'This Week' Transcript 2-25-24: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan & Sen. Tammy Duckworth

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, February 25.

ByABC News
February 25, 2024, 10:00 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, February 25, 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.




RADDATZ: Blowout win.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now.

RADDATZ: Donald Trump dominates the South Carolina primary despite making comments there widely criticized as racist.

TRUMP: I'm being indicted for you, the black population.

RADDATZ: The latest on the fallout and what's next with Rachel Scott and Rick Klein.

And IVF on pause in parts of Alabama after a state court ruling raises concerns nationwide about creating embryos.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does someone else get to dictate what I want for my family?

RADDATZ: Republicans struggle to respond as Democrats seize the issue. Our exclusive interview with Senator Tammy Duckworth. Plus, analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.

Two years of war.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America stands up for freedom. We never bow to anyone.

RADDATZ: Ukraine suffers losses against Russia as funding from the U.S. dries up.

The casualties are one after another. You can see that line of ambulances there.

We report from inside Ukraine. And White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan joins us.

Plus --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have lived experiences to bring to the table. And having that representation in the Senate, I think, is vital.

RADDATZ: Rachel Scott speaks to three black women hoping to shatter glass ceilings in the Senate in 2024.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.

As we come on the air this morning, former President Donald Trump is one step closer to securing the GOP nomination for the White House. Last night he easily won the South Carolina primary, defeating his one remaining challenger, Nikki Haley, in her home state by 20 points. Haley has vowed to remain in the race through Super Tuesday on March 5th, but after her defeat last night, the path looks even more narrow. And in a matter of weeks, Trump may officially have the delegates he needs to claim victory.

Haley is still making the case that Trump is unelectable in November, and that he sows chaos and division with his actions and his rhetoric.

Our powerhouse political team is here to break down last night's results and Trump's latest controversial comments. And we begin with ABC's Rachel Scott in South Carolina.

Good morning, Rachel.


Look, Donald Trump was so confident, he barely even campaigned in this state, delivering a crushing blow to Nikki Haley in a state that elected her to the governor's mansion twice. Haley knew this was going to be an uphill challenge, that the odds were stacked against her. This morning she is defiant, vowing to stay in this race, still making the case that she is the only Republican that can defeat President Biden in November, but she has to get through Donald Trump first. And exit polls show that the voters that know her perhaps the best, right here in South Carolina, they were not buying that electability argument.

As for Trump, he is laser-focused on the general election. He didn't even mention her a single time in his victory speech, Martha.

RADDATZ: And, Rachel, the night before the primary, former President Trump made several comments at the Black Conservative Federation Gala in South Carolina there that Biden campaign is calling outright racist.

Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got indicted a second time. And a third time. And a fourth time. And a lot of people said that that's why the black people like me because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And I think that's why the black people are so much on my side now because they see what's happening to me, happens to them.

The mugshot, we've all seen the mugshot. And you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The black population. It’s incredible. You see black people walking around with my mugshot. These lights are so bright in my eyes that I can't see too many people out there, but I can only see the black ones. I can't see any white ones, you see? That's how far I've come.


RADDATZ: And, Rachel, those comments didn't seem to hurt him last night at all.

SCOTT: No. And the crowd was cheering. I'm told that Trump's team, though, was caught off guard by those comments. That was not in the script. The former president trying to appeal to black voters. He won just 6 percent of the black vote in 2016, 8 percent in 2020. He's looking at President Biden's low approval ratings across the board. He does see an opening there. And he talked a lot about criminal justice reform, signing the First Step Act into law. That is something, though, that he doesn't mention nearly as much when campaigning in front of predominantly white crowds in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. And his pitch was essentially that because he's a criminal defendant because he has a mugshot, black voters will suddenly like him even more.

Nikki Haley lashing out against those comments, calling them disgusting. She says that it's a warning sign for the party as it’s trying to expand its tent. And, of course, this morning you have Democrats pointing to a long list of racially insensitive things that the former president has said, from being accused of discriminating against black tenants. He was sued back in the 1970s over that, to pushing false conspiracy birtherism, theories about former President Barack Obama, to telling four congresswomen of color who were American citizens to go back to where they came from, Martha.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much, Rachel, there in South Carolina.

And, Rick Klein, what do you see when you look at last night? Are there any warning signs for Donald Trump?

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, inside or out, you do see some concerns that might be there for the – for a Trump candidacy going forward. He's got core Republicans. We saw this in the exit polls. He won Republican votes by about 40 points last night. But independents, that's another story. And, of course, this was an open primary. Anyone could vote. Nikki Haley actually carried independent voters by about 20 points. So, it's one thing to win a Republican primary, but the general election is another story.

