'This Week' Transcript 7-30-17: Tom Price, John Podesta, Sergei Ryabkov

A rush transcript for "This Week" on July 30, 2017.

ByABC News
July 30, 2017, 9:35 AM

— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on July 30, 2017 and it will be updated.


ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST (voice-over): Inside the war at the White House.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: If Reince wants to explain that he's a leaker, let him do that.

RADDATZ: The president's major shake up, replacing his Chief of Staff.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kelly will do a fantastic job.

RADDATZ: And seemingly embracing his bombastic new communications director.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putting Anthony Scaramucci in that job was like throwing a grenade into an ongoing civil war in the White House.

RADDATZ: Will there be more changes? And is the West Wing drama damaging Trump's ability to govern? We'll get the very latest reporting from Jonathan Karl and the response from Trump country with radio host Bill Cunningham.

Plus, reaction from one President Trump's biggest critics, former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

And the GOP health care fight breaks down.


TRUMP: Let Obamacare implode.

RADDATZ: But what does that mean for your bottom line? We'll put that question and more to Secretary Tom Price.

Plus our Powerhouse Roundtable. From the White House to your house, we take on the moments that matter THIS WEEK.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.


RADDATZ (on camera): Good morning. Two major headlines developing this week. Here at home, the health care bill defeated in the Senate after that dramatic overnight showdown. A thumbs down from senator John McCain ending it all.

And across the globe, North Korea firing another intercontinental ballistic missile. The threat from that reclusive country intensifying.

But if the president is intensely focused on these two critical issues, it's hard to tell. Sure, he's tweeted about health care and North Korea but also this week he focused the spotlight on Russia by repeatedly deriding his own attorney general. Those attacks drawing criticism from fellow Republicans.

Then he issued a surprise announcement on Twitter, this one banning transgender Americans from serving in the military, a decision that blind-sided his own military leaders.

The president also raised eyebrows with comments seeping to encourage police brutality.

And as the war in the West Wing spilled out into the public, he failed to condemn a scathing expletive-laced attack delivered from one member of his senior staff to another.

Big issues at home and abroad, but the president and his White House seemingly overwhelmed and distracted by gridlock, disarray, infighting. Now, as a new week begins with General Kelly taking the reins as chief of staff tomorrow, can discipline finally be brought to a White House and a president who has been anything but disciplined?

Let's bring in chief White House correspondent Jon Karl to talk about all of this. Good morning, Jon.


RADDATZ: You know, another extraordinary week in Washington. Can General Kelly calm things down?

KARL: Well, he comes in as a much more powerful chief of staff than Reince Priebus ever was. If you remember, Martha, when Priebus became chief of staff, he was announced along with Steve Bannon as the chief strategist, with Jared Kushner as a senior adviser. Now the power of all three positions, theoretically, at least, will reside with General Kelly. He will have authority that Reince Priebus never had.

But, as you know, the issue throughout these first six months is that the real chief of staff in that White House has been Donald Trump. So the question is whether or not he will truly cede that authority to General Kelly and if he'll listen to him.

RADDATZ: You know, one of the things you reported this week, Jon, is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions might be moved to replace General Kelly at DHS. Does that mean the person replacing AG Sessions would have to say he wouldn't recuse himself from the Russia investigation?

KARL: Well, the president did say that is perhaps the most disappointing decision of anybody in his cabinet or on his staff. He was furious about it. He seethed for months. He's still mad about it.

But the president's senior advisers know, that if it came to confirmation hearings for another attorney general, that that -- that that -- that Congress, that the Senate would demand that the next attorney general make a promise not to fire Robert Mueller. So it's not going to tend Russia investigation.

I also have to say, this is under consideration. But there are other serious candidates for the job of Homeland Security Secretary. There are people like Congressman Michael McCaul, Tom Bossert, who is now the homeland security advisor. And the president likes generals. So I wouldn't rule out somebody even like General David Petraeus.

RADDATZ: And let's talk about Anthony Scaramucci. That rant this week, this expletive-laden rant. The one person we haven't talked about much is Steve Bannon. He really went after Steve Bannon. We can't repeat what he said. But what is the relationship going to be like between those two men?

KARL: Well, Bannon has got thick skin, and Bannon is also no stranger to insults that you can't say on television. He has directed many of those at fellow Republicans like Paul Ryan. I think that relationship will end up being fine, believe it or not.

But Bannon's position within the West Wing is certainly diminished. It's not what it was in the early months of the administration.

But I would expect that in the coming days that you would see Scaramucci or it will happen behind closed doors, but we will know, Scaramucci and Bannon will sit down. They will work out their issues. That is not going to be a problem.

