A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 30, 2022 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.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR (voice-over): Supreme shakeup.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Justice Breyer has been everything his country could have asked of him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Stephen Breyer announces his retirement from the court with a challenge for the country.
STEPHEN BREYER, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: It's an experiment that's still going on. And I will tell you something. You know who will see whether that experiment works? It's that next generation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Biden promises to make history.
BIDEN: That person will be the first black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We will get the latest on the confirmation process with the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin, and key Republican Senator Susan Collins.
Plus: show of force. U.S. troops on alert, as Russia displays its military might.
WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We certainly see every indication that he is going to use military force.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It would be horrific. It would be terrible. And it's not necessary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: With the U.N. Security Council meeting tomorrow on Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield joins us in a "This Week" exclusive.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This election is crucial. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces she will run again, bucking a wave of Democratic retirements ahead of the midterms -- that and all the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week." We have a lot to cover this morning.
And we begin with our brand-new poll with Ipsos. It shows big challenges for President Biden heading into this year's midterm elections. Three out of four Americans are pessimistic about the state of the economy. Only 29 percent support deploying troops to counter the Russian threat to Ukraine.
And more than three-quarters of all Americans question the president's pledge to consider only black women to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, saying he should consider all possible nominees.
Chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl starts us off.
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AND ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR (voice-over): It was an untreated flash of frustration triggered by a shouted question.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS: Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?
BIDEN: It's a great asset, more inflation.
What a stupid son of a bitch.
KARL: Not President Biden's finest moment. He later apologized. But Biden has ample reason to be frustrated. He starts the second year of his presidency with his lowest approval rating yet. Voting rights legislation failed, as did the centerpiece of his domestic agenda, opposed by every single Republican and tanked by fellow Democrats.
Frustration abroad too, North Korean missile tests, Iran advancing its nuclear programs, and fears Russia may invade Ukraine. Biden is sending some U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. But he candidly acknowledged there's only so much he can do.
BIDEN: I don't think even his people know for certain what he's going to do.
KARL: So it was welcome news at the White House this week when word came that Justice Stephen Breyer would be retiring from the Supreme Court, giving Biden a chance to change the subject and to make history, keeping a campaign promise to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
BIDEN: It's long overdue, in my view. I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.
KARL: And while the retirement of a liberal justice won't give Biden the opportunity to change the court's conservative majority, maybe, just maybe, he can get at least some Republican support for whoever he nominates.
BIDEN: I'm going to invite senators from both parties to offer their ideas and points of view.
KARL: In a foreshadowing of what is likely to come, though, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declared -- quote -- "The president must not outsource this important decision to the radical left," prompting a sharp response from the White House.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If anyone is saying they plan to characterize whoever he nominates, after thorough consideration with both parties, as radical before they know literally anything about who she is, they just obliterated their own credibility.
KARL: With a 50/50 Senate, there's no room for error. Biden can reach out to Republicans, but he can't count on them. He will need all 50 Democrats healthy, voting, and on board.
In announcing his plan to retire, Justice Breyer invoked Lincoln's words at Gettysburg and offered his own plea for an American democracy that seems more fragile than it has for a long time.
BREYER: We're now engaged in a great civil war to determine whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
And I found some letters that George Washington wrote where he said the same thing. It's an experiment. And I will tell you something. You know who will see whether that experiment works? It's you, my friend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin. Senator Durbin, thank you for joining us this morning.
You’re going to be in charge, of course, of this confirmation hearing for whoever the president nominates. Lay out your timeline for when the -- when these hearings could happen, when the president's pick could be confirmed.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): George, we'll be ready from a staff viewpoint and logistic viewpoint. But the decision really starts with the president, as it should. When he chooses a nominee and sends it to the Senate, then we're off and running. And that nominee and the background of the nominee, in terms of whether they've been before the committee, how recently they were there and how much information we can bring together quickly will decide the timeline.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that poll, a number of Americans questioning the president limiting the possible nominees to a black woman. He’s also faced some criticism from Republican’s Nikki Haley. Want to show her tweet. “Would be nice if President Biden chose a Supreme Court nominee who is best qualified without a race/gender litmus test. That's what I did when I picked Tim Scott as Senator of South Carolina.” Senator Roger Wicker has called an affirmative action quota pick. How do you respond?