And given the legal issues that he continues to face, we asked in this exit poll whether Trump would be fit to serve if he’s convicted of a crime, and 61 percent said, yes, he would be fit to serve. But check this out, 36 percent say no. So, that’s more than a third of core Republican voters who say if he is convicted, he is not fit to serve. But the exit poll also showed I think pretty starkly how the core argument that Haley has made against Trump just fell flat. She has been saying only – only I can beat Joe Biden and that's not what the exit polls show. In fact, it looks like voters are much more likely to think that Trump can beat Joe Biden than Haley.

RADDATZ: And – and exit polls and past exit polls this cycle have shown just how many Republicans still believe President Biden did not legitimately win the election. How does South Carolina compare?

KLEIN: Yes, once again we see an overwhelming number, 61 percent of people in South Carolina believe falsely that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election. And to me, it speaks to the MAGA takeover of the Republican Party. We saw this across issues, whether it's immigration, whether it’s foreign policy, whether it's the economy, Republican voters believe what Donald Trump is saying. They like what he is – what he is talking about. They like him. And they continue to – to – to say that over and over again. And that really is what it comes down to is that Donald Trump is popular with his base. People believe what he's saying, even when it's false.

RADDATZ: Still a lot to look forward to.

Thanks so much, Rick Klein and Rachel Scott.

We turn now to the uproar over IVF this week after the Alabama Supreme Court's decision that frozen embryos should be considered people. The state's Republican governor now says she’s working on a solution with GOP lawmakers to protect IVF access in the state, but for now families in Alabama are left waiting as the political implications are being felt across the country.

ABC's Elizabeth Schulze spoke with some of those Alabama families.


EMILY CAPILOUTO, ALABAMA IVF PATIENT: I want so badly to become a mother.


E. CAPILOUTO: This is our biggest, like, prayer and dream.

ELIZABETH SCHULZE, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a dream that's now on hold for Emily Capilouto and her husband James after an historic and contentious decision by Alabama's Supreme Court.

CAPILOUTO: I'm really angry and I’m really sad.

SCHULZE (voice over): The couple's frozen embryos were the result of an arduous fertility journey, costing more than $50,000 and countless hours of shots, hormones and anxiety. Their fertility clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the biggest of three major providers in this state that has paused IVF treatments.

E. CAPILOUTO: It has been very scary because I have not had any answers.

SCHULZE (voice over): Two hundred and thirty-eight thousand American families turned to in vitro fertilization, or IVF, every year to get pregnant. Multiple embryos are typically frozen to try to increase the likelihood that one will successfully implant. Discarding unused embryos is a routine part of the process. But after Alabama's Supreme Court ruling, it could be considered a crime.

DR. BETH MALIZIA, ALABAMA FERTILITY: That decision has a ton of unintended consequences.

SCHULZE (voice over): In the ruling, the court said frozen embryos qualify as children, and anyone who discards them could be liable for wrongful death.

For doctors like Beth Malizia at Alabama Fertility Specialists, that's too much of a legal risk.

SCHULZE: Did you expect to be in a position where you're pausing this standard care for fertility because of a decision by the state supreme court?

MALIZIA: Not at all. And I think maybe I was naive with that. I – I think the Dobbs decision blew open a door, and we don't know what's on the other side of that.

SCHULZE (voice over): Reproductive rights advocates warned overturning Roe v. Wade put not just abortions but fertility treatments at risk too.

President Biden said this week that's exactly what’s happening, calling Alabama’s decision outrageous and unacceptable, and blaming former President Trump for appointing justices who overturned Roe.

After public uproar over Alabama's decision, Trump came out in full-throated support of IVF, but didn't comment on the court's decision that embryos are people.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder.

SCHULZE: Gabbie Price and her husband in Leeds, Alabama, have been trying without success for seven years to get pregnant.

GABBIE PRICE, ALABAMA IVF PATIENT: We really wanted to give as many children as possible a loving home.

SCHULZE: After a miscarriage last year, they sold their home and moved into this camper van to save money for their last resort, IVF. Gabbie started a new job just for its fertility benefits.

Does this change your view of who you would want representing you, who you would choose to vote for?

PRICE: It absolutely does, but there's been a lot of talk about the fall of Roe v. Wade and the effects that that's had, and I think this is a big one.

SCHULZE: For "This Week," Elizabeth Schulze, in Birmingham, Alabama.


RADDATZ: And I’m joined now by Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, co-chair of the Biden-Harris reelection campaign.

Good morning, Senator.

If I can get personal, I know that you turned to IVF to -- for your daughters, aged 9 and 5.


RADDATZ: What was your reaction when you saw the Supreme Court decision in Alabama?

DUCKWORTH: Not at all surprised, unfortunately.

I have been talking about this in 2018 when it was very clear that Republicans were working to eliminate women's reproductive rights. I said if Neil Gorsuch gets put on the Supreme Court, if Amy Coney Barrett gets put on the Supreme Court, we're going to have an erosion of Roe v. Wade, and even back in 2018, I said, IVF is next.

