'This Week' Transcript 3-20-22: Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. John Barrasso, Marina Ovsyannikova & Dr. Anthony Fauci

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, March 20.

ByABC News
March 20, 2022, 9:54 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 20, 2022 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.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST (voiceover): All-out war. As Russia expand its assault on Ukraine, President Zelenskyy appeals to Congress.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): President Biden confronts China, condemns Putin.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he is a war criminal.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): What more will Russia do to avoid defeat?

ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We believe that Moscow may be setting the stage to use a chemical weapon.

IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: An apartment block struck by a missile at --

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): Ian Pannell is live in Kyiv this morning, plus top Senate Democrat Dick Durbin and GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso. Courageous protests.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova defies Putin, denounces the war. She joins us this morning in her first American broadcast interview. And --

ASHISH JHA, PHYSICIAN: We're not done with this pandemic.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): Cases of the new Omicron variant surge across Europe.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR OF THE CDC: We do anticipate it may become the predominant variant in the weeks ahead.

STEPHANOPOULOS (voiceover): Is the U.S. in for another COVID wave? Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us live. Plus, all the week's politics on our Powerhouse Roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Good morning and welcome to "This Week." As we come on the air this morning, the war in Ukraine appears to be a stalemate. The Institute for the Study of War has concluded that Ukraine has defeated the initial Russian campaign, with forces stalled outside Kyiv and other major cities, but in the face of resistance, Putin is escalating his brutal attacks, drawing new charges of war crimes.

President Zelenskyy is both promising victory and pleading for direct peace talks with Putin. The war enters its fourth week with more killing and more questions. No clarity at all on how the conflict ends or what the ultimate costs will be.

Our senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell starts us off in Kyiv, which could soon face the biggest urban battle since World War II. Good morning, Ian.

PANNELL: Yes. Good morning, George. It has been another week of death, destruction, and displacement in Ukraine. In the south and east there have been some small Russian advances and many cities are encircled and they’re being heavily bombarded. I think Mariupol’ in particular appears to be at risk of falling. But in many other areas, Putin’s land invasion appears to have largely stalled for now. And in his hubris, he seems to have totally underestimated his enemy and overestimated the power of his own military.


PANNELL (voiceover): Twenty-five days since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s war is running into trouble. Suffering heavy losses and stalled operations on all fronts, Russian troops spent the fourth week of their offensive targeting military infrastructure and densely populated residential areas with increasingly heavy aerial bombardment. Civilians pummeled by Russian missiles day after day, with more than 3 million Ukrainians now refugees, half of them children.

Tatiana (ph) and her 1-year-old baby were in bed when their apartment block (inaudible) was blown up this week.

I heard a very powerful explosion. My baby started yelling. I’ve never heard her cry like that, she says. I looked up and saw a huge fire ball. I grabbed my baby and ran.

PANNELL (on camera): This is exactly what indiscriminate Russian bombardment actually looks like. An apartment block struck by a missile at 5:00 in the morning. And you can see the incredible damage that it's done.

PANNELL (voiceover): Ukrainian officials confirming 23 killed outside of Kharkov Thursday, the bombs aimed at a school and community center. Ten people were killed just standing in line for bread in the northern city of Chernihiv, according to the government there.

But it's the besieged city of Mariupol’ that's been the hardest hit. Russian bombs raising this drama theater to the ground. More than 1,000 people were sheltering there and the word children was clearly written in Russian on the ground. Amid the setbacks around Kyiv, Russian forces have made small advances in eastern and southern Ukraine.

COL STEVE GANYARD, FMR. DEPUUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: It says something very strong about how the Ukrainians are defending their territory and how weak the Russians are and how infective their air force has been.

PANNELL (voiceover): Volodymyr Zelenskyy taking his role as a war time president in an extraordinary appeal to the U.S. Congress.

ZELENSKYY (through translator): Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember September the 11th, when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, into battlefields. Our country experiences the same every day.

PANNELL (voiceover): Within hours, Biden unveiling $800 million worth of new military aid to Ukraine, $1 billion total in just one week. For the first time, President Biden offering his harshest assessment yet.

BIDEN: I think he is a war criminal.

PANNELL (voiceover): In Moscow, though, it's another reality. Vladimir Putin on Friday staging a mass pro war rally in Moscow. This week, he claimed the invasion is unfolding successfully but the costs are mounting for Putin. The Russian president acknowledging rising costs, rising inflation and unemployment. And although cease-fire negotiations continue this week, there are mixed signals as to how much they're achieving. The fear is that without a workable offramp, Putin may double down and turn to even more extreme steps.