DURBIN: I’d remind them to take a look back at history and recall that it was Ronald Reagan who announced that he was going to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and he did, Sandra Day O’Connor, and it was Donald Trump who announced that he was going to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a woman nominee as well. So this is not the first time that a president has signaled what they're looking for in a nominee.
And I would just say, the bottom line is this, it’s -- towards (ph) African American women, if they have achieved the level of success in the practice of law and jurisprudence, they've done it against great odds. They're extraordinary people, usually the first of anything in the United States turns out to be extraordinary in their background. And the same is true there.
They’re all going to face the same close scrutiny. This is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. And I just hope that those who are critical of the president's selection aren't doing it for personal reasons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve also got some Republican Senators like Chuck Grassley, Tim Scott suggesting that because the Senate is so closely divided, because the country is so closely divided the president should take care to pick a moderate who reflects the entire country, who reflects that close division in the Senate.
DURBIN: Well, I could just tell you, George -- and you remember this, it was Mitch McConnell who decided that he would eliminate the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. And for those who aren’t following the Senate procedure that closely, it meant that it used to take 60 votes. McConnell said no, let's make it a majority. And that meant that the selection process was more partisan than it had been in the past.
But I'm still hopeful. I know Susan Collins is a guest on your show this morning. I've spoken to her. I’m reaching out to the Republicans and saying the nominee will be available for you to get to know them. We're going to make sure we have answers to any questions you might have. It’s going to be a deliberate process but we're not going to get bogged down. Amy Coney Barrett broke all records in terms of nomination to approval in the Senate. We want to make sure that we have a timely nomination that’s handled in a responsible, professional way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president, of course, is going to consult with you as well. Your former colleague in the Senate. He was also Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I want to show a list of the possible contenders that have been discussed by The White House and others.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, D.C. Court of Appeals; Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court; Leslie Abrams Gardner, U.S. District Court of Georgia; also J. Michelle Childs, the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, of course, is a favorite of Congressman Clyburn.
Do you have a favorite and what have you told the president?
DURBIN: Well, Ron Klain called me this -- last week when the word was being spread around about Stephen Breyer’s decision. And I asked him, I said, how close is the president to choosing a nominee, and he said, he's going to go through the process carefully, and he has not made his mind up, at that point a few days ago.
I’m going to trust his judgment on this. I don’t want to put the finger on the scale for any one of the nominees. I think there is some extraordinary talent there. And going back to the point I made earlier, for these African women to have -- African American women to have reached the level of success that they have reached, they are extraordinary people. They have been put to the test. They are the first in many instances of their race and gender to be in this position. So that extraordinary talent, I think, should be taken into consideration on a favorable side.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I also want to ask you about reform of the Electoral College Act and the possibilities for bipartisan reform there. You said you’ve talked to Susan Collins about the president's nominee for the Supreme Court. What about Electoral College Act reform, what's possible this year? Can it be bipartisan?
DURBIN: Yes, it can be. I think it should be. There’s an effort -- Susan’s part of an effort to take a look at it with a bipartisan group. And I've joined with Amy Klobuchar and Angus King on the Democratic side. I think we’re talking about the same basic challenges that we want to make sure the Electoral College is valid.
And, of course, we have the disclosure this last week of the January 6th Committee in the House looking into false slates of electors that are being selected in seven or eight states in the last election -- in the last presidential election.
You know, it really raises a question about the integrity of that process. It hasn't been looked at for 150 years. Now's the time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And also, finally, how about on Build Back Better? Is it dead right now? Is it dormant? What can happen before the midterms?
DURBIN: I don't want to give up on it. There are so many important things for families across America. You talked about some of the polling data that’s coming back.
