'This Week' Transcript 3-31-24: Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Retired Gen. Frank McKenzie

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, March 31.

ByABC News
March 31, 2024, 9:22 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, March 31, 2024 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.


ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.


PROTESTERS (chanting): Free, free, free Palestine!

RADDATZ: The Gaza conflict fuels protests and political divisions at home.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D) MARYLAND & (D) FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: What will the United States do? What will President Biden do?

RADDATZ: This morning, Senator Chris Van Hollen weighs in on the administration's actions on Israel while Gazans face an imminent threat of famine.

ANTONIA GUTERRES: We have a real-time humanitarian catastrophe.

RADDATZ: This, as the White House authorizes a transfer of billions more dollars of bombs and warplanes to Israel.

Britt Clennett reports from the region.

Plus, the Maryland senator weighs in on the Baltimore bridge collapse. When will the port be cleared?

Warning signs.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: ISIS remains a potentially potent force.

RADDATZ: After deadly terrorist attacks in Russia and Iran, how much of a threat is a resurgent ISIS?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS & FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: Al Qaida and ISIS have the opportunity to gather strength in ungoverned spaces, with clear desire to attack our homeland.

RADDATZ: Former CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie, who oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East, joins us.


RADDATZ: What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?


JOE LIEBERMAN: We remember political maverick Joe Lieberman with our powerhouse roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, Martha Raddatz.


RADDATZ (on camera): Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

This morning, some of the most powerful cranes in the country are working to clear the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge from the Port of Baltimore. Here's a look this morning at the efforts to remove the debris from the massive cargo ship that caused the bridge's collapse and the death of six construction workers.

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen will join us to discuss the cleanup efforts and the long road to recovery ahead. But Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is also making news for his direct, biting criticism of the Biden administration over its handling of Gaza, a conflict that is creating a humanitarian crisis and a diplomatic and political storm which is dividing the Democratic Party.

The challenge President Biden is facing was on full display this week during a star-studded New York City fundraiser featuring three Democratic presidents but also a healthy contingent of protesters outside speaking out against the administration's response to the war.

And despite diplomatic talks pushing Israel not to expand its military action to Rafah, the Biden administration has moved in recent weeks to fulfill longstanding agreements to ship more fighter jets and 2,000-pound bombs to Israel.

ABC's Britt Clennett in Jerusalem starts us off.


BRITT CLENNETT, ABC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: A show of U.S. support for Israel. Despite boiling tensions over its planned military offensive in southern Gaza, the Biden administration signing off on billions of dollars worth of weapons as part of a longstanding agreement. "The Washington Post" reporting that the new arms transfer include 2,000-pound bombs.

Cracks in the U.S.-Israeli relationship have been showing recently, the U.S. this week refusing to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding by calling off a visit to D.C. by a delegation to discuss Israel's planned ground invasion of Rafah, as Israel says they are disabling Hamas's capabilities and rescuing hostages. The meeting now being rescheduled.

This as the humanitarian crisis grows worse by the day. Aid groups sounding the alarm. The U.N. warns famine is imminent and says it is Israel's legal responsibility to allow more aid in. UNICEF's James Elder speaking to us from Gaza.

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF GLOBAL SPOKESPERSON: There are other crossings that can be opened. We can open things up in the north. You can indeed flood the Gaza Strip.

CLENNETT: As a convoy of aid ships sets sail Saturday for Gaza carrying 400 tons of food, children forced onto the streets of Rafah, selling whatever they can. Janine (ph) offering up used pots and pans, telling us, "Our future is gone. We used to learn in school. Now there is no school."

Nima Ashor (ph) shows me the tent she lives in with her family at a makeshift camp in Rafah after evacuating from the north.

NIMA ASHOR (ph), PALESTINIAN REFUGEE IN RAFAH: This is where we cook. We are suffering in getting the water, the food. Now they are celebrating when we have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To celebrate having basic necessities like food and water.

CLENNETT: Her family, among the 1.3 million displaced people who have evacuated from northern and central Gaza to seek safety in the Gaza’s southernmost city, only to be told they may have to leave again any day now.

ASHOR (ph): You don't know when you are going to be attacked. Our neighbors has been killed. They were sleeping peacefully, and they were killed. So we -- each night, we think we might be the next.

CLENNETT: And in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities threatening to deport some terminally ill patients back to Gaza when their treatment ends. Those deportations stopped by Israel's high court for now. Twelve-year-old Amira (ph) has a brain tumor.

I don't want to go back, Amira tells me, visibly terrified at the prospect of returning to Gaza. Our house is gone. My grandfather's house is gone. Everything is gone. All of our dreams are gone, she says.


