'This Week' Transcript 4-28-19: Rep. James Clyburn and Stephen Moore

This is a rush transcript for "This Week" airing Sunday, April 28.

ByABC News
April 28, 2019, 9:35 AM

A rush transcript of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” airing on Sunday, April 28, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated. For previous show transcripts, visit the “This Week” transcript archive.

ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're in the battle for the soul of this nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The taunts from President Trump.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And tricky questions from his past.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: I think what she wants to you say is I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated.

BIDEN: I'm sorry the way she got treated. I don't think I treated her badly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The former VP's long history gives him a leg up in our brand-new poll, but his age and experience also a challenge for primary voters demanding change. Can he break away from a crowded pack for the chance to take on President Trump?

And Trump stonewalls Congress.

TRUMP: The subpoena is ridiculous. We're fighting all the subpoenas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As Democrats debate impeachment.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: An impeachment is one of the most divisive forces. We're not there yet.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) CALIFORNIA: I believe that we need to get rid of this president.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: He's made it pretty clear that he deserves impeachment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We tackle it all this morning with our Powerhouse Roundtable, legal experts Dan Abrams and Alan Dershowitz; and Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn from South Carolina.

We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

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

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning and welcome to This Week.

As we come on the air, some headlines from our brand-new poll with The Washington Post. Despite a strong economy, the president's approval ratings still below 40 percent. With a career average the lowest on record for modern presidents. And just over a week since the release of the Mueller report, a majority of Americans find it fair and even-handed. Just three in 10 buy the president's claim that he was exonerated by the special counsel, and almost six in 10 say he lied about matters investigated by Mueller.

But support for impeachment has dropped. Just 37 percent, a new low, think Congress should start impeachment proceedings. And nearly half of the country says the report will not be a factor in their vote for president.

And as that race heats up, our new poll points to a modest front-runner on the Democratic side, fresh off his announcement on Thursday, Joe Biden leads the primary pack at 17 percent.

Bernie Sanders next at 11 percent with Pete Buttigieg pulling up into third place at 5 percent, just ahead of Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke.

But with 35 percent not yet ready to name a favorite, there is plenty of room for change.

And the poll lays bare a real debate about what Democrats are looking for in 2020. Voters split on key questions of strategy and electability. Should they pick a candidate based on issues, or who is more likely to beat Trump, a candidate likely to energize the Democratic base or appeal to independents? Those debates are far from settled.

A lot to sort through in the months ahead, and we begin this morning with the Senior Democrat from the key primary state of South Carolina, the number three Democrat in the House, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Congressman, thank you for joining us this morning.

And I want to get to the poll in the presidential race in a minute, but first your reaction to that synagogue shooting yesterday in Poway in California, six months to the day of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh. And the killer is referencing in the massacres in New Zealand as well.

There does seem to be an unmistakable pattern here.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: There is. And thank you so much you so much for having me this morning.

It's interesting that this is a Sunday morning for us in the Christian faith that is a holy day. I happen to represent Charleston, and I have been a proponent of HR 1112, because we believe that a climate that has existed in this country over the last several years that glorifies guns in such a way that people feel emboldened to use them to settle whatever grief they may have.

You know, those nine souls at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston are on my mind daily. I think about them. I spoke at one of those funerals. And so I am very concerned that we do not start some discussions and take some actions that will deglorify guns and that we cool our hate speech.

There is just too much acrimony in our electoral process, in our interactions with each other, and we need some leadership on this from our political leaders from the White House on down.

I do believe that the climate in this country is pretty much dictated by our elected officials and we ought to do what is necessary to calm some of that rhetoric.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, congressman, the president quickly and forcefully condemned the shooting yesterday, but we also saw him this week doubling down on his reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying there were fine people on both sides. That was his comment then. And of course that was now in response to Vice President Biden's -- former Vice President's Biden announcement video.

Here is what the president said after that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general, whether you like it or not he was one of the great generals.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president doesn't seem to be backing away at all from those comments about Charlottesville.

CLYBURN: Oh, because I think he's expressing what is in his heart.

The fact of the matter is, Robert E. Lee was a great tactician, was not a great person. Robert E. Lee was a slave owner and a brutal slave master. Thankfully he lost that war and I find it kind of interesting the president is now glorifying a loser. He always said that he hated losers. Robert E. Lee was a loser.

And even if you could get beyond that at the end of the civil war, Robert E. Lee asked all of his comrades to lay down their guns and to furl those Confederate flags, and if my memory serves, and put them in your attics, so if the president is going to glorify Robert E. Lee, let's at least be consistent about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think that Vice President Biden, former Vice President Biden, was right to focus his announcement video on Charlottesville?

CLYBURN: Absolutely, because I think that's what the crux of this campaign is going to be about, it's going to be about who can bring this country together. And for anybody who is running for the presidential nomination on the Democratic side, I think you've got to focus on bringing this country together on the domestic front and you've got to think about our international relationships around the world.

The fact of the matter is, Joe Biden getting into this race I think allows us to bring into this discussion the foreign policy that is a problem for us these days. We have a president in the White House who is rupturing our relationships with our allies all around the world. And there are people out there who are saying they cannot trust the United States of America anymore to lead on foreign policy. That is a foreign relationship for us. We have got to do something about improving our relationships around the world as well as trying to have domestic tranquility and bring our people together.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You play such a key role in the state of South Carolina, that early primary state coming up next year. Is Joe Biden the man to beat in the Democratic primary there right now?