Take a look at basic issues, making sure that we negotiate on the price of prescription drugs -- overwhelming popular, Democrats and Republicans. If we can achieve that, it’s really a step forward. Helping families pay for daycare so that the folks can go to work with peace of mind that their kids are in good hands.
These issues and many like them are part of Build Back Better. Let's find the things that really make the biggest difference and let’s move them as quickly as we can. I don't want to drag this process out and I’m sure most of the American people want to see it come to a positive conclusion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Have you had any signs from Senators Manchin or Sinema that they're willing to do that?
DURBIN: Well, I can't say that I personally have. I will tell you, they were arguing on the floor when we considered the rules on voting rights that we can be productive and bipartisan even in the world of filibuster. Now, my challenge to them is prove that we can -- on reconciliation, at least on the Democratic side, come to a positive conclusion that moves us forward as a nation.
We debated it long enough. We know all the theories. Let's get something done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Durbin, thanks very much for your time this morning.
DURBIN: Thanks, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's bring in Republican Senator Susan Collins now.
Senator Collins, thank you for joining us this morning.
You just heard Senator Durbin talk about his timeline for the Supreme Court pick, talk that he’s consulted with you.
Are you open to supporting who the president picks?
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): George, I would welcome the appointment of a Black female to the court. I believe that diversity benefits the Supreme Court.
But the way that the president has handled this nomination has been clumsy at best. It adds to the further perception that the court is a political institution like Congress when it is not supposed to be.
So, I certainly am open to whomever he decides to nominate. My job as a senator is to evaluate the qualifications of that person under the advice and consent role.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say that it's clumsy. But isn’t, as Senator Durbin pointed out, isn't it exactly what Senator Reagan did when he said he would appoint a woman to the Supreme Court? Isn't it exactly what President Trump did when he said he would appoint a woman to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
COLLINS: Actually, this isn't exactly the same. I’ve looked at what was done in both cases. And what President Biden did was as a candidate, make this pledge. And that helped politicize the entire nomination process.
What President Reagan said is, as one of his Supreme Court justices, he would like to appoint a woman. And he appointed a highly qualified one in Sandra Day O'Connor.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't this process politicized no matter what you do?
I mean, look what happened after the death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Barrett pushed through in record time -- one of the reasons I suppose you voted against her.
COLLINS: Actually, the reason I voted against Amy Coney Barrett was that her nomination and vacancy occurred too close to the election, the presidential election. And Republicans just in the Obama administration had established a precedent that we were not going to confirm someone -- it was Merrick Garland in that case, in an election year.
I did not agree with that decision, but once that precedent was established and given how close the death of the Supreme Court justice was to when the appointment was made of Justice Barrett, I felt that it was -- should have been up to the next president to make the decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for elevation to D.C. Court of Appeals. If she's the president's nominee, can you support her for the Supreme Court?
COLLINS: I'll certainly give her every consideration. I have no idea, since she was confirmed, what rulings she's been involved in, whether -- what writings she has done. And I have not met her personally. And that's why I really appreciated Chairman Durbin reaching out to me and offering to make the nominee available for an extensive interview and to provide me with whatever information I need to make a decision on whomever the nominee is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you share Senator Durbin's confidence that Electoral College reform -- the reform of the Electoral College Act can take place this year on a bipartisan basis?
COLLINS: I certainly hope so.
This is not a small matter. This 1887 law governs the counting and the certification of the presidential vote. And we saw, on January 6th of 2021, how ambiguities, simple (ph) law, were exploited. We need to prevent that from happening again.
I have brought together a group of 16 senators. It's a bipartisan group. Joe Manchin is involved in -- on leading the Democratic side. And together we have been having discussions, Zoom meetings. We'll resume them tomorrow. And I'm hopeful that we can come up with a bipartisan bill that will make very clear that the vice president's role is simply ministerial, that he has no ability to halt the count and that we'll raise the threshold from one House member, one senator, for triggering a challenge to a vote count submitted by the states. This is no small thing. I think it is really important that we do this reform. And I hope it can be done on a bipartisan, overwhelming basis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The events in the aftermath of the 2020 election show how important that is.