CLENNETT (on camera): And, Martha, with those weapons on their way to Israel, hopes are being raised once again for an end or pause to the fighting. An Israel delegation will leave for Cairo today to restart talks with Hamas on a hostage deal and possible ceasefire -- Martha.

RADDATZ: Britt Clennett in Jerusalem, thank you.

And I’m joined now by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Good morning, Senator. Good to see you.

Let’s talk about those weapons. You’ve been outspoken about the U.S. continuing to supply weapons. But these were approved a long time ago.

So, what could the Biden administration have done?


We need a little more hope in the world this Easter, including a ceasefire and a return of all the hostages. Look, the Biden administration had been planning to submit to Congress a new round of weapons proposals. They decided not to do that because clearly they knew they would encounter resistance and so, they’ve essentially done an end run with this earlier version.

So, my view, Martha, is until the Netanyahu government allows more assistance into Gaza, to help people who are literally starving to death, we should not be sending more bombs.

RADDATZ: Do you think they should have tried to stop this, just not send more weapons?

VAN HOLLEN: I think the Biden administration needs to enforce the president’s requests. He’s made two very simple requests. One, allow more humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The president said no excuses. He’s also said it’s a red line for him to have an invasion of Rafah.

So, it’s my view that as part of a partnership, we should get those assurances from the Netanyahu government upfront, rather than just send weapons now and ask questions later.

RADDATZ: But how do you do that? You’ve listened to Prime Minister Netanyahu. You know he stands firm. You know he says again and again, we can’t defeat Hamas unless -- unless we keep going the way we’ve been going. So, how do you push him further, if -- short of stopping weapons?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think we need to better use our leverage. We have different parts of leverage and one of them is sending more offensive weapons. So, President Biden needs to be as serious about ensuring more humanitarian assistance gets into Gaza as Netanyahu has been in making his demands.

I mean, we have a situation where the Netanyahu government continues to rebuff the president of the United States time and time again, ignores reasonable requests. And what do we do? We say we’re going to send more bombs.

My view is that a partnership needs to be a two-way street, not a one-way blank check with American taxpayer dollars. So, this is not about saying we’re not going to provide any more weapons. It’s about saying, hey, we have requests. Don’t let people starve to death.

RADDATZ: So, you believe that Israel is currently blocking aid into Gaza. Do you consider that a war crime?

VAN HOLLEN: There’s no doubt that blocking aid into Gaza is a violation of international humanitarian law. With respect to certain individuals in the Netanyahu government, people like Finance Minister Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who have not only said they want to block aid into Gaza but have taken steps to block aid into Gaza, that is a war crime.

RADDATZ: Netanyahu is the prime minister. Is he a war criminal?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we’re going to have to make a decision as to what the intent of the full Israel government is. I mean, these are members of the government, the finance minister and the person who’s in charge of the police. But ultimately, that will have to be decided down the road.

But in the meantime, let’s just get more assistance to starving people in Gaza. You know, one-third of the shipments of the humanitarian assistance into northern Gaza have been blocked in the last month.

You could open Erez Crossing in the north and get assistance in right now. I mean, kids starve to death.

So, I’m just saying to President Biden, you said no excuses when it comes to getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to drag his feet. So, instead of just sending more bombs without in turn getting the request that you want, Mr. President, let’s at least make this a partnership.

RADDATZ: Do you believe there is, again, another way for Israel to fight this war, to have fewer civilian casualties and still defeat Hamas? That is a central question toO and that is where that pushback comes from Republican colleagues, from others. Look, we can’t win this war unless we continue doing it the way it is.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I strongly disagree, and President Biden has disagreed. I mean, President Biden is the one who mentioned the fact that there’s an indiscriminate bombing. President Biden rightly said you can’t use humanitarian assistance as a bargaining chip. In other words, Israel is totally within its rights, in fact, I would say has a duty to defend itself after the horrific Hamas attacks of October 7. But that right does not extend to restricting unnecessarily assistance to people in Gaza.

So, yes, you could conduct this with fewer civilian casualties and certainly you could prevent the horror of this humanitarian catastrophe that we’re watching unfold.

RADDATZ: As you know, politically, this has been very damaging to President Biden. You saw the protesters I’m sure at the fundraiser the other night. So, what does President Biden have to do to win those voters back?

You’re a Democrat. I assume you want President Biden to win. So, what is your advice to him to win those voters back?

