'This Week' Transcript 2-18-24: Nikki Haley, Gov. Josh Shapiro and Charlamagne tha God

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, February 18.

ByABC News
February 18, 2024, 9:29 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, February 18, 2024 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.





LETITIA JAMES: Today we are holding Donald Trump accountable.

KARL: Donald Trump fined $355 million and barred from doing business in New York for three years, imperiling his real estate empire.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a ridiculous award. A fine of $355 million for doing a perfect job.

KARL: The legal drama erupting just six days to the South Carolina Republican primary.

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N. & (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: He said he's going to spend more time in a courtroom than he is going to be on the campaign trail.

KARL: This morning, our exclusive interviews with the Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley and Biden ally, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro.

Shocking death.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, Putin is responsible.

KARL: Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, dies in prison, drawing global condemnation, as Congress remains gridlocked over aid to Ukraine.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Before we take care of issues all around the world, we take care of our own first.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We're not the problem. The problem is on the extreme MAGA Republican side.

KARL: Our powerhouse roundtable covers the fallout.

And --

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, 'THE BREAKFAST CLUB' CO-HOST: Donald Trump seems more sincere about his lies than Joe Biden does about his truth.

KARL: Our candid conversation with informational radio host Charlamagne tha God, and what he's saying about Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and the state of American politics.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Jonathan Karl.

KARL: Good morning. Welcome to THIS WEEK.

As we come on the air this morning, reformers in Russia and friends of democracy and decency around the world are mourning the death of Alexei Navalny. In Moscow, braving the cold, the threat of arrest and worse, mourners have been leaving flowers at the Wall of Grief. That's a memorial to the victims of Stalin’s brutality. By last night, according to a Russian human rights group, more than 400 people in Russia were arrested as they honored the fallen symbol of the Russian opposition.

Navalny is a man who stood up to Vladimir Putin for more than a decade. A man who survived two poisoning attempts, one that almost killed him. A man who returned to Russia, even though he knew he would be putting his life in danger yet again. A man who continued to be the face of the Russian opposition even from his jail cell at a prison colony inside the Arctic Circle. It's a story of courage and cowardice. The courage of Navalny and the cowardice of the Russian leader who feared him, and seemingly cannot tolerate even those mourning his death.

The day before he died, Navalny appeared in court, laughing and joking, even as he was handed yet another punishment of solitary confinement. His widow took to the world stage in Munich before going to grieve with her family, saying, Putin would bear responsibility and calling on global leaders to defeat his regime.

President Biden laid blame for Navalny’s death squarely on Putin, and he urged Congress to approve more aid to Ukraine in its war against Moscow.

The leading contender for the Republican nomination opposes that aid. And as of this moment, he has not said a single word about Navalny’s death.

Donald Trump's focus instead has been on a threat closer to home. The mounting legal threat he faces as he solidifies his control once again over the Republican Party. The latest blow came Friday afternoon in the civil fraud case against his company. Trump must now pay $355 million plus approximately $100 million in interest and he is barred from running his company in New York for three years.

The case strikes at the heart of his carefully crafted image as a super-rich and wildly-successful real estate developer. The presiding judge concluding, quote, “The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.”

Trump has vowed to appeal, but the day after he was hit with that $355 million judgment, he was in Pennsylvania hawking merchandise. $399 Trump golden sneakers, $99 victory 47 fragrances and more, at an event called “Sneaker Con.”

Yes, just yesterday, the Republican frontrunner was selling merchandise at “Sneaker Con.”

None of this has diminished Trump's standing in the Republican Party. But with six days until the next big test in South Carolina, the race is not yet over.

Fewer than 4 percent of the delegates needed to capture the nomination have been chosen, although with Super Tuesday on the horizon just ten days after South Carolina, time is running out for his last remaining Republican opponent, Nikki Haley, to close the gap.

And that’s where we start this morning with Governor Nikki Haley.

Welcome back to THIS WEEK, Governor.

HALEY: Good morning.

KARL: So, I want to get to the campaign in a moment.

First, I want to ask you about Navalny. I saw your very strong statement, like so many others, putting the blame squarely on President Putin.

What would you be doing if you were president right now? How would you make Putin pay for this?

HALEY: I think it’s important to stand with the Russian people who believe Navalny was really talking for them. I mean you look at this hero, he was fighting corruption, he was fighting what Putin does. And what did Putin do? He killed him. Just like he does all his political opponents. And I think that’s very telling.

But this goes back to the fact that we need to remind the American people that Vladimir Putin is not our friend. Vladimir Putin is not cool. This is not someone we want to associate with. This is not someone that we want to be friends with. This is not someone that we can trust.

And so when you hear Donald Trump say in South Carolina a week ago that he would encourage Putin to invade our allies if they weren’t pulling their weight. That’s bone-chilling, because all he did in that one moment was empower Putin. And all he did in that moment was, he sided with a guy that kills his political opponents, he sided with a thug that arrests American journalists and holds them hostage, and he sided with a guy who wanted to make a point to the Russian people, don’t challenge me in the next election or this will happen to you too.

