A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, May 31, 2020 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 NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: America in crisis. Overnight, violent clashes across the country, agony and anger, after George Floyd killed in police custody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY: I can't breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tensions flare from Brooklyn to Beverly Hills and the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: I can't breathe!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Police cars ablaze.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: That's not going to get us anywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please disperse, or you will be arrested.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Tear gas fired into crowds, the National Guard now active in more than a dozen states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM WALZ (D-MN): So, let's be very clear. The situation in Minneapolis is no longer, in any way, about the murder of George Floyd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: All the latest this morning on a special edition of "This Week."
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."
Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."
As we come on the air this morning, America is emerging from a night unlike any in decades, demonstrations in at least 75 cities, the National Guard activated in 16 states, the anger sparked by this horrific scene, George Floyd dying with a knee in his neck...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOYD: I can't breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... is now exploding across the country.
Here in Manhattan, demonstrators set fire to a police vehicle. Another patrol car plowed into protesters in Brooklyn. Stores were destroyed in Los Angeles, echoes of the Rodney King riots in 1992.
In Philadelphia, at least 13 officers injured. One person killed in Indianapolis. There were flames inside Nashville's City Hall and across from the White House gates.
Inside, President Trump sent a late-night tweet laying blame -- quote -- "The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democratic mayor could not do."
Then Joe Biden weighed in: "We're in a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us."
And this morning, this is the scene in Minneapolis at memorial marking the site where George Floyd was killed just six days ago.
And we are joined now from Minneapolis by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Congresswoman, thank you for joining us this morning.
I know you've been in the community day and night for the last six days and urging people to stay home after the curfew.
Did the National Guard get things under control last night?
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): I think, last night, the community did feel safe to know that there will not be a burning of their businesses and their homes.
We were obviously worried and feeling terrorized about that prospect, but there really was also many people who chose to demonstrate and not abide by the curfew, who felt like they also were terrorized by the presence of tanks, by the presence of the National Guard and a militarized police.
And so, for us, it's -- what we are trying to do is try to figure out something between extreme aggression and ways to figure out how to get our city burned down. And it's a challenge.
And, as you said, George, our country is in pain. People can't get that image of George Floyd having the life choked out of him by a police officer, who was supposed to protect and serve our community.
But this also is a reminder that we are living in a country that has truly, for a long time, brutalized African-Americans, from slavery, to lynching, to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration, and now to police brutality.
And, in Minneapolis, where we have of the worst racial disparities, people are also understanding that there has been severe social and economic neglect in our communities.
And so we have real work to do to heal, to begin to rebuild, and to figure out a system that works for all of us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: From the start of these protests, you've spoken out against the violence, but you've also said, "We can't ask our community to be peaceful if we continue not to deliver justice."
One officer has been charged. In your view, what must -- what more must be done to deliver justice here?
OMAR: So, many a times in Minneapolis and across this nation, we find ourselves in this position time and time again. When police brutality takes place, oftentimes, if justice is not denied, it is delayed.
And what people are looking for is for just justice to take place, in regards to the charges for the officer that took the life of George Floyd. They also want to see charges for the other officers who stood by idly watching this life be taken.
But, also, we need nationwide reforms. We also need to make sure that the kind of investment that we are making in our communities is a real one.
What we are seeing, the unrest we are seeing in our nation, isn't just because of the life that was taken. It's also because so many people have experienced this, so many people have experienced injustices within our system, so many people know the social and economic neglect.
We are living in a country that has a two-tiered justice system. And people are tired of the -- people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And we need to really step back and say to ourselves, where do we actually go from here?
And that can't just be getting justice for George Floyd. It needs to be bigger than that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you explain so many of the protests across the country exploded into violence over the last several days?
We've seen President Trump. He's been blaming it, he says, on far-left thugs and Antifa. There are other -- the mayor of St. Paul suggested there have been outside instigators from the far right.
What information did you have of who was joining these protests that had started out as peaceful?
OMAR: So, not just here in the United States, but across the country -- across the world, when we see unrest takes place, it is often the people saying they have had enough, and they want bold and systematic change to take place, so that they can feel like their voices are heard.
This is what happens when people are tired, just marching every single day, just to have their humanity be recognized.
And what we also know to be true, not just here, but across the world, is that there are people who exploit the pain that communities are feeling and ignite violence.