VAN HOLLEN: I certainly want President Biden to win. The future of our democracy depends on it, the future of democracies around the world depend on it. This is a case where just doing the right thing would also result in a better electoral outcome.

In other words, yes, support Israel’s right to defend itself. I’m all in on that. I’ve been that way, all in from the beginning.

But reasonable requests like preventing people from starving. I mean, 2 million Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas and the president needs to back up his no excuses language with real action. And just providing a blank check, providing more bombs without getting assurances now about Rafah and not making this humanitarian disaster even worse and doing simple things right now to help people who are starving to death in Gaza, those seem to be simple request.

We have a situation where Netanyahu continues to essentially, you know, give the finger to the president of the United States, and we’re sending more bombs. So, that doesn’t make sense.

RADDATZ: And, Senator, I want to, quickly, if you can talk about the bridge in Baltimore, in your state -- where you are? What’s the current situation?

VAN HOLLEN: So, number one, Martha, we’re working to help the families of the six individuals.

RADDATZ: All immigrants.

VAN HOLLEN: All of them, all immigrants. It’s a clear example about the contributions and the sacrifices that immigrants make.

RADDATZ: Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala.

VAN HOLLEN: That’s right. And the other priority right now is to open the channel because this is a thriving port of Baltimore. We have over 15,000 people working directly for the port. Thousands of others -- their livelihood depends on the port. So, opening that channel is the priority.

And I want to thank President Biden because has followed through on his commitment. The Army Corps of Engineers will cover all the cost of clearing the channel. We have submitted our requests for rebuilding the bridge to the emergency relief program. We’ve been invited in that program. The federal government will pay 90 percent of the costs and Senator Cardin and I are planning to introduce legislation to cover the other 10.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

RADDATZ: We really appreciate it. Happy Easter.

Up next, the terror group ISIS claimed responsibility for the recent massacre in Russia that left more than 140 dead. But how has the group reemerged after we were told they were largely defeated? That conversation when we come back.



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: ISIS bears the sole responsibility here, the sole responsibility, and Mr. Putin understands that. He shared that with their government.

MAJ. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: Clearly this was an ISIS attack that took place in Moscow. As it relates to ISIS, I think it's very important to understand that the Department of Defense has not taken its eye off of ISIS.

RADDATZ: The White House and Pentagon press secretaries making clear ISIS-K is to blame for the deadly attack last week at a Russian concert hall. That came as a shock to many, who thought ISIS had been all but defeated. We'll speak with a former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East in a moment, but first a look back on the rise, fall, and reemergence of ISIS.


FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.

RADDATZ: It was near the end of 2011 when President Barack Obama pulled all American troops out of Iraq after more than eight years of battling insurgents and Al-Qaida terrorists. I was with the American soldiers on that last convoy out, many fearing that someday they would have to return.

Iraq remains a very dangerous place, and there is a huge threat of sectarian violence and also Al Qaida coming back in.

Threats that were soon realized. A new terror group emerged, an offshoot of Al Qaida known as the Islamic State, or ISIS. By January 2014, ISIS had made stunning gains in Syria and Iraq.

About five miles out of Fallujah, the roads became more desolate, and Iraqi security forces warned us it was not safe to continue.

By June of that year, ISIS had captured Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, in a matter of days, prompting a mass of military-aged Iraqi men to head into the fight.

Basically all of these young men will just be heading north to help Iraqi security forces. They will be untrained, just loaded into trucks to help with the fight.

A fight they quickly lost to ISIS. Weeks later, the terror group announcing the establishment of a caliphate governed by strict sharia law. But the United States resisted a military response.

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, FORMER PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This is a fight the Iraqi security forces have got to make. It's their country.

There's not going to be a U.S. military solution here. It's just not going to happen.

RADDATZ: About a week later, when the sweep of the brutal ISIS takeover seemed unstoppable, a change of heart.

OBAMA: Good evening.

RADDATZ: President Obama authorizing air strikes, less than three years after the U.S. military's departure from Iraq.

OBAMA: And I have been careful to resist calls to turn time and again to our military. But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action.

RADDATZ: But ISIS was undeterred, publishing brutal videotaped executions of civilian hostages, including American journalist James Foley.

At its peak, ISIS controlled nearly a third of both Iraq and Syria's territory, the group claiming responsibility for or inspiring countless terrorist attacks, killing thousands globally, in 2015 striking in Paris; in 2016, Brussels.

RADDATZ: But by the end of Obama's second term, relentless attacks from the U.S. and a global coalition had significantly degraded ISIS. By 2017, less than 2 percent of the land ISIS once held was still under its control. And by 2019, the new president, Donald Trump, said ISIS had been wiped out.

