'This Week' Transcript 6-7-20: Muriel Bowser, Chad Wolf, Val Demings, Martin Dempsey
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, June 7.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, June 7, 2020 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.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Call for change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Ain't no power like the power of the people!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Protests continue coast to coast and in the nation's capital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Why was it important for you to come today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make my ancestors proud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Demonstrators facing off with police and coming face-to-face with the National Guard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: There's a huge crowd of demonstrators here and a long line of National Guardsmen protecting the Lincoln Memorial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president fiercely criticized for his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to dominate the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Threatening to send active-duty military into American cities, sparking a sharp rebuke from military leaders, as the nation honors the memory of George Floyd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It's time for us to stand up in George's name!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: All four former officers charged.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are working together on this case with only one goal, justice for George Floyd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I still think it's not enough, but I'm so happy that we're moving towards change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Our guests this morning, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Representative Val Demings, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf with the White House response, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, plus our powerhouse roundtable.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, chief anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
It has been nearly two weeks of demonstrations and mourning in America, George Floyd's death in police custody sparking the broadest protests in U.S. history, according to an analysis from "The Washington Post," their map showing the scope of the demonstrations.
Overnight, cities remained largely calm across the country, in Washington, the White House, the people's house, even more fortified with new fences.
On Friday, President Trump talked briefly about equal justice under the law for every American. But his law and order response to the demonstrators has drawn fierce criticism and condemnation from all four living former presidents, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and one prominent GOP senator openly questioning whether she can support Trump in November.
But perhaps the most notable responses from those who seldom enter the political arena now breaking their silence, as protesters show no sign of quieting down.
RADDATZ (voice-over): A sea of protesters in the nation's capital Saturday.
(on camera): Why was it important for you to come today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to make my ancestors proud.
RADDATZ (voice-over): Among the crowd, we met Anika Rump (ph), a nurse, and Andrew Peplar (ph), an Army vet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And everybody is standing in solidarity for black lives.
RADDATZ: Many congregating at what is now a visual symbol of rising tensions here in Washington.
(on camera): Many of the protesters were concentrated around the White House down 16th Street, where that "Black Lives Matter" was written on the road.
(voice-over): This protest, one of many across the nation...
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: No justice.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No peace!
RADDATZ: ... part of what is now a tapestry of stunning scenes this week in D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Black lives matter!
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Black lives matter!
RADDATZ: A military helicopter overhead, Humvees, typically seen in combat zones.
(on camera): As you get closer and closer to the White House, far more military vehicles and National Guard.
(voice-over): And on Monday, the forceful removal of peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment right outside the White House, clearing the way for a presidential photo-op.
QUESTION: Is that your Bible?
TRUMP: It's a Bible.
RADDATZ: The president with this threat:
TRUMP: If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.
RADDATZ (on camera): You heard the president probably today talk about sending in active-duty military.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I served in the military. I actually just got out last year. And I think most of my brothers and sisters in the military would struggle with that order.
RADDATZ (voice-over): There were more than 43,000 National Guard members in 34 states this week activated to respond to civil unrest, more than 5,000 of them in D.C., many spread over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
(on camera): There is a big demonstration here tonight, a peaceful demonstration, and dozens and dozens of Guardsmen behind me protecting the Lincoln Memorial.
From the National Guard out in force at the monuments to the streets where protesters face off with these citizen soldiers, neighbor on neighbor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I see is banana republic tactics. The military in the United States does not enforce local population, that's just not how we do it here.
RADDATZ: After calling for states to dominate the battlespace...
MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: In retrospect, I would use different wording.
RADDATZ: The Defense Secretary is backtracking and breaking with the president.
ESPER: I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.
RADDATZ: Active duty troops in the D.C. region are now heading home, but Trump's threat has already contributed to a deepening divide between him and top military leaders. 89 former defense officials writing, "our military must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect."
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, saying, we are at an inflection point.
And former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with a blistering rebuke telling me, enough is enough. Also writing, "we must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our constitution."
RADDATZ: So let’s get the latest on the protests yesterday in the Nation’s Capitol with the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Good morning, Mayor.
The protests were some of the largest in D.C. yesterday since the death of George Floyd. Do you expect these protests to continue?