CLYBURN: That's what it looks like. I've seen your poll and I don't find anything to disagree with in that poll. I have talked to people here in South Carolina, and I believe that at this point in time Joe Biden is probably the leader. The question is whether or not he can maintain that lead. And I think that you're right that Sanders is a close second to him right now.

But the campaign is early and there have been some tremendous roll outs here in the state. Kamala Harris is doing very well. Cory Booker has been spending a lot of time in the rural communities here in South Carolina.

And I have been saying forever that Democrats are going to have to improve our status among rural voters, because you have to remember over 50 percent of African-Americans in this country still live in the south, and the south is basically rural. And if you are going to win, you're going to have to energize that vote. And I don't believe you can do it by running from east coast to west coast, stopping off at the major cities, and not paying closer attention to what's going on in these rural communities, because that's where our goal is going to be made.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you going to endorse? And how are you going to make a decision?

CLYBURN: Well, I'm making my decisions in consultations with my family. I have three daughters, three of them are pretty active politically. And I listen to them, talk with them a lot. My wife stays on the Internet, keeping up with these candidates. We talk about it a lot. I have a network here in the state that I consult with quite a bit. I don’t call it anything but a network of people with whom I interact politically and professionally. And I’m going to be talking to them about how I should conduct myself going forward and when I should take any actions, if I should at all.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about your responsibilities in the House as well. Of course, impeachment on the table right now. As you saw in our poll, just 37 percent of the country now supports the idea of impeachment, yet candidates like Elizabeth Warren say that the Congress has a responsibility to act. I want to play that.


ELIZABETH WARREN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have checks and balances and we have to proceed here in a way understanding our place in history that not only protects democracy now but protects democracy when the next president comes in and the next president and the president after that.


STEPHANOPOULOS: She says there’s no political inconvenience exception to the constitution. Congress has a duty to move.

CLYBURN: Yes, Congress does have a duty to move and I think Mr. Mueller laid out for us a roadmap. But what people seem not to be talking about is, Mueller also said that on this roadmap there are some barricades that were erected; some roadblocks that he ran up against. And he says that the best vehicle to get around these barricades and roadblocks is the Congress. And we are going to do our work but we’re not going to do it haphazardly.

We have six committees who are looking at this president and looking at his past activities, Ways and Means trying to get to his tax records; we’ve got Financial Services looking at his relationships with banks around the country; we’ve got Government Ops looking at his activities as it relates to the oversight responsibilities they have; the Justice Department – I mean, Judicial Committee looking at the ways to proceed on getting people before their committee that can testify and help us build a record. Timing is everything in this business.

And there’s one thing to run out – down a route toward impeachment. It’s something else to lay a foundation, gather the facts, educate the American people so that we can see exactly what needs to be done and when we should do it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Clyburn, thanks for your time this morning.

CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to dig in more now on that impeachment debate. So much turns on the question of the evidence laid out by Robert Mueller on obstruction of justice. The special counsel decided he couldn’t charge the president but couldn’t clear him either, so the attorney general stepped in. And here’s what the president said about that on Friday.


TRUMP: We essentially get a ruling, no obstruction. Based on the facts, our great attorney general made a – an immediate decision there was no obstruction.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But that conclusion contradicted even by one of Trump’s usual defenders. Judge Andrew Napolitano from Fox News.


ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: When the president asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to get Mueller fired, that’s obstruction of justice. When the president asked his then White House counsel to get Mueller fired and then lie about it, that’s obstruction of justice. When he asked Don McGahn to go back to the special counsel and change his testimony, that’s obstruction of justice. When he dangled a pardon in front of Michael Cohen in order to keep Cohen from testifying against him, that’s obstruction of justice.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And our new poll shows a close division. Forty-seven percent say the president did obstruct justice, forty-one percent say he did not. Let’s bring in our legal experts, ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams; and Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz, you’ve written a new take on special counsel’s findings, an introduction to the Mueller report. Welcome to you both.

And Dan, let me begin with you. It’s interesting that the public is divided on this question because if you just look at Mueller’s report, it seems kind of equivocal. Do you believe that he, though, was laying out the idea that President Trump obstructed justice?

DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don’t think there’s any question that Robert Mueller believed that the president obstructed justice. So then, why wouldn’t he have said it? He made it clear in his introduction to the section on obstruction of justice, he said, number one, a sitting president can’t be indicted. Number two, we can’t even accuse him of a crime in this report because that would be improper. But if we could exonerate him, we would, and we can’t.

That’s it. And then they lay out – and I’m not saying in every single one of the 10 or 11 instances that Mueller believes there was obstruction, but I think certainly with regard to Don McGahn, if you read that carefully …

STEPHANOPOULOS: This idea that he was asked by the president to fire Robert …

ABRAMS: And then to lie about it. And then to lie about the conversation. I think it is clear that Robert Mueller, if this were a different situation, would have been saying he obstructed justice in the case of Don McGahn.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that. I think Mueller does believe that, I think he’s just dead wrong. In my introduction I argue I think very compellingly that you have to have an actus reus, an act of a crime and the actus reus of a crime, the act cannot be exercise of a constitutional authority under article two. The president had the authority to fire Comey, Comey said that himself, and the president had the authority to go virtually everything he did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mueller takes on that argument directly in his report.