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: During my administration, I, we, all together, destroyed the caliphate, 100 percent.

RADDATZ: But the ISIS threat, remained with ISIS-K based in Afghanistan exacting a devastating toll.

That was clear at the Kabul airport in 2021. Thousands of Afghans desperate to escape a Taliban takeover, as U.S. forces finalized a complete withdrawal after 20 years of war. An ISIS suicide bomber detonated in the crowd, killing 13 U.S. servicemembers and at least 160 Afghans.

JOSEPH BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.

RADDATZ: That same group claiming responsibility for an attack this January on a memorial service in Iran that killed nearly 100, followed by this month's attack at a Moscow concert hall that killed more than 140.

While the U.S. did share intelligence that ISIS would strike a concert hall, that did not stop the terror group.


RADDATZ: And I am joined now by former CENTCOM commander, Retired General Frank McKenzie, author of the upcoming book "The Melting Point" on leadership and his years in command.

Good morning, General.

I want to start with why ISIS-K would go after Russia.

MCKENZIE: Well, ISIS-K seeks to conduct external attacks. By that, I mean attacks away from their homeland, which they regard as largely Afghanistan. And, of course, they’re not under regular pressure in Afghanistan. So, when you’re not under pressure at your home base, you have the opportunity to -- to reach out.

And they hold Russia accountable for actions against ISIS in Syria several years ago. So they -- they desire to attack not only Russia but also the United States and other Western nations as well. So this is very much in keeping with their stated operational design, if you will.

RADDATZ: And the U.S. says it warned Russia and Iran before that, part of this duty to warn. Russia didn’t heed those warnings.

If they had, do you think there was enough intelligence to make this preventable?

MCKENZIE: I think we gave them pretty precise information. You know, the problem that ISIS-K has and all these organizations have is, when they wanted to conduct an attack abroad, they have to communicate. And that communications is often something that we -- we have the opportunity to listen to, to gain knowledge of, and that can be reasonably precise.

I -- I think there was probably good opportunity for the Russians to have averted this attack had they actually listened to the material that was presented to them.

RADDATZ: And from what you have seen and read about the suspects, these men from Tajikistan, a very poor country, how does ISIS continue to recruit?

MCKENZIE: So, you can be radicalized in place by access to literature, the Internet. You can be radicalized in ISIS-K, then shipped abroad to attack. There are a variety of ways that this can occur because the Tajiks, you would assume that there’s a connection back to -- back to ISIS-K there, you know, a more direct connection.

But I should also note that self-radicalization, radicalization in place, if you will, by people who have access to the Internet abroad, may be one of the most dangerous methods that ISIS can use to generate attacks.

Now, those attacks are generally not going to be well-coordinated; they’re not going to be well-planned; and they’re not going to be well-supported. But they could be very lethal because they’ll be so hard to detect, whereas attacks of this nature that have some direction from, you know, from the mothership, if you will, from ISIS-K, as we see, are in fact discernible and understandable if you'll only listen to the warnings.

RADDATZ: And, General, your CENTCOM successor, General Michael Kurilla, said just days before the Moscow attack that ISIS-K, quote, "retains the capability and will to attack U.S. and Western interests abroad in as little as six months and with little or no warning."

What’s your confidence in that intelligence?

MCKENZIE: I think General Kurilla is spot on with that assessment. Here’s the problem. Again, we go back to ISIS-K. If you can keep pressure on them that they’re in their homeland and their base, it makes it hard for them to conduct these types of attacks.

Unfortunately, we no longer place that pressure on them, so they’re free to gain strength, they’re free to plan, they’re free to coordinate and to outreach that hit us in our homelands.

So, you might as well be playing an away game than a home game. We’ve chosen to play a home game.

RADDATZ: And you were, of course, one of the senior leaders who did not want to leave Afghanistan entirely. When you look back on that period, do you think outside of chaotic withdrawal, do you think had we left 2,500 troops there, things would be different?

MCKENZIE: I have to believe, Martha, that things would be different. We believe that -- we believe at the time that leaving 2,500 troops, along with our NATO partners, who would have left 4,000 or 5,000 troops, we would have been able to continue to work against ISIS, which was the principal reason we’re in Afghanistan, to prevent attacks in our homeland. I think we might be in a different place now. I think we might actually be safer than we are.

RADDATZ: We were told again and again that there’s over horizon way of looking at Afghanistan and tracking ISIS. We have, what, 2,500 troops in Iraq, about 900 in Syria. Not enough?