MURIEL BOWSER, (D), MAYOR OF DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Well, it was the largest, Martha, and we’ve had about a week of demonstrations in Washington, D.C. People gathered at various locations and walked down to Black Lives Matter Plaza where you saw a lot of people coming together, healing, organizing, strategizing, and thinking about how to make real the frustrations that they brought with them to these demonstrations.
RADDATZ: The president has been highly critical of you, calling you grossly incompetent and credits his response to a reduction in violence, citing his decision to ramp up federal police presence and calling out the National Guard. Looting was reduced dramatically. Your reaction?
BOWSER: Well, what I say is this, Martha, what Americans saw was federal police forces tear gassing peaceful Americans. And how they responded made clear to the president that Americans would exercise their First Amendment rights and they would do it peacefully. And what he actually did, as you saw, for the remaining days would turn out more people and more people who were there for peaceful protests.
RADDATZ: You've also responded to President Trump, in part, you mentioned this, by honoring the Black Lives Matter movement with this pavement mural and a street sign along the blocks leading up to the White House. The Black Lives Matter D.C. Organization called it a performative gesture and now they’ve added the words defund the police, which they say they fear you will now remove. Is that right?
BOWSER: We certainly are very proud of the D.C. mural that we commissioned in our Department of Public Works and local artists installed. It is an affirmative piece of art, a centering piece of art, where people from around the globe have called us and thanked us for acknowledging Black humanity and Black lives in the most important city in the world. And we are very proud of that art.
RADDATZ: But will you take out the part that says defund police?
BOWSER: Well it’s not a part of the mural. And we certainly encourage expression but we are using the city streets for city art.
RADDATZ: In other words, that will go away, you will paint over that?
BOWSER: I actually haven’t even had an opportunity to review it, Martha. But we -- the response that we’ve gotten from people about the Black Lives Matter -- Black Lives Matter mural has just been incredible.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Mayor.
BOWSER: Thank you.
RADDATZ: And joining me now is Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. Good morning, Mr. Secretary.
You have authority over about 600 law enforcement personnel from ICE, Secretary Service, Border Patrol, assisting with law enforcement here in D.C. Do you believe a heavy security presence is still necessary?
CHAD WOLF, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, thank you for having me this morning, Martha.
What I can tell you is that Department of Homeland Security and our law enforcement officers are in support with the Department of Justice in making sure that we address the violence that has occurred there in D.C. over the past week or so. So, we’ll continue to do that.
As you indicated, we’ve had up to 300, 400, 500, 600 folks there -- there in D.C. and what we saw over the past week is really a city out of control. And I’m happy to say that over the last several days, we’ve seen that violence decrease.
But that has been as a result of what the administration has done in D.C., working throughout the federal government, not only with DHS assets, Park Police and -- and Metropolitan Police Department with D.C. as well. That violence has decreased and we’re happy about that.
So, we’ll continue to monitor that and we’ll -- you know, we’ll pull back the number of assets that we have in D.C. as that violence decreases. So that, again, lawful protestors, protestors exercising their First Amendment can continue to have their voices heard.
RADDATZ: You say a -- a city out of control certainly yesterday was very peaceful and many days before that, but I want to turn to earlier this week. The president talked repeatedly about dominating the streets, bringing in heavily armed military, vicious dogs if the police can’t get the job done. Secretary of defense called the American streets a battle space. He walked that back later.
And while there was inexcusable criminal looting that happened, the vast majority of the protests have been peaceful including yesterday.
So -- so what kind of message do those words send to your officers when they come face to face with their fellow Americans demonstrating on the street?
WOLF: Well, I think what we have to do and you mentioned it, Martha. There’s two different populations here, two different sets of protestors and rioters for that matter. So, I think we have to separate that. Obviously, we have peaceful protests and again individuals exercising their First Amendment. The Department of Homeland Security as well as others are going to do everything to protect their right to do that.
But what we’ve seen is you have violent protestors infiltrating and hijacking those protests that are becoming very violent, that we saw earlier this week.
And so, what we’ve done, and what the president has been very clear on, is we’re not going to let that stand. We’re going to bring rule -- law and order back to the streets of D.C. and any other metropolitan area, and we saw that. We saw churches on fire. We saw monuments being defaced. The president’s not going to stand for that.