DERSHOWITZ: I know. Yes, and he's wrong. He's wrong. You -- the best analogy -- and he -- he does not mention this in this book and this is an outrage he doesn't mention it. The largest -- the most important precedent is the decision by George H.W. Bush to pardon Caspar Weinberger. He did that to stop the investigation. The special prosecutor said he did it to stop the investigation and yet nobody suggested obstruction of justice because the president has the power to pardon and the president has the power to fire. So you can't both have the power to do it under the constitution and that be the act that gives rise to an obstruction of justice.

ABRAMS: Just to be clear, Alan’s position is a minority position in the legal community.

DERSHOWITZ: But it’s right.

ABRAMS: It may be right, but it’s a minority position in the legal community. But let me ask you this, Alan.


ABRAMS: What about the fact that he, according to the report, is telling McGahn to lie. Right? Is that -- is that a little bit different? That's not about firing, right?

DERSHOWITZ: Yes. No, no, no, you're right. If he told McGahn to lie to a federal official, that's what Nixon did and that’s -- Nixon was guilty of obstruction. If there were evidence that the president told some -- a subordinate to lie to a government official --

ABRAMS: What if he just said to lie?


ABRAMS: What if he just --

DERSHOWITZ: No, that’s not obstruction of justice.

ABRAMS: So -- so --

DERSHOWITZ: It's not a crime to lie. If it were, we'd have no politicians in America.

ABRAMS: So during -- wait, wait. During an investigation, right? In the course of an investigation --

DERSHOWITZ: Yes. Right. Absolutely.

ABRAMS: -- when the media comes sniffing about the McGahn issue --


ABRAMS: -- and the president allegedly instructions or asks McGahn to lie, as far as you're concerned that’s OK?

DERSHOWITZ: Not as far as I’m concerned, as far as the law is concerned.

ABRAMS: No, in terms of your minority position --

DERSHOWITZ: The law says -- no, no, my --

ABRAMS: -- of the interpretation of the law --

DERSHOWITZ: My majority position is that the law says it's a crime to lie to an FBI official, it’s a crime to lie to a grand jury. Nowhere does it say it's a crime to lie to the media. And under our system of law, unless it’s testify specified as a crime in the statute books, it's not a crime. We don't live in the Soviet Union where unless it's legal, everything is illegal. We live in a country where unless it's specifically illegal -- it may be immoral but it's not illegal to lie to the media.

ABRAMS: That -- that -- no, no, no. I understand. That's why we have broad laws, right? They're called obstruction of justice.

DERSHOWITZ: And they're terrible laws --

ABRAMS: But you may think they’re terrible --


DERSHOWITZ: -- libertarian should oppose them.

ABRAMS: That’s fine. That’s fine. You may think they're terrible but the notion that there's not a law on the books is nonsense. There is a law on the books and there’s a question of whether it fits into the statute.

DERSHOWITZ: The law on the books would criminalize every politician in America today --

ABRAMS: I understand that’s your position.

DERSHOWITZ: -- and it would give too much discretion to prosecutors to pick and choose which lies to go after.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Alan, let me ask you if -- if this would extend to high crimes and misdemeanors. I mean, even if you believe that this could not be breaking the law, firing Comey or asking Mueller to be fired, do you believe it is an abuse of power or, as some have suggested, that it would be showing the president is not faithfully executing the laws, upholding his oath?

DERSHOWITZ: That's a fair point but that’s not an impeachable offense. Look, what Bill Clinton did was a crime but not a high crime and what President Trump may have done was high but it wasn't a crime. You need both. You need a high crime. You can't find that in the Mueller report any more than you could have found in the Starr report a high crime against Bill Clinton. It would be a mistake to impeach either of them. The Republicans made that mistake against Clinton. The Democrats I hope will not make that mistake against Trump.

ABRAMS: Here’s the problem when you combine Alan Dershowitz's theory with President Trump’s theory, right? Alan Dershowitz’s theory is there shouldn't have been a special counsel and also that you can't obstruct justice if you're the president --

DERSHOWITZ: No, no, no --

ABRAMS: -- wait, let me finish. And you're doing something that you have the power to do --

DERSHOWITZ: That’s right.

ABRAMS: -- no matter what the intent is, et cetera.

DERSHOWITZ: You don't get to intent until you get to the act.

ABRAMS: OK, fine. So -- so that’s -- that’s Alan Dershowitz's theory. Now you combine that with the President’s theory, that Congress should not be engaging in oversight. Right? These subpoenas shouldn't be valid, none of these people should be complying.

DERSHOWITZ: I don't agree with that.

ABRAMS: Well, OK, but I’m saying take the two together, Trump and Dershowitz and suddenly you have no presidential accountability. None. Zero.

DERSHOWITZ: That's why you need to have checks and balances, why it is appropriate for Congress to issue a subpoena. But this is a perfect case for checks and balances. The president has the right to oppose the subpoenas and the courts have the oversight over whether Congress has overreacted. So we’re going to see an interesting check and balances --

STEPHANOPOULOS: The blanket stonewalling on the subpoenas, though, particularly on these questions dealing with the Mueller report. Does that end up constituting another obstructive act?

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely not. He’s entitled to do it and the courts are entitled to strike him down and so no, you can’t do that. Let me tell you what I think the courts are going to do. They're going to look at every subpoena, they’re going to say there’s no broad opposition to responding to subpoenas -- but in this case maybe Congress went too far. That's what happened during the McCarthy period. The courts said Congress went too far. If the -- if the courts conclude that the Democrats are using this for partisan advantage rather than for legitimate oversight, then the courts will --

ABRAMS: But time -- time is on the president's side. And so –

DERSHOWITZ: Well that’s a political issue.