We have to start waking up to what this means. And that’s why the importance of making sure that Ukraine wins is clear because we have to prevent further war. And right now, Putin is feeling more emboldened than he ever has.

KARL: Why do you think Trump hasn’t said anything about Navalny yet? Nothing.

HALEY: It’s – it’s actually pretty amazing that he -- not only after making those comments that he would encourage Putin to invade NATO, but the fact that he won’t acknowledge anything with Navalny. Either he sides with Putin and thinks it’s cool that – that Putin killed one of his political opponents, or he just doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. Either one of those is concerning. Either one of those is a problem.

We’ve got to start seriously having a conversation in America about our national security. We’ve got to start talking – having a conversation about the fact that there’s a war in Europe, there’s a war in the Middle East, North Korea’s testing intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the U.S., China’s on the march. You’ve got Iran who’s literally trying to kill our American soldiers and you’ve got Russians who are doing blinding satellites in space. There’s a lot going on.

This is not the time to talk about America hiding in a bubble and not doing anything with the rest of the world. This is a time we should be strengthening our alliances and making sure we’re putting up a strong front so that we can prevent further wars from happening.

KARL: And, in fact, this is coming as Putin is making gains in Ukraine. And we see U.S. aid to help Ukraine in that war effort basically going nowhere right now in – in Congress.

What do you – what should Speaker Johnson be doing? And we saw the Senate pass with a – with a lot of Republicans voting yes. We saw the Senate pass aid to Ukraine and Israel. But he’s not prepared to bring it up for a vote. What should speaker Johnson do?

HALEY: Well, I think first we have to talk about, what should Joe Biden be doing? First of all, the reason you’re seeing America become more isolationist is at no point has Joe Biden had a conversation with the American people about why Ukraine is important. At no point has he had a conversation with him with the American people about the terrorist activity that’s happening with Israel and why Iran is so dangerous. At no point is he talking about the threats of China. And when you don’t talk about those things with the American people, they’re going to distance themselves from it.

And so, Joe Biden has failed on that front. That has emboldened our enemies. That’s why you see them moving. It happened after the fall of Afghanistan. It is continuing to happen.

Then they go and they see the other opponent running for – for president and they see that he doesn’t worry about Putin invading Ukraine. So, what does Putin do? He goes and now he’s starting to put soldiers around the Baltics. He’s moving in for the next era.

And let’s remind the American people that Putin said once he takes Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics are next. Now he is putting soldiers around those countries, just like he did Ukraine. And if that happens, those are NATO countries. That immediately puts America at war. That is what we are trying to avoid. And that’s why this aid package is so important.

Ukraine's not asking for troops, they’re just asking for the equipment and ammunition to win this war. They have a great fighting force. We need to give them what they need so that they can win so that we can prevent having -- sending any of our military men and women to fight.

KARL: But it’s not Biden that is stopping that aid in Congress, it’s Republicans. And Biden traveled to Ukraine in the middle of the war. Biden has given several primetime addresses on the question of Ukraine and the importance of aiding Ukraine. So, I'm asking you about Republicans. What should the Republican speaker of the House, who has the power to bring it up for a vote or not --

HALEY: Well, Jonathan, I'm --

KARL: What should he be doing right now?

HALEY: Well, I'll talk to you about Republicans and Democrats because this is not the time to pick which side is right or wrong. This is the time to get it right for America.

Joe Biden needs to be speaking more to the American people about what this package means and why it affects the American people and why it protects them from further war. Congress needs to do their job and make sure that they go and do everything they can for national security. Congress is failing because they are making this sound like you have to choose between Ukraine and Israel or securing the border.

They are lying to the American people. That’s a false premise. We can do both.

Securing our national border -- securing our southern border is priority number one, but making sure that we help Ukraine and Israel is also about preventing war. If we just supported Ukraine and Israel, that’s only 5 percent of our defense budget. If we supported Ukraine, Israel and secured the border, that’s less than 20 percent of Biden’s green subsidies.

So, this is not about the American people having to choose either or. This is about Joe Biden and Congress understanding that they need to choose national security. They need to choose preventing war.

And their job is to keep Americans safe. And they have to communicate that to the American people. And they are not doing that right now.

KARL: You mentioned Trump’s extraordinary comments about NATO, actually saying he would encourage Biden -- Russians to move on a NATO ally that didn’t pay its dues, he says, even though that’s not exactly how NATO works.

What -- what -- you know, this disregard for NATO, though, is longstanding with Donald Trump. John Bolton, who was his national security adviser, worked with you, of course, said that back in 2018 at a conference -- a NATO conference, that Trump said that he was going to come out and announce the United States was withdrawing from NATO and had to be kind of talked down from it.

Are you worried that if Trump is re-elected, it could actually threaten the NATO alliance?

