This is a rush transcript for "This Week" on May 27, 2018.
ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Diplomatic drama...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned that the North Koreans could be trying to play games here?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody plays games, you know that.
RADDATZ: After abruptly calling off the high stakes summit...
TRUMP: This is a tremendous setback for North Korean, and indeed a setback for the world.
RADDATZ: The president says he could still meet with North Korea's leader.
TRUMP: We're looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn't changed.
RADDATZ: South Korea holding a surprise meeting with Kim Jong-un this weekend to try to salvage the summit.
So, will these historic negotiations get back on track?
Plus, Trump pushing this extraordinary allegation.
TRUMP: A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign.
RADDATZ: Without offering any proof to back it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't spy-gate, but it is a form of lie-gate.
RADDATZ: Is the president's claim another hit to his credibility or is he successfully casting doubt on the Russia investigation?
We talk to one of the few lawmakers briefed on the classified material, Representative Adam Schiff.
And on this Memorial Day weekend, we honor the families of the fallen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She makes you want to take advantage of every day you have.
RADDATZ: From the White House to your house, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning. Thanks for joining us on this holiday weekend after another busy week of headlines.
President Trump pushing that unproven claim that the FBI had a spy inside his 2016 campaign. Despite no evidence, he's repeated the claim again and again, an effort his critics see as an attempt to undermine the Russia investigation.
Outside of Washington, the NFL is cracking down on players who protest police brutality by taking a knee during the National Anthem. And now the league is facing criticism that it caved to pressure from the president.
But the story that captured the world's attention, those on again, off again talks with North Korea. Trump's relationship with Kim Jong-un has certainly come a long way. The president who mocked Kim as a little Rocket Man, stoking fears of a nuclear showdown, has recently been flattered by calls for the Nobel Peace prize after agreeing to a historic meeting with North Korea's leader.
But that summit in Singapore planned for June 12 seemed to fall apart this week after Vice President Pence once again mentioned the Libya model. North Korea issued a fiery statement attacking Pence and saying, "whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at a nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
President Trump responded Thursday morning with this letter, blindsiding his allies in South Korea, by calling off the summit saying, "sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate at this time to have this long planned meeting."
But Trump also left the door wide open to reviving the talks. And North Korea came back with this surprisingly conciliatory response: "we express our willingness to sit down face-to-face with the U.S. and resolve issues anytime and in any format."
By Saturday, Kim Jong-un and South Korea's President Moon were meeting to try to save the summit, sharing a warm greeting. Kim reportedly expressing a strong interest in still meeting with Trump, and openness to complete denuclearization.
And last night in the Oval Office, as the president welcomed home an American prisoner from Venezuela, the North Korean summit was on the top of his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done. If we got that done, and if we can be successful in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula it would be a great thing for North Korea. It would be a great thing for South Korea. A lot of people are working on it. It's moving along very nicely. So, we're looking at June 12 in Singapore, that hasn't changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: So will they or won't they? Trump has sold himself as the negotiator in chief, willing to walk away from the table. But this isn't a Manhattan real estate deal, it's negotiations over nuclear weapons between two wildly unpredictable leaders. And this summit could have far reaching and potentially devastating consequences.
Here to discuss the latest developments on the summit is Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a key member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. Good morning, Senator Rubio.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Good morning, Martha. Thanks you.
RADDATZ: You said you 100 percent support President Trump’s decision to pull out of the North Korean summit then the surprise meeting, the leaders of North and South Korea this weekend and the president has now expressed optimism the June 12 meeting in Singapore could still happen. Do you think that’s a good idea?
RUBIO: Well, it all -- it depends on exactly what it is that we should expect at the back end. I think the first thing we all have to do is stop pretending that we’re dealing with the Soviet Union, the old Soviet Union or that we’re negotiating with Italy or France. This is a very erratic regime that’s very -- that’s to say, you know, paranoid about the rest of the world, distrustful of the rest of the world.
They’ve never dealt with outsiders, they don’t have an established diplomatic core. They’ve never done that on their end. They have no history of it. And number two, we have a leader in Kim Jong-un who has -- has almost an emotional attachment and a personal psychological attachment to these nuclear weapons. They make him feel prestigious, they make him feel powerful.
And they have, quite frankly, been what his regime has been known for since he took over seven years ago. The third is -- and -- and the most important of all of it is can he really get rid of them. Because this is a man who has to figure out how to survive in power for 50-something years as a dictator and is probably afraid that if he gets rid of these weapons at some point, someone’s going to take him out.
And so that’s why I think you’re seeing this back and forth. From our perspective, you know, the North Koreans ghosted us here for about two weeks after all this happened. We didn’t hear from them, there was no talk. You can’t walk into the summit where their -- their advance team didn’t even show up. They keep doing that stuff, you’re really wasting your time and more importantly, perhaps elevating them in a way that makes this situation even more dangerous.