In Minneapolis, we have marched. We have protested. We have organized. And when we see people setting our buildings and our businesses ablaze, we know those are not people who are interested in protecting black lives.
They might say they care about black lives, but they're not interested in protecting black lives, because, when you set a fire, you risk -- you risk the community that you are saying you are standing up for.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have faced threats inspired by President Trump in the past.
What would you like to hear from him now?
OMAR: The mayor of Washington, D.C., just recently addressed the nation.
And, in her remarks, she talks about how there was a kind of leadership that could have been displayed by Donald Trump. And that leadership has not been displayed. And now we -- she said, we look to one another for that leadership.
Many people in our communities are moving on and deciding that they themselves are going to show up as leaders. They are going to push for the kind of systematic change that we need. They are going to ask for people to work together to rebuild our communities. They are going to be vigilant and make sure that they are protecting one another.
This president has failed in really understanding the kind of pain and anguish many of his citizens are feeling. When you have a president who really is glorifying violence and was talking about the kind of vicious dogs and weapons that could be unleashed on citizens, it is quite appalling and disturbing.
We condemn other nations when their presidents make those kind of statements when there is unrest in their countries, and we have to condemn our president at the highest sort of condemnation.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congresswoman Omar, thank you for your time this morning.
OMAR: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And for a response from the White House, we're joined by the president's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien.
Mr. O’Brien, thank you for joining us this morning.
We just heard Congresswoman Omar saying the president is failing to lead in this crisis and glorifying violence with his tweets and statements.
AMB. ROBERT O'BRIEN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, that's really too bad because as soon as I was on Air Force One, when we saw that horrifying -- I was with the president when we saw that horrifying video of what happened to George Floyd and -- and the president immediately tweeted out and demanded an investigation and got on the phone with General Barr and asked him to get to the bottom of it.
The first thing I want to say, on behalf of the president, he said this to the family, that our hearts and prayers are going out to the Floyd family. We mourn with them and we grieve with them and -- and what happened there was horrific and I can't even imagine what that poor family's going through as this video is played over and over again. That should have never happened in America and it's a -- it's a tragic thing. The president said that from the start and -- and we're with the family.
And as the president said, we're with the peaceful protesters who are out demanding answers and petitioning their government about what happened to -- to Mr. Floyd.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president did reach out to the family. But, as you know, he's also had a series of tweets where he talks about far left thugs. He's attacked many of the protesters, attacked a Democratic mayor saying they are weak. And, of course, that tweet earlier in the week he -- where he echoed Miami Beach in 1967 with the phrase, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Does the president -- should he be -- should he be taking responsibility for those tweets as well?
O'BRIEN: Well, I think what the president said, and the reason he uses Twitter is to get directly to the American people. And I think what he said about those tweets is that he wants to de-escalate violence and doesn't want people looting.
And I want to make a big distinction between peaceful protesters, these great Americans, and that's the difference between our country and many of the authoritarian countries out there, when something like this happens, we investigate it. Our people protest. They petition their government for redress. And we stand with the protesters.
It's the violent Antifa radical militants that are coming out, under cover of night, traveling across state lines, using military-style tactics to burn down our cities. And they're especially targeting the most venerable parts of our cities, George. The minority section, the African-American sections and Hispanic areas and burning down businesses of people that are trying to get a leg up.
And the president's outraged by that. And we all are. And that has to stop. And we're calling on the FBI to investigate Antifa and -- and get to the bottom of these -- these violent rioters. And I don't want them confused with peaceful protesters that have every right to go out to the streets. That's -- that's what makes America different from -- from any other countries around the world.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And there are peaceful protesters, as you said. But it -- the Department of Homeland Security, which reports to you, has put out intelligence notes over the weekend warning that domestic terrorists from the far right and the far left both are looking to exploit this. It's not just Antifa and the left. They're saying they are worried about the far right as well.
O'BRIEN: Well -- well, listen, everything I've seen in -- and that we're being reported were -- the reports we're receiving is that this is Antifa. They're crossing state lines.
And we've seen this happen before. We saw it in Portland. We saw it in Seattle. We saw it in Berkley.
So, look, we'll keep our eyes open for anyone else that wants to take advantage of the situation, whether it's domestic or foreign. But right now I think the president and Attorney General want -- Barr want to know what the FBI has been doing to surveil, to disrupt, to take down Antifa, to prosecute them. This isn't the first time they're out there and they're using military-style tactics and traveling around the country to take advantage of these situations and burn down our cities. And -- and that can't be tolerated.
