"This Week" Transcript 1-28-18: Sen. Lindsey Graham

PHOTO: Senate Armed Service Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham arrives for a meeting about immigration, Jan. 24, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.PlayPablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, FILE
WATCH Senate Republican on Trump's alleged attempt to fire special counsel

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

MARTHA RADDATZ, HOST: Showdown over the special counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you seek to fire Mueller?

RADDATZ: President Trump denying reports he tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last summer.

TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news.

RADDATZ: As Mueller now looks to question the president.

TRUMP: I would love to do that. I would like to do it as soon as possible.

RADDATZ: So will he really testify under oath? And does the president's talk of firing Mueller point to obstruction of justice?

We'll ask Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

TRUMP: Lindsey used to be great enemy of mine, now he's a great friend of mine.

RADDATZ: And former independent counsel Ken Starr.

Plus, our journey along the southern border.

We're just across the border now from Mexico, traveling roughly 700 miles through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, getting a firsthand look at the immigration debate. The president unveiling a new proposal, expanding the number of Dreamers who could become citizens, while demanding $25 billion for a border wall and more security in exchange.

We talk to all sides of the debate, including Republicans breaking with Trump.

You do not believe in a big...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.

RADDATZ: $25, $35 billion wall.

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RADDATZ: Good morning. It's hard to believe only one week ago today, Washington was in a state of paralysis, the government shutdown over immigration, the tug of war over the Dreamers and talks on border security hitting a wall. That stalemate ended on Monday, congress once again kicking the can down the road another few weeks, while the fate of as many as 2 million young undocumented immigrants hangs in the balance.

To get a sense of how the immigration debate is playing outside Washington, we traveled hundreds of miles along the southern border from California to Texas, hearing your voices. But ultimately, it's those voices in Washington that will make the decisions.

And in just two days, the president will make his case before congress at his first state of the union, talking not just about immigration, but also job, infrastructure, trade, and national security.

But hanging over it all, the darkening cloud that has followed the Trump presidency for the past year: the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Fake news, folks. Fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your message today?

TRUMP: Typical New York Times fake stories.

RADDATZ: Deny, deny, deny, that seems to be President Trump's response to the bombshell New York Times report detailing his effort to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June just one month after Mueller started on the job.

The report says Trump claimed Mueller had conflicts of interest that would disqualify him from leading the investigation, but according to the reports, Trump, who is famous for saying...

TRUMP: You're fired.

RADDATZ: ...did not go through with it at the time, backing down when White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly threatened to quit rather than ask for Mueller's removal, concerned that it would, quote, saying it might incite more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruction the Russia investigation.

And it has, especially among Democrats.

REP. CORY BOOKER, (D) NEW JERSEY: I'm deeply disturbed by the president seeking to do something that so me is tantamount to authoritarianism.

SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA) These are not the actions of somebody who's got nothing to hide.

RADDATZ: In the past, both Trump and his team have offered flat-out denials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, have you thought about or considered leading to dismissal of the special counsel, or is there that anything Bob Mueller could do that would send you in that direction?

TRUMP: I haven't been given it any thought. I mean, I've been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I'm going the dismiss him, no I'm not dismissing anybody.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Bottom line, Kellyanne, does the president commit to not firing Robert Mueller?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: The president has not even discussed that. That the persident is not discussing firing Bob Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indicated to me or to anyone else that he has any intent on terminating Robert Mueller.

RADDATZ: And while firing Mueller now seems to be off the table, some Republicans are trying to raise questions about the special counsel's investigation, pointing to those recovered text messages between two FBI officials bashing Trump, the exchanges fueling Republican claims that the FBI and Mueller's team are biased against the president. While all that has played out publicly, the focus of Mueller's investigation is still unclear, though this week, we learned the special counsel's team has already interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CIA director Mike Pompeo, former FBI Director James Comey, as well as other ifs the Trump administration. And it looks like President Trump may be next, telling reporters he's eager to testify.

TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually. Here's the story. There has been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever. And I'm looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would do it under oath?

TRUMP: Oh, I would do it under oath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would?

TRUMP: Absolutely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RADDATZ: And joining me now Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who sits on the senate judiciary committee. Good morning, senator.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning.

RADDATZ: You said last fall that any effort to go after Robert Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency. In light of the reporting that President Trump ordered the firing of Robert Mueller last June, backing down only after the White House counsel threatened to resign, do you still believe in what you said or is that a red line?

GRAHAM: Oh, yeah, if he fired Mueller without cause -- I mean, Mueller is doing a good job. I have confidence in him to get to the bottom of all things Russia. And Don McGahn, if the story is true in The New York Times, did the right thing, and good news is the president listened.

I don't know if the story is true or not, but I know this Mueller should look at it. I have complete confidence in Mr. Mueller. When he found two FBI agents had a bias against President Trump, he fired them. So, all this stuff about the FBI and DOJ having a bias against Trump and for Clinton needs to be looked at. But I have never believed it affected Mr. Mueller.