So we’ll continue to push forward, but again as you indicated, over the last several days we’ve seen that violence decrease and that’s where we want it to be.
We want to let peaceful protestors provide that -- that environment for them to exercise their First Amendment. But at the end of the day, this is about law and order. This is a country built on law and order, and we’re going to address those protestors that are destroying businesses, that are targeting law enforcement officers. We can’t have that go on day after day.
RADDATZ: It -- it -- I -- I -- there have not been too many examples in the last few days.
Now look, law enforcement is a difficult job and there were senseless acts of violence against the officers, certainly establishments as well. But these protestors -- protests were prompted because of the violent death of George Floyd by police officers. And there’s now fresh outrage because of the way some of those protestors have been treated by law enforcement. I want to show you just a few examples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You see what's going on now. Now there's just a lot of violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: What is your reaction to that, Mr. Secretary?
WOLF: Well, let me first say that the outrage that Americans are feeling today about the death of George Floyd is very real. It’s very legitimate and we need to address that. I think the president’s been very clear about that.
We need to make sure that those that are responsible are held accountable, brought to justice and -- and we are doing just that. And I think you’ve seen the justice system move pretty quickly on that front. All those police officers have been arrested and charges have been filed.
So I think -- I think we need to state that first and foremost.
But again, what we see across the board by enlarge is law enforcement doing their job. Yes, there are individuals in every profession that are perhaps criminals. That are perhaps abusing their authority and we need to address that and -- and again --
RADDATZ: But how do you address that when you look at those images?
WOLF: Let me just say -- yes, let me just say that for DHS, this hits home. We had a federal protective officer last Friday, over a week ago, targeted and assassinated, shot in the head as he’s responding to a protest. So, this hits very close to home for the Department of Homeland Security.
So when we talk about attacks on law enforcement, it’s not an abstract idea. We are seeing them being targeted. We need to make sure that the violence that’s going on in cities across American and again, it’s diminished. I -- I -- I acknowledge that it does not continue.
So that’s a real concern that law enforcement who are sent out there and do their job every day, protecting the American people every day. They have a right to do their job and to go home back to their families safe.RADDATZ: Mr. Secretary, that -- those are indeed terrible examples, but I want to go back to the examples I showed you. Do those disturb you? These are public servants who are trained at -- to supposedly meet protestors, not beat them up.
WOLF: Absolutely. So, again, as I indicated, I think you have -- you need to make sure that all law enforcement is acting correctly, are doing their jobs correctly. And when they’re not, they need to be held accountable. So some of the images that you showed, as well as others, we need to make sure that we investigate. And, again, if the evidence shows that they did not do -- do their job correctly, they did not do the way they were trained to do, we need to hold them accountable. That’s what we’re doing in the George Floyd case.
Again, the president has directed the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation there. So there’s a number of steps we’re doing.
We’ll continue to do that. I think we can also do better. We can do more. But, again, we need to -- we need to also focus, while we’re focusing on some of the police, we also need to focus on what has occurred over the last week in cities across America, burning churches, defacing monuments. We cannot let that go on. And so I think, as we talk about what the police is doing, we also need to talk about what they’re up against every day as well.
RADDATZ: And, Mr. Secretary, George Floyd isn’t the only black American who was killed by police. In fact, black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. An Axios/Ipsos poll found 77 percent of whites say they trust local police compared with 36 percent of African-Americans.
Do you think there is a problem with systemic racism in policing in the United States?
WOLF: I do not think that we have a systemic racism problem with law enforcement officers across this country. Do I acknowledge that there are some law enforcement officers that abuse their job? Yes. And, again, we need to hold those accountable.
And I would say that there are individuals in every profession across this country that probably abuse their authority and their power And we need to hold them accountable.
Can we do better? Can we do more? Can -- can we continue to do more in the law enforcement arena? Outreach to our communities? Particularly those that feel slighted or -- absolutely. And so I think there’s always that -- things that we can do more.
But, again, I think painting law enforcement with a broad brush of systemic racism is really a disservice to the men and women who put on the badge, the uniform every day, risk their lives every day to protect the American people, to protect them so that they can go to school, they can have a business and come home safe to their families. So I think we need to keep that in mind as well.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much for joining us this morning, Mr. Secretary. Appreciate it.