As you're working on this reform, former President Trump is out on the campaign trail. He was out in Texas last night suggesting he may pardon those -- if he were elected in 2024 -- those who were part of the January 6th riots.
Given that, can you imagine any circumstances where you could support his election in 2024?
COLLINS: Well, we're a long ways from 2024. But let me say this, I do not think the president should have made -- that President Trump should have made that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say we're a long way away from --
COLLINS: January 6th was a dark day in our history.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was. And you voted to convict President Trump as well. Why can't you rule out supporting him in 2024?
COLLINS: Well, certainly it's not likely given the many other qualified candidates that we have that have expressed interest in running. So it's very unlikely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Collins, thanks for your time this morning.
COLLINS: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: Our actions over the past week have sharpened the choice facing Russia now. We've laid out a diplomatic path. We've lined up steep consequences should Russia choose further aggressiion. We've stepped forward with more support for Ukraine's security and economy. And we and our allies and partners are united across the board. It remains up to Russia to decide how to respond. We are ready either way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, head of tomorrow's U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis. And we are joined now by the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Thank you for joining us, Madam Ambassador.
Let's begin with that U.N. Security Council meeting. Can Russia block it? If not, what do you hope to achieve?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, thank you very much, and I'm delighted to be here with you this morning.
Russia cannot block the Security Council from holding a meeting. They will certainly attempt to. They will distract from our unified voices. But they know that they -- they cannot block the meeting. And I expect that, knowing what we're dealing with, that they will make an attempt. But the Security Council is unified. Our voices are unified in calling for the Russians to explain themselves.
We're -- we're going to go in the room prepared to listen to them, but we're not going to be distracted by their propaganda. And we're going to be prepared to respond to any disinformation that they attempt to spread during this meeting.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What's your latest read on President Putin's intentions?
Does the U.S. believe an invasion is imminent?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we're all watching the press every single day. You've -- you've heard from several of us in the administration. The Russians have amassed 100,000 troops along the border. They have moved troops into Belarus. They have continued to escalate, despite our efforts to try to find a diplomatic route for them and to encourage them to de-escalate.
And part of the reason we're calling for this meeting on Monday is one more opportunity to find the diplomatic way out for -- for the Russians.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Zelensky and his team have expressed some irritation, even alarm, saying the U.S. is exaggerating the threat for political reasons. How do you respond to that?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we have engaged very, very closely with the -- with the Ukrainian government. As you know, President Biden spoke with President Zelensky. President (sic) Blinken travelled there. I'm meeting on a regular basis with the Ukrainian ambassador here in New York. Ukraine also called for this meeting. They actually sent a letter to the Security Council calling for -- for the meeting.
We've also been working with the Ukrainians on building up their defenses in the event of an attack. And over the course of -- of -- since 2014, we have provided close to $5 billion in support to them; $200 million of that was just provided in the past week.
So, again, we're engaging with them to be prepared. We've seen the Russian playbook before. They are using disinformation. They're encouraging Ukrainians not to worry about an attack, but we know that the attack is possible. You don't amass 100,000 troops if you don't have intentions to use them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that sounds -- it sounds pretty ominous right there. But what could a diplomatic settlement look like?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, at first it would mean Russia making the decision to de-escalate, to pull their troops back, and to come to the diplomatic table and talk with -- with the United States, with the Ukrainians, with our NATO allies about their security concerns.
We have made clear that we're prepared to address our concerns, Ukrainian concerns, and Russian concerns at the diplomatic table. But it cannot be done on the battlefield.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, I want to ask you about North Korea.
They had their seventh ballistic missile test this month last night, the longest-range missile they have tested since 2017. What's behind this flurry of tests? And how will the U.S. respond?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It is provocative, and it is something that we have very, very strongly condemned in the Security Council.
The United States, as you know, imposed unilateral sanctions in the past few weeks against the DPRK. And we have pushed for sanctions within the -- within the Security Council. And I will be engaging with our allies the Koreans, as well as Japanese, who are also threatened by this, to look at other options for responding.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it time for President Biden to engage personally with Kim Jong-un?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have been clear on that from the beginning.