RADDATZ: And you -- you tweeted something on Friday that was interesting along those lines. Kim Jong-un stays in power through force and deception and believes nukes give him prestige and reduced chances of U.S. attack. He never wanted a nuke deal, he wanted as much sanctions relief as possible without giving them up. Unfortunately the options on dealing with him are narrowing. What do you mean by that, that the options are narrowing?
RUBIO: Well, if you don’t think you’re ever going to be able to reach a deal where he gives up his missiles and gives up his nukes, then you’re going to have to make a decision, which is where we’ve been the whole time. And that is are you prepared to live in a world where someone like him possesses not just nuclear weapons but the ability to hit the mainland of the United States.
And if you’re not, then you’re going to have to do something to go after them at some point. And I’m not in favor of that, it’s not something that I relish or take lightly. I’m just telling you that could very well be the option we wind up with at the end. Because ultimately, I remain convinced that he does not want to denuclearize, in fact he will not denuclearize.
But he wants to give off this perception that he’s this open leader, that he’s peaceful, that he’s reasonable, and that’s why you see they basically stopped talking to us for two weeks.
The president makes decision, and all of a sudden he shows up and has this meeting with the president of South Korea. And -- and now they’re talking peace again, and now all of a sudden everything’s moving.
RADDATZ: He -- he did, Senator, he did blow up, it appeared, parts of his nuclear facility.
RUBIO: It’s a show.
RADDATZ: He released three Americans.
RUBIO: It’s all a show. It’s a show. Released three Americans that were innocently there, blew up a facility that was probably already damaged with plenty of other facilities, plus here’s the bigger point, the facility he blew up was a testing site.
He can test this anywhere, they don’t have to have a town hall meeting in North Korea to decide whether to test weapons, he can test them anywhere. In his mind, he thinks he has already proven not only that he’s a nuclear power, but that he possesses long range missiles, and that alone has given him, you know, global standing.
A meeting with the President of the United States is something the North Koreans -- a dictator, elevates them to the status of world leadership, elevates them internally in a time when he’s probably facing some significant internal discontent. (Inaudible) --
RADDATZ: Well you call him -- Senator, you call him a tyrant and a dictator, you’ve heard President Trump talk about him. Is he appeasing him too much in your view?
RUBIO: I think President Trump is trying to figure out how to get this guy to a negotiating table so they can negotiate, and -- and -- and I think his strategy by large has unbalanced, basically left the North Koreans off balance.
They are usually the ones that out there doing this sort of dramatic action and -- and you know this sort of unpredictable action that set everybody off. The president has given him a taste of his own medicine.
You know, it’s a style we’ve never seen in a presidency before, but it seems to have at least you know knocked them off of balance, I -- I can imagine that they -- for all these years, North Korea’s been used to dealing with traditional politicians.
I give the president credit for that, but ultimately, there’s got to be a deal. That may be what sets the conditions, but ultimately now there doesn’t have to be a deal, but it has to be verifiable.
That is a very difficult thing to accomplish with a country in North Korea that has no history of diplomacy, no history of negotiations, and no one around that’s ever done this before.
RADDATZ: I -- I want to get to China and put up a Washington Post headline from this week, Rubio emerges as one of Trump administration’s loudest critics on China. Let’s talk about ZTE, that large Chinese telecom firm.
The Trump administration wants to lift sanctions on ZTE because President Xi appealed to them to do that, even though ZTE had sold equipment to Iran and North Korea. Is he appeasing China too much?
RUBIO: So I talked to the president at length on Friday night, and I think I understand kind of where we’re coming at this in different ways, so the president and for (ph) some in his administration, the ZTE issue is we’re going to punish this company for breaking U.S. sanctions, and the punishment I’m going to inflict on them is more than anything the previous administration did, more than any other administration’s ever done.
And if this was just an enforcement function, I would agree with him. The -- the difference between myself and the administration then is I don’t just view the ZTE issue as a punishment on ZTE, I view it in the context of the larger China issue.
China is trying to overtake the United States as the world’s most powerful country. They’re not doing it by out innovating us or out competing us, they are doing it by stealing. They steal our intellectual property, they force our companies to transfer this stuff over, and the only way that we are going to stop them is so they face significant consequences for continuing what they are doing.
And (ph) putting it out of business, a company like ZTE, is the kind of significant consequence that China would respond to, to understand that we’re serious. And so while the administration is viewing it solely as recalibrating the punishment on ZTE, the sanctions, I’m viewing it as an opportunity to impose a real cost on China for everything else that they’re doing.
And I think that’s where the difference of opinion comes from.
RADDATZ: And -- and you think Congress will pass a bill prohibiting the administration from lifting the sanctions?