BLINKEN: We believe that Moscow may be setting the stage to use a chemical weapon and then, falsely, blame Ukraine to justify escalating its attacks on the Ukrainian people.

PANNELL (voiceover): Next week, the president traveling to Belgium for a NATO summit, where he and world leaders will discuss the ongoing conflict. The risk of other nations being drawn in are growing and the week ahead feels a critical and dangerous moment in Putin’s war in Ukraine.


PANNELL (on camera): Well, given how badly this campaign has gone, it does raise the question of whether Putin is prepared to moderate his war goals, but there was nothing in those speeches that he made this week to suggest he’s at that point yet. And given the deployments of these longer range missiles and evermore destructive and indiscriminate fire power, this is starting to look like it could become a protracted war of attrition.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Ian Pannell, thanks very much.

Let's bring in the Senate Democratic Whip now, Dick Durbin. Senator Durbin, thank you for joining us this morning.

You just heard Ian Pannell right there. Putin shows no signs of backing down, at least at this point. What more can the U.S. do to put pressure on him?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Well, I might add that Ukraine has shown no signs of backing down either. And the United States, through our president and NATO alliance, are totally committed to this Ukrainian effort to stop Putin. The desperate things that he's doing now, killing innocent civilians and children, for goodness sakes, he will have a stained name in history forever for this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you say we're totally committed but, as you know, President Biden and the West have ruled out a no-fly zone for right now. Several of your Democratic colleagues have called for sending these MiG-29s, these fighter jets, to Ukraine. They say that’s going to give the Ukrainians a chance at a fair fight without significant risk of escalation.. But you've been resisting that. Why are they wrong?

DURBIN: Well, I can just tell you that we're asking for one-third of the Polish Air Force to be sent into Ukraine. The people of Poland, of course, want to make certain that they're safe. They're only a few miles away from the devastation that’s going on in Ukraine. There are other ways for us to provide surface to air missiles and air defenses that will keep the Russians at bay in terms of their arial attack. I think there are ways to do that that are consistent with the NATO alliance and would not jeopardize expanding this into World War III or even worse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about tougher economic sanctions right now, not only on Russia, but also potentially for China? We know that President Biden spoke with President Xi on Friday. It doesn't appear that China, at least not yet, is ready to back off their support for Putin.

DURBIN: President Xi has to decide his place in history and China’s place in the world. If they are going to be part of Putin and his barbaric conduct in Ukraine, he's going to run the risk of discrediting his own nation. He has to think twice about that. I think the president's most recent communication really put it on the line to him, that if he is going to secretly say he's not taking a position and then quietly go ahead and provide the resources that Putin needs, we're going to know it and we’re going to report it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things we've seen at home recently is, of course, inflation, higher gas prices across the board. President Biden has said that the sanctions on Putin are at least part of the issue there for causing the rise in the prices. But our next guest, Senator Barrasso, has taken that on. I want you to listen.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Biden would rather turn to dictators like those in Iran and those in Venezuela rather than turn against the climate elitists who dictate the energy policy of that Democratic Party and of his presidency. So now he's trying to pass the buck to Vladimir Putin.


STEPHANOPOULOS: What's your response?

DURBIN: Well, I tell you, it's hard to deny that what we're doing, cutting off Russian sources of oil won't have some impact on the United States. President Biden and his supporters are trying to find every way to reduce the impact to that. Governors are suspending their state sales taxes on gas. There's conversation at the federal level as to how we can help families.

But I think it was completely wrong for us to blame President Biden and his efforts to stop Putin and say that these are the reasons why we're having inflation in this country. There are many other factors. Other countries are going through the same inflation.

We’ve got to make sure that we’re sensible not only about Putin, the war and these Russian oil supplies, but also sensible in what my friend John Barrasso calls these climate elitists.

We are fighting and waging a war against climate change. It is a war which will decide what American look -- the world looks like for the next generation. Let’s take both of these very seriously.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC “THIS WEEK” ANCHOR: Finally, you're also chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings are set to begin. In the face of these hearings, we are now seeing escalating attacks from Senate Republicans like Josh Hawley who set out a Twitter -- series of tweets suggesting that Judge Jackson somehow is soft on child porn. It’s been debunked by several independent fact-checkers.

But what does that tell you about the confirmation fight ahead?

DURBIN: Well, I’m not sure what it signals. But as far as Senator Hawley is concerned, here’s the bottom line -- he's wrong. He's inaccurate and unfair in his analysis.

