A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 9, 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 "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice-over): COVID conundrum.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: But I don't believe we have seen the peak.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cases mount, schools close, the economy stalls. Is it time to embrace a new pandemic strategy?
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPECIAL ADVISER: We're not getting rid of the virus. We are going to have to live with it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Ashish Jha joins us live this morning.
Deadly clashes. Russian troops move in after violent protests in Kazakstan, as Putin turns up the pressure on Ukraine.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How will the Biden administration respond? Secretary of State Antony Blinken joins us ahead of tonight's summit with the Russians.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those who stormed this Capitol and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden marks the anniversary of January 6 by taking aim at Donald Trump.
BIDEN: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He can't accept he lost.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The latest on what's next in Congress with Democrat Jamie Raskin, Republican Mike Rounds.
Martha Raddatz reports on the rise of extremism among the nation's veterans.
And our powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
We have a lot to cover today, and we begin with a pandemic that just won't quit. As Omicron sweeps across the country, sending cases to new highs, President Biden is edging toward a new strategy focused on learning to live with COVID.
And that's where we begin with our friend Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
Dr. Jha, thanks for joining us again.
There's so much confusion and fatigue out there. What's your best assessment of where things stand with Omicron right now and where it's heading?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning, George. Thank you for having me back.
We're obviously in the middle of a really bad surge right now. We're seeing two sets of things happening, a lot of vaccinated people getting infected who are doing fine, largely avoiding getting particularly sick, avoiding the hospital, a lot of unvaccinated people and high-risk people who have not gotten boosted, and they're really filling up the hospital.
And so our hospital systems are under a lot of stress. I expect this surge to peak in the next couple of weeks. It'll peak in different places in America at different times. But once we get into February, I really do expect much, much lower case numbers.
And then we have to start thinking about a long-term strategy for how do we manage this virus and not go from surge to surge, feeling like we don't really have a longer-term approach.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about.
We know that a group of President Biden's outside medical advisers published an article in the AMA journal this week. They called for a new strategy like that, focus on learning to live with a certain level of the virus, rather than eradicating it. They call this a new normal that recognizes that COVID is just one of several respiratory viruses.
So, first of all, do you agree with that? It sounds like you do. And what are the implications of that? What would that mean in practical terms?
JHA: Yes, I do agree with that.
COVID, obviously, has been pretty devastating; 850,000 Americans have died. But we now have effective vaccines. And with the latest surge, we're going to have more Americans with immunity, some earned the hard way through infection.
Over the long run, we have to look at COVID along with flu, RSV, other respiratory viruses, and ask some critical questions, like, how do we keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed? How do we keep schools open and safe during this time? And we have the tools now to do those things, improving ventilation, getting more vaccines and therapeutics out.
There's a lot we can do to have a long-term strategy that lets our economy function, that lets people live their lives, and really suppresses the level of infection and deaths that we have seen over the last two years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Testing is a big part of that.
Do these antigen tests really capture COVID, I mean, Omicron?
JHA: They do. They do.
Look, the antigen tests remain a very, very effective tool. The one difference we have seen between Omicron and Delta is, in that first day of symptoms, it does look like the test is a little less sensitive. But that's for the first day. Beyond the first day, these antigen tests continue to work really effectively.
And so I think they are a bedrock of our long-term strategy for managing this virus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, in the meantime, the CDC has taken some heat, including from you, over their Omicron guidance, five days of isolation, but no requirement of a negative test after that.
What do you recommend?
JHA: Yes, what I think is, first and foremost, the first five days are critical. That's the period when people are most contagious.
So, if more Americans could stay home and away from others for the first five days, it would make an enormous difference. Beyond the first five days, I think -- and I've sort of advocated for this quite -- for quite a while, is you should get a negative antigen test. I mean, one of those rapid tests, if it’s negative then you should feel much more comfortable going back into society.
When those tests are not available, and that's the challenge CDC is facing, how do you recommend something that people can't do, then it is absolutely essential that people mask up and wear a high-quality mask diligently for the next five days.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, we also have this issue with the schools going on right now. Parents, understandably, are having a hard time dealing with remote learning. So many parents have to work. Teachers and others who work at schools are saying, but wait a second, it -- we’re just not sure that it's safe and we don't have the staffing right now because Omicron is spreading so widely. How do we handle that? How do we balance that out?
JHA: Yes. So, first of all, remote learning has been a disaster for America’s kids. And I think we have to acknowledge that, and we have to do everything we can to minimize any further remote learning.