They said they're coming for IVF. So, unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised. I’m devastated for those families that are trying to start families, but I was not at all surprised.

RADDATZ: And just to be clear, the decision does not outlaw IVF, but obviously makes it more complicated. Can you freeze those embryos? What do you do with embryos that are not used, right?

DUCKWORTH: Well, the decision is very clear that a fertilized egg is a child, is a human being, which means that for example in my case, when we have five fertilized eggs and three were non-viable. When my doctor discarded those with my consent, that would be considered potentially manslaughter or murder.

Basically, Republicans have put the rights of a fertilized egg over the rights of the woman, and that is not something that I think the American people agree with.

RADDATZ: You introduced a bill last month to safeguard IVF access nationally. The National Republican Senate campaign arm is instructing their candidates to, quote, clearly and concisely reject efforts by the government to restrict IVF.

So, do you think you can now get Republican support to pass your bill?

DUCKWORTH: It's been crickets since the Alabama ruling. And let's make it clear. Republicans will say whatever they need to say to try to cover themselves on this, but they have been clear and Donald Trump has been the guy leading this effort to eliminate women's reproductive rights and reproductive choice. And so, this is the next step. And by the way, not a single Republican has reached out to me on the bill. I’ve introduced the bill multiple times and on multiple congresses, but frankly, you know, let's see if they vote for it when we bring it to the floor.

RADDATZ: I want to talk about South Carolina last night. I’m sure -- I’m sure you watched. It was full of people saying they deny the election, that the election was stolen.

Does what happened in South Carolina and what's happened so far and Donald Trump clear winner here, change your approach with Biden/Harris?

DUCKWORTH: No. I think what we talk about, again, is that Donald Trump has been very clear about what he's doing. He's not running for president for the American people. He's not running for president to take care of working families. He's running for president for himself. That's all he cares about every single day.

President Biden, in contrast, gets up every day and works hard to protect the American people and works hard to make sure he delivers for working families across this country. The choice is very clear and we just need to continue to hammer home that message.

RADDATZ: But you saw those exit polls, veterans like yourself, voted for him despite comments about Nikki Haley's husband who is deployed right now. Again, the election deniers, Black voters, young voters. Nothing gives you pause after watching what Donald Trump has said?

DUCKWORTH: Oh, no, it certainly does, but it has all along. I think it's very -- Donald Trump, this is what he has been doing. He's shown us over time who he is, and he's a guy who cares about no one but himself.

You know, I have often thought when I go into work with my colleagues, and I assumed they loved America as much as I love America, that we just look at the problem from different perspectives, but we can come to a compromise.

Donald Trump cares about one thing, Donald Trump. That is in contrast with Joe Biden who cares deeply about America, who gets up every day and does everything that he can to serve this country, and we have to hammer that home.

And, again, we bring up these things, you know, for young people, for young families, we talk about IVF, we talk about reproductive choice, we talk about the fact that Donald Trump is the guy who took away women's right to protect -- to take – to make their own decisions about their families.

RADDATZ: How big of a factor do you think that will be? We saw what happened in the midterms. Will it be a huge factor now? Is this something that Democrats are saying, just what we want to talk about? If this was going to happen, now is the time we want it to happen, the Alabama ruling.

DUCKWORTH: Definitely. This is what we're going to be talking about. We're going to talk about the fact that Donald Trump is the guy and Republicans have been working literally for years to take away your reproductive choice, which includes access to IVF for people struggling to start families.

But we also remember that we also came to a compromise on border security. There’s a crisis at the border. And yet when we had a compromise, when we gave Republicans what they wanted, it was Donald Trump who killed the compromise, who stuck a knife in James Lankford's back and said, you know what, I don't want – I don’t want a compromise at the border because that's not what I care about. I care about Donald Trump. That’s the choice.

RADDATZ: Let – let me ask you about – about the border. And the Biden administration is considering using executive action to make it harder for migrants to claim asylum. Would you support that?

DUCKWORTH: I would support that because we do have cries at the border. But I also think that we need –

RADDATZ: Something Donald Trump tried?

DUCKWORTH: Well, you know what, Donald Trump has – has backed away from this. As part of that package, there was more money for a whole bunch of things, to include a worker program so that people could actually go to work while they’re waiting for their case to be adjudicated. I think that is critically important is a work permit for folks who come here. They want to work? Well, let's put them to work.

I've got the ag industries looking for workers. Retailers looking for workers. While they're waiting for their – let’s let – allow them to work. So they’re – in that compromise, it’s exactly that. There was stuff that fixed the border problems, but also allowed us to let -- to be humane about how we take care of the migrants who are here.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning, Senator.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

RADDATZ: Much appreciated.