RUBIO: Well, I think Congress should pass a bill that goes further than just ZTE. I’ve already proposed a bill and I’ll propose language -- and I think we can get it passed -- that basically prohibits this continuing transfer of U.S. technology to the Chinese by our companies under duress in key industries. China’s told them what those industries are. It’s called Made in China 2025, it’s a quantum computing, 5G technology.
You know, all the major industries that will dominate this century, they told us what they are. There is no way that our American companies, that it should be legal for them to have to transfer -- or to transfer key technologies in those sectors to the Chinese.
RADDATZ: And Senator Rubio, just quickly here in the end, on the -- on the so-called FBI informant. President Trump says that the FBI had a spy in his campaign. I know you were in -- you were not in those classified meetings this week but based on what you have seen, is the president telling the truth?
RUBIO: So I think the president is facing these -- and his lawyers are reacting -- they’re -- they’re responding to what -- what they’re facing and the things that are happening to them. I can tell you what I know. Number one, if there is an FBI informant or any sort of inappropriate action that’s been taken targeting a political campaign, the president’s or any, we want to know about it and it should be punished.
As far as what I have seen to date, it appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of that predate the presidential campaign of 2015, 2016. And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should look at people like that.
But they’re not investigating the campaign, they’re investigating those people. In fact, you could argue --
RADDATZ: So you’re saying President Trump was wrong?
RUBIO: I have seen no evidence that there -- that those people were part of an investigation on the campaign. If that exists, I would want to know about it, we should all know about and that -- that would be wrong and we should -- we should do something about it. But up to now, what I have seen is evidence that they were investigating individuals with a history of links to Russia that were concerning.
And that was appropriate, if that’s all that happened.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Senator Rubio.
RUBIO: Thank -- thank you.
RADDATZ: And joining me now is retired General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and the NSA and author of the new book “The Assualt on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies”.
Good morning, Director Hayden, it’s always great to see you. You heard Senator Rubio there. Do you think this summit should go forward and do you think the U.S. will get anything out of it?
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: So I wasn’t a fan when we out onto the North Lawn on the driveway and made a spur of the moment decision to go do this.
I thought a lot of preparation needed to have been done before you make that decision. We’ve done that, we’re pretty far along now, and so on balance, I’m modestly in favor of this going forward, and on balance, I’m modestly thinking it’s more rather than less likely that it will happen.
Now we had the dust-up this past week over rhetoric, going back and forth. And -- and frankly, our rhetoric was just as harsh as the North Koreans when the Vice President promised to Libya them if they didn’t come to the table and give up their nuclear weapons
RADDATZ: And certainly the North Koreans took note of that and thought, uh oh, they're trying for regime change or I could die eventually.
Do you think Vice President Pence and John Bolton said that on purpose, or were they just off their talking points?
HAYDEN: I donÕt know. I don't have evidence that they said that on purpose. I think the implication is that they opposed the meeting and this was their way of undercutting the likelihood that it would happen. I don't know that.
I think it does, however, sound like the vice president and sound like the ambassador. These are the kinds of things that they say. So it may not have been a plan, it may just have been spontaneous commentator from both of them.
RADDATZ: And part of the president's letter to Kim Jong-un when he canceled it, he said "I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me and ultimately it is only that dialogue that matters. Was that sort of don't listen to Vice President Pence?
HAYDEN: I think it is. And let's you and I get together. You can I are the only ones who can solve this. But I think therein lies the real danger, not the rhetoric and the spirit as we go into this, it's what will happen at this meeting? In this sense, I totally agree with Senator Rubio, all right, these folks are not going to get rid of all their nuclear weapons. And if President Trump's brand, and that's the right word here, going into this meeting demands something like that, this is going to end up in a very bad place.
I think the realistic expectation for the meeting is that you do something at the beginning, not the end of a process, that you begin to stabilize the Korean problem, not solve it.
RADDATZ: Is that why we've heard President Trump say this week, well, maybe we don't have to denuclearize all at once. I'd like to do that. I may not.
So, realistically, if they come out of that meeting, if they have the meeting, and they come out, do they just call it something different? Does the president say denuclearization and Kim tells his people it's arms control?
RADDATZ: Well, I hope that's where we come out. I think that's the most optimistic scenario. You have the meeting. Everyone smiles. Everyone shakes hands. And everyone agrees on a work program that they give to their staffs that move the Korean peninsula in a direction of being more stable, more transparent, less prone to war. But I don't think we're going to have a parade of missiles or weapons going through some destruction site that we can put on camera.
RADDATZ: And you talked about preparation for this meeting and if it's June 12, I know they're kind of scrambling to get this back on track, do you think the president is prepared for the summit? You say in your book, "the president's instinct toward action, his impatience with process, his lack of interest in history, his focus on winning, his obsession with protecting the Trump brand," as you just mentioned, in this case toughness, "all that could conspire to create a very bad decision."