Judge Jackson has been scrutinized more than any person I can think of. This is her fourth time before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In three previous times, she came through with flying colors and bipartisan support, the last time as soon as just last year.

And now, Senator Hawley is making these charges that came out of nowhere. The independent fact checkers like "The Washington Post" and CNN have discredited his claims already. They should have. There's no truth to what he says.

And he's part of the fringe within the Republican Party. This was a man who was fist-bumping the murderous mob that descended on the Capitol on January 6th of the last year. He doesn't have the credibility he thinks he does.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, thanks for your time this morning.

Let's bring in Senator John Barrasso right now.

Senator Barrasso, I do want to begin where Senator Durbin just left off in those attacks from Senator Hawley this week. You met with Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson earlier this week. And you said -- you didn’t say -- suggest how you’re going to vote, but you said this should not be a process of character assassination.

Is that what Senator Hawley was doing?

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, these hearings are going to -- and the whole process is going to be fair, respectful and thorough.

I did meet with her. Clearly, very intelligent. We talked about judicial philosophy. I talked about Justice Scalia, that the -- is Constitution, a legal document, not a living document. We had a very good meeting.

I’m less concerned about her statements than I am about Chuck Schumer's statements. He said she's going to rule with empathy. A judge ought to be making decisions based on the law as written, not the way they feel about it.

So, he also said check her record. And going through the record, there are some concerns that people have about her being perceived as soft on crime. That's all going to come out with the hearings but they're going to be respectful, they’re going to be thorough and they’re going to be fair, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah. But do you think Senator Hawley's attacks were fair?

BARRASSO: Well, he's going to have his opportunity to question the judge as will all the members of the committee.

The last time we had a hearing with Kavanaugh, he was accused of being a serial rapist with no evidence whatsoever. So, I think we're going to have a fair process and a respectful process, unlike what the Democrats did to Justice Kavanaugh.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also heard Senator Durbin on gas prices and inflation, where he said it’s clearly -- President Putin has to bear some of the blame. And he took on your comment about climate elitists saying we have to take climate change seriously. Is he wrong about that?

BARRASSO: Well, Joe Biden can't hide from the fact that he is the president of high gas prices. And they're looking for anyone to blame, whether it's Putin, whether it's Republicans, whether it's the energy companies, whether it's COVID.

The Democrats have a very big problem with 40-year high inflation, highest gas prices ever. When Joe Biden came into office, it was $2.38 a gallon for gasoline. Americans paid $1,000 more for energy last year than the year before. And on polling last week, 70 percent of Americans say more American oil and gas and less emphasis on climate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about the war in Ukraine. What should the United States be doing right now that it's not doing?

BARRASSO: Well, first, you just had Senator Durbin on. He and I were in Ukraine together in 2014, the day that Russia took Crimea.

There's a bipartisan group of senators right now at the border between Poland and Ukraine. There is a bipartisan committed group in Washington committed to helping the heroic people of Ukraine. So proud of President Zelenskyy and the courage that he has shown. And, in Congress, we are trying to get the administration on board to a level that we feel we've filled the void in a bipartisan way.

The president has had to be pushed and pulled to where he is today. It was Congress that brought about sanctions, that brought about the ban on Russian oil, that brought about weapons and all of this big aid package that I voted for a week or two ago, $13 billion. So far the administration has only released $1 billion of that. And if -- as President -- I think if they'd done more in sanctions, we might not have been in this situation if they had done punishing sanctions before the tanks began to roll.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, one --

BARRASSO: President Biden is going to NATO this week. He's -- he's going to -- he's going to NATO this week. And if he wants to lead from the front and America lead from the front rather than leading from behind, there are three specific things he needs to do, in my opinion, at NATO this week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What are the three specific things?

BARRASSO: Well, number one is, he needs to tell NATO that we collectively are going to supply the people of Ukraine things that they know how to use, whether it's drones, planes, missile systems. Number two, he has to say that he is going to go from Brussels to the eastern front of NATO to show the resolve of NATO and the United States' commitment as well. And, third, he needs to say to the people of Europe who are really in a tough situation with regard to energy and the dependence that they have on Russian energy, that we are going to increase the exporting of liquified natural gas from America to them.

Even Germany has come up to the fact that they said, look, energy security, George, is much more important than climate zealotry. The president needs to lead by saying, we are going to increase production of oil and natural gas in the United States, we're going to send it to you and we -- that's what -- what leadership is all about. I have legislation, in a bipartisan way, to make that possible.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Barrasso, thanks very much for your time this morning.