HALEY: I'm worried about a lot of things if Trump is re-elected. That is one of them.

You know, first of all, understand that NATO is a 75-year success story. This alliance -- keep in mind, Russia has never invaded a NATO country because Russia has typically been very intimidated by this alliance. China is even intimidated by this alliance.

So, keeping NATO strong is important. Adding more friends to the fold is important. This is not the time to leave an alliance. This is not the time to side with a thug and not side with our friends, who stood with us after 9/11.

We have to make sure that we stand firm. Because when we stand firm with our friends, our enemies stay -- on their heels. When we start to show any weakening of those alliances, that’s when our enemies move. That’s why we’re seeing China on the march. That’s why we’re seeing Iran want to build a nuclear bomb. That’s why we’re seeing Russia start to move towards Poland and the Baltics.

It is not something to play with when you talk about NATO. This is something where we should be doubling down and saying that this alliance will only get stronger. And that’s what I'll promise I'll do as president, is we not only will strengthen NATO, we will strengthen alliances with India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines. We will add to the fold. This is about America having more friends, not less friends.

KARL: As you have talked about as well, Trump is engineering a takeover of the Republican National Committee and he wants to make his daughter-in-law the co-chair.

I want to play something that Lara Trump had to say about the role of the RNC.


LARA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP’S DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Every single penny will go to the number one and the only job of the RNC, that is electing Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.


KARL: So, is that the one and only job of the RNC, electing Donald Trump president of the UnitedStates? Is that where every penny should go? I assume you don’t agree with that.

HALEY: I mean it should be a wake-up call for Republicans all over this country. I mean you look at the fact that we saw in his campaign reports that he used $50 million of campaign contributions to pay for his personal court cases. Then he tried to get the RNC to name him the presumptive nominee. We don’t anoint kings in America.

So, when he got pushback on that, they started to walk it back. Now he’s trying to control the RNC by putting his daughter-in-law as the co-chair and putting his campaign manager as the director of operations.

Now, when you look at that, the part I worry about is the RNC is not going to be the piggy bank for Trump’s legal fees. The RNC is almost broke already. Now you go and see he’s looking for other avenues to pay his legal fees. The RNC – you can hang up winning the House and the Senate or having any resources for us to win any other races if all they’re doing is thinking about how they’re going to pay his court fees.

And this is what I'm talking about. This is a fact. I voted for Donald Trump twice. I was proud to serve America in his administration. But we have got to right the ship in this country. Seventy percent of Americans have said they don’t want Donald Trump or Joe Biden to be their only choices. Fifty-nine percent of Americans have said Donald Trump is too old and Joe Biden is too old to run for president.

We need a new generational leader that’s not distracted by court cases, that’s not filled with vengeance towards our enemies, that’s not in the drama. Someone that goes and takes out the politics in our agencies, someone who stops the wasteful spending in America, someone who gets our kids reading again and goes back to the basics in education, someone who secures our borders with no more excuses, someone who brings law and order back to our country and someone who can make a strong America that prevents was that we can all be proud of. That’s what I am trying to do. And that’s what I think Americans want as we go forward. And that’s why I think this primary is so important.

KARL: So – so we’re – we’re just about of time, but I've got to ask, you had said earlier in this process that you will support Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination. But since you made that pledge, he has encouraged NATO – he encouraged Russia – said he would encourage Russia to do whatever the hell it wants with – with a NATO ally. You have called him diminished, unhinged, unfit for office.

Are you still making that pledge that you would actually support, after all of that, Donald Trump for president of the United States if he beats you for the Republican nomination?

HALEY: I mean keep in mind, I am running against him for a reason.

KARL: No, I know.

HALEY: I'm running against him because I don’t think he should be the right – I don’t think he’s the right person at the right time. I don’t think he should be president. The last thing on my mind is who I'm going to support. The only thing on my mind is how we’re going to win this. The only thing on my mind is how we’re going to make sure that we correct what’s happening in America and we bring this country back together, allow her to heal and move in a strong way.

I'm not thinking about who I'm going to support in an election because (INAUDIBLE) the fact that we are going to have a –

KARL: But – but you’ve already said it.

HALEY: We are going to have a female president of the United States. It will either be me or it will be Kamala Harris. And if Donald Trump is the nominee of the – in – for the Republican Party, he will not win. Every poll shows that. He will not win. And we will have a president Kamala Harris.

I'm not going to allow that to happen. I'm not stopping. I'm not going anywhere. We’re going to do this for the long haul and we’re going to finish it.

KARL: Does that mean you will not support him if he’s the Republican nominee?

HALEY: That means I'm going to run and I'm going to win. And y’all can talk about support later. Right now you can ask him if he’s going to support me when I'm the nominee.

KARL: Do you think he would?

HALEY: Do you think he would? I highly doubt it.