Look, I understand teachers' frustrations. A lot of school districts did not put in -- did not use the billions of dollars that they had gotten to put in improvements in ventilation and other upgrades. So, the question is can you still have school in the middle of a surge and the answer is you can. Because if people are vaccinated, teachers should be all vaccinated and boosted, if people wear high quality masks -- even without those other upgrades which I would like to see, it still is safe for kids and teachers to be back in school.
So, I think at this point there is really no good explanation for having remote schools.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Jha, thanks as always for your time and your information.
JHA: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to the showdown over Russia and Ukraine. Summit talks start tonight, come in the wake of a violent revolt in Kazakhstan, where Russian forces moved in to back the regime. The U.S. laid out potential areas for cooperation with Russia on Saturday and potential consequences if Russia invades. We’re going to question Secretary of State Antony Blinken about it all after this report from senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IAN PANNELL, SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (VOICEOVER): For weeks, observers have been anxiously watching Ukraine, fearing a new Russian intervention. But this week, it was a different crisis erupting in another major former Soviet country that caught the world and the White House by surprise.
Mass protests exploding seemingly almost out of nowhere in Kazakhstan. Protesters storming government buildings across this huge Central Asian country. In the largest city, Almaty, setting fire to the city hall and a former residence of the president. But as the regime seemed to totter, its president turned to its old patron, Russia.
Now a few thousand Russian paratroopers are arriving in Kazakhstan. Another military intervention by Moscow in another former Soviet state with clear echoes of the Cold War.
Bolstered by the Kremlin, the president's regained a fragile control, ordering his forces to shoot to kill. They’ve cleared the streets in Almaty but more than 160 dead.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.
PANNELL (VOICEOVER): It's a lesson Ukraine knows all too well.
PANNELL (ON CAMERA): Every few minutes, another gunshot there. You hear the sound of rapid automatic gunfire there. They’re telling us to go.
PANNELL (VOICEOVER): When we visited the front-line last month, the eight-year-old conflict was still flickering. The Kremlin using the threat of invasion to issue sweeping demands that NATO pull back from Eastern Europe.
Now U.S. diplomats have two crises to tackle when they sit down for talks with Russia. It remains to be seen how much influence they still have and whether the Kremlin is listening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Ian Pannell for that.
We’re joined now by the secretary of state, Antony Blinken. Secretary Blinken, thank you for joining us this morning.
We now know that President Putin has forces surrounding Ukraine on three sides, he’s made it clear that he believes Russia and Ukraine are one people. Do you think he's already made the decision to take control of Ukraine?
BLINKEN: George, I don’t know if the decision’s been made and it’s clear that we’ve offered him two paths forward. One is through diplomacy and dialogue. The other is through deterrence and massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression against Ukraine. And we're about to test the proposition of which path President Putin wants to take this week.
We have important conversations that are taking place between us directly at NATO, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. And the question really now is whether President Putin will take the path of diplomacy and dialogue or seeks confrontation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What are those massive consequences if, indeed, Russia does invade?
BLINKEN: We’ve been working in tremendous collaboration with European partners and allies and beyond to make it very clear that there will be massive consequences for Russia if it renews its aggression. By which I mean, economic, financial, and other consequences. As well as NATO almost certainly having to reinforce its positions on its Eastern flank near Russia as well as continuing to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine.
And this is not just me saying it, George. We’ve had the leading democratic economies in the world, the G7, made clear there would be massive consequences. The European Union and the NATO allies and partners as well. So we’ve been working very closely with them in recent weeks to get those agreed, decided, and in some detail.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you know, the United States and Europe have imposed a series of sanctions on the Russians going back to the first invasion of Crimea under the Obama administration. They’ve been imposed. They’re still in place. They haven’t worked.
What will be different this time?
BLINKEN: President Biden has been clear that we are looking at taking steps that we have not taken in the past and that the consequences for Russia would be severe. And that’s something that President Putin’s going to have to factor into his calculus.
Again, our strong preference is a diplomatic resolution of this -- of this challenge. But, ultimately, that’s up to Russia. If they’re going to engage in a meaningful way in dialogue, if they’re prepared to take reciprocal steps to address -- not just their security concerns but our security concerns, then we can make progress. If not, we’re going down a very different path.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about military assistance in the Ukrainians? The former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, John Herbst, said this week the United States should be arming Ukrainians now.
Let’s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HERBST, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The sequence is wrong. The weapons should be sent now and then force posture should be enhanced in the East now, telling Moscow we can always pull them back once you stop your build-up along Ukraine’s borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not follow his advice?