BARRASSO: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Coming up, the Russian television editor who risked her life to denounce the war. Marina Ovsyannikova joins us for her first American broadcast interview next.




STEPHANOPOULOS: That is Russian television producer Marina Ovsyannikova defying Vladimir Putin during the evening news on state television with a powerful and courageous plea for peace. She joins us now from Moscow for her first American broadcast interview.

Marina, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

With that act of defiance, you now face the prospect of years in prison. You put your life in danger. What compelled you to take that risk?

MARINA OVSYANNIKOVA, RUSSIAN ANTI-WAR JOURNALIST (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You know, first of all, I want to say to everyone, the Russian people are really against the war. It's Putin's war, not Russian people's war.

And I want to speak the Russian language because Russian is a great language of Pushkin and Tolstoy.

This protest, you know, was a spontaneous decision for me, to go out live on air. But the dissatisfaction with the current situation has been accumulating for many years. Because the propaganda on our state channels was becoming more and more distorted. And the pressure that has been applied in the Russian politics could not leave us indifferent.

When I spoke to my friends and colleagues, everyone, until the last moment, could not believe that such a thing could happen, that this gruesome war could take place. And as soon as the war began, I could not eat. I could not sleep. I came to work and, after a week of coverage of this situation, the -- the atmosphere on the first channel was so unpleasant that I realized that I could not go back there.

I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine. And what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality.

And my first decision was to go to Manezhnaya Square and participate in the protests. But I could see that, at that time, the new law was adopted, that could mean criminal persecution of protests. And I could see security dragging people away from these protests and putting them in jail. And I decided that this was going to be a rather useless action on my part.

And I decided that maybe I could do something else, something more meaningful with more impact, where I could attract more attention to this and I could show to the rest of the world that Russians are against the war. And I could show to the Russian people that this is just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war. And I was hoping that my performance in a way would help people change their mind.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You've rejected France's offer of asylum. Are you not worried for the safety of yourself, of your two children?

OVSYANNIKOVA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I am very worried for the safety of my children, first and foremost. And I'm very grateful to Mr. Macron for his offer, but I have publicly refused to take political asylum in France because I am a patriot. I want to live in Russia. My children want to live in Russia. We had a very comfortable life in Russia. And I don't want to immigrate and lose another 10 years of my life to assimilate in some other country.

And now I believe in the history of my country. The times are very dark and very difficult, and every person who has a civil position who wants to make that civil position known must speak up. It's very important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your message for President Putin?

What is your message for the West?

OVSYANNIKOVA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): With this action, I wanted to demonstrate to the world that not all Russian people believe the same. And I believe that many people, more than half of the people in Russia, are against the war. And the severe sanctions that the West is imposing on all of the people is probably a correct decision, but you must understand that not just the oligarchs and Putin's closest circle are suffering from these sanctions. Ordinary people, ordinary Russian citizens who are against the war are also being affected. And the first people who suffered from this actually were our 11-year-old daughter who was -- whose credit card was blocked and she couldn't have lunch at school. She couldn't pay for her lunch at school and was hungry. So I just wanted to show the world that it's not just black and white in Russia. And I wanted to show our Russian people that they need to think critically and analyze the information that is being presented to them critically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, your act of bravery has resonated all over the world. Thank you for joining us this morning. Please stay safe.

OVSYANNIKOVA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you very much for inviting me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: "The Roundtable" is coming up. Plus, as COVID cases surge across Europe, could the U.S. see a second Omicron wave? Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us live next.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Anthony Fauci is up next. We'll be right back.



DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: What we're seeing with BA.2 is not really anymore severe disease, not anymore immune evasion than we saw with the original omicron. We do see that it is a bit more transmissible.

And so, we're following this very carefully. We might expect, as we open up as well, as we relax many of our mitigation strategies, that we may have some increase in cases.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Rochelle Walensky right there.

And with most of the country relaxing COVID restrictions, the new omicron surge in Western Europe is raising alarm bells. We'll speak with Dr. Fauci about the potential for new COVID wave in the U.S. after this analysis from Nate Silver of “FiveThirtyEight”.


NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: When it comes to COVID, what happens in England generally doesn't stay in England. The U.K. is currently experiencing a big spike in COVID cases, which have more than doubled from late February. When that’s happened in the past, it’s usually translated to more cases in the United States, too.

Both the delta and omicron waves hit the U.K. a couple weeks before besieging the U.S. for example.

Why the increase? Well, epidemiologist thinks it reflects some combination of a BA.2 variant of omicron, which is about 50 percent more transmissible, plus waning immunity, plus people relaxing their behaviors as they try to achieve more normality.