When we come back, my report from Ukraine as the nation enters its third year of war with Russia. And I'll speak with White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on the battle for more aid.

We're back in two minutes.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The clock is ticking. Brave Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are dying.

Failure to support Ukraine in this critical moment will never be forgotten in history. It will be measured. And it will have impacts for decades to come.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If Ukraine gets the arms, they can win. But if they don't get the arms, they could certainly lose. They would certainly lose.


RADDATZ: That was President Biden, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who traveled to Ukraine this week calling for more aid to Ukraine as year three of the conflict has begun.

With U.S. aid to Ukraine in limbo, and notable Russian gains on the battlefield this week, we traveled to Ukraine again where there is no end to the war in sight, a war watched from Ukraine two years ago this weekend, as Russia unleashed its brutal assault.


RADDATZ: It began before dawn, a powerful volley of Russian missiles striking targets across Ukraine. But predictions that Russia would quickly control Ukraine were simply wrong. Instead, it has been a slow, deadly grind on battlefields, in cities and towns, a massive loss of life and property that has affected every community.

There is no better example than this. Two years ago, just outside of the vibrant city of Lviv in western Ukraine stood this barren, grassy field. And this is that field today, filled with hundreds and hundreds of graves of soldiers killed within the last two years, fathers, brothers, sons, now gone. Their loved ones, even while air raid sirens wail, left only with gardens to tend in their honor, mothers like Natalia, whose 38-year-old son Adam (ph) died just over a month ago.

RADDATZ: What would your message be to Russia?

If all of the world would unite together against Russia, this war would stop, she tells me, but Russian forces are far from halting their aggression.

In southeastern Ukraine this week, Ukrainian soldiers forced to withdraw from the key town of Avdiivka, a significant gain for Russia and a loss that one Ukrainian commander blames on lack of manpower and dwindling reserves of ammunition, soldiers calling the battle of Avdiivka a "slaughter," the loss of life immense, he number of wounded overwhelming hospitals.

The casualties are arriving constantly at this hospital. You can see that line of ambulances, and right now, they are taking patients out to transfer them to other hospitals.

This is Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro, where only the most severely wounded of those fighters gets treated. Dr. Ryzhenko heads the hospital and has been there since the invasion began.

These soldiers are from Avdiivka?

SERGII RYZHENKO, CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR, MECHNIKOV HOSPITAL: Yes, a lot of soldiers from Avdiivka, from Avdiivka, very, very seriously wounded.

RADDATZ: More than -- more than other places?


RADDATZ: In the last two years, doctors here have treated more than 25,000 wounded soldiers, transfused 14 tons of blood, amputated more than 3,500 limbs and performed more than 1,300 brain surgeries.

American neurosurgeon Dr. Rocco Armonda is here volunteering in Ukraine for the second time since the war began. He now practices in Washington, D.C. but began his career as an Army surgeon.

RADDATZ: You had so many injuries during Iraq and Afghanistan and treated soldiers from those wars. How does this compare?

DR. ROCCO ARMONDA, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON NEUROENDOVASCULAR SURGERY DIRECTOR: That was one-tenth of the number of patients that I've seen here. What we had over 20 years of war is basically what they've had in two years, very simply put.

RADDATZ: Dr. Armonda performed brain surgery this day five times. We watched him in the operating room remove shrapnel from the brain of a young, severely injured Ukrainian soldier hit by artillery.

No matter what, this is a long, long recovery?

ARMONDA: Oh, yeah. This is definitely a long recovery, in terms of his traumatic brain injury, but it's -- it's frontal lobe, so his chances for recovery are actually much, much better.

RADDATZ: Dr. Armando says lack of U.S. aid as the war drags on is clearly having an impact.

You know that the aid has been held up. Do you think that has made a difference?

ARMONDA: The less firepower you have, the more casualties you have, the more lives are lost. It's directly related.

RADDATZ: He says he was inspired to volunteer here again because of the oath he took in the U.S. Army.

Tell me why you are so committed.

ARMONDA: I'm committed because at West Point, when I was a cadet and when I became commissioned as an officer, we used to swear an oath to the Constitution to defend the United States against enemies foreign and domestic.

This is a foreign enemy. Russia is an enemy against the United States, against democracy, against human rights, against all of civilization. And if there's ever a place, a time, where America needs to lead, this is the place.

RADDATZ: In the hospital hallway, we met the family and mother of a young soldier, Roman (ph), in the ICU, after being shot in the abdomen.

MOTHER OF WOUNDED UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: You never know how hard it is until your own son is hurt, she told me, calling this war a meat grinder. But despite the loss, the pain, and no end in sight, soldiers keep fighting. The majority, volunteers.

We are with the 3rd Assault Brigade in Ukraine. We can't say exactly where we are, but this is one of the fiercest brigades in all of Ukraine.