ABRAMS: Well it’s a legal issue, right, it’s because the courts will take a while to resolve this, then the question becomes enforceability, right. Typically when Congress believes someone has been – you know, should be held in contempt of Congress, you send in the Department of Justice.

You say hey, Department of Justice, you should enforce this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Or you can put them in the basement of the Capitol.

ABRAMS: Yes, you can send the – you can send the old sergeant at arms out. You know, back in the day they’d send the sergeant in arms out, that’s not going to happen now.

DERSHOWITZ: Look if a court tells the president to comply with a subpoena he’s going to do it right now.

ABRAMS: On documents and testimony? I’m not so sure.

DERSHOWITZ: Well remember we do have the – both the Nixon case and the Clinton case and the courts do have the power to enforce subpoenas against the president. But they will look at every subpoena and they will see whether or not this was abuse of Congress.

We are living through a perfect example of whether our system of checks and balances and separation of powers works.

ABRAMS: And if you put Dershowitz and Trump together, there is no such thing.

DERSHOWITZ: But he can’t put Dershowitz and Trump together because I take a separate position from Trump on this issue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all we have time for today, thank you both very much, roundtable is up next we’ll be right back.



CHARLIE GIBSON, FORMER ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will announce today that he is a candidate for the presidency. The knock on Joe Biden is that he is long on inspirational speeches and short on specifics. True?

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN (D): No, not true, Charlie. I’ve been a Senator for 15 years, I’ve been deeply involved in international as well as domestic issues, and I am anxious and ready as they say in the trade to have my record examined.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Biden, you’re going to announce on Wednesday that you are in the race.

BIDEN: I’m the 800th candidate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Exactly. Referring to David Letterman. First test, 25 words or less. Why should Democrats nominate you?

BIDEN: Because I think the president has dug us in a deep hole.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Biden announced his third run for president just on Thursday. You saw those first previous tries in '87, 2007. We're going to talk about that now with our chief political analyst Matthew Dowd; Meghan McCain co-host of The View -- of course you interviewed Joe Biden on Friday; Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor, now an ABC News contributor; and Amanda Renteria, chair of Emerge America. You support female Democratic candidates, served as national political director for the Clinton 2016 campaign.

So Matt, let's assess the third rollout. Interesting choice by Joe Biden to announce it in a video, taking Charlottesville straight on, going straight at President Trump.

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: It says -- I was watching those clips from -- it seems like there is a Biden comet that comes every 20 years. And now we're in the new realm of the Biden comet. I thought first his campaign video and everything he said in that, which was a fight for the soul of America, I think is very good. I think it does a broad thematic for this. He obviously raised a ton of money in the first day or two following that.

I think he's still rusty as you can see in some of his answers on related to Anita Hill and he still hasn't come up with a clear, concise, what many view as an apology, in his role in that.

I think, though, this race, I've said this before, is going to be very nonlinear. And there's not going to be lanes. Everybody keeps talking about who has got this lane, who has got that lane, who’s got this. It's, to me, a little bit like a golf tournament where it's -- you don't just the longer hitter is going to win, or the guy that putts best, it's the one who can do it the best in all aspects of their game. And I think Joe Biden starts off as a slight front-runner. We have to see what aspects of his game are still strong in this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And how he performs all the time. He did seem to make a bet, Amanda, on this divide among Democrats. You're looking for a candidate who agrees with you most on the issues, or someone who is most likely to beat Trump. He seems to be making a bet on the latter, that that's what people are looking for.

AMANDA RENTERIA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND FORMER HILLARY FOR AMERICA NATIONAL POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And, you know, my feeling on this when you look at it is every single candidate makes the field better. And there is no doubt that he brings a wealth of experience. There is no doubt that he brings foreign policy knowledge. And at the end of it I agree, it's not going to be linear, but when you see candidates come in with the kind of talent and experience he has it makes everyone better.

And that's what about the Democratic Party's platform right now, and all the time we have to get to learn these candidates.

And I will say it was incredibly smart to come out reminding Democrats who they are in terms of being stronger together to stomp out hate, particularly given the news we just heard in California...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Biden was your senator when you were at the University of Delaware, right?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR (R) AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He was. And we both graduated from there. And we did a lot of work for the university together. So I've known him literally since I was in college.

Here's what I think the big question, who is Joe Biden going to be? Is he going to be John McCain, and he's going to be the person who can learn from past campaigns and win? Or is he not? Who is he going to be? Is he going to be the guy who just never learns?

And I think that's really the question. Can Joe Biden evolve at this point to not be a loser, like he was the last two times he ran? And let's face it, those complains were flame-outs, both in '88 and in 2008.

You know, one candidate, you know, like John McCain ran in 2000, lost to George W. Bush, stayed with it, learned things from that campaign, became a better candidate in 2008, got the nomination. Is that who Joe Biden is going to be, or is Joe Biden going to be the guy who just never learns?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You had the chance to interview him on Friday on The View. And you guys put some questions to him on Anita Hill, on the allegations about inappropriate touching. How did you find him up close? What was your impression?