We are open to having diplomatic discussions. We have offered this over and over to the DPRK. And they have not accepted it. But we're absolutely open to a diplomatic engagement without preconditions. Our goal is to end the threatening actions that the DPRK is taking against their neighbors.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Ambassador, thanks very much for your time this morning.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The roundtable is coming up.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: While we made progress, much more needs to be done to improve people's lives. Our democracy is at risk because of the assaults on the truth, assault on the U.S. Capitol, and the state by state assault on voting rights.
This election is crucial. Nothing less is at stake than our democracy. But as we say, we don't agonize. We organize.
And that is why I am running for re-election to Congress and respectfully seek your support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now saying she will seek re-election this November. But at least 29 of her Democratic colleagues are headed to the exits ahead of the midterm elections. Do the retirements signal a Republican wave?
We ask Nate Silver of FiveThiryEight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: It's true that members of Congress sometimes vote with their feet. They'll retire if they think they're going to lose. But as a historical indicator, the number of retirements is surprisingly unreliable.
In 2018, 37 Republicans did not seek re-election as compared to 18 Democrats. Republicans then lost 42 seats at the midterms. So, that year fits the pattern you might expect.
But go back to the midterm just before that, in 2014, and you also had more Republicans retiring, even though the GOP had a good year and gained 13 seats.
In 2010, same thing. Slightly more Republicans retired, but the party had an extraordinary gaining 63 seats.
So far this year, 29 Democrats have retired as compared to 13 Republicans. That's not a good sign for Democrats, but there are some complicating factors.
One is that Democrats in Congress are a geriatric group, 23 Republican members of the U.S. House are age 70 or older, so are the whopping 61 Democrats. That includes House Nancy Pelosi, age 81, who announced this week that she will seek another term.
The other factor is redirecting. For example, Jim Cooper, the long-time incumbent in Nashville, announced this week he was retiring. That came after a proposed map that would shift his district from leaning Democratic by 17 to Republicans by 15 points according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis.
And indeed retirements are higher in redirecting years. As we talked about on the segment, I think Democrats are probably in trouble for the midterms. But I don't buy that these retirements tell us all that much.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks to Nate for that.
Roundtable is next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is all here and ready to go. We’ll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about this on our roundtable. I'm joined by Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, Donna Shalala, former university president, Democratic member of Congress and HHS secretary under President Clinton, and the Manhattan Institute President Reihan Salam.
Donna, let me begin with you.
We just saw Ronald Reagan right there, but you heard Susan Collins earlier in the program and you saw our poll. More than three quarters of all Americans question the fact that President Biden pledged to consider only black women for this Supreme Court appointment.
What do you make of this?
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, fortunately, we're on the verge, after 233 years, of having the first black female justice. I am confident that President Biden will select one of the most extraordinary black female lawyers that he can find. That's what I'm confident of.
But I have to say this, George. One hundred and fifteen of our justices -- of the 115, 108 have been white males. And as I've said over and over again, some of those white males were extraordinary. And thanks to them, we were able to break the vestiges of segregation and much, much more.
But the fact is, 55 years after Thurgood Marshall was put on the court, 31 years after Clarence Thomas, 13 years after Sonia Sotomayor, this is a moment when the country can finally say equal justice under the law applies to everybody.
It's an extraordinary move by the president. I welcome this appointment. And I'm going to fight with everything I have to make sure that this extraordinary woman gets confirmed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, I was a bit surprised to see that this was Senator Collins' first talking point, coming out. I was also, frankly, surprised by the polling numbers, right there. Is this an effective point of criticism from Republicans?
CHRISTIE: Well, look, I'm going to say the same thing I said when Donald Trump was nominating justices. Elections have consequences. The president of the United States has the right to pick whoever he wants for that seat and nominate them. And then they have to face the scrutiny of the United States Senate.