This soldier who goes by call sign “center” has been in the Ukrainian army since 2017. At this training facility, he told me the fight is getting more difficult.

How important is U.S. aid?

We are defending with old, rusty Soviet weapons, he tells me. If we had more Western weapons, Western airplanes and artillery, we would have been at least three times more effective.

Still, he says, he’ll keep up the fight.

But for many other soldiers and many of the people of Ukraine who have lost so much, there is weariness here that has settled in on this anniversary, and a profound sense of uncertainty.


RADDATZ: I'm joined now by White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan, thanks for joining us this morning.

I saw growing uncertainty in Ukraine. How would you characterize where we are two years into this?

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first, Martha, let’s take a step back. Yesterday, as you noted, was the two-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal imperial war of conquest against Ukraine. Most people bet that Ukraine would fall within a week or two, that Kyiv would be occupied, the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv would be occupied by Russian forces.

Two years later, Kyiv stands. Ukraine stands. It stands as a proud, free democracy.

But it is still continuing to fight against a vicious Russian onslaught in the east. And for that it needs weapons. It needs ammunition. And it needs resources from countries like the United States.

And that’s why President Biden has been pushing so hard to get Ukraine the resources it needs to be able to fend off the Russians and take back the territory that Russia occupies.

This is not about a shortage of will, Martha. This is about a shortage of bullets. And if we can fill that shortage of bullets, Ukraine will stand up brave and courageous and take the fight to the Russians.

RADDATZ: I know you have spoken to House Speaker Mike Johnson. Do you think there will be a vote on The Hill? And what are you doing to make certain that happens, getting aid to Ukraine?

SULLIVAN: Well, this is one of those instances where one person can bend the course of history. Speaker Johnson, if he put this bill on the floor, would produce a strong, bipartisan majority vote in favor of the aid to Ukraine. We saw that in the Senate. It passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis. And if there were an up or down vote, it would pass overwhelmingly in the House.

So, it comes down to one person, Speaker Johnson, will he put the bill on the floor? I have spoken with him personally. He has indicated that he would like to get the funding for Ukraine. He’s trying to figure out a way to do it.

Right now, it comes down to his willingness to actually step up to the plate and discharge his responsibility at this critical moment. And history is watching.

RADDATZ: You know, you talk about the story of Ukraine and that they thought they might be defeated right away and were not. But the people I talk to in Ukraine say the story of 2023 looks to be that Ukraine's counter-offensive failed, did not do what they wanted it to do, because they did not have the training and the war fighting equipment they wanted.

What’s your reaction to that?

SULLIVAN: Look, when you’re in the middle of a war and you’re fighting every day under a hail of fire from the enemy, I can understand the frustration and the pain that they are going through. But the facts are that the United States, and a coalition of 50 nations that President Biden pulled together and Secretary Austin pulled together, delivered to Ukraine all of the pieces of equipment, all of the shells, all of the rockets that they’ve requested in advance of their counteroffensive last year. They did so in the spring. Ukraine launched that counteroffensive in the summer, and they ran into some difficulties, although they were able to take some territory.

RADDATZ: One of the things that they say over there is that the administration really did take a slow, incremental approach. You didn’t want to send F-16s at first. You didn’t want to send Abrams tanks. I think a year ago you and I were talking and you said that’s not what they needed. They think they needed it earlier and that that would have helped.

SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, if you look at the sum total of what the United States has provided to Ukraine in this fight, it is an incredible quantity of material delivered at speed, at scale, outpacing the expectations of anyone here in the United States in Europe or in Ukraine, the ramp up of assistance, of armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, yes, tanks, HIMARS, ammunition, training at scale, all done in the course not of years, not of years, Martha, but of months running up to the spring of 2023.

So, the idea that we did not mobilize a massive quantity of resources and capabilities to deliver to the Ukrainians simply doesn't wash. And I would say that, of course, there are additional capabilities that the Ukrainians have looked for. F-16 as being one of them. And we several months ago said we'd be prepared to provide F-16.

So, the issue there has been, there aren't very many Ukrainian pilots to be able to pilot those aircraft. It's not about whether or not F-16 could possibly have been on the battlefield in the spring of last year. So, the United States will continue alongside our allies and partners, to try to get Ukraine all of the tools and capabilities that it needs to be able to conduct this fight as rapidly and as efficiently as we possibly can.

RADDATZ: OK, I want to talk about the sanctions this week in light of the war, and the death of Alexei Navalny. The White House announced these extensive new sanctions against 500 individuals and entities in Russia, who they say, had ties to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

What possible difference do you think that will make given the history of sanctions not really working?

SULLIVAN: Well, Martha, let's talk about what the function of sanctions is, it is to drive down, Russia's access to revenue. And if you look at the Russian national wealth fund, the war chests that Putin has had since before this war began, he is depleting it month by month.