WOLF: Thank you.
RADDATZ: As pressure mounts on law enforcement across the country, what might police reform look like? We’ll ask Congresswoman Val Demings, the former Orlando Police Chief and a contender to be Joe Biden’s running mate, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: This is bigger than just a budget, but I want you to know we will not be increasing our police budget. Our city through our city administrative officer identified $250 million in cuts, so we could invest in jobs, in health, in education and in healing, and that those dollars need to be focused on our black community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti discussing his plans to redirect up to $150 million from the police department, using that money instead to fund programs to help underserved communities. It's one of many police reform efforts underway in the wake of George Floyd's killing.
For more, let's bring in Florida congresswoman and former Orlando police chief, Val Demings.
Good morning, Congresswoman.
I want to first get your reaction to what Acting Secretary Wolf said about saying there's no systemic racism in police departments.
REP. VAL DEMINGS, (D-FL): Well, good morning, Martha. It's great to be with you.And I did hear the secretary's statement. Look, if we're going to solve some of America's toughest problems, we've got to be painfully honest about what those problems are. And we know that we have been fighting systemic racism in this country for 400 years. We know that it has found its -- or reared its ugly head in law enforcement agencies, in housing, in education, in -- in too many other places.
And so while I heard what the secretary said, we have a lot of work to do. And systemic racism is always the ghost in the room.
RADDATZ: As a former law enforcement officer and police chief, what's gone through your mind seeing these peaceful protesters hurt by police?
DEMINGS: Martha, as you well know, I spent 27 years at the Orlando Police Department. I've worked beside some of the bravest men and women with hearts big as gold that America has to offer.
Was everybody perfect? Were we completely perfect? Of course not.
But what I have seen across the nation involving law enforcement officers and their reaction, in many instances unprovoked, has been extremely troubling.
And what we have to do as a nation is hold police accountable, provide the necessary oversight to do that, look at training standards, look at use of force policies, look at who we are hiring, look at diversity within those agencies, and come together and create legislation that will support initiatives like that.
But I have also called on each law enforcement agency. I know we have 18,000 around the country, but I've also called on each of those agencies to not wait for the federal government to have to tell you what to do. You see what's going on. You know what's right and what's wrong.
Take a critical look at yourselves, do a deep dive, and begin to change policies on your own, because there are some things that we need to happen right now, like banning neck restraints, for example.
RADDATZ: And that's one of many things that the Democratic House leaders will unveil, this policing legislation this week, including create a national police misconduct registry, ban the choke holds, require racial basis training, and make lynching a federal crime.
Were these the kinds of reforms you wanted to implement when you were leading Orlando's Police Department?
DEMINGS: You know, as police chiefs, you always come in and look at department policies. There were some that I changed.
You look at department training. You certainly look at hiring standards, because the best way to prevent misconduct is to hire the brightest and the best people to do the job.
I've said for two weeks now that, when bad things happen at police departments, it's for one of three reasons, either bad mind -- you have a person who should not be a law enforcement officer in the first place -- you have a bad heart -- maybe you have a problem with racism -- or a bad policy.
And so we do have to look at who we're hiring and then make sure that the officers have the necessary training that they need to be successful in doing their job, which a major part of that is treating people who they come in contact with, whether victims, witnesses, or suspects, with dignity and respect.
RADDATZ: And, Congresswoman, finally, you are -- you are on the short list for Former Vice President Joe Biden's potential running mate.
This week, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement cast doubt on whether the V.P. should choose someone with a law enforcement background, that black voters would not like that and would not trust someone like that.
What would you say to them?
DEMINGS: Well, what I would say is, the best indicator of future performance is to look at past performance.
And I stand on my record of service, which began in Jacksonville, Florida, as a social worker. I worked with broken families and broken children.
And then, when I joined the Orlando Police Department, I took my social worker's heart to that job. I quickly realized that we could not arrest our way out of some of the challenges in our communities, that we had a direct obligation, as law enforcement, to address some of the social ills that cause decay in communities in the first place, like lack of economic development, jobs, wages, education.
If children are going to have any chance of making it, they've got to have a good, quality education, regardless of the color of their skin or where they live.
And so we found ourselves involved in things that many said were not police work, but they certainly made a difference in our community.
RADDATZ: Thanks for joining us this morning.