So the FBI has got to come up with a plan to deal with Antifa. This is not the first time that they've engaged in this activity. It needs to stop. I mean they're throwing bricks at park police and -- and uniformed Secret Service officers. I know you know a lot of those guys, George, from when you worked here.
These are good men and women who are trying to protect the White House and there are great police men and women around the -- around the country that are being attacked.
There was an officer, a federal protective service officer was shot in Oakland. And our hearts and our prayers go out to him and his family, Patrick Underwood. This Antifa violent activity has to stop and we need to get to the bottom of it. We're calling on law enforcement to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And no -- no question, it should be condemned, right? I completely agree with that. But you said you hadn't heard about any other incitement from the right. But the DHS warning that went out this week noted specifically that the white supremacist, extremist Telegram channel was inciting the violence as well. They are saying it is both sides that are inciting violence from the outside.
O'BRIEN: Yes, I think the actual perpetrators of the violence, the ones that are on the street, that are burning down minority-owned businesses and restaurants, who have already suffered through this terrible COVID situation and -- and are at risk of losing their business and now they're seeing them burn to the ground, those are ANTIFA radical militants. And we've seen them before in other protests and we need to get to the bottom of it.
Look, I condemn all extremists, on the right or on the left. But -- but the ones who are out on the streets throwing the Molotov cocktails and attacking our police, who are acting with -- you know, for the most part, with restraint, and heroically, you know, that has to stop.
And -- and, look, we condemn the police brutality of -- of that officer who killed George Floyd. I mean why that guy was still in the police force -- I'm told he had a long record of bad conduct. And there are a few bad apples out there that are -- that are -- whether they're racist or they're -- they're ill trained or they're just -- just vicious, they've got to be rooted out of law enforcement because 99.9 percent of our law enforcement officers are heroes and they're doing -- doing great work protecting the American people. Many of them come from minority communities and -- and we stand with them. The president stands with them and -- and we're going to support them through this violent time that we're facing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One -- one of the things that was so shocking about that video -- and Congresswoman Omar just mentioned it, is that the other officers stood by, even as George Floyd was saying I can't breath and the other officers stood by and did nothing. She believes they should be charged as well.
Do you agree?
O'BRIEN: Oh, it's an absolute outrage. And I want to know where the investigation is going with those officers. What were they thinking? I mean just as human beings, putting aside being first -- first responders and police officers. So I -- I think they're under investigation, both by the local authorities and the federal authorities. And -- and I can't imagine that they won't be charged. I don't want to prejudge anything, but -- but it's -- it's -- what -- what we saw was horrific and to have stood by and allowed that to happen is -- is, you know -- and that just shows a lack of humanity.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What evidence do we have that foreign adversaries are also trying to exploit the situation? I want to put up a tweet that Senator Marco Rubio put out last night. He's the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And he said, tonight we're seeing very heavy social media activity on protests and counter-reactions from social media accounts linked to at least three foreign adversaries. They didn't create these divisions, but they are actively stoking and promoting violence and confrontation from multiple angles.
Who are these foreign adversaries?
O'BRIEN: Well, Senator Rubio is spot on. And I've seen a number of tweets from the Chinese today that are -- are taking some sort of pleasure and solace in -- in what they're seeing here.
And I want to tell our foreign adversaries, whether it's a -- you know, Zimbabwe or a China, that the difference between us and you is that that -- that officer who killed George Floyd, he'll be -- he'll be investigated and he'll be prosecuted and he's going to receive a fair trial. The American people that want to go out and protest peacefully, they're going to be allowed to seek redress from their government. They're not going to be thrown in jail for peaceful protesting.
There's a difference between us and you. And when this happens, we'll get to the bottom of it and we'll clean it up. It's not going to be covered up. And this wasn't done on behalf of the party or on behalf of the state. You know, this was a -- this was a bad apple who, you know, you know, sullied the reputation of our heroic law enforcement officers and we're going to get to the bottom of it. That's the difference between us and you. The American people are going to come together after this. We're going to get to the bottom of the -- the militant radicals that are attacking our police and -- and our neighborhoods on the street. But there's a big difference between us and our foreign adversaries. But you can -- Marco Rubio is 100 percent correct that our foreign adversaries are going to take advantage of this crisis to sew discord and to try and damage our democracy. We're not going to let that happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We -- you mentioned China. We also know that Russia has been actively trying in the past to spark racial unrest. Are they one of the adversaries who are now exploiting the situation as well?