Second, it is to try to deny particular components to go into the Russian defense industrial base, so that we slow down and complicate their war machine, making it more difficult for them to feel advanced weapons.

RADDATZ: OK, I do want to say that --


SULLIVAN: -- in our view, been able to slow that down. And third, it is to be able to identify those leaders and those individuals who are responsible and to hold them personally accountable. And in the case of Alexei Navalny, we did that with the key prison officials on Friday.

So, we'll continue to do this. Sanctions are one part of a broader strategy, they by themselves are not going to generate a strategic result in this war, but they can contribute to a strategic result. And we are going to stay patient and resolved and relentless in the application of the sanctions.

RADDATZ: I just want to ask you very quickly, if there are 500 Russian entities that deserve to be sanctioned. Why did you wait until now?

SULLIVAN: Well, first of all, we haven't waited till now we had sanctions on the very first day of the war --

RADDATZ: Those 500. That's what I'm talking about.

SULLIVAN: Because every month Martha, the way this works is you continue to identify the entities that are contributing to Russia's war machine, the banks that are funding it, the factories that are building the weapons, the individuals that are responsible, and every month, we have a team of people looking for those targets and adding targets and we have done that on a consistent basis over the last two years. This is the latest turn of the crank and there will be more.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Mr. Sullivan.

Coming up, the Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down all the week's politics including the results from South Carolina and the political fallout from Alabama's IVF ruling.

We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: And so much to discuss this morning, so let's bring in our powerhouse roundtable.

Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, former RNC chair and Trump White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, “NPR” White House correspondent Asma Khalid, and “Politico Playbook” co-author Rachael Bade.

Welcome to all of you.

And, Donna, I want to start with you about Trump's comments on Friday night to a room full of black voters.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: A room full of black conservatives. And we all know they are, you know, about 5 or 10 percent of the black population is comprised of black conservatives.

But, Martha, I have to tell you, this is Black History Month. It's the history that we've all made as Americans. A history that we share, and a future that we all want to see together.

No one that I've heard from, or no one that I understand wants to go back to Donald Trump, go backto the past, go back to the trainwreck, the division and the chaos.

BRAZILE: So it's the history that we not only share but the history that we want to make together. And under Donald Trump, we didn't make a lot of black history.

RADDATZ: Reince Priebus, did you consider those comments racist? He wasn't on the Teleprompter.

PRIEBUS: I don't know. Look, I -- I remember, back in 2016 when President Trump went in to say, "Hey, what the hell do you have to lose?"

And I was the one saying, "Oh, no, we can't say it like that; we" -- and, you know, it turned out that he did better in the black community in 2016 than a lot of previous presidents. And today, if you look at the polling, he's looking at recent polling about 22 percent in the black community, in the seven battleground states.

His record, whether it be the First Step Act, whether it be pardoning Alice Johnson, whether it be unemployment, was pretty good. And I think black voters are very open to Donald Trump, and one of the biggest movers to the Republican Party are black men under 40.

And then, on the other side, you've got Joe Biden...

RADDATZ: But when -- when they hear comments like that, did it concern you?


PRIEBUS: ... who just recently said that "you ain't black" if you -- if you want to support Donald Trump. He referred to a black reporter and asked the black reporter whether the black reporter was a junkie. I mean, the things he said about Barack Obama, which were ridiculous. I mean...

BRAZILE: Who said about Barack Obama, Donald Trump, who questioned his nationality?

PRIEBUS: No, Joe Biden. Joe Biden said -- what did he say? I don't even want to repeat what Joe Biden said in 2008.

BRAZILE: Reince, this is not a conversation about whether or not -- who has a record, OK? Because we know Donald Trump's record. This is about the future, and what Donald Trump said was racist tropes. And it's insulting and demeaning to basically go to black people and say, "Oh, don't you like the fact that I have 91 convictions? Don't you want to see this mugshot?"

Hell, no. We want freedom and justice and equality like everybody else.

PRIEBUS: Wait a second. I don't -- for the record, I don't disagree. These things that are said are not helpful. They're distractions. I think that part of it is he's trying to be entertaining.

BRAZILE: Well...

PRIEBUS: I don't disagree. However, what I also see are the facts, and the facts are that 22 percent of black voters in America like what he's saying, like what he stands for and likes him as a candidate. So that's something you're going to -- your side's going to have to deal with.

BADE: I would just add that how much of this -- how much of this is actually, you know, folks in the black community actually liking Donald Trump versus feeling, sort of, neglected by Joe Biden right now?

I mean, we've talked about this on this show. I mean, a lot of folks in the black community feeling like they voted for Joe Biden; they single-handedly helped deliver the nomination to him; and that he hasn't passed enough legislation and support for them. So that could be what we're seeing right now.

PRIEBUS: Well, Donald Trump's on the verge of getting the highest percentage of black votes in 50 years.