So, what could go wrong here?
HAYDEN: That is something that I fear. Now the president, as you suggested, in his letter, talks about the one-on-one conversation as being the key to this. I know one of the ones is going to be very, very prepared. King Jong-un knows his program inside and out. I think he knows what he can concede and what it means and what he cannot concede.
I don't know that the president has done the kind of homework that would allow him to do this, hence, my hope, the high water mark, is that they stay at the level of principles. They talk about denuclearization, allow each side to kind of cower within the ambiguity of denuclearization. And then, seriously, begin a process that makes the peninsula less dangerous than it is today.
RADDATZ: You know the North Koreans well. You dealt with them when you were with President Bush. Do you really trust them? And can -- and trust or not trust -- and I'm going to assume your answer is no, not really -- so how do you do verifiable denuclearization.
HAYDEN: So, there are two steps here, all right. One is less dangerous, all right, maybe limits, maybe moratorium on testing. And then the other one is inspection. And we've never had as much success with the North Koreans with regard to inspection as we have with any other nuclear negotiation.
RADDATZ: Does he really need to test any more? I mean, most people I've talked to in the intelligence community now say we just assume he...
HAYDEN: Yeah. And that's a good point. Look, an interesting way to look at the last 18 months, all right -- I've give the president full credit for amping up the pressure, the diplomatic isolation, the sanctions, the pushing of the Chinese, the military demonstrations, all that good. The rhetoric, the Rocket Man, not useful, narrowed the margin for error.
But all the increased pressure was good to force them in the direction of the table. But, Martha, another reason I think they're willing to get at the table is that those same 18 months we have seen the greatest progress in North Korean nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology that we've ever seen. He's kind of gotten where he needs to be. He’s willing to park the car for now and then go talk.
RADDATZ: OK. And I want to turn to the FBI and the Department of Justice and that intelligence briefing on Capitol Hill about President Trump has said this FBI informant, that there was a spy in the Trump campaign. What do you think of the president’s comments on that?
HAYDEN: Yes. I -- I -- I think he’s simply trying to delegitimize the Mueller investigation, the FBI, the Department of Justice and he’s willing to throw almost anything against the wall. Martha, this is part of a stream. Remember, wiretapping Trump Tower, unmasking U.S. identities, FISA applications that were abused and now we have -- now we have this.
By the way, all of those were wrong. All of those are incorrect. All of those are stunningly normal in -- in -- in the development of intelligence and law enforcement. But you know what, I talk to a lot of people in the country. And for a lot of people in the country, one or another or many of those things have already stuck.
RADDATZ: It -- it totally resonates. So if -- if, as you say, all of those things are wrong, how do people counter that?
HAYDEN: Well, I mean you have folks like myself or others with some experience going on, perhaps without a dog in the fight. We’re -- we’re not in this government, we -- I was not in the Obama administration, I’ve got nothing to defend there. I’m just trying to point out what are the normal processes and how these do or do not meet what it is we always do when we face these kinds of problems.
And -- and from the outside looking in, on the surface, from everything I know, everyone has handled this just about the way it should have been handled.
RADDATZ: And just very quickly, I want to ask you about a comment from former director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who did work under --
RADDATZ: -- President Obama. Listen to what he said on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Knowing what I know of what the Russians did, the -- the massive effort that they undertook, it stretches credulity, as I said in the book, and -- and logic that -- not to think that they didn’t help swing the election given the fact that (inaudible) less than 80,000 votes in three states (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: I don’t know whether you agree with him or not.
HAYDEN: I -- look, I -- I agree that the Russians affected the election. But how much they affected is not just unknown, it is unknowable and so we should stop talking about it. Donald Trump is the president.
RADDATZ: Which I was just going to ask you -- so you think it is inappropriate from a former --
HAYDEN: I -- I -- I do not say that.
RADDATZ: -- without -- without evidence.
HAYDEN: There -- look, we are here. You invite folks like us on your show because we’re the fact witnesses, not because we have opinions.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much for joining us, Director Hayden, this morning.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
RADDATZ: When we come back, I’ll have the only Sunday interview with the lawmaker inside the room for that classified briefing on the FBI information who President Trump claims was spying on his campaign. Plus the powerhouse roundtable debates President Trump’s dramatic moves on North Korea and the fallout from the NFL’s new ban on player protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP )
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIF.: Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocols.
RADDATZ: That was Adam Schiff, the top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Adam Schiff after FBI and Justice Department officials briefed congressional leaders on the FBI informant at the center of the investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Congressman Schiff joins us now, good morning.
SCHIFF: Good morning.
RADDATZ: I want your reaction, just a short time ago, Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News that all of this is like Watergate.