O'BRIEN: Yes, there -- there -- there may be Russian activists who are doing that, but the difference that I've seen so far is that, for example, we saw a Chinese foreign -- foreign ministry spokesman trolling the State Department about this. So it's -- it's open. It's coming straight from the government. So it's something we're keeping an eye on.
But, listen, to our adversaries, the American people, we may have our political differences, and we've gone through these crises before, but we'll overcome it.
And take a look at what we did yesterday in Florida, sending two heroic astronauts into space for the first time in 10 years from American soil, on an American rocket. Look, American overcomes and -- and even in the midst of these crisis, we're going to do great things for the country. And our adversaries aren't going to be able to take advantage of this crisis to harm us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What are we doing right now to counter those adversaries as they try to foment more unrest here in the United States, China, Russia, you mentioned Zimbabwe.
O'BRIEN: Yes, look, Iran is -- has certainly been active in this -- you know, in this -- in this realm as well. And we've got a number of tools in our tool kit, George, but we're -- we're working very closely with our allies. I've been on the phone with our -- my colleagues, national security advisors, over the weekend. We'll be meeting with them in the coming days. The democracies will stick together.
We've got a series of measures that we're going to deal with China and the way that they've choked out freedom in -- in Hong Kong. The president made a very important announcement on that front on Friday and -- and the -- the U.S. government is looking at all of our relations with Hong Kong and China.
So there will be a response and it will be proportional, but this is not something that -- that our adversaries are going to get away with for free.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Final question, do you -- should we expect to see an Oval Office address from the president addressing this crisis?
O'BRIEN: You know, the president, I thought, gave extraordinarily eloquent remarks yesterday as the preface to his speech about the space program in Florida. I believe ABC carried it, and you saw that, George. And I thought those were -- those were really wonderful remarks.
It talked about bring the American people together and how we stand with the family of George Floyd, we stand with the family of Patrick Underwood, the officer who was killed in Oakland, and how we have to come together as a country. We stand with the peaceful protesters.
And so, the president has been eloquent on that front. He's accessible. He'll be speaking to the press regularly. I don't know if he'll speak from the Oval or he'll speak to the press from the podium or -- or as he does daily to the American people through Twitter. But I -- I -- you can expect the president will remain involved and will remain communicate -- will continue to communicate with the American people throughout this crisis.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Robert O'Brien, thanks for your time this morning.
O'BRIEN: Thank you, George. Thanks for having me.
STEPHANOPOULOS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is next. We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There you see protesters gathering at City Hall in San Francisco last night, the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
She's now America's highest-ranking Democrat.
And, when we spoke late yesterday, she began with her message for a country in crisis.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): My message is, let's come together. Let's be prayerful, especially on a Sunday morning, about how we can put our differences aside, because this is the greatest country in the world, and we want to live up to the legacy of America.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That doesn't seem to be what's happening right now.
We've seen the cities erupting over the last several days. And Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota has said now that the protesters have gone far beyond the murder of George Floyd. They say it's about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.
Is he correct?
PELOSI: Well, I do think that there's a place for protests at the sign of a knee going into the neck of a person who's not offering resistance, or, even if he were, disproportionate response from the police.
When you have a crowd, you have those who will disrupt. And that is most unfortunate.
As my colleague from St. Paul has told me, 80 percent of the people who were arrested or taken -- taken into custody following what was happening there were from out of -- out of the area.
So, again, let's not -- let's be -- let's have a look at what really is happening, who is making what -- taking what actions.
But we should not, we should not ignore the fact that there is a room for peaceful protest in all this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think justice has yet been served in the George Floyd case with the arrest of the single officer? Or should the other officers be arrested as well?
PELOSI: Well, I said right from the start that it was murder. We saw an execution of a person on TV. We saw it happened, a knee to the neck.
There were others there who witnessed it who were -- would be considered in other circumstances accomplices to it.
I have my own concern about a murder three charge. I haven't seen a situation where there's the scene of the crime, and people haven't been taken into custody immediately.
But let's hope that justice will be done as we go forward. I think there were some unfortunate statements made that were provocative in terms of the outburst of concern that we are seeing.
So, I do think -- I'm very proud of the calm work of our Congressional Black Caucus, of our Judiciary Committee on how we go forward, really following up on initiatives they had already taken, in light of the fact that there have been -- this is not the first time. This is part of a pattern.