But no question, Bannon is not the power player in that White House that he once was.

RADDATZ: And then very quickly, Jon, will the leaks stop in the future?

KARL: This, you know, I don't see that happening. Clearly, Kelly comes in as a much more powerful chief of staff. Stopping the leaks will be one of his top priorities. But you still have warring factions within that White House. And, we have had a communications operation that hasn't been very effective, so people have gone directly to reporters. I don't think that is going to stop happening.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much, Jon Karl.

And I'm joined now by radio host Bill Cunningham from News Radio 700 WLW in Cincinnati. Good morning, Bill.


RADDATZ: Your radio show broadcasts across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, solid Trump country. President Trump was out in Youngstown, at rally just this week.

When you were last on our show in April, you said you could go weeks and weeks and never get a telephone call from anyone criticizing Donald Trump. Is that still the case?

CUNNINGHAM: Martha, we're now at the end of July. Look at it this way, a few years ago, a friend of mine wrote a book, said all things -- the book said things that matter. What are the things that matter in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana? Let me tell you what. I paid $1.99 for gas last week. $1.99 a gallon, which is unbelievable. Unemployment is really full at 4 percent, and the 4 percent wouldn't work if you put a gun to their head. Inflation is nonexistent. I can get a 30-year mortgage for under 4 percent. And you have Foxconn spending $10 billion in Wisconsin and Illinois, unbelievable stuff.

There's a metallurgical factory opening up in Ashland, Kentucky. Pipelines are open. And the stock market is at an all-time high. And so when I see on great shows like yours, all these parlor games. Who is up. Who is down in Washington? I paid $1.99 for a gallon of gas. Those are the things that matter.

RADDATZ: OK, so he does seem to have solid base support. But I've been around the country, and in Ohio, and Pennsylvania, a lot. And the independents who voted for Donald Trump do seem to be a little squishier of late. And how about that poll, our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has his approval rating down to 36 percent, the lowest for any president at the six-month mark in 70 years. So, what does he do about people outside of his base, the rest of America? What advice would you give him?

CUNNINGHAM: When he went to Youngstown, thousands and thousands showed up. If he would come here to Cincinnati, the same thing would happen. I don't think any president after six or seven months could travel the way the Trumpster has traveled with the outpouring of love and affection despite the fact that a few days ago backstabber, O.J. style, who is Senator John McCain, that began his public life as a hero and is ending up giving a thumbs down and a middle finger to the middle class by not repealing Obamacare. What happened a couple of days ago is terrible.

And Trump, I think, has lost a little bit of support in the periphery. But the heart and soul of America that beats this great country, and so Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa. This is where real Americans, normal Americans live. These are the lands of JD Vance and "Hillbilly Elegy", this is where normal people who get up every day. And everywhere I look, everywhere they look, things are good. Everything that should be up is up, things that should be down are down. America is pretty good. Plus school starts in two weeks.

So, I see an America bursting at the seams to get loose. And frankly, most of my listeners are proud that the Trumpster is still in the White House and he's still extremely popular among the base who put him there, and if the election were held today, I think there was a poll a few days ago, that the Trumpster would beat Hillary again, and again, and again.

So, basically in the land of JD Vance and Hillbilly elegy, things are pretty good. And what I see on television and read in newspapers from the East Coast is a disconnect to normal Americans like me.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks for that view from Trump country. Bill Cunningham.

President Trump's Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price joins me now.

Mr. Secretary, this week, President Trump said you were responsible for the passage of the health care bill. Here’s what he said about you.


TRUMP: Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us.


He better get them! Oh, he better -- otherwise I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired! I’ll get somebody.


RADDATZ: Safe to say, you still have your job, and I know you say it was a joke. But there was a message to you there. What could you have done differently? Do you feel you let the president down?

TOM PRICE, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Oh, I think what that statement was, one, I think it was -- it was a humorous comment that the president made. But I think what it highlighted is the seriousness with which he takes this issue.

He understands that the American people are hurting because of Obamacare. We’ve got over 30 percent of the counties across this nation that only have one insurer offering coverage. We’ve got premiums up. We’ve got deductibles up. We’ve got insurance companies fleeing the market.

The president understands that this -- that Obamacare right now is not working for the patients across this land, and that’s what he wants to fix. That’s what his passion is.

RADDATZ: Well, the president also talked repeatedly this week about letting Obamacare implode. As recently as Friday, he was calling for that.

But this is what he said last February.


TRUMP: From a purely political standpoint, the single best thing we can do is nothing. Let it implode completely. But it’s not the right thing to do for the American people. It's not the right thing to do.


RADDATZ: So what is it going to be? Is he going to let it implode or, as he says, do the right thing for the American people?