DEMINGS: Thank you so much. Take care.
Up next: the stunning and rare rebuke of the commander in chief from some of the country's highest-ranking military leaders.
I will talk exclusively with former Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey about the president's relationship with the military next.
RADDATZ: General Martin Dempsey standing by for more on the unprecedented outcry from former military leaders. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RET. GENERAL, USMC, JOHN KELLY, FRM. CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through a filter. Are they -- what is their character like? What is there -- what are their ethics? Are they willing, if they're elected, to represent all of their constituents, not just the base?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: That was retired Marine Corps General and President Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, just one of several former military leaders who forcefully condemned President Trump this week, including my next guest, retired Army General and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey.
He's also the author of the new book, "No Time for Spectators: The Lessons That Mattered Most from West Point to the West Wing."
And, General Dempsey, good morning.
You have seen the strong statements from Secretary Mattis and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen and others aimed at the president. You’ve always avoided anything political, or directly naming the president, but you did say this week that the president’s threat to use active duty military units to suppress the protestors was dangerous and very troubling.
Tell us what you were talking about.
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY, RETIRED ARMY GENERAL AND FORMER CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, as you know, I -- I do always try to be thoughtful about the way these things evolve. And in the moment, and before the decision was made, I thought it was appropriate for me to point out the risk of doing it.
And, obviously, Martha, the president has the authority to do a lot of things. He’s -- he’s given a lot of authority by our Constitution and the laws that interpret it. And it’s -- it -- for me it was a can and should dichotomy. And I thought that given the state of the -- of the unrest and the risk that we would put the active duty military in a position where its relationship with the American people would be adversely effected, that I -- that should say something.
RADDATZ: The language used during this week, dominate the battle space, those threats of sending in not only active duty troops but heavily armed, you tweeted America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy.
So, what effect does that have on our military and National Guard when they hear that and they face fellow citizens?
DEMPSEY: You know, we -- my generation of military leaders, who entered right after the Vietnam War, spent the majority of our -- of our careers, whether it was 20 years, 30 years, or 40 years in my case, trying to rebuild our relationship with the American people, which had been adversely affected by the protracted conflict, the unpopular war in Vietnam. And in -- indeed in those days racism and drug use and -- and it took us a while to actually regain the trust of the American people.
We transitioned from a conscript military to an all-volunteer force. And we have a wonderful relationship with the people in this country. And -- and I thought it important to continue to work to try to keep that relationship sound and solid.
And, you know, inflammatory language can -- can be a -- an impediment to that.
RADDATZ: And -- and you’ve heard the secretary of defense say publicly he does not think the Insurrection Act should be invoked. I’ve heard through sources that General Milley feels the same way and that they both tried to talk the president out of it. But both of those men walked out of the White House with the president, the general in his battledress uniform. Secretary Esper ended up in a photo op with the president and General Milley, I think, realized what was going on and backed off.
What did you think when you saw that scene?
DEMPSEY: You know, if you were to ask me or any of my predecessors or successors, the -- some of the most awkward moments we have in that -- in that civil military relationship are photo ops. And, you know, it’s just something you have to be very careful about. And I -- you know, I’ve heard statements from both Secretary Esper and from General Milley that they didn’t know they were going across the street through Lafayette Square and to St. John’s Church. I take them at their word. I, you know, it’s just one of those things where the relationship between the president’s principal military adviser and the president himself has to be one of -- of trust and confidence and it’s -- it’s work.
And -- and I think that this probably this moment will make it a bit harder actually but (AUDIO GAP) impossible. But oftentimes the best things come out of, let’s call it creative friction. And this week has certainly been that. But, you know, I’m actually in the camp that says, OK. Look, this last week was one of our most challenging in my memory. What’s -- what’s next? You know, let’s get beyond that and figure out what’s next.
RADDATZ: And -- and I -- I want to go back to the National Guard. The images from this week really were stunning. There were Special Forces from the National Guard on the street wearing sunglasses, looking extremely tough. I saw Guard en masse at the Lincoln Memorial with protestors gathered below them.
And this image was about a block from where I sit right now. The National Guard was not armed, but you have a black-clad, pistol-packing DEA agent right next to them, seems the distinction lost on most of the public that the guard was not armed.
