have said that the administration -- that the United States should not pull out of Syria. I’ve been very hopeful as I’ve seen reports that we are now going to slow that down. We’ve got about 2,200 special operations forces there and they are conducting crucially important work in terms of air support, in terms of artillery support. It is their presence that has really helped the Kurds be effective in term so of the battle against ISIS.

And it would be really devastating if we were to pull out precipitously and if we were to have a situation where the Iranians were given free rein to really establish a land bridge there and -- and control and dominate Syria. That would be counter to our interests, it would allow ISIS to begin to again form safe havens, potentially, and would not serve the interests of ally Israel and others in the region. So I’m hopeful that -- that we will, in fact, slow that down, and that we will look at conditions on the ground and -- and not make a precipitous withdrawal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman, thanks for your time this morning.

CHENEY: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable’s up next. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The picture from the new House, 89 Democratic women now joining Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, once again making history this week. We want to talk about all the new developments on our roundtable now, joined by our chief political analyst Matthew Dowd, Stefanie Brown James, co-founder of The Collective PAC, which helps recruit and elect progressive African-American candidates. Welcome to you. Co-host of The View, our friend Meghan McCain from The View; Democratic Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel; and Republican John James, ran for Senate in Michigan this time around. And I see you have the upper peninsula there on your tie.

JOHN JAMES, FORMER MICHIGAN SENATE CANDIDATE (R): Yes, sir.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, welcome to all of you.

Matt, let me start with you. What are we learning about this new world in Washington as we watch the first week play out?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think what we're learning is Donald Trump hasn't changed, has not adjusted his behavior in the aftermath of a major election loss in the midterms, which normally presidents do. President Obama tried to adjust his behavior, President Bush after 2006, President Clinton. Donald Trump hasn't adjusted behavior.

But we also see...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It has worked for him in the past, hasn't it?

DOWD: For who? For Donald Trump? Yes. But he has never faced an opposition in charge of one branch of government, and now that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are in charge of the House -- we have also learned that Nancy Pelosi, who has stepped up and is ready for primetime. She obviously served as speaker before, but she is ready for this.

She runs the caucus. I think the way in which she is engaged I think has been very helpful to the caucus, and so I think that Donald Trump I think is in a totally different world now, and he has his work cut out for him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: John James, should he have changed?

JAMES: Well, I think that you -- what you will say is that what he has been doing has been working. And I think the Democrats should be very careful -- to be very careful of taking 2018's success as an endorsement of 2016 policy. I think that what needs to happen is the American people are sick and tired of the partisanship and the bickering. The American people want to get real things done.

The thing with this shutdown and the border wall, these are things that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on for decades. We're just haggling over price. There are 800,000 people on furlough right now who aren't getting paid, and I believe that you have a congress that for years has failed at its duty to get comprehensive immigration reform and has failed to get a substantive and consistent budget deal done.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve served in that Congress. Any danger Democrats are going to overplay their hand here?

EMANUEL: Oh, there’s a -- any time there’s a -- you got a -- 200 people with different views, yes. What I would do if I was Speaker Pelosi is not allow the negotiations to be the only arena. Within passing the bill and if Schumer files rule 14, putting it forward, you already lost three Republican senators says let’s open up the business. I would make sure every day you are passing that same bill and just chisel away at the will of the Republicans. The second is I think there’s a point of pressure that will happen, and if TSA workers walk off of the line -- once this becomes relevant to the American people and it's no longer just 800,000 workers, something that they rely on starts to break down, that's when the pressure point means everybody’s going to focus and say, OK, we got to cut to the chase.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that could hit this week. If they don't have an -- if they don’t open this week, Meghan McCain, no paychecks --

MEGHAN MCCAIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- on January 11th. The people -- a lot of people don't realize we’re not just talking about Washington D.C. here, these are federal workers all across the country.

MCCAIN: Yeah, I mean, and the -- the one thing is that military and veterans are still currently being paid, which is normally the hand that Democrats play and obviously is something that hits particularly close to home, but the problem with this right now is that any concession by Democrats is going to look like caving from the progressive left. And so I don't see -- we were talking about in the green room, all of us -- I don't see any anyone meets in the middle because both sides are going to scream bloody murder, depending on what kind of compromise.