MEGHAN MCCAIN, THE VIEW CO-HOST: I'm very biased, as I think everyone knows. I will say that his biggest problem is going to be going up against the radical left in the primary. It's not people like me. But I do think his campaign was smart enough to understand that The View's audience is predominantly women, and I do believe the women's vote across all races, all generations, is to be make or break in this upcoming election.

I found him warm, jovial, the kind of Joe Biden that can talk about grief and death in a way that translates to people's hearts. I think the questions about Anita Hill and his quote inappropriate touching, which is not something I had ever considered a really big issue is something I don't know if it's a huge issue in studios like this, or if it's actually a type of thing in Pennsylvania and, you know, rural Delaware and places in the middle of the country. I never really know if that's as much of an issue as it is for people like us.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It doesn't seem to be so far, at least on the touching but, I mean, I was surprised, I think you're right, I think the vice president showed some empathy on The View. That answer on Anita Hill did seem like he couldn't figure out a way to bring it home, to land it.

DOWD: Well, you would think -- so if there were three questions you'd prep Joe Biden for going into anything, Anita Hill would be one of them. That's what I didn't get about why wasn't there a clear answer. And maybe the reason is there is not a clear answer. Maybe the answer is ‘it was a different time. I was conducting these hearings in a totally different moment in America, and I thought I did what I was supposed to do.’

But I don't think he's grasped how where he was then and where America is today. And I think that goes to the question that the governor said, which is, if he ran the same campaign and was the same candidate in 1988 and 2008, he would lose, is can he meet America where it is?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I think it brings up the question, Amanda, can you make a virtue out of saying you’ve learned? I don’t understand what would be so hard about saying "I wish I could have done better at it. I did – I made some mistakes."

RENTERIA: Listen, the politics of "I’m sorry" are difficult, are controversial. They always are. No doubt, every single campaign goes through these moments of, how do you say lessons learned, how do you say I’m sorry? And some of this is a new campaign and a candidate learning, what can I say, how does it work, and really connecting with people.

And so, this is true, he is going to have to go up a learning curve and we’re going to see it firsthand and we’ve got a lot of time to do so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is President Trump sort of sending the signal to people you should never apologize?

CHRISTIE: Well, he certainly believes that. I don’t think that really works for almost anybody else. Remember, any analogies that we make between any other candidate and Donald Trump, I think, fail. Because he is just so completely different. And I believe it’s because people don’t hold him to the same standards they hold anybody else to. They don’t have the same expectations for him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, he doesn’t really change everything?

CHRISTIE: No, he doesn’t change everything. He – I – I’ve always believed that he is unique unto himself and to this period of time and I don’t think he changes everything. And I’d say the other thing, that Joe Biden’s hugest risk is he’s Jeb Bush. His biggest risk is …

STEPHANOPOULOS: What does that mean?

CHRISTIE: Well, he’s the guy who comes out as the frontrunner early, he’s the guy with enormous history, he’s got associations like Joe Biden does with Barack Obama and others who lift him. But can he be someone who addresses today’s needs? Jeb, I think, never understood the political times we were in and he never changed and adjusted. Will Joe Biden change and adjust to these times to be able to be someone who, as Matt said, speaks to the concerns of Democratic primary voters now and then, ultimately, general election voters who, remember, did elect Donald Trump three years ago?

MCCAIN: Well, no disrespect to Jeb Bush, but I would make the argument that Joe Biden is endlessly more charismatic than Jeb Bush was and it is a completely different time. I think if Biden can go out running on healing, uniting platform, I think running against Trump in that time right now is something that could work, especially with women. There’s a bunch of women that just couldn’t pull the trigger for Hillary Clinton. Fifty-four percent of white women couldn’t end up voting for Hillary Clinton and I think if he can gain back women in this country, which is a huge vulnerability for President Trump and his administration, I actually do think it could be a winning path.

If the Democratic Primary voters like it or not, I have no idea because they’re being pulled so far left …

CHRISTIE: He didn’t – he didn’t look like that guy on your show Friday. I mean, he did not look, to me, like a guy who was ready to appeal to those voters. And what I’m saying is, he can’t be the same guy he’s been all these years …

MCCAIN: He didn’t have to ask the audience to clap for him like Jeb Bush did.

DOWD: And George, I think the – with Donald Trump’s "I’m sorry," I mean, if I were designing a strategy for a candidate of success in 2020 is, do everything opposite of what President Trump is. Because if the candidates are – they’re not going to go along with saying "Oh, I like my version of Donald Trump." You have to do everything tonally, strategically opposite of that.

And I think one of the mistakes that politicians made – George W. Bush made this and I worked for him, Barack Obama made this at times, is they think saying I’m sorry is a sign of weakness. And saying "I’m sorry and I made a mistake" is a sign of strength and the American public, as you know with Bill Clinton, rewards you for that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that gets to an interesting question, Amanda, I’m going to put this one to you; who is the – the most anti-Trump in the Democratic field? I think it was David Axelrod who said your – the voters are looking for an antidote to the president that is in. Is it Pete Buttigieg because of generational or the way he talks about issues? Is it Joe Biden because of the experience? Is it Elizabeth Warren because she’s a woman? What do you think the answer there is?

RENTERIA: So, I think everyone has their strand of being anti – anti-Trump. But the truth is, that was what was interesting about the video, is it puts it squarely in the middle that he is taking this fight to Trump. And I think that’s what makes it interesting. And by the way, there’s been a lot of time for candidates to see Trump and how he responds back. I mean, when we were in 2016, it was new. This was new for Jeb Bush. It’s no longer new anymore.