BLINKEN: Well, we have been providing significant defensive assistance to Ukraine, including as recently as the last couple of weeks. Almost half a billion dollars this year alone. That’s continued, that will continue, and if there is further aggression by Russia against Ukraine, we’ll see even more of that. We are making sure, to the best of our ability -- and other allies and partners are doing the same, that Ukraine has the means to defend itself.
But, George, it’s also important to step back for a minute and look at not only how we got here but why this is so important. How we got here is because Russia’s committed repeated acts of aggression against its neighbors going back more than a decade. Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine in 2014. And now the prospect of doing that again.
And at the same time, this is bigger even than Ukraine. This goes to some basic principles of international relations that are what guarantee peace and security. The principle that one nation can’t simply change the borders of another by force. The principle that one nation can’t dictate to another its choices and with whom it will associate. The principle that we can’t have countries exerting spheres of influence to subjugate their neighbors. That should be a relic of the past.
All of that is what is in play here. That’s why it’s so important that we stand not only for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its sovereignty, its independence, but for these basic principles. I think there’s a way forward through dialogue, through diplomacy to address whatever legitimate concerns Russia may have --
STEPHANOPOULOS: What other legitimate --
BLINKEN: -- addresses our concerns. Well, look --
STEPHANOPOULOS: What are their legitimate concerns?
BLINKEN: We’ve had, in the past, agreements that have addressed concerns on both sides. For example, the deployment of intermediate nuclear forces in Europe. There was a treaty. Unfortunately, Russia developed and deployed weapons that are in violation of that treaty. The previous administration pulled out of it. There may be grounds for renewing that.
Similarly, there are agreements on the deployment of conventional forces in Europe, things like the scope and scale of exercises that if adhered to reciprocally, that is Russia makes good on its commitments, which it’s repeatedly violated, then there are grounds for reducing tensions, creating greater transparency, creating greater confidence. All of which would address concerns that Russia reports to have.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re willing to address troop levels? You’re willing to address missile deployments? You’re willing to address training exercises?
BLINKEN: Look, we’re -- let me be -- let me be clear about two things. First, when it comes to the deployment of forces and troop levels, we’re not looking at -- we’re not looking at troop levels, to the contrary. If Russia commits renewed aggression against Ukraine, I think it’s a very fair prospect that NATO will reinforce its positions along its -- the Eastern Plank, the countries that border -- that border Russia.
But when it comes to, for example, the scope and scale of exercises, things that were dealt within the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty that Russia has been violation of, those are things that we can look at. There are confidence-building measures, there are risk reduction measures, all of which if done reciprocally I think can really reduce tensions and address concerns.
The other thing that’s so important is this, George, we’ve been very clear with Russia repeatedly, that we are not going to do or commit to anything about Europe without Europe. So, anything that goes to Europe’s security interests will be done in full coordination with them, with Europeans at the table.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What will tell you that President Putin is serious about trying to find a negotiated solution?
BLINKEN: Well, one thing is this -- if we’re actually going to make progress in these talks, starting next week but I don’t think we’re going to see any breakthroughs next week, we’re going to listen to their concern. They’ll listen to our concerns. And we’ll see if there are grounds for progress.
But to make actual progress, it’s very hard to see that happening when there’s an ongoing escalation, when Russia has a gun to the head of Ukraine, with 100,000 troops near its borders, the possibility of doubling that on very short order. So, if we’re seeing de-escalation, if we’re seeing a reduction in tensions, that is the kind of environment in which we could make real progress, and, again, address concerns -- reasonable concerns on both sides.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THE WEEK" ANCHOR: This, of course, comes in the wake of Russian paratroopers going to Kazakhstan this week to back the government. The lead Russian negotiator in the talks starting tonight with the United States said it’s none of the United States’ business what’s happening in Kazakhstan, that it -- they will not discuss it at these talks.
What do you make of that characterization? And will the U.S. raise Kazakhstan in the talks this week?
BLINKEN: Well, we have real concerns about the state of emergency that was declared in Kazakhstan. I've talked to my counterpart, the foreign minister. We’ve been clear that we expect the Kazakh government to deal with protesters in ways that respects their rights, that pulls back from violence at the same time. It, of course, has a right to defense (INAUDIBLE) --
STEPHANOPOULOS: The order now are shoot to kill.
BLINKEN: That is something I resolutely reject. The shoot to kill order, to the extent it exists, is wrong and should be rescinded.
And Kazakhstan has the ability to maintain law and order, to defend the institutions of the state, but to do so in a way that respects the rights of peaceful protesters, and also addresses the concerns that they’ve raised -- economic concerns, some political concerns.