And we just have to make sure that, as we seek normal, that it's a new normal, as President Obama said, where we don't have all of this injustice and the violence that goes with it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned those unfortunate statements.
Are you referring to President Trump's tweets, including the one where he said, when the shooting starts -- when the looting starts, the shooting starts?
PELOSI: No, I'm not paying too much attention to what the president says.
I'm talking about the injustice, the knee in the neck. I talked about President Obama. If I said Trump, forgive me.
It was President Obama saying that, if we go to a normal, back to -- people say, let's go back to normal. Well, normal hasn't been so great for a lot of people. Let's make sure normal is more consistent, with liberty and justice for all.
I kind of ignore what President Trump says.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You ignore him, but, at the same time, he's been continuing to tweet and speak out.
Today, he's attacking the protesters, saying it's part of the far left. He's attacking the mayors of Minneapolis and the mayor of Washington, D.C.
What should the president of the United States be doing right now?
PELOSI: The president of the United States should bring dignity to the office that he serves. He should be a unifying force in our country.
We have seen that with Democratic and Republican presidents all along. They have seen their responsibility to be the president of the United States, to unify our country, and not to fuel the flame, not to fuel the flame.And I think to take his bait time and time again is just a gift to him because he always wants to divert attention from what the cause of the response was rather than to describe it in his own terms.STEPHANOPOULOS: What should Congress do right now? Your colleague, Hakeem Jeffries, has introduced legislation to ban chokeholds, to ban those knees in the neck by police. Will the House move to pass that now?PELOSI: Well, we have a number of legis -- pieces of legislation. Mr. Jeffries is the chair of our caucus. His words have great weight.Congresswoman Barbara Lee has a legislation to look at the full picture. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson has a bill establishing the commission for the social -- studying the social status of black men and boys and how we can help change that situation. The list goes on.There are many -- there’s a motion condemning police brutality. In addition to that, this is happening at a time of other injustices. The fact is that the coronavirus has taken undue toll among people of color. This again is an injustice.And part of what we have in our Heroes Act and previous legislation is to say, we must test, we must trace, we must treat and we must isolate in a way that really establishes what -- where this has taken the biggest tool.Why should there have been more disproportionate deaths among people of color? Because we’re not really testing in those communities to treat and save lives.STEPHANOPOULOS: Madam Speaker, thank you for your time this morning.PELOSI: My pleasure. Thank you so much, George --STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you.PELOSI: -- in this sad time. Thank you.
Roundtable is up next. We'll be right back.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: The roundtable is standing by. Actually, more of lineup in the age of Covid.
We'll be right back with them.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, I'm asking you to stop recording me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't come close to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please take your phone off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't come close to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm begging you to turn it off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please -- please call the cops.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to tell them there's an African-American man threatening my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please tell them whatever you like.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is an African-American man -- I am in Central Park, he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. I am being threatened by a man (INAUDIBLE). Please send the cops immediately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are arresting him live on CNN. We told you before that we are with CNN.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": If you're just turning in, you are watching our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, being arrested.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Two more striking pieces of video from an extraordinary week. a lot to talk about this morning on our roundtable, joined by our chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz, our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas, our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, also former U.S. attorney, and Patrick Gaspard, president of the Open Societies Foundation. He served as political director and ambassador to South Africa for President Obama.
And, Patrick, let me begin with you. I just showed those pieces of video. Of course we have also all seen the George Floyd killing as well. And I think one of the things that's underlying so much of the anger this week is if these things when the cameras -- when the cameras are on, imagine what happens when they're off.
PATRICK GASPARD, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS PRESIDENT: Thanks for making that important note, George. I have to say that, as a black man in America, watching those videos gives me profound PTSD.
Let's start with that Amy Cooper days before, that’s days before what we saw what happens with poor George Floyd. Amy Cooper understands something that Americans have understood for a very long time but we don’t talk about it publicly, there's a different demand on the citizenship of African-Americans than on the citizenship of white Americans.
Policing in white Americans exists on a consent line, consent between those who are governing and those who are being governed. There’s a respect for white citizenship that’s based on a sense of authenticity.
Amy Cooper knows there's no respect for black citizenship. And she can pick up the phone and say a African-American man, who's innocent birder in Central Park, is threatening her because she knows what’s going to be beseted upon him and what’s beseted upon us for generations.