SCHIFF: Well it is like Watergate in the sense that you had a break in at the democratic headquarters, in this case a virtual one, not a physical break in, and you had a president as part of a cover up and here you have a president doing a different kind of cover up.
You have a president peddling these falsehoods and you have essentially people putting out propaganda like Rudy Giuliani to further that fiction. It is, I think, of a size and scope probably beyond Watergate, just not the Watergate the president is referring to.
RADDATZ: Or not -- or not the one Rudy Giuliani is referring to, certainly. And I know you can’t reveal classified information, but you were in that briefing this week. Can you give us a sense of what it was like in room, were the democrats on one side, the republicans on the other?
SCHIFF: Well there were two meetings, the first was this kind of rogue meeting with Gowdy and Nunes, and of course the thing that struck me immediately was the president said then that flood along with Chief of Staff Kelly, neither one should be there, but it was all the more glaring when you had the president’s lawyer, the guy hired to fight this so-called witch hunt.
This was supposed to be ostensibly about congressional oversight. But of course, the meeting was always intended for something very different, and that is the Trump defense team’s effort to get information in an investigation implicating the president.
Now that is completely improper, it’s a violation of all the safeguards we’ve put in place after Watergate. But if it wasn’t made clear enough by Emmet Flood’s presence at that meeting, the defense lawyer for the president, it was made abundantly clear by Rudy Giuliani afterwards when he said our whole purpose is to get information we shouldn’t have for our defense -- to guide our defense team.
And what makes this possible --
RADDATZ: He was -- he said -- he told Politico we want to see how the briefing went today and how much we learned from it, if we learned a good deal from it, it will shorten that whole process considerably.
I want to go back to Emmet Flood and John Kelly. Tell me if it was at all contentious when they were in there, just a little bit more about what it was like in that room and -- and both sides in that room.
SCHIFF: Well, I told Mr. Flood that I there was -- that he had no business being there, that he was the president’s defense lawyer. He took issue, he said I’m White House counsel and I said I don’t care what you call yourself, you’re the president’s defense lawyer when it comes to this investigation and you have no business being here. Now, look, he’s a good enough lawyer to know he had no business being there, which means --
RADDATZ: -- Let’s make perfectly clear, though, they weren’t there for the classified briefing. They came in at the beginning and said, what? They talked about openness? According to the White House.
SCHIFF: Well, they came at the beginning I think to send a message from the president that the president expected the Justice Department, essentially, to give these allies of the president’s, these aider and abettors of the president in (ph) Congress what they wanted, because the president wanted for his defense team.
But as -- as I was saying, Flood’s a good enough lawyer to know he had no business being there. But Giuliani made it so abundantly clear that the whole purpose of this meeting had nothing to do with Congressional oversight. It was to help the president’s defense by getting information improperly from the Justice Department to feed to the president’s lawyers.
Now, the only thing that makes this possible is a Congress that is complicit, is members of Congress like Gowdy and Nunes and Meadows and Jordan and a weak speaker that will not stand up for the independence of the Justice Department. And that means that the rule of law is now on shaky ground.
RADDATZ: Do you think there’s absolutely -- again, I know you can’t reveal classified material. But is there absolutely no case the Republicans could make that there was a spy in the president’s campaign?
SCHIFF: There is no evidence to support that spy theory. This is just a -- a piece of propaganda the president wants to put out and repeat. And certainly we’ve seen this pattern before. The president will suggest something, he prefaces by saying people are saying or we are being told --
RADDATZ: -- they use James Clapper, who we -- who we listened to a little earlier, James Clapper this week said they were spying on -- a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. So we’re back to that word, spy.
SCHIFF: Yes. Well, they put this out there and then they say well now that it’s out there, we need to investigate it. Even Senator Rubio this morning saying well, we should look in and find out if this is true. But this is part of the propaganda machine, let’s spread a completely fallacious story and then let’s say that it needs to be investigated and give it a life of it’s own. And --
RADDATZ: But it is resonating. Just quickly, how do you counter that?
SCHIFF: Well, the broad question is how do you counter a president who repeats falsehood after falsehood after falsehood, that has the bully pulpit of the presidency to do it and has allies in Congress who are willing to support that. And Martha, at the end of the day, there’s only one remedy for that and that is you need to throw the bums out. As long as there’s a majority in Congress that is willing to do this president’s will and as long as we have a deeply unethical president, there’s only one remedy.
And that is to change the Congress and to let the investigation go on. And that’s what we need to try to fight to do.
RADDATZ: OK. The view from Congressman Adam Schiff. Thanks very much for coming in this morning.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Martha.
RADDATZ: When we come back, a deep dive into all the week’s political news and what do Tuesday’s primary results mean for the November midterm? The powerhouse roundtable takes that all on next.