We have real questions about why it was necessary to call in this organization that -- that Russia leads and is a part of. These ought to be things that the government of Kazakhstan can handle on its own and handle in rights-respecting way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, the United States will raise it in these talks this week?
BLINKEN: The talks this week are focused, look, on three things. First, there are direct bilateral talks between Russia and the United States as part of something we called a strategic stability dialogue. This was something that was created after we extended the news START agreement at the beginning of last year, to see if there are other steps that our countries could take together on arms control. That’s going to be a focus of those talks.
NATO-Russia, the council is meeting. That scenario where we can look at issues that affect NATO’s interests and Russia’s interests.
And then the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This brings together 57 countries, including Russia, including Ukraine, including the United States, European allies and partners. And there, we can talk about broad issues of European security.
So, there are a lot of things that are potentially on the table, and we’re committed to seeing if we can find a way forward diplomatically through dialogue. That is the responsible way to handle these differences.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary Blinken, thanks for your time this morning.
BLINKEN: Thanks, George. Good to be with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, Martha Raddatz reports on the rise of extremism inside the military. And in the wake of the January 6th anniversary, the latest on how Congress will deal with the fall-out.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR.: This wasn't a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. Those who storm this Capitol and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America. They came here in rage, not in service of America, but rather in service of one man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden condemning Donald Trump on the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection. Investigations have revealed that dozens in the mob that day had ties to the U.S. military.
Martha Raddatz brings us this report on the Pentagon's new effort to address extremism in its ranks.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT & ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR (voice over): In the early hours of last January 6th, among the thousands listening to Donald Trump on the National Mall, Brian Snow caught my eye.
(on camera): Why do you have your body armor on?
BRIAN SNOW, ARMY VETERAN: I have the body armor on for protection. I'm a father of four kids and I've seen a lot of evidence of people being attacked, stabbed, shot for attending a Trump supporter rally, even if they're not Trump supporters.
RADDATZ (voice over): The Army veteran had driven 12 hours from his Indiana home to attend the Stop the Steal rally.
SNOW: The president asked for people to come himself, so, you know, that's what we did.
RADDATZ: Nearly one year later, we asked Snow to meet us back in D.C., despite the more than 60 unsuccessful lawsuits filed by former President Trump and his allies and zero evidence of widespread voter fraud, Snow is seemingly more convinced than ever that the false claims of a stolen election are real.
SNOW: I think that that election is so fraught with -- so tainted, it doesn't matter what anybody says anymore.
RADDATZ: And while Snow said he did not join the protesters on Capitol Hill after the rally that day and called violence against police officers "unfortunate and appalling," he still defends the dozens of current and former members of the military who participated.
(on camera): They, like you, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.
SNOW: If that's what they felt that they needed to do to protect the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.
RADDATZ (on camera): But it's completely opposite of the Constitution itself.
SNOW: I -- I disagree.
RADDATZ (voice over): More than 80 of the some 700 facing criminal charges for the assault on the Capitol had a military background.
DAVID SMITH, NAVY VETERAN: It goes against everything we were -- we swore an oath to protect, to serve, to do.
RADDATZ: David Smith, a former Navy medic was served in Afghanistan, was working near the Capitol that day.
DAVID SMITH, NAVY VETERAN: So it's -- it's literally watching what felt like democracy falling, honestly. So it was pretty scary.
RADDATZ: And sobering for the Pentagon. In the wake of the attack and outlining new guidelines and definitions for "prohibited extremist activities." Commanders can also look at service members' social media history once a red flag is raised. And the guidance includes what constitutes dissemination of extremist materials online, such as posting, liking or retweeting.
But so many say there's still so much more that needs to be done.
SMITH: When we talk about veterans and their willingness to serve, they have an undying patriotism. And when politicians can manipulate that, that's going to give them a lot of power.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Martha Raddatz for that report.
We're joined now by Republican Senator Mike Rounds, a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, and Democrat Jamie Raskin, member of the House's January 6 Committee, author of the new book "Unthinkable."
And, Senator Rounds, let me begin with you. I want to get to the fallout of January 6th, but let me begin with my interview with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and this showdown with Russia over Ukraine.
Are you confident that the Biden administration is doing what it needs to do to prevent Russia from going in?
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS, (R) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE & (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: I think we'll support the administration's efforts to find a diplomatic solution.
We also have to make it very clear to Mr. Putin that his antics right now in and around Ukraine are unacceptable, which means that if additional sanctions have to be imposed to send that message, that would be appropriate.
Nord Stream 2 is one example of a place where we could do that now. The president has the authority to do so. And I think sending a message to Mr. Putin that he's going to get a lot more accomplished using diplomatic means, rather than threatening to invade, is something that we should be very, very firm about.