We have the same risk factors here. Moreover, only about 30 percent of Americans have had an additional booster dose of vaccine, as compared to 60 percent of U.K. residents.

With that said, I don’t think we should take this inevitable either. South Africa which had an incredibly severe omicron wave in December has not seen another increase in cases so far. And although most European countries such as Germany, Italy and France have seen an increase in spread, there are some exceptions like Spain.

And about 45 percent of Americans are estimated to have already had omicron. So, if the U.S. does avoid another spike, it frankly may just be because the first omicron wave hit us so hard.

On balance, I think buy the U.S. is likely to see another increase in cases if not from BA.2 now, then from another variant later. As always, the best way to manage that uncertainty is to get vaccinated and boosted.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate Silver for that.

Let's bring in President Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Dr. Fauci, thanks for coming back on "This Week" this morning.

You just heard Nate's perspective right there, fairly balanced. What's your take on this BA.2 variant?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, as was said, it has a degree of transmission advantage over the original omicron, but not multi-fold advantage. So, it's about 50 to 60 percent or so more transmissible, which means ultimately over time, it might take over as a dominant variant.

Clearly, throughout the world, it's about 80 plus percent, 85 percent of the isolate. In the United States, it's still somewhere around 30 percent.

So, it does have an increased transmission capability. However, when you look at the cases, they do not appear to be any more severe and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccines or prior infection.

So, the bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases as we've seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K., where they've had the same situation as we've had now. They have BA.2. They have a relaxation of some restrictions such as indoor masking and there's a waning of immunity.

Hopefully, we won't see a surge. I don't think we will. The easiest way to prevent that is to continue to get people vaccinated. And for those who have been vaccinated, to continue to get them boosted. So, that’s really where we stand right now.


FAUCI: We can expect to see an increase, yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We've seen this relaxation of restrictions all across the country right now. Any reason to reverse that?

FAUCI: I don't think so, George. Not right now. I don't see us going back into any more really very restrict kinds of restrictions. But you always have to have the flexibility. Remember, when the CDC came out with the modification of their metrics, which would lead to the guidelines of what regions or counties in the country should have a masking indoor, they made it very clear that as you pull back on restrictions, if we do see a significant surge, particularly one that might result in increased hospitalizations, we have to be prepared to pivot and perhaps reinstitution some of those restrictions. But right now, at this point, George, I don't see that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How should we be taking advantage of this moment right now.

I was struck by something Anne Rimoin, a UCLA epidemiologist, told "The New York Times" this morning, who said we've been wearing rose colored glasses instead of correcting our vision.

Her point is that we should be much more proactive. Does she have a point? What more can we be doing to protect against another surge?

FAUCI: Well, I think she makes a very, very good point. I mean we only still have about 65 percent of our population has been vaccinated and -- of the total population. And of those who are eligible for a booster, only about 50 percent of them have been boosted. There are a lot of things that we can do from a public health standpoint.

The other thing we can do -- and I hope that we get the funding from the Congress to do this, is to continue to build up our supply of anti-virals, of tests and of the ability to get boosted. I mean we have a number of clinical trials going that are trying to determine what the best combination of boosting is to get both effectiveness and durability. So, we just can't stand still, particularly as we appear to be in somewhat of a lull in the cases, where cases continue to come down, deaths continue to come down and hospitalizations. That's no time at all to declare victory because this virus has fooled us before and we really must be prepared for the possibility that we might get another variant and we don't want to be caught flatfooted on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Ashish Jha is going to be the president's new Covid coordinator, replacing Jeffrey Zients. He's never worked in government before, as you've pointed out. What advice do you have for him and what's the most important thing he needs to do?

FAUCI: Well, first of all, he's a very competent person. I mean he's been involved in this, not in the government, but from the outside. He's an experienced public health person.

I think just to get to know the ropes in the government in coming from outside the government into the government. But he's going to have a lot of help, a lot of encouragement, a lot of collegiality from people like myself, from Dr. Walensky, from Dr. Murthy and others. So I think he's going to be just fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you've said you're going to stay in this job until we get out of the pandemic phase. Of course you've been serving your country now for decades. Are we approaching the point where we are past the pandemic phase and you'll go get some rest?

FAUCI: I'm not so sure, George. I want to make sure we're really out of this before I really seriously consider doing anything different. We're still in this. We have a way to go. I think we're clearly going in the right direction. Hope we stay that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Fauci, thanks, as always, for your time and your information.

FAUCI: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable's up next.