PRICE: Well, I think what the president said is that it’s not the right thing to do because it hurts people. What the president -- again, the president’s passion about this is that he understands that this system may be working for Washington. It may be working for insurance companies. But it’s not working for patients.

And that’s where his passion. That’s why he keeps coming back to this and saying, look, Senate, do your job. Congress, do your job. You said for seven years that you’re -- that you were going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now get to work and get it done.

RADDATZ: But this week, he said he was going to let it implode. Is that what he’s going to do?

PRICE: No, I think again the fact -- that punctuates the concern that he has about getting this moved in the right direction. There are people -- we were in the White House this past week with the president and four families. One little fellow, Monty Weir (ph), a three-year-old little fellow with spina bifida. Their insurance company -- this is a challenge for anybody, but what it means is you’ve got to have a single physician caring for you throughout the extent of that treatment. And their insurance has changed three times in three years because of Obamacare.

This is a system, again, that’s not working for patients, and that’s what the president understands. That’s what he appreciates. That’s why he’s so passionate about making certain that he does all that he can to get this repealed and replaced with --

RADDATZ: But he says --

PRICE: -- a system that works for patients.

RADDATZ: -- let it -- let Obamacare implode, then deal. What does that mean?

PRICE: Well, I -- again, I think what that does is punctuate the seriousness with which he understands the American people are having to deal with the current situation.

RADDATZ: So how’s he going to deal with it?

PRICE: We’ve got people that are paying premiums of $1,000 a month out there, and then they’ve got a deductible of $1,000. If you’re making $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 out there and you’ve got an Obamacare plan, by and large you’ve got an insurance card but you don’t have any care because you can’t afford the deductible. You can’t afford to get the care that your physician recommends for you.

So, again, this system isn’t working for patients. That’s where the president’s passion is, and that’s why he believes so strongly that we need to do whatever we can do to repeal and replace.

RADDATZ: OK, let’s talk about what you’re going to do. HHS has the ability to further destabilize the marketplace by stopping cost-sharing payments to insurers, not enforcing the individual mandate, working internally to undermine it.

You have said nobody is interested in sabotaging this system. So are you going to help it implode or try to fix it?

PRICE: The responsibility of the department is to improve the health and the safety and the well-being of the American people, and we take that mission extremely seriously. Which is why we are so passionate about making certain that we’ve got a health care system, again, that works for patients.

Right now, you’ve got a system that’s not working for patients. You’ve got folks who give us calls every single day and let us know that the concern that they have about their inability to get care for their family. We’ve got calls from physicians across this land who let us know that they’re no longer able to take care of the patients that they -- they’re charged with caring for because of the rules and the regulations that are coming out of Washington.

So the ACA, Obamacare, had -- it stated 1,442 times, one thousand four hundred forty-two times -- the Secretary shall, or the Secretary may. And what the previous administration did was made it so it was harder to care for patients and drove up the costs of coverage and drove up the costs of care.

We're going to look at every single one of those rules and regulations, all 1,442 of them, and determine does it drive up costs? Does it drive down costs? Does it help patients? Does it hurt patients? And when it drives up costs and hurts patients, we're going to move in the other direction.

RADDATZ: Secretary Price, I just want to go back this -- the president saying imploding. Is what the president is proposing, letting the existing system fail, putting the needs of patients first?

I understand you views on Obamacare.

PRICE: Martha, the current system is imploding. The president has stated it. I understand it. The American people understand it. Again, you've got insurance companies -- you've got 83 insurance companies before the administration came into office that fled the market. That said we can't do this anymore.

You're going to have 40 percent of the counties in this country next year that only have one insurance company providing coverage? That's not a choice. You're going to have dozens of counties in this country that have no insurance company providing coverage.

This system has failed. That's what the president's saying, and that's why he is demanding that Congress act.

If we could fix it by regulation, we would do so. But it takes an act of Congress to take care of it, and that's what the president is demanding.

RADDATZ: Let's talk about some specifics. As for insurance subsidies, the president tweeted if a new health care bill is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon.

How soon could HHS stop paying cost-sharing payments to insurers? Next month? Has the president made a decision?

PRICE: Well, no decision's been made. I'm not able to comment any more because it's a court case, and, as you know, the defendant in that case is Price. It's House v. Price. And so what I will say is that the court has said that the House position was that the -- and the previous administration, the administration, didn't have any authority to make those payments. And the court has at this point agreed with that House position.

So it's working its way through the court but I'm not able to weigh in any further because of the defense -- being the defendant in the case.

RADDATZ: OK, what about the individual mandate? Is the president considering directing his agencies not to enforce it? Have you ruled that out?