Candidates now have been thinking through this and I think you saw that in that video, coming right at them and not letting them stop.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big questions for the Democrats, Chris, is going to be, how do they take on the economy? We saw those economic numbers come out on Friday, 3.2 percent growth.

CHRISTIE: Listen, you know, it is very much like the old Mike Tyson saying, right, everybody’s got a plan till they get punched in the face. And Donald Trump is – you know, I can tell you from having done it myself, it’s a very different phenomenon running against him. And I think that everybody can have as much time to study it as they want. In the end, the Democrats have to look for someone who is absolutely authentic.

I think the biggest key to this race is authenticity. What the American people want to see opposite Donald Trump is somebody who is completely comfortable in their own skin and whatever approach they take that, whether it’s more confrontational or whether it’s less confrontational, vis-à-vis Trump, they have to look completely comfortable. And what I saw on Friday – and I like Vice President Biden, we’ve known each other, as I said, for 30 years – but I didn’t see somebody who was comfortable yet in this current environment.

We got – the Democrats have to have somebody who’s comfortable or they’ll have no chance against Trump.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say no chance, but one of the other big questions is that the economy is – you said right at the top of the show, so strong right now, apparently so strong, you know, low unemployment, stock market record highs, lots of growth yet the president’s still below 40 percent.

DOWD: Well that’s the thing about this, the economy, the good indicators the economy – the economy numbers show two things I think. First is all of these indicators don’t necessarily reflect how an average American feels about their finances in their daily life today.

So while the economic indicators are good, much part of the middle class doesn’t feel like it’s changed for them. The other part is Democrats have to figure out how to talk about this in a time where those economic indicators are good and how the – a part of the country is not getting served.

But Republicans have a real problem, which is the last time an economy was this good, the president had a job approval rating 20 points higher than President Trump. So the question is why is he underperforming a good economy so badly?

He’ at 42, 41, the ABC poll shows him at –


DOWD: -- 39 percent. If you go into an election like – and Ronald Reagan was at those same numbers today, but what happened was the economy grew for the next year and a half and his numbers ended up in the high 50s.

Donald Trump is in the low 40s with a good economy.

MCCAIN: The other thing that could really help him if the Democrats end up going radically far left, focusing on the Green New Deal, on impeachment election, on late term abortions.

These are the type of things that will make voters in the middle of the country and Republicans like me who are very disenfranchised in the party right now run for the hills. And I think when you see town halls where Bernie Sanders can’t even say whether or not he thinks the Boston Bomber should have the right to vote, people like me think that’s absolutely crazy and I do think that will be the struggle getting through the Democratic Party without becoming so radicalized on the left.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And our poll does show that the – not a lot of appetite for impeachment right now.

RENTERIA: That’s right and I think there’s going to be a question in the Democratic Party on – on what to do on impeachment, but I have to say if we look at what happened in 2018, the focus on really talking about health care, talking about the issues worked, and the economy was great then too.

And so I think what Democrats have to do is they’ve got to look at what happened in 2018, work from that, women were a big part of that. Sixty percent of those seats were flipped by women.

And so we’re going to – you know, we’re going to see that. There’s some study to be had on 2018 and I think that’s where Democrats need to focus.

CHRISTIE: Well let’s remember that presidential elections are different because they’re a binary choice, and it’s what Meghan said before, you know, 54 percent of white women could not vote for Hillary Clinton.

These become a binary choice, so when we see Trump in the high 30s, low 40s, whatever poll you look at, that’s Trump just alone. This race is going to be Trump versus someone else and I’d suggest that Meghan’s right, if it’s Trump versus Bernie Sanders, if it’s Trump versus Elizabeth Warren and someone who’s taking the country way left, those numbers are going to change, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What about Joe Biden?

CHRISTIE: Well I’ve said that I think Biden’s the most difficult guy for him to run against. If Biden can make his way through the primary and stay on the rails, Joe Biden has to stay on the rails, if he can he’s the toughest one.

DOWD: The problem with all of this is that we – if we had talked about all the same things in 2015, about the same things –

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve all learned that--

DOWD: The campaign reveals – the campaign reveals the first debates are in June, the next debates after that are in July, we’re going to know a lot more about performance of these candidates and how they speak to the American public than we do today.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely right, that’s absolutely right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Going to take a quick break, up next the president’s likely nominee to the Federal Reserve taking heat for past writings on gender, whether he’s qualified for the job, Stephen Moore responds when we come back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president wants Stephen Moore to join the Federal Reserve. He joins us next. And all week long you can get the latest on politicians breaking news alerts on the ABC News App. We’ll be right back.



REPORTER: Is the president concerned about the coverage of Moore's past comment, which have been damaging to him?

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well I’d hate to have the paper trail. His paper trail is almost as long as my paper trail or video trail.

REPORTER: He said the things he said about women and gender.

KUDLOW: He says it was a spoof. He says it was a spoof.

REPORTER: Do you buy that? Do you believe it?

KUDLOW: That's what he told me. I do buy it. I know him. He’s kind of a, you know, great sense of humor, wise ass kind of guy. What can I tell you? I don’t think it’s germane, I don’t think he was making a statement, I think he was making a spoof. Our support is still there. Still there.


STEPHANOPOULOS: President’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow defending the man that President Trump wants to nominate for the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore, who joins us now. Stephen, thanks for joining us this morning.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He was referring, of course, to this series of comments of your past writings that have come out in recent weeks making disparaging comments about women, female athletes, coed sports, pay equity, a series of articles over several years. All a spoof? Anything you regret?