We'll be right back.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK, MAJORITY LEADER: To date, never has an African-American woman come before the Judiciary Committee for consideration to this highest court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will be the very first.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY, MINORITY LEADER: President Biden is deliberately working to make the whole federal judiciary softer on crime. If any judicial nominee really does have special empathy for some parties over others, that's not an asset. It's a problem.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The Senate leaders ahead of the confirmation hearings this week. Let's -- one of the things we're going to talk about on our roundtable.

We're joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, our chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl and congressional correspondent Rachel Scott.

And I do want to get to that, but let's start with Ukraine. What a moment, Rachel, this week. You were up there on Capitol Hill when President Zelenskyy addressed that joint session of Congress.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A rare address, and a rare moment of unity, I think, on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers were not only moved by his words but also that graphic video that he played. Senator Joni Ernst said it made her want to put on a uniform and go over there and help.

And I think that Congress has actually been really effective in responding to a lot of these pleas from President Zelenskyy. Originally it was $6 billion for humanitarian and military aid. That doubled to nearly $14 billion.

We saw Democrats and Republicans put some pressure, as Senator John Barrasso mentioned, on the White House, on that ban on Russian energy. But still, the no-fly zone, despite those pleas from Zelenskyy, that's just a line that they're just not willing to cross.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The new flight over planes.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT & ABC "THIS WEEK CO-ANCHOR: Absolutely. And, by the way, regarding that speech, I spoke to one member of the Democratic leadership who said that he was so moved and so emotionally drained by what he heard in watching that video that he actually had to cancel meetings that he had later in the afternoon. I think it really, in a way, radicalized the Congress.

So maybe no no-fly zone, no American-enforced no-fly zone, but, you know, this idea of supplying the Polish MiGS and back-filling them with F-16s, there is overwhelming support for that, Democratic and Republican, in Congress. And if that were to come for a vote, which is something Lindsey Graham has tried to make happen, you would see Biden may oppose it, but overwhelmingly Democrats would -- would support it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris, there does seem to be some tension inside the Republican Party between this desire, as Rachel was pointing out, for unity and, kind of, a reflex of blaming President Biden?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, look, and I think that's always going to occur when you're with the party out of power, right? You're not sure which way to turn. You're -- on the substance here, I think what we need to be doing is being united, and have a clear and consistent message with Democrats, if we can, on the issue of these MiGS, which I think Jon's right.

I think you would see an overwhelming bipartisan vote to be able to do that. So I think if we stay to substantive issues, but if they're going to assess the president's leadership style, that's where things are going to diverge.

So I think, for Republicans, what they want to do is keep talking about what can we do to help Ukraine? Where are the lines? What are we willing to go up to but not cross?

I think you'll find a lot of unity among Republicans and Democrats on that.

If you start getting into assessing the performance of any particular player, whether it's Joe Biden or Mitch McConnell, you'll see Democrats separating with Republicans.

BRAZILE: Well, I'm wearing the Ukraine colors. And I think all Americans are standing with the Ukrainian people. This is a moment for not just our country and being unified, but it's a moment for the world to understand what it means to protect and strengthen and support the rule of law. The president has been incredible at unifying NATO, our European allies. And he didn't just start this week or last month when Russia invaded. He started last year and bringing the team back together and making sure that NATO understands that the United States will have their back.

I think the administration must continue to show leadership on the humanitarian side, including handling the refugees who want to come to America. But we also, I believe, next week have to put -- continue to apply pressure, not just on Russia, but on China, but make sure that our European allies and the Ukrainian people know that we're going to provide as much assistance as possible. That's important.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's hard to see if any of this is going to make a difference to Vladimir Putin. So far, Jon, clearly the war not going as he expected. We saw that analysis this morning, that he has basically lost the first phase of the war. That could mean that we're entering a far more dangerous phase right now.

KARL: It sure could. And we're really -- if you look at this, George, we're in a cold war -- a new cold war that has been waged for a long time. I mean, it wasn't just this invasion. It wasn't just Putin coming in and invading and taking Crimea. It was the invasion of Georgia. It was the way he has gone after his political opponents both on Russian soil, but also poisonings that were done in the United Kingdom. And he has done all of this, not to mention his support for Assad and the leveling of the city of Aleppo. He has managed to do all that without any consequences. This time there have clearly been consequences.

The Russian losses are serious. They are sustained. But, George, there's no way that Putin simply backs away from this. He has put everything down here and if his back is against the wall, lord, I mean, the concern among the U.S. national security officials I've spoken to is that he turns to something devastating, a chemical attack, a biological attack, maybe something worse.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the face of this brutality, Rachel, remarkable to see that Russian journalist on the air again this morning facing all kinds of threats, not afraid to speak out.