And when you’re talking about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington D.C., I think this is ground zero of what we’re talking about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Nancy Pelosi is being fueled in part by a lot of the members you helped elect in 2018. Let me ask you the same question I asked Mayor Emanuel. Are you concerned that this -- this energy becomes what -- and what Liz Cheney was saying, radical and out of touch?

STEFANIE BROWN JAMES, CO-FOUNDER, COLLECTIVE PAC: No. I think at the end of the day, what the Democrats need to do right now is over-communicate and get out of Washington. I anticipate that President Trump is going to get on the trail fairly soon, which I think would be bananas. But I think that it's important right now for the Democrats to understand that they have to shore up their base and they have to make sure that people understand that, look, what's going to happen in the next few weeks if the shutdown continues is that you're got going to get your tax returns, you know, you're not going to be able to see your -- your lives get any better.

And I can tell you what, President Trump will need to build a wall around the White House if people do not get those tax returns on -- on time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How’s this going to end?

EMANUEL: Well I -- I actually think Trump's made one major miscalculation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which is?

EMANUEL: He thinks if he gets a wall, he wins. I think he actually wants the issue. If I was Donald Trump and in the White House, then I don't want to be there. But if I was them, I would say, you know what? We may want the -- having the issue may be our win, not getting the wall. And I think they’ve made a calculation -- a strategic --

STEPHANOPOULOS: The risk there, though, is that he looks weak, right?

EMANUEL: But he won't -- his base will follow him right over a cliff. He won’t look weak to the base. The problem is he’s making every calculation on 34 percent rather than on 51 percent.

DOWD: To me, it's not a radical position to say don't build the wall. That's where actually the majority of the country want. So if we took this from a standpoint -- and I totally agree with John. The thing that's been lost in Washington for the last few years or the last decade is bipartisanship and the ability to look past it and get to the common good. But if we really want to do what the American public wants to do, they want border security, they want the government re-opened, and they don’t want a -- they don’t want the wall as the way -- the way the president expressed.

To me, the only way out of this -- which it’s going to be real. As Rahm said, it's going to get real. Right now, though, we're not even paying air traffic controllers, who are getting more irritable, more upset -- we're not paying TSA agents. That’s going to, at some point, have a huge impact. The president has to get a -- he doesn't really fundamentally want the wall, he wants the ability to talk about the wall. So if he can get the words to say -- and the passage of something where he can still talk about it, he’s going to claim victory.

MCCAIN: The statistics you’re seeing are accurate, that the average American person doesn't necessarily want the wall, but when Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter start screaming bloody murder on Twitter, they the people that ultimately have his ear, which has changed his mind on this. It’s when he started hedging and shut down the government. So it -- it depends on what happens in conservative media, as sad as it is, but I do think Republicans, we are ultimately emboldened to -- to what they believe --

JAMES: The president's job is to enforce the laws. We cannot get away from the fact that Congress can pass laws without the president. It's their job to stay there and get this job done, to pass comprehensive immigration --

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: If -- if they can go back, veto or not signed within 10 days, it can go back and then they can pass it. It needs to be good enough to work for the American people and right now, the American people aren't seeing a government that's working for them. They’re seeing a government that’s working for themselves and the partisanship is trumping people. And that's the problem.

DOWD: The House just passed -- the House just passed the same bill the Senate uniformly passed, right? That was the bill that everybody --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Back in December.

DOWD: -- back in December. Everybody agreed to it. That's what everybody wanted, then the president, as -- as Meghan said, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh stood up and said you can't do this, who are the radical element that’s intervening in this process. That's the problem.

BROWN JAMES: And finally --

DOWD: Oh, go ahead.

BROWN JAMES: And finally, we -- we have the Democrats now, what I think is in a good position because they are showing that they have a backbone. They talked about the agenda -- I mean literally the first bill that they put out, House bill 1, talks about the Democratic agenda and I think people are excited to see that the Democrats finally have a position that they want to stand on.

Now it's important that they have to win the war on words within the public to make sure people can continue to follow along with them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rahm, Meghan talks about Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh. The question is when are Thom Tillis, Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, when are all the Republicans up in 2020 going to force the president's hand?