So I will do whatever it takes to make sure that Mr. Mueller can do his job. We're a rule of law nation before President Trump, we're going to be a rule of law nation after President Trump. I have never any -- I haven't yet seen any evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russians, but the investigation needs to go forward without political interference and I'm sure it will.

RADDATZ: So, Senator Graham, you believe the stories about McGahn, about President Trump?

GRAHAM: I don't know. I believe it's something that Mueller should look at. We're not just going to say it's fake news and move on. Mueller is the best person to look at it, not me opine about something I don't know. I'm sure that there will be an investigation around whether or not President Trump did try to fire Mr. Mueller. We know that he didn't fire Mr. Mueller. We know that if he tried to, it would be the end of his presidency.

So, at the end of the day, let Mr. Mueller do his job and see if we can fix a broken immigration system.

RADDATZ: I also want to go to one other statement and let you opine a little more. You also said last October to Politico, I don't think anybody in their right mind in the White House would think about replacing Mr. Mueller. Again, anybody in their right mind. So what does that say about President Trump if, in fact, this is true?

GRAHAM: I think every president wants to get rid of critics. I mean, I remember the Ken Starr investigation, and Bill Clinton came out and said this guy spent millions of dollars and nothing to show for it.

So, the president is frustrated. He's told me a thousand times and everybody else, I didn't collude with no Russians. Well, we'll find out whether that is true or not. I have seen no evidence of collusion. So, the president is frustrated, no doubt about that. But he did not fire Mr. Mueller. If the report is true, Mr. McGahn did the right thing and to the president's credit he listened.

But this is something for Mueller to look at. And I'm sure he will.

RADDATZ: OK, to the president's credit, he listened, you say. You heard earlier the president himself saying last August when asked directly about whether he considered dismissing Mueller that he said he hadn't given it a thought.

So -- if this reporting is true, then the president was lying to the American people?

GRAHAM: This is for Mr. Mueller to determine. We're not going to stop looking at the president because he claims The New York Times' was fake news. And we're not going to convict him based on a news article. As a matter of fact, I think Mr. Mueller is the perfect guy to get to the bottom of all of this. And he will. And I think my job, among others, is to give him the space to do it. I intend to do that. I have got legislation protecting Mr. Mueller. And I'll be glad to pass it tomorrow.

I see no evidence that Mr. Trump wants to fire Mr. Mueller now. I don't know what happened last year, but it's pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of the President Trump's presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller. So I think we're in a good spot with Mr. Mueller.

RADDATZ: You talked about that bill you introduced in August. At the time you said it wasn't urgent to pass this. Will you push it further? You just said you would like to pass tomorrow.

GRAHAM: I would like to do two things. Yes, I think it would be good to have legislation protecting all special counsels. But this doesn't get -- make much news, there needs to be a special counsel to look at the Department of Justice and the way the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation and the early stages of the Russian investigation.

The text messages between the two FBI agents don't show political leaning, they show a political bias. I've seen a lot of conflicts of interest. I'm very disturbed by the way the Department of Justice and the FBI handled Mr. Steele. I think we need a special counsel to go into that area as well. And the law would apply to that person also.

RADDATZ: I just want to go back to President Trump and Mueller for a moment. The Washington Post report said a person familiar with the Mueller investigation says they are focusing on a pattern of behavior, that President Trump tried to prevent Attorney General Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation, asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation before firing him, and dictated that misleading statement about Don Jr.'s Trump tower meeting.

Are you seeing a pattern of behavior that's concerning to you?

GRAHAM: I'm seeing a man, Mr. Mueller, in charge of an investigation that needs to occur for the good of the nation. I have a lot of faith in him. He's going to get to the bottom of all things Russia. And I haven't seen any evidence of collusion. So I don't want to prejudge where Mr. Mueller is going to go. I think my best...

RADDATZ: But does this pattern disturb you at all, Senator?

GRAHAM: Well, I don't know how accurate all of this is. The bottom line is that you have got a frustrated president. He could have fired Comey for any reason under the sun, except for a corrupt purpose. Was there a corrupt purpose in firing Comey? I don't know. In terms of what he did with the statement, I wasn't on Air Force One. The only thing I can tell the American people, I'm a Republican, and I want to make sure that this president and every other president that follows can't be considered above the law, that they're treated fairly, and have an independent special counsel like Mr. Mueller is the best way forward.

RADDATZ: The Washington Post is also reporting this weekend that President Trump wanted a classified memo. This was written by staff for House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, that suggests -- and you are suggesting this in some ways, that they may have relied on politically-motivated sources to justify the request for a surveillance warrant.