Here in New York, George, and this is an illustration of why George Floyd is not an isolated incident. Here in New York, when self-quarantine started, shelter in place began, regrettably, the mayor of this city made a decision to allow the police to monitor social distancing, to be the arbiters of social distancing. In the first few weeks, 500 New Yorkers either received summonses or were arrested by the police for violating social distancing.
No shock to any of us in the African-American community that 93 percent of those individuals were of color, 93 percent. Whereas in white communities, the police were seen handing out masks to those who were in violation.
You had a guest on earlier representing the Trump administration. He talked about bad apples in the police force. We’ve been hearing that term for generations, those of us who’ve been engaged in the work of reform and opening access in communities.
This is not about bad apples, this is not systemic rot, and it’s about devaluation of one group of citizens who unfortunately lose liberty and lose limb.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Pierre Thomas, one of the questions now is what is the Justice Department going to do about it? We saw Attorney General Barr coming out yesterday promising swift and sure justice.
The question is, what are they going to do?
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have a civil rights investigation ongoing. They're looking at bringing charges in that regard.
And also right now, a key thing they have to do, George, is they have to figure out exactly who's involved in the violence. I was talking with a senior law enforcement source last night and he walked me through who are the people involved.
Number one, you have the protesters who are peaceful. By and large, that’s the overwhelming majority. Then you have undisciplined locals who in some cases are throwing bricks and vandalizing. Then you have anarchists. And then you have radicals on the left and the right who are there to foment violence.
And then, the growing concern is that going forward, that white supremacists are talking on social media about showing up to basically frame black people and make them seem like the violent offenders and to foment of a race war, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, Pierre, one of the things we just saw, we just saw Robert O'Brien, the president’s national security adviser, discount what we're hearing from the officials who are speaking to you, what we’ve seen in the Department of Homeland Security departments as well that it is both sides, that it's not simply left-wing activist who are inciting this violence.
THOMAS: George, the distinction that I would make here is that the main concern going forward is about white supremacists showing up. Right now, it's the anarchist and some of the other people I described.
But to go back what Patrick was saying, George, I do want to make this point. At the end of the day, this is about the fact that in many instances, black people feel like they're treated as suspects first and then citizens second.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Martha Raddatz, on this question of who's interfering in the riots and turning peaceful protests into violent protests, you also saw Robert O'Brien suggest that China is a principal actor there, discounting what we're seeing from Russia, saying those activists who are not necessarily tied to the government.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS “THIS WEEK” CO-ANCHOR: He immediately talked about China and he was talking more about trolling really, George. He was saying that Chinese foreign minister was saying bad things about the State Department.
What Marco Rubio and others, and Pierre are talking about, is social media and getting people into civil disobedience to try to foment this, to try to make this worse. He never mentioned on his own Russia until you brought it up and, definitely, Russia is one of those places that is loving this and every part of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Cecilia Vega, it seems pretty clear, at least from Robert O'Brien's comments, that the president is not eager right now to do an Oval Office address addressing this crisis.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, George, we're hearing that there's growing divide inside the West Wing among top aides.
You have got these two camps, on one side, among others, Jared Kushner, who are wondering what the political benefit is of having the president address the nation from the Oval Office. They wonder whether this will do more harm than good.
Frankly, they know he's not a huge fan of giving the Oval Office address, that he's made mistakes in them in the past. The White House has had to kind of scramble to play cleanup on that.
On the other hand, though, you have got others in the West Wing, including the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who are strongly encouraging him to do this, because they say that he could really appear to be a strong leader, to be a unifier, a healer, at this time of great crisis in our country.
And, frankly, there's a belief that this could help him with the African-American vote during an election year.
You also, though, now have some aides arguing that the president shouldn't even be pushing forward new initiatives during this time, even coronavirus-related initiatives, because that could appear to be tone-deaf. Some thought that that trip to Florida yesterday to see the space launch appeared tone-deaf.
And we're seeing, though, now sort of the president's allies more vocally, more forcefully ask him, call on him to make this Oval Office address. Even on FOX News this morning, a host there essentially implored him to do it.
And they're really, George, hearkening back to George H.W. Bush during the '90s, who came out and addressed the nation in the middle of these Rodney King riots, and he really appeared to be a unifier at the time, a leader. He was praised for giving that speech.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Chris Christie, you're an ally of the president. What should he be doing right now?