EMMANUEL: That's when it becomes basically they realize there's will be a liability. There is a price point that comes point and the lines cross. I would just say in 1994 when there was a government shutdown, the biggest mistake Newt Gingrich made was sitting next to President Clinton and making that the only arena. And my advice to the speaker and the Democrats, do not allow the negotiations to be the only arena, pass the same bill in Congress, pass it over to the Senate. Schumer should file it. And already lost within a half a day three Republican senators out of there. I would keep coming at them like a wave that just keeps forcing it and then the base for the president that he's relying on, that wall, which is the Senate Republicans, starts to weaken.

And then you have outside forces, like I really do believe when it's not just 800,000 people not getting a paycheck, when it starts to impact the rest of America -- right now...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Tax refunds.

JAMES: We're just adjusting symptoms at this point. We have had more government shutdowns in the past handful of years than I can remember previously past that. It's becoming normalized. I think until legislators share in the pain.

EMMANUEL: The news will be when government is open, that will be the event, as opposed to the...

JAMES: Look, we just want government to work and not embarrass us. Is that too much to ask?

I think in order to share -- we need to legislate...

MCCAIN: They need to not embarrass us.

BROWN JAMES: And we have to admit that even the American people haven't quite felt the realities of a shutdown yet. Most shutdowns have been over in a week or a few days. When we get to the point where 1 in 8 Americans do not get their food stamps, many of whom are white, many of whom are Trump voters or are children, when the effects of this shutdown really start to impact the American people, it's going to be a different conversation on Capitol Hill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question about that.

We have to take a break. When we come back, will Julián Castro be the next candidate to officially join the 2020 race? The former Obama cabinet secretary, San Antonio mayor, is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Julián Castro discusses his plans for 2020. 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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIÁN CASTRO, FORMER HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY (D): I don’t think that that’s in the cards in the future. I’ve never seen in my future that, and …

DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Why not?

CASTRO: … well, I think, different things. I don’t have a passion for that.

SAWYER: Passion for?

CASTRO: To try and become president. I’m not running for president, you know? I guarantee you that I’m not going to run for president -- and so, this would be (ph) -- I -- probably ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was Julián Castro a few years back. This Week, the former San Antonio mayor and cabinet secretary is heading to Iowa and Nevada, planning a big announcement on his presidential plans next week. He joins us now live from San Antonio.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us this morning. Listen, everybody has a right to change their minds, to find their passion. What’s changed for you?

CASTRO: Well, a lot of things have changed, George. You know, this country has changed a lot in terms of its leadership since 2015 or ’16 or whenever that interview was. I think there are a whole bunch of people that feel a tremendous difference in terms of the leadership that we had under Barack Obama versus the lack of leadership and the total disaster that we have under Donald Trump. And for me, I believe that I have a strong vision for the country's future. I also, for starters, have run a federal agency and have been mayor of one of the biggest, most diverse cities in the country, and so I feel like I have something to offer, and...

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, it's going to be a crowded field on the Democratic side, so it's going to be kind of hard to stand out. You have already seen Elizabeth Warren. She has big plans to break up monopolies, reform capitalism. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, he wants to focus almost entirely on climate change.

How will you distinguish yourself if you indeed do get in? And what do you have that the others don't?

CASTRO: Yeah. Well, number one, I have experience actually running one of these federal agencies being in charge of folks and making things work, also being mayor of a city that is one of the most diverse cities, as I said, in the United States, and then really in a fundamental way, represents the diverse future of America.

But I'm not going to be a single issue candidate if I run. I believe that what we need for America to prosper in the 21st Century is a strong vision for the country's future. And so my vision for the country's future is that we aim in the 21st Century to be the smartest, the healthiest, the most fair and the most prosperous country, that we need to invest in brain power because brain power truly is new currency of success, and so things like universal pre-K, and universal higher education so that folks can get gainful employment in a 21st Century where our economy is changing.

I believe that we need to be the healthiest, that we need to support things like Medicare for all and make universal health care happen in the richest nation on earth.

I think that think that we need to be the most fair country. It is a shame today that we have not seen a minimum wage increase in almost a decade. It's also a shame that if you are a young, black man walking on the streets of many cities, that you are treated so differently than if the color of your skin is white. And I think that we need to be the most prosperous nation for everybody.