I -- I also want to mention, I -- we have our own colleague, Stephanie Ramos, who was out covering the protests in New York City this week. And in her other life, when Stephanie is not a correspondent, she is a major in the Army Reserve and she sent me a picture this week. She was doing her virtual training. She told me she’s already seen the difference of how people are treating the Guard and the Reserve, and she’s very nervous about that.
DEMPSEY: Well, she should be, and by the way tell her thanks for her service. If she’s watching I’ll tell her myself. But, you know, look, the military is given enormous power by the people of the United States. And they’re given that power because the people of the United States trust them that they’ll be both a -- a force for order and stability overseas. If necessary in -- in extremis at home, but also that the military will be a positive influence in letting people achieve their potential.
You know, I -- I talk often about one of the things that motivates me is this -- is this box that I keep on my desk. I have it right here. You’ve seen it, I think, Martha. But it’s engraved with the words, “Make it Matter”, and in there are 132 cards that I keep from the soldiers that I’ve lost under my command in Baghdad back when I met you for the first time in 2003.
And I never let myself forget that – and in the remainder of my career and to this day, I -- because they couldn’t fulfill their potential, I had to make sure that I did the best I could to fulfill mine in whatever that meant. And to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in my own.
That’s what these protests, by the way, it -- it seems to me are all about is the -- is trying to allow people to actually fulfill their potential, one of the great promises of living in this country. So we have -- we absolutely have to be very careful about how the military is used in that circumstance.RADDATZ: OK. I thank you so much for joining us this morning. General Dempsey, and I, of course, know that box as well.
The roundtable’s up next. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Florida would love to have the RNC. Heck, I’m a Republican. It would be good for us to have the DNC in terms of the -- in terms of the economic impact.
GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: We’d love to have the RNC here. I feel like we could do that in a safe way.
GOVERNOR BILL LEE (R), TENNESSEE: Nashville is the best place in America to have a convention.
GOVERNOR DOUG DUCEY (R), ARIZONA: Arizona is great in hosting large events. I don't know that there’s a place that’s better in the entire country.
GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Texas is as open as any state in America, and so Texas obviously provides a great opportunity for a convention like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: While the country's attention has been rightfully focused on the fallout from George Floyd's death, a major decision in the world of politics, the site of the Republican Convention, is up in the air, after a standoff provoked by President Trump's desire to fill an arena in North Carolina in the age of social distancing.
The GOP is now looking for a new convention site, and conventional wisdom holds that the gatherings provide a polling boost come November.
So, we asked FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, do you buy that?
NATE SILVER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: So, to answer this question, I looked back at every convention since 1964, evaluating how a party did in that state compared to others and compared to four years earlier.
And it turns out there's basically no effect. On average, candidates saw a bump of only 0.7 percentage points in the state where they held their convention. In fact, almost half the time, the party actually did worse in that state.
Take, for example, 2016. The GOP Convention was in Cleveland, Ohio, and Republicans did flip that state from Obama to Trump. But Democrats held theirs in Philly, and then lost Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988.
So, no, I don't buy that locations matter.
But that's not to say conventions overall don't matter. They can still produce a decent bump in the polls. Hillary Clinton jumped out to almost an eight-point lead following her convention, for example. And John McCain and Sarah Palin pulled briefly ahead of Barack Obama following their connection in 2008.
But both those bounces occurred nationwide, and not just in the convention state. That's because conventions are made-for-TV spectacles, cheering crowds, balloon drop, celebrity cameos.
Unless we actually get a contested convention one year, it's all mostly for show.
But what if, because of COVID, we see a virtual convention or a very scaled-down event with fewer people? Well, it's pretty hard to give a rousing speech in an empty room, so they may have to pump in crowd noise, like they're doing on some German soccer broadcasts.
RADDATZ: That will be something to see.
Our thanks to Nate.
Let's bring in the roundtable now, our chief White House correspondent Jon Karl, author of the bestseller "Front Row at the Trump Show," chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, and making her "This Week" roundtable debut, our ABC News multi-platform reporter Rachel Scott.
Good morning to you all.
And, Rachel, because it's your first time on our roundtable, I want to start with you.
You have been out there covering the protests in Washington all week. Give us the 50,000-foot view of what you have seen and heard while out in the field. I know you probably heard Secretary Wolf's description.