So, look, as long as the administration is moving forward and they are very clear to Mr. Putin that his antics -- excuse me -- are not going to be rewarded, then we're going to be very supportive of the administration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Martha Raddatz's piece right there.
How do you -- what do you say? You voted to certify the election last year. You condemned the protest as an insurrection. What do you say to all those Republicans, all those veterans who believe the election was stolen, who have bought the falsehoods coming from former President Trump?
ROUNDS: We looked -- as a part of our due diligence, we looked at over 60 different accusations made in multiple states.
While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state.
The election was fair, as fair as we have seen. We simply did not win the election, as Republicans, for the presidency. And moving forward -- and that's the way we want to look at this -- moving forward, we have to refocus once again on what it's going to take to win the presidency.
And if we simply look back and tell our people don't vote because there's cheating going on, then we're going to put ourselves in a huge disadvantage. So, moving forward, let's focus on what it takes to win those elections. We can do that. But we have to let people know that they can -- they can believe and they can have confidence that those elections are fair.
And that is in every single state that we looked at.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big questions is going to be whether President Trump can run in the next election.
You voted to acquit him in the impeachment trial last year. But you also said he could be prosecuted criminally. And our next guest, Congressman Raskin, has said that Congress could pass a law preventing former President Trump from running again, citing the provision of the 14th Amendment which prohibits anyone who betrayed their oath by supporting an insurrection from holding state or federal office.
He calls it a live possibility. Do you think it is?
ROUNDS: Well, let me just share with you my thoughts on the issue in general.
Every single individual in the United States is subject to the court systems. What happens with a president is that he has the shield of office, which, in many cases, prohibits or limits the ability of the courts to address issues surrounding that.
What an impeachment does is take away that shield. President Trump was no longer president at the time that that occurred. The courts are the appropriate place where those questions should be answered. This is not going to be up to members of the United States Senate or the House, in my opinion.
I think this is an issue which the courts can decide. And, most certainly, if there's evidence there, this is going to be up to the Justice Department to bring it forward and to move with it. But, once again, every single person has protections under that system. The former president has protections under that system as well.
But this is something that should be decided in the courts. And I don't think it's something that we should be legislating on right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, just to be clear, then, if the Department of Justice comes forward with evidence that President Trump was indeed complicit, more evidence that President Trump was complicit, you would support prosecution?
ROUNDS: In this particular case, it's not going to be up to a member of the Senate to support prosecution.
What it's going to be is, is it's up to the Justice Department to make that decision. And every single person who is accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. We all know that. The same thing with the former president.
So, if they think they have got that, they can bring the evidence forward. In my opinion, they haven't done that yet. And it's going to be up to them to make that case. But that shield of the presidency does not exist for someone who is a former president.
Everybody, you me, everybody in this country, is subject to the courts of this country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Separately, could you support President Trump if he runs again?
ROUNDS: I'm sorry?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Could you support President Trump if he runs again?
ROUNDS: I will take a hard look at it.
Personally, what I have told people is, is I'm going to support the Republican nominee to be president. I'm not sure that the eventual nominee has even shown up yet. There's still -- we're two years to go, where we're going to focus on the next election cycle. It's critical that we take back the House. It's critical that we take back the United States Senate.
And doing and based upon that, then we will decide who our nominee for president is going to be.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Rounds, thanks for your time this morning.
ROUNDS: You bet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's bring in Congressman Jamie Raskin, a member the House committee.
Congressman Raskin, thank you for joining us.
You just heard Senator Rounds right there. He said that this idea of using the 14th Amendment, passing a law to enforce the 14th Amendment, is not something he can support.
Why do you think it’s a live possibility?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, first of all, I was delighted to hear the senator repeat what a lot were saying during the Senate impeachment trial was that he could be prosecuted afterwards. Some of them are changing their tune on that, but I think it’s good to hear him say that justice should be able to work through the DOJ and the president -- the former president should be prosecuted for any crimes he committed.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says anybody who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, who violates and betrays that oath by participating in an insurrection or rebellion against the Union shall never be allowed to hold public office again. That was adopted by the Republicans -- the radical Republicans after the Civil War, during the Reconstruction period.
It was used then. And it may indeed depending on what we find Donald Trump did be a blockade for him ever being able to run for office again.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Based on what you found so far, do you have evidence that President Trump was complicit, that he actually participated in the insurrection?