MCKENZIE: Well, I think we have enough in Iraq and in Syria to conduct operations against ISIS. the remnants of ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley and in eastern Syria and, of course, Martha, you also remember, our SDF partners are -- partners there are sitting on top of the prison system with approximately 10,000 ISIS fighters that are incarcerated in. If the prison system were to open, it would let force on the world a whole new chapter of ISIS violence. So, that’s very important to us.

On the other hand, in Afghanistan, we have almost no ability to see into that country and almost no ability to strike into that country. And so, ISIS there is able to grow unabated. There’s no pressure on them.

And, again, our operating theory has always been with violent extremists, you want local security forces to be able to control them, and then you want them to not be able to establish a connective tissue internationally that allows them to carry out external attacks abroad and it’s very hard to do that in Afghanistan where you just don’t have the ability to sense, you don’t have the ability to strike, and very limited resources.

RADDATZ: So, what do you think the threat to the homeland is? You heard General Kurilla (ph) talk about obviously U.S. interest abroad but the homeland. How soon? How big is ISIS?

MCKENZIE: So, ISIS-K in particular, but ISIS in general, that has a strong desire to attack our homeland. We should believe them when they say that. They’re going to try to do it.

And so, I think the threat is growing. It’s began to grow as soon as left Afghanistan, took pressure off ISIS-K. So think we should expect further attempts of this nature against the United States as well as our partners and other nations abroad. I think this is inevitable.

RADDATZ: And, General, just to end here, I want to switch to Israel. You heard the controversy about Israel.

Do you, as a general -- and that was under you, Israel, for a long time -- think there’s another way for the Israelis to conduct this war with fewer civilian casualties and still defeat Hamas?

MCKENZIE: I think their goal of removing, you know, the military component of Hamas and the political leadership of Hamas that brought this war on is a very difficult task. I think it’s made far more difficult by the way that Hamas cleverly embedded all these military activities in the civil population, whether it’s mosque, whether it’s schools, whether it’s hospitals, or high density residential areas.

So, I think the Israelis are on the genuine horns of a dilemma as they try -- as they try to finish the ground camp -- the ground campaign in Gaza and it’s going to be a very difficult stretch for them.

RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us this morning, General McKenzie.

Coming up, the Biden campaign brings in a massive fundraising haul with the help of two ex-presidents. The roundtable takes on the 2024 race.

We’re back in a moment.



BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: At the end of the day, who do you think is actually going to look out for you? Who do you think is going to fight on your behalf? Who is it that really sees you and cares about you? I can. I'm pretty confident the other guy doesn't. This guy does.


RADDATZ: Former President Barack Obama making the case for a second Biden term at a celebrity-filled fundraiser in New York City this week. So, let's bring in the Powerhouse Roundtable. Former DNC chair Donna Brazile, former RNC chair and Trump White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid, and ABC news political director Rick Klein, good morning to everybody.

Rick, let's start with you. That -- that was really quite the fundraiser $25 -- $26 million, it was a record for a single political event.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, they won't replicate numbers like that, in part because you can't get that kind of star power. And this was months in the -- in the making to try to get all three presidents on the stage at the same time. And I think the numbers, the campaign finance component is significant, as the -- as the Biden campaign builds up a significant cash advantage over Trump even though Trump's planning other fundraisers that might be just as big.

But I think just as important to messaging, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, two former presidents who were able to get working class voters on their side, those same voters that are now so much flirting, or maybe potentially going over to Trump entirely. There is a roadmap that you hear from Clinton and Obama to try to make an affirmative case for a Biden second term. And they come at it from different angles from different directions. And I thought that part of the messaging to me was just as interesting, because that's how Democrats are going to get engaged in this election.

RADDATZ: But -- but there was a problem. And that fundraiser for Joe Biden interrupted by protesters, there was at least one inside the event and many, many outside.


RADDATZ: Asma, how does he deal with it? We ask, obviously, Senator (INAUDIBLE) --

KHALID: Yes, it's an ongoing -- ongoing question. And I think it's only become more persistent as time has gone on. We saw Gallup polling this week that showed these really offensive is no longer as popular amongst the American public.

And so, I think the challenge for Biden is that, as this was going on, it really has become his war and many Democrats are frustrated with how he's handling this, you know, ongoing support.

But to your point -- I mean, I do think $26 million is nothing to laugh at. It's an astronomical amount of money to raise in a day, but it does expose the ongoing challenge that Democrats have and I don't know that they have a clear answer.

I mean, look, the convention is going to be in Chicago this summer. Chicago, Cook County has the largest Palestinian population in this country. Chicago has a sizable population.