The Justice Department does not want it released. They say it would be extraordinarily reckless without officials being able to review it. So is the president right on wanting that released? Do you want it released?

GRAHAM: I want somebody outside of the Republican-led Congress to look at these allegations. I'm not asking that Lindsey Graham be the final arbiter of whether DoJ and the FBI was off-base. No, I don't want it released yet. I don't. I want somebody who is without a political bias to come in and look at the allegations that I have seen. I've been a lawyer most of my adult life. And the way the FBI conducted itself and the Department of Justice bothers me.

That's not to say there is -- that this is -- you should investigate Trump, too. You should do two things. Look at the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Trump campaign. We can do these things.

RADDATZ: How do you feel about Trump's attacks on law enforcement in general? Outside of this investigation, he, a few months ago, just said the FBI's reputation is in tatters, worst in history. What do you think of that language?

GRAHAM: Well, the agents, the way they've conducted themselves, bothers me. And a lot of FBI agents are bothered by the way these two agents behaved. But the FBI is the best among us. They're a great organization. They're up there with the military in terms of public approval and respect. Mr. Comey, I think, had his problems. But we'll get to the bottom of all of this.

Don't lump everybody in together. The FBI is a wonderful organization. But somebody has got to watch those who watch us. The FBI is not above oversight. The Department of Justice is not above oversight. You know, it's not -- you just can't let the organization behave without oversight, whether it's the person you like or not like, it could be you or me tomorrow.

RADDATZ: President Trump said he looked forward to talking to Robert Mueller. His lawyers seem to have backed off on that a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAHAM: Yes.

RADDATZ: You're laughing. You could tell me why and tell me...

GRAHAM: I wouldn't look forward to talking to him. I mean, you know, the president -- I like President Trump. He feels frustrated. He's being accused of something he didn't do. He's a very frustrated man. To the president, I would talk to my lawyers before I made any firm decisions about who to talk to or not talk to.

Mr. Mueller will do his job. He will focus on these New York Times allegations. He will follow the evidence where it leads. If the president wants to talk to Mr. Mueller, before he makes that decision, if I were him, I would talk to my lawyers.

RADDATZ: OK. And I want to turn to Steve Wynn, the billionaire friend of President Trump, who resigned yesterday as Republican chairman of the Finance Committee for the RNC. That was one day after allegations of sexual misconduct that The Wall Street Journal reported on. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniels said today, "I accepted Steve Wynn's resignation as Republican National Committee Finance Chair."

She didn't address whether the RNC plans to donate any of the money or return any of the money he raised, even though days after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the RNC blasted emails out calling it "dirty money" and that it should be returned. So do you believe that money should be returned?

GRAHAM: Well, give her a day or two to figure out. But, you know, we should do of ourselves what we ask of the Democratic Party, if these allegations have merit. So I don't think we should have a double standard for ourselves. I appreciate the fact that she had to quickly -- give her a chance to figure out how deep this goes. And then, if it's -- you know, the allegations have merit, then we should return the money like we asked of the Democrats.

And we're going to take up immigration tomorrow. And I've never been more hopeful of fixing our broken immigration system after dealing with it 10 years than I do right now because the White House sent over a good proposal.

RADDATZ: OK. I want to talk about that proposal a little bit. We were talking earlier that I was on the border this week. That wall that would run 1,900 miles, that seems a lot of money and an incredibly difficult project.

GRAHAM: Right.

RADDATZ: And about two-thirds of the country don't think it should happen.

GRAHAM: Well, I think what will happen is, we spent $40 billion on the border security in the "gang of eight" bill. So $25 billion is not an outrageous number. We spent $42 billion, I think it was, on securing the border. As to where the wall should go, and whether it should be a fence, we'll have experts decide that. But the president's proposal of allowing 1.8 million Dreamers a pathway forward with citizenship is a huge step in the right direction.

He deserves to have an escrow account to draw upon to secure the wall system, not just a wall. Chain migration and cutting legal immigration in half, those would be very problematic areas. But, you know, there is a lot of interest...

RADDATZ: But, Senator, we're talking about $25 billion for a wall. Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas doesn't think it's a good idea. It's not effective.

GRAHAM: It's a wall system, right.

RADDATZ: Steve Pearce down in New Mexico told me it's a waste of money. These are guys who live there on the border. They see it every day. They ee people getting over. They see people -- they see drugs getting in.

GRAHAM: Right. Well, I've dealt with the border security for a decade now. The "gang of eight" spent $42 billion on border security systems. You don't need $25 billion for a wall. You need wall systems. You need roads. You need redundancy. You need to fix old fencing. So we're not going to build a 1,900-mile wall. But $25 billion can be spent wisely. Because the "gang of eight" bill spent $42 billion to secure the border.

So we're not going to build a wall in places it shouldn't go. The bottom line is, this is a credible offer by the president on a pathway to citizenship. It is a breakthrough. He's getting a lot of pushback from the hard right. And he's getting pushback from a lot of liberal advocacy groups. So I think he's trying to thread a needle.