SCOTT: Isn't it extraordinary to hear the words from her? To see the resilience from her? I mean, what a moment that was. And you think about the threat to her life, the threat to her safety, the crackdown that is going on where you can't even say the word war. You can't even say the word invasion. And to see her come out with that bravery and defiance, it's just extraordinary.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the end, Chris, that may be what can turn Putin around. She said the Russian people are against the war. Who knows what they know about the war...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... at this point, but only that perhaps could be the pressure on him that causes him to reverse.

CHRISTIE: I think there's another thing, George. I think the guy who is really in a bind this morning is President Xi. So he has encouraged this. He has encouraged this to happen. But he doesn't want to get too hot. He doesn't want him to take that next step. You know, if you're Xi, you don't want biological or chemical attacks. You don't want tactical or battlefield nuclear weapons to be used, because he knows the result of that will be the rest of the world will not only unite against Russia, but against those who are supporting them like China.

So if you're President Xi this morning, you are walking the thinnest of tight ropes with Putin. You don't want to get rid of Putin because, let's face it, he is the neighbor, he can count on him to be the despot like Xi is. But on the other hand, if Putin is as desperate as Jon claims that he is, and that members of our intelligence community claim that he is, and he is going to resort to that, Xi is -- I would be confident if he's smart, is going to get on the phone with Putin and say, not too fast cowboy, because if you do that, I'm out of here. And if China leaves Russia, Russia is finished.

STEPHANOPOULOS: When you look at the readouts of that phone call between President Xi and President Biden, though, on Friday, it seemed like President Xi was pretty impervious...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... after two hours of hearing from President Biden.

BRAZILE: No, I mean, he's not going to move the needle right now. He hasn't -- no, he is still trying to maintain his so-called neutrality. There's no neutrality in this battle. There's no neutrality when you are bombing a maternity home. There's no neutrality when you're using bombs to kill people who are trying to flee. No. I think that China is making a grave mistake in this battle because this is really a battle of right versus wrong. Really -- it's really good versus evil. And if China continues to play this so-called we're just going to wait it out and not -- and call for diplomacy without putting some skin in the game, I think the United States...

CHRISTIE: Well, Donna, look, it's worse than what you're saying, right? He's not neutral. He's with Putin. He's helping Putin. And so what he's trying to do is disguise it with rhetoric that's saying he's neutral offering himself to be a mediator. You know, that's like Biden saying he wants to mediate between, you know, Russia and Ukraine. We're not neutral. We're with Ukraine. And we should be. But Xi is trying to hide here. And what I'm saying is if this escalates, there's going to be no place left to hide.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right now, we’re standing behind President Zelenskyy, Jon Karl, at some point, if this goes on, if the siege continues, if it increases more pressure for negotiated settlement, we might have to put pressure on President Zelenskyy to accept something that, you know, maybe includes Vladimir Putin having control of the Russian parts of Ukraine.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This is a really challenging strategic situation. When you talk about a diplomatic solution, what would you give the Russians? What would you give -- would you clearly --


KARL: Would you -- OK, no NATO and that Zelenskyy has signaled that he's willing to accept. But would you grant them that they get eastern Ukraine? They get Crimea? They get what they already taken?

I don’t know if Zelenskyy ever goes along this, but would we go along with that? Would we ultimately reward Putin for what he's done in Ukraine? Even if it's just giving him Crimea which he took in 2014, giving him the Donbas, giving what he took in 2014, do you reward the fact he went in and devastated a country, did all Donna described, committed war crimes according to our own president, do we ratify a diplomatic solution like that? I don’t think it’s a really tough one.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s so difficult, Donna, because the alternative maybe a leveled Ukraine.

DONNA BRAZILE, ABC NEWS CONTIRBUTOR: Yes. That is the -- that is the moral judgment that I think our leaders have to make, especially when they sit down next week in Brussels.

Look, George, I mean, we all should worry about what Putin will do next. We know he's a thug. We know that he will come after you.

We were attacked in America. We just still -- we're not even talking about the cyberattack that occurred with America. He can still use cyber against the United States of America. He can use biological weapons.

So, I think it's important that NATO and our European allies and others agree on what the red lines are and stick to them, because Putin will go up against headline --


CHRISTIE: It's why the MiGs are even more important, right? The MiGs are more important for sending a signal to Putin of what we're not willing to put up with. That's why I think we should do the MiGs, it’s to say, well, we're not going to go in there, we’re not bringing American troops in. We're not doing the no-fly zone. I agree with that.