MOORE: Sure I do. And by the way, George, let me back up for a minute because probably this is the first time you've ever had a Federal Reserve board nominee on your show over all the years. And, you know, the president asked it me to do this. It’s been about -- a little over a month. And just so people understand the history here. For the first week a lot of economists on the left and -- and people in the media started attacking some of my economic ideas and -- and that got them nowhere. I -- I stand by, you know, what I -- what I’ve said and my credentials on the economy. And The Washington Post ran a piece, you know, several weeks ago saying you know, we can't beat Steve Moore on his economic ideas, he has the votes in the Senate, I've known these senators for a long time.

And what happened, George, was this kind of smear campaign, this character assassination and it began two or three weeks ago. I mean, you're not going to believe this, George, but the media unsealed my divorce from 10 years ago and started reporting details of my divorce which was against the wishes, by the way, of myself and my ex-wife who have a very good solid relationship with today. And that -- I think most fair-minded people say what -- what does a divorce settlement have to do with, you know, interest rates and -- and my economic credentials. And then what's happened is there’s five or six full-time reporters investigating every area of my life.

This -- these articles that you're talking about were 17, 18 years ago. Frankly, I didn't even remember writing some of these they were so long ago. Now you asked me the question of whether I’m apologetic about those -- some of those columns. They were humor columns but some weren't funny and so I am apologetic. I’m embarrassed by some of those things that I wrote. But I do think we should get back to the issue of whether I’m qualified to be on the Federal Reserve board, whether I have the, you know, economic expertise and I think there's an area where I’ll stand by my record and I’ll debate anybody on economics and let's -- let’s make this about the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but part -- part of what some of the things your writings show are -- to some observers saying you're not qualified because of your views on gender, including things like pay equity. I want to point out something you wrote in a 2014 column, you actually asked what are the implications of a society in which women earn more than men. We don't really know but it could be disruptive to family stability. A lot of people look at it and say what do you mean by that?

MOORE: Well, look, first of all, when you look at what's happened under Donald Trump and what's happening with wages now and increases in income, I think prosperity and economic growth are a women's issue, they’re -- they benefit, you know, the blacks, they benefit minorities. This is a -- as you just said, this is a sizzling economy right -- right now. I'm very proud to have played a role in this. I was the senior economic adviser with Larry Kudlow to that campaign. It's a really, really strong economy. Women have benefited -- you know -- George, we have the lowest --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, but let me just interrupt you right there --

MOORE: -- we have the lowest unemployment rate for women in 50 years. I mean, that’s a big deal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But right there in that article -- in that article you're taking on legislation designed to close the wage gap.

MOORE: We are closing the wage gap. I mean, the way to close the wage gap is by creating a healthy economy. Right now we have 7.1 million -- 7.1 million more jobs than people that are filling them right now. That’s allowing women, minorities, others to -- to increase their wages. I mean, look, I’m happy and proud of the fact that I played a small role in creating an economy today that's probably as -- as good as it's been in 20 years. In terms of the labor force issues right now, George, this is the best labor market for workers in your or my lifetime. I mean, look, I’m not going to apologize for that. I think it's a fantastic thing.

I just want the -- when it comes to wages and -- and, you know, gender equity, I want that to be decided by the market. I don't want government to intervene in those kinds of things.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your fate is in the hands of the Senate, including some female senators, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She’s taken on your call back in -- back in late -- late last year when you said the chair of the Federal Reserve should be fired for considering raising interest rates, also concerned about your views on the gold standard. It's going to be tough for you to get nominated and confirmed if you don't have the support of Susan Collins, isn't it?

MOORE: Well first of all, let’s go back to December, because I think this is one of my strongest cases for why I should be on the Federal Reserve. You know, I was the one – I was one of the first economists among thousands when the Fed raised interest rates back in December, I got very angry about it and I said this was economic malpractice.

It was a terrible decision by the Fed. The stock market fell by 2,500 points in the subsequent weeks of that, and then of course the Fed had to reverse course, put its tail between its legs and admit that people like Donald Trump and I were right and that they were wrong.

And incidentally, George, ever since then the economy has been on this surge. So I think – you know, there’s an example of where I was quite right and most of the economists over at the Fed were wrong.

I don’t think we would have had this 3.2 percent growth rate if it had not been for the Fed reversing course. So look I’m friends with Susan Collins, I worked with her on the – on the tax bill.

I’ve – I know most of the Republican senators. I think they respect my economic expertise and my record. But I did – I have some – look, if I – if I become a liability to any of these senators, I would withdraw.

I don’t think it’s going to come to that, I think most fair minded people think this has been kind of a sleaze campaign against me. Incidentally I have 110 prominent economists who have signed a letter endorsing me, including dozens and dozens of women.

So I just think that the perception is very different from the reality in terms of my attitude toward women.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You might have some trouble in the Midwest though because of comments you made back in 2014, I want to show everybody that.


MOORE: If you live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago? Right, you don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland or, you know, these, you know armpits of America like that. You want to live in Chicago, right.


Armpits of America, Senator Sherrod Brown says you have to apologize and retract that statement.

MOORE: Well you know what, I am a homer, I am a Chicago boy, George, and so, you know, I’ve always – Cincinnati and Cleveland have been our – our rivals. But, you know, the irony of that statement which was made five years ago is today the Ohio economy is booming.