There’s already permits for protest. I don't know that this is such -- you know, a problem that they can escape from.

RADDATZ: Donna, how -- how do -- how do they do that? I mean, you heard, again, Van Hollen -- Senator Van Hollen talk about that a little bit, but people like Senator Van Hollen so publicly criticizing Joe Biden for that.


Look, we understand the Middle East and the quagmire that exists with Hamas attacking Israel and the war that continues. I think the president's been very clear about his position, free the hostages, bring in more humanitarian release -- relief for the Palestinian people. We know that this war must come to an end.

At the same time, I think Democrats are going to prepare for a robust convention. What you -- I love his old song. You ain't seen nothing yet because if you think the Democrats are only going to galvanize two former presidents and not galvanize the entire Congress, the governors and everyone else, to make sure we can get out our vote, that $26 -- $27 million is only a beginning because Democrats understand that you’re going to have to compete on the ground, you’re going to have to talk to voters and, yes, there are some voters who will be upset with us, but there will be many more voters who will come to our aid.

RADDATZ: And I’m just going to say, on the money, obviously, that's so important in any campaign, but this is, again, a campaign like no other.

Is the money -- does that matter as much in a campaign like this where Donald Trump is getting small, little campaign donations?

BRAZILE: And he's hawking Bibles, he tried tennis shoes, didn’t work. Vodka didn’t sell. So, now, we got Bibles to sell.

Look, yes, it matters because at the end of the day, and the chairman knows this, the former chairman, I’m a former chairwoman. We know that this money will allow you to open up campaign offices, to hire people on the ground so they can go door-knock and get people out to vote.

RADDATZ: And, of course, Donald Trump is going to hold another fund-raiser. And what a surprise, he probably wants to break the record.

REINCE PRIEBUS, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think he will break the record. I spent some time at the RNC over the last couple of weeks. They're expecting a massive haul at this event in April, probably will eclipse what Joe Biden did.

But it also illustrates how the Democrat Party's changed over the years, and when it used to be publicly financed, presidential campaigns. Now you have the Democrats and Joe Biden raising $20 million plus from billionaires while trying to appeal to the middle class to tell them that we're going to protect you from the rich people that we're running around New York City with.

So the Democrat Party's changed, and they have to contend with that, and then you've got the split screen where you've got Donald Trump going to the funeral for the police officer who had fallen, who’d been murdered, and then you have Joe Biden at the fund-raiser.

Look, money matters. When you need to hire 5,000 paid people to go door to door in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania full-time, all the time, data, research, turnout, it's extremely expensive.

RADDATZ: And one thing, Reince, he hasn't really still reached out to the Haley voters.


RADDATZ: Those are pretty key.

PRIEBUS: Sure. Most of them are Democrats that voted in that primary. But if you look at the polling, that doesn't seem to have affected Donald Trump so far. Polling isn’t -- aren’t votes, but polling remains steady for President Trump.

RADDATZ: And, Rick, we've also heard from Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, this week recently elected as the Republican National co-chairwoman who says the national party does not plan to pay Donald Trump's legal bills. Really?

KLEIN: Well, I -- that's their statement. There was an -- there was an effort at the RNC to actually make that -- make that official policy to prevent that, and that didn't up on a vote to come up for a vote -- for a vote at the RNC.

And it is interesting. Reince talked about that big fundraiser that they're having down in Florida. If you max out to that, then some of the money, about $5,000 per, I think, goes to a PAC that is -- that has been paying upwards of $50 million plus of Donald Trump's legal bills.

So, there's in-arounds. Whether the RNC directly pays the money or not, lots of Donald Trump donors are finding lots of ways to pay his legal -- his legal bills and the bottom line is that the RNC that Reince once led is very much the Trump RNC. In ousting the former chair, Ronna McDaniel, and putting in new leadership that includes his daughter-in-law, their singular mission is electing Donald Trump. That's a lot different than the RNC that Reince led a decade ago.

RADDATZ: Although, I was surprised by the message from Lara Trump saying that the 2020 election is in the past. Apparently, Donald Trump has not gotten that message. So, why --

KHALID: No, he certainly hasn't. He certainly hasn't. I mean, look, you look at the imagery that he posted himself from social media this past week, I think one of the most enduring legacies we've seen from Trump is this sort of normalization of violent imagery, violent rhetoric. So, no, I don't think the former president at all is in the past.

One quick thing on the money, though, that I think barely caught people's attention this week that I thought was fascinating is Donald Trump's company publicly went on the NASDAQ stock exchange. He instantaneously made himself a multi-billionaire.