It is clear, and, you know, I like this about Senator Warren, I think that she is talking about a lot of good issues. It's different than it used to be, right? You used to be able to work 40 hours, even on minimum wage, and be able to provide for your family. Today that's not true. And we need to get back to a place in this 21st Century where that is true. The economy works for everybody.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid a lot of programs there. One of the questions you're going to face if you run is how are you going to pay for them?

Let me show you the newest -- youngest member of the congress right now, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said that's going to air on 60 Minutes tonight about how to pay for things.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: You look at our tax rates back in the '60s, and when you have a progressive tax rate system, your tax rate, you know, let's say from zero to $75,000 may be 10 percent or 15 percent, et cetera, but once you get to the tippy tops, on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 percent or 70 percent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Can you support a tax increase like that, once you hit $10 million, 60, 70 percent?

CASTRO: Oh, I can support folks at the top paying for fair share.

As you know, George, there was a time in this country where the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent, even during Reagan's era in the 1980s it was around 50 percent. So do I support, in order to have something like Medicare for all, that we ask folks that are in the top .05 percent or .5 percent or top 1 percent to pay more?

And, also, that we get more serious about making sure the corporations pay their fair share, and that we're smart about understanding how instead of folks having to pay sky high premiums to companies that are seeking a profit to deliver health care that we can have a better system where people can get good health care and have peace of mind, even if that means that we rearrange where those dollars go? Yeah, I support that.

And, you know what? During this campaign, if I run, I'm going to be very up front with the American people on how we would do that, because I think that they are owed that, but it is worth it. It is worth it in this country for us to do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid out your experience. One thing you don't have is foreign policy experience. What do you see now as the greatest threat to our national security today and what qualifies you to take it on?

CASTRO: Well, I -- I believe that today the greatest threat to our national security is the fact that this president, as one of your previous guests has said, is damaging the relationships that we’ve had at place in the post-World War II era, whether it's NATO or other alliances with individual countries, that have kept us safer. The first thing that I would do if I were president, with regard to our relationships around the world, is to strengthen them. Because those alliances have helped keep us safe. It's also true that today being -- being the strongest country, being the safest country I think requires more diplomatic efforts than ever.

And it has been terrible to see the decimation of our diplomatic efforts through the State Department. We have a whole bunch of -- of ambassadorships that are not even filled right now, we have vacancies throughout our diplomatic core, we have a harder time today recruiting folks going to our diplomatic core. The number one thing that I would do is to strengthen all of that so that we can avoid conflict and be safer in the 21st century.

STEPHANOPOPULOS: That’s what -- that’s what you would do, but what in your background qualifies you to be commander in chief?

CASTRO: Well, I -- I -- as I said earlier, I think that being mayor of a large city and serving in the president's cabinet certainly qualifies one to be commander in chief, and I’m going to go out there and make the case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Julián Castro, thanks for your time this morning. Good luck.

CASTRO: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More round table coming up. We'll get their take on 2020 next.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If you can afford an army of lobbyists, an army of lawyers, an army of fought and paid for experts, then Washington works great for you. It's just not working for the people and that's why we're here today. That's why we're in this fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Elizabeth Warren announced this week. Look at those crowds in Iowa yesterday. 2020 race has begun. Let's bring our roundtable the table back right now. And Stefanie Brown James, let me begin with you. One of the remarkable things about that trip to Iowa yesterday -- and I guess it's been happening with all the candidates who go out there and explore -- massive, massive crowds on the Democratic side.

BROWN JAMES: It’s almost like the Super Bowl of politics is just starting up. And people are really hungry to see candidates who are authentic, and I think that there’s three things that the Democrats are going to realize as they get out into the field of whoever is running. You know, one is that you have to show leadership, two is that you have to be able to beat Trump, and three, which is very important, you have to be able to really speak to the issues of what most Americans are going -- are going through right now.

But also, you have to be able to make sure that you're speaking in a way where different types of voters can understand, and especially diverse voters. And so I'm really looking forward to this field starting to thin out, because...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It'll be awhile before it thins out.

BROWN JAMES: Yeah, but I think it will be sooner than we think, because, look, if donors, and if diverse voters, don't get behind someone early, I think it is going to thin out a lot quicker than you think.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with that?

EMMANUEL: Yeah. I think that you have the governor, former governor of Massachusetts, already bowed out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Deval Patrick?

EMMANUEL: Yeah. I think you are going to have an hourglass basically.