PRICE: Well, the individual mandate is one of those things that actually is driving up the costs for the American people in terms of coverage. So what we're trying to do is make it so that Obamacare is no longer harming the patients of this land. No longer driving up costs, no longer making it so they've got coverage but no care. And the individual mandate is one of those things.

And the Senate recognized it, the House recognized it, and put in place, in their legislation that they passed in the House and proposed in the Senate, a repeal of the penalty for the individual mandate. That's one of the things that's driving the costs up, making it so people don't have coverage.

RADDATZ: President Trump did sign an executive order allowing HHS to waive the individual mandate, again, so that's still an option, right?

PRICE: Well, all things are on the table to try to help patients. Again, what we're trying to do is to make it so we have a health care system that responds to the needs of the American people. And when the federal government gets in the way of responding to those needs, allowing the American people to actually provide coverage and care for themselves across this land, then it's incumbent upon us as policymakers, and as individuals who're charged with responsibility in leading, to put in a place a system that actually works for the American people.

That's what the president's passion is. That's what our passion is.

RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us this morning, Secretary Price.

PRICE: Thank you, Martha.

RADDATZ: And I'm joined now by one of President Trump's toughest critics, former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Let's move away from health care and start with the latest White House shakeup.

Reince Priebus is out. John Kelly is in as chief of staff. You have worked for two administrations, counselor to President Obama, Bill Clinton's chief of staff. What does a change at the top like this mean for the White House as a whole?

JOHN PODESTA, FMR. CHAIR, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Well, Martha, look, it's an important move, I think, for the White House. I think General Kelly will have his hands full tomorrow morning when he starts work at the White House. He's got to really do three things, I think. One is to provide -- to end the chaos, to get some discipline in this White House. And that's going to be exceedingly difficult to do, as Jonathan Karl mentioned, because he has to get the president to be disciplined. And he's shown no inclination to do that.

Secondly, he's got to restore some sense of strategic priority with the leadership in Congress -- not just the Republican leadership but he needs to talk to Democrats as well.

And, third, and maybe the most difficult thing he needs to do is -- and you might be surprised to hear me say thing, but I think he has got to protect the Justice Department and he's got to protect Bob Mueller and the investigation that's going on there from the continued assault by the president and by the White House.

It's going to be his job to provide a bulwark against interference by the White House, which in the end of the day, it's get them in more trouble rather than less.

RADDATZ: You know President Trump has surrounded himself with generals. But most of those generals -- McMaster, Mattis, they're involved in national security. John Kelly doesn't have a whole lot of experience with this domestic stuff. So, how does he carry out that agenda? How successful do you think he'll be in what you're talking about?

PODESTA: You know, he's had a tremendous career and offered great service to this country. But I think you're pointing out the -- a problem for him, which is that he's now in a political environment. It's not like generals aren't used to dealing in the politics of national security. But he's in a very political environment. This has been a White House that can't get its act together internally, that it's at war internally with each other. And what they have to show for it is one of the most unproductive starts to a presidency culminating in -- in the vote on health care this week.

But if you look at the overall what's gone on in the first six months, they've really achieved nothing on the Hill other than a few special interest giveaways, by rolling back a couple of Obama-era regulations. And, the only legislation of substance that's passed has been something the White House opposed, which is the Russia sanctions bill.

I'm glad the congress passed it, and I'm glad they passed it overwhelmingly, and I'm glad that the president is in a corner and he's got to sign it. But that is not much of a production level. And he's got to kick that up and quite frankly he comes in as a sort of novice in that regard.

RADDATZ: So, let's get back to that. You've criticized the Trump administration for not having anyone around him who will say no, Mr. President. Do you think John Kelly will say no, Mr. President?

PODESTA: I do, actually. I think that he will he has -- I have no doubt that the president has told him that he has full authority. The real question is will he allow him to exercise it, and that means will he accept the discipline that General Kelly will try to impose on the Anthony Scaramuccis and the Steve Bannons and the Jared Kushners and the rest. Will he try -- will the president back him up, or will he keep his door open to having all these characters kind of coming in and coming out?

And then the toughest problem, I think, is will -- can he discipline the president? It wasn't an auspicious start yesterday when the president went on a Twitter rant against Senate Republicans for failing to pass a health care bill that was going to throw millions and millions of people off of health care.

RADDATZ: So just quickly, Mr. Podesta, why do you think the president chose John Kelly?

PODESTA: I think he likes tough people. I think he's developed a rapport with him. I think that Kelly has done what the president asked him to do at DHS. It's not always been things I've agreed with, but he's at least executed and shown himself to be a disciplined leader.