And these people aren't really paying...

RADDATZ: Badly needed right now.

KHALID: That he needs the money. And it's fascinating to me that this isn't really garnering that much attention, that his company, which really doesn't have that much teeth behind it, is trading, you know, at a higher level than a company like Reddit, which actually has active user base.

And -- and so where does he use this money? How does he use this money? I think it will be fascinating to keep an eye on.

RADDATZ: And -- and Donna brought this up, Reince, and I want to give you a chance to respond. Because you're both ABC contributors. She brought up Ronna McDaniel, who was let go by NBC News. I should say one thing, Reince. You have never denied the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.


RADDATZ: So, your reaction?

PRIEBUS: Well, first of all, I mean, my take on it is that a candidate has every right to bring challenges, cases, you know, things that they didn't think went well in the election, recounts, if close enough under state law. But once the cases are over, once you go through that process, it's -- it's done, whether you like the outcome or not.

The case on Ronna that I find to be obvious, for someone like me who's a contributor here -- I've been at other places -- I've never been hired without the management bringing me in, meeting with people, doing interviews where I wasn't on a signed contract, finding out whether I could get off the talking points or not.

RADDATZ: And vetted.

PRIEBUS: And vetted.


RADDATZ: Again, you've never denied the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.

PRIEBUS: The root of the problem is that the management never brought her in before the contract was signed so that all of this stuff could get worked out. And that was a huge failure, in my opinion.

RADDATZ: And, Donna, just quickly, if you can, just your reaction to all of that?

BRAZILE: I have none. And you know why? I didn't understand the hiring. So I have none. But I've enjoyed every year of my life being on shows like this and cable television. Good luck to her.

RADDATZ: Well, we try to get a lot of opinions, and we appreciate them all the time.

Up next, the roundtable reflects on the passing of former Senator Joe Lieberman and what it means for No Labels in 2024. We'll be right back.



JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) FORMER SENATOR AND VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our opponents are decent and they are likable men, but America must understand, there are very real differences between us in this election. Being a Democrat or a Republican is important, but it is nowhere near as important as being an American.



RADDATZ: Former senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman who passed away at the age of 82 this week. We're back with the round table. And so Donna, I want to start with you. You were the campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman ticket in 2000. He came within 537 votes of being vice president. What will you remember most about him?

BRAZILE: Well, First of all, my deep condolences to Hadassah and the family. That was my first major decision as a campaign manager -- I made a lot of other decisions, but that was a major decision when the vice president looked at me, I was to his left. I thought he would go to Chipper and he said, well, who would you want? Who would you recommend? And I said, Lieberman and he was shocked. And he said, Lieberman?

I said, sir, I would not be sitting here had it not been for Joe Lieberman and men like Joe Lieberman because during his youth, he went down to the South and because of his sacrifice and the sacrifice of so many of others, I recognize that that's why I was here as campaign manager. So, he was a man of deep faith and principle. He was humorous, fun to be with, and I will miss his judgment and talking to him.

RADDATZ: He was an independent thinker as you well know, Reince Priebus. He went from Al Gore's running mate in 2000 to a champion of John McCain. There aren't -- just aren't many people like him I think.


PRIEBUS: No. He was a decent man. I remember he would -- the kindness that he showed people is something that I hope, you know, what a legacy. I think we would all want to be remembered as decent, kind, moral. I think we all strive for that. I remember even when Trump won, he reached out. He wanted to be helpful, always with that same demeanor that he had, and he was who he said he was, and he was a good man.

RADDATZ: And Rick, he was on this program last summer, talking about no labels, advocating for no labels, a unity ticket, voters dissatisfied with potential candidates now, Joe Biden and Donald Trump. So, why was that so important to him, and now what?

KLEIN: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of a sad piece of a legacy that his final political project, his final endeavor appears not to have gone through. It is very likely that no labels doesn't have a candidate to put forward in the coming days. Chris Christie by coincidence, that same night that Lieberman's passing was announced, was the latest and he really kicked the tires on it. He was thinking about it. He was polling on it. He was trying to figure it out and he couldn't identify that path.

So, may be that the Lieberman project is a ways down the road, but I am struck though by how much vitriol Lieberman faced for that project, for supporting John McCain, for getting kind of kicked out of his own party back in Connecticut. I remember covering that race for "The Boston Globe" and he was lost in the primary in his home state, still he came as an independent. That he was so confident in his vision and his own ideas about what to move forward. The word that Reince just described, I think he was (inaudible). And I think now, he is -- this part of the legacy will move forward in its own way.