I think this is a unique time. The last time you had three successive presidents in eight years was Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. We haven't had that, and that was followed by a one-termer. I think Democrats are going to be like 1992, very pragmatic. The ideology is can you win?

Campaigns are very revealing. All your warts, all your strengths, and I'm for a candidate that is, and I would agree, 100 percent authentic, and if you can't do that, fake it really well. And that to me is the most important, because I think people want to see somebody that is -- their personal story embodies their personal philosophy, and those two are heads and tails of the same coin.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Stefanie says they want to see a candidate who can take on Trump.

John, I was interested to see that Elizabeth Warren yesterday -- I think Trump didn't come up until a couple of hours into her appearance.

JAMES: Well, I think that actually Rahm brought up, Mr. Mayor, brought up a great point about the mayor of Massachusetts, Duval Patrick.

I think what's more telling than who is getting in, is who is not. At a time when we need the most talent, we're in Washington where we need it the most, people are bowing out. They are saying to heck with this. And the American people are forced to pick between 70-year-old retreads in many cases who got us in this mess to begin with.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Who are you talking about there?

JAMES: You are talking about -- I mean, look, I believe Liz Warren is 69. Hillary Clinton is 71. Bernie Sanders is 77, Joe Biden is 76.

DOWD: President Trump is 72.

JAMES: President Trump is 72.

So, let's just talk about this.

In order to move forward, we need new, fresh ideas, and I think that the Democratic Party, that champions itself to millennials and minorities, diverse candidates I think needs to show they can reach out and put millennials and minority into leadership, right?

BROWN JAMES: 30 plus candidates that will be running and they will exactly reflect what you just said.

MCCAIN: But the young, fresh voice on the Democratic side is a woman who to eradicate fossil fuels entirely in this country in the next 10 years. She officially has more Twitter followers than Nancy Pelosi.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're talking about Alexandria...

MCCAIN: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, huge following huge up and coming voice, and the fracture between the Democratic Party is do you want this progressive left socialist agenda, or do you want a more mainstream Democrat that can talk to voters in Iowa and reach over and win over the votes that were lost in the Rust Belt?

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is going to be one of the divides.

The other question is, and there's a question I asked Julián Castro, how do you distinguish yourself in a field like this?

DOWD: Well, I think, one, the more candidates is not a problem. Jimmy Carter, in the aftermath of Watergate, there were 17 candidates ran. He wins the election in '76. Donald Trump ran in a field of 17 candidates on the Republicans. He wins the field and he wins the presidency, so the more candidates isn't the problem.

I think they are going to have to figure out -- they have got to pick a lane. And there are three or four lanes that are going to be opened in this, and what your basic goal is to finish in the top four or five in Iowa, finish in the top four or five in New Hampshire, and the field quickly goes down to that many candidates in the aftermath of Iowa and New Hampshire.

I think they have to have a lane. One of the things I think Elizabeth Warren was smart about, first getting out early and getting a lane that she has got the ideological lane, which is the left lane. She also she has the lane that are two-thirds of the voters that are going to cast votes in the Democratic primaries and the Democratic caucus are women. So that's a very important part of the constituency.

But they have to find a lane, and I agree with Rahm and John, they have to be authentic in this process.

I think it's much better if they are from a new generation.

MCCAIN: Do you think she is authentic though?

DOWD: I think Elizabeth Warren definitely is authentic.

MCCAIN: Interpreted her Instagram story announcement as being a sort of weird knockoff of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram story where she was talking...

STEPHANOPOUOS: But wasn't she there first, Elizabeth Warren?

MCCAIN: Elizabeth Warren was New York Magazine's cover story five months ago saying the front runner. Now in recent polling, she is even behind people behind Beto O'Rourke. I know polling, we can only put so much into polling, but I would actually say that her announcement right now on her -- her delivery so far, people are discussing whether or not it's dead on arrival.

BROWN JAMES: To your point about, you know, how do you distinguish yourself and even picking a lane, here's what I would love to see? I would love to see from the jump, two people come together and say, we're already a ticket. I think that would be phenomenal. And I think it should be a man and a woman in no particular order who say you know what we're going to run for president and vice president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what's your dream ticket?