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS MULTI-PLATFORM REPORTER: Martha, thank you so much for having me.
Well, the killing of George Floyd was really just the boiling point. This is about centuries of systemic racism and racial inequality that has existed in this country.
And I think what we are seeing right now is generational exhaustion and generational uprising. These are young voices that are out there from all different backgrounds demanding for change.
And as we see thousands of protesters out there, it's important to note that every single one of them has a story. Either they have experienced racism themselves, some black Americans asking themselves, am I next?
They are demanding for change. And it just doesn't stop with the president. They are going forward, asking other lawmakers to make changes as well, and they want to know what they have done while being in office. It's not just about sending words of support. It's about holding these lawmakers accountable, Martha.
RADDATZ: And, Jon, so far, it doesn't seem the president is hearing these protesters' demands, refusing on Friday to even answer whether he has a plan to address systemic racism, beyond a strong economy.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In fact, the president has refused to answer questions from reporters almost since the beginning of these protests, just not answering those basic questions.
He's been all over the map on this. I think that where they're zooming in now is a constant repetition of that law and order message. You see it on his Twitter feed constantly. You saw it again this morning, law and order, not in any way addressing the concerns that have led to these protests.
RADDATZ: And, Pierre, former President Barack Obama said, this time feels different, that there is a change in mind-set that is taking place among a broad coalition of Americans.
But, as I watched Jesse Jackson, who is 78 years old, at that memorial service for George Floyd, I had to wonder how many services he has been to in his lifetime hoping for real change.
Do you feel a difference?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Martha, I think there has been a change, in that I looked at how broad and diverse that group was here in Washington, D.C. And so many people are now having an honest dialogue about race and racism.
So, I do think you're seeing change.
But one of the things we do know is that change is hard, it's difficult, and I've been struck this week in thinking about two images. One image is from the '60s and '50s of black men saying, I am a man. And then we also have the new images and the signs saying black lives matter. Martha, they're not all that different, they're about black people saying, I want to be treated with equal justice. I want to be treated with dignity, and that shows we have a lot of work to do, Martha.
RADDATZ: And do you think these protests last? Do they go into next week and the week after and the week after?
THOMAS: It's hard to say, but what I do feel is that people know that what happened to Mr. Floyd is wrong. And it was so searing and it was so stark it suggested there must still be racism out there, and I think there were a lot of people, particularly from the majority community, who sometimes hear about the different allegations of racism and think to themselves, well, there they go again. Well, that image of how Mr. Floyd died I think is causing a lot of Americans to really reassess where we are in terms of race relations.
RADDATZ: and Mary, Joe Biden accused the president of fanning the the flames of hate, harkening back to his campaign launch where he rebuked Trump over his comments about Charlottesville. It was his first major speech in public since mid-March. How does this moment change Biden's campaign strategy?
BRUCE: Well, Joe Biden is certainly seizing this moment to draw very sharp contrast with the president. His campaign sees a real void of leadership in the way that the president is handling this, and Joe Biden is eager to show Americans that he can fill that void.
Now as you mentioned, accusing the president of fanning the flames of hate certainly is not a new strategy for Joe Biden. He literally launched his campaign with those two words, Charlottesville, Virginia. But now we are going to see him really crank up these contrasts.
And it is leading to this rather remarkable split screen campaign. So, while you have the president out there encouraging crackdowns, you see Joe Biden out meeting with protesters. You have the president doing that bible photo-op, on the other hand you have Joe Biden going inside of a church to meet with community leaders. You have the president not offering a single proposal at all to address the concerns of these protesters while Joe Biden is out there calling for new policies and increased accountability and transparency.
And I think you're going to continue to see these sharp contrasts, these really divergent campaigns the more Joe Biden continues to get out on the campaign trail again.
RADDATZ: And Jon, Mary mentioned, of course, that photo-op. We also saw those unprecedented rebukes from military leaders, the secretary of defense this week. We saw Secretary Esper at that photo-op. I don't think that's some place he wanted to end up. Is his job safe right now?
KARL: I think Esper is very worried about his job. The president was furious by what he said. And as far as these rebukes from Mattis and Kelly, as extraordinary as they are, they didn't take anybody by surprise in the West Wing, and that really tells you something.