RADDATZ: And just quickly, if we can, Asma, Robert Kennedy Jr., a third-party candidate still in the race, making people a little nervous.

KHALID: Yeah. Making people very nervous, chose a running mate this week and I think that elevates the significance of him being just a candidate who won't go away. I think a lot of people when they heard about him wondered, well, how long this is really stick around? It seems to be ongoing. Democrats I talked to are very nervous just with his sheer capital and money of how many states he'll be able to get on the ballot and we know that the difference between 2016 and 2020 was third parties.

RADDATZ: Just that third party. Exactly, and everybody's got eyes on that. We wish our best to the Lieberman family on this Easter Sunday.

Coming up, on this Easter Sunday, a message of faith amid war from the archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S. We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned this week that if his country does not get the U.S. military aid that's currently stalled in Congress, Ukraine may be forced to retreat.

So, as we mark Easter Sunday, I sat down with the highest-ranking Ukrainian Catholic bishop in the U.S. for a conversation about the ongoing war and his message of hope for Easter.


RADDATZ (voice-over): Archbishop Borys Gudziak, is the son of Ukrainian refugees who escaped the oppression of World War II to settle in the U.S. Gudziak was born and raised in the U.S. But in 1992, after receiving his doctorate from Harvard, he was drawn back to his ancestral roots.

BORYS GUDZIAK, UKRAINIAN, CATHOLIC ARCHEPARCHY OF PHILADELPHIA: Ukraine survived totalitarianism. And there was a chance to build and I felt called to be part of it.

RADDATZ (voice-over): And indeed, he was. Ordained in 1998, and living in the city of Lviv, he helped build from scratch what would become the Ukrainian Catholic University.

GUDZIAK: Nobody took us seriously for 10 years, which I found out in the end was very good because nobody got in our way. We could rethink a university.

RADDATZ (voice-over): In 2019, he was appointed by Pope Francis as head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S., moving back to America, living in Philadelphia. But just three years later, tragedy the country he so loves invaded by Russia.

RADDATZ: Tell me what it was like the first time you went back in 2022, after the war had started.

GUDZIAK: There's the great tragedy, trauma, which will be lasting, but there's the valor, there's the willingness of people to put aside superficial things and say, this is good, and this is evil. This is true, and this is false. And I'm willing to risk my life for.

RADDATZ (voice-over): And so many of the lives lost have directly affected Gudziak. Twenty-eight members of the Catholic University community in Ukraine have been lost in the war. Including graduates like Artem Dymyd killed by mortar fire, the son of one of Gudziak's seminary classmates.

GUDZIAK: I knew him from swaddling clothes and he was a great kid. He sacrificed his life to defend the innocent, to defend the family, the city.

RADDATZ: What Gudziak worries about now with aid stalled is how many more will die.

GUDZIAK: The ideology of genocide has been articulated clearly and repeatedly by Putin. He has said, there was no Ukraine and there will be no Ukraine, and where there has been Russian occupation, people have been tortured and killed. You have the mass graves. You have rapes of children and grandmothers.

RADDATZ: What would you say to those people who say, I don't think we should really send any more aid to Ukraine? We've got to worry about our own country, our own borders, let Europe do it?

GUDZIAK: We can no longer live in an isolated island. Ukrainians are saying, let us get the job done. We need your help. We need the instruments. We need humanitarian aid.

RADDATZ: And he has a message to those celebrating Easter this weekend and all Americans.

GUDZIAK: I want to thank them for their witness, and I want to relay from them, a gratitude to Americans. I know most Americans, most of Congress, the president, most specialists in this area who know the lay of the land want to support Ukraine. I think the Speaker of the House Johnson has harped, and I am sure he will do the right thing. I want to encourage him to do it now. Don't wait.


RADDATZ: We will see what happens. And when we come back, we'll mark one year held captive in Russia for "Wall Street Journal" Reporter Evan Gershkovich.


RADDATZ: Before we go, Friday marked one year in a Russian jail for "Wall Street Journal" Reporter Evan Gershkovich. He was in the country last March as a fully accredited journalist on a reporting trip when he was detained on espionage charges that he, his newspaper, and the U.S. government strongly deny. Evan is the first American reporter to be imprisoned by Moscow since the Cold War just for doing his job. "The Wall Street Journal" publishing this powerful front-page Friday headlined, "His Story Should Be Here."

We are hoping for Evan's release as well as for American Paul Whelan who has been held in Russia for more than five years. All of us here are keeping them, their families, and colleagues in mind this Easter weekend.

Have a good day and a meaningful Easter.