RADDATZ: The roundtable is here, ready to go. And all week long, you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. Multitask right now -- download it during the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Your vote in 2018 as every bit as important as your vote in 2016, although I’m not sure I really believe that, but you know. I don’t know who the hell wrote that line, I’m not sure. But it’s still important, remember.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: OK that was President Trump on Tuesday sending mixed messages to GOP voters on the 2018 mid terms, and here to discuss that and more, Mary Jordan, national correspondent for the Washington Post, Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s “Morning Addition”, Wesley Lowery, national reporter for the Washington Post and Kristen Soltis Anderson, republican strategist and pollster and an ABC News contributor.
Good morning to all of you, great to have you here. Let’s go back a little bit because you, Mary, were in Asia for four years as a correspondent for the Washington Post. You’ve been watching South Korea, North Korea very carefully.
You saw them meet just over the weekend, the South and North, what -- what do you think is going on here? What’s your takeaway?
MARY JORDAN, JOURNALIST, WASHINGTON POST: I think the first thing is it is on the peninsula of 75 million people, there’s 50 million in the south, 25 million north -- that embrace, visual yesterday, of the two leaders hugging each other, it can’t be underestimated.
RADDATZ: After the summit’s cancelled (inaudible).
JORDAN: I mean it is stunning, I think it shows the hunger there that the time is ripe, right now, to do something. And what’s very interesting for Donald Trump is that there’s an -- there’s kind of a -- a willingness to even do it without him now.
So he is going to have to, if he wants to be part of kind of a history making pact, he is going to have to step up. So in addition to all the other dynamics and surprise a minute (ph), I think within the country -- I mean North Korea is impoverished, it is --
RADDATZ: I -- I -- you know, the -- the stunning visual of the satellite photo is something I always think of where you -- North Korea is in darkness except for Pyongyang and it’s all lit up and South Korea is in the light.
That’s -- that’s their economy right there.
JORDAN: You know, they can’t -- they don’t have enough food, they -- they -- they see what’s going on, even though it’s the hermit kingdom, in the last few years I think the pressure that’s on here is that they know that on one side of them, China is prospering.
In the south, the -- South Korea is prospering. And this is not -- this is not tenable for the North Korea leader. Something has to happen.
RADDATZ: -- that’s a -- that’s a really good point. And Steve, the president says everybody plays games. Do you think it’ll happen?
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST, MORNING EDITION, NPR: Well I mean we’ve been asking is this meeting going to happen or not, but the deeper question is what is the meeting about?
We heard Senator Rubio on this program say he doesn’t believe that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un wants to denuclearize. I had a conversation with a senior official this week who is very familiar with these negotiations who said something that I think is really relevant here.
I said at any point leading up to this meeting have the North Koreans agreed that the meeting is about North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons? And the official’s answer was no, they haven’t said that, they know what we want and so this official is optimistic, and we’ve heard different signals through the South Koreans --
-- the South Koreans say certain things, but this official was saying in direct communications with the United States, they haven’t heard that that’s what the meeting is about.
They are hoping that the North Koreans understand that that’s what the United States expects, and you realize what a difficult negotiation this would be if it happens.
RADDATZ: So you would say it’s hedging on that, whether or not North Korea says OK we’re going to talk about denuclearization?
INSKEEP: I think U.S. officials, many of them in this administration, are of the point of view that other intermediate steps besides completely giving up their nuclear weapons aren’t very useful because they don’t trust the North Koreans, because there was an -- an effort for a phase in before in the 1990’s and it ended up with North Korea having nuclear weapons.
So there’s not a lot of confidence there, but there’s not a lot of willingness on the North Korean side, which is why you have people like General Hayden on this program earlier saying what we need to do is some kind of intermediate step that at least gets the two sides talking and avoids a war, even if it doesn’t actually solve the problem.
RADDATZ: OK, fascinating. And -- and let’s go to spygate, lie-gate, we got -- we got both those going. I -- I think there were something like half a million tweets spygate. As we’ve been saying this morning, that messaging from President Trump with no evidence is sticking.
ANDERSON: This president understands that controlling the language that is used to discuss an issue is perhaps the most powerful thing that he can do. There are an awful lot of Americans who are going to spend Memorial Day weekend watching the Indie 500, going to barbeques, not digging deep into what’s going on with the Russia investigation. And what he knows is that from the campaign, you know, he could say build the wall, make America great again and these little phrases are the things that would stick.
And for an electorate that -- that pays attention from time to time but has very busy lives, having those phrases stick in people’s minds is a very powerful tool. And what’s fascinating about this president is he doesn’t even pretend like that’s not what he’s trying to do. He has said on record I’m trying to control the language, I’m trying to discredit the media so that my -- my position looks more credible.