And so it wouldn't have been the way I would have approached it, by pre-announcing something like that, but Joe Biden won the election. He gets to make the choice. And every one of the 100 senators has a right then to scrutinize this person's background, experience, and decide whether or not they deserve lifetime tenure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, we know this pick is not going to change the ideological balance on the court. It will likely still be 6-3. But what difference could it make on the court to have the first black woman?
SHALALA: Well, it brings someone with a different experience, a black woman's experience. It makes the court look like America. It makes it look fairer. And I'm not surprised the majority of Americans think he ought to just pick the -- the qualified candidate. That's, in fact, an advancement, that we ought to pick the qualified candidate. But a black woman on the court, it will make a difference.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Was the promise a mistake?
SALAM: I think the promise was a mistake insofar as it limited, it narrowed the president's options. He has a great many diverse candidates to choose from. And I think that one thing to keep in mind is that the Democratic coalition is awfully diverse along many different dimensions.
Donna Shalala mentioned that there's such a thing as a black women's experience. When you look at the four leading contenders, as far as news reports go, these are people with dramatically different experiences and actually some subtle differences in ideological sensibilities as well.
Someone like a Leondra Kruger is known as a pretty heterodox person, someone who has oftentimes voted with conservatives on the California Supreme Court. That's interesting. That's something that could potentially build bridges. Her experience is meaningfully different from other potential nominees who have a more ideological reputation.
So I think that recognizing the distinctions among black women and recognizing that there are many other kinds of diversity one could bring to the bench is a good and valuable thing. And Democrats ought to keep it in mind.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The four candidates we showed earlier are -- are quite different. And the president is going to have to weigh certain things. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, overwhelmingly confirmed by -- by the Senate before, graduate of Harvard.
We know that Senator Clyburn's favorite, more of -- I mean, Congressman Clyburn's favorite, more of a -- they're hoping for someone who's outside of the Ivy League world.
BRAZILE: And that is the beauty, I think, of being an American, is that there's diversity within the black community. There's diversity within the Hispanic community. I mean, we knew that Clarence Thomas was conservative. And yet we also knew that Amy Coney Barrett was conservative. I think it's just important that we open this door that has - that was closed, that barred women at one point in our history and barred people of color.
This is an extraordinary moment. She will have -- she will be tested, her -- her temperament, her merits, her qualifications.
You know, I have to tell you, George, I'll never forget that moment when Justice Sotomayor was up for confirmation. I told her that I spent that entire year reading every case. We got into every case, every background, every detail. And, you know what, she brought an extraordinary amount of experience. And what the American people saw when they saw her, they saw a woman like themselves. And that's why she remains one of the most popular justices.
CHRISTIE: Guys, let's -- let's talk about the politics of this for a second, though.
We're going to see how much Joe Biden thinks he really owes to Jim Clyburn, because Jim Clyburn -- and Donna and I sat on the set during those primaries. Jim Clyburn saved Joe Biden's backside.
Without Jim Clyburn, Joe Biden would not be sitting in the White House right now. That's a political reality. And the question in my mind is going to be, how much is Congressman Clyburn going to call in that chit on this one?
Because, if he calls it in, I think it's very, very difficult for Joe Biden to look at Jim Clyburn in the eye and say no. And, if he does, there's going to be some political fallout from that as well. So there's a lot of politics inside the Democratic Party and inside the Biden White House that we're going to have to watch here as he makes that choice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Some internal Democratic politics.
I wonder, on the flip side, Donna, are we at the point now where you're simply not going to see bipartisan support for a Supreme Court nominee?
SHALALA: I don't think, in this case, that's going to be true.
I really think there's going to be some bipartisan support for the president's nominee. And you sense that when you listen to Susan Collins.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You think she's looking for a way to get to yes?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree?
SALAM: Well, I will say this.
There's another dimension to the politics that Governor Christie had mentioned, which is that people have long memories. We're talking about plans to -- diversity, the importance of bringing new voices onto the court.