BROWN JAMES: Well, you know, it is a very diverse, young and old ticket that speaks to voters all across the country. And I think there's a few people like -- I'm looking forward to Kamala Harris getting in the race. I'm looking forward to see what Joe Biden is going to do.

So, you know, I think that...

EMMANUEL: Look, Jimmy Carter, President Clinton, President Obama all came from outside of Washington, all men.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Obama was a senator by the time he ran.

EMANUEL: For an hour and a half. Exactly. But the fact is you have now for the first time in a long time, you have four former -- mayors, present and former, you have people -- I’m -- if you’re outside of Washington, you want Donald Trump to own Washington. Everything that comes with what people are disgusted. When we win, we come from outside to change something. If you’re a part of that Washington, you’ll never, ever be able to either escape the problems or the way you talk about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk a little bit about the Republican side. Mitt Romney came into Senate from (ph) Utah this week an op-ed attacking President Trump and then went on TV a few hours later and said he’s not running for president but would not endorse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: I haven't decided who I’m going to endorse in 2020. I’m going to wait and see what the alternatives are. I'm not running again and we’ll see whether someone else does in a Republican primary or not, but time will tell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NATALY I’m PICKING UP HERE STEPHANOPOULOS: John James, it seems like you have a lot of Republicans out there -- John Kasich, Jeff Flake -- not wanting to run but not wanting to be completely out of the conversation, wanting to be there just in case things fall apart for President Trump to pick up the pieces.

JAMES: I think you may have hit the nail right on the head. I think for most people, Republicans or Democrat, the letter is the first act right out of the gate. It-- it kind of rang self-serving. It kind of rang for most people whom I’ve talked to, both my Democrat, Republican and -- and Independent friends, is Mitt Romney again caring more about Mitt Romney than the people he was sent to represent. Now I can't get into Mitt Romney's head. That's not my business. And -- but what I’m just saying is --

DOWD: If you get into Mitt Romney's head, you probably won't stay there long.

JAMES: Well, what -- what I’m saying is --

EMANUEL: Ouch.

JAMES: Donald Trump -- President Trump -- by the numbers -- by the numbers, President Trump's approval rating in the Republican party is 92 percent.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but --

JAMES: It’s going to be a tough road to hoe --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. Right.

JAMES: -- for any Republican who wants to jump in. By the numbers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No -- no question about that right now. I do agree --

MCCAIN: And it’s not Mitt Romney. That's not the answer. And no disrespect to him because I have always liked him up until he got frog legs at John George with President Trump and now I don’t know where he stands politically and I think a lot of Republicans -- if you are going to have someone primary Trump, it has to be someone that I have more faith that won't be, quite frankly, flip-flopping all the way to New Hampshire.

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES: People don’t like wishy-washy from their leaders.

DOWD: I think it’d be a really -- I mean, he does -- Donald Trump has unbelievable support among Republicans today. That could obviously change if the economy starts to sputter and tank. That could totally change the --

BROWN JAMES: Especially with --

DOWD: -- but I think it's a really smart move for somebody to run him in the primary. First, you’re going to get a lot of coverage, you’re going to get a ton of things, you’re going to be able to speak in a way against Donald Trump, not have to worry about things, you’re going to be at all the debates, you’ll be in any debate that he does in the primary in the course of that. I think it’d be a really smart move. And I think the Democrats -- if you really look at it from their perspective, they would benefit by somebody taking on Donald Trump and him moving more farther to the right.

EMANUEL: There is going to be a Pat Buchanan to this president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No question.

EMANUEL: There’s going to be a Republican -- it's not going to come from that wing of the party, but it’s going to have -- he’s going to have a primary because what happened in 2018 is a whole section of the Republicans that used to be rock rib Republicans left and voted for Democrats. And there’s going to be an opening there. I actually think you got four things none of us know -- the health of the economy, what Donald Trump -- what the Mueller report says, what our process is and who in the end of the day, when that process emerges, what they do in building a coalition.

Both Clinton and Obama built coalitions that lasted a stand of time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Those are four things to watch. I’m afraid we're out of time but it was a great discussion. Thank you all.

And now we're going to switch gears and honor our fellow Americans who serve in sacrifice. In the month of December, two service members died supporting our operations in Afghanistan.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing parts of your Sunday with us. Check out WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. And I’ll see you tomorrow on GMA.

END