KARL: All right, Nikki Haley, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Up next, he’s quickly become one of the most influential commentators on culture and politics. Radio show host Charlamagne tha God isn’t holding back about his frustrations with Joe Biden and why he says Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. It’s a lively and thought-provoking conversation. We’ll have it in two minutes.

Stay with us.


KARL: Welcome back. We're now going to bring you someone who has never been a guest on "This Week" or on any other Sunday public affairs show. He's an important and influential voice in politics and culture, with millions of followers and listeners, which is why the White House pays attention to what he has to say. He's known as Charlamagne Tha God, and I sat down with him for this exclusive interview.


He's one of the most influential voices in morning radio.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, 'THE BREAKFAST CLUB' CO-HOST: Yep, it's the world's most dangerous morning show, "The Breakfast Club, Charlamagne Tha God, Jess Hilarious. I don't know where the hell Envy is at."

KARL (voice over): Also a television personality, podcast host, and New York Times best-selling author. His interviews with pop stars and politicians making viral moments like this.

JESS HILARIOUS, 'THE BREAKFAST CLUB' CO-HOST: So what's something that you always carry with you?




CLINTON: Yeah, yeah.

D. J. ENVY: Really?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Are you getting in formation right now?


KARL (voice-over): Lenard McKelvey, known to America as Charlamagne Tha God, has built his following on charisma, comedy and blunt questions.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: What was you thinking earlier this year when you got caught cheating in Vegas?

UNKNOWN: Hey, brother, listen.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Mr. Irresponsible?

KARL: In the last presidential election, "The Breakfast Club" became a must-stop for Democratic candidates. With an average of more than 6 million monthly listeners, candidates sought to appeal to its younger, diverse audience.

And in 2019, Charlamagne appeared at a campaign rally with then-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. But it was his 2020 interview with Joe Biden that made the biggest splash. It drew criticism of Biden for his comments on black voters.

BIDEN: If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.

KARL: I met with Charlamagne at his radio studio to discuss the state of American politics.

I saw you describe this campaign that we're heading into as a race between the cowards, the crooks and the couch.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yeah, the crooks are the Republicans. The -- the cowards are the Democrats, because they don't fight hard enough on anything. And, you know, the couch is voter apathy. And, you know, that's -- that's who everybody is up against in 2024. And right now -- right now, it feels like the couch is going to win. I don't know who that benefits, you know, by the couch winning. But it feels like the couch is going to win.

KARL: What -- what's your sense? How engaged -- how much is your audience paying attention to this race?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: My audience -- I feel like my audience is America, and when I...

KARL: Yeah.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: ... and when I -- when I'm out and about, just, you know, walking in the street or people are calling into the radio station, like, nobody is -- nobody is inspired, you know, by -- by the upcoming election, like, you know, like, nobody wants to see the rematch between, you know, Biden and Trump. And that's what makes me feel like the couch is going to win.

KARL: Why?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: This is the first time in my life when people say things like, you know, This person is a threat to democracy.

KARL: Hm-hmm.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: It's absolutely true. And it's mind-boggling to me that, you know, nobody is taking it as serious as I feel like they should, like, we watched an attempted coup of this country happen on January 6th, and everybody's acting like it was just a bunch of people, you know, wilding at spring break, you know, down in Florida.

KARL: Yeah.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Like, we literally watched, you know, people try to overthrow the government because they didn't like the results of an election, led by a former, you know, president. If that doesn't cause a sense of urgency in people, I don't know what will.

KARL: Biden -- I mean, Biden does make that an issue over and over again. I mean, he constantly talks about that. Why is it not resonating?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Well, he's -- he's just an uninspiring candidate, like, you know, there's nothing about, you know, Joe Biden that makes you want to listen to him. That's why he should be leaning on, you know, his vice president, Kamala Harris, who is way more charismatic than him. He should be leaning on, you know, other surrogates like, you know, Gavin Newsom or, you know, Shapiro in Pennsylvania.

Like he should be leaning on people who have -- are more inspiring than him, who are more charismatic than him. And he should just be, I guess, if you want to call it the brains of the operation behind the scenes. Like, that sounds crazy that we're saying that about a president of the United States of America, but he, he has no main character energy at all. None.

KARL: And what is that? Is that age? Is it the way he is? I mean, what, what's the problem?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I don't think it has anything to do with age, you know, I think it has just everything to do with him. Like Donald Trump is, what, four years, three years younger than President Biden. But he just comes off a lot more youthful. He comes off, you know, like he has a lot more energy. And I always say this about him.

Donald Trump seems more sincere about his lies than Joe Biden does about his truth.

KARL (voice-over): Charlamagne endorsed Joe Biden in 2020 but it was primarily because he had chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate.

KARL: And has she met your expectations? I mean, you've been kind of tough on her.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yeah. No, she hasn't, you know, and -- but I don't think it's too late for her to pivot. You know, I think that right now, you know, historically vice presidents have always kind of played their role. Their role is to just basically parrot the president, you know, speak, you know, on behalf of the president.