We're not going the cut legal immigration in half and give all the green cards to the high-tech sector of the economy, we're going to have green cards for the entire economy. We're going to have a diverse nation. We're not going to limit people coming in the country from Norway or Europe. They're going to come from all over the world, based on merit. And we're going to have people who are diverse and skillsets that are diverse. That's a winning combination.

RADDATZ: OK. Senator Graham, I just want to stop you right there. And I listened to you carefully. But is this going to happen by February 8th, or will we see another government shutdown?

GRAHAM: We're not going to see a government shutdown. The one good thing that came from this mess last week is we're now focused on immigration. I think without the dust-up, we wouldn't have a commitment to move toward on February 8th. We really have until March 5th. Here's what I think, there's so much interest in fixing this problem, the president has made a credible proposal.

We're going to get there. We're going to give a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers who have been well-vetted. We're going to do something substantial on the border. We're not going to cut legal immigration in half. We'll deal with chain migration in two phases, beginning in phase one. So the bottom line is I'm optimistic. If the president continues the attitude he has expressed in this proposal, if my Democratic friends will calm down, I know it's hard to deal with President Trump, let's take a deep breath, we can get there.

America would be so well-served to start fixing the broken immigration system. Obama couldn't do it. Bush couldn't do it. Trump can do it. And I hope we'll work with him to get it done.

RADDATZ: Well, we'll see how you do.

GRAHAM: We'll see.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Senator Graham.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

RADDATZ: Now let's turn back to the Mueller investigation and bring in Ken Starr, who served as the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton, and ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.

I want to start with you, Mr. Starr. Do these revelations make an obstruction of justice charge more likely?

KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: I don't think so. The president has every -- and Senator Graham said it very well. He can fire Jim Comey or he can ask for Mueller to be fired for any reason. I have a different view in terms of what would constitute obstruction of justice. The president's power is extremely broad, as long as he's not engaged in discrimination or accepting bribes and the like.

I have a very different perspective and much more robust view of presidential power than many of the folks who have been speaking to this. But that having been said, it would have been extremely unwise -- and Senator Graham once again hit the nail on the head.

It would have signaled all -- it would have been Armageddon. So I’m very glad that the president took Don McGhan’s -- if -- if -- if the story is true, took the advice. This -- the president is not just frustrated, as Senator Graham said, he’s a fighter. His instinct is to fight. If you’re an enemy -- and I’m afraid that’s the way he intends to view Mr. Mueller or at least some of the people around Mr. Mueller -- then he’s going to -- he’s going to fight. He’s going to lash out.

The question is does that really constitute a crime. And I don’t think so.

RADDATZ: OK, I know that the prosecutors would have to show corrupt intent, so I don’t understand why this doesn’t show that. Explain that.

STARR: He’s very open about it. I don’t like this guy. (inaudible) he just said (ph) look, he’s trying to ruin my presidency. I have the right to engage in self defense. I don’t see that as corrupt. I just don’t. Corruption -- in fact, no one’s suggested, to my knowledge, that Richard Nixon engaged in a crime by firing Archibald Cox. He did engage in crimes.

Obstruction of justice, but that had to do with hush money and the like. There’s no suggestion of that. We just have a Trump Tower set of ethics here and that is what we’re seeing in the president. I hope that he will control that more in the remaining years of his term. But I think we’re seeing here business tactics. I just don’t see the corruption. He’s so transparent. He tells everyone look, I want to get rid of this guy.

He’s a -- you know, he’s a thorn in my flesh.

RADDATZ: OK, Dan Abrams. I know you’re shaking your head. I -- I tend to think you don’t agree with that.

DAN ABRAMS, CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Yes. I mean, the question isn’t does firing Robert Mueller -- would firing Robert Mueller be a crime. That’s not the question. The question is would firing Robert Mueller -- does trying to fire Robert Mueller potentially become a piece in an obstruction case. You put that together, potentially, with the firing of James Comey.

Why? These conversations that he had with the director of the CIA, the director of National Intelligence, at the time, the director of the FBI. And if the goal in all of those cases was simply to end the investigation on him and his campaign, that’s a different issue. So I think to just simply say in a vacuum, "The president can fire or order the firing of Robert Mueller if he so chooses, that’s not a crime." That’s true but it’s also not the relevant question here.

RADDATZ: Mr. Starr, what about that pattern of behavior? We’ve been talking about that all morning.

STARR: I think the pattern is totally consistent with I don’t like the guy. He is in my face and I just don’t see that as corruption. And I don’t think that those who have been saying this is obstruction of justice have come forward with persuasive authority and have not addressed what I view as a fundamental question, the power of the presidency. Now, the power of the presidency has a huge check.