These are games that are sometimes played in Washington where Donald Trump is taking it to a next level and is saying I’m just going to confess that I’m playing the game.
RADDATZ: And the Democrats, you heard Adam Schiff say well you just have to vote him out. In the meantime, what do they do? Their message not getting out as well?
LOWERY: Well of course. And I think there is -- it was really interesting to me to hear Congressman Schiff say that because there is a debate right now in the Democratic party of how -- how much of their hand to play in 2018 regarding the Russia investigation, a debate about whether or not you campaign on the idea of impeaching the president of the United States and debate about whether or not you go out on the trail and say look, we need to vote these guys out so we can hold this president accountable.
There -- there really is a battle over the identity of the Democratic party right now. Is this going to be a party of resistance towards the president and the current Republican administration or is this going to be a party that attempts to bring those Trump voters back into the fold? And right now, it’s -- it’s yet to be seen what’s going to happen.
ANDERSON: And I can say that Republicans would love nothing more than for Democratic candidates to go out on the trail on a message of let’s impeach and obstruct this president. The Republicans had been struggling in the polls up until about six months ago when suddenly tax reform passed, the economy started getting a little bit better and now you have a lot of these voters in the middle who they may not like the tweets, they don’t love the president’s temperament but they don’t want to see him impeached and so Republicans would love if Democrats adopted that (ph) (inaudible).
RADDATZ: On -- on that note, let’s take a look at the midterms, Steve. We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for female candidates.
RADDATZ: An African American woman running for governor in Georgia. What does that tell you where we are?
INSKEEP: Well, it matters for Congressional races when you have an African American woman on the governor’s race ticket because it enthuses Democratic voters. But let’s be clear that we don’t actually know what’s going to happen here. In early 2017 -- in early 2017 it was obvious the Democrats had no chance to capture either house of Congress. A few months ago it was obvious the Democrats were going to capture both. Now it doesn’t seem like we really know.
We keep assuming that whatever the trend lines are right now that they will endlessly continue. That’s not necessarily the case. Democrats do have some challenges with their messages, as Wesley said. Republicans also have a problem which is represented on the floor of the House of Representatives right now. There are a number of Republicans who want to vote on DACA to -- to give some kind of legal status to people who were brought here as children --
RADDATZ: And President Trump making a lot of that in the last few days --
INSKEEP -- exactly, a lot of that in the last few days.
RADDATZ: Blaming the Democrats.
INSKEEP: But the -- it’s the Republicans who are trying to overcome their own leadership -- some Republicans. Because you have Republicans in districts with large Latino voter bases, for example, who would like a vote on DACA and are really worried if they do not get it. You have other Republicans -- and the leaders are with them, who thinks -- think this will depress their base and depress people who really want a strong --
RADDATZ: And -- and Mary, you’re out there with voters a lot. You’ve done a lot for the Post out there, talking to voters. And what are you were seeing (ph) --
JORDAN: Well I just came back last night from Tennessee, which is a state that went 56 percent -- went -- went overwhelmingly for Trump and still today 56 percent are on his side. So I would say that this talk of the blue wave is really premature. Because person after person was saying you know, if he really come -- pulls this off in North Korea, I mean nobody’s been able to do that. But there will even be more.
I mean, there’s just so many things that can happen up or down that would effect November that I think it’s way too early.
RADDATZ: And I can imagine if they say if he didn’t pull it off that was the right thing to do --
JORDAN: I mean, probably.
RADDATZ: But it is -- it is messaging. It is --
JORDAN: It is messaging.
RADDATZ: -- and that is resonating with (inaudible).
JORDAN: And -- and there -- and this really scary thing about the facts. And every so often -- I mean I was talking, person after person believed -- absolutely believes that he was spied on, that the deep state in Washington got him --
RADDATZ: It works. It works. It’s --
JORDAN: It works. It works.
RADDATZ: I want to close here and talk about the NFL. With NFL teams now facing a fine if someone takes a knee. And -- and Wesley, you’ve followed all of this closely. Did -- did the teams really cave to the president on this?
LOWERY: I think it’s clear the teams caved in two pressure points, the president of the United States and their own fan bases. This is something these protests were remarkably unpopular with many football fans.
That said, I don’t think that this conversation can happen in the absence of the big context, right. These were players who were protesting -- black players almost predominantly -- or predominantly black players, protesting police violence.
Each day three people are shot and killed in the United States of America. Those people who are killed are disproportionately black men and black women. What we see here is the president of the United States, the leader of our government, using his bully pulpit, his platform to silence minority protestors who are demonstrating against violence by their government.
This is the type of thing we like to tell ourselves doesn’t happen in a -- in a country like the United States of America. This is a president putting his foot on the scale against people who would like to protest and demonstrate against their government and ask for what they are saying would be more equitable and -- and equitable treatment.