BADE: But, again, why?



RADDATZ: I want to -- I want to move on to looking at South Carolina in general. No huge surprise, Asma...

KHALID: No, no huge surprise.

RADDATZ: ... that he -- that he won. But Nikki Haley saying she's staying in the race. And I think people are saying, "Why?"

KHALID: To what end, right?

I mean, look, her campaign suggests that voters, and she has said that voters deserve a choice. You know, my perennial question has been at what point, though, does she start to have to win a state to show why she's on this ballot?

I mean, look. I see this as a bigger, sort of, existential question within the Republican Party. We've talked a lot about the fact that many Democratic voters are disenchanted with Joe Biden. And there's this question about his age and where, you know, the electorate might be.

On the Republican side, though, I do think there are voters who are very also disenchanted with Donald Trump. And a part of me wonders if Nikki Haley is sticking around long enough to make a viable calculation that she is a potential alternative should anything happen to Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: And, Rachael, I want to go back to you on that. Is she the person that people would turn to if something did happen to Donald Trump?

BADE: I mean, the longer she stays in, the more she's going to anger Republican voters who want to unify. So there is that problem. Obviously, she -- she has this, sort of, race against the clock, right?

If she can stay in long enough for something -- for Trump to get a conviction or something like that, you know, people could potentially turn to her, but -- but that's probably not going to happen because that's months and months away.

But, you know, just to underscore what Asma was saying, Donald Trump clearly has a problem with the base. He talked last night about we are -- Republicans are very united. But what one in five voters told the AP, that they would not vote for Donald Trump even if he got the nomination. These are Republican voters in South Carolina. How is he going to unite the party? And this is going to be a big problem for him in the general election.

RADDATZ: So where do those voters go, Reince?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think they're going to go...

RADDATZ: There is a big chunk who don't want Donald Trump. So where do they go?

PRIEBUS: I think a lot of those folks are going to come back to Donald Trump, number one. You see it in polling. Every four years, this happens. There's big primaries in Indiana -- look, like 2016, oh, no one's going to go for Trump, and it all came back for Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: He did lose in 2020 though.

PRIEBUS: He did, true, but I think in reality, this is South Carolina. This is Nikki Haley's home state. There's going to be some real affinity for Nikki Haley there. So, if one in five voters who are Republicans that love Nikki Haley aren't happy about her losing by 20 points and saying, listen, I'm not going to support Donald Trump, that's not unusual.

But the threat though for Joe Biden is, little watched thing that happened this week in Wisconsin was that the Green Party is now going to have a line in Wisconsin, and Jill Stein in 2016 got over 30,000 votes in Wisconsin and Donald Trump won by 22,000 votes in Wisconsin. So, and if you are looking at real -- the dynamics that are going to be on the ballot, that Green Party line is something for everybody to watch.

RADDATZ: And Donna, what does this do when you look forward, Joe Biden? A lot of people don't want Joe Biden, who are Democrats.

BRAZILE: We have been hearing that for the last couple of months and you know what? People are still going out to vote, and Joe Biden is doing quite well and raising money. And I'm sure what you'll see over the next couple of weeks is more momentum, and the Democratic coalition comes back together and begins to reach out to independents.

Look, we want to go back to Nikki Haley. I don't know her path forward. I mean, she picked up three delegates last night -- this is a race for delegates. 1,215 is what you need on the Republican side and she's going to have a hard time getting more delegates when the rules begin to change that says, it's winner take all by CD or statewide.

Donald trump went in -- maybe not Donald Trump personally, but his team went into several of these states, including Michigan, and they're stirring the pot. So, I don't know how far she will go, but she -- if you have money, keep traveling.

RADDATZ: And one of the things we have seen President Biden do is, up his attacks on Donald Trump. Do you see that working at all?

ASMA KHALID, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Do I see that working? I don't know. I mean, look, they have certainly tried to up their attacks. You saw that just this week even with the Alabama court decision on IVF, which I'm sure we'll talk about, but I don't see that particularly effective yet. What we do see with Donald Trump yesterday and his CPAC comments is him trying to pivot towards a general election mode also and make this just a contest with Joe Biden.

I do think though that Nikki Haley's endurance in this race to me is not just about Donald Trump. It does strike me that it speaks to the fact there is a subset of the American electorate that is dissatisfied with Joe Biden and Donald Trump being their only two options. And yes, she's running in a Republican electorate, but it speaks to that dissatisfaction.

RADDATZ: And Rachael, let's move on to Michigan. You've got Michigan this week and progressives have been upset about Joe Biden's support of Israel, which we think there might be some sort of ceasefire and hostage release brewing. They -- that state has the largest percentage of Arab-American voters.


RADDATZ: How concerned should the campaign be about this?