But if you look at the president's former attorney general, secretary of state, national security adviser, secretary of defense, top economic adviser, are all people that have come out in some way and criticized the president and have been attacked by the president in the most extraordinarily personal terms.
But, Martha, one interesting thing here is that Kelly and Mattis were both there as part of that administration in Charlottesville when the president called people marching next to white supremacists, very fine people. And what I report in the book is he said those exact words the day before he said them in public. Kelly was there, so were others, and nobody stepped forward to tell the president that was an inappropriate thing to say.
RADDATZ: And I think they've gotten a lot of criticism for that.
Mary, it hasn't just been the military that's reacted to this. There's been unusually harsh criticism from Republicans, and we have stories that George Bush, Mitt Romney may not be supporting the president, and just a few moments ago Colin Powell said on CNN that he's going to vote for Joe Biden.
BRUCE: Yeah, we are seeing this really remarkable and rare break here from some Republicans.
Of course, it was the photo-op, it was this sharp rebuke from many military leaders that have now led some Republicans to now speak out, including not just that you mentioned, but also Senators Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, of course, and Lisa Murkowski who was the first one to really go so far to suggest that she may not be able to support the president come November.
And what was really I think surprising about her statement was this acknowledgment that many within the Republican Party may have doubts about the president, but so far have lacked the courage to come forward and speak up. It seems that may be changing. But of course, there is a very real political risk that comes with going against this president. And Republicans are well aware of that.
So, while we do see some coming out and speaking up, we also see many, especially many Republican leaders who are standing by the president, or just simply declining to comment in detail at all.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Rachel, we'd have a tweet from the president just a few minutes ago that the National Guard will be leaving D.C. What's your reaction to that?
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS MULTI-PLATFORM REPORTER: Well, it's been tense out there, Martha. I was there as the president made that trip to St. John's Church. And it was interesting being a reporter on the ground. We were about to go live. In my ear I'm hearing the president gave remarks in the Rose Garden. He was talking about peaceful protesters. And then what I was seeing unfold in front of me were those peaceful protesters being forcibly pushed back. And every day we have seen the perimeter around the White House expand. Every day we have seen the people's house get further away from the people who are outside protesting and demanding for justice and trying to get their message to the president.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Pierre, there -- there's a lot of talk about defunding police departments. What exactly does that mean?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're talking about is moving some of the resources given to police and providing them to the communities that they serve. Now, I can tell you, law enforcement is going to be very much concerned about that because they believe that the amount of police that you have on the streets has a direct impact on crime. But you see in many of these communities, we saw it in Los Angeles, this notion that perhaps we should regigger how we allot resources to affect the people.
RADDATZ: And -- and, Mary, Congress has also been active in proposing reforms to policing across the country. Is there any hope for bipartisan support? And what do you think that would look like?
BRUCE: Well, there certainly is an appetite here. I think the question is just how big are they willing to go? We know that House Democrats, tomorrow, are going to be putting out this sweeping reform legislation that, among other things, would include a ban on choke holds. It would create a national registry for police misconduct. And we have seen from Republicans from the House, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a sign that they are willing to work with Democrats on this.
But, of course, the president, the fact that he has drawn such a hard line on many of these issues could make it really difficult for a lot of Republicans to get on board here. I think anything that gets passed in the House is likely to face an uphill battle in the Senate. And then there is the question of, what is the president willing to sign? And, of course, the bigger issue of whether anything that Congress does now will be enough to satisfy the demands or at least begin to satisfy the demands of what we are seeing being called for by these protesters across the country.
RADDATZ: And, Jon Karl, one of the things the president wants to do is change the subject. I mean he's talking about law and order but he was also talking about economic numbers this week. But I'm -- I'm just looking at an NBC/ "Wall Street Journal" poll that says, among voters living in the top 2020 battleground states, Arizona Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, et cetera, Biden's combined lead over Trump is eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent. I'm sure he really wants to talk about the economy now.
JON KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looked grim four years ago as well in the 2016 campaign for Donald Trump and he ended up winning. But he will focus on the economy because those polls also show that more people trust Trump with the economy than trust Biden. So that is his issue. That's where he will focus.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks to all of you. And it's great to see you all on a Sunday morning. Thanks so much.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and have a great day.