There are a lot of people who remember, for example, the treatment of Miguel Estrada, an exceptionally qualified person of Central American origin, really scrappy story, but also someone who had achieved really the most distinction you can have in the legal profession.
And many people feel like his reputation was dragged through the mud. His personal life was really ravaged by that experience. And there are a lot of Republicans, for better or for worse, who remember that.
So, when we talk about the historical occasion, how important that is, how important representation is, there are a lot of Republicans who just don't take those claims at face value because this is an iterative game.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The other political reality is, it's coming during midterm elections.
Will it make a difference?
BRAZILE: I'm a black woman. We vote. We take names, and we vote. And we bring our families with us.
So, yes, there's a lot of politics. Jim Clyburn is very, very important, but also understanding that black women will also help to determine the outcome of many of these Senate races, the open seats in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the competitive seats in Florida, of course, in Georgia.
So, yes, this is political. But I hope that the president, who understands the Senate, understands the process, will reach out to Republicans, because I do believe that this nominee will be able to garner bipartisan support.
CHRISTIE: He picks the right person, he will get some Republican votes, I think.
But in terms of...
STEPHANOPOULOS: What does "the right person" mean?
CHRISTIE: Well, I think he's got to pick someone -- and Reihan talked about this -- someone who, when you look at their record, you see a record of fairness, you see an open-mindedness in the person.
And I think, if they see that, I think they will get some -- they will get some Republican votes.
But on the politics of this, George, for the midterms, when you have inflation where it is, when you have crime where it is, the things that affect people's everyday lives, they don't see the Supreme Court affecting their everyday lives in the same way that inflation, crime and foreign policy crises do.
So, I think it may have some small effect, but nowhere near a determinative one.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It has rarely been a big -- a big voting issue in either presidential or midterm elections.
So, Donna, what else does the president needs to do? We saw Jon Karl's piece at the top of this program. He's entering 2022 in a very dismal political state.
What does he need to do to reset and limit Democratic losses...
SHALALA: Well, I agree with Chris. Elections are about people's lives.
So, breaking up Build Back Better into things like child care, which will make a huge difference for working families, will make a difference in the election, because people will feel the fact that they can take care of their children and go to work.
If I was the president, I would put 100,000 more cops on the street and tie it to reform of the police, as well as -- as more training for police. And I would name it after Detective Rivera and Detective Mora, who -- these young men who just died in New York.
But I do things that would reassure people that the streets were safe, that they could send their kids to child care, and go to work, and things that actually affect people's lives.
And he can do that by repackaging many of the issues that he cares deeply about.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be a very good idea.
A hundred thousand police on the street for Bill Clinton in 1994 did not prevent a bloodbath in the November midterms...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... in 1994.
A lot of Republicans right now think there's nothing the Democrats could do to hold onto the House and -- and the Senate.
SALAM: There are a lot of structural obstacles they're facing. There are a lot of challenges.
My advice would be, listen to Larry Summers -- you know, veteran of the Clinton and Obama White Houses who was ridiculed and marginalized for saying that the American Relief Plan might have been structured a little bit poorly, might have been a little too big.
I think there's a lot of groupthink right now within the White House and also in the broader center left.
And I think that listening to the veterans of those administrations, I frankly think that Donna Shalala's advice right now, you know, it’s not necessarily a silver bullet, but talking about investing in public safety, in a very visible and meaningful way, it's a heck of a lot better to talk about than the things that, you know, young campaign professionals in D.C. fixate on in their 20s (ph), on Twitter.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We agree on this?
BRAZILE: Well, look, one of the reasons why the American people are in such a foul mood is that we’re tired of wearing masks. We’re tired of being in lockdown. We're just tired -- sick and tired of being sick and tired. Thank you, Fannie Lou Hamer.
The point is, is that we have the best economy in 40 years. Unemployment is down below 4 percent. We have an economy that is outpacing China. We have so much good news that all we want to do is talk about the bad news because we feel bad.
So, Joe Biden should continue to focus on what he's been doing, which is investing in the long term. There's money for community policing. There’s money for violence prevention. But there's also money for child care, paid family leave.