BADE: Way more concerned than they currently are. I actually talked to the leader of the abandoned Biden movement on the ground there. He's a Palestinian-American, and those folks who have had family members who have died during the bombardments in Gaza, and he was a Biden voter. Just a few months ago, he had a sign -- Biden/Harris sign in his yard. Now, he says he would sooner vote for -- what did he say -- sooner vote for Mickey Mouse than Joe Biden, even if it means voting for Donald Trump.

So, I think that if you look at the numbers, one more thing, Martha, Joe Biden won by 150,000 votes in Michigan. There are 200,000 Muslim or Arab-American voters in Michigan. If he alienates all of them, Michigan is gone for him.

RADDATZ: And small numbers really overall, we just have a few seconds here, but really could have a profound impact.

KHALID: A critical impact. And to that point, I spoke with a number of people who sat in meetings either with Biden campaign officials or with Biden officials, policymakers, who were so dissatisfied, who came out of meetings still not convinced that they will vote for Joe Biden.

RADDATZ: Something we'll watch this week. Michigan coming up. Thanks to all of you. Up next, Rachel Scott on three black women looking to make history in the U.S. Senate. We'll be right back.



CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, FMR SENATOR: You have made history, and as much to the point of the history making you are showing the way for the entire country to the future. You have shown what we can do when we come together. When we stopped him from dividing up along race lines and gender lines, and geography.


RADDATZ: That was Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate delivering her victory speech 32 years ago.

This year, several black women are running for the Senate. So, as we marked Black History Month senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott spoke with three of those candidates about the challenges they faced and the history they could make.


RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There have been more than 2000 senators in America's 247-year history, but just 12 have been black, and only three have been black women. This year, Barbara Lee, Angela Alsobrooks and Lisa Blunt Rochester are among those vying for seats in the Senate and hoping to serve there together.

REP. BARBARA LEE, (D) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE FOR CALIFORNIA: I've truly believed that the perspective that I bring, the lens that I bring is lacking in the United States Senate.

SCOTT (voice-over): Lee has represented Oakland, California in the House of Representatives since 1998.

LEE: What happens with representation is that not only new ideas, new experiences, and new solutions come to the table. Black women understand the struggles in terms of fixing our democracy, fighting for our democracy.

SCOTT (voice-over): She credits Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress with convincing her to register to vote.

LEE: I didn't believe that the Democrats or Republicans were understanding the needs and the aspirations of myself as a young single mom. And she said, look, we need your voice. We need you on the inside. We need you to come help shake things up.

SCOTT (voice-over): Poll shows Lee trailing two fellow Democrats and a Republican ahead of the primary next Tuesday with only the top two advancing.

SCOTT: Are there clear challenges there for black woman to be able to run for office?

LEE: The system oftentimes and that's one thing Shirley Chisholm reminded me of it's not built and made for the participation of certain people who have been shut out for so long. But as Dr. Maya Angelou said and still, we rise.

SCOTT (voice-over): In Maryland Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks is up against millionaire Congressman David Trone in the May 14th primary. If she wins that she could go on to face popular former GOP Governor Larry Hogan and November.

ANGELA ALSOBROOKS, (D) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I was the first woman elected as prosecutor here. I was the first woman to be elected as county executive. And what that has meant is that I have brought to bear solutions that are very different. They are based not only on my professional experience, but lived experience, and I think it's important to have people representing you who live like you, who can think like the people they represent.

SCOTT (voice-over): Alsobrooks is very close with Vice President Kamala Harris, the second black woman ever sworn in as Senator.

SCOTT: What lessons have you taken away from her?

ALSOBROOKS: That it is not as important that you are the first at something, but that you create the kind of record and create the kind of roadway, so that others can be successful too. You know, you are not truly successful until you've made someone else successful.

SCOTT (voice-over): Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester was elected to Congress in 2017 and this is the favorite to when November Senate race in deep blue Delaware.

SCOTT: There has never been a woman. There has never been a person of color. There has never been a black woman to represent the State of Delaware in the United States Senate. What would that mean to you?

REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER, (D-DE) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: For me to be able to represent and bring those lived experiences, the professional experiences, the policy issues. I mean, we know that black women die from childbirth more than their white counterparts, have 43 percent more student loan debt than our white counterparts. So, I don't really think about the history so much because, you know, my intention is to make a difference and to have an impact on people's lives.

SCOTT (voice-over): If just two of these candidates win, they could make even more history as the Senate has never seen more than one black woman serving at a time.

ROCHESTER: I guess you think about Shirley Chisholm in this moment where she said, if they don't give you a seat at the table, you bring a folding chair. Well, maybe we'll have many folding chairs.


RADDATZ: Our thanks to Rachel Scott. With that, we'll be right back.


RADDATZ: That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "World News Tonight" and tune into ABC News Live, Tuesday night, for coverage of the Michigan primary results. Have a great day.