CHRISTIE: Well, George, I think the first thing is for us to understand, I think, what's gone on here. There's three factors that's caused what's gone on. And the president needs to address all three factors.
Factor number one, the most important factor, was the outrageous conduct of the Minneapolis police involved in this incident. I was in law enforcement, George, as a U.S. attorney for seven years overseeing law enforcement at a number of different levels, then as governor.
What went on there is completely unacceptable. And, by the way, those three officers who stood by while that -- while George Floyd was saying, "I can't breathe," and allowed that other officer to continue need to be held to account as well, and need to be held to account criminally.
There's no doubt about that. And I think that's one of the things that needs to be done. And I don't think there's a lot more work that needs to be done on something like that to be able to bring charges.
I think, secondly, what you're seeing happening in the country now, George, is that the inaction by the governor of Minnesota in the very early stages of this, not pre-staging the National Guard after this incident occurred, not activating enough people to be able to allow there to be a large presence -- this is not a show of force, George.
There should be a show of presence, so that people understand that this type of violence would not be acceptable from anyone. And, as we have said, the protesters in the main were not being violent. It was others who were doing that.
And I do think the third piece of this, too, George, is that people aren't are extraordinary stress and pressure after having been locked down for 10 to 12 weeks, depending upon where they live in this country.
They have watched their businesses close. They have become -- 40 million of them have become unemployed. They're worried about supporting their families. And now they see this injustice happening in Minneapolis and a lack of response from the elected officials in Minnesota, and that frustration grows even more.
And I think the president needs to address all three of those.
CHRISTIE: I don't know that it has to be an Oval Office address, George, but I do think it might make sense for him to stand with the attorney general and to talk about how they're going to demand that justice be done on all three of those fronts, and done swiftly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All fair points, Chris, but -- and we have seen the president make some of those points in public.
But what about the tweets all week long, starting out with the accusations against Joe Scarborough?
GASPARD: George -- George -- George...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just finish the point for Chris Christie first, and then you can respond, Patrick.
GASPARD: Sure. Sure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We saw the lootings and shootings tweets. We have seen the constant stream of attacks from the president on Twitter.
CHRISTIE: Listen, George, again, I think that what the president needs to be doing and should be doing is addressing the substance of all this.
And those are the three points I think he needs to be addressing. And I think anything else becomes a distraction for people, because now we're talking about it, rather than talking about what happened, the injustice that was done to Mr. Floyd, the absolute malpractice committed by elected officials in Minnesota, which allowed this to spread even more -- even further, and with more violence, and an acknowledgement of the stress that the American people are already under.
And this has now added even more to it. So, he needs to be addressing those things. And I think addressing anything else is a distraction and something that doesn't help to bring the country together.
GASPARD: George, in American politics, we craft really simple narratives to hide and mask ugly realities.
Let's leave aside the tweets from this president. Let's look at the actual record of what he has said in public.
President Trump came to New York, New York, in 2017, not as candidate Trump, but as the president of the United States, stood in front of a wall of -- of blue, with police officers surrounding him, and told those officers that when they arrest suspects, they needed to, quote, be rough on them, hit their heads against the vehicle, don't be nice. The president said this and received applause and laughter from the thousands of cops who were in that room.
So this president is utterly incapable of addressing this issue and providing any meaningful leadership. This is a White House that's also now telling us that they stand by peaceful protesters. Well, tell that to Colin Kaepernick, who Donald Trump singled out and called an SOB for standing up- and expressing, in peaceful ways, his protest against police abuse.
So we're crafting simple narratives around the president. We're rewriting the history here. It's right, of course, that Governor Christie speaks to the failure of public officials in addressing the challenge that we see in our streets. But look at what that video that you showed earlier, George, of the -- the black reporter being arrested by police, acting peacefully, reporting the news, doing his job. Why did they single him out? Why did they arrest him? That might single something to us about the way average citizens are being treated by police officers right now as they peacefully protest.
Yes, there are those who are inciting, yes there are those who are looting and doing all kind of things that are to be denounced, that have been denounced in generations past during demonstrations, but the vast majority of people are saying, enough is enough. African-Americans represent 6 percent of the population in Minneapolis, represent a full quarter of those who have been hospitalized for Covid, a full third of those who have contracted the contagion and now they're seeing that their citizenship is being denied in the most abusive ways. Enough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and, Martha Raddatz, one of the -- one of the questions is going to be, as these riots -- as they try to get the riots under control, the National Guard seemed to hold down the violence last night. Well, we heard Congresswoman Omar say that that caused many of the protesters also to feel terrorized. It's hard to get that balance right.