But I think, man, we're in a new, a new era, right? Like, like for new jack problems, we need new jack solutions. And she serves a unique purpose, right? Because she is the first woman of color in that position.

So, it's things that she could talk about. There are things that she could say that I feel like, you know, he can't. And I mean, man, we all remember her in those Senate hearings when she was pressing those people, when she was like, really on, you know, she was prosecuting these people.

I want to see her prosecute the case against Donald Trump in this country. I feel like she could go out there and really let the American people, you know, know what's going on. I'd like to see her going on outlets like Fox News. I'd like to see her going in there and mixing it up.

KARL: Well, do you get blowback from the White House because you, even now, in this conversation, you're very tough on Biden. When you say something critical, do you hear from them?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yeah. And I think that's the stupidest (EXPLETIVE DELETED) ever, because I think that -- oh, I'm sorry.

KARL: We can bleep that out.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Because I feel like you should be able to criticize whoever your elected official is, right? And even if I do criticize them, I'm criticizing them because of what I see coming up in November. I see what we're facing. So what I'm saying to them is, where is the sense of urgency? You can't keep saying that there's a threat to democracy, and democracy as we know it is going to be, be gone, but not act like it.

And the other problem is they've always done this with every single Republican candidate. Since I've been alive, whoever the Republican presidential candidate has been, they've demonized. It doesn't matter who it is, it doesn't matter if it's John McCain, doesn't matter if it was, you know, Mitt Romney, it doesn't matter who it is. They -- they will demonize the Republican candidate. And now that there's an actual legitimate threat right there in our faces, they're like, they're like the party who cried wolf. Nobody believes them.

KARL: Do you think Trump is going to win?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I don't know, but that's what's scary about it, right? Because when you look at everything he's done right, the attempted coup of this country, put the Supreme Court judges on who got rid of Roe v. Wade, takes credit, says I am the one who got really Roe v. Wade. Me, I did that.

When you see all of that, it really shouldn't be close, right? But when you have a candidate like President Biden who the polls are, you know, saying had the lowest approval rating ever, and, you know, he'd lose to a general election to Trump. That's scary.

That's where these conversations are coming from, where they're like, you, you might need to step aside and put somebody else in there. Because you know, my fear is that the election is going to be close, right?

KARL: You've got a very powerful voice. You've got, you know, an incredibly influential show. You've got an audience that Democrats especially crave, and obviously, Nikki Haley coming on, Republicans as well. Are you going to be using that voice to try to affect this election?

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: I'm going to tell people exactly what I'm seeing. I'm not going to endorse anybody. What I'm going to tell you, exactly what I'm seeing and what I'm seeing is, you know, democracy really on the brink, right? Like, like this is, the – I would tell my listeners exactly what I'm about to say right now. For years, they've told us that, you know, these people are threats to democracy. This person is absolutely a threat to democracy.

KARL: That sounds like an endorsement. I mean, it sounds like you're saying endorse, not Donald Trump, which, as you've said --


KARL: -- it's going to be Biden.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Yes. Well, I don't think that's an endorsement. You know, I'm just simply telling people, what is going on out there? Because I'm going to get, I'm going to, I'm going to speak the truth about Democrats too. Because I feel like if you lie to people about Democrats, they won't believe you when you tell them the truth about Republicans. So, if I lie to people about what I see with Joe Biden, you're not going to believe me when I tell them the truth about what I see with Donald Trump.

So, all you got to do at this point, and I hate to say this, but why do we keep having to say this, pick your poison. One poison might send you to the hospital for a couple of days.

KARL: Yes.

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD: Other ones will absolutely kill you.


KARL: Our thanks to Charlamagne for that.

And coming up will speak exclusively with one of those Democrats that he just mentioned. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro is next.


KARL: Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro is here. I'm going to ask him about one prominent Biden supporter who was just called on the president to step aside and allow Democrats to choose a different presidential nominee.

We'll be right back.



GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO, (D) PENNSYLVANIA & BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: Two things that I think are part of the story that the president’s presence tells us here today. Number one, this president gives a damn, not just about the city of Philadelphia, not just about those who run toward danger, our firefighters, and those hear at Ladder 1, but he gives a damn about this community. I couldn’t be more proud to have him back here in the city of Philadelphia.


KARL: Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro introducing President Biden during one of his recent trips to the Keystone State.

Governor Shapiro joins us now.

Governor, I want to start with what we just heard from Charlamagne tha God. He name-checked you but also had some very pointed criticism of President Biden, saying he is an uninspiring candidate, should send you out a lot more.

What most worries you about what seems to be happening, a Biden-Trump rematch?

SHAPIRO: Let me say this, I have a lot of respect for Charlamagne. I appreciate the fact that he’s taken note of our GSD attitude, our get stuff done attitude in Pennsylvania, whether it’s repairing I-95 in 12 days with the president’s help, whether it’s investing historic amounts in education or infrastructure, making sure we focus on public safety, and protecting our fundamental freedoms here in Pennsylvania, whether it’s the right to choose or whether it’s the right to vote.