I don’t think it should be the criminal (ph) law unless there’s bribery and that sort of thing. It should be the Congress of the United States. We wildly over-criminalize and I just disagree. I have great respect for Dan, but I just disagree with this whole approach of let’s criminalize everything.

ABRAMS: But it’s not even about --

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: It’s the same thing that you did when you were the independent counsel, right? I mean, you basically created articles of impeachment based on law. I’m not saying that should happen here. Right? We have to wait and see. But you basically created a series of articles of impeachment based on legal standards and you said, "This is where I think the law was violated."

So it’s inevitably combined when you’re talking about what the legal standard is and what the potential impact would be. And I think to simply suggest that the president can fire these people for whatever reason he wants isn’t the standard that you yourself would apply.

STARR: Dan, with all due respect, re-read the referral. I drafted no articles of impeachment, for starters. But the referral that we made with respect to President Clinton had to do with perjury and intimidating witnesses or encouraging witnesses to lie. Now, if we’re talking about encouraging witnesses to lie, then we have -- in (ph) a lawsuit. There’s been no lawsuit that I know about. This was an interference with exactly what Senator Graham was talking about.

Namely, the rule of law. I think what we’re talking about here is something entirely different. It’s a horse of a different color. And --

RADDATZ: Mr. Starr -- Mr. Starr, I want to -- I want to jump in, here. I want to ask you about -- you talked about lying, you talked about President Clinton. I want to ask you about President Trump’s public denial that he’d -- he had even thought of firing Robert Mueller.

One of the reasons you cited is grounds for impeachment against President Clinton was Clinton’s public denials of having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. You wrote the president made and caused to be made false statements to the American people about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky by publicly and emphatically stating in January 1998 that I did not have sexual relations with that woman, and these allegations are false.

The president also effectively delayed a possible congressional inquiry. This represents substantial and credible (ph) information that may constitute grounds for an impeachment. If the reports are correct that President Trump sought to have Mueller fired, then his public denial would be false.

So would that be grounds for impeachment?

STARR: I think lying to the American people is a serious issue that has to be explored. I take lying to the American people very, very seriously. So absolutely, I think – what Dan was talking about was this effort to get rid of the investigation.

You’re now talking about something called lying to the American people, and I think that is something that Bob Mueller should look at.

RADDATZ: Dan, a final though?

ABRAMS: Yes, I mean I just can’t imagine that – that Mr. Starr doesn’t believe that there is some sort of investigation on a president that if that president wanted to end it, just for that reason, that he wouldn’t say that’s a potential legal slash potential impeachment problem.

There has to be a level which you can reach where you say the president isn’t allowed to just end investigations into him just because that’s presidential power.

RADDATZ: OK, we’re going to have to leave it there.

STARR: Dan – no, but Dan –

RADDATZ: Very quickly, go ahead.

STARR: Dan has made my point. Dan has made my point. We’re talking about impeachment, we’re not talking about the court house. That’s my distinction.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much to both of you. The powerhouse round table is standing by to weigh in on the political fallout of the Mueller investigation, but when we come back, my journey along the southern border to get an up close look at the immigration debate from those who live it every day.

We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want citizenship for Dreamers?

TRUMP: We're going morph into it. It is going to happen at some point in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean?

TRUMP: Over a period of 10 to 12 years. If they do great job. I think it's a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much do you need for your wall, Mr. President? $20 billion?

TRUMP: Well, I'm going to build it way under budget, but we're putting down $25 billion for the wall. I can tell you this, if you don't have a wall, you don't have DACA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RADDATZ: That was President Trump with reporters on Wednesday. There with an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today, more than half of them have been here for ove a decade. Their future, along with others hoping to come to the U.S., again caught up in the battle over immigration. Most pressing, the fate of the Dreamers, those brought here illegally as children.

In 2012, President Obama gave them legal protection under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. But President Trump undid that last fall, putting the fate of 690,000 active DACA recipients in the hands of congress.

It's the issue that shut down the government last week. Congress now giving themselves until February 8 to negotiate a new deal, or possibly face another shutdown. So, as the White House and congress negotiate in Washington, we took off this week on a journey that took us to all four states that line the southern border for a closer look at the view from the ground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RADDATZ: Sunrise over the Pacific. San Diego. It is where the 1,900-mile-long U.S./Mexico border begins. It is where we begin, a journey to see just what this immigration debate looks like for those who see it up close, who live it every day, starting right here on the Pacific Ocean.

This is not only where the border with Mexico begins, California is also the place where there are more Dreamers than any place in the country.

More than a quarter of all DACA recipients live here, including Dulca Garcia (ph). She has called San Diego home ever since she arrived here 30 years ago at the age of 4.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; My mom had heard of the American dream, and she wanted us to experience that. And she knew my dreams wouldn't be fulfilled in the -- the place where we were, because her dreams aren't weren't fulfilled.