RASKIN: Well, we already have the fact that he was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting a violent insurrection against the Union, and 57-to-43 definitive legislative pronouncement by the Senate that he incited a violent insurrection. The question is to what extent he was implicit in organizing it. And that's exactly what the Select Committee is looking at, as we are fulfilling our charge under House Resolution 503 to determine all of the facts composing the events and the causes of the events on January 6th.
And we will be conducting further hearings about that and we’ll be releasing reports that we hope to have a comprehensive and fine-grained portrait of everything that happened, including the central role of the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's former press secretary, former President Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, went before your committee this week. You said she opened up lines of inquiry that hadn't occurred to you. Like what?
RASKIN: Well, she had a number of names that I had not heard before, and she had some ways of looking at it.
Look, there are -- the amazing thing about what's takes place, George, is that the overwhelming majority of people, both within the Trump administration and outside, are stepping forward to give the evidence that they've got. And, of course, that's their legal duty when Congress comes calling, but it’s also a kind of civic duty and honor to do that.
And, overwhelmingly, people participated. It’s only a problem the closer you get to Donald Trump and you have a handful of people who think they're above the law like Roger Stone and Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, once he was intimidated by Donald Trump.
But in general, we're getting terrific participation and we're really connecting all of the dots.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is a lot of concern about the next election. What are the reforms -- what other reforms is the committee considering?
RASKIN: Well, that will be the final part of our work when we look at this violent attack on the peaceful transfer of power coordinated with an attempted political coup by an outgoing president. So, there’s going to be a whole panoply of reforms that we need to investigate, discuss and then put on the table for Congress and for the American table to look at.
Some of them are at the very ground level about strengthening security at the U.S. Capitol, preventing violent physical invasions through our windows and doors, but a lot of them go all the way up to -- as long as we’re going to have the Electoral College which is an antiquated and increasingly obsolescent institution, fortifying the role of the people to make sure that the will of the people in the states is not stolen away by inside trickery and games. And that's what we saw last time.
We need to defend the people's right to vote and the people's sovereignty over our leadership against attempts to use voter suppression and gerrymandering and the manipulation of booby traps within the Electoral College to deny people their will in defining who’s going to be our president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident you can complete your work before the midterms? And how concerned are you that if Republicans do take control of the Congress next time around, they will undo everything you’ve done in the committee?
RASKIN: Well, look, I think that the true obligation of a political party and a constitutional democracy is to accept that there are rules of the game. And we play by those rules even if we don't like them. I mean, I’m an opponent of the Electoral College. I believe in the national popular vote for president.
But as long as we have the Electoral College, we’ve got to respect the rules under it. But what's evolved on the other side -- as President Biden put it this week -- is a rule or ruin philosophy which is the GOP is going to rule or they’re going to ruin the prospects for political democracy to make progress in any other way.
And that's a fundamentally authoritarian approach. The GOP, under Donald Trump's thumb, is now positioning itself outside of the constitutional order. They attacked our constitutional processes and they attacked the outcome of our elections, even against all of the evidence. We had 61 federal and state courts reject all of their claims of electoral corruption and fraud, including eight judges who Donald Trump appointed to the bench himself, and still they're out there propounding lies. That is a totalitarian tactic, and we have to call it for what it is and say, that's not going to work in American democracy in the 21st century. We have to defend our democrat institutions, against all enemies, foreign and Domestic, and again all those authoritarian governments abroad that are trying to destabilize American democratic culture.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Raskin, thanks for your time this morning.
RASKIN: Thanks for having me, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silvers is next.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Nate Silver and the roundtable are coming up. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS' "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": You called this a "terror attack," when by no definition was it a terror attack. That's a lie.
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb. What I was referring to are -- are the limited number of people who engaged in violent attacks against police officers.
I wasn't saying that the thousands of people, protesters, supporting Donald Trump, are somehow terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Ted Cruz buckling to Tucker Carlson over Cruz's accurate criticism of the January 6 rioters, one more sign of how Republicans are falling in line behind the big lie about that day and the election. A majority of Republicans now back Donald Trump's fictional re-write of history.
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver analyzes how durable his hold on the party has become.
NATE SILVER, FOUNDER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Usually when presidential candidates lose elections, their parties look for a fresh face in the new cycle.
But the evidence pretty clearly shows that Trump is different. The last time somebody was nominated again after being a prior general election loser was Richard Nixon in 1968. He had lost to JFK in 1960.
But according to polling by CIVIQS, Trump's favorability rating among Republicans only decreased slightly after January 6th, whereas Mike Pence's plummeted from roughly plus-75 before January 6 to only plus-25 now.