I think Charlamagne’s bold and candid conversation with the American people is really important. I think it speaks to the broader issue right now that while Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s names may ultimately be on the ballot and be our choices in November, this election really is about all of us and whether or not we’re going to rise up and use our voices and ultimately our vote to protect our fundamental freedoms, to scream out for the kind of country that we want, to protect this 247-year experience that began right here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the city of Philadelphia. And I think Charlamagne’s voice is an important one in that dialogue. I think it’s important that we listen to him. I think it’s important that he continues to be part of that conversation.

KARL: And let’s look at Pennsylvania because, of course, it could all come down to Pennsylvania. This is a state that you won in 2022 with the 15-point landslide and Biden has been there more than he’s been to any other state. And yet we see the race is essentially tied. Some polls show Trump ahead. Some, you know, Biden.

But it -- I mean, the race is very tight. Why is -- why is it so close in Pennsylvania? Why is Biden having a tougher time than you did in Pennsylvania?

SHAPIRO: Well, the race is close, but understand, the campaign hasn’t really even joined yet. And this is the reason why we run races. And I would say to folks who are worried about the numbers, stop worrying and start working.

And I think it’s important to go back and look at the history of Pennsylvania in recent years. There have been a number of races, you cited mine where we won by a historic margin, where the pundits a year out were saying, oh, it’s going to be a bad year for Democrats.

What we have seen really since Donald Trump’s election here in 2016 is, every other time Pennsylvanians have had the opportunity to go to the ballot, they have voted for freedom and against extremism. They rejected Donald Trump in 2020. They voted for me by a historic margin in 2022.

Just last year, in 2023, we had a Supreme Court race that was largely focused on freedom and the right to choose, and we elected the Democrat. In 2023, we threw out all kinds of school board members who were focused on banning books, not focused on our children. In numerous special elections here in our state legislature, including one last week, we rejected extremism and focused on fighting for freedom.

So when Pennsylvanians get the opportunity to go to the polls, they vote for freedom. They reject extremism. And I’m going to do everything in my political power over the course of the next several months to make the case, to prosecute the case against Donald Trump, to make the case about how Joe Biden is the candidate standing up for our freedom. And I’m hopeful that the good people of Pennsylvania will continue with that string of voting for freedom and against extremism.

KARL: In The New York Times this week, Ezra Klein, who believes that Biden has been "a very good president," makes the case that he should bow out of this campaign and leave it to the delegates of the Democratic Convention to choose the nominee.

This is what he writes. "I think Biden, as painful as this is, should find a way to stepping down as a hero, that the party should help him find his way to do that, to being the thing he said he would be in 2020, a bridge to the next generation of Democrats. I take nothing away from how hard that is. Retirement can be, often is, a trauma. But losing to Donald Trump would be far worse."

Do you see any scenario where something like that could happen, where Biden could pass the torch, again, as he said he would in 2020?

SHAPIRO: Look, I think Ezra is right, the stakes could not be higher, but Joe Biden is going to be our nominee, and I’m proud to support him. He talks about being a bridge. And let me tell you something, he helped us repair that bridge on I-95 in 12 days. He was my partner in that, and he’s been a partner to many of us across the country in moving our country forward, in saving our economy from ruin, in helping America get back up on its feet post-COVID. This is a president who delivered.

Now, we’ve got to go out and make that case. The president, the vice president and those of us who are privileged who support him and have a front-row seat to this, we've got to go out and do this important work now. It's back to what I said earlier about Charlamagne’s voice. I think this really is going to be an election, yes, where Joe Biden and Donald Trump are the candidates but really where it is going to be a question for every single American about what kind of country do we want to build.

On the one hand, we’ve got an agent of total chaos, someone who wants to restrict our freedom and someone who puts himself first, and that is Donald Trump.

I mean, consider this, remember what it was like when Donald Trump was president. He was in our faces and in our living room every day, injecting chaos. Think about what will happen here in Pennsylvania if he gets his way and he does away with Obamacare, something he’s pledged to do. That means 1.2 million Pennsylvanians won’t have health insurance.

Think about if he gets his way with a national ban on abortion. This guy is trying to take away the freedom of millions of women across this country. We’ve already seen what he’s tried to do when people go and vote and choose someone other than him. He tries to overthrow the government.

This is a guy who is an agent of chaos, who’s trying to restrict our freedom. And every American is going to have to stand up and be counted, as to whether or not they want to continue to be a voice of freedom and democracy, that this is going to be a beacon of hope to countries around the world.

And so, in many ways, this election is less about Joe Biden and Donald Trump and more about us and the kind of country that we want to build. And I’ve got confidence in the American people that, just as they did in 2020, they will rise up; they will demand more; they will seek justice; and they will look to defend freedom in this nation, and they will reject Donald Trump.