RADDATZ: But Dulca's dreams have come true. After applying for DACA, Dulca (ph) went to college and then on to law school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family has been here 30 years paying taxes, contributing with our labor. We have created businesses. We are job creators.

RADDATZ: As long as you have lived here, there are people who would saying, look, others came here legally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand that we -- we broke the law by being here. And I feel there should be a way for us to become lawful immigrants, to become citizens some day.

RADDATZ: Polls show that the vast majority of Americans, 87 percent, support DACA recipients remaining in the country, including Trump supporter Debbie Goldhagen (ph).

You live, what, 10 miles from the border here, probably. Do you think Dreamers should be able to stay?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, as far as I'm concerned, yeah, let them stay.

RADDATZ About a third of the country supports building the wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it would stop a lot of them from coming over. I mean, I'm sorry, they need to come over here to take care of their families, I understand that. But most of them come over, and a lot of them earn their money and they sending it back down there, they're not spending it here. Aren't we supposed to be boosting, or taking care of us first?

RADDATZ: Just outside San Diego, prototypes for the border wall were constructed last fall, some solid, some see through. As we head east through this vast desert, the enormity of the task to build a wall is stunningly obvious.

We're just across the border now from Mexico, still in California, just passed miles and miles and miles of these very rocky hillsides, and the desert scrub you see over there. It's no wonder that building a wall would cost billions and billions of dollars.

Barriers already stretch for nearly 700 miles along the border, like this fencing in El Centro, California. But even though the number of border's apprehension has fallen under President Trump, the wall, even mobile observation towers, still offer little discouragement in the face of desperation for some.

Mexico is just to my left. The border patrol is up and down these roads every day. They say they find people crossing over every day.

Down the road in Calexico, a town of 40,000, the border fence runs just steps from a main drag. Luis Adena (ph) came here when he was about 10, illegally overstaying his visa. His wife is American, so he now has a green card.

Do you think we should let others in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there should be more control of who gets into the country and how they get into the country, because -- we do need low-skill workers to do the jobs that most Americans don't want to do.

RADDATZ: As dusk begins to fall, we watch a train wind its way near the border as we make our way to Tucson, Arizona, to meet up with more Dreamers.

A blazing flash of color signals the end of the day, and with it, word of the White House announcement of a framework on immigration. President Trump proposing a $25 billion trust for the wall, and additional security, for the Dreamers, a 10 to 12-year path to citizenship that would include some 1.8 million people who arrived here illegally as children. It would end so-called "family migration," only spouses or minor children would be included, not parents.

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to get my masters afterwards.

RADDATZ: Both Ramundo Montez (ph) and Mikal Alvarado Diaz (ph) heard the news as well. They were both brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Mikal (ph) is a nursing student and DACA recipient.

What is your reaction to what we heard from the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to be able to be a citizen, but, I think for me, and for what we see in our own community is that it would be a lot more important to be able to keep our families together.

RADDATZ: And this would definitely not -- your parents would remain illegal. The possibility that they could be sent back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children grow up not knowing whether their parents are going to make it home from work.

We still have members of our community being detained every day.

RADDATZ: As for the wall, Ramundo (ph) thinks it will go the way of the the Berlin Wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can build a wall. It will be a nice tourist attraction in a couple years, but it's not really something that will stop people from coming, because the majority of people coming to U.S. is to get a better life.

RADDATZ: But that wall is the number one priority for Dr. Kelly Ward.

KELLY WARD, REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Who wants to build the wall?

RADDATZ: She is running for the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona this year. And while she is a big booster of the president, she breaks with him on legalizing the Dreamers before the wall is complete.

The White House is proposing that they expand the population eligible for citizenship, not just those Dreamers who are registered, but move to 1.8 those who are eligible. Do you agree with that? Is that fair?

WARD: Well, I mean, I think that we shouldn't be having those discussions until we fund and build the wall. We get rid of the chain migration. We end the diversity lottery. We defund the sanctuary cities. And we implement e-verify.

We have to do those things first, because any of the discussion and the debate and the bring in the emotion about this population and others just drives more illegal immigration to occur while everything is in limbo, and that's not what we want.

RADDATZ: So you are deeply disappointed in what President Trump did?

WARD: Well, I'm disappointed in the White House's proposal, because I want -- I want to stand firm on what the American citizens were sold on the campaign trail.

RADDATZ: The next morning, my team and I were back on the road, traveling next door to New Mexico, making our way down to the Santa Teresa border patrol station.

Here in New Mexico, where there are already miles and miles of barriers and fences, there are still more than 75,000 undocumented immigrants. We met up with Republican Congressman Steve Pearce. He's running for Governor this year, and stumped for Trump in 2016, but thinks building a wall is a waste of money.

RADDATZ; You do not believe in a big $25 billion, $35 billion wall.