And Mitch McConnell's fell from around plus-50 in late 2020 to negative-35 after the insurrection attempt.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to lead every time a pollster asks Republicans about the 2024 primary. He was at 54 percent for the vote in the most recent Ipsos poll, for example, as compared to 11 percent for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in second place.
And of course these two things are connected. One way to fend off a reputation as a loser is if you lie and say you didn't lose. Recent polling by ABC News/Ipsos found that 71 percent of GOP voters don't believe Joe Biden won the election legitimately.
For a moment it seemed like January 6 might be the breaking point for Republicans. Ten Republicans in the House did vote to impeach Trump and seven GOP senators voted to convict him. But four of those officials have already announced their retirements, and many other House Republicans are facing vigorous Trump-supported primary challenges.
I don't see how you can look at all of that and conclude anything other than the obvious, which is that, yes, I buy January 6 strengthened Trump's hold on the GOP.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate for that. The roundtable's next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is ready to go.
We will be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are back with the roundtable.
We are joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, our chief Washington correspondent, Jon Karl, and Julie Pace, executive editor of the Associated Press.
Thank you all for joining us. Sorry to see everybody back in boxes. Hopefully, Dr. Jha is right, and this Omicron will all burn through in the next few weeks.
And, Jon Karl, that's where I actually want to begin with you.
It did seem as if President Biden is edging towards the strategy advocated by Dr. Jha and other medical experts, treating this whole pandemic as the new normal.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AND ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Absolutely. And the bottom line is that he needs a change in strategy, George.
President Biden came into office with this being his top priority. He was going to take on the pandemic. He was going to defeat the pandemic. It was the area for the first months of the Biden presidency where he had the highest approval rating.
And when you look at where we are now, when, obviously, the pandemic is not under control, that's not Biden's fault. That's a virus that has mutated and advanced in ways that have been unpredictable and hard to control.
But you have had a disaster over testing, which reminds me of the disaster over testing that, frankly, we had when Trump was president. We have had mixed messaging out of the CDC that has drawn criticism from people like Dr. Jha and other medical experts.
He needs to establish a new direction and a new plan for this. And I think realizing that he has -- that we're all going to be living with a new normal is the first step towards doing that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Julie Pace, the partisan lines and the partisan disputes over this have been breaking down as well.
We see these disputes between teachers and parents over what to do with schools right now.
JULIE PACE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS: We are seeing this really remarkable shift.
Early in the pandemic, you could basically draw a straight line between the -- between your partisan affiliation and where you fell on COVID restrictions. And now that's really been muddied, where you're seeing Democrats, who had been much more in favor of tighter restrictions, who are starting to -- as Jon said, starting to feel like we have to move forward and try to live with this.
They want to keep schools open. They are very skeptical of those really tight lockdowns that we saw earlier.
And the reality is we are in a different phase, even as we do see the case numbers on the rise with more people being vaccinated, those cases tend to be milder, we're not seeing the spikes in hospitalizations and deaths. And that has really muddied I think the public's willingness to accept a roll back in their ability to live life as normal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, is the president moving in the right direction?
CHRISTIE: Well, he couldn't be much more wrong than he's been of late, George. I mean, to be 22 months into this crisis and to have people waiting on line for testing and not be able to get tests after he appropriated $1.9 trillion to try to deal with this when he first came into office is incompetence of a monumental scale.
And so, the president better come up with something new to deal with this and a new way of approaching it. One of the ways would be how about getting competent on testing? Because that's a key part of the strategy of moving forward here and trying to keep people safe, is to keep people apprised of their status to try to lesson the spread of omicron, which is obviously a much more contagious strain than some of the other strains that we've had, certainly the delta strain. You know, that's Joe Biden's first problem.
His second problem is that he's dealing in a situation now where he has set extraordinarily high expectations. He was going to defeat the virus. It was the wrong way to go about this from the beginning. He oversold on the vaccines.
It was never that the vaccines were going to prevent you from getting COVID. It was going to prevent you from being hospitalized or from dying from COVID.
So, he set too high an expectation. He's not going to hit that mark. He’s failed on testing. He needs a new story, George, and he needs one fast.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that fair criticism, Donna?
BRAZILE: Of course not. George, look, more Americans are being vaccinated each and every day. That is a personal responsibility we should all support. The more people who are vaccinated as Governor Christie correctly said, the less strain on our hospitals and the less strains on our economy and our school system.
But I think the administration is moving at warp speed, something that President Trump signaled when we started getting these vaccines created. So it’s important that the American people, along with governors and state public health officials, continue to encourage vaccines, boosters for those who are age appropriate to get them, to provide these testing kits that I hope will be delivered to every American. Teach them how to use it so that we can stop the spread of this virus.