RADDATZ: Has -- has that message been lost in a way? I mean we keep reminding people that that’s what that protest is -- is really about. Has the message of the NFL players been lost in the controversy, or is that idea of it?
LOWERY: Well I think is part of the idea, to strip away this discussion around policing and make this about the flag, and make this about patriotism. You understand why many people might get that impression or might have some confusion, although at this point years into this conversation, you would hope if you were paying attention, you would understand what these players are demonstrating about.
In fact, Colin Kaepernick, the initial protestor, initially was sitting down and after having a conversation with a veteran, changed it to kneeling to try to be more respectful to the troops.
But that said, again, I think that beyond the president and the politics there, this isn’t just a decision by the NFL.
RADDATZ: The country is divided (inaudible).
ANDERSON: But in little towns all over America this weekend, there are stories in little papers about how to respect the flag, and I’m sorry but I don’t think that people even know why those players were -- were taking a knee --
It’s a visual of disrespect and it did not go down well --
RADDATZ: (Inaudible) you’ve got 20 seconds. You understand that.
INSKEEP: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Standing for the flag is an act of devotion, it’s an act of love of country, and you can say that you ought to do it, but we choose to do it. If the NFL makes it mandatory that you must do it, it just means less. It’s less meaningful when you’re forced to do that.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks to all of you for joining us on this Memorial Day weekend. When we come back, our remembrance of service members who lost their lives off the battlefield. We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: This Memorial Day we honor those who died in service to our nation, those who have sacrificed their lives on the battlefield and off. This past year has seen a string of deadly training accidents, and this morning we want to remember two of those who were lost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA BAILEY, SISTER OF ARMY 1LT KATHRYN BAILEY: Oh, here’s a patriotic one of her.
THOMAS BAILEY, FATHER OF ARMY 1LT KATHRYN BAILEY: Kathryn spent most of her life around Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She was an Army brat.
J. BAILEY: She kept you on your toes, you didn’t know what she was going to say, what she was going to do. We both always joked that we would never join the Army. She even went all the way to London to go to grad school because she said she wasn’t going to do it.
T. BAILEY: She was always patriotic, but she became ferociously patriotic and called me up one day and said, dad, I want to be like you. I want to join the army and be a helicopter pilot.
J. BAILEY: I never thought that anything would happen until at least she went overseas. So something like what happened never even crossed my mind.
CAPTION: On August 15, 2017, 1Lt Kathryn Bailey’s helicopter crashed in a training accident off the coast of Hawaii.
T. BAILEY: I got a phone call from her acting battalion commander and they're doing a search for her, but after about five days I knew it was pretty much it.
J. BAILEY: I didn't believe it until they showed up at our house in uniform, because for me it wasn't possible. So...
T. BAILEY: Personally, I didn't it would happen to us. Well, it did happen to us. And it doesn't just happen in combat. And I think a lot of people don't realize that.
J. BAILEY: It really makes you step back and think what have I done with my life kind of thing. Like, she makes you want to take advantage of every day you have.
CAPTION: Six days after Kathryn died, thousands of miles away, the Navy suffered a tragedy.
KAREN BUSHELL, MOTHER OF NAVY ET1 KEVIN BUSHELL: My name is Karen Bushell. And I'm the mother of Kevin Bushell. He grew up in this home. His memory is every -- in every room of this home.
He wanted to travel. He just had a drive to see the world. And he was able to do that with the navy. He met Jenny in Spain, and hey were married in Gibraltar. And they love Spain, they absolutely loved it.
None of us wanted him to join, but he was persistent.
Once he made the commitment and I knew that he was going to go forward with this, we were all behind him.
ASHLEE DAY, SISTER OF NAVY ET1 KEVIN BUSHELL: When Kevin went away for boot camp, it was the longest time he has ever been away from home. My mom and I went to the Great Lakes for his graduation. And we were blown away. He was a man on a mission.
CAPTION: 26-Year-Old ET1 Kevin Bushell served as an electronics technician onboard the USS McCain when it collided with a merchant ship near Singapore.
BUSHELL: It was a Sunday, and we were sitting watching TV and I got a text from my cousin. And she said that there had been an accident. They knocked on the door. And I remember just shaking and that's when they told us that he was one of the missing.
CAPTION: Kevin and nine fellow sailors were killed in the collison.
SARAH BUSHELL, SISTER OF NAVY ET1 KEVIN BUSHELL: In the short, you know, 26 years that he lived, I know that he lived more in those 26 years than some people do, you know, in a lifetime.
DAY: We wouldn't have gotten to see the wonderful person he grew up to be if it hadn't have been for the navy and him following his dreams.
RADDATZ: Already this year, more than 40 service members have been killed, the majority of them in non-combat accidents.
We remember all those lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.
That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. And have a good and meaningful Memorial Day.