REP. STEVE PEARCE, (R) NEW MEXICO: No, no. The money could be spent for so many things. Our agents out here are completely unprotected. They're doing a very dangerous job. Everyone wants to secure the border, but let's be thoughtful about it, let's don't just throw money at it.

RADDATZ: Congressman Pearce would prefer more resources be directed towards staffing and technology to secure the border. Because it’s not just people illegally crossing, but drug smuggling and other criminal activity that a wall alone can’t prevent.

PEARCE: But with a structure, they’re coming over with ultralights. They didn’t -- (ph) it was not manned and they remote trigger the drug package, 300 pounds drops here with a GPS locator, somebody comes and picks it up. And so you get a $35 billion wall and you defeat it with a $3,000 ultralight.

RADDATZ: As for the DREAMers, Pearce would prefer just giving them legal status, but is open to the idea of a path to citizenship.

PEARCE: People looking for a better life coming here, I’m very sympathetic to that. I grew up dirt poor. And so I know what it’s like looking for hope and opportunity. But let’s do it the right way.

RADDATZ: 1,500 miles from where our journey started in San Diego, DREAMers were out this weekend alongside environmental groups protesting the proposed wall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are holding us hostage by pushing for a border wall, preventing us from being and living with our families and members of our communities.

RADDATZ: Texas Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez voted to end the shutdown this past week.

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D), TEXAS: Well, it’s pretty shameful that we’re -- we’re -- we’re playing pawns with young children’s lives.

RADDATZ: But he remains hopeful that a solution for the DREAMers will be found.

GONZALEZ: I’m optimistic that we’re going to find a resolution and that we eventually get to a -- a finality on this issue and get it done and put it to rest and move on with the people’s business.

RADDATZ: All along the border we traveled, the desire to get something done is clear on all sides. But whether Washington can get beyond the political divide to reach a final deal may be the biggest barrier of all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RADDATZ: So can Congress make a deal? The powerhouse roundtable takes that on when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RADDATZ: And we’re back now with the round table, ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Susan Glasser, Chief International Affairs Columnist at Politico, Senior Political Writer at FiveThirtyEight, Perry Bacon Jr., and ABC News Cokie Roberts.

I want to touch very quickly on immigration. You saw that huge long drive on the border.

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC: Welcome to Texas.

RADDATZ: Must be (ph) love Texas, it is a huge, huge state, just a huge state. Tell me Matt, do you think President Trump’s proposal, you heard Lindsey Graham too, has any prayer?

DOWD: No, because –

RADDATZ: That's a quick answer.

DOWD: Well, because of the hard right hates it, and the left hates it. So, I think that starts off already with a block of votes that it's not going to get.

It's just so ludicrous that we're in this position when 90 percent of people want to do something on DACA. And then we're arguing over a wall that most people think isn't needed and is a total inefficient spend of money. And I think the understanding is, America and Texas -- I was thinking about Texas the other day, Texas -- if we didn't have air conditioning, oil, and immigrants, we wouldn't be Texas, just like the country.

So, I think it's ludicrous we've gotten here. They'll pass something, but it won't be the Trump bill.

RADDATZ: OK, and I want to turn back to the Mueller. Because very, very serious stories this week, and not just The New York Times, so many people reporting it, including us. What is your take on how important, how serious this is?

ROBERTS: I think it's serious. It's not just that he wanted to fire Mueller and apparently Rosenstein, but it's his whole attack on the Department of Justice, and a misunderstanding of what the Department of Justice is supposed to do.

He think they're supposed to be his lawyers and defending him and not understanding...

RADDATZ: Some of the reporting in The Washington Post, Steven, says that he was referring to it as Trump's Justice Department.

ROBERTS: My generals, my Justice Department, maybe his congress, that would be interesting. But the fact is that this all sort of piles on top of itself. And what you end up doing is, even if there was nothing there in the first place, by the time you're done, there's something there.

RADDATZ: But the texts, very legitimate issue right now to talk about. Those texts are not helping from the FBI officials.

BACON: No, they're not helping. But the overall -- like if you look at this week, when you talked about Christopher Wray, also the administration not happy with him either. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not going to debate whether we have legal...

RADDATZ: They did a really good job of that.

BACON: ...Department of Justice, but as a normal human being, is Donald Trump cooperating or trying to impede this investigation? I think the answer is, he's often doing things that appear to be targeted at impeding the investigation, from firing Comey, to questioning Mueller, to questioning the FBI, as Cokie noted. So, in this case, you know, as a political matter, Trump is not cooperating. The idea that he will testify willingly seems ludicrous if you look at his behavior up to now.

RADDATZ: OK, but as a political matter -- and divide that from a legal matter, so as a political matter, what does this mean? What happens?