That is our number one goal. We are in a public health emergency. And I recognize the politics is all around this virus.
But as someone who served on the local coronavirus task force in the beginning, we knew that we had to follow some simple steps in order to protect everyone, and that is wear a mask. There is nothing wrong with wearing a mask. Get an appropriate one.
And secondly, we have to protect others by getting this vaccine. I’m going to continue to stress. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. It won't harm you.
Trust me. Look at me. I’m feeling good.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is good, Donna.
Jon Karl, we heard a new -- a new tone from the president on COVID. Also in the fall-out of the anniversary of January 6th, striking new tone from the president on that as well. His most direct aim yet at former President Trump.
KARL: Yeah. He went right at him, painted January 6th as more than simply an attack on the capital, but as he said, holding the dagger to the throat of American democracy.
But I thought one thing that was interesting in his remarks, George, was the way he tried to portray Donald Trump as a loser, almost as if he were taunting the former president, not mentioning him by name but calling him the defeated former president and going on at length at what happened in the 2020 election, which was Republicans actually did very well. They picked up seats in the House. They won several big state-wide races, and it was Trump at the top that lost.
So, how -- how could you say that, you know, that the election was rigged when these Republicans down the line did well? It was really, aiming at what Trump sees and I think has seen clearly from the day of the election was that he could never acknowledge he lost because he believes that his power, his power is based on the idea and the image that he is a guy who never loses. Now that's never been true, but that's the image he has projected.
He could not acknowledge losing because he thought that could cause him to lose his support. He's been successful in convincing millions and millions of Republican voters that he didn't lose.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Chris Christie, that does appear to be true. You have been one of the few Republicans to stand up to that. We just saw Nate Silver talk about what a hold the president now has over the party, even Mike Rounds, who's been incredibly critical of the president, Senator Mike Rounds, said -- didn't rule out supporting him if he's indeed the Republican nominee.
CHRISTIE: Well, look, George, I think that we have to divide this up into a couple ways.
Frist of all, we all saw what happened on January 6th. It was a violent attack on the Capitol in an attempt to overturn an election. That's what it was, and those of us who watched it know that that's what it was. And I think the president -- the former president trying to make it out to anything other than that is just wrong.
But, secondly, I wish that President Biden had struck a little bit less of a partisan tone in his speech on January 6th. Some of what he said, I think, was deserved. But I think some of it just went too far, too much of it.
And what it does is, it drives everybody into camps. Like, if you -- you know, a lot of Republicans feel like if you support Biden on anything when he talks like that, then you're supporting his policies and supporting his presidency, which most Republicans don't. So, I think he had a chance to unite the country a bit on January 6th and I think he went a little bit too partisan for my taste and I think for the taste of most Republicans and many Independents. And I think you're not going to see any bounce in his poll numbers as a result because I think he's further dividing the country, rather than trying to put this stuff behind us and unite us on a forward-looking vision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna Brazile, is uniting is country possibe on this question?
BRAZILE: Well, look, I thought the president gave a very powerful speech. He went from Uncle Joe to (ph) smoking Joe. I thought he was very spot on when he described just the kind of danger that the former president posed to our democracy. After all, the big lie is tearing up our country in ways that we don't even understand right now. And putting all these voting rights restrictions across the country because many -- many of our fellow citizens believe that the election was rigged.
So I thought the president gave a very good speech, the vice president also, in setting the table for what we need to do to protect our country from future demagogues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, Julie Pace, the president's going to be making that push on voting rights reform this week. It doesn't appear that the stage is set in the Senate to pass it.
PACE: This is going to be a huge test for this White House because this is where you go from talking about the impact of January 6th to trying to put in place actual policies that will try to protect voting rights as we see efforts across the country to try to roll those back. But the reality is that as with everything that Joe Biden has tried to do right now, his margins are extremely tight, and he's going to have to convince that same group in the Senate, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, that if they're going to move -- be able to move forward with this without Republican support, that they are going to have to try to get rid of the filibuster. That is a huge lift. It's one that Joe Biden has kind of been circling for the last couple of months here. And this is, I think, the moment where it's going to really come to a head.
I would say, Republicans are trying to put forward something that is far more measured in terms of tackling voting, basically tackling just a provision within Congress's ability to certify the vote. There are going to be a lot of Democrats who are going to be quite upset if that's where this conversation ends up and there's nothing broader done to protect voting rights.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we will see if there's anything they can do about it.
Thank you all very much for your time and your insight.
That is all for us today. Thanks to all of you for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."