'This Week' Transcript 4-16-23: Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Wes Moore

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, April 16.

ByABC News
April 16, 2023, 9:05 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, April 16, 2023 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.





KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you attack the rights of women in America, you are attacking America!

KARL: The Supreme Court temporarily restores access to a widely used abortion pill, after a Texas judge suspended FDA approval.

MAURA HEALEY, GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Abortion will remain safe, legal and accessible.

KARL: Democratic governors race to stockpile the drug, as Republicans in Florida enact a six week abortion ban.

FLORIDA STATE REP. JENNIFER CANADY: We are strengthening the culture of life in the state of Florida.

KARL: Intelligence scramble.

BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER : This was a deliberate, criminal act.

KARL: A 21-year-old airman arrested and charged, accused of leaking military secrets. Why did the leak go undetected for so long? How damaging was it to national security?

New contender.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): America is starving for positive, optimistic leadership.

KARL: Senator Tim Scott moves towards a 2024 presidential bid, as Donald Trump vows to stay in the race, even if convicted.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I’d never drop. It’s not my thing. I wouldn't do it.

KARL: We cover it all this morning with our headliner, Republican Lindsey Graham, Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Maryland Governor Wes Moore.

Plus, analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, Jonathan Karl.

KARL: Good morning, and welcome to THIS WEEK.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, the court said that the legal status of abortion should not be determined by unelected judges. As Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority's opinion, quote, it is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives.

Nearly a year later, the court is once again at the center of the national debate over abortion. In a position to determine the fate of the most common form of abortion in the United States, the abortion pill Mifepristone.

The pill has been legally available for some 23 years, but a decision by a federal judge in Texas aimed to change that, not just in Texas, but throughout the United States. Justice Alito issued the 11th hour stay late Friday that will leave the availability of the pill unchanged, but only until Wednesday, as the court decides whether to intervene on lower court rulings that would either curtail access to the drug or make it illegal to manufacture and distribute it.

We'll cover all the angles of the fast-moving development in just a few minutes.

But we begin with the fallout of the arrest of 21-year-old National Guardsman Jack Teixeira for allegedly leaking a treasure trove of classified material. Teixeira has been charged with violating the Espionage Act for allegedly sharing hundreds of classified documents on Discord. That’s an online server popular with young gamers. The disclosures included secret U.S. military assessments and revealed just how closely the U.S. monitors our rivals and our allies.

The leaks also raised major questions. How did classified documents circulate online for months without the Pentagon's knowledge? Why did a young IT specialist have access to so many closely guarded secrets? And, is the leak now contained?

Let's dig into all of this with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator Graham joins us from Jerusalem.

Thank you for joining us.

You're going to get a senators-only briefing, all-senators briefing on this extraordinary leak. What questions are you going to be asking the administration?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE & (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: How a 21-year-old airman at the Massachusetts Air National Guard could have access to all of this information, why did he do it and what is the damage assessment.

I've been to Saudi Arabia. I'm in Israel. I can promise you, it’s been very damaging. There’s information about Mossad supposedly helping the protesters. There’s information about the air defense capability of Ukraine. And everybody in the region’s really worried because, who wants to share information with the United States if you’re going to read about it in the paper or find it on the internet. So, this has done a lot of damage to us in the region.

KARL: I mean – I mean you – you were an air national guardsman. Are you surprised that a – that a – such a junior air national guardsman had access to this kind of information?

GRAHAM: Yes. I was a captain and major. I would be surprised if I had that kind of information.

Yes, the system failed. This is a major failure. And those who are trying to sugar coat this on the right, you cannot allow a single individual of the military intelligence community to leak classified information because they disagree with policy. I don’t know what led to this airman’s actions, but he’s done a lot of damage to our standing. It’s very hard to get people to come forward right now to tell us about things we need to know about if they feel like they’re going to be compromised. The sources, the methods of how we collect on adversaries have been compromised. And I am stunned that somebody at that level could have so much access.

So, the question is, how did he get it and why did he do it. And we – some people need to be fired over this.

KARL: I mean, as you mentioned, there are some on the right that are not only sugarcoating it but actually applauding him.


KARL: I mean take a look at what Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted.


KARL: She said, Jack Teixeira is white, male, Christian and anti-war. That makes him an enemy to the Biden regime. And he told the truth about troops being on the ground in Ukraine and a lot more.

I mean Tucker Carlson’s kind of turning him into a hero.

What – what do you make of that? Why?

GRAHAM: What they’re suggesting will destroy America's ability to defend itself. That it’s OK to release classified information based on your political views. That the ends justify the means. It is not OK.

If you’re a member of the military intelligence community and you disagree with American policy and you think you’re going to be OK when it comes to leaking classified information, you’re going to go to jail. It’s one of the most irresponsible statements you could make. The ability for America to gather intelligence from human resources on the ground has been compromised. We can’t have a chaotic intelligence gathering system. If you give us information and it’s disclosed, you can lose your life.

The way we gather intelligence protects our country. There are military members serving today from Georgia and other places who are less safe because of what this airman did.

There is no justification for this. And for any member of Congress to suggest it’s OK to leak classified information because you agree with the cause is terrible irresponsible and puts America in serious danger.

KARL: So, let’s turn to the confusion over the various rulings on the abortion pill. I've heard you, for years, rail against judicial activism, saying that, you know, judges shouldn’t be basally legislating from the bench. So, what do you make of this?

GRAHAM: Right.

KARL: A single judge in Texas singlehandedly upending the legal status of – of the abortion pill.

GRAHAM: Yes, I don’t like a district court judge issuing a national decree. Even if I agree with the judge. And what the judge held here is that the Federal Drug Administration didn’t follow their own rules.

So, the Biden administration is trying to send the abortion pill through the mail. There’s a statute on the books called the Comstock Act that prohibits sending abortion materials through the mail. That’s going to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

So, I think the radical abortion policies of the Biden administration are wrong. But, at the end of the day, we’re a rule of law nation, and let’s see what the Supreme Court does with this.

But the decision by the Biden administration, Jonathan, to allow the pill to be sent through the mail violates an existing statute on the books.

KARL: What do you make of Florida? DeSantis has now signed six-week ban. Is that going to complicate his efforts to become president of the United States should he become a candidate to have a six week ban that’s far more aggressive than what you’ve proposed?

GRAHAM: Right. So, the – the – under my legislation states can be more restrictive. But at 15 weeks, we limit abortion on demand. My Democratic colleagues are not what you said. They have supported legislation, allowing abortion on demand, taxpayer funded, up to the moment of birth.

DeSantis will have to ask the question – answer the question, do you support a national ban at six weeks? Why did you pick six weeks? The legislative body of Florida supported what he did.

This is an issue worth talking about. Should we be a nation that allows abortion on demand, up to the moment of birth, with taxpayer-funded money, or should we have limits at 15 weeks, like Europe? Should we be like North Korea and China, or should we be more like Europe nationally? Should states have the right to regulate abortion up to a point?

These are issues that matter. Should young girls be able to play sports with biological males? The policy of the Biden administration is to allow young children, minor children to transition, to have their life turned upside down, to allow medical procedures to change gender before -- before you get 18 years of age.

All of these issues will be on the ballot, and they should be.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: And, Senator, you were just in Saudi Arabia. You met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, MBS as he is known.

GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah.

KARL: But I remember how highly critical you were of him after --


KARL: -- after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, “The Washington Post” columnist.

GRAHAM: You’re right. Yeah.

KARL: Let’s take a listen to what you had to say back in 2018.


GRAHAM: I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. OK, what does that mean?

GRAHAM: That means I'm not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy’s in charge.

The crown prince is a wrecking ball. I think the behavior before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing. And I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States.


KARL: So you said he was beyond toxic.


KARL: You would never return to Saudi while he was in charge.

So, what happened? What changed?

GRAHAM: Right. Well, a couple things happened. Number one, I've been talking with the Biden administration about working with Saudi Arabia to build on the reforms they’re doing in their country and to build on the Abraham Accords. If you get nothing else out of this interview, things in Saudi Arabia are changing very quickly for the better. I see a chance to normalize the relationship between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel that would be transformative for the region.

Saudi Arabia purchased $36 billion worth of 787 Boeing jets made in Charleston, South Carolina. They picked the Boeing 787 over the Airbus. I came over here to say thanks to Saudi Arabia. They’re thinking about buying more jets.

And I also came over to caution them about getting too cozy with China and Iran.

But Vision 2030 of the crown prince is real. Women can drive for the first time in modern Saudi history. Women can go out to dinner without a male escort. His vision for the county economically is transformative. A trillion is going to be spent to modernize Saudi Arabia. I’d like to be part of that transition.

What I saw in Saudi Arabia was a game changer for me. I want to build on the progress, but I want to have an honest, candid relationship. There are things that need to change in Saudi Arabia.

But, Jonathan, the ability work with Saudi Arabia is at an all-time high. If we could normalize relationships with Saudi Arabia, and then with Israel, build upon the Abraham Accords, it would be the biggest change in my lifetime regarding Mideast security and America's security.

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

And here now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Thank you for being here, Senator Klobuchar.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Jonathan.

KARL: Let's start with the abortion ruling. The Supreme Court has issued this stay. But it's only until Wednesday. How do you expect this to play out?

KLOBUCHAR: To me, this is unbelievable. This is a drug that has been on the market for over 20 years. FDA does a thorough review, finds it safe. You've got it safe in 60 countries. It's used in over half of the abortions.

One judge from Amarillo Texas, two judges on the 5th Circuit, all of them Trump appointed, should not be making the decision for women across the country.

What is it going to be next? Is that judge not going to like birth control pills? Are we going to have a judge that doesn't like Lipitor?

There's a reason that Congress gave FDA the power to make these decisions about safety. So, this is coming up before the Supreme Court. The Justice Department is aggressively pursuing this case.

And as it is right now, literally, these judges decided -- well, you're not going to be able to take it up to ten weeks. We think it better to do seven weeks. Well, you can't get it in a pharmacy and you can't get it by the mail, so good luck.

KARL: So, what do you expect this court to do, the Supreme Court? Will it uphold?

KLOBUCHAR: I think this one is really interesting because they have interpreted what we call standing, the ability to sue pretty narrowly at times. And in this case, you have the American Medical Association way out there, not a radical group --

KARL: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: -- saying this drug is safe.

Then, you have the small group of people that brought this suit and they’re claiming, oh, this is stressful for us because it's against our morals.

Okay, fine. But that is not the standard for standing to bring a suit. You've got to show harm or the expectation of some harm. And I can tell you who's harmed by this -- it's women that are going to have to take a bus across the country, from Texas to Minnesota or Illinois. That's the problem right now.

KARL: And if the court does uphold this, what are your options?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, the first one is to continue to aggressively litigate it. Remember, there's another case out of Washington state --

KARL: Washington.

KLOBUCHAR: -- that applies to 17 states, including my state, that is also going to work its way up through the court.

So, they’re ultimately going to make the decision. So, this is about the stay during that time.

So, aggressive litigation. The second thing is realizing where the voters of this country are -- 70 percent to 80 percent are with us. The Republican Party however is not backing down, it is doubling down, putting in six-week abortion bans in – in Florida.

What you’ve seen with criminalizing women. Trying to criminalize doctors. This is an outrageous position for them to take. So, ultimately, yes, this will get resolved state by state, but it’s going to get resolved in the ballot box in the 2024 election.

KARL: So, this will be a central issue in 2024?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, it will.

KARL: So, I want to ask you about one of your colleagues on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein. She has not voted since February 16th. She’s suffering from shingles right now. Is – is her absence in such a closely divided Senate hurting you?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think she made the right decision to step off the Judiciary Committee. I serve on that committee. And we cannot advance judges or legislation with a missing person because of the close vote. So basically, in the next week or so, you're going to see Senator Schumer, probably sooner than later, putting forward a name, and then the Senate, as they've done in the past, can vote to put this person on unanimously. That's what happened when you had Bob Dole resigning to run for office.

KARL: You don't think Republicans are going to try to block that?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. I sure hope not because that is against the precedent of the Senate and how we’ve run things. But that's the first thing. So, she did the right thing.

As for the long term, many people have been out, as you know, for periods of time when they're sick, and they have come back. In this case, we are going to need her vote on the Senate floor eventually. We have things like the debt ceiling coming up. But I think what we need to do is take her at her word. She is recovering from shingles. And make sure she comes back. If this goes on month after month after month, then she’s going to have to make a decision with her family and her friends about what her future holds because this isn't just about California, it's also about the nation. And we just can't, with this one vote margin, and expect every other person to be there every single time.

KARL: Some – some of your –

KLOBUCHAR: It’s going to become an issue as the months go by. But I'm taking her at her word that she’s going to return.

KARL: Because – because some of your Democratic colleagues in the House anyway are saying she should resign now. Let’s take a look at what Ro Khanna had to say. He tweeted, it’s time for Senator Feinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.

What do you say to Ro Khanna?

KLOBUCHAR: What I say is this. One, she's gotten off the committee, and that is – or will get off the committee. That is the most important thing to happen right now.

Secondly, I think, when you look at the history, people have returned to the Senate when they’re sick. She says she has shingles. She has had shingles. And so months down the road here, I think you get to that moment of that decision point. But right now she says she’s going to return. Let's make sure that happens. And it sure better happen before the debt ceiling vote.

KARL: And before you go, Clarence Thomas, we’ve now had, you know, two sets of – of revelations from Pro Publica. One about the vacations he took with – with Harlan Crow, who he described as a family friend. And now it turns out Harlan Crow bought his mother's house, which he was a part owner of.

How serious is this?

KLOBUCHAR: Serious. When you have billionaires who are on boards with cases pending before the court, buying a justice's mom’s home and renovating it, and then that justice doesn't report it, this isn't even an exception for personal friendships, Jonathan. This is a case where the law clearly says, you have to report these things. Yet he reported that same year a medallion he was given from Yale. Another year he reported when he was given tires. But he doesn't report this? And he didn't report the lavish vacation on yachts?

It is time for ethics rules in the Supreme Court that are clear and enforceable. I said this the last time I was on with you on this very show when he wasn't recusing himself from cases pending before the court regarding the insurrection given his wife’s -- what we know now about her e-mails and texts and the like. This should not be a double standard. Every federal judge in the country comes under these ethics rules. So, if they don't do it, then the Congress should do it. And that’s why we're having a hearing to cover this on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

KARL: All right, Senator Klobuchar, thank you for being here. We appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Jonathan. Thank you.

KARL: Thank you.

Coming up, we’ll be joined by one of the Democratic parties fastest rising stars, Maryland Governor Wes Moore.

Plus our roundtable tracks the growing 2024 presidential field.

We'll be right back.



GOV. WES MOORE, (D) MARYLAND: Today is the opportunity. It is our opportunity to lead with love. It is our opportunity to create with compassion. It's our opportunity to fight fearlessly for our future. Maryland, our time is right now.


Our time is now to build a state that for those who came before us, that they fought for, and it's a state that leaves no one behind.


KARL: Democrat Wes Moore is an Army veteran, Rhodes scholar, a former investment banker and former head of a nonprofit organization, and, as of three months ago, the governor of Maryland.

Taking the oath of office on a Bible that once belonged to Frederick Douglass, he became his state's first black governor in January. Governor Moore joins us now.

Thank you for being here.

MOORE: It's my pleasure. Great to be with you.

KARL: So I want to start with -- with the news of the abortion pill status being very much in doubt. You announced late Friday that Maryland will be stockpiling Mifepristone. What's your thinking on this?

MOORE: Well, my thinking is Maryland's going to lead on this. You know, this is the first time that we've actually seen a Supreme Court actively working to take rights away from people. Maryland is going to be a state where we are going to protect reproductive health and reproductive rights.

And, you know, not only have I instructed our Department of Health to be able to make this decision that we are going to be stockpiling the drug for -- for upwards of three years, also, if you look at the legislative session that we just had, we passed three bills that were focusing on things like increasing access, increasing privacy and also making sure that, when people come to Maryland, they're not going to be criminalized. And I worked in partnership and supported the legislature's leadership of the presiding officers to make sure that next year abortion and reproductive rights will be on the ballot in the State of Maryland. So Maryland is going to be lead on this issue.

KARL: In your inaugural address, you addressed the issue of crime, which of course is a big issue, especially in Baltimore, but throughout Maryland. You said, "We do not have to choose between a safe state and a just state. And Maryland can and will be both."

So what -- you're in, I guess, you're about 89 days in?

MOORE: That's right.

KARL: What -- what is your approach to dealing with the issue of -- of criminal justice?

MOORE: Well, you know, you think, in Maryland, for the past eight years, in the state of Maryland, we've watched the homicide rate double in the state of Maryland.

KARL: With 355 murders in...

MOORE: ... in Baltimore City alone, right? And in the state, you've seen the level of non-fatal shootings in the state of Maryland over the past eight years, it has doubled. And so we ran on the idea that we were going to take this seriously and we were going to move aggressively. And it was going to be an all-of-the-above approach.

I mean, just last night in Baltimore, we had a 12-year-old murdered with an assault rifle -- a 12-year-old. And so, when we talk about an all-of-the-above approach, it's why, in our first 90 days, yes, we did things like invest a historic measure of $107 million into mental and behavioral health supports, that we put -- that we put $122 million into local law enforcement, to include $17.5 million into Baltimore City alone. But it's also about...

KARL: You're really not in the Defund the Police mode?

MOORE: No, not at all.

And also, when you look at the fact that, if you think about how we’re actually investing in other things as well, because you're not going to militarize your way out with something that is a larger challenge. We have to get these illegal guns off of our streets. And at the same time, it's a reason that we made record investment in public education. It’s a reason that we also did things like investing in a service year option, where high school graduates will have a chance to have a year of service to the state of Maryland.

So, this is an all the above -- all the above approach in the way that we're looking at public safety.

KARL: I was struck by something else you said in your inaugural address. You talked about having handcuffs on your wrists at 11 years old.

MOORE: Yeah.

KARL: Tell me that story.

MOORE: I -- when I was 11 years old, was when I felt handcuffs.

KARL: Yeah.

MOORE: And I -- I thought about it in the moment of the inauguration where if someone would have said to that 11-year-old kid with handcuffs on his wrists, the child of an immigrant single mother --

KARL: Uh-huh.

MOORE: -- who was just trying to find his way. And if someone would have said to that kid, you know, one day you could be governor, I would have never believed them. So --

KARL: What happened? What -- why did you have handcuffs on your wrists?

MOORE: Well -- so, in that case, it was because I was spray painting and -- trying to leave my mark on the world by a spray paint can.

KARL: Yeah.

MOORE: But I figured, and the thing that happened to me was, people showed me there was another way to leave my mark on the world.

KARL: Yeah.

MOORE: And it wasn't spray paint cans. It was actually being part of something bigger than yourself.

So I had the opportunity, despite having a lot of challenges when I was young. My dad died when I was young, in front of me. I had the opportunity to go on and join the Army when I was 17 years old.

I ended up deploying overseas, running a small business, and then running one of the largest poverty fighting organizations in this country.

And the reason that I wanted to run for governor in the first place is I said, we can actually build a new type of ecosystem of politics in our state, and one that says, this is not about how we’re going to exclude, but how we’re going to include, and it’s going to create a better path for each and every one of us.

KARL: And you’ve talked a lot about service. And I think it's the first of your four pillars as you talk about. A year of public service available for every high school graduate before either college or going to work.

Public service is something -- national service is something we've heard for years political leaders talk about. George W. Bush -- George H.W. bush with a thousand points of life (ph), AmeriCorps. Governor Hogan talked about it.

How are you actually going to make that happen? How will you pay for it?

MOORE: Well, we already -- we already did.

KARL: Yeah, for 2 -- what is it, for 200 people for the --

MOORE: Yeah, what’s -- so what's going to happen is Maryland is now in our first 90 days.

KARL: Yeah.

MOORE: -- Maryland is now the first state in the country to offer a service year option for high school graduates.

And really what it is, is that for -- when a person graduates from high school, they can join the military. They can join the work force. They can go to trade school. You know, they can -- they can -- you know, they can -- there's a few different options.

But what Maryland is now doing is Maryland is now saying, or you could have a year of service to the state and partnering with local nonprofits, for -- you know, companies, also labor unions.

And we’re really doing it for three different reasons. One is we believe that service is generally sticky, and those who serve together generally stay together. The second, this is about experientially learning, and giving young people a chance to learn more about the different options that are available for to them to be able to do. And the third reason is, this is going to redefine patriotism in the state of Maryland.

When people talk about “What does it mean to be a patriot?” -- being a patriot means lifting your neighbors up, not tearing them down. And that’s why we’re going to do it.

KARL: How do you -- just quickly, how do you pay for it? It sounds expensive to have -- every high school graduate would have a year -- a year --


KARL: How do they get paid? How does it work?

MOORE: They would have a year of service, and at the end of the year, they would actually receive a $3,000 stipend.

And what we did was not only did we allocate a portion for the state budget, but also, this is being done in partisanship with our federal partners, with AmeriCorps, with the private sector. Watching the level of engagement that we have already seen since the bill passage --

KARL: Yeah.

MOORE: -- has been phenomenal. And this is going to have a market and a generational impact on the state of Maryland.

KARL: All right. Governor Wes Moore, a lot more to talk about, but we got to start. Thank you very much for joining us.

MOORE: It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

KARL: Appreciate it.

Coming up, significant new developments in the 2024 presidential race this week. We'll discuss it with the round table right after the break.


KARL: The roundtable's up next. Stay with us.



SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Today, our country is once again being tested. Once again, our divisions run deep and the threat to our future is real. That's why I’m announcing my exploratory committee for president of the United States.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We’ll announce it relatively soon. But the trip here just reinforced my sense of optimism about what can be done. I told you, my plan is to run again.


KARL: That was South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announcing a 2024 exploratory committee and President Biden inching, it seemed, a step closer to announcing his re-election during his visit to Ireland.

Let’s bring in the roundtable. We have former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former DNC chair Donna Brazile, “New York Times” opinion contributor Jane Coaston, and “Politico Playbook” co-author Rachael Bade.

So, Rachael, let me start with Tim Scott. I know you – you’ve got a lot of sources on Capitol Hill. It seems to me he's somebody who has a lot of friends in Congress, Republicans, who don't like – who don’t want Donald Trump to be the nominee again. They don't particularly like DeSantis. They wanted him to run.

RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR: Yes. I mean, I think a lot of his colleagues are encouraging him to do so. He's got this sort of incredible story of someone who grew up in poverty, and look at him now as a sitting senator. He -- he's got conservative policy chops. A very different tone than Donald Trump. He's considered very friendly, very good with voters, in person.

But I think, you know, if Republicans are being honest with themselves, it's a real question about whether or not Republican primary voters want a nice guy like that. And so I think people wanted him to run for two reasons. Number one, someone just told me there's, quote, no downside in running, right? He could potentially be picked as a – as a vice presidential candidate running mate.

The other issue that we could see this address is that if Trump is out there sort of taking, you know, swings at everybody, which he still is and he’s doing this all the time, Scott offers a very different tone. And that's a tone that Republicans are hoping voters are sure going to listen to as well and not alienating swing voters. But I think, realistically, you know, Republicans will tell you he's probably not going to be the nominee.

KARL: And if you look, Governor Christie, this week we saw a – we saw Mike Pence get booed at the National Rifle Association. This is a guy arguably who is more pro-Second Amendment than Donald Trump and het gets booed by the – by the NRA. Mike Pompeo says he’s not running. Glenn Youngkin, the governor of Virginia, seems like he's certainly not running.

I mean is the field starting to look like Trump? I mean --

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No. No, I don't think the field is starting to look like Trump. In fact, you know, when you're indicted in one place and – and you're facing investigations in two others, it makes you at least an uncertain winner. But, again, he's the – he’s the former president. So, course he's going to be the frontrunner. He has the best name ID in the race of anybody else that’s running. But you already have four other candidates now who are announced in.

But this is what I said, Jon, a couple months ago in this -- on this show. This is not going to be a 2016 field. This is going to be six to eight candidates that are going to be running. It will be a normal-type sized field. But certainly it’s not going to be a field that Donald Trump has cleared. Because if you see, you know, already, Asa Hutchison in the race, and Nikki Haley in the race, and now Tim Scott in the race, you know, these are substantial people who are going to have something to say. And so I don't think that's what it means at all.

I do think each one of these decisions were made on rather personal levels. I think in particular Pompeo’s was a decision that was just – he didn’t want to do it. And, boy, you’ve got to really want to do this. Having done it, I can tell you, you’ve got to really want to do it to be able to get in.


KARL: Trump – Trump – Trump had a – had a very long interview with – with Tucker Carlson and he -- Tucker asked him directly, you know, will you run if you are not just indicted but convicted. Here's what he had to say.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Is there anything they could throw at you legally that would convince you to drop out of the race? If you get convicted in this case in New York would you drop out?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No. No, I’d never drop out. No, I’d never drop. That's not my thing. Wouldn't do it.


KARL: Not -- not surprising.

BRAZILE: Well, his legal troubles have -- those troubles have enabled him to solidify, I think, his base. And that is –

KARL: It boosted his fundraising.

BRAZILE: Correct, because he was raising like $168,000 a day starting in January. And the day before he was indicted, his fundraising numbers have gone up. Now, we don't know the actual picture because we haven't seen the report yet.

But, look, 72 percent of Republican voters, 72 percent of Republican voters believe that Donald Trump has had a positive impact on the Republican Party. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans -- this is a Quinnipiac poll. Don’t – it didn’t come from my household. Seventy-nine percent of Republican voters see themselves as members of the MAGA movement. Now, it doesn’t matter the size, Governor Christie. And I don't know if you’re getting into the pool. But if you are getting into the pool, you need to jump in really quick because there's a Republican debate coming up in a few months and you're going to have to raise a lot of money or, well, get 40,000 donors.

But the Republican –

KARL: You’ve got to get some – get some advice here, right, at the roundtable.

CHRISTIE: All for free. It’s really great.

BRAZILE: Well, I'm – I'm – I'm trying to advise him, if you're going to leave me, you’ve got to leave me quick, OK.

But – but the Republican Party has -- is – is going to solidify around Donald Trump during this first period. But I think if somebody can make a good case against Donald Trump, then you’ll see more people jumping in before the end of the summer.

KARL: And we’re going to get Governor Christie to respond to that. But first, Jane, I mean the question is, if it's not Trump, who is it?

COASTON: I think that -- that is, one, it is April of 2023...

KARL: Yes.

COASTON: I would like us all to remember that it is April of the year before the presidential election. There's a lot we don't know. I am already seeing pieces about how Governor DeSantis is retooling a campaign that has not technically begun.

So I would just -- I really...

KARL: It, sort of, looks like it's begun.

COASTON: Sort of.


But, you know, you see him in New Hampshire, and he's, kind of -- he's learning how to walk and talk to people like a member of the human race. But you're also seeing people who are criticizing the very things that people voted for him to do.

For instance, the six-week abortion ban in Florida, which Republicans very much wanted him to do, and you're seeing that a bunch of other Republicans are saying, "No, no, don't do this. We talk about this, but we don't actually do it."

And so I think that it is that, if it's not Trump, it is likely to be DeSantis. But I think that the challenge is that the Republican primary audience and the audience of people who vote for the president are two very different audiences. As Donna was saying, what Republican primary voters want and what the American voter at large want are two very different things. Some people are going to want Ron DeSantis. But I think that, on a national level, what Ron DeSantis' policies play as is going to be very different from what they look like in Florida.

KARL: So I want to ask you about the abortion thing, but, first, do you want to make some news today about your plans for 2024?

CHRISTIE: I'm -- I'm with Donna this morning, and I'm staying with Donna this morning.


KARL: OK, OK. So no announcement now. So what -- so DeSantis signed this six-week abortion ban, signed it at night. I mean, I've seen him do live on Fox News bill signings. This was a photo released at night. And then he went to Liberty University for -- for a speech -- Liberty University, and he didn't even mention what he had just signed. So, I mean, what -- how does this play out?

CHRISTIE: Look, I've been saying for years, as someone who's pro-life, that the way these decisions should be made is state by state. They shouldn't be federalized in any way, that if you care about the Constitution, you believe in the Constitution, this is one that should be made state by state.

So states are making these decisions. So in Florida there's now a six-week ban. In New Jersey, you can have an abortion up to the ninth month. You're going to see this across the country. There are going to be differences.

KARL: But does -- does this hurt DeSantis as a presidential candidate, to be on the...

CHRISTIE: It will only...


CHRISTIE: Anything will hurt any candidate if they don't have a believable explanation for why they did what they did. What voters want more than anything else is for you to be authentic. They're willing to disagree with you -- most voters, not all, but most. Look, I was a pro-life governor in New Jersey, which is one of the most pro-choice states in America. And I got elected and re-elected with 61 percent of the vote, right? So people make...

KARL: But you weren't attempting to ban abortion in New Jersey.

CHRISTIE: I wasn't. But, Jon...

KARL: Your personal views were...

CHRISTIE: I was very clear about my personal views, though. And what people -- if people believe it comes from your heart and that you have a legitimate, not a political explanation for what you're doing, lots of people -- not all voters -- but lots of voters will say to you, "All right, we can disagree on that one. What else are you for or against?"

COASTON: But I think people believe in his heart; I think what people don't necessarily believe in is Ron DeSantis's commitment to federalism. I think we've seen with Lindsey Graham attempting to come up with federal legislation regarding a 15-week ban, and you've -- you heard this from conservatives even before Roe went down, that it would be sent back to the states; states could make the decision. And now you're hearing from a lot of conservatives, "Well, actually..."


CHRISTIE: I agree with you. I think it's wrong. I think, if -- our position for 50 years, as conservatives, post-Roe, has been this should be a decision that's made by the states. And I think, if you deviate from that, you undercut the credibility of the position you've taken for 50 years. So you and I agree on that one. It should be -- it should be consistent.

BRAZILE: The medical community is very alarmed by this decision to, sort of, dictate how we're going to treat people who are -- you know, have, whether it's an abortion or whether it's some other medical issue. I think at the heart of this conversation with the -- with the abortion pill is whether or not we're going to allow politicians to pretend to be doctors and...

KARL: Judges -- in this case a judge.

BRAZILE: A judge, who's not a doctor, to say that this medication is somehow or another unsafe and should be restricted or not available. This is -- this is going to be a liability to the Republicans not just in a general election, but as you've seen in states, just this recent case in -- in Wisconsin, where you had two -- with the state Supreme Court case -- I've got so much on my mind about -- I'm so angry about what's happening.


BRAZILE: I'm angry because of what it's doing to women in this country. I'm angry because it is setting us back. I'm also angry because once again men are telling us what to do with our bodies. And it's time that they stop and understand the ramifications and the repercussions of this. That's why I'm angry about it.

COASTON: I think the most important political priority for any political party is to not be the people telling people what to do. For the last five years we've heard from Republicans, especially even during COVID, about how freedom was going to reign and that they were just going to let people make decisions for themselves. They wanted to be the cool mom of politics. Well, that era has ended.

And I think that there is a specific type of libertarianism that is very popular in America, unlike the Libertarian Party. But there's a specific type of "Don't tell me what to do; let me make my decisions; let me make my decisions for my family" that is very politically profitable.

And I think that, if Democrats are able to say that "We are the party that says you can make these decisions; you can make decisions for your family; your family can make decisions for themselves," I think that that will be political profitable. And I think that, for Republicans, it's going to be challenging to try to sound simultaneously like cool mom and the moral majority that so many of us grew up with.

CHRISTIE: Well, the Democratic Party is all for that on abortion, but they are against it when it comes to public education. When it comes to public education, people shouldn't be able to make their own decisions. You shouldn't be able to have the ability to have your child go to a parochial school if you can't afford it, or to go to a charter school if they're not available in your town, or to be able to decide what your children should be able to learn about sexuality and at what age they should learn that.

So the Democrats are going to have a hard time making that case when you look at public education and what their position is, which is us and the teachers' unions know what to tell your children and where they should go to school and how they should be taught.


BRAZILE: Public education should be accessible and safe.

KARL: But, Rachel, on -- on the question of abortion, the polling suggests there's been quite a shift in this country, which used to be, you know, pretty close to 50/50 on the abortion issue, is now, you know, very much in -- in favor of abortion rights. The number -- the percentage of people that really want to have severe restrictions on abortion is actually clearly in the minority. Isn't this a -- a general election problem for Republicans?

BADE: Oh, I think there's no doubt about it. I was just looking at polling over this weekend. I think it -- it was saying 63 percent of Americans disagree with this five-week abortion ban...

KARL: Yeah.

BADE: Like, after five weeks, you can't get an abortion. And that's going to be a problem for DeSantis, in that, yes, he can make this argument that, OK, the states all are going to make their own decisions here; it's not for the federal government to say; the states will be the ones to decide.

But, you know, he's going to face questions about, "OK, if you signed this and you thought it was good for Florida, are you saying it's good for Florida but it's not good for the United States? So how do you -- how do you, sort of, justify having two different positions on this?"

Or is he going to say everybody should have a five and six-week abortion ban, which obviously is really unpopular. So, I mean, the politics of this are very difficult. And that's why you saw him signing this bill in the middle of the night. And, regarding Senator Tim Scott, I mean, he's somebody who was just asked about this, what, the day after he said he was having this presidential test run. And he -- he couldn't answer the question. He didn't know where to -- where to respond, and eventually had to put out a statement...

BRAZILE: He said he wanted the most conservative...

BADE: Yes.

BRAZILE: He wanted the most conservative position, and then -- then he put out another statement.

KARL: Saying a 20-week ban.

BADE: Twenty weeks, right.

BRAZILE: To criminalize women. It's just wrong. To -- to put women in this position, across the country, is just immoral; it's wrong and it's unjustified.

KARL: I mean, how do they answer -- I tried to -- you know, I've tried to address this with Lindsey Graham. But how do they address the judicial activism part of this, I mean, a judge, and unlike the judge in Amarillo, Texas, making the policy on -- on FDA approval?

CHRISTIE: Look, I think the Supreme Court, when you look back at their -- their decisions in this area, I think the conservatives on the Supreme Court may have trouble with this one. Because their attitude has been, on issues of technical, medical judgment or other types of technical judgments, that they defer to the regulatory agencies.

Now, while conservatives on the court have said they think regulatory agencies have too much reach, that's a different argument than the argument of their substantive expertise. So this is going to be an interesting one to watch.

KARL: Great. All right, we're out of time. Coming up, a closer look into the fight for clean drinking water in the United States. We'll be right back.



MICHAEL REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Very proud to announce in Wilmington, North Carolina, EPA’s first national standards to regulate PFAs, the forever chemical compound that has been linked to cancer, to high cholesterol and other serious illnesses.

EPA's priority is protecting communities. Everyone deserves clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.


KARL: EPA's announcement last month to strengthen drinking water standards brought a sigh of relief to one community in North Carolina that's been living with chemicals that are associated with serious health problems. Residents of the region shared their story with ABC News, National Geographic and our ABC-owned television stations.


CARROL OLINGER, FAYETTEVILLE, NC RESIDENT AND ACTIVIST: I didn't know I was drinking poisonous water. I didn't know when I was coming home from a long day of work and need to fill up my jug.

I’m still drinking poisonous water.

My name is Carrol Olinger. I have lived in Fayetteville since 1995.

ERIK D. OLSON, SENIOR STRATEGIST, NATURAL RESOURCES, DEFENSE COUNCIL: Unfortunately, safe drinking water in the United States sometimes depends on your zip code. We should not have to rely on being wealthy or being in a community that happens to have a lot of resources in order to have water that's safe.

In low income communities, in communities of color and Native American communities, we're seeing that they do not have safe drinking water. And that needs to be fixed.

OLINGER: I call myself an accidental activist.

What do we want?


OLINGER: When do we want it?


OLINGER: I don't think that I was a cheerleader for environmental justice, environmental health, but I think I am now because of the situation I accidentally fell into.

Unfortunately, it's hurting communities that look like me, underserved communities. I think that the black and brown, Latino, Indian communities, when it hits fully, it’s going to hurt them the most because they’re not going to have an option. It’s scary.

EMILY DONOVAN, CO-FOUNDER, CLEAN CAPE FEAR: We don’t need incremental action. We need strong, forceful responses that can correct 40 years of damage and 40 years of neglect.

MICHAEL S. REGAN. ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: President Biden took this issue very serious from day one.

My name is Michael Regan. I'm the administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to this position, I was the secretary of the environment for the state of North Carolina.

Very early in my tenure, we found out that a company was discharging PFAS into the Cape Fear River. A source for hunting, for fishing and for recreation. And so, yes, my experience with PFAS was stark.

REGAN: The EPA is saying, we'll address your requests, but we're going to address them through our national testing strategy. You know what I'm not seeing in those testing strategies? I'm not seeing the chemicals that are actually in my blood.

REGAN: The previous administration didn’t put actions in place to develop the sound science to develop very strong regulations. And so from day one we took that mission on very seriously. And so my attitude is the same as EPA administrator as it was as state secretary, hold corporate polluters accountable and work towards regulations that make it very clear what is safe and what is not safe.

ON SCREEN TEXT: As North Carolina’s secretary of the environment, Regan fined the polluter, the Chemours Company, $12 million in 2018 for violating the Clean Water Laws.

The company did not admit to any violations, but agreed to terms with the state to avoid further litigation.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: “Our America: Trouble on Tap” premieres April 21st at ouramericaabc.com and on Hulu on April 22nd. You can catch more of ABC's climate and environmental reporting all this week as part of our on-going series, “The Power of Water.”

We'll be right back.


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