But I think that's a very different matter than someone who has to navigate all the cross-currents of dealing with domestic politics, dealing with Capitol Hill, and dealing with a president who just can't throw his phone away and stop tweeting.

This morning, he -- his response to the launch in North Korea was to kind of blame the Chinese for not fixing things over Twitter. I don't think a bunch of mean tweets are going to solve a problem.

RADDATZ: And I'm going to stop you right there on those tweets.

PODESTA: He's got to get a team in place that can do that.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much, Mr. Podesta. We're going to get to those tweets later in the show about China.

But when we come back, our reporters and analysts join the Powerhouse Roundtable taking on the West Wing shakeup and what happens next in the fight over health care.

Plus, after the latest North Korea missile test, what is the real threat to the U.S.? Our experts break it down. We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: "The New York Times" wrote this morning that President Trump was, quote, defied as never before by Washington and its institutions the this week. Is that right? The Powerhouse Roundtable debates that question and more in less than two minutes.



TRUMP: It's so easy to act presidential, but that's not going get it done. With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office. That I can tell you.


RADDATZ: That was President Trump in Ohio this week. And here to take that on and all of this wild week in Washington is our Powerhouse Roundtable. ABC News politic analyst Matthew Dowd; Republican strategist and ABC News contributor Alex Castellanos; Julie Pace, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press; and ABC News congressional correspondent, Mary Bruce.

Welcome, everyone. We say this all the time, but what a week, what a week.

So I want to start with you, Julie. Reince Priebus. Let's go to Reince Priebus, one of the shortest-serving chiefs of staff in history. We now have John Kelly, former Secretary of DHS, or maybe he lasts until Monday. Retired four-star Marine General. Kind of guy who you think can bring order to that White House.

But what does this tell you about this White House and the direction they're taking?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, what I think it tells us, first, is that the president recognizes he needs a new direction. I do think that that's an important step for this president because he is someone who very rarely admits that he has made a mistake or that things are not going as smoothly as he would like to portray.

The challenges, though, for Kelly, are many. There is the challenge of getting a White House that thrives on in-fighting. The people who are in there are there, to some degree, because they want to promote their own interests. Those interests diverge often.

And then the second challenge that he has, and we have seen other campaign chairmen, other advisors try to solve this, is to get Trump to be more disciplined. When the White House comes up with plans, when they come up with a messaging strategy for the week, it can be washed away with one 6:00 a.m. tweet. And if Kelly is not able to resolve that, we're basically going to be dealing with a very similar situation come fall.

RADDATZ: But just choosing John Kelly, does that tell you they really -- that the president really does want to change things up? Or does he just want a guy in there who says, yes, sir, Mr. President?

PACE: I think it does send a message. He's choosing someone who comes from the military, who understands a chain of command, who has run a pretty tight ship at DHS right now. But, again, the problem for Kelly is not going to be his own implementation, his own strategy; it's going to be can get the staff and the president to go along with it.

RADDATZ: And Matt, let's just remind everyone. Since the beginning of the administration -- I really had to write this one down; there are so many -- the following key personnel have all been fired or have resigned. National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. FBI Director James Comey. White House Communications Director Mike Dubke. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And now White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

That's in just six months, just a little over six months.

What do you think needs to happen to stabilize this administration?

MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Fundamentally, the captain of the ship needs to change. Change either behavior or change in entire manner with which he does this.

The idea that they keep replacing somebody that's on an oar in a ship, that's pulling one of the oars, and they're going to somehow change the direction of the ship when the person at the wheel is steering it in all kinds of bizarre manner, I don't think it's going to change anything.

And I think this idea that putting a general now in this chief of staff -- there's been three generals in the administration and the administration has operated the way it has since day one. Three different generals in three big powerful positions. Actually there was four. One is gone, as you say. And nothing has changed.

So, I don't think this is going to change anything. It's another one of the pawns moved on the board. And Donald Trump is going to keep being Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Alex, you look like you're itching to get in on this.


RADDATZ: Is there a disagreement there?

CASTELLANOS: When you can't fire the coach, you trade the players. And I think Matthew in that sense is right about that.

But look at General Kelly. Donald Trump brought him in I think because he brings that sense of discipline. But it all depends on if General Kelly is able to get Donald Trump into boot camp at Paris Island. If he's able to discipline the President of the United States.

Now, you would think that if Trump brings someone in to do that job, he would let him do that job. But how Trump embraces that discipline from Kelly is what's going on is to set the example for everyone else in the White House. So these first few weeks are going to be critical. Does Donald Trump --


RADDATZ: And to Matthew's --

DOWD: It's an amazing statement, though, that you have to -- you want to bring the president into boot camp to give him training.