GLASSER: Well, I think what we're seeing this week is a very clear demonstration that at least on the House side, at least among certain Republicans, they're acting very much as the president's defense lawyers in this political war over how to interpret the investigation, which, in the end, we actually no idea both what Mueller ultimately is going to conclude around the allegations of not just obstruction, but potential collusion with Russians on the hacking. We have no idea what the evidence is. But already, I think this week, we saw very clearly, a strategy by Republicans to muddy the waters, to murky it up, and to cooperate with Donald Trump in his attacks on the institutions.

ROBERTS: In the same way the Democrats did with Ken Starr and Bill Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

DOWD: This is -- Ken Starr said something that I completely disagree with, which I think in a normal world is accurate. He said that basically the president has this power and the congress is vested with the power to control the president. The problem is, we don't have a constitutional crisis today, we have constitutional rot. And the rot is, is that congress is now unwilling to provide the checks and balances to the presidency of the United States. And so the president is allowed to do stuff, and our only solution today it seems like is to go to a special counsel and try to pursue it that way, because the congress -- the congressional house committees, many congressional members of the Senate and the GOP, refuse to do anything. And so our constitution is now rotting because of that.

ROBERTS: No, no, no. But I don't disagree, the biggest check is the voters, and we have an off-term election coming up, and our off-year elections.

DOWD: The problem is a lot of damage can be done every two and four years.

ROBERTS: I understand that, but off-year elections really sort of serve of like a parliamentary vote of confidence. And if, in fact, the Democrats are able to win, which is a big, big if, but if they do, I think you will see a move toward impeachment.

GLASSER: But the other thing is that we have seen again and again the astonishing revelations that inside his own administration, basically in the absence of agruably congressional accountability, the FBI director, Christopher Wray, the former FBI director James Comey, his own White House counsel, already in one year in office have had to threaten to quit in order to stop what they viewed as potentially illegal or problematic actions on the part of the president.

So, again, we don't know what the underlying evidence is yet, but what we do have is an astonishing fact set in just one year in office.

DOWD: It does raise huge concerns about the Republic as -- with Donald Trump as president.

RADDATZ: Speaking of the republic, Tuesday night, state of the union. President Trump will give his first state of the union. He goes before congress last year, but not officially the state of the union.

What -- I know we heard from White House officials on background that it will be more uplifting and unifying.

ROBERTS: We heard that before the inaugural, too.

(LAUGHTER)

RADDATZ: Will it be different? Will it matter?

BACON: I do think he's going to try to say, morning in America. Look at how well the economy is going, look at the tax bill, look at all the hiring and the bonuses that are going out. I do think this will be a more -- this will not be American carnage, this will be look at my first year and how we did.

But I do think no matter what he says, impressions about him are very set. So, this is about September, about between 35 percent and 40 percent of people approve of him, and about a 55 percent of people disapprove of him, and I think those numbers are kind of stuck where he is.

RADDATZ: So no matter what he says...

BACON: One speech is certainly not going to change people's impressions about Trump.

ROBERTS: Well, except the one thing we do see is when he is (inaudible) the generic ballot, which is when you say to people which party would you like to control congress, Democrats or Republicans, it gets smaller when he behaves. When he misbehaves, the Democrats get a 17 point lead. When he sort of seems like a regular president, it shrinks to about a six-point lead.

DOWD: What we know for sure is whatever Trump -- whatever President Trump says, it will begin and end that night and something else different will happen the following morning.

ROBERTS: That's right with a tweet.

RADDATZ: And for 2018, what is your take on what his speech will be?

GLASSER: Well, look, I think in this relentless news cycle, it's -- I'm hard pressed to say that we're going to remember this speech a few weeks from now. We remember American carnage because it was so dramatically different from previous inaugurations. But in the end, Trump actually is facing a big problem, which is aside from that tax reform, what's on his agenda? He's going to talk about infrastructure, he's going to talk about immigration, he's going to talk about national security.

RADDATZ: Making the strongest military.

GLASSER: But in practical terms, there's very few deliverables that most people expect that he and the Republican Party are going to be able to take to the voters this fall. And so I think that's where having no real content, even if it's somewhat more reassuring is politically it means it might be a wash.

DOWD: Just about 20 seconds...

ROBERTS: I think the Democrats are doing something smart in having Joe Kennedy be -- give the response, not that people pay that much attention...

RADDATZ: Joe Kennedy III.

ROBERTS: But he is -- he is not only a Kennedy, he's young. And that's been a big rap against the Democratic Party, that their leaders are too old. And he's a young, attractive guy whose name is Kennedy.

DOWD: And he'll have a moral voice. And he'll use a moral voice, which I think is really important today.

RADDATZ: All right. Thanks to all of you, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RADDATZ: Don't forget to tune in Tuesday night. I'll be joining the entire ABC News powerhouse political team for live coverage of President Trump's first State of the Union Address and the Democratic response starting at 9:00 eastern. That's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Have a great day.

END

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