Keep telling the American people your story, and perhaps one day, when we get out of this lockdown, we will hear Joe Biden say, I planned this. I invested in it. And now let's all enjoy and celebrate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Stay the course a good strategy?
CHRISTIE: Yeah, I love it. Stay the course, baby. Maybe you can get down to the 20s if you're Joe Biden.
Look, here are two things people understand. You saw that funeral in New York City this week. And that isn't, Donna, because we have too few cops on the street. That's because prosecutors and political leaders in the Democratic Party have undercut those police officers and made it impossible for them to do their job. And the reaction you saw in New York City this week is a reaction to that.
And until the president stands up and becomes the old Joe Biden who stood up for crime prevention and safety in the streets, he's going to continue to lose in that issue.
Second, I spoke to Governor Burgum of North Dakota this week. There are 500,000 barrels of oil a day in North Dakota that the Biden administration is preventing from being extracted. You know, at the same time, they're begging OPEC to raise their production so that gas prices go down when we have in Pennsylvania, in North Dakota and in Texas the ability to do this.
It doesn't mean you can't continue to work on wind energy and solar and electric cars. You can continue to do that, and we should. But we should not cripple the American people and cost $4 and $5 gasoline because he wants to make a political stand.
Last thing, worst part of his week, was calling that reporter a stupid son of a bitch, because the one that Joe Biden has always had on his side was he was seen as a kind person. What he's showing now is that frustration and that anger that came out there are making people wonder whether that's still true, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That might have cut both ways. As we're talking about crime right now, Donna, I can't escape the irony of former President Trump last night calling perhaps for pardoning those who rioted on January 6th.
DONNA SHALALA, FORMER HHS SECRETARY: I think that was outrageous. I mean, there -- it just is simply outrageous for him to say that and do that. And you heard Susan Collins. It was totally inappropriate.
And I believe that Trump is losing ground, that there will be other candidates, including my own governor who is anti-science among other things, but popular in the party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But even Susan Collins who didn't vote for Donald Trump, who voted to convict him last year, cannot rule out supporting him in 2024 even after a statement like yesterday.
SALAM: Well, I think that it makes sense for people to want to preserve freedom of action. You do not know how the environment might change.
There are a lot of Republicans, a lot of conservatives who said at the very beginning of the 2015-2016 campaign cycle that they wouldn't support Donald Trump. But then things changed.
And we could condemn them. We could praise them for that. But the reality is that, you know, politics, the environment moves very, very quickly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Dan Balz actually has a column in the "Washington Post", I wonder what you think about it, suggesting that Donald Trump may be -- his hold on the Republican Party may be weakening slightly. Do you buy that?
SALAM: Well, if you're looking at public opinion surveys, the number of people who identify themselves as Trump Republicans first, or as loyal to the larger GOP, there is movement there. President Trump still commands a great deal of authority and respect, but it certainly seems to be waning.
There are plenty of Republican candidates and Senate races, gubernatorial races who have not received this endorsement and yet who keep on keeping on.
What's happening is that it seems to be much more about a set of issues. It seems to be much more about a -- a kind of resistance to what people see as authoritarian or centralizing moves coming from the federal government. And, actually, President Trump in some cases -- former President Trump seems to actually be losing control of the narrative.
BRAZILE: I can't imagine President Trump saying he will pardon the very same people who injured 140 policemen. I can't imagine President Trump saying at a rally that he would pardon people who said, kill Mike Pence, assassinate Nancy Pelosi. There's -- there's -- there's no place in our politics for that type of rhetoric and that type of action and leadership. So I hope the Republicans reject Donald Trump so that they can move past this movement and we can try to figure out how to bring the country together.
You know, Joe Biden's number one priority is the health, safety and well-being of the American people, which means crime prevention, which means jobs creation, which means making sure that we can go home to safe neighborhoods and have clean drinking water. He's a good president. He might be at 40 percent or 30 percent, but, you know what, he's doing everything right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is all we have time for today. Thank you all very much.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."