KARL: All right. Governor Shapiro, thank you very much for joining in this -- joining us this morning.

Up next, Donald Trump might have to pay nearly a half a billion dollars in a civil suit, but he's now out there selling perfume and golden sneakers. The roundtable is here ready to dig into it all.



BIDEN: As long as I'm president, America stands with our commitment to our NATO allies as they have stood by their commitments to us repeatedly. Putin and the whole world should know if any adversary would attack us, our NATO allies would back us, and if Putin were to attack a NATO ally, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory.


KARL: A fired-up President Biden speaking out about NATO and Vladimir Putin in the wake of Alexei Navalny's death. Let's bring in the round table -- Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile; National Review Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang, and Politico Senior Columnist Jonathan Martin.

So Donna, gosh, that was a fired-up Joe Biden pushing back not just against Trump on NATO, but also the Republicans in the House were going on vacation before dealing with Ukraine.

DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR & FORMER DNC CHAIR: And you know, he repeated that again yesterday saying, come back from vacation. After all, we have two government shutdowns looming on March 1st, and I think March 8th, and the president is right to call Republicans back to work and say, let's finish the job.

KARL: It was interesting, Selina, Zelenskyy in Munich said, dictators don't go on vacation. He is pretty attuned to this debate as well.

SELINA WANG, ABC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, even Zelenskyy is taking a swipe here at Congress. And the most fired-up we heard Biden was saying, this is outrageous. How can you go on recess? But look, the reality is, Congress is going in circles. We know that according to sources, Biden, he has denied requesting to meet with Johnson. He is saying, we've already negotiated this. Approve what's been in the Senate. If any of this, plus Navalny, makes a difference and pulling out of (inaudible) from Ukraine, if that makes a difference, is unclear.

KARL: Meanwhile, J. Martin, the former president of the United States, current Republican front-runner, is hawking golden tennis shoes.

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICO SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST: Yes. Our great Hustler in Chief in the spirit of Buffalo Bill and P.T. Barnum is now running for president while simultaneously selling golden shoes, and potentially looking for more cash to pay off civil trials that he is now on the hook for. Look, this is who Trump is. The American people know this is who he is. They don't seem bothered by it, at least half the country doesn't. So, it shouldn't be a surprise, but you couldn't script somebody who is less interested, apparently in trying to lock up the Republican primary.

He's giving Nikki Haley fodder day in and day out, his comments, his actions, his lack of commentary, not saying anything about Navalny. The leader of one of our two parties in the most important country in the world doesn't say a word about the murder of a dissident in Russia. It is extraordinary. And guess what, Jon, Republican voters respond with a collective yawn.

KARL: Ramesh, is that going to change at all? I mean, is this -- are we locked in?

RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR & WASHINGTON POST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: Well, the trouble with responding with a yawn is there is I think, going to be a question of enthusiasm. We've seen low turnout so far in the Republican contests. And a lot of Trump's voters for the new voters, particularly that he's brought to the Republican Party have not been regular voters, they need to actually be excited to turn out. Of course, that's going to be a problem on both sides this time.

MARTIN: Yes, I think real fast. The Nikki Haley voter to me is perhaps one of the most important voters in the general election this fall, whether it's 35 or 38 percent, she gets to South Carolina next Saturday. How many of those voters nationwide center right, that kind of push Republican, where do they go? Do they gradually come back to Trump because they're good party people? Or do they sit it out? Or do they vote for Biden grudgingly once again, like many of them did in 2020?

That demographic is so important, and Trump right now is making fun of her. He's not trying to win over her voters. He's mocking her.

BRAZILE: Yes. But she has money.

MARTIN: Where are they supposed (ph) to go?

BRAZILE: She has money. She needs momentum.


BRAZILE: So far, Trump has, you know, he has 63 delegates, he needs 1,250. And we all know going forward after the next two contests in South Carolina and Michigan on the Republican side. The map really favors Donald Trump. Why? Because they're delegate rules, which if you get over 50 percent of the vote, you get all the delegates.

And in certain states afterwards, if you get 50 percent in a congressional district. Again, the rules favor Donald Trump, you may have money, but without a message and momentum.

WANG: But in the meantime, actually, the Biden camp is not there. They don't have any issues with Haley trading attacks on Trump. A lot of the arguments she makes is actually a very distilled version of the arguments they've been making against Trump.

KARL: She sounds a --


WANG: It's kind of helping them. Yes.

KARL: But, look, she refused to answer my question about whether or not she would still support Trump if he's the nominee. But what's interesting is she didn't say yes. I mean, she's not saying no, but she's already signed a pledge saying she would. And she's not reaffirming that.

PONNURU: Yes. And I think that it's obviously not an accident that she's sort of trying to straddle the issue like that. Because a lot of her voters, the people who are now supporting her who are excited about her candidacy are anti-Trump voters.

KARL: Right.