DOWD: Yes. And to Matthew's point, these other generals, some of them have been marginalized to a degree. And there's been friction with the other generals, with H.R. McMaster in particular.

So same question -- do you think he brought John Kelly in because John Kelly has been overtly supportive? A real champion for Donald Trump since he came on?

CASTELLANOS: No, I think he brought Kelly in for the same reason he brings in successful businessmen, and he brings in other generals. He likes people who have accomplished things, who have been successful in other realms. And political guys aren't those people. The people who fail in Trump world are political people. The people who succeed are military and successful businessmen. That should be the direction this administration goes.

RADDATZ: And Mary, you've been on the hill all week and I think you did that all-nighter. I suspect.

But before his firing, Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan came out to defend him. Republicans on the Hill also have come forward to defend Jeff Sessions. So give us a sense of what it's like on the Hill for Republicans to look at all this drama in the White House?

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a real sense that they are getting fed up. And I think you saw that this week, especially after all of the fighting and the back and forth between the president and Jeff Sessions.

And what's different this week is that a lot of top Republicans seem to be putting their foot down now. You heard Lindsey Graham, never one to mince words and shy away from criticizing the president. But he came out and said, look, if President Trump makes moves to fire Jeff Sessions, or now to move him possibly over to the Department of Homeland Security, he says there would be holy hell to pay.

And it goes beyond just words.

RADDATZ: Would that be a turning point, do you think?

BRUCE: I think it would. And the difference is it isn't just words now. You are seeing Republicans like Chairman Grassley of the Judiciary Committee, saying if the president thinks he's going to get a new attorney general appointed this year, forget about it. He says they don't have the bandwidth. And he said no way that simply would not happen.

RADDATZ: And Julie, we saw the jaw-dropping interview with Scaramucci and "The New Yorker's" Ryan Lizza. What effect does that have in that White House right now? I think everybody was watching and thinking, oh, who is going to go? Is it Reince, is it Scaramucci because he said all those things? And again that sort of -- we asked Jon Karl this -- but the relationship between Bannon, Scaramucci. How do you see that all settling out? And what does John Kelly do about it.

PACE: The effect of Anthony Scaramucci's arrival in the White House has been pretty amazing. And he came in there he's ostensibly the communications director. And in his one week on the job, he was acting like chief of staff. And he was talking about firing people not just in the communications job, but going after senior advisers as well.

I think the dynamic in the White House is this right now. You have a new chief of staff who is going to come in to bring some order. You have a communications staff that is reeling, even with a new person at the helm there.

And then you have these other power centers. Steve Bannon, who remains someone who can remind Trump of the base that elected him, but is lacking in broader power. And then you have the family. And the family is really where the power resides. That dynamic between John Kelly trying to right the ship and the Trump family I think is going to be the real dynamic to watch here.

RADDATZ: And Mary, I just want to go back to you and quickly on health care, and what that was like to watch -- for you to watch John McCain. That stunning moment. And what do they do next? You heard Tom Price. You heard a lot of rhetoric scorning what happens?

BRUCE: Well, they really don't know what comes next. And I think Republicans that I have talked with up insist that this fight is not over. And politically for them, it can't be over. This is their signature promise to the American people. They have to find some way to get something done here.

So, you sort of see two camps. I've talked with some Republicans who insist that they still have some legislative options left, although that's hard to see how given that this skinniest of skinny repeals can't even get through the senate. And then on the other side, you are hearing some Republicans now say, look, it's time to go back to sort of the beginning of this. Let's have regular order. Let's work with Democrats here.

But the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that day don't know the path forward. I mean, I was talking with Tom McArthur on Friday, the Republican who helped push this effort through the House. When I asked him what comes next, he just looked at me and he said, I am not a prophet, I do not know what comes next.

RADDATZ: I know want to turn to another event this week, that's getting a lot of attention. President Trump spoke to law enforcement and had these words for them.


TRUMP: Like, when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put the hand over -- like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody. Don't hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, OK?


RADDATZ: And the comments are pouring in from police departments all over the country. The New York Police Department to suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable is irresponsible, unprofessional, sends the wrong message. Boston Police Department, as a police department, we're committed to helping people not harming them. The statements go on and on -- Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, New Orleans -- Matt Dowd.

DOWD: It's hard to believe that I can continually be shocked by the president's behavior. But I am continually shocked by the president's behavior.

First, there are so many people around the country that intersect with law enforcement that already have this fear that they're going to be mistreated, how the police would act towards them. And the idea that he would celebrate that mistreatment is amazing to me.

I think it's a broader problem where all of this stuff connects, his statements there. His statements at the Boy Scouts. His empowering somebody like...

RADDATZ: Statement he politicized a Boy Scouts event. And the head of Boy Scouts had to come out and apologize.