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: Well, well -- we've heard over the years that police forces are getting too militarized --
RADDATZ: And now we've brought in the National Guard.
GASPARD: Yes. I talked about that, yes.
RADDATZ: The National Guard trains for this kind of situation. But it is really secondary training to what they normally do. They may be activated and go overseas. They've been very involved in the global war on terrorism. They've just been handing out food because of the pandemic. And now they're exhibited to do this kind of crowd control. They are standing between the protesters and sides (ph).
And I do want to go back to president's tweets on this. He said, I will send in the guard and get the job done right. There will be vicious dogs and ominous weapons, unlimited power of our military.
The military -- the active-duty military is not involved here yet. The National Guard is. They can't shoot looters. This doesn't help them with rules of engagement, to hear these kinds of things from the commander in chief when they too want to de-escalate this situation.
GASPARD: Well --
RADDATZ: Just this morning, when I drove by the White House and saw some of the damage around the city and thought of those comments from the president, the tweets about the vicious dogs, the police out there had a large banner that I think has been there for a while with a rather gentle-looking picture of a German shepherd saying, we are here, our canines are here to keep you safe, to keep the community safe. So they, too, want that message of de-escalation.
But I also would like to echo what Patrick said about the training, the police training in these situations. Not only is the George Floyd situation and murder horrendous, but you did have Minneapolis Police arresting a reporter. Who would ever think a reporter standing there doing live television and not causing any problem would be arrested. So they all have to look at the training. Not just the guard in situations like this, and they have to be careful and they have to be disciplined, but also those (INAUDIBLE) forces.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pierre Thomas.
GASPARD: Martha -- Martha and George, there's a double -- there's a double side to this there.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let Pierre -- let me bring in Pierre.
PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS CHIEF JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: George, one thing I would add here, the majority of law enforcement officials, as best we can tell, are good people. They do their job. It's a dangerous job. It's a difficult job. But this, in essence, is about the indignities that black men and women and people of color face all the time.
I'll give you an example. I've been pulled over a number of times, driving a nice car, driving while black. I can tell you, it's not a great feeling.
Just recently I happened to be in a supermarket, shopping, had a mask on, people couldn't really see who I was. I was cleaning off my shopping cart and a woman saw me cleaning -- cleaning off the shopping cart and motioned to me as if I was cleaning the cart for her. And I simply said to her, in a rather indignant voice, I'm cleaning this cart for me. It was a white female.
Now, the point here is that we suffer these indignities every day, all the time, and I think we're at a point where people are saying they're sick and tired of being sick and tired. They need to use the system and allow the system to play its way out. But patience. People want to see action. And we have to see this investigation to see where it goes. But this is not something that happened just to Mr. Floyd. We've seen this over and over again where black men and women who encounter police in routine situations end up either beaten and/or killed and that is the situation.
Where are we on this road to the more perfect union? Where are we on this road to equal justice? And people want some answers now.
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Cecilia Vega, all of this happening six months away from a presidential election.
Let me quickly get to Cecilia and then, Chris, you get the last word.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, George, and I think it's -- it -- the election being so close was illustrated in a phone call that the president has been talking about for the last couple of days. He called George Floyd's family and he spoke to his brother. And then the brother recounted the phone call that he had with the president and said that he couldn't get a word in edgewise, that the president spoke over him the entire time. And then another person speaking on behalf of the family says that -- that -- that Joe Biden spoke with the family for 30 minutes and gave a very personal story about death in his family and had a personal connection with the family. You're seeing these differences laid out.
But, George, I still want to go back to something the governor said, put the tweets aside, you can't put the tweets aside. You've got mixed messages coming from the president, on one hand saying, we should be a united country, and on the other hand talking about dogs and looting leads to shooting. You've got completely mixed message here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wish we had more time. I'm afraid we don't. Well, quick --
GASPARD: There's something else we can't put aside, though George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, I'm sorry, you know, we're -- I'm afraid we're out of time. We're -- as I wish we had another half hour. I am sorry we don't. It's an important time.
But we'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all the for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. We're going to cover all of the latest news all day long on ABC Live and a full report tonight on "WORLD NEWS."
I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA".