'This Week' Transcript 7-31-22: Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Bill Cassidy & Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers

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

ByABC News
July 31, 2022, 9:08 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 31, 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN KARL, ABC HOST (voiceover): Surprise breakthrough.

HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER (D-NV): This is not a Democrat bill. This is not a Republican bill. This is an American bill.

KARL: Democrats strike a secret deal on inflation and climate, a boost for President Biden's economic agenda as recession fears take hold.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R-TX): He's done an Olympic worthy flip-flop.

KARL: Our guests this morning, the architect of the plan, Senator Joe Manchin, the GOP response from Senator Bill Cassidy.

Plus.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN AND ACTIVIST: Senate's where accountability goes to die.

KARL: We’re one-on-one with Jon Stewart, after Republicans change course on a landmark bill to protect veterans.

Global gamesmanship.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We have global responsibilities whether it comes to security, economy, and governance.

KARL: Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrives in Asia. As Chinese President Xi warns a visit to Taiwan would be playing with fire.

Tensions mount between Russia and U.S. over a possible prisoner swap. Why is the U.S. negotiating in public? Ian Pannell is live this morning with the very latest.

KARL (on camera): So what's that like to have the former President of the United States and say you disgraced yourself and disgraced the State of Arizona?

RUSTY BOWERS, (R-AZ) HOUSE SPEAKER: He has no idea what a hard life is.

KARL (voiceover): One hundred days out from the midterms, what price will Republicans pay for defying Trump? My exclusive conversation with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, after his powerful January 6th testimony.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

KARL (on camera): Good morning and welcome to “This Week.”

With just 100 days until the midterms, President Biden is dealing with something he hasn't seen in a while, good news, a week of victories after months of setbacks.

The president had a spring in his step after emerging from Covid and Congress passed a long debated bill to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing. And then a deal no one saw coming, a reversal from Senator Joe Manchin, the Democrat who had stood in the way of so much of the president's agenda, announcing his support for key components of Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

Is it the beginning of a comeback or a mirage? The Manchin deal still needs to pass and some Democrats are complaining loudly that the deal was struck in secret. And as for that COVID recovery, President Biden tested positive again yesterday, a rebound case, although his doctor says he is feeling fine.

We're going to talk to Senator Manchin in a moment, but we begin this morning with major stories about America’s two most powerful rivals, China and Russia. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is enroute to Asia, raddling China over a possible trip to Taiwan, which would be the first by a speaker of the House in a quarter century.

Meanwhile a highly unusual negotiation is playing out in public over two Americans detained by Moscow. Senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell has been tracking the latest and joins us now from Ukraine.

Ian, the Chinese are warning of major consequences if Pelosi actually goes to Taiwan and Biden seems to agree.

IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's right. It’s not just China who thinks this is inflammatory if it goes ahead. And I think we have to say, her team have released her itinerary, which doesn't mention visiting Taiwan, although that still doesn’t mean that she couldn’t go because, of course, given the sensitivities it likely would be preannounced.

Biden saying even the U.S. Military thinks it is, quote, “not a good idea” and privately she's being urged against it.

You know, this would be the highest level visit to island since Gingrich when in '97. But today China is a much more powerful country than 25 years ago. It’s posture towards Taiwan is more strident and Xi Jinping is far more prone to take risks than his predecessors.

I think Beijing [ph] thinks a visit would embolden those pro-independence forces in Taiwan. They’re calling this foreign interference, a violation of the One China principle. We’ve heard those things before. But he’s also warning, as you say, of forceful measures including (inaudible) if she does go. Chinese media even saying that Xi threatening America in that phone conversation with President Biden this week saying, quote, “playing with fire you'll only burn yourself.”

There’s a lot of rhetoric and if she goes, China will likely respond with some show of force but, of course, avoiding a direct conflict with America. But it would be highly dangerous.

And here’s the rub [ph] finally, there are also many who believe now if she doesn't go, it's going to be seen as capitulation to Chinese pressure.

Jon?

KARL: Let’s turn to this talk of a possible prisoner swap to free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. This has led to first high-level talks between Russia and the United States since the invasion of Ukraine. What's your sense, Ian, are the Russians negotiating in good faith here?

PANNELL: Yes, I mean, it’s a good question. I think, the Biden administration is clearly feeling and succumbing to that public pressure to get Griner and Paul Whelan out. But, of course, he’s frustrated by Russia’s stalling tactics. And I think -- I think, that (ph) appears to explain the leak about convicted arms smuggler Viktor Bout as a potential swap. It’s a deal the Russians appear, for now, not to be taking.

And this leak, I think, seems to be aimed more at easing U.S. public opinion than actually pressuring Moscow. The White House is also appearing on the back foot now, having to shoot down this idea again floated by Russian officials, to release this character Vad Incratifoc (ph). He’s a convicted assassin currently in jail in Germany. It’s not a realistic proposal.

You ask is Russia negotiating in good faith? I don't think so. And there certainly doesn’t appear to be in any rush, I think, to release either Griner or Whelan.

Jon?

KARL: All right, Ian Pannell, thank you.

We turn now to President Biden’s domestic agenda. After 18 months of intense negotiations, backroom dealing and more than a little name-calling, Joe Manchin the most conservative Democrat in the Senate from deep red West Virginia and often a thorn in the side of his Party, agreed to a far-reaching deal that would represent the most ambitious plan to combat climate change that the U.S. has ever undertaken, that is if it becomes law.

With Republicans uniformly opposed, the Democrats will need to stay totally united in the coming weeks to pass the bill and that is far from guaranteed.

Joining us now is the architect of the bill, Senator Joe Manchin. Senator Manchin, thank you for joining us.

So what’s the bottom line? Do you have everybody onboard, including Senator Sinema who, of course, was not part of this negotiation and has opposed at least one key tax provision in this bill?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, Jon, let me just say, this is all about fighting inflation, that's what it’s about. Inflation is just absolutely destroying families across West Virginia and across America, high price of gasoline just to go to work, high price of food just to maintain your -- sustain yourself during the day and every day for your family, and then the high cost of energy and any and everything else you want to do in life is taking a tremendous toll, that's what this is about.

And this is a -- and this is an inflation reduction act, we're investing, we're not spending money, we're investing. We’ve taken a $3.5 trillion aspirational bill that I never could come to an agreement on anyway shape or form, but I tried, couldn't get there. And we've taken $3.5 trillion of spending down to $400 billion of investing without raising any taxes whatsoever.

We’ve closed some loopholes, didn’t raise any taxes, Jon.

KARL: But is Senator Sinema onboard? She opposed one of those loopholes you closed, the carried interest loophole. Is she going to --

MANCHIN: Well, let me just say this, Senator Sinema is my dear friend. I have all the respect for her. She’s extremely bright and works very, very hard.

She has an awful lot in this piece of legislation, the way it's been designed as far as the reduction of Medicare, letting Medicare go ahead and negotiate for lower drug prices. She’s very involved in that. And I appreciate that.

Also, basically when she said, taxes, we're not going to raise taxes, I agree with that. And I made sure we scrubbed (ph) this, there’s not a tax increase. What they're talking about, Jon, the tax rate used to be at 35 percent in 2017, the corporate tax rate, it went to 21 percent -- a 14 percent reduction. I was -- unbeknownst to me that there are people who are not paying any taxes whatsoever. These are the largest corporations in America of a billion dollars of value or greater, and we just said it should be a floor of a 15 percent minimum. I think that everybody in West Virginia, most people in America that have corporations and pay their taxes believe that everyone should (ph) be paying at least 21. We made sure that we did not raise taxes. We closed loopholes.

KARL: As for this inflation question, you had opposed Build Back Better, the full bill, and even some scaled back versions saying that it would increase inflation and we have an estimate out here from Wharton’s Budget Model, this is the U Penn Wharton Budget Model, that says that this bill actually would, they say, very slightly but would increase inflation over the course of the next year-and-a-half.

MANCHIN: Well, we had 17 economists, Nobel laureate economists say that -- a year ago almost, said that the inflation would be transitory and it wouldn’t last, it would just go away. So I understand there’s difference of opinion, but everybody, if they look at this bill objectively, we're paying down $300 billion in -- for debt. $300 billion we're taking of this bill, paying it towards debt. First time in 25 years, never been done in 25 years.

KARL: Well --

MANCHIN: We're basically investing in reliable energy, making sure that we use our fossil fuels as clean and cleaner than anyplace else in the world, but we basically aggressively produce more energy to reduce the prices of gasoline and energy costs at your house and everywhere else.

And basically, we've invested in new technologies to bring more manufacturing back, such as batteries. We're going to start making batteries in America. We start extracting rare earth minerals, producing it, processing it, making it here.

KARL: But --

(CROSSTALK)

MANCHIN: Through all of this, they're not factoring any of that in.

KARL: Let me ask you this, though. This is such a good bill as you've outlined, why did it have to be negotiated in secret?

As you know, this has rubbed some of your colleagues the wrong way. Bernie Sanders said: Last I heard, Senator Manchin is not the majority leader. Despite what you may think, last I heard, he is not the only member of the Democratic Caucus.

Why did this have to be basically just you and Chuck Schumer in the room?

MANCHIN: I understand all the frustration and the reason for that. I didn't want them to go through that again.

I didn’t know if we could get a deal. I did not if we could come to an agreement. So, why would I put people through this -- all this drama?

I’m not -- I’ve been through this for eight months. I tried, I kept trying. I stayed there, I kept talking. I just couldn't get to where they wanted to go to in my caucus.

And rather than everybody down and here we go, I didn’t want to go through that. So, I wanted to see if we could come to that agreement. I thought it fell apart a couple of weeks ago. But it did. We came back and we started making adjustments to make sure it wasn't inflammatory.

This is not adding to inflation. This is going to help take us to a place of prosperity. I truly believe in my heart that we’re going to have more energy produced. We’re going to be able to help our geopolitical partners around the world who are in desperate need of our energy.

KARL: Of course.

MANCHIN: And we're going to be energy independent and we’re all -- and we're going to be able to invest, Jon, in energy of the future.

KARL: So, before we go, can you clarify something for me. You seemed to suggest this week --

MANCHIN: Sure.

KARL: -- that you might not support Joe Biden or at least wouldn't commit to supporting Joe Biden if he’s the Democratic nominee for 2024. So, what’s the bottom line? If Biden is renominated --

MANCHIN: Jon --

KARL: -- by your party, will you -- will you support him? Or could you vote for a Republican?

MANCHIN: Jon, this is -- everybody's worried about elections. That's the problem. It's a 2022 election, 2024 election.

KARL: No, but this is a simple question. Would you -- would you --

MANCHIN: No, no, it’s this -- it’s not. I’m not getting involved in that, Jon. I’m really not and I’ll tell you the reason.

This type of legislation wouldn't happen unless the president of the United States was involved and he gave -- he gave his blessing and signed off on it. I can assure you that, and I appreciate that more than anybody knows because this has been tough.

KARL: So, you wouldn’t -- you wouldn’t even --

(CROSSTALK)

MANCHIN: So, I’m not going -- I’m not getting into the 2022 or 2024. Whoever is my president, that's my president. And Joe Biden is my president right now.

And whatever happens in 2022 --

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: So, you won’t even -- you can't even roll out voting for a Republican for president?

MANCHIN: I’m not getting into the 2024 election. I’m not getting into the ‘22 election. That's all.

KARL: All right. All right. Senator Manchin, thank you for joining us.

MANCHIN: Thank you, Jon, for having me.

KARL: All right, let's get the GOP response from Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy.

So, Senator Cassidy, you heard Senator Manchin lay out his arguments for this new bill on climate and spending. What's your response?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Yeah, much of what he says is just not true.

For example, they are raising taxes. According to the Joint Committee of Taxation, taxes will be raised almost $17 billion in the first year on those who are making less than $200,000, and the percent of taxes raised for individuals increases over time for the middle class and the lower income. They're raising taxes on people who make less than $10,000, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

And in terms of lowering the price of fuel, they're going to raise excise tax on the -- every barrel of oil by $17 roughly. That is going to increase the price at the pump, increase other fuel-related costs.

So much of what they're saying about this bill was not true and those are two examples.

KARL: You -- you and other Republicans have frequently pointed to Larry Summers and what he said about the original version of Build Back Better, saying that it would increase inflation. This bill, though, is significantly less expensive. It is more targeted and Larry Summers now has an entirely different view at least on this bill.

Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I believe that this is disinflationary policy that's also going make the economy more efficient, that’s also going to preserve the environment, and also is going to make us have a fairer society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: So, here's the guy that you and other Republicans pointed to over and over and over again in explaining opposition to Biden's original plan. Now this pared down plan he says is going to be deflationary and lead to a fairer American society. What -- what do you say now to Larry Summers?

CASSIDY: Yeah, it may be deflationary by causing a recession. They’re interjecting an incredible amount of -- incredible amount of uncertainty into the economy just as we entered a recession, number one.

Number two, 50 percent of the taxes on business are on manufacturers. I just spoke to a Louisiana manufacturer last week and he’s – he’s just like having to increase wages to attract workers. And now we’re going to increase his taxes as much as we’re going to. Manufacturers can choose to set up in the United States or chose to move to Asia. I think what we’re doing is inducing them to move to Asia. You can have a disinflationary program by causing a recession. I think this is going to lead to a worse recession.

KARL: OK. So, I'm hearing you're definitely not going to be onboard here. This will be all Democrats if it passes. But let me ask you about the chips bill which passed right before Manchin announced this deal, Manchin and Schumer.

You were one of 17 Republicans that supported that bill to support domestic production of semiconductors.

Here's what your Louisiana colleague, John Kennedy, had to say after – after that happened. He said, we got our ass kicked. It’s just that simple. Looks to me like we got rinky-doo’d. That's a Louisiana word for "screwed."

So, is he right, did you guys get hood-winked by Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer?

CASSIDY: Yes. First, John also said that he thought we should spend the money on national defense. We are spending the money on national defense. Right now the U.S. share of computer chip production has decreased from 40 percent to 15 percent. And if China attacked Taiwan, we currently get about – or the world's share of Taiwan plus China is 55 percent. If we wish to have a secure industrial base to provide the chips for our fighter jets, for our cars, you name it, we’ve got to have a domestic chip manufacturing.

This is all about national security. I'm a China hawk. If you're comfortable with China, you don’t mind – you know, this bill, maybe you don’t vote for. If you’re a China hawk like I am, if you’re about national security, by golly you support this bill.

And, by the way, you mentioned whether or not Schumer somehow pulled a fast one on Republicans. Schumer pulled a fast one on the American people. When they say it’s not going to raise taxes, but 50 percent of the taxes raised are on those making less than $200,000 a year, he pulled a fast one on the American people.

KARL: OK.

All right, and, quickly, before you go, I’ve got to ask you about this bill to help veterans who were exposed -- had toxic exposure fighting wars on behalf our country. You voted for this burn pit bill just a month ago and now you voted against it this week. Can you explain why? Why did – why did you change on this?

CASSIDY: Yes, so the bill will pass. And I strongly support it. We have to stand by our veterans who have been exposed to these chemicals. There was a drafting error. A $400 billion drafting error that – that Democrats promised Republicans would get a vote on an amendment to fix. They denied us that vote.

So, what we’re asking is, give us the vote on the amendment. Let us try – try and go after a $400 billion drafting error. By the way, more than Manchin claims that this bill will reduce the deficit by, so that we can fix that and then move on to helping our veterans.

KARL: But, to be clear, you did vote for it in its current form in the Senate.

CASSIDY: And I – and –

KARL: Yes.

CASSIDY: Yes, and I'll vote for its final passage, too.

KARL: You did vote for it.

OK. All right, Senator Cassidy, we appreciate –

CASSIDY: Then I’ll vote for its final passage.

KARL: We appreciate your time.

Coming up, the midterm elections are just one hundred days away. Five states holding their primaries Tuesday. The powerhouse roundtable is standing by.

And, later, we go one-on-one with Jon Stewart as he fights for health benefits for veterans.

We're be back in just 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): Their dues that they're paying to the DCCC are being used to fund my primary challenger. It's pretty galling, in the hypocrisy of it all, and just shameless, given their high-minded rhetoric about how they are the party of democracy.

PELOSI: We think the contrast between Democrats and Republicans, as they are now, is so drastic that we have to -- we have to win.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Democrats are spending millions of dollars supporting Republican primary candidates who sound a lot like Donald Trump in saying that the 2020 election was stolen. It's not because they agree with that, obviously, but instead they believe that these Trump-like candidates will be easier to beat in November.

Our political director, Rick Klein, is back at the Midterm Monitor with the state of play.

So, Rick, Trump's most prominent Republican critics are fighting an uphill battle for survival.

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, Jon, in all of the states that are voting on Tuesday, you've got at least one, in many cases fare more than one, election-denying candidate running in a Republican primary for a major office. The biggest battle is probably going to be in Arizona. You've got Donald Trump and Mike Pence on opposite sides of the Republican primary for governor there, Trump's candidate falsely claiming that the election was stolen.

We also have Donald Trump there working against Rusty Bowers, the state house speaker in Arizona who was at that January 6th hearing a couple -- a couple of weeks back.

And here's something really interesting, Jon. As you know, there were only 10 Republicans to vote for Donald Trump's impeachment at that second trial after January 6th. Four of them decided to retire, never facing voters again. One of them lost pretty badly. Only one out of the 10 so far has advanced to the general election. But just this week, on Tuesday, we're going to see primaries featuring three of the remaining four, two in Washington state, one in Michigan, all running against more Trump-friendly Republicans. And they're going to learn their fates ahead of Liz Cheney in Wyoming in a couple of weeks.

KARL: And, of course, Democrats are playing in that Michigan race in a most unusual way, working against one of those 10 who voted to impeach Trump.

KLEIN: Yeah, and we're seeing a trend develop here, Jon, where you're seeing Democrats spend money to attack a Republican as too friendly to Donald Trump, too MAGA-friendly. Everyone knows, them included, that only builds up a Republican in a competitive primary. It's had the impact of Democrats helping choose their own opponent in places like Nevada, Pennsylvania, Maryland, just a couple of weeks ago. It didn't work so well in Colorado, but it has worked a bunch of places.

And this is what makes Michigan interesting. We heard from Congressman Meijer, very upset about the fact that Democrats are trying to boost his opponent. His congressional district got more Democratic after the last round of redistricting here in west Michigan, the Grand Rapids area, a rare opportunity for a Democratic pickup. That means the Democrats are trying to build up the candidate they think is easiest to beat. It's an old trick in politics. And if it works, maybe Democrats get something out of it. But if it doesn't, the fact is, Jon, that Republicans will have a new member of Congress who was elected in part because Democrats wanted him to be there, and that is someone who might try to overthrow a future election.

KARL: All right, our political director Rick Klein.

Thank you.

KLEIN: Thanks, Jon.

KARL: Let's dig in it all now with our roundtable, New York Democratic Congressman Ritchie Torres; USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page; New York Times' "The Argument" podcast host Jane Coaston; and pollster and communications adviser Frank Luntz.

So, Susan, you are our resident Nancy Pelosi expert...

(LAUGHTER)

KARL: ... as her biographer. I want to start there. You think she's going to go to Taiwan even though Biden's made it clear that they don't want her to go?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Hey, good luck telling Nancy Pelosi where she can and cannot go. She's been protesting on the issue of Chinese record on human rights since she arrived in Congress decades ago. Remember in 1991, she unfurled a -- she was on a congressional delegation to Beijing, went to Tienanmen Square, unfurled a pro-democracy banner, which really riled up China. So ask Bill Clinton. She didn't listen to his entreaties during his presidency about taking a softer line on China. And I do not think she'll be swayed even by another Democratic president.

KARL: Any concern among this, Congressman, in your caucus, about Pelosi defying -- essentially defying the Biden administration?

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Well, it's not the place of the Biden administration to dictate where the speaker and members of Congress can travel. If there are security concerns, those concerns can be presented to us in a private setting, but we have to be careful not to send the message that the United States can easily be bullied by China or can be intimidated by bellicose rhetoric. Because if we allow ourselves to be bullied, then it will never stop. This is the speaker's decision to make and hers alone.

KARL: All right. Let's -- let's turn to the domestic agenda. Frank, you've seen good news for Biden this past week. He got a -- a major semiconductor bill passed. He's got a deal with Manchin. Manchin's on board with Build Back Better, sort of. What do you think? Does Manchin just give him a lifeline?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: I don't think this is significant. I've...

KARL: You don't think it's significant?

LUNTZ: I have a simple question. Are Americans better off today than they were two years ago? Are you nervous about filling your tank up with gas? We know that half of Americans can't do it. One out of five have return food when they get to cashier because they simply can’t afford it, that this is too much about Washington and not about the quality of life for the average individual. I know that he likes to argue whether inflation was transitory, and now he’s arguing over a recession. The fact is this sounds Orwellian. Don't argue over the words. If you can't afford not just what you want but what you need, that is by definition a recession and people are suffering right now.

KARL: So you’re saying it’s not a big deal in terms of the impact on the midterms?

(CROSSTALK)

KARL: This is a major bill.

LUNTZ: But there’s advice to the president which is don't argue over semantics, that's my job as a language guy.

KARL: Right.

LUNTZ: Your job --

KARL: You’re the guy that does argue over words.

LUNTZ: Yes, and it's really unseemly for the president to be fighting over the definition when people are genuinely suffering out there.

KARL: Yes, I mean, Jane, that does not seem to be the best argument is let's fight over the meaning of the word "recession."

COASTON: Right.

KARL: Especially because we may end up finding out that we are in a recession.

COASTON: Right, exactly. And this is the not first time that we’ve quibbled -- that people have quibbled over what a recession is or isn't. We saw that under the Bush administration in 2008, which as I recall, didn't go well for anyone in involved, especially if you were graduating from college in that time.

I think that what is or is not a recession should not be dictated by people who are likely to not suffer the brunt of a recession. But I do think that focusing on what the bill can do for regular people, talking about what's affordable, talking about what's not affordable, rather than getting into the concept of inflation, which I think for many people is like things cost more than they did the year before, which is a global problem but can have domestic solutions, and people should be taking it seriously domestically, not just getting wrapped up in the politics of it. The point of politics is to get something done. The point of politics is not the process by which it is done.

KARL: But Congressman, how much resentment is there for Manchin? I mean, you saw what Bernie Sanders said. He’s not the only member of the Democratic Caucus in the Senate. I mean, this is all him. This was him negotiated -- this was him and Schumer.

TORRES: I have been lamenting what I call the tyranny of Joe Manchin for a long time but I’m happy that we've laded the plane and you know --

KARL: Has it landed yet, by the way, is this going to pass?

TORRES: I'm cautiously optimistic. But there's the second tyranny of Kyrsten Sinema. So stay tuned. I'm cautiously optimistic that we will land the plane and if we pass the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden would have presided over five landmark legislative achievements from the American Rescue Plan to the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the bipartisan gun safety bill to the bipartisan semiconductor and scientific research and development bill, to the Inflation Reduction Act. That level of bipartisan achievement would have been unthinkable in a period of peak partisanship and polarization.

So there’s a disconnect between the reality of what Biden has accomplished and the media narrative about his presidency in peril.

LUNTZ: But the reality is that people still can't afford gas and what I’m nervous about is with this Ukrainian conflict, food prices are going to become even more expensive and even more scarce. The reality for them is that this is legislation that doesn't affect them from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they go to sleep at night and that's the challenge for the president.

He can point to bipartisanship, although Nancy Pelosi always talks about how partisan the Republicans are. In the end, the quality of life of the people that you represent and you represent them well, their quality of life is suffering.

PAGE: Yes, well, let me disagree with you on whether -- on the dimensions of this bill. This is a big deal, this is the largest piece of climate change legislation in our nation's history. It's a way to energize people who really care about climate change, to go to the polls in November, that's been a problem for Democrats up until now.

You know, also the repercussions of the Supreme Court decision on abortion, I think, is also beginning to really fuel Democratic energy to turn out to vote. We have a poll out today that shows two-thirds of Democrats say they are more likely to vote in November because of the Supreme Court decision and because of what they've seen happen on abortion access since then and that is Democrats have a tough road ahead (ph), inflation’s a big problem, but that is very good news for Democrats.

COASTON: I also want to think that -- one of the things I keep thinking about is that if you -- if you -- you know, the Republicans right now are the opposition party, that is where they like to be. If Republicans can be the opposition party for the rest of our natural lives, they would be thrilled because the answer is, what would Republicans do to counter inflation? What would Republicans do about Ukraine?

And I feel as if with this particular class of Republicans, I feel like what we would get is another anti-big tech bill yelling about Section 230 and not a lot of responsiveness to the needs of the American people. There’s a reason why millions of Americans are increasingly turned off by both parties. Does that mean a third party? Well, it never does.

But it does mean that people are increasingly irritated by both parties. And if your options are you -- if you are disappointed with Democrats, you know, look to the Republican Party, I don't know if you're seeing a lot of answers. I think you’re seeing a lot of screaming. KARL: So --

LUNTZ: But you raise a very good point. In the polling that was done by Gallup, more people have a negative opinion over the institutions that run this country than ever before, all time lows.

And it's not just the White House or Congress, Republican or Democrat. It's the courts, the Supreme Court. It's healthcare. It's doctors. It's everybody right now.

And, Jon, at a certain point, this fragile coalition that we call the United States, a certain point it could come apart.

I know you made fun of me for being a pessimist -- well, sometimes pessimists are correct.

I am pessimistic. I’m afraid of credibility and I think we have to tell people the truth, and that’s why I go back to the recession. Tell the people the truth. If they feel like they’re in a recession, they are.

RITCHIE: I think the reality is far more complicated. I mean, when you think of recession, what comes to mind is significant unemployment. Unemployment is at historic lows, 3.6 percent.

So, I think the term recession denies the reality of a strong labor market which is as strong as it’s ever been. So, the picture is far more complicated.

KARL: But did your constituents feel you’re in a -- are they hurting? Are they worried about the state of the economy?

TORRES: I think my constituents are struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills because of inflation, which is a real problem. But even on that front, some progress has been made. Gas prices have been falling dramatically for more than six weeks. And if it continues to fall at that trajectory, then it might come back to much more normal levels.

KARL: OK. So, speaking on this question of credibility, I want to, Susan, get you to kind of help explain Democrats going in and putting millions of dollars in states, in races across the country to support candidates that are like Trump Jr., you know? That -- I don't mean Donald Trump Jr., I mean like president junior, you know, saying the election was stolen, all of that stuff.

Including Peter Meijer. I mean, this is one of the ten who voted to impeach Donald Trump and now you have the DCCC going in and supporting his Republican primary challenger.

PAGE: You know, it's risky and it’s hypocritical. It’s risky because sometimes the candidate you don’t expect to win turns out to be stronger than you think and they win and they’re in office.

And it’s hypocritical because Democrats have been saying that election deniers threaten our very democracy. So, you’re going to go out and, in effect, campaign for an election denier because you got -- made a political calculation that it might serve your interest. I think it means Democrats cede the high ground on this.

KARL: So, let me say, one of your fellow Democratic colleagues in the House had to say about this. This is Kathleen Rice.

She said: Dirty tricks like this or part and parcel of political campaigns. But when you talk about putting money behind candidates who want to come to Washington and destroy our democracy, it's not a political, dirty trick anymore. It’s unconscionable.

And that’s what it is. They're putting money behind candidates who -- in her words -- want to come to Washington and destroy our democracy. What do you think it is?

TORRES: It's embarrassingly hypocritical. I mean, we cannot credibly defend democracy and then prop up candidates who are an existential threat to the very democracy that we're defending. And in politics, when you try to be too cute and clever, it often backfires.

DCCC is not god. It cannot guarantee the outcome of the general election and when you prop up a conspiracy theorist in a Republican primary, you run the risk of sending an extremist to the United States Congress, and that’s an egregious misuse of Democratic resources.

KARL: So, do you think the DCCC will reverse on this?

TORRES: Hopefully under pressure from members because there are a number of members like myself who are displeased.

COASTON: And I also think like this is reflective of a strategy that I remember from 2010, with Christine O’Donnell. Google her, it’s fine. Don’t worry.

KARL: She wasn’t a witch, by the way.

COASTON: She was not a witch.

It’s funny because I’m like, this was an amusing moment in politics but it wasn't because it was this idea like if you push the extremists, they'll be so extreme that obviously voters will be turned off by them. This isn't that time anymore.

And I think that it's worth noting that the DCCC did not make Republicans choose a number of these candidates, they did not force people to choose Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania, someone who’s gotten a lot of assistance from one of the most rabid anti-Semites to ever grace the Internet. They didn’t -- that wasn't forced. There isn’t that much primary crossover to get a lot of these candidates supported. These are bad candidates.

And then for the DCCC to decide that it's 2010 again and they can make fun some fun financial move of backing these candidates full well knowing that all of these races are going to be close because of how polarized our country is and especially how polarized a lot of these regions are. Like, you’re messing around in elections in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Michigan, especially the Grand Rapids area, which is a historically red district, what are you doing? Like, I don't have time to deal with the stress of this and the stress of college football season. I don't have it in me.

KARL: I mean, in Maryland, they – they supported a guy that literally bussed people into Washington on January 6th and called Mike Pence a traitor as people were – were charging into the Capitol at – saying “hang Mike Pence.”

LUNTZ: Well, it's fascinating to me to watch Trump endorsing some candidates and Pence endorsing others that you feel like you already have 2024 happening right now.

Look, it's the reason why the public believes our democracy is broken, they believe that leadership is broken and, most importantly, they believe that you guys have to get something done, that Republicans and Democrats, it’s the one thing that they agree on. Please, Washington, listen to them, learn from them, do something, help them.

KARL: Jane?

COASTON: And I think they’re – and that's not what they're getting, right?

LUNTZ: No.

COASTON: They’re getting right now is people being 11 times too cute for their own good. There’s something that I just keep thinking about, again, that the point of politics is to do things. It's to get the bridge built or the bill passed or get folks funded or, you know, solve problems that people have.

KARL: All right, we are –

COASTON: It is not the process.

KARL: On that note, we are out of time.

Comedian and activist Jon Stewart is coming up.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: My exclusive interview with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, whose testimony before the January 6th committee may well end his political career, is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOWERS: I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner. I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers reading a journal entry during his testimony before the January 6th Committee about Donald Trump's efforts to pressure him to overturn the election results in his state. Bowers is now fighting for his political life, facing a primary challenge where Donald Trump has gone all in for his opponent.

I sat down with Bowers at his home in Mesa this week. We began by discussing the reaction back home to his dramatic testimony before the January 6th Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Your testimony was intense. It was obviously heartfelt. What was the reaction back home?

BOWERS: Many individuals would come up and thank me and say that it made them proud to be an Arizonan.

KARL: What was some of the blow-back you got?

BOWERS: Oh, just that I was a traitor, "the price of treason is hanging" and stuff like that. But...

KARL: "The price of treason is hanging?"

BOWERS: ... most of what I received was just thanks. I've had people walk up and say, you know -- just cold turkey -- "I'm ashamed of you."

KARL: So let's go back to what Trump actually wanted you to do after the election of 2020, and Rudy Giuliani. I mean, they basically wanted you to overturn the results in Arizona? I mean, that's...

BOWERS: That would be the result of what they asked, yes. And then they said, "Well, we've heard that there's an arcane law in Arizona that would allow us to -- that would allow you, if you had sufficient cause, that you could" -- I don't even remember them saying that -- but would allow you to throw out the Biden electors and put in Trump's electors.

And I said "I've never heard of -- that's a new one to me. I have never heard of that one."

KARL: Well, did you ever consider going along with it? Did you ever...

BOWERS: The idea of throwing out the election of the president is like, OK, so what part of Jupiter do I get to land on and colonize?

KARL: And Rudy Giuliani...

BOWERS: More forceful. He was really the bulldog...

KARL: Yeah, and you asked him...

BOWERS: ... with a more forceful ask.

KARL: And you asked him for evidence of -- of fraud?

BOWERS: Over and over. And he said, "Yes, yes," and never gave us anything, no names, no -- no data, nothing.

KARL: So, to this day, you've never seen any evidence that there was fraud?

BOWERS: Oh, I saw -- I saw what they claimed.

KARL: So, in other words...

BOWERS: And so I got nothing. I got no names, no proof, ever.

KARL: Has the Justice Department reached out to you?

BOWERS: No. I've heard they've reached out to others.

KARL: Do you expect they will?

BOWERS: Don't know. If they do, that's fine with me.

KARL: And you'll cooperate?

BOWERS: I have nothing to hide, and I want to tell the truth.

KARL: What do you think of the prospects of DOJ prosecuting Trump?

BOWERS: When I heard what -- from the man sitting next to me and saw the video of him saying, "I just need 11,000 votes," if I did that, or if the county supervisor did that to the county recorder, you're not going to just do that and walk away. I mean --

KARL: You'd be -- you'd be prosecuted?

BOWERS: -- that’s serious.

KARL: You’d be prosecuted.

BOWERS: Well, it’s serious.

KARL: Yes, yes.

BOWERS: That’s -- how do you explain that away? Go find me 11,000 votes so I can win this --

KARL: Do you think more will come forward, more Republicans who know what was going on will come forward?

BOWERS: I hope so. I hope so.

KARL: I mean, there’s been a suggestion that the dam is breaking. I think Liz Cheney suggested that. Do you think that's happening? Do you see any signs of that?

BOWERS: I think there's a lot of us that when the dam breaks, how far will that go? Martin Luther said, I think, it’s attributed to him, that the drunken sailor will after falling from one side of the mule upon remounting fall from the other side of the mule.

KARL: Right, right.

BOWERS: So I just want folks to sober up and ride.

KARL: So Donald Trump was just out here in Arizona --

BOWERS: Yes.

KARL: -- to campaign against you. I mean, a former president --

BOWERS: It’s surreal.

KARL: -- getting involved in a state legislative race here.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rusty Bowers is a rhino coward who participated against the Republican Party in the totally partisan unselect committee of political thugs and hacks the other day and disgraced himself and he disgraced the State of Arizona. David (ph) --

KARL: So what's that like to have the former President of the United States, the leading figure in Republican Party come to your backyard, call you a rhino coward and say you disgraced yourself and disgraced the State of Arizona?

BOWERS: I have thought at times someone born how he was and raised how he was, he has no idea what a hard life is, and what people have to go through in the real world. He has no idea what courage is.

KARL: How do you explain the hold that he has, though, on Republicans, including a lot of Republican leaders right here in Arizona?

BOWERS: Yes. They rule by thuggery and intimidation. So, you know, they found a niche, they found a way, and it's fear and people can use fear, demagogues like to use fear as a weapon, and they weaponize everything and we all know it. But it’s -- that’s not leadership to me, to use thuggery.

KARL: Liz Cheney asked the question, can a president who was willing to make the choices Donald Trump made --

REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6th, ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?

BOWERS: I would certainly hope not. I certainly don't trust that authority that he would exercise.

KARL: Liz also said that the reality that we face today as Republicans is we have to choose to be loyal to Donald Trump or to be loyal to the Constitution, and you can't be both, and that’s what -- and that's the choice the Republicans faced. I mean, that’s the choice you faced.

BOWERS: Definitely and forcefully so, as I said.

KARL: Yes.

BOWERS: You will come to us or we will punish you and that's kind of the attitude of that particular group. If you want to base a party and an authority and move people to solve problems, you can't base it on a lie. Ultimately that falls apart.

KARL: Never met Kevin McCarthy --

BOWERS: No.

KARL: -- but if you were to offer him some advice -- I'm not sure he’d be seeking it from you, but --

BOWERS: I don’t think he would.

KARL: -- but if you were to offer him some --

BOWERS: Just tell the truth, look at the situation, look at the stakes. What is at stake here? You have to have quality moral character and a moral compass and in the absence of that, then the whole country is at risk.

KARL: So just to clarify, you're not supporting Trump again?

BOWERS: No. I'm not -- I'm not -- my vote will never tarnish his name on a ballot.

KARL: You're never again going to vote for Donald Trump?

BOWERS: I’ll never vote for him. But I won’t have to --

KARL: Yes.

BOWERS: -- because I think America’s tired, and there’s some absolutely forceful qualified morally defensible and upright people and that's what I want. That's what I want in my party and that’s what I want to see.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: Our thanks to Rusty Bowers.

Up next, comedian and activist Jon Stewart is furious with the Republican senators who he says are turning their backs on millions of American veterans who were exposed to deadly toxins on military bases. He joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN AND ACTIVIST: These people thought they could finally breathe. You think their troubles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is they don't have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house.

This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the Founders, and all that they profess to hold dear. If this is America first, then America is (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Comedian and activist Jon Stewart last week after Republican senators blocked a bipartisan bill to provide millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits with expedited health care and disability payments.

Jon Stewart has been a fierce advocate for the legislation and he joins us now.

So, Jon, just start with a reminder here -- how many veterans have been exposed to this kind of toxic exposure and need this help?

STEWART: So, this is 3.5 million veterans that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan in the burn pits. But the PACT Act also includes veterans all the way back to Vietnam. That's how bad we are at treating toxic exposure wounds for the men and women who fight for this country. There are still literally Vietnam veterans who are appealing to the government for help for their exposure to Agent Orange. This bill helps millions of veterans who are in dire need.

KARL: Look, Senate Republicans who voted for this just a month ago now voted against it.

Put that aside for a second. Let’s look at the reason they're saying now.

They say that they want this spending to be discretionary spending not mandatory spending. That’s Washington speak for saying it has to be voted on every year. They want a vote on that amendment.

Are you okay with them getting a vote on that amendment? Would you still favor this bill even if that amendment passed?

STEWART: Sure, vote on it, absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely vote on the amendment. Bring the amendment to the floor. Give it the same threshold that the veterans had to clear, which is the Senate threshold of 60 because it’s Senate math, not real life math. Give them the threshold. Give them the amendment.

By the way, Jon, the Toomey amendment doesn't change it from mandatory to discretionary. It's still mandatory. The Toomey amendment is really about caping the fund. It’s about putting caps on it and giving it a sunset clause for ten years.

Now, we’ve been through this with the 9/11 first responders. What Toomey's amendment wants to do is make sure that our sick and dying veterans have the pleasure that our 9/11 first responders at Ground Zero had of having to come back to Washington, hat in hand, riddled with cancer, and march through the halls of The Hill begging for money every year. They want them to have that pleasure. (INAUDIBLE). But Toomey's amendment, it’s still mandatory. There’s been no change.

KARL: So do you expect this will get resolved this week?

STEWART: Oh, I -- I have no idea. I mean the whole thing has been -- this is so bananas. Nothing changed. So, I don't understand any of this.

KARL: I have heard you say – or say that you have thoughts in the past, you had given consideration of running for office. I think I have that correct. And -- and, you know, look, we – we’ve had – we had some precedent now. There’s – there’s a guy in Ukraine who is a comedian who had a very popular show, who is now a president of Ukraine. Some people think he's a – he’s a very good president. Is there any chance you run for office? I mean, you know, any office at all?

STEWART: There -- there's a chance that when I go down, I'm going to come back down there to Washington –

KARL: Yes.

STEWART: And I'm going join my brothers and sisters on the Capitol steps who have been sleeping out on fire watch. Rosy Torres, of Burn Pits 360, Tim Jensen of Grunt Style, and anyone else who wants to go down there and join them on the Capitol steps. And I will join them and we will stay there until the United States government does the right thing by the men and women who fought to protect it. That's what I'm after.

KARL: All right, All right, Jon Stewart, thanks a lot for joining us.

STEWART: Thanks so much, Jon. I really appreciate it.

KARL: All right. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KARL: That's all for today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT," and have a great day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END

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