PONNURU: But at the same time, she can't make any headway in what is essentially a pro-Trump party if she doesn't appeal to people who would think of that as an ultimate betrayal.

MARTIN: There's like a 35 to 40 percent bloc of folks who will vote GOP primaries who are not for Donald Trump. It's not enough remotely to get her majority anytime in any state. But it's a whole lot of votes for the general election. Right.

BRAZILE: That's a good point. But at the same time, I think what Joe Biden did this past week, is what people would like to see Joe Biden do every week. I mean, I love the interview with Charlamagne Tha God because he talked about the couch. Joe Biden is a traditional sofa. I mean, Donald Trump is a sectional, with all kinds of divisions.

So, I think he needs to go out there and continue to hammer home on the message of what he has accomplished. But more importantly, what he hopes to do in the future.

KARL: Charlamagne is really worried that Trump could win this thing.

BRAZILE: Well, we need Charlamagne and many others like him who are influencers who can just go out there and tell the American people what's at stake, because he said his audience is America.

MARTIN: But he was candid about Biden not being able to make the case himself.

KARL: Yes.

MARTIN: Which will allow Democrats to say privately is he's got to have basically a bullpen by committee out there making this case for him every day, every week, you know, he's not gone to the border yet. Still, Donna, Biden hasn't, which is remarkable given the salience of the issue.

And it's puzzling to me that he hasn't done that, especially when you've got this, you know, a flotilla of, you know, folks that you can bring with you down there to make the case that you're trying (INAUDIBLE) --

BRAZILE: But he made it to East Palestine, and he will make it to the border, but we shouldn't try to define the president by the way he goes, we should define him by what he's doing on behalf.


PONNURU: Case against Trump not the case for himself.

MARTIN: And that's a tough win.

PONNURU: He wins this, the more he makes it as a referendum on Trump.

KARL: And let me get to the meat (ph). There was a major development this week with the indictment of the FBI informants that had said that Biden had been taking bribes, regret related to Ukraine. The indictment said that this informant was lying. Now, let's remind everybody, this was a big part of the Republican case against Joe Biden.

Take a listen.


FORMER REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family.

ELISE STEFANIK: A highly credible FBI source alleges that Joe Biden received $5 million in exchange for pressuring for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor.

JAMES COMER: We also failed a Form 1023 and FBI form alleging Joe Biden took a bribe.


KARL: Well, that Form 1023, Ramesh, was apparently a lie, at least allegedly according to the former Republican Trump-appointed U.S. attorney. So what's your sense? The Republicans now say never mind about impeaching Joe Biden?

PONNURU: You know, I don't think that they say never mind, but I do think that beyond this embarrassing problem that they brought on themselves by going too far on this, they've got a math problem. There are only 219 House Republicans. They need to get a majority, and as we saw with the attempted -- the first attempted impeachment of Mayorkas and then they had to do a do-over. That's hard to get, and every Republican, even the Republicans who voted against impeachment, none of them are fans of Mayorkas. All of them thought he's been derelict in his duty, but they weren't able to get 100 percent. They have to get 100 percent.

KARL: What was the reaction inside the White House to that?

WANG: Look, I was just speaking to a White House official who says it's another big embarrassment for House GOP, and they say it's just the nail in a coffin to what they see as something that's already been dwindling.

BRAZILE: It's been a nothing burger from day one. And unfortunately, they can't even add pickles, relish, and anything else because it's a nothing burger. The Republicans don't have policies. This don't really have a plan. This is going to go down in history as the least productive Congress in American history because they don't want to legislate.

KARL: How does Johnson deal with this? He's got effectively a two-vote majority now.

MARTIN: Well, he does --

KARL: It's not just impeachment that's going to be the problem.

MARTIN: Well, and if he brings up a stand-alone vote that includes aid for Ukraine, he's going to face the same thing Kevin McCarthy did last year, which is a motion to vacate, which means throwing him out of his job. So, I'm skeptical that he can do that. I think it is going to have to be some kind of legislative craftsmanship to get the Ukraine vote to the floor of the House without Johnson blessing it. That is going to be fascinating to see how that comes off.

Jon, the GOP is basically two parties now. You've seen this in the Senate roll call vote last week on the aid bill, OK? You've got about 21 Republican Senators, most of them over the age of 60, OK? Who are from the Reagan-era party who, of course, are internationalists, they're mostly hawks and it's a big divide with the younger wing of the party which is much more Trumpy and isolationist. You see that split and you can also see it, by the way, in the support for Donald Trump. Look at that list of Senators who voted for the aid bill, how many are for Trump? Not a lot.

PONNURU: But the House has a majority in name only. When you are small and cohesive, you can run the House. When you are small and you are fractious, you cannot run the House. So you just can't run it as a partisan majority. You don't have it.

KARL: Fractious, indeed. All right. We will be right back.


KARL: Thanks to the roundtable. That's all for us today. Thank you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight," and have a great Presidents' Day weekend.