I just wrote a column saying, you know, look Cincinnati and Cleveland aren’t the armpits of America, they’re – they’re – they’ve become the economic arsenal, Ohio is booming. And unfortunately my home city of Chicago, my home state of Illinois is in the pits.

So, you know, Illinois which by the way is being run by, you know, a terrible new governor who wants to raise taxes, Ohio’s doing all the right things. No I do not believe Ohio is the armpit anymore. I think it’s one of our most – it’s becoming one of our most prosperous states and I think Trump’s going to win that state by the way by a big margin in 2020.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president is still looking at other potential nominees. Are you confident he’s going to follow through with your nomination?

MOORE: Well, you know, I talked to the White House just a couple days ago. One thing I love about this president, and incidentally, you know, I’m just very proud of playing – being – playing a small part in what he has done to rebuild the American economy.

I mean, you know, you were talking about the economy earlier, you know, 71 percent of Americans now view the economy as good or great. That’s twice as high at a percentage as it was, George, when Barack Obama was president.

So Americans do feel the economy is headed in a good direction. I think that I’m going to make it through this process and, you know, we have one other person he has to put on that board.

And my whole thing is we can grow this economy at four percent, we can have no inflation on high employment and that’s – that’s good for every segment of our population.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Stephen Moore, thanks for your time this morning.

MOORE: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: More roundtable coming up, we’ll be right back.



MAYOR STEVE VAUS, POWAY, CALIFORNIA: You know, our community is doing as well as can be expected, and I just want to say first our Jewish brothers and sisters from Chabad of Poway have to feel the love that all of us are sending their way now.

We’re a close community and we’re going to be there for them every step of the way.

TRUMP: We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated, just happened, must be defeated.


STEPHANOPOULOS: A reaction coming into another synagogue shooting in California yesterday.

Matthew Dowd, I was talking about it with Jim Clyburn up at the top of the show, a real pattern here. We're seeing it again and again and again, spread over the Internet, even earlier in the week in Sunnyvale, California, a man drives a car into a crowd he thinks is going to be filled with Muslims. We -- this seems to be contagious.

DOWD: Well, there's all kinds of data that shows over the last few years that there's a huge rise of radical white extremism in America. And it's actually a much bigger problem within America than radical Islam, but we spend vast amounts more resources and dollars in manpower and police work related to radical Islam than we do to what's going on in America.

So, first, we have it address that problem and this is reflective of that. Second, we have to have a real conversation. This was another example where guns are involved in America and all of these shootings where there's access to guns and what we are going to do -- as a gun owner, I own five guns myself. Most gun owners believe we have to do something about guns.

And three, I think the president needs to at some point look in the mirror and understand that the rhetoric, the words he uses in all of this, inflame a big part of what's going on in America, give permission to the most craziest people in America, not that the president is responsible, but his rhetoric adds to that, and he needs to reflect on that, because the day -- now that we're having these shootings not only in public places and in concerts and in places where parties are, we're having them in synagogues and mosques and Christian churches.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He did seem to get it last night. What more can the president be doing?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, I think the president has been very strong on the issue of antisemitism and been very clear in his words on that, and I think it would be unfair to characterize the president any other way than being strongly against these kind of movements. And I would say to Matthew, we can approach it from a law enforcement perspective, and we should, I don't think we should do anything less, though, in radical Islam, because that threat also comes from outside our shores, not just inside our shores, so we have to look at both sides.

But I would not be someone who would be opposed to spending a lot more money in law enforcement and going after a lot of these hate groups that are inside of our own shores, and do it the right way.

And as far as the president is concerned, at the end of the day he's been very, very clear on this issue, as he was last night, and I don't think that he deserves any of the blame for what's going on here in that regard.

TRUMP: Amanda.

RENTERIA: I think leadership is leadership. And the reality when you look at what this president has been pushing and that he doesn't stomp it out right when it happens, I'm not surprised to see these acts continuing throughout. And there is more we can do, not just law enforcement in the area, but online as well and what kind of conversations we're having online is an important piece.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank goodness Facebook was able to shut down -- this guy was trying to broadcast -- shut down it much more quickly than they could with Christchurch, but that is a real issue.

MCCAIN: Yeah, and one that I think the Silicon Valley should have their feet held to the fire.

I do think when we're having conversations about anti-Semitism, we should be looking at the most extreme on both sides. And I would bring up Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and some of her comments that got so much attention, and in my opinion Nancy Pelosi wasn't hard enough in her response to her trafficking in anti-Semitic language, talking about all about the Benjamins, and how Jewish people had hypnotized the world.

So, I think when you are talking about rhetoric, and you want to talk about President Trump -- and by the way I agree that he needs to have his feet held to the fire as well, but we're talking about it on both sides of the aisle as well.

DOWD: What I think part of this is, is yes, it occurred at a synagogue and, yes, this person individually was anti-Semitic, but he also was a person that hated immigrants. And what happened at the Tree of Life synagogue, the guy was driven by what the Tree of Life synagogue was doing to help refugees and immigrants. And when you relate those two things, somebody that's anti-immigrant in California, the anti-immigrant hate and refugees that's going on in the country, what happened at the Tree of Life, and then you couple that with the president's language, it's a big problem.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Continuing conversation.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. Tune in Tuesday morning for GMA for Robin Roberts' exclusive interview with Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. I'll see you tomorrow.