DOWD: How he acted in the midst of that around a bunch of 17 and 18-year-olds. And in Anthony Scaramucci being -- on his behavior, and being empowered in that behavior.

Donald Trump has a bizarre view of what it means to be a strong person, a bizarre view of what it means to be a strong person in this society, especially a strong man.

To me, Donald Trump in his actions are a weak person's idea of what a strong person is. The way you commit violence, how you act towards others, all of that. His idea of a strong person is bullying people. His idea of a strong police officer is mistreating people that they -- apprehend. And so, to me, it's a much broader sense.

He is somehow been launched himself back in the 13th Century about what he views as a strong person.

RADDATZ: I'll let you quickly comment on that. But I also want to talk about his transgender tweet saying that transgender people cannot seven in the military, blindsiding the military.

CASTELLANOS: Well, the only thing I'll say is that one thing we have learned about President Trump is that his supporters hear what he says differently sometimes than, say, we here in Washington. When he says...

DOWD: Or two-thirds of the country.

CASTELLANOS: Well, no, actually, a lot of the country thinks -- heard their president say, you know, these criminals, we have coddled them. We've been too soft on them. We have put their interests ahead of keeping you safe. I'm on your side. That's what I think Trump was actually trying to say. I don't think he was literally saying...


CASTELLANOS: … hey, let's bang people on the head.


RADDATZ: But we call that -- in the military, they call that in the military command climate.

CASTELLANOS: In our overly sanitized culture, Donald Trump speaks like people. He doesn't speak like the elite in Washington. And a lot of America says, hey, he's right on the...

RADDATZ: A lot of America?

PACE: A good chunk of America. But, potentially a shrinking pool of America.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks all of you. I'm sure we'll have another wild week at some point, unless General Kelly...


DOWD: No more surprises, please.


CASTELLANOS: It will settle down now.

RADDATZ: Yes. Up next, our experts on the North Korean nuclear threat. Are they moving closer to being able to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon? We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: Up next, the escalating threat from North Korea. And later, how is Russia responding to the latest sanctions from the U.S.? I'll talk to a top Russian diplomat for the view from the Kremlin.


RADDATZ: That was the scene Friday, as North Korea launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile test in the last month. Kim Jong-Un on site to celebrate.

Joining me now to discuss the latest launch and what it means is ABC News contributor Colonel Steve Ganyard and Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, and the author of "Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It's Too Late".

And Steve, I want to start with you. North Korea has now tested those two ICBMs, but this seemed a real breakthrough, traveling farther than anyone has traveled before.

COL. STEVE GANYARD, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's breakthrough in a couple of ways, Martha. The first is the range, as you noted. So like the July 4th, they shot it almost straight up. But this time the rocket motor burned longer so it reached a higher altitude. So if you were to tilt that over on to a max range trajectory, we think that they could reach most of the lower 48.

The other point here is reliability -- two successful tests in a row. Reliability equals credibility which means we have to take this seriously.

RADDATZ: And, Joe, I know you agree with the missile capabilities.


RADDATZ: That it could possibly hit Washington or New York. But what they really have to do, what they really want to do, their intent is to put a nuclear warhead on top of that missile. "The Washington Post" reported about a DIA conclusion that that could happen by next year?

CIRINCIONE: Yes. There are other hurdles to overcome, as Steve has had. They have to perfect the miniaturization of the warhead. They got to see if their reentry vehicle works. We don't know what the payload of this test was, so depending on the weight, it could go further, it could go less.

But this is here. This is here. People have been warning about the North Korean ICBM for 20 years. They've been barking wolf about this while the wolf is at the door. This is a very reel threat to the United States.

RADDATZ: And, Steve, I want to talk about two possibilities. There was a THAAD test, and that was for a medium-range missile, I know. But what are the possibilities of stopping a missile like that?

GANYWARD: The THAAD is actually designed for shorter range, which his why it's in South Korea. But we do have a ground-based interceptor system that's designed to put a protective dome over the United States.

The last test of our ground-based interceptor was successful, but that puts it at barely over 50 percent reliability. So there's still a ways to go before the U.S. can create a protective missile defense dome.

RADDATZ: And we have also heard the president tweeting again saying I'm very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade yet they do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. What is your take on that, Joe?

CIRINCIONE: Well, he's trying to outsource the problem to China. This is what he hoped the fix would be. And why? Because there aren't really many other good options. Sanctions don't work. They've been increasing their tests since we've been piling on sanctions. Military? Yes. We could rain death and destruction on Pyongyang, but guess what they could do the same for Seoul. So any military action we take would probably trigger a war unlike anything we've seen since World War II.