But give the MiGs to the Ukrainians to signal to Putin we're not giving in. We're not going to agree to this. We're going to up the ante on this for the Ukrainians to let them defend themselves.

KARL: It's about more than just Ukraine. Putin has very clearly signaled --

CHRISTIE: Of course.

KARL: He’s got Moldova in his sights. He has the Baltics in his sights. This is not just about Ukraine.

That’s why a diplomatic solution that resolves Ukraine by letting Putin get something from this invasion is very dangerous.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s switch gears now. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a confirmation hearings set to begin. We’re getting a taste this week of what they’re going to be like.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Already getting a preview, I think Democrats are bracing for this to be ugly. We're seeing a preview of the attacks from Republicans calling her soft on crime, calling her soft on sex offenders. Even something that the White House sees her as an asset, which is her time serving as a public defender Republicans are labeling as a problem.

But I think there’s two things that Republicans admit. One, elections have consequences. And regardless of whether or not Republicans rally behind and support, which is expected to be very small number, they're going to be able to push through Ketanji Brown Jackson without any Republican support if they have to.

And the second thing is that she's qualified. And even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has admitted that, that she's qualified to serve on the bench.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That soft on sex offenders?

CHRISTIE: There's ugly and there's ugly, George. I don't think this is going to be real ugly. I don't think it's going to be Brett Kavanaugh ugly. I don't think this is going to be the ugly that we saw with Sam Alito with his wife crying in front row. I think you’re going to see some Republicans --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Have we really seen some of that with Josh Hawley?

CHRISTIE: Look, but that's one person, George. And we're gong to see in every party -- both parties, Democrats and Republicans, you have people willing to push the outside edge of the envelope. We’ve seen that with Josh Hawley already in other instances, on January 6th and other times. So, nobody is surprised about that.

But I don't think you've seen or heard broadly through the Republican Party ad hominem attacks. And when Mitch McConnell concedes that Judge Brown is qualified, then that kind of changes the whole dynamic. So, look, I think she will be confirmed. I think there will be some Republican votes to confirm her.

And I think given that, it's not going to be nearly as bad as some of these previous ones have been.

BRAZILE: Well, this is her fourth time before the Senate and I think she'll be successful once again. She had bipartisan support on the last three visits. I think she'll gain bipartisan support this time.

We're on the threshold as I said several weeks ago with making history, along with President Reagan, President Clinton, President Obama, President Trump, now, President Biden gets to put a woman on the court. It's taken us 233 years, but this is an exceptionally qualified woman. The American Bar Association has endorsed her. The Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed her, along with so many others.

I just want to say, on a personal note, there are -- this will be a joyful moment this week.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT & ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: So, I mean, she's going to get confirmed barring something entirely unforeseen, and she'll get a couple of Republican votes. I see at most three, maybe four.

But the larger picture here is, this will be the fourth straight supreme court confirmation that was essentially party line but there was only token support from the other party. And when you look at the court that she will be on, you'll really only have one justice that had an overwhelming confirmation, John Roberts. That's very different. I mean for much of our history, Supreme Court nomination, if somebody was qualified, the president had the discretion to put that person on the court.

Now we're at a point where the court is politicized and all of the members of the court were largely confirmed by one party or the other.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: What a position the chief justice has right now, huh.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, look, I mean, you know, you get the -- you get the big money. You've got to -- you've got to do what you've got to do. You get to sit in the middle and decide how the court moves one way or another and assign opinions. You've got a tough job.

But, look, I think that what we've heard from inside the court, from the justices, that the collegiality inside those nine is much better than where it's portrayed in terms of the way the confirmations go. And that they do work well with each other. And I think when you saw the rumors that were out there about Justice Sotomayor and Justice Gorsuch, they both came out affirmatively and denied that stuff and said --

KARL: About the masks.

CHRISTIE: Right, the masks and all the rest and said, we get along well together. We consider each other friends.

I think Judge Brown, once she's confirmed, will fit into that same mold. She's a collegial person. She's worked with folks before. She's been throughout the justice system. So, you know, she's going to have a different opinion.

But, let's face it, if you're a Republican, you're replacing Stephen Breyer with Judge Brown. Same thing.

BRAZILE: Right. Right.

KARL: Former clerk.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all we have time for today. Thank you all very much.

We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: We kept going right through the commercial here on the roundtable.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Tune in to ABC News live this week for gavel to gavel coverage of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings. And join us tomorrow on "GMA."