That leaves only really two options -- get China to do it. They are willing to put more pressure on, but only if it leads to talks, and that is really your ultimate solution. You have got to talk to them to get them to freeze their program.

RADDATZ: Do you agree with that? I know you're just back from Asia and travel there a lot.

GANYARD: Yeah. I think there are a couple of things here.

One, the president's tweet was interesting because it tied U.S.-China trade to the North Korea solution. So, the other thing to think about is sanctions here. We haven't put -- really tried sanctions. The only thing that has every gotten North Korea's sanctions -- or attention is when we've sanctioned the illicit parts of their economy. Put together a comprehensive international set of sanctions that targets that illicit part of the economy and I think you're going to see the North Koreans come to the table in a more reasonable way.

RADDATZ: And, Joe, I want to very quickly, if you will -- we talk about these missiles, nuclear missiles. It sounds so frightening. But do we really think that they would aim a nuclear missile at us? What is his real intent here?

CIRINCIONE: Max Fisher has an excellent article on this in The New York Times. They are not going to just do a bolt out of the blue to destroy us. Why do they threaten us? Because we are threatening them. This is classic deterrence. They want to have the capability to hit us in order to guarantee their security.

So, let's see if you can find a non-nuclear way to guarantee their security, convince them that they're better off talking than they are threatening.

RADDATZ: So people shouldn't be scared right now.

GANYARD: Yeah, no time for duck and cover. But we do need to know that North Korea now becomes a global threat to instability and insecurity of the world.

RADDATZ: And thanks very much to both of you. It's a fascinating conversation. I'm sure we'll be talking to you again.

When we come back, new sanctions on Russia are on President Trump's desk waiting for his signature. Will Russia hit back? The view from the Kremlin when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The yeas are 98, the nays are 2. The bill is passed.


RADDATZ: There's the moment Thursday when the Senate overwhelmingly passed new sanctions on Russia in response to its interference in the 2016 election. That bill is now on the president's desk faced with veto-proof majorities in both houses of congress. The White House said late Friday that President Trump will sign it.

Russia's Vladimir Putin had warned before the vote that new sanctions would prompt, quote, retaliation.

So, I spoke with Russia's deputy foreign minister on his country's response to the U.S.


RADDATZ: You were the one who notified the Americans that the Russians would be expelling American diplomats and technicians, closing down some facilities. So, is this what President Putin was talking about in terms of retaliation?

SERGEI RYABKOV, DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA: Yes, it is. And I think this retaliation is long, long overdue. After the senate, the day before yesterday, voted or rather on the 27th of July, voted so overwhelmingly on a completely weird and unacceptable piece of legislation, it was the last drop. If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer. We will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate.

But my whole and my whole point is don't do this. It's to the detriment of the interests of the U.S.

RADDATZ: What are you talking about in terms of retaliation? Are you talking about possible sanctions, economic sanctions, punishing U.S. businesses, banning consumer goods?

RYABKOV: We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal. It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen.

We are not gamblers. We're people who consider things very seriously and very responsibly. But I can assure you that different options are on the table. And consideration is being given to all sorts of things, both symmetrical or asymmetrical, to use a very popular word in the world of diplomacy.

RADDATZ: You said last November just after the election that there were contacts with the Trump team and that you knew most of the people from his entourage. What kind of contacts? And who were you talking about?

RYABKOV: You have to go through all the hearings and all the material which is available by now for the Congress and for the general public. You have all the names. If the...

RADDATZ: But I would like to hear it from you, sir.

RYABKOV: Right. If Ambassador Kislyak was not contacting some people on the other side, so to say, he wouldn't perform his functions as he should. He was not spying and he was not recruiting. If he did so, I would be now a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi ballet, if you know what it means.

RADDATZ: Recently, it came out that Donald Trump's son and top members of the campaign met with a lawyer with ties to Russia. Was Russia providing damaging information on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign?

RYABKOV: All the information which we provide to anyone can be easily found in open sources. We are not doing anything to the detriment of the domestic developments or internal affairs of any country, the U.S. included.

The very fact that someone saw some Russian or Russian somewhere is now close to a criminal act, I think it's ridiculous. It's degrading for such a great country as the United States.

RADDATZ: And what would it take to reset the relationship?

RYABKOV: I think the political will is what is needed most in this situation. And I believe there are several areas where U.S. and Russia can and should work together cooperatively: non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; countering terrorism; illicit immigration; trafficking in people; climate change, you name it.

We are ready. We are stretching our hand forward. We are hopeful that someone on the other side, President Trump included, but also others, may see here a chance for a somewhat different way.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. Deputy Minister.


RADDATZ: We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.


RADDATZ